Not a terrible afternoon for baseball. After starting off a little cloudy and overcast, the weather cleared some and with temperatures in the very pleasant mid-60s, it was a rather nice day to play a nice game.
With the middle game of this weekend series against the Rays, the Yankees sent Masahiro Tanaka to start today’s game and push the Yankees into the win column already for this series, something they so desperately need. Tanaka did a pretty good job keeping the Rays under control and drew a no-decision today. He threw 97 pitches over his 7 innings, giving up just 5 hits, a walk, and 2 runs, and struck out 7 batters as only Tanaka can.
In the top of the 4th, a 1-out double moved to 3rd on a fly out, and then scored on an RBI double. And a 1-out solo home run off the foul pole to put the Rays into the lead at that point. The Yankees had started the scoring in the 1st with Carlos Beltran’s 2-out walk. Beltran moved to 3rd on Teixeira’s single and then scored on a wild pitch. But the Rays’ starter (making his MLB debut in Yankee Stadium of all places) did a pretty decent job of keeping the Yankees from doing much — just 2 hits, 1 walk, and 1 run allowed over 5 innings.
So with the Rays slightly ahead, all it took to shift things around was “God Bless America” once again. In the bottom of the 7th, the Yankees played some small ball — McCann’s walk, an out, a pitching change, Headley’s walk, another out, and then bases loaded on catcher’s interference during Ellsbury’s at-bat. So it would be Brett Gardner’s single that would tie up the game.
So with the game now tied, the Yankees went to their reliable bullpen of the Dynamic Duo — Betances and Miller, who collectively shut down the Rays in their final 2 innings with 22 pitches and 2 strikeouts, sending the game tied into the bottom of the 9th.
And with 2 quick outs in the 9th, Gardner stepped up to the plate and worked a 3-1 count before planting a fastball deep into the 2nd deck of the right field seats for a beautiful walk-off home run for the Yankees — the first such game so far this season. Overall, Gardner played a key offensive role today, going 3-for-5, with a run scored, 2 RBIs, and that amazing walk-off home run. And the celebration in the Bronx commenced, complete with the traditional dousing of Gatorade (usually Gardner’s job, but Betances and Gregorius had the honors today), a shower of “purple rain”, as it were.
Final score: 3-2 Yankees.
Injury updates: tests on Branden Pinder showed a partial tear in his UCL. Yes, that is the ligament that, when torn, usually indicates Tommy John surgery is the next step. But as it’s a partial tear, it’s really up to Pinder as to whether he want to take this step now or see if it heals naturally first (as Tanaka did). Also, Aaron Hicks is still sore after his shoulder jamming slide last night, so the Yankees sent him to get an MRI to see if the injury is anything more than just a sore shoulder. The results came back as traumatic bursitis, which was treated with a cortisone shot and no activity for 4-5 days. Should this not work, a stint on the DL is very much a possibility.
Giving Back in Yankee Universe: CC Sabathia and his PitcchIn Foundation helped raise money to renovate a local baseball field in the Bronx. Thanks to the Sabathias and their foundation, the field now has a completely new surface, irrigation, dugouts, and lighting. Claremont Park was listed just 2 years ago as one of the worst in condition in the area (torn-up turf, broken lighting, vandalized and unsafe conditions everywhere you looked). This prompted the Sabathias to consider how they could help. There are about 500 Bronx children ages 3-17 that participate in Little League at Claremont Park, now benefiting from the beautiful new conditions.
And in that vein, I’ll leave you with the words of William Shakespeare (as it is the 400th anniversary of his death): “Words pay no debts, give her deeds.” (Troilus & Cressida, III.ii.54). (For you non-Shakespeare fans, this translates simply to “actions speak louder than words” or “don’t just talk about doing good, go out and do good”.)