Tonight began a short homestand, a 4-game weekend series against the Astros before the Yankees hit the road for a week. Plus, it makes for an interesting intersection of the rising Yankees team this season, filled with rookies, and a bunch of former Yankees coming back to the Bronx for the first time this season (both on the field and for a certain special reason).
Michael Pineda got the start for the first game of this series. He threw 98 pitches well into the 7th innings, giving up 6 hits, a walk, and 3 runs, and striking out 7 batters. Actually, it was a pretty good outing overall. A 1-out double in the 1st scored as part of a 2-out 2-run homer to kick off the game and get the Astros on the board tonight. In the 5th, with 2 outs, the runner on 2nd scored on an RBI single to give the Astros an insurance run.
Adam Warren came on in the 7th with 2 outs and a runner on base. He gave up a walk but then got out of the inning. Warren allowed 2 runners in the 8th, but again kept the Astros from adding to their lead. Jonathan Holder had a bit of trouble in the 9th, giving up 2 singles, though one got out quickly thanks to the sharpness of catcher Sanchez. After a strikeout, the Yankees called on Chasen Shreve to end the inning in a 6-pitch groundout.
The Yankees offense took time to get off the ground as they faced one of the better pitchers in the AL. And despite that, they still had some opportunities to make their move, but didn’t do so until the 5th inning. Chase Headley reached base on a missed catch error and then moved to 3rd on Gregorius’ single. The bases were then loaded when Hicks worked a walk. And leave it to Jacoby Ellsbury to force in a run thanks to (what else with him?) catcher’s interference.
Again, the Yankees offense still had plenty of opportunities to advance, but just didn’t seem to be able to get guys across the plate tonight. The next time it seemed to be possible was the bottom of the 9th. Hicks worked a 1-out walk and ended up at 3rd on Ellsbury’s 2-out single. Ellsbury stole 2nd to put both runners in scoring position. So when Gary Sanchez hit a nice single, Hicks scored easily, but Ellsbury was thrown out at home to finish the game just a run short.
Final score: 3-2 Astros
It should be worth noting that the Yankees certainly were up against a pretty good pitcher and staff tonight. In just 6 innings, the Astros starter (and 2015 Cy Young Award winner) got the Yankees to strike out 9 strikeouts, and the 2 relievers added 5 more in the final third of the game. And to keep the game so close was actually a pretty good sign for who the Yankees are this season.
Someone mentioned to me during the bottom of the 9th that normally they would be sure that the Yankees would lose the game with 2 outs, even with 2 runners on base. But this person said they have no problem believing the Yankees could pull a win off because this anything is possible this season. We’ve seen them do it time and time again. They almost did it tonight.
I mean, the Astros are on top of the AL now with 24 wins. So that means this weekend will continue the battle for the top of the AL. And it also means that this weekend should be filled with pretty close games, which I always prefer over the blowout games. I think it’s a great example of true competition.
Roster moves: Chad Green was optioned back to AAA Scranton after Wednesday’s game. And in the corresponding move, reliever Giovanni Gallegos was called up for the first time in his career. He should make his MLB debut some time over the course of this 4-game weekend series. But keep those engines warm, I expect the Scranton Shuttle has more trips coming as the Yankees try to keep that bullpen fresh.