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A grand opener for Yankees

Curtis Granderson looked just fine.

So too did the bullpen, discussed throughout the offseason as potentially being the best in baseball.

The combination, along with a solid outing from CC Sabathia and a big homer early from Mark Teixeira, helped the Yankees to a season-opening 6-3 victory over the Tigers on Thursday on a misty, windy and otherwise miserable 41-degree afternoon at Yankee Stadium.

"It was as scripted," said Derek Jeter, who went 0-for-2 with a walk, RBI and a run. "CC pitched a great game for us and then we went to our bullpen. We like our chances when we're late in the game, in close games, because those guys are capable of shutting guys out."

The bullpen, starting with Joba Chamberlain, pitched three scoreless innings. Chamberlain gave way to new setup man Rafael Soriano, who gave way to Mariano Rivera, who recorded his 560th career save. The trio retired the last nine batters in order. Each reliever recorded a strikeout.

"[The bullpen] really is one of the strengths, maybe the strongest parts of our team," said Sabathia, who allowed three runs -- two earned -- and six hits in six innings. "You saw that today."

The latter two held the lead Granderson, the star of the day, provided in the seventh when he led off the inning with a homer off former Yankee Phil Coke to make it 4-3.

Jeter gave the Yankees an insurance run later in the inning with a sacrifice fly and Nick Swisher's RBI single in the eighth made it 6-3.

Granderson, held back in Tampa when the team broke camp Tuesday afternoon to play in a minor league game Wednesday in order to make sure his strained oblique had healed, made three terrific catches. They included a diving catch on Will Rhymes' sinking liner in the first, and an over-the-shoulder grab -- after a long run straight back -- of Brandon Inge's one-out drive off Rivera in the ninth.

"There were obviously questions on Tuesday on how it was going to turn out but he looked great today," Joe Girardi said. "Outstanding defense, big home run in the seventh. He looks great."

New catcher Russell Martin looked good working with Sabathia and produced offensively as well, going 1-for-3 and scoring two runs, though he talked mostly afterward about the bullpen.

"[Innings] seven, eight, nine; Joba, Soriano and Mo, for me, I think it's the best in the league," Martin said.

Neither starter recorded a decision, though both battled through the brutal conditions to provide a quality start. Sabathia walked two and struck out seven, getting through the day without his best stuff.

Justin Verlander allowed three runs -- all of them coming on Teixeira's third-inning homer -- and three hits in six innings.

"Obviously, coming out of the spring that I had, this is not the result that I wanted," Verlander said. "I felt pretty calm considering opening day, Yankee Stadium -- it's hard to keep your adrenaline in check."

"I made some pitches when I had to," Sabathia said. "And our bullpen came in and shut it down."

A formula the Yankees, with their rotation beyond Sabathia the team's biggest question mark by far, hope repeats itself.

"We talked about how our bullpen could play a huge role for us this year and it did today," Girardi said. "We get three scoreless innings out of them with Joba, Soriano and Rivera. And we're going to need that it was great to see the way we did it. Tex have a three-run homer, a big homer by Grandy, you get six innings from you starter, then bam-bam you go to your bullpen. It works out nice. It's how you draw it up."

The Yankees and Tigers met on opening day for the first time since 1966. This series is the only trip the Tigers will make to Yankee Stadium this season.

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