Game 55: LAA vs. NYY — Drew, Rodriguez, and Eovaldi shine despite messy 9th inning

Back in the Bronx, the Yankees were looking to come off well from their sweep of Seattle to face the visiting Angels for the weekend series. So it was “Nasty” Nathan Eovaldi to the mound to start tonight’s game and earn his 5th win of the season. Overall, he threw 93 pitches through his 5.1 innings, giving up 4 hits, 4 walks, and 1 run, striking out 4 Angels batters. He found himself in a bit of trouble a few times but stealthily found his way out of those jams. That is until the 6th inning. Two walks, a fly out, and another walk loaded the bases and showed that Eovaldi was clearly hitting his limits this evening. So they opted for the bullpen.

Chasen Shreve came to close out the 6th inning for Eovaldi and protect his lead. A groundout scored the only run Eovaldi would be responsible for this game, a walk re-loaded the bases, but a great strikeout ended whatever hopes the Angels had for this inning. Shreve threw a very pretty 7th inning as well, 14 pitches to get his 3 outs against the Angels’ bigger bats. Jacob Lindgren’s 19-pitch 8th inning was a thing of beauty to watch tonight, getting 2 strikeouts to halt the Angels’ hopes for much of anything.

And before I move on to how this game ended, let me brag a bit about the Yankees’ offense tonight. In the 2nd inning, Jones on 1st with 2 outs, Stephen Drew hit a big 2-out, 2-run homer run into the right field seats to put the Yankees on the board early. In the 3rd, Gardner led-off the inning with a single and a stolen base, and then 2 outs later, Mark Teixeira hit his 17th home run of the season, a 2-out, 2-run homer into those same right field seats.

Then in the 5th, Gardner tripled and then scored on Alex Rodriguez’s  2-out single (his 1,997th career RBI, making him 2nd place on the All-Time list, passing Bonds). In the 6th, (because the Yankees clearly couldn’t stop scoring runs tonight), Brian McCann led-off with a double and advanced to 3rd on a ground out before scoring when Drew hit his second 2-run home run of the evening. And then to cap off the Yankee offensive evening in the 7th, Rodriguez’s on 3rd with a double and wild pitch and 2 outs on the board, Chris Young’s single scored Rodriguez.

So going into the top of the 9th inning, the Yankees were looking at a beautiful 8-1 lead. They just needed 3 outs, and everyone (sans the Angels) could go home happy this evening. But there is a reason that Yogi’s mantra of “It ain’t over ’til it’s over” still rings so true. Because this inning was far from over that easy. Esmil Rogers threw what had to be his worst outing all season — just 14 pitches, 4 hits, 5 runs, 1 walk, and no outs. Yes, no outs. A single, a double, an RBI single, a wild pitch, and a walk loaded the bases, and a single scored another run leaving the bases loaded and Rogers responsible for every runner on the diamond at that point

So it was on to Dellin Betances, converting the status of the game into a save situation. A single scored 2 more Angels’ runs, leaving runners on the corners. A walk re-loaded the bases once again, and then another walk issued handed over a run to the Angels. And finally, Betances issued a strikeout, the first out of the inning (on the 9th batter, by the way). The next batter hit into a force out (and earned Betances his first earned run all season), a run scored and left runners on the corners. And if you’re doing the math, it was becoming really scary for the Yankees, having unraveled so fast. Then finally, a strikeout, a big swinging strike to end the game and allow the Yankees and their fans to finally breath again.

Final score: 8-7 Yankees. (Yes, that’s right, the Angels scored 6 runs in the 9th inning and came within 1 run of tying the game and possibly winning.)

Some game notes: Rodriguez had an outstanding offensive night, going 4-for-5 with an RBI and run scored. He is now within 9 hits of that highly coveted 3,000 mark, something he should easily do before the end of this month (or by next week at this rate). Drew’s batting average jumped up with his 2 big home runs tonight, but the struggling offense seemed sparked tonight. Actually, many of the struggling batters seem to be finding their swings and timing lately (Jones and Gregorius come to mind).

Michael Pineda will be skipped this time around the rotation due to the workload and nothing else. Pineda has 11 starts this season with a record of 7 wins and 2 losses and an ERA of 3.33 so far. He’s apparently on pace to throw something like 220 innings this season, so they want to give him a break so as not to wear him out.

And for those of you following injury news… McCann’s MRI came back negative. They explored all options and decided the easiest course to relieve the foot pain in his arch might be to change out his orthotics. Doing so seemed to relieve any pain almost instantly and allowed him to play in tonight’s game. McCann went 1-for-3 tonight with a walk and run scored and provided for that consistent defense behind the plate, even in that awful 9th inning (where he certainly had a front row seat to that show). By the way, if the pain returns or worsens, other options will be explored, but here’s to hoping it’s already solved.

Go Yankees!

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