Game 76: NYY vs. HOU — Split series in the Lone Star State

On most days, Michael Pineda’s outing would be considered a really good outing. In this final game of the long weekend series in Houston, Pineda threw 107 pitches in 8 innings (a full game, by the way), gave up 7 hits, no walks, and 3 runs (2 earned), and struck out 8 Astros batters. After a lead-off single, Pineda cruised along wonderfully just getting Astros batters out like there was no tomorrow. In the 4th, with 1 out, a batter hit the ball deep into left-center field between Jones (in left) and Gardner (in center) to what looked like an easy pop fly. The outfielders converged on the descending ball before a bit of miscommunication caused them to both back up simultaneously as the ball dropped between them. Gardner, the veteran outfielder, snapped into action, slipped a bit, and booted the ball back to the wall. Despite pausing at 1st and at 2nd, the runner kept moving, picking up speed and making it all the way home. Without the very obvious error, it would be an inside-the-park home run. It was ruled a double and a fielding error on Gardner.

In the 7th, a lead-off double moved to 3rd on a sacrifice bunt and then scored on a big RBI triple. Pineda was able to get out of the inning without that runner pushing the Astros further ahead. Then in the 8th, the lead-off batter hit a ground-rule double, due to fan interference (seriously people, don’t touch the ball while it’s in play!). That runner moved to 3rd on a ground out (almost a fielder’s choice really as Gregorius had time to throw to a waiting Headley at 3rd and the potential double play, but opted for the easy out at 1st instead); a sacrifice fly would easily score the runner for the Astros’ third and final run of the afternoon.

The biggest downfall to Pineda’s outing today was the Yankees’ offense, or rather their lack thereof. Their lone run came in the 3rd inning. With 1 out, Drew walked, moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, and then scored on Brett Gardner’s single. Other than that, the Yankees had just 2 hits and 2 walks to put runners on the bases, but that lone run would be the only score for the Yankees this afternoon. The Astros starter was very good, striking out his own 8 batters today. With 2 pretty good outings for both starters today, the game was a short, tight 2 hours and 24 minutes long.

I do want to make a point of singling out the amazing defense of Brian McCann today. After yesterday’s grand slam reminded everyone McCann can hit and hit big, today’s 2 big outs reminded people what a great defender he is. In the 4th inning, after a batter singled, McCann spied him taking off for 2nd and fired a perfectly aimed throw to the waiting Drew to tag him out. Then McCann repeated the action in the 6th, and with 2 outs already on the board, it closed out the inning and any Astros threats for that inning.

A rather amusing defensive moment was in the 2nd, when Mark Teixeira fielded a short grounder, used the 1st base umpire as leverage to push back and make the short jog back to 1st for the out. It looked like he almost tagged out the umpire, who found the whole situation rather amusing himself. (Did you know that umpires have Wikipedia pages?)

Final score from Houston: 3-1 Astros. Yankees and Astros split the series 2-2.

Injury update: Jacoby Ellsbury won’t be traveling to Los Angeles with the team when they travel to face the Angels this week. Instead, he’s flying south to the Yankees complex in Tampa to begin his rehab. He will be sent for a rehab assignment this week, which means he could rejoin the team when they’re back in New York on Friday at the earliest.

And it’s time for that special moment in Yankee Universe these days… the updates on the roster moves! Esmil Rogers is back, recalled from AAA Scranton, after the last couple of games depleted the bullpen a bit. Gregorio Petit was sent back to AAA in his place. And the still-injured Slade Heathcott was moved to 60-day DL to continue his recovery of his strained right quad (injured originally back at the end of May).

Go Yankees!

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