Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees started their 2023 season on a high note by taking two of three from the visiting Giants, who must have wished Aaron Judge was in their lineup after courting him in the offseason.

The Yankee captain slugged two home runs in the series and hit .462, and Giancarlo Stanton added two home runs of his own. Pitching was also on full display as Gerrit Cole dominated Opening Day while rookie Jhony Brito had a great MLB debut on Sunday.

And how about rookie Anthony Volpe’s highly-anticipated MLB debut?

All in all, the series provided an early look at what both teams are. The Yankees are the true contender while San Francisco seems to be that one big name away from that even bigger step.

Some takeaways:

The Volpe Show. Volpe didn’t do much with the bat against the Giants, batting just .222 over the three games. His two hits were singles, though he did steal three bases and also looked solid in the field. Volpe also read the strike zone well and posted a .364 on-base percentage (OBP).

It’s easy to worry that the Yankees rushed Volpe to the majors despite his limited experience at Triple-A, where he made just 99 plate appearances in 22 games last year. But as of now, the best thing he can do is keep playing in games and adjusting to major league pitching. It’s certainly a better route than sending him to Scranton just to dominate the minors interminably.

A full display of power. The Bronx Bombers lived up to their name and slugged seven home runs in the series, including a 485-foot blast from Stanton on Sunday.

Home runs, on the whole, were responsible for nine of the Yankees’ 16 runs scored.

The rest were thanks to good old-fashioned smallball. A single here, a double or sac fly there. No shifts means the Yankees lineup won’t be as hamstrung by power as it was before. That only helps the team and baseball as a whole in the long run.

And speaking of new rules…

Is the pitch clock already saving baseball? MLB wants to speed up baseball and instituted a pitch clock to do so. The Yankees’ first three games ran at the following lengths:

  • Thursday/Opening Day: 2 hours, 33 minutes
  • Saturday: 3 hours, 12 minutes
  • Sunday: 2 hours, 27 minutes

How do you like that? Baseball games that don’t consume an entire afternoon and leave plenty of time before dinner? What a concept!

Jokes aside, the pitch clock is doing more than just speeding up games. Between it and the shift bans, baseball seems like baseball again. Batters are taking cleaner swings and not automatically trying to beat a shift. Pitchers are just playing their game and not trying to play hitting chess with whomever is up at bat.

It’s a shock to the system but the new rules will only benefit the game in the long run.

Yankees pitching sets the standard. Shifting back to the Yankees, you’d never know just how injured the rotation is. Brito covered for Luis Severino and pitched five shutout innings with six strikeouts, missing bats all over the strike zone. Clarke Schmidt struggled on Saturday, but wasn’t helped by an awful day from umpire Andy Fletcher.

Otherwise, Cole was his usual self and the bullpen looks good too, Saturday’s meltdown aside.

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Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.