Today was that picture perfect day in the Bronx, a great day to sweep the visiting Angels and continue the Yankees’ 6-game winning streak (two back-t0-back 3-game sweeps against Seattle and now the Angels).
To close out the weekend series, the Yankees turned to veteran lefty CC Sabathia. Sabathia was hit right in the 1st inning with back-to-back solo home runs, but instead of letting that get to him, Sabathia buckled down and got the job done. Albeit in the midst of a rather curious strike zone. To be fair, it wasn’t exactly biased one way or the other, just inconsistent and frustrating to hitters and pitchers (and their managers) alike. Sabathia threw 87 pitches over his 6 innings, giving up 5 hits, a walk, and those 2 runs, and struck out 7 Angels’ batters. Sabathia actually reached a great milestone today — becoming the 31st pitcher to earn 2,500 strikeouts, currently leading all active pitchers in career strikeouts.
And Sabathia would’ve been back for more except for that 6th inning — a strikeout (#2,501 of his career), a single, a frustrating walk, and then the last batter ground into a double play. Sabathia excited that his infield defense played well to get that play expressed his excitement. Sabathia was questioning whether a particular pitch was to be called a ball or strike, a normal question umpires get from pitchers or batters so as to figure out whether they shouldn’t have swung at a low pitch or how that batter grounded into an out. For some reason, this caught the attention of the home plate umpire who immediately began a heated conversation believing that Sabathia was questioning his judgment and ejected him. Well, if you’re going down, go down swinging. That made Girardi jump the dugout fence (quote of the night, “Girardi may be the only manager who can jump the fence like that.”) and argue the ejection himself. And as you know, that means, bye-bye Girardi, as Sabathia was literally held back by Headley, Murphy, Tony Pena, Rob Thomson, among others. The two ejected compatriots made their way to the clubhouse at that point in the game to watch as the Yankees finished off the Angels.
I should say that normally I do not advocate any kind of action, words, or most things that lead to an ejection. I don’t like diva temper tantrums or bat or helmet slamming or angry bickering among opponents. But this escalated to ejection without any reason.
Fortunately, the bullpen was rested and sharp enough to make up the difference. And the offense gave them support to carry the day. Wilson, Betances, and Miller closed out the game, keeping the Angels scoreless and hitless, and getting 5 strikeouts between the three of them.
Now, in the 3rd, the Yankees began their offense attack today. Pirela led-off with a double, moved to 3rd on a fly out, and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ ground out. In the bottom of the 5th, Chris Young led-off with a solo home run into the left field seats to tie up the game. Then with 1 out and Murphy and Gregorius on base each with singles, Brett Gardner hit a long 3-run home run into corner of the right field seats to break the tie and give the Yankees the lead. One of the comments made to me was how fast Gardner still runs the bases even for his “home run trot”. And to cap off the scoring, Jose Pirela launched a solo home run into the visitors’ bullpen — his first major league home run, which was just enhanced by the biggest smile on Pirela’s face that didn’t seem to fade in the slightest for the rest of the game.
But let me also mention that there was really a great play made by the Yankees defense in the 3rd inning. There was some early defensive trouble in that inning, including an error. So there’s 1 out on the board and runners on the corners. The batter hit the ball deep into right field where it was caught by Beltran. All the runners tagged up and then took off to see if they could advance before Beltran tried to throw either of them out. Beltran opted for the closer bag and threw to a waiting Gregorius at 2nd to tag out the runner, which he did just before the other runner crossed home plate. This effectively ended the inning without giving the Angels an extra run. After an Angelic pause to assess the plausibility of that accuracy of the call, they surrendered to the obvious correctness of the call and the inning was over.
Final score in the Bronx: 6-2 Yankees, Yankees sweep the Angels 3-0.
In other good news: a couple of rehabbing players are working their way back to the Bronx. Ivan Nova, coming off last year’s Tommy John surgery be in Tampa to start Monday’s game with the Advanced-A game. And Brendan Ryan is continuing his rehab assignment with AA Trenton after a nasty calf strain in Spring Training and some earlier set-backs.
And in case you were wondering, the MLB annual draft is being held beginning tomorrow. Teams tend to approach the draft either out of a need to fill in whatever missing pieces in their farm system or strictly the best there is. This year, the Yankees will focus their draft picks with the latter motivation. Last year was motivated by a need to up the pitching staff in the organization, and last year’s pick, Jacob Lindgren, is already on the Yankees’ active roster, filling a crucial role in the bullpen. The Yankees will select 16th and then 30th (due to the signing of Robertson to the White Sox. Then again, 57th and 92nd all-around in the 2nd and 3rd rounds before continuing to select according to the set order for rounds 4-40.
Recent draft signees include Heathcott, Murphy, Warren, Mitchell, and Pinder (2009 — a very good pay-off year for the Yankees); Culver and Whitley (2010); Hensley (2012); Jagielo (2013); and Judge and Lindgren (2014). So who knows what gem the Yankees will find this year…