Game 9: TB vs. NYY — Sweep dreams for the home opening series

Not a bad way to start the season in the Bronx — a nice sweep of the visiting Rays. First homestand, first sweep. There’s a lot of nice things I can tie together, but I won’t. And I won’t use any cleaning metaphors either because it was a well-played game. The Rays’ defense was finally not as sloppy as the last two games, but it wasn’t enough.

Luis Severino got the start in tonight’s finale, throwing 104 pitches over his 7 innings, giving up 5 hits, a walk, and 2 runs, and striking out a really impressive 11 Rays batters. (He set his own record tonight when he got to 10 strikeouts in the 7th, so 11 is a step above that.) In the 2nd, with 2 outs and 2 runners on base, a single scored the Rays’ first run before the infield played a little rundown to end the inning. And a hard-hit 1-out solo home run in the 5th gave the Rays 2.

Dellin Betances’ 8th inning was a bit dramatic, giving up a walk and a single to start the inning before buckling down for 3 straight outs, 2 of them nasty strikeouts (to continue the momentum of Severino). Then it was on to Aroldis Chapman to get the save and complete a fire-throwing pitching day for the Yankees. Chapman added 2 more strikeouts to the mix for a total of 15 strikeouts for Yankees pitchers tonight. (15 of the 27 Rays’ batting outs were thus strikeouts.)

The Yankees entire scoring is due to one player — Aaron Hicks. He kicked things off with a 1-out solo shot to right field in the 1st. And then in the 7th, with 2 outs and Ellsbury on 1st, Hicks came in and hit the ball deep into the left field seats for a 2-run home run. Talk about clutch hitting tonight!

Final score: 3-2 Yankees, Yankees sweep 3-0

I heard someone describe tonight’s game as a pitching duel, and I feel like they’ve never really seen one if they call tonight’s outings a “duel”. Once again, the pitching statistics are fairly matched (except that pesky strikeout one), but it certainly didn’t feel like a duel to me. A duel is usually between really good, really tight pitchers who keep the hits and base runners to a minimum. Both teams gave up 7 hits each (and 7 total walks, 5 to Yankee batters), and while the final score was close. It didn’t really have the atmosphere as being stellar in pitching on both sides. Sorry.

Injury updates: okay, prospect pitcher James Kaprielian has made his decision, opting for Tommy John surgery, currently scheduled for Tuesday. I can understand this decision. This gives him a definite timetable for recovery, instead of hoping that during rest and rehab it won’t get worse or suddenly take a turn and force surgery in the end. He was scheduled to start the season with Single-A Tampa, maybe working up to Trenton later this year, but all that will have to wait. Recovery time is general 14-16 months, so he’s looking at a return towards the end of next summer (around the All-Star Game 2018).

And in better news, Brett Gardner showed up for work today and was ready to play if necessary, though he wasn’t scheduled to play or even expected to show up at the stadium. Yes, the guy who had a bruised and swollen jaw after yesterday’s 6th inning collision, Brett Gardner was just ready to play ball. He passed the mandatory concussion test and clearly rested and iced his jaw and neck last night. And while there might be some lingering soreness, the veteran Yankee defied all odds and was just ready to play.

In good news, the Yankees are now having a winning season. They are currently 5-4, 2nd in the AL East (tied with Boston), behind Baltimore. Not saying anything about anything, but it’s nice to celebrate minor victories as they come along.

Go Yankees!

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