The 29,089 fans at Progressive Field today in Cleveland witnessed the Yankees as a force to be reckoned with as they took an early stand to declare that this day would belong to New York. The persistence and guts shown in last night’s game was evident on this warm summer afternoon of baseball. An early lead for the Yankees, plus careless errors by the home team, combined to give the Bombers an even record (44-44) going into the All-Star break. Girardi, pleased with how well the Yankees played today, said that he hoped the team can carry this momentum into the second half of the season. After weeks of struggling, finishing even for this first half gives the Yankee players hope to keep moving forward for a chance at a wild card position at the end of the season.
Yankee batters faced a total of seven pitchers over nine innings who could not stop the surging New York momentum this afternoon. After a quiet first inning, the Yankees offense showed up strong in the second inning that began when Starlin Castro hit his 200th career double on a ground ball to left. Rob Refsnyder reached second on a missed catch error that scored Castro for the first run of the game. Romine doubled on a fly ball to right that moved Refsnyder to third. With two on and two out, Jacoby Ellsbury came to bat. After a called strike that he initially thought was a ball, Ellsbury took up his bat and, on the next pitch, promptly launched a 3-run homer over the right field fence to put New York ahead 4 to zip.
Masahiro Tanaka started the game and recorded 5 strike outs but struggled throughout, giving up 10 hits and 7 runs over 4 2/3 innings. In the second, a lead-off walk moved to 2nd on a single and then scored on another single. But Tanaka managed to get out of the inning without a further dent in the Yankees lead at this point.
In the fourth, Headley started the inning with a line drive double to right, and a fielding error landed Refsnyder on first. With Romine’s fielder’s choice at second, the Yankees had men at the corners. Gardner’s grounder forced out Romine at second, but also scored Headley, and the Yankees continued their lead.
The lengthy fifth inning of Yankee baseball showed both teams to be fierce competitors as runs kept piling up. At the top of the fifth, with Teixeira and Gregorius on base and the starter now out of the game, Castro walked to load the bases. A really messy error allowed Chase Headley to reach first and both Teixeira and Gregorius to score. Refsnyder singled, and the bases were loaded once again. A sacrifice fly by both Austin Romine and Brett Gardner scored two more runs, with another pitching change in between.
Then Ellsbury singled on a line drive to center and Refsnyder moved to third. Carlos Beltran’s RBI single to right scored Refsnyder and with runners at the corners once again, and Teixeira singled a RBI right up the middle on a ground ball and Ellsbury scored to give the Yankees a strong lead. To load up the bases yet again, Didi Gregorius was hit by a nasty pitch, which caused some initial concern, but is a bit swollen and will need the rest that will be the All-Star break this week to heal. A new pitcher effectively shut down the Yankees’ run rally and increased lead over the Indians.
In the bottom of the fifth, Tanaka’s moderated struggles in the game came back, allowing 6 runs and putting a rather large dent in the Yankees hefty lead. A lead-off double scored on a 1-out double. A single put runners on the corners, another single scored the lead runner, and a ground out moved the remaining runners to scoring position. A throwing error scored 2 Cleveland runs before a monster 2-run home run ended the Indians’ run rally and Tanaka’s messy night.
Taking over for Tanaka, Eovaldi earned his first relief career win that kept the opposing team scoreless through the ninth inning for a Yankee victory. Eovaldi had a strong showing and pitched the remaining 4 1/3 inning of the game with 3 strikeouts and allowed only one hit and no runs to effectively shut down the Indians and give the win to the Yankees. This gives one hope that “Nasty Nate” may be back!
The Yankees never did come back and add to their lead, but to be fair, there was no need to. I’m guessing both teams wish their starters had better command of the game, as it wasn’t exactly an ideal way to end the first half of the season. On the other hand, I’m not going to deny that a Yankee win wasn’t needed or desired.
Final Score: 11-7 Yankees, Yankees take the series 3-1.
Injury update: Mark Teixeira returned to the line-up today after taking Saturday off to rest his knee. Rest and careful monitoring by the team doctors seem to be what’s needed to keep Teixeira in the game this season.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre injury update: Aaron Judge has been placed on the 7-day minor league DL to rest a ligament sprain and bone bruise in his left knee. This International League Player of the Month of June was all set to play in the IL’s Home Run Derby on Monday, but instead he is expected to miss up to a month of games while he heals. We wish him a speedy healing and hope to see him back on the field soon.
Futures Game: catcher and number 3 Yankees prospect Gary Sanchez helped his World team defeat the US team in the Futures Game today as part of the All-Star Game festivities in San Diego. With all the odd things that keep happening to some of the Yankee farm system (like Judge from above), it was nice to see someone rather consistent as Sanchez, who started the game behind the plate and caught quite a few young pitchers to help guide his team to an 11-3 victory.
The 2016 MLB Home Run Derby in San Diego will air Monday night, July 11, at 8pm ET on ESPN. Be sure to tune in and watch this yearly slugfest of some of baseball’s finest power hitters.