Nothing about this season is “normal” so far. I’m not sure if I like the idea of there being something rather quirky about this season or if I’m hoping this is just a weird anomaly in the long season.
22 runs, 29 hits, 6 home runs, 8 walks (4 of them to Brett Gardner alone), and 17 strikeouts. Not exactly the best pitching (or defensive) show this evening for either team.
The Yankees played their second of this three-game Opening Series against the visiting Astros. This may be one of Pineda’s sloppiest outings yet, yet he earned the win because tonight wasn’t normal in any way. This may be the only game in which the starting pitcher can give up 8 hits and 6 runs in 5 innings and still come out on top. He gave up a 2-out solo home run in the 1st inning (this particular batter went 4-for-5 tonight and is considered one of the best players in the league right now). In the 2nd, a lead-off single, a 1-out double, and a 2-out hit-by-pitch loaded the bases and set up a batter for a big grand slam to add to the Astros’ score. The Astros capped off their scoring in the 5th with a monster lead-off solo home run straight up center field. Statcast estimated it to be 462 feet, the longest home run since Alex Rodriguez’s 460 foot homer in 2011.
Ivan Nova came on for his 2016 debut out of the bullpen as expected — long-term relief. Over his 4 innings, he gave up 4 hits and a walk, striking out 5 batters and somehow earning the save this evening.
On the other hand, the Yankees seemed to remind everyone of their token nickname “the Bronx Bombers” with a parade around the bases most of the evening, especially early on. In the 36 minute bottom half of the 1st inning, the Yankees set the pattern that would be tonight’s game. Ellsbury led-off by getting on base due to catcher’s interference, followed by walks issued to Gardner and Rodriguez to load up the bases. Mark Teixeira’s single scored the first run, and Brian McCann’s double scored 2 more. Carlos Beltran’s ground out (the 1st out of the inning) scored Teixeira and moved McCann to 3rd so that Chase Headley could knock him in with a single.
The Astros’ starter was out for the night only recording a single out for the entire game, and after allowing Headley to steal 2nd, gave up a single to Castro that scored Headley from 2nd. But then despite loading up the bases with a single and a 1-out walk (to Gardner, who attracted them like a magnet tonight), the Yankees left them stranded. But no worries, the Yankees didn’t leave the lead there. In the 2nd inning, with McCann and Beltran on base with a walk and a single and 2 outs, Starlin Castro hit a 3-run home run. (Castro was responsible for 7 RBIs tonight, a new franchise record in a single game, by the way.)
And if that wasn’t enough, the Yankees forged ahead in the 3rd inning. Ellsbury singled and stole 2nd, and Gardner (what else?) walked. With 1 out, Teixeira’s 3-run home run into the 2nd deck of the right field seats kept the momentum going. Things simmered down a bit until Beltran’s solo home run to left field to lead-off the 6th inning. And in the 7th, with 1 out and McCann and Hicks on base with singles, pinch-hitter Ronald Torreyes smacked a nice triple (a double for most other batters) to score 2 more runs. (This was his 3rd MLB career hit, his 1st for the Yankees in his pinstripe debut tonight.) Castro then hit him in with a single to cap off the Yankees’ scoring tonight.
The Astros finally had a full decent inning in their final innings — the 8th with a 1-2-3 inning. But it certainly meant a whole lot of nothing for either team tonight. The damage was done early and often, and for tonight, it was done by the Yankees to another team (rather than the depressing reverse scenario).
Final score: 16-6 Yankees. (And it was still pretty cold, but you certainly felt better about this game.)
After yesterday’s kerfuffle and a ton of conversation across the sports world, Girardi opted not to file a formal protest with the league. To be fair, most of the conversation agreed with Girardi’s protest that the runner was not in the base path and thus obstructing the throw (and should’ve been called out), including the Astros’ broadcasters. But the hassle didn’t seem worth it in the end, I guess. I mean, it’s not like it’s a play-off game or one of the late season crunch times. And it did accomplish something, maybe the whole point of the protest really — it got people talking about the rule, the specifics, and the rulings. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a clarification in the next off-season that the MLB takes on just so the “conversation” comes to a decisive conclusion.