It was a rather beautiful night in the Bronx tonight, cloudy skies keeping the recent higher temperatures at bay, as the Yankees hosted the final game of the 4-game split series against the Marlins. The Yankees needed to win tonight to tie the series, so they did.
Despite some pretty decent pitching, starter CC Sabathia threw a 92-pitch no-decision. His 6 innings kept the Marlins on their toes — running a no-hitter through the first third of the game, but overall giving up 5 hits, 3 runs, no walks, and 7 strikeouts. (And I apologize for previously saying he wasn’t much of “strikeout pitcher” anymore, as clearly I was wrong as he proved tonight.) The Marlins scored a run in each of the middle 3 innings. In the 4th, the lead-off batter hit a really nice triple and then scored on a groundout. In the 5th, the lead-off batter singled, moved to 2nd on a hit-by-pitch, then to 3rd on a fly out, and scored on a sacrifice fly. And in the 6th, a 1-out solo home run gave the Marlins 3 runs.
But, like I said, it was a no-decision outing for Sabathia. Meaning that the Yankees had already hit that 3-run mark under him, or at least by the end of the 6th inning. In the 1st, the Yankees got things started with some nice hitting — Gardner led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Headley’s single, and the scored on Alex Rodriguez’s single (his 2,998th career hit). And despite loading the bases a little later in the inning (with just 1 out), the Marlins somehow pulled the rabbit out of their proverbial hats and got out of the 1st inning without further damage. But in the 6th inning, after 2 quick outs, Williams doubled, and then Brett Gardner’s 6th home run of the season, a big 2-run homer into Yankees’ bullpen, tied up the game and switched Sabathia’s responsibility from “loss” to “no-decision”.
It also forced Miami’s starter out of the game and pried open the bullpen, which hasn’t really been Miami’s strength this series. In the bottom of the 7th, with 1 out, McCann singled and then scored on Carlos Beltran’s 2-run home run to left field. And the Yankees took the lead back, and never let go.
This meant the win would be technically earned by the 7th inning reliever, Chasen Shreve, whose 13-pitch, 1-hit outing was quite pretty. Justin Wilson (the assumed new set-up man for new closer Betances) threw a great 8th inning, keeping the Yankee lead solidly intact.
With a new Miami reliever to face in the 8th inning, and the potential for a major Yankee milestone, the air was electric in the Bronx. The pitcher walked Headley to lead-off the inning. And then Alex Rodriguez stepped up to the plate. After hitting 2 hits in tonight’s game, Rodriguez’s career hits total stood at 2,999, just a hit away from the coveted 3,000 hit club. Nearly 40,000 fans (and all the players) were on their feet and cheering, and the umpires switched balls in case this was going to be the hit for the milestone. And then the Marlins pitcher proceeded to throw 4 consecutive inside pitches to walk him. Fans booed the pitcher, chanting and jeering. Brian McCann’s 1-out single scored Headley, and a wild pitch scored Rodriguez. Chris Young’s double scored McCann, and that pitcher was finally relieved from duty. A single put runners on the corners, and then Stephen Drew’s sacrifice fly scored Young. A 4-run inning isn’t bad for a huge missed opportunity.
Chris Martin closed out the game for the Yankees, with some of his continuing struggles — 26 pitches, 3 hits and a run (an RBI single), but 2 strikeouts. In total, the Yankees gave up 10 hits, 4 runs, and no walks, while striking 12 strikeouts. (In comparison, the Yankees got 15 hits, 9 runs, 6 walks, and 8 strikeouts.)
Final score from the Bronx: 9-4 Yankees. The Yankees and Marlins split their 4-game series down geographic lines 2-2.
If you’re wondering, Alex Rodriguez will hit that 3,000th hit this weekend (barring any injuries or sitting out games) against the Tigers. As if the Yankees could pack anything else into this weekend. Stay tuned… so much happening this weekend! And if you’re in the New York area, get yourself to the stadium. It’s a “don’t miss” kind of weekend.
And while HOPE Week won’t start for the Yankees until August, their AAA affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre will begin their HOPE Week festivities on Saturday. HOPE Week is an annual tradition for the Yankees, in which the entire organization finds ways to partner with local charities and outreach organizations to give back to their community in unique ways. The RailRiders this year are partnering with Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society, the Michael J. Fox Foundation and the National Parkinson’s Foundation, the Scranton Fire Department, as well as participating in food drives and other special projects close to their heart.
HOPE Week is my favorite week of the year, and I can’t wait to see how every branch of the Yankees honors it in their own way. You don’t have to do some big fancy, extravagant to-do to help out or only give when they get some celebrities to ask for money on a TV special. Give in the way that matters to you, the issues that touch your heart — the hungry, homeless, education, inner city, clean water, poverty, global AIDS crisis, human trafficking, cancer research, infectious diseases, religious ministries, whatever. You have something to give, even if it’s your time or those shirts you never wear anymore or the cans of peas in your pantry. So, go, make a difference because you can.