Let’s face it. There’s a reason Mark Teixeira’s an All-Star, and had they not selected him (almost as an afterthought, actually), the entire Yankee Universe would be in an uproar. Being the AL RBI leader or basically in the running for the Home Run Derby (something he has no interest in participating) as one of the players with the most home runs this season already (22 after tonight’s game), Teixeira is also one of the best defensive 1st baseman in the league. But wearing the pinstripes and not being a big diva won’t get you a lot of fans outside New York.
New Yorkers know better, of course. And they can point to tonight’s game as proof positive to add to the many reasons 2015 is easily Mark Teixeira’s year.
So on with the game…
Oakland continues their East Coast trip to the Bronx, in tonight’s middle game of the mid-week series against the pinstriped boys. And try as they might tonight, it wasn’t going to be their night. Not if the Yankees had anything to say about it.
CC Sabathia was forced to push back his last start, which should have been part of their West Coast trip (in Anaheim), to drain some excess fluid build-up on his knee and receive some treatment. Sabathia missed a good portion of last year with knee issues, so he’s been careful to show caution and take care of it this season. The extra care paid off, as he earned the win tonight — 88 pitches over 5.1 innings, 7 hits, just 2 runs allowed, 2 walks, and a strikeout (and I’m back to what I said about Sabathia not being a “strikeout pitcher” anymore).
Those 2 runs came early in the game, the 2nd inning. The lead-off batter hit a ground-rule double due to fan interference (people, keep your hands, legs, arms, gloves, hats, and children inside the seating area at all times and don’t infer with the action on the field!), moved to 3rd on a single, and then got out at home on a fielder’s choice (good choice!) and a rundown. But then 2 runners were already on base and they both then scored on consecutive RBI singles to give the A’s a 2-0 early lead. It didn’t last long, thankfully, because the Yankees showed up to play on the field and in the batter’s box.
Sabathia was backed up in the bullpen by Bryan Mitchell to finish out the 6th inning. And then it was Justin Wilson’s near-perfect 7-pitch 7th inning that was a thing of beauty. Dellin Betances (the Yankees other All-Star amazingness) got through the 8th tonight with 2 nasty strikeouts, his fastball averaging 97-99 mph tonight. All of that to set-up the returning of closer Andrew Miller, who unfortunately found himself a rough return — 30 pitches: a fly out, a single, a 2-run home run, a strikeout, an infielder’s fielding error, before a soft groundout ends the game. Miller exhaled, verifying with the umpires of the out first, and then celebrated his 18th save with his teammates. Not an easy comeback, but a save nonetheless.
Now in order for Sabathia and Miller to earn their win and save for this game, the Yankees have to score runs. So they did. Down 2-0 in the 2nd, the Yankees opened their scoring with a fielding error that allowed Young to reach 1st safely and then Didi Gregorius’ double scored Young; Gregorius would get tagged out going to 3rd, but Young’s run scored started the ball rolling, so to speak. Then in the bottom of the 4th, Mark Teixeira led-off with a solo home run to right field (#21 of the season). Then after Young walked and Murphy singled, Young moved to 3rd on a stolen base, followed by Murphy taking 2nd on a wild pitch. So a Jose Pirela sacrifice fly easily scored Young.
Mark Teixeira led-off the 6th inning with another solo home run to right field (and that would be #22). To cap off the scoring (and getting the insurance run the Yankees weren’t aware they needed), Stephen Drew added his own mark, a 2-out solo home run to right field. (All the Yankee home runs tonight were hit into the right field seats, in roughly the same section (Section 103 for Teixeira’s, 104 for Drew’s); so if you want a nice home run ball, this seems to be the place to watch the game.)
But as big as Teixeira’s impact was with his multi-homer game tonight, he was ridiculously consistent as a defender on the field. He got a great unassisted double play in the 1st, a big catch over the dugout fence in the 7th, and a nice diving stop in the 8th. (My favorite is the last one, by the way.)
Final score: 5-4 Yankees.
Andrew Miller and Jacoby Ellsbury were reinstated today before tonight’s game. The corresponding roster moves for them was to send down Nick Rumbelow and Ramon Flores; a pitcher and outfielder for a pitcher and outfielder, the most logical roster move I’ve seen in a long time.
Chase Headley wasn’t on the roster tonight due to a sore calf. An MRI showed some inflammation, and he said he’d be surprised to find himself on the roster for tomorrow’s series finale against Oakland. Inflammation could be a sign of bad things to come without proper rest and treatment, so we may not see Headley in the Boston games this weekend either, as they go into the All-Star break. Rest is usually the best medicine. But you never know.
The best storyline of the day though was the #VoteGardy not-a-campaign campaign. Now, as you know, Brett Gardner has been nominated as one of 5 finalists for the final fan vote to the All-Star Game (vote now, voting ends Friday, July 10 at 4 pm EST). And while Gardner has chosen not to campaign like many of the other candidates often choose to do, his teammates and other members of the Yankee organization have taken no such vow and are campaigning like crazy. Today, they all wore bald caps (because Gardner is voluntarily bald) and wrote variations of #VoteGardy on their “bald heads” to get in on the fun and remind fans to #VoteGardy. Everyone from Alex Rodriguez and Dellin Betances to Joe Girardi, Brian Cashman, and Steve Donahue was donning the cap for Gardner.
This continues the Yankees’ campaign that began yesterday when they had players and coaches out in the Grand Concourse at Yankee Stadium to greet fans, encourage/help them to #VoteGardy on provided iPads, as well as sign autographs and pose for pictures with fans as they showed up before the game. Gardner may want his game to do the talking for him, but his teammates and the entirety of Yankee Universe is picking up the baton and just running with it in ridiculously creative and fun ways. Hope it works!