W2W4: Yankees open home schedule against Orioles on Monday


Credit: John Munson/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports

After starting the season with a six-game road trip that included stops in Houston and Toronto, the New York Yankees are coming home to the Bronx for their first series of the year at Yankee Stadium, and it all starts with the Baltimore Orioles on Monday.

The Yankees have been witness to home openers in both Houston and Toronto, and now they get to have a ceremony of their own.

It’ll be a somewhat special day for the Yankees since Monday’s home opener will be the final of Derek Jeter‘s career. The big Jeter celebration will be at the end of the year in their final home series — also against the Orioles, oddly enough — but I’m sure they might have something for Jeter.

The Yankees announced in Houston last week that Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada will be among those on-hand for the pre-game events. Rivera and Pettitte and scheduled to throw out the first pitch to Jeter and Posada.

As for the three-game series against the Orioles, here are three things to watch for:

Tanaka Time: Masahiro Tanaka made his major league debut against the Blue Jays this past Friday, tossing seven innings of one-run ball. On Wednesday, he’ll make his first start in the Bronx, in front of the home fans that have waited more than anyone else to see this guy in action.

The last time that New York got to meet Tanaka was during his big introductory press conference back in February.

The Yankees signed Tanaka to a seven-year, $155 million contract over the winter, and all eyes have been on the 25-year-old right hander entering his first major league season. Tanaka went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in 2013 with the Rakuten Golden Eagles. Though putting up those kind of numbers are very unlikely, the Yankees are hoping he turns out to be the best fourth starter in baseball this season.

Power Alley: It wasn’t until the fourth inning of the Yankees’ sixth game of the season that a Bombers hitters knocked a ball out of the yard.

Of all people, it was the speedy Brett Gardner the put the Yankees into the homerun column, when he ripped a Drew Hutchinson slider over the right field wall in the Yankees6-4 win over the Blue Jays Sunday afternoon.

Coming home to the hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium, this would seem like the perfect time for the Yankees to start flexing their muscles.

Playing in Toronto this past weekend, the Yankees sent quite a few balls to the deeper parts of the park, but Gardner was the only hitter that left the yard. Brian McCann, in fact, hit a long fly ball to the warning track in right field that would have easily gotten out of the yard with the short porch in Yankee Stadium.

Robert Reunion: Yankees second baseman Brian Roberts spent the first 13 years of his big league career with the Orioles, and now he gets a chance to catchup with his former teammates as a member of the Evil Empire.

In his long Oriole career, he posted a .278/.349/.412 batting line. However, Roberts has been riddled with injuries over the past couple of season — he only played in 77 games in 2013, and hasn’t played in a full season since 2009.

During his time not spent on the DL last season, he hit .249 with eight homeruns in 39 RBIs. When healthy, Roberts can be a very productive player for the Yankees. He was one of the best second baseman in the game during his prime, when he could stay healthy.

I’ve always known Roberts as a Oriole throughout his career, and I’m sure it’ll be super weird for O’s fans to see him in pinstripes over the next few days.

You can follow @GavinEwbank on Twitter over coverage of all three games.