Game 18: NYY vs. TEX — A #NastyNate almost no-hitter

So very close. Must be used to the Texas heat and all, but tonight’s starter and native Texas son Nathan Eovaldi was just a few pitches short of a no-hitter. Blame the jinxes in the press box if you must (I know I did, and I don’t even believe in that stuff), but despite that, he still threw a pretty decent game tonight.

The Yankees are in Arlington tonight for a weekday series against the Rangers, and by luck of the rotation, Texas-born and raised Eovaldi got the start. (Though he’s usually more praised in Houston, as his hometown is basically a suburb of the other major Lone Star city.) And after the cringeworthy game yesterday, the Yankees needed something to get behind and spur them onto a win. Nasty Nate was back in action and gave them something to push the offense (and defense, really) back into proper Yankee form.

Eovaldi threw 98 pitches into the 8th inning (with 6 nasty strikeouts), and it wasn’t until the 7th inning that he started slowing down. He did allow 2 runners on prior to this via a fielding error and a walk, but until the 7th, he was cruising along in the zone. A rookie outfielder worked a 3-2 count and then scooted a ball between 3rd and short stop for the first hit by a Rangers’ batter tonight. But it was all erased on the base paths when the next batter hit into a double play ball. (Which was a little confusing, as the Yankees thought the double play was due to Castro’s catching the ball and then tossing it to 1st; but the umpires didn’t think he caught it, so he tossed it to first for the bag tag and then he, Teixeira, and Gregorius ran down the runner for the 2nd out. Virtually the same result, but he did actually catch the ball so the run down was completely unnecessary.)

Eovaldi came back on for the 8th, but hitting 98 pitches and walking that first batter, his night was over. It was onto the backend bullpen of the Dynamic Duo. With a single exception. After getting a standard double play to eliminate the runner, Betances’ near-perfect pitch became a solo home run with a single swing. (To be fair, it’s the batter’s first MLB home run, and hitting it off Betances, one of the best pitchers in the league, is a pretty nice memory for the kid.)

But that would be it for the Rangers, as Betances shut down the next batter with a strikeout looking, and Miller’s flawless 8-pitch 9th inning (and 5th save) was a continuation of his dominance.

Yankee batters faced a rookie pitcher again, and again, somewhat dominated him, getting 9 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs, and just 5 strikeouts off the starter. In the 3rd, Jacoby Ellsbury led off the inning with a solo home run. Beltran later worked a 1-out walk and then scored on Mark Teixeira’s solid double to give the Yankees an early lead. Starlin Castro added an exclamation mark to that lead with a nice lead-off solo home run in the 6th.

Final score: 3-1 Yankees.

Injury updates: Both Alex Rodriguez (oblique) and Aaron Hicks (shoulder) traveled with the team, but both were technically unavailable off the bench tonight. Both have said they’re feeling better, but unless it is absolutely necessary for one or both to play, I have a feeling both will be warming the bench for the next few games until “I’m fine” becomes “Now, I’m actually telling the truth and I have no more pain”. Though neither are expected to be formally moved to the DL and both are expected to be back in the lineup sooner rather than later.

And after meeting with Dr. Andrews today for a second opinion, pitcher Branden Pinder has opted for Tommy John surgery to repair the partially torn UCL in his throwing elbow. As you know, this surgery means a recovery time of 12-18 months, which means the young pitcher is out for the rest of the season. Pinder could return as early as next summer. Praying for a quick and full recovery for him.

And a fun “This Day in History” fact: April 25, 1999 (yes, that was 17 years ago, thank you for doing that math and making all of us feel a little bit old now). On that day, the Yankees dedicated their (fittingly) 5th monument plaque to the great #5 Joe DiMaggio, who had passed away just a month prior to the ceremony from a long battle with cancer. DiMaggio was one of those great ones, a once-in-a-generation player. And we were fortunate enough that he wore pinstripes. It’s good to remember every once and awhile, as it makes us remember what’s important — cherish the good times that were, cling to the good times that are, and hope for good times that will be.

Go Yankees!

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