Sunday night, the guys traveled back to the 80’s to help Carlos Beltran and his foundation at their annual fundraiser (and reminded everyone why the 80’s fashions were best left there). Then last night, the guys traveled to New Jersey to help CC Sabathia celebrate his 35th birthday. Normally, off-days are spent vegging out by the pool or honing skills, but when you’re the team in solid 1st place in your division, you can take a couple of nights to hang out with your friends. Whatever works to keep this team at the top…
Oh, and Happy Birthday, CC! (His birthday is actually today.)
The Yankees entered tonight’s game 4 games ahead of the team in 2nd place in the AL East — their opponent tonight, the Baltimore Orioles. And the Yankees came out strong early in the 1st inning with Ellsbury leading off with a ground-rule double, moving to 3rd on Gardner’s sacrifice bunt, and then scoring on Alex Rodriguez’s sacrifice fly. They added another run in the 2nd — McCann led off with a double, moved to 2nd on Young’s single, and then scored on Chase Headley’s double (who made the sprint to 2nd even after he fouled off a nasty ball to his left shin in his at-bat), all before a single out was recorded that inning. The Yankees clung to that 2-0 lead for half the game before the Orioles found their bird-sized hole.
It was Nathan Eovaldi’s turn on the mound, almost immediately throwing 100 mph fastballs like it’s no big deal. After cruising along pretty well for most of the game, that last couple of innings of his outing got his pitch count up once again (his one real weakness as a pitcher) — 99 total pitches in just 5.2 innings, giving up 4 hits, 3 walks, and 2 runs, and striking out 4 Baltimore batters. It would be the 6th inning that changed the game for the Orioles (and the Yankees, really). Two runners on base with singles and two outs on the board, a solid single scored one run and pushed Eovaldi up to his limit.
It would be on to reliever Justin Wilson. His first batter singled and scored the tying run, but the defense got the runner going to 3rd to end the inning just after the run scored. This meant the game was now tied, but they were out of that sticky inning.
Of course, the Yankees came back in the bottom of that same inning to change the game once again. With 2 outs, Gregorius singled and then scored easily on Brendan Ryan’s double in the corner so the Yankees could re-take the lead. (Perhaps the lingering magic of the mustache still glimmers on Ryan’s upper lip.) They never let it go after that.
Wilson (now on the hook for the win after blowing the save, by the way) found the first two outs of the 7th before handing the ball over to Dellin Betances who took 20 pitches to plow through the 4 outs of the 7th and 8th innings. And it would be Andrew Miller to save tonight’s game (his 21st of the season) in just 9 pitches in his 1-2-3 9th.
The Yankees were a four-tool team tonight — pitching (7 total strikeouts), base-running, hitting (11 total hits), and defense (highlight reel worthy — Ellsbury dive, Ellsbury catch, and Tex being Tex). And it was a well-earned, well-deserved win to start this mid-week series against Baltimore.
Final score: 3-2 Yankees. (Even with an 8 minute rain delay early in the game!)
And Brett Gardner had both good news and bad news when he got to work today. The bad news is that those white cleats that made an appearance on Sunday’s game are officially out. Rules for uniform footwear state that they must be at least 51% black. Gardner was sent the white cleats for the All-Star Game (as the uniform rules don’t really apply there, which is why guys were wearing gold-rimmed gear and sparkly cleats), but he opted not to wear them as they clashed with his away greys. Sabathia noticed them as part of his gear before Sunday’s game and urged him to don the shoes. Maybe they were a bit of good luck as Sabathia threw a great game. But he’ll have to depend on memories now. The shoes are out.
But in good Gardner news — Gardner has won his 4th Heart & Hustle Award as the Yankees’ recipient. Each year the MLB Players Alumni Association selects a player from each team that represents a “passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit, and tradition of the game”. A final winner of those selected to represent their teams, selected by former and active players, will be announced November 10 at a fundraiser for youth baseball clinics. If anyone fits this description on the team, it’s most definitely Gardner. Congrats again on the honor! Fingers crossed for the final.
FYI: No injuries to report, no roster moves. It’s almost not really a blog post without these, but it’s something I could get used to…