Yanks to open season vs. champion Nats in DC

July 6th, 2020

NEW YORK -- A few weeks ago, Brett Gardner pinged his teammates’ group text message with a prediction: the Yankees would open the season against the Washington Nationals, lining up Gerrit Cole for a rematch against the club that he faced in last year’s World Series.

Gardner was on the same wavelength as the decision-makers in Major League Baseball’s offices. The Yankees will indeed open the 2020 regular season on July 23, facing the Nationals in the nation’s capital, setting up a potential showdown of aces between Cole and Washington’s Max Scherzer.

“It’s obviously an enticing matchup, having pitched against them in the World Series last year and them being defending World Series champs,” said Cole, who jumped from the Astros to the Yankees this past offseason. “Hopefully it draws some good attention and it's a good matchup. I'm really excited for it. I think opening up in D.C. is perfect for the country.”

Following three games in Washington and two against the Phillies in Philadelphia, the Bombers’ home opener will be on July 29 against the Phillies as part of a two-game Interleague series. New York will also host the Red Sox for a three-game series before concluding that homestand, one of five in the season.

“Look, this year is just a whole different ballgame, right?” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said on Monday. “It's a whole different level of adversity that we couldn’t have even imagined going into the year. I do feel like as much as anyone can be, we are equipped to deal with it. We'll face it, and hopefully as a club, we handle it really well.”

The Bombers’ homestands will be July 29-Aug. 2 (Phillies, Red Sox), Aug. 11-20 (Braves, Red Sox, Rays), Aug. 28-Sept. 2 (Mets, Rays), Sept. 10-17 (Orioles, Blue Jays) and Sept. 25-27 (Marlins).

Rivalry games against the Red Sox will be July 31-Aug. 2 (Yankee Stadium), Aug. 14-17 (Yankee Stadium) and Sept. 18-20 (Fenway Park). Subway Series games against the Mets will be played Aug. 21-23 (Citi Field) and Aug. 28-30 (Yankee Stadium).

Fans will not be in attendance for games, at least to start the season, though Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner has said that he hopes to see attendance at 20 to 30 percent of capacity during the 2020 season.

“I'll definitely miss our Yankee fans, not just at home here in the Bronx, but on the road,” outfielder Gardner said. “Hopefully we don't have to play too many games without them. Hopefully as the season goes on, we can play in front of fans again, but I think that's a little ways away.”

The Yankees believed that they were equipped well for a 162-game marathon, but their powerful lineup and strong pitching staff could translate well to the shorter season.

Through 60 games in 2019, the Yanks led the American League East with a 38-22 record. They finished with a division-best 103-59 mark, sweeping the Twins in the AL Division Series before falling to Cole and the Astros in a six-game AL Championship Series.

The shorter season promises to increase the importance of each game, dropping all 30 teams into the thick of a pennant chase.

“We don't want a bad start or anything like that,” third baseman Gio Urshela said. “We have to get ready from Day 1. I think everybody here is prepared for that and for the season to begin.”