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NEW YORK -- One week later than originally scheduled and then another day later than that, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox opened their 2022 regular seasons at Yankee Stadium on Friday. The Yankees rallied to win the opener, 6-5, despite falling behind 3-0 in the first inning. They did not lead until their big offseason addition, former AL MVP Josh Donaldson, provided the walk-off single in the 11th inning (box score).

"The team resiliency is going to lead to good things in the future," Donaldson said after the game. "... To show some resiliency and fight back and hang in there -- total team win, bullpen did a great job -- hopefully it leads to great things in the future."

Moreso than the game itself, the top story to come out of Yankee Stadium on Opening Day is the Yankees and Aaron Judge failing to agree to a contract extension. Judge set an Opening Day deadline for talks and he is scheduled to become a free agent after the season. The Yankees offered a seven-year deal worth $30.5 million per year covering 2023-29.

"We're all disappointed right now that we can't be talking about a contract extension today. Not now, but hopefully later," Yankees GM Brian Cashman said prior to Friday's game. "... Both sides would like to be here. I think Aaron Judge doesn't want to be anywhere but here, and we'd love to make that happen as well."  

Here are four takeaways from Opening Day at Yankee Stadium.

1. The Red Sox should pay Devers

Rafael Devers
BOS • 3B • #11
2021 stats
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I mean, this was already obvious, but Rafael Devers really drove home the point with a towering two-run home run into second deck in right field in his first at-bat of the new season. Gerrit Cole tried to throw a 99-mph heater by him at the top of the zone, but Devers beat him to the spot and went deep. Not many hitters can handle this velocity in this location:

Similar to Judge, Devers set an Opening Day deadline for contract extension talks, and the two sides did not reach a deal. The Red Sox and Devers were said to be "very far off" earlier this week. Matt Olson signed an eight-year, $168 million extension at the same service time level as Devers a few weeks ago, just to give you an idea of his potential price range.

Devers will play the entire season at age 25 and he is scheduled to become a free agent after 2023. Because a deal did not get done prior to Opening Day, the two sides will go into next season in the same place Judge is with the Yankees now. Devers will be nearing free agency and looking for a massive payday next spring.

2. Cole settled down and pitched down

Gerrit Cole
NYY • SP • #45
Opening Day 2022 vs Red Sox
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The 2022 season began much like the 2021 season ended for Cole: the Red Sox hit him hard. Cole did not make it out of the third inning in last year's Wild Card Game, and the first four batters on Opening Day went four-pitch walk, two-run home run (the Devers homer), loud single off the wall, double into the right field corner. Just like that, the Yankees trailed 3-0, and the Yankee Stadium crowd gave Cole an earful.

"Tough settling in. Obviously the first four pitches were not really competitive," Cole said after the game. "Honestly got burned on a couple pretty good fastball locations in the first. They put some great some swings. Fortunately we were able to settle in after that and give us a chance to win."

After those first four batters reached, Cole retired 11 of the final 13 batters he faced, getting through four innings and giving the offense a chance to get back into the game. Like everyone else after the short spring, Cole was on a pitch count on Opening Day. He threw 68 pitches (27 in the first inning alone) and was slated to throw 75 or so.

"I think we just executed some better breaking balls down in the zone," Cole said when asked what allowed him to settle in. "I can't really say we got ahead of a lot of guys. I just we just made a little bit better pitches."

Cole broke out as an ace-caliber pitcher with the Astros when he began using an elevated four-seam fastball and wicked breaking balls down. The foreign-substance crackdown has forced him to change his approach (no longer can Cole rely on sticky stuff to get extra spin), and he now pitches primarily down in the zone. Look at his Opening Day pitch locations:

Gerrit Cole lived down in the zone on Opening Day. Baseball Savant

I count what, seven pitches in the upper third of the strike zone? That is not the Cole we saw from 2018 through June 2021. He has made the adjustment to pitch down in the zone -- Cole also picked up a cutter in spring training and threw three on Opening Day -- and it's an ongoing process. The pitcher adjusts, the hitters adjust, the pitcher adjusts back, etc.

Cole finished second in the Cy Young voting in 2021, but he had a 2.31 ERA before the crackdown and a 4.12 ERA after. That is a bit deceiving though, because Cole had 3.28 ERA in his first 13 post-crackdown starts. He then hurt his hamstring on Sept. 7 and pitched through it because the Yankees were fighting for a postseason spot. In his last four starts, he had a 6.35 ERA.

3. The Yankees won a battle of the bullpens

After the Red Sox took their 3-0 lead four batters in the first inning, the Yankees battled back and tied the game thanks to an Anthony Rizzo two-run homer and a Giancarlo Stanton solo homer. Stanton's home run was the kind of home run only Stanton can hit. It was a low line drive the other way that carried into Yankee Stadium's short right field porch. It was a missile.

Stanton's home run tied the game 3-3 in the bottom of the fourth. In the top of the sixth, the Red Sox regained the lead with a good ol' fashioned get 'em on, get 'em over, get 'em in rally. Xander Bogaerts pulled a ground ball double inside the third base bag, JD Martinez moved him to third with a grounder to second, and Alex Verdugo got him in with a ground ball through the drawn in infield. Verdugo made two nice sliding catches in the game as well.

On paper, the Yankees have the bullpen advantage over the Red Sox, but the Red Sox have Garrett Whitlock, who they poached from the Yankees in the Rule 5 Draft last offseason. Boston is stretching Whitlock out, possibly to start later in the season, and he retired seven of the first eight batters he faced after the Red Sox regained the lead. The problem is he faced nine hitters. That ninth hitter, DJ LeMahieu, hit a game-tying homer to right.

LeMahieu started Opening Day over Gleyber Torres, and manager Aaron Boone indicated it was essentially a "feel" move. The Yankees have nine starting caliber position players for eight spots (not counting catcher), so someone will be out of the lineup each day. On Friday, it was Torres. That meant he was available to pinch-hit for catcher Kyle Higashioka in the tenth inning, and he provided a game-tying sacrifice fly.

"Maybe he has the most important at-bat of the game today," Boone said about Torres earlier in the day.

The Yankees and Red Sox traded runs in the tenth. In the 11th, Yankees righty Michael King stranded the automatic runner with two strikeouts and a broken bat groundout. King was electric that inning. On the third pitch of the bottom of the 11th, Donaldson poked a walk-off single back up the middle. As noted in the intro, this is the Yankees first Opening Day walk-off win since 1957.

"It was great. Our team put us in a great in position there," Donaldson said after the game. "It was nice for my first game here to help the team win. Couldn't ask for much more than that." 

4. New York's new-look defense shined

Isiah Kiner-Falefa
TOR • SS • #7
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The Yankees prioritized defense over the winter, specifically on the infield, and it was on full display on Opening Day. Donaldson, the new third baseman, and new shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa each made sparkling plays. Rizzo, brought back to play first base after coming over at the trade deadline last year, made several nice scoops as well.

Last season the Yankees ranked 29th among the 30 teams in defensive runs saved, and 25th in Statcast's outs above average. The Yankees gave away too many free bases and forced their pitchers to throw too many extra pitches. Improving the defense was a must, and while it's a long season, the early returns on Opening Day were good. The defense is no longer a glaring liability.

"Just a fun game to be a part of. The guys competed well all night," Boone said following Friday's game. "You know, I think it's an example of it's not always going to be perfect. We get punched in the mouth there early. Gerrit settles in and throws up some zeroes for us to keep us right there."