TGIF… especially with the Twins being in town right now and the Yankees just aching to prove they’re as good as they seem on paper. Not that I’m complaining.
Masahiro Tanaka got the chance to earn his 5th win of the season today, throwing 95 pitches in his 6 innings, giving up 8 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs, striking out 7 batters. In the 3rd, with no outs and runners in scoring position, a certain former (often helmet-less) Yankee hit both runners in with a single to get the ball rolling tonight. And in the 4th with 1 out and runners in scoring position once again, a ground out scored just the lead runner to cap off the Twins’ offense tonight. Mostly, Tanaka kept the Twins swinging at his pitches and setting up the Yankees offense to do something.
So they did something. In fact, every time the Twins scored a run, the Yankees would answer back in the bottom of that inning to keep things interesting. In the bottom of the 3rd, down 2-0, with 2 outs and Gardner at 1st, Carlos Beltran’s double scored Gardner, only to be followed up by Alex Rodriguez’s single scoring Beltran to tie up the game.
And when the Twins got back in the lead with their 3rd run in the 4th, the Yankees came back in the bottom to tie things up again… and then some. They loaded the bases (with no outs) with a walk, a single, and a fielding error. Austin Romine’s sacrifice fly scored the run to tie the game. A force out put runners on the corners so that Rob Refsnyder’s single scored Gregorius. A walk loaded the bases again with 2 outs, but the Twins’ pitching change (the starter out of the game already) allowed for a momentum shift and the Yankees went down swinging leaving those bases loaded with a very slim lead.
And there they maintained. So the Yankees trotted out the Warriors Three from the bullpen, and man, were they on point tonight. The three flame-throwing pitchers plowed through 9 straight batters in 3 near-perfect innings to close out the game. It was exactly what everyone who dreamed up these three pitchers could do and be for the Yankees.
In fact, Chapman nearly threw a perfect inning (save 2 foul balls). His 10 fast balls were 101, 102, 102, 102, 103, 103, 103, 103, 103, and 104 mph. (He is the only guy in the entire league since 2008 to throw more than 1 pitch at 103 or faster — he’s thrown 77 actually.) Only to get the guy swinging at a 91 mph change-up for a final strike and get his 14th save.
Of course, the Yankees did give him an extra cushion — Aaron Hicks’ 1-out solo home run in the 8th inning. That was Hicks’ first home run from the right side (he’s a switch-hitter) this season.
Also worth noting is that the Yankees really out-pitched the Twins tonight, especially with their strikeouts. The Yankee batters struck out just 6 times, which their pitchers earned 12 strike outs tonight.
Final score: 5-3 Yankees
So, the biggest news in Yankee Universe is that Mark Teixeira is coming back to the Bronx for tomorrow afternoon’s game. Yes, his knee (which may still need surgery at some point this off-season) is better and rehabbed and ready to play again. Now the big question is going to be the corresponding roster move. Will the Yankees send Refsnyder back to Scranton (though he’s been excellent both at 1st and at the plate recently)? Or will they move recently signed Davis (though he’s certainly had his own contributions and has more time solidly at 1st)? I have my opinions, but they don’t consult me on major roster moves. So what happens will happen likely before tomorrow afternoon’s game.
Tonight, the big giveaway at Yankee Stadium was a Mickey Mantle bobblehead figure. And before tonight’s game, Mantle’s sons David and Danny threw out the first pitch. The figurine and tonight were in honor of the 60th anniversary of Mantle’s Triple Crown achievement. In 1956, Mantle led the American League in batting average (.353), home runs (52), and RBIs (130). Even with today’s power-hitting skyscraping standards, those are pretty impressive numbers, and it’s still one of the best records in history. It’s only fitting that one of the best players in the history of baseball also played for one of the greatest baseball teams. Once a Yankee…