I’m sure there are perfectly lovely people who live in Texas. But it just takes me a few minutes in the Lone Star State in the middle of summer to remind me why I do not live there. At the 1st pitch in Arlington tonight, the temperature read 97°. Yes, the sun was setting and it was really hot. Ah, Texas.
Ivan Nova got the start tonight, and maybe his childhood in the Dominican Republic prepared him for outings like this because he did a pretty decent job tonight, earning his 3rd win tonight — 75 pitches in 5 innings, giving up 5 hits, 2 runs, and 2 walks, striking out just 2 Rangers batters. The only runs allowed were in the 2nd inning. After 2 quick outs, a single scored on an RBI double and then that runner scored on a single. And while it seemed an early lead for the Rangers, even as they threatened periodically throughout the game, the Yankees pitching staff was able to keep them scoreless save that 2nd inning.
Chasen Shreve’s 6th and 7th innings were rather impressive, highlighted by 4 powerful strikeouts. Shreve is certainly turning into quite a force in the bullpen. I remember watching him in Spring Training knowing that with the right polish and opportunity, he could really be something. Shreve is something alright.
Then it was onto Justin Wilson in the 8th inning, and despite a lead-off walk, continued to hold off the Rangers effectively. Dellin Betances took the 9th and shut the Rangers down in 16 pitches.
Not in a save situation, the Yankees focused on getting and keeping the win solid. They pushed their score up enough to securely have the lead and give their pitchers a nice cushion to work with. In the 3rd, Chase Headley led-off with a single, and then Didi Gregorius hit a nice 2-run home run (his first home run off a left-handed pitcher in his career) to tie up the game. Then Brendan Ryan hit a really great triple to set him up to score on Chris Young’s sacrifice fly to put the Yankees in the lead.
In the 6th, Alex Rodriguez (celebrating his 40th birthday today) hit his 24th home run this season, a solo shot to right field. This is also his 6th home run he’s hit on his birthday over his career, currently leading that strange bit of trivia. In the 7th, Beltran walked, Headley doubled, and the Rangers took out their starter from the game. Gregorius’ single scored both Beltran and Headley to push the Yankees into a nice lead over the Rangers.
The Yankees hit 11 total hits tonight (to the Rangers’ 5). Six of those hits were by Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius, each with 3 hits. Gregorius also had what has to be his best offensive night with 4 RBIs and a run scored.
Final score: 6-2 Yankees.
Deciding to rest Tanaka on this time around the rotation, there was talk about the different routes the Yankees could take on Tuesday’s start (tomorrow), deciding to pull up a 6th starter. Just after the game tonight, the Yankees announced Chris Capuano as tomorrow’s starter. With three more games under the hot Texas sun before three games in Chicago, the Yankees want to stretch their pitching staff as far as they can go without stretching them too thin. I’m already dreading all the “armchair managers” questioning the calls as to what pitcher is in which inning and why. Please don’t be an “armchair manager” — “fan” looks so much better on you!
Some minor injuries (nothing terrible!): Jacoby Ellsbury had a bit of a sore shoulder after running into the wall at Target Field in that long running fly out yesterday; whatever soreness seemed to have abated as Ellsbury came into the game late tonight. And reliever Bryan Mitchell fell in the weight room and hit his head last week. There had been talk that Mitchell would get the start, but they were watching him, though his injury was deemed fine now. (By the way, to me, Capuano kind of seems like the logical choice, with perhaps Warren as the next option or perhaps who they will rely on should Capuano have an off day.)
Other than that, the Yankees seem to be staying healthy and playing well. Standings update: the Yankees have a very solid lead in the AL East, currently leading by 7 games over Toronto and Baltimore (who both sit at .500), 7.5 over Tampa Bay (1 game below .500), and 13 over Boston (tied with Oakland for the worst team in the AL). The Yankees are just 4 games behind the AL leader (Kansas City) to be in 2nd place in the AL. Basically, it’s looking very good for the Yankees so far this season.
Yes, I’m cautious, but I’m optimistic. “I’d rather be an optimist and a fool than a pessimist and right.” (Einstein)
Go Yankees! (And a Happy 40th Birthday to Alex Rodriguez!)