A humid midwestern evening with a heat index in the mid-90s greeted fans tonight at U.S. Cellular Field on Chicago’s south side for the rubber match between the Yankees and the White Sox. Both teams were confident they would win this series, but, as always, there can only be one winner.
Michael Pineda started for the Yankees and had a decent first inning, but quickly gave up 4 runs in the second inning. Over 6 innings, Pineda allowed a final total of 5 runs, 5 hits, and a walk. So other than his brief dip in productivity (early on), Pineda actually did a pretty decent job. At the bottom of the second, Pineda was able to get the first two batters out, but then Chicago began a hitting streak and gained 4 runs. With a single, passed ball, and a walk, 2 runners were suddenly on base. A single scored the first one, and a ground-rule double scored the other. A double then scored the final 2 runners to give the White Sox a rather hefty early lead.
With runners on the corners in the sixth, a fielder’s choice allowed Chicago’s final run to cross the plate; though the Yankees tried for the standard double play but just weren’t quick enough on that particular play. In the middle of all this, Pineda recorded his 500th career strikeout in the fifth inning; a rather big number for a rather young pitcher.
In his first outing from the bullpen this season, Nathan Eovaldi took over the mound for the Yankees in the eighth and ninth for one strikeout, and despite 2 walks and wild pitch, he gave up no runs during his tenure tonight.
Inning by inning, the White Sox starter shut down any and all Yankee scoring opportunities. The relievers (including a former Yankee reliever) in the final part of the game continued that momentum by the White Sox starter; the Yankee offense could not get past any of the Chicago pitchers tonight.
The Yankees’ offense wasn’t nearly as dramatic or productive, but it was rather heavy on Didi Gregorius (as was the defense tonight, actually). In the top of the second inning, with two outs on the board, Gregorius stole second base and was called out, but a replay review rather quickly overturned that decision, putting Gregorius in scoring position right up until the next batter grounded out to end the inning. In the bottom of the fourth, Gregorius’ awesome diving stop to end the inning was another valiant attempts by the Yankee defense to stop the advancing South Siders.
With two outs at the top of the seventh, Gregorius (again!) hit a hard line drive down the right field line for a ground-rule double that put him in scoring position but was left stranded at the end of the inning. And in the bottom of that inning, McCann’s quick reaction and strong arm stopped a runner on a stolen base attempt. Bottom of the eighth, a solid double play by Castro and Gregorius ended the inning, in what is becoming a rather instinctive, beautiful, and standard teamwork play for the middle infielders.
And in a last-ditch effort in the ninth, facing a former teammate to many Yankees, and two men on base, a replay challenge overturned what would have been the third out. With Yankee fans hoping this game would not be a shut-out, Headley came to the plate and attempted to get a piece of the ball, hoping to continue the offensive contributions from earlier in this series, but he struck out swinging for the final out of the evening. The Yankees just couldn’t get their bats in order to dent the Sox’s early lead.
Final score: 5-0 White Sox, White Sox take the series 2-1.
News from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre: The Yankees continue to be pleased with the progress of their top three prospects Jorge Mateo, Aaron Judge, and Gary Sanchez. Kudos to Sanchez for being chosen to appear in the All-Star Futures Game in Petco Park, San Diego, on July 10. (Mateo was also supposed to participate, but a recent suspension for insubordination forces him to now miss this opportunity.)
Tampa Yankee prospect Ian Clarkin is also garnering positive attention. This young pitcher missed all 2015 due to an arm issue. Now healthy and working strong, he has a great command of his fast ball, has added new pitches, and is working on his pitching mechanics with successful results. Clarkin is one to watch!
Be sure to vote! The ballot for the final vote for 2016 MLB All-Star Game is available online here. No Yankees in this one, but someone may strike you as deserving of a trip to San Diego.