For a few minutes, it looked like the rain might alter the game play for a second time this week. But as it was, the Yankees and Astros only had to wait 12 minutes for a simple rain delay for today’s series’ finale as the front passed on through (the lead of the front that caused the Boston-Cleveland game in Ohio to be drowned out and making much of the Great Lakes region rather wet or snowy).
So the rain cleared up, the clouds hung around, and with a slight chill in the air (though the temperature was 57° at first pitch), the game played on. And Nathan Eovaldi took the mound. Eovaldi wasn’t quite up to “Nasty Nate” today, but he still put in a pretty good show in most of his 5 innings (well, just the odd-numbered ones), giving up 6 hits, no walks, and 5 runs, and still striking out 7 Houston batters. In the 2nd, a 2-out double scored on a nice 2-run home run out to center field, which was immediately followed by a solo home run to give the Astros a 3-run lead. Then in the 4th, a single and a double put runners in scoring position to do so on a 1-out single.
But that would be it for the Astros’ offense, as the rest of the Yankees’ pitching staff shut the Astros down rather effectively. Kirby Yates made his pinstriped debut today during the 6th innings, with 2 nice strikeouts. And then it was onto this month’s 7-8-9 combo: Shreve (just a flawless 8-pitch 7th inning to earn the win), Betances (with some truly nasty pitching and 2 strikeouts), and Miller (who gave up 2 hits and still managed to strike out 3 batters to earn the save).
This was all fine and good, but with 5 runs under the Astros’ marquee, the Yankees’ offense had some catching up to do. In the 2nd, with runners on the corners with singles and 1 out, Chase Headley’s sacrifice fly scored Teixeira to kick off the Yankees’ runs this afternoon. In the 3rd, Gregorius led-off with a single and then scored all the way from 1st on Jacoby Ellsbury’s solid double. Brian McCann led-off the 4th inning with a solo shot into the corner of the right field seats, and Starlin Castro followed that up 2 outs later with his own solo home run to the left field bleacher seats.
And in the 5th inning, Ellsbury led-off with a double, moved to 3rd on Gardner’s line out, and then scored on Alex Rodriguez’s single (also his first hit of the regular season) to tie up the game. So it was after “God Bless America” (again) that the Yankees made their move. Gardner hit a 1-out single that forced a pitching change, and Rodriguez hit a single that put the insurance run on base. So for added insurance, Mark Teixeira hit a nice 3-run home run into the left field seats to give the Yankees a decent lead and eventual win.
Final score: 8-5 Yankees. Yankees win series 2-1.
Worth noting: the Yankees’ pitching staff gave up no walks and struck out a total of 14 batters. Comparatively, the Yankees’ batters only struck out 6 times during the game. And April’s 7-8-9 combination is starting to prove their value. (Any idea for a clever nickname for the trio? Remember, the Betances-Miller combo last year was the “Dynamic Duo”.)
Before the game, McCann was honored with his Silver Slugger award from last season. The Silver Slugger is given to the best offensive player at each position every year. This was McCann’s 6th Silver Slugger award, but 1st with the Yankees (the previous 5 were with the Braves).
Next up: the Yankees travel to Detroit to face the Tigers this weekend, with Severino, Sabathia, and Tanaka on track to start.
(By the way, the Yankees are 3rd in the team stats standing on that HR count, after the Rockies’ 10 and the Mariners’ 9. They do lead in RBI totals at 27 and stolen bases at 4.)