Games 42 & 43: PIT vs. NYY — Doubleheader Split

A single-admission doubleheader ended up being a sell-out crowd for the Yankees-Pirates game this afternoon. And they ended up splitting the glory.

In the first game (the regularly scheduled game), the Yankees sent Hiroki Kuroda to the mound for the start. Kuroda put up a decent 6 innings, 98 pitches, allowing 5 hits, 3 runs, and 2 walks, and striking out 7. Those runs came courtesy of a solo home run in the 1st, a solo home run in the 5th, and an RBI single in the 5th. The 5th was Kuroda’s weak spot, where the Pirates threatened the Yankees the most. But like the collected, cool professional he is, Kuroda was able to escape some tense situations, despite his pitch count creeping up.

Near spotless relief came in the 7th, with Daley and Thornton splitting that inning and Warren taking the first 2 outs of the 8th. David Robertson’s 4-out save was his 8th of the season. None of the relievers allowed a single hit, walk, or run for the last 3 innings.

And to back up all of that, the Yankees struck early with their offense. It wasn’t a lot, but it ended up being enough. Right in the 1st, Gardner walked, Jeter bunted a single, and Ellsbury was hit by a pitch to load the bases. So Mark Teixeira’s offensive hot streak continued with a 2-RBI single, scoring Gardner and Jeter. Brian McCann followed that up with his own RBI single, scoring Ellsbury. They added Brett Gardner’s RBI double in the 2nd and the Yankees’ 4 runs stayed strong for the rest of the game, no matter how much the Pirates threatened. It was enough to deliver the win 4-3.

And then there was a brief intermission of sorts. Fans took to concession stands, restrooms, various stores, and museums at the stadium before settling back into their seats for another 9 innings. Players, coaches, and the like took a break themselves as rosters changed. The Yankees were able to carry a 26th man and called up Jose Ramirez from AAA, as is custom for doubleheaders. Ramirez will rejoin the RailRiders tomorrow when the 26th man rule ends.

The second game was unlike the first, veering from the standard rise of a win to the chaotic back-and-forth dance to a loss.

Vidal Nuno took his 6 innings and 81 pitches, allowing 6 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), and a walk, and striking out 5 batters. In the 2nd, 2 errors put runners on the corners for the Pirates before a single scored the Pirates’ first run. In the 6th, easily Nuno’s weakest inning, with 2 outs and a runner on base, a 2-run home run gave the Pirates 3 runs.

Now, by the end of the 6th, the game was tied due to the offensive strike by the Yankees. They also struck in the 2nd and 6th innings. In the 2nd, Solarte singled and scored 2 outs later on a John Ryan Murphy’s single, and Murphy ended up at 3rd on a missed catch error. Murphy easily scored on Brendan Ryan’s bunted single, and Ryan would end up at 2nd on another throwing error where the Pirates decided to toss is almost into the stands behind 1st base. (Seriously, this was a sloppy defensive game, each team each earned 2 errors, though there were some great exceptions in Solarte and Ryan.) And Yangervis Solarte’s 5th career (and season) home run is what tied up the game.

In relief of Nuno, Alfredo Aceves took the 7th and 2 outs of the 8th, allowing a 2-out solo home run in the 7th to push the Pirates into the lead. Matt Thornton got that last out of the 8th before getting himself into trouble in the 9th. A double advanced to 3rd on a sacrifice bunt, before it was Preston Claiborne’s turn to stop the Pirates. Unfortunately, that runner scored on a sacrifice fly and pushed the Pirates to a final score of 5-3.

But hey, the Yankees still took the weekend series 2-1 from the Pirates, but their winning streak was snapped at 4. But the Yankees are back on top of the AL East again. So there is a lot of good news. And as the team heads out to Chicago for the mid-week series against the Cubs, the Yankees are settling back into a groove, especially with Tanaka scheduled to start Tuesday’s game. Of course, they get to follow up a 2-game NL stint in Chicago with the 4-game AL stint in Chicago. In other words, if you’re in the “Windy City” (or the “Second City”), catch some Yankees games — you have 6 to choose from. Almost makes me wish for a mini-vacation to visit the “Bean”.

Go Yankees!

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