Honestly, there was a lot of sloppy pitching on both sides tonight. Neither team really put on their best outing of the season. The Twins in town with a 3-game weekend series and it means the return of a couple of former Yankees to make an appearance at some point this weekend.
Vidal Nuno got the start for the Yankees tonight, 101 pitches, 6.2 innings, 7 hits, 4 runs, and 6 strikeouts. Nuno’s biggest issue was poorly placed pitches that lingered just a little too long in that sweet spot because all 4 of those runs were scored on home runs — two solo home runs in the 2nd and 4th and a 2-run home run in the 4th. It was quite enough to push the Twins easily in the lead, something they never let go.
Preston Claiborne was brought into the game in the 7th to get that last out, while Nuno was in a spot of trouble. He did, but his trouble spot was his 8th inning. That and his pitch count — 35 pitches in just 1.1 innings. In the 8th, with 2 outs, a lead-off single and a walk on base ready to score two more runs on two back-to-back RBI singles. One of those singles was by former Yankee Eduardo Nunez, who received some scattered applause on his return to the Bronx. (Nunez was always a fan favorite and a favorite in the clubhouse, but unfortunately, things just didn’t work out to keep him on the roster. Though I’m happy he’s found a new home in a different set of pinstripes.)
Matt Daley took the 9th inning and really gave the strongest performance of his season and of the night as a whole — 14 pitches in that inning, no hits, no runs, no walks, and 1 strikeout.
The bottom line is that even with bad pitching, games are still won by scoring the most runs. And the Yankees certainly didn’t do that tonight. Their sole run came in the 3rd inning. Murphy singled and then out at 2nd by Gardner’s force out; Gardner stole 2nd base; Jeter’s groundout advanced Gardner to 3rd; and Jacoby Ellsbury’s nice double scored Gardner. Small ball paid off there, but not enough to add up to much of anything else.
Like I said before, it wasn’t a great day for pitching. The Twins may have racked up the runs, due mostly to those 3 home runs (scoring 4 of their runs), but they also allowed the Yankees 9 hits and 4 walks, striking out 7 Yankee batters. While the Yankees technically gave up more hits (10), but walked just 2 and struck out 10 Twins batters. It ended up being one of those game. I think even if the score had been closer, based on the performance of the pitching, it still would have been a rather disappointing game overall as the Twins win 6-1.
There was one odd play tonight — a rundown of sorts. For a rather mundane game (as evidenced by the incessant fan use of the “Wave”), it was a rather amusing point in the bottom of the 5th inning, even if it didn’t turn out well for the Yankees. With 1 out and Gardner on 1st with a walk, Gardner then steals 2nd (his 13th stolen base of the season). Jeter singles and the outfielder (in 1 of 2 times he made this play with his ridiculous arm) threw Gardner out trying to get home. Well, actually it was a 9-2-4-2-5-2 to get that out — right field to catcher to try to protect home, catcher to 2nd base to try to get Jeter unsuccessfully, 2nd base to catcher to actually get Gardner out at home, catcher to 3rd base trying to get Jeter running there again unsuccessfully, and 3rd base to catcher to protect the plate in case Jeter tried to go home. All that for 1 out and a single that landed the runner on 3rd. (I wish there was a good video link because it made more sense watching it, so I hope I didn’t confuse you there.)
Unfortunately, they left him stranded there on 3rd unable to turn out anything useful. Which seemed to be the order of the day for the Yankee batters. Like I said, it was just one of those games. Chapter closed, tomorrow is a whole new ball game. Literally and figuratively.