The problem was, they couldn't handle Mike Zunino, Corey Hart and Chris Young, as the Seattle Mariners -- the second-worst team in the American League -- walked off with a 6-3 victory over CC Sabathia in the opener of this three-game series.
End of the line: Sabathia hadn't lost to the Mariners since July 2, 2009, his first start against Seattle as a Yankee, and was 8-0 with a 1.36 ERA in nine starts since. He looked good for two innings, escaped jams in the third and fourth, and then gave up four runs in the fifth on five hits. Sabathia's record drops to 3-3 and his ERA, which was 4.78, is back up to 5.11.
Captain hook: Dellin Betances' sharp-breaking curveball accounted for two strikeouts in the sixth inning, paving the way for a great cleanup of the mess Sabathia left behind -- men on first and second, none out -- that was finished off when Betances got Stefen Romero to ground out, keeping the score a relatively close 4-2.
Prest-o Change-o: The 4-2 game became a 6-2 game after Preston Claiborne came in to relieve Betances in the seventh, inheriting a runner at first and two outs. Claiborne surrendered RBI hits to Kyle Seager and Zunino (4-for-4), both runs charged to Betances.
Brain freeze: Maybe it was the cold weather, but Brian Roberts apparently forgot to cover second base on Abraham Almonte's sacrifice bunt with runners on first and third in the fifth. It became an infield hit and loaded the bases with no outs, setting up -- along with Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon's successful challenge of an out call on Zunino's infield grounder -- Seattle's four-run inning.
Ribbie Cano: Cano came up with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth, and while the crowd seemed to be expecting the worst -- the booing subsided somewhat, replaced by a nervous murmuring -- Cano's groundout to Mark Teixeira got the Mariners' first run of the game home.
Who needs him?: The Mariners not named Cano -- cleanup hitter Hart and No. 5 hitter Justin Smoak -- did the real damage in the fifth. Hart's double to right drove in two runs to give Seattle a 3-2 lead, and Smoak's RBI single tacked on a fourth run against Sabathia, who was up to 94 pitches through five innings.
Making a Mark: The Yankees got on the board in the second inning on Teixeira's two-out home run deep into the right-field seats, his third of the season in just 36 at-bats.
Gimme: The Mariners were on the verge of escaping a first-and-second, none-out jam in the third when catcher Zunino's throwing error on Brett Gardner's attempted steal of second allowed Roberts to score from third, extending the Yankees' lead to 2-0.
Cold shoulder: Predictably, the small, frozen, first-inning crowd booed Cano as he came to bat in the first inning. But Cano quickly changed the boos to cheers by striking out on a 1-2 two-seamer from Sabathia.
Troll call: The Bleacher Creatures baited Cano with a mock roll call when he took his position in the bottom of the first. When Cano turned to acknowledge them, the chant changed to, "You sold out! You sold out!"
Cano too slow: The man who was often reviled for not busting it out of the box on routine grounders gave it his all on a fourth-inning grounder to the hole. But Cano's best still wasn't good enough to beat Sabathia -- who made all of one putout at first last season -- to the bag. Maybe the guy is just super slow?
Robbie Hustle: Cano stole second base in the seventh inning, his second steal of the season. (He had just seven last year for the Yankees, and now has twice as many steals this season as home runs.) The steal set up the Mariners' fifth run of the game on Cole Gillespie's RBI single.
K Krew: Yankees pitchers struck out at least 10 batters for the fifth straight game, the first time that's ever been done in franchise history.