Tonight’s games across the league were certainly a mixed bag. Three East Coast games were postponed due to heavy rain in the area, and one was forced to suspend play to be continued tomorrow. But in Houston, with a retractable roof, things are just fine for the visiting Yankees to play their 3rd of this weekend’s 4-game series before a sold out crowd at Minute Maid Park.
Neither starter tonight had the greatest outing of their careers, but it’s safe to say that Masahiro Tanaka’s night was infinitely better. The Astros’ starter didn’t even make it out of the 2nd inning, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
In the top of the 1st, Gardner led off with a double and then Young and Rodriguez both walked to load the bases. With 1 out, Brian McCann hit a monster grand slam (his 11th career grand slam) to kick off the scoring. Then in the 2nd, with 1 out, Gardner doubled again and then scored on Chris Young’s 2-run home run to left field. And then with Rodriguez up to bat, the starter ended his night by throwing at him, narrowly missing him; though rather tranquil coming off the field, rather accepting of his ejection, his glove throwing and temper tantrum in the dugout was quite the show. (And no, Houston broadcasters, it was very obvious the pitcher fully intended to hit him; you are literally the only 2 people on the planet to think otherwise.)
The 6-run lead didn’t last long. Someone commented that the best thing for the Astros was their starter’s ejection as it seemed to spur on their offense. And that made Tanaka’s outing a bit of a mess. His 98 total pitches took him just 5 innings, striking out 5 batters and giving up 7 hits, 2 walks, and 6 runs. In the bottom of the 2nd, the Astros hit back-to-back doubles to score their first run, and then an RBI single to score their second. In the 4th, a 2-out solo home run cut the Yankees lead in half. And a lead-off walk in the 5th set up a 2-run home run before a solo home run tied up the game, all before a single out was recorded in that inning.
And the Astros and Yankees sat at that tied game for a while. The Yankees called on Bryan Mitchell to take the 6th inning and 1 out in the 7th before loading the bases and needing Chasen Shreve to finish up the 7th. He was on the hook for the win when the Yankees found their offense once again in the top of the 8th.
Gardner led-off with a walk, and Young reached on an error and force attempt (an Astros challenge didn’t work, as the call on the field was upheld). Mark Teixeira’s 1-out double scored both Gardner and Young to push the Yankees ahead and back in the lead. Chase Headley got that extra insurance run in the 9th with a lead-off solo home run, a 451 foot blast into the overhang above the left field seats (it lands right behind the “N” in the word “Minute” on the sign if you watch the clip).
Reliever Justin Wilson kept things close in the 8th before handing over the ball to Dellin Betances for his 6th save.
Let me just commend the Yankee pitching staff for a collective 12 strikeouts against the Astros batters. And the Yankees batters earned a big 7 walks off the Astros pitchers. To put the comparison in perspective, both teams got a total of 10 hits and some monster home runs. But it would be the early start that mattered for the Yankees in the long run.
Final score: 9-6 Yankees.