Okay, I have to be honest, it’s really nice to write about a win. I mean, it’s always nice to write about a win against the Red Sox. Jeter recently described the Red Sox fans as soft now after winning the Series (I’m assuming he meant the 2004 “Break the Curse” one). But I can’t say that I agree. Maybe they warmed up to him enough to (as he said) “not yell at him in restaurants” anymore, but this is still the best rivalry in baseball. Maybe they have evolved into more palatable outside of the actual ball park setting, and the ribbing of each other is almost more entertainment and part of the mantle of being a Red Sox or Yankee fan.
Anyway, the Red Sox are in town for the weekend. And it was Michael Pineda’s turn to start tonight’s game. Pineda actually didn’t do a bad job, giving up 8 hits, a walk, 2 runs, and striking out 4 in his 6 innings. His weakest inning was the 1st. After 2 outs, a batter doubled and stole 3rd, which set him up to score, something he did fairly easily as the next batter smacked a big 2-run home run to jump the Red Sox into the lead early in the game.
However, it would be the only runs the Red Sox would score all night. After Pineda kept the Red Sox from adding to their score during his tenure, the Yankees began to piece together the final 3 innings with their bullpen. Shreve struggled his way through a couple of batters, giving up a hit and getting an out before handing things over to Yates to finish off the 7th.
Then in came the Dynamic Duo. Betances got the first 2 outs of the 8th, and then Miller had a rough time of it for the final 4 outs — 36 pitches, 3 hits, and a walk, but still making sure all 4 outs were strikeouts. Of course, the Red Sox added their own bits of drama even at the end of the game with some ejections caused by arguing balls and strikes. (Seriously, why do they still do this? It’s like become an automatic ejection now. And the Yankees have been known to do the same thing, so it’s not just “everyone else”.)
Now, in order for the Yankees to actually win (and in some games already this season, they would not have done so), they needed to score a few runs. So they did. Already down 2-0 coming to bat in the bottom of the 1st, Jacoby Ellsbury worked a walk to lead off the inning, stole 2nd base, then stole 3rd (more on that below), and then scored on Brian McCann’s 2-out double.
The Yankees are not without their bits of drama either tonight; they just got it out of the way early and no one was ejected. In the 2nd, Castro led-off with a single and moved to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt. After another out and Torreyes’ walk, Dustin Ackley (Ellsbury’s replacement) singled, which easily scored Castro. But throwing the ball in for the out, the ball got diverted back to get Torreyes going to 3rd on a pretty heads-up play for the Red Sox to end the inning after the Yankees tied up the game.
And there they sat. And then “God Bless America”. I think I figured out why other teams don’t honor America at the 7th inning stretch. It isn’t because they don’t want to, but rather that they know it does stuff for the Yankees. Like it did tonight. Aaron Hicks hit his first home run of the season and as a Yankee to lead-off the bottom of the 7th inning and give the Yankees the lead.
It was enough.
Final score: 3-2 Yankees.
Injury updates: So, on that 2nd stolen base (the one to 3rd), Ellsbury came up limping from a sore hip and was unable to continue the game (hence both Ackley and Hicks in the outfield, Beltran was DH tonight). Ellsbury is on his way to an MRI and more tests. Ellsbury has had hip issues as recently as early last year. Hopefully, this isn’t the case. You know, he was just sparking offensively too. (Isn’t that always the case?)
Also, CC Sabathia is out with a groin injury and now on the 15-day DL (though realistically his recovery time is closer to 3 weeks). Ivan Nova will move from the bullpen into his starting spot fairly seamlessly. And in the meantime, filling the 25-man roster is veteran reliever and former Yankee Phil Coke, who was recently re-signed to the team with a minor league deal. Coke made his MLB debut with the Yankees in 2008 and was with the team through the 2009 season (yes, part of that team) before spending time with the Tigers, Cubs, and Blue Jays until last year.
Sabathia’s injury comes after his stellar performance last night too. Okay, so I’m not loving this pattern — just when a player gets good, an injury just crushes their playing time (and inevitably, their spirit). Um, let’s stop this pattern.
But this winning thing… now, that’s something I can get behind.