Well, that’s not a bad way to end the last homestand of the month. The Yankees wanted to finish the week strong, and they did going 4-2 (with a postponed game in the middle) overall for the homestand. And they’re off to face division rivals in Baltimore and Toronto to continue to mold and shape the AL East next week.
Continuing the camo-accented uniforms for the weekend’s honoring of military veterans and their families for Memorial, the Yankees closed out their series and homestand against the visiting Athletics in this afternoon’s rubber match. Michael Pineda got the start and threw 101 pitches through 6 innings, giving up 3 hits, 3 walks, and 3 runs (only 2 earned), and striking out 5 Oakland batters to earn the win.
The lead-off batter in the 2nd inning worked a walk and moved to 3rd on a ground-rule double. The next batter hit a solid single to left field, which scored both runners as the batter tried to stretch it into a double. The on-field call was safe at 2nd, but the Yankees challenged it. It was eventually overturned thanks to the sharp throw of Gardner and the quick swipe of Castro.
In an inning I’m sure Pineda would like to forget, a 1-out walk in the 6th moved to 2nd on Pineda’s balk and then scored on a throwing error by Pineda. But then the defense kicked it up by getting a sweet double play to end the inning — a line drive out to Castro who fired it to 2nd to get the runner doubled off 1st.
Chad Green was the first to relieve Pineda, throwing a flawless 7th, but getting into a spot of trouble in the 8th with a 1-out walk and a big 2-run home run. Tommy Layne came on for a 1-pitch fly out, and Adam Warren got the last out of the inning in just 2 pitches. Warren continued that flawless streak through the 9th inning, earning the save in just 9 more pitches.
Meanwhile, the Yankees offense had to come up with an offensive win, mainly on the back of a certain power-hitter with his own new fan section. In the 2nd, Castro led-off with a single, ended up at 3rd on Gregorius’ single, and then scored on Aaron Hicks’ sacrifice fly to get the Yankees on the board.
With 2 outs, the Yankees loaded the bases in the 3rd with singles by Torreyes and Sanchez and a fielding error on Holliday’s hit. So it would be Aaron Judge to hit his 16th home run of the season and 1st grand slam of his career. And the crowd went nuts, including some special little leaguers who were lucky enough to sit in “The Judge’s Chambers” to witness history (the ball landing just below that section).
In the 4th, Hicks led-off with a single, stole 2nd only to end up at 3rd on a throwing error, and then scored on Chris Carter’s sacrifice fly. So the Yankees dinged the Oakland starter into the 6th inning, including unearned runs thanks to their sloppy errors. But the Oakland relievers didn’t have any better luck. (Fortunately for the Yankees!)
In the 7th, Torreyes hit a 1-out single and then scored on Gary Sanchez’s double. The A’s challenged the call on the field originally as they thought it might have been a caught ball first before the outfielder tumbled to the ground and lost the ball from his glove, but the replay upheld the call of no-catch because they didn’t think he actually had the ball safely in his glove before it popped out.
And in the 8th, under a new reliever, with 2 outs, the Yankees loaded up the bases again with a couple of walks and a fielder’s choice so that Brett Gardner’s double scored 2 more runs to ensure the Yankees’ victory.
Final score: 9-5 Yankees, Yankees win series 2-1.
And they’re off to Baltimore, like I said in the beginning. They’ll play 3 games at Camden Yards. The Orioles are currently 3 games behind the Yankees, but you know they’re looking to make things a little more even. So it’s bound to be a good series battle. The Yankees then take a trip north of the border for a 4-game weekend series against the Blue Jays, who are looking to take their current losing season (4 games under) and flip that around.
However, it’s still really early in the season, and the Yankees have had some really good games with some really good players. Trying to predict the World Series now is about the same as guessing the plot line of the next Star Wars movie — you might have some ideas and theories, but your accuracy is going to be really low, percentage-wise. I know what I’d like to happen (in both instances), but I’m at about at 30-40% positive on my guess. (And I have a feeling I’m going to be more right about baseball than a galaxy far, far away.)
But that’s baseball and life… you never know what’s going to happen. There’s too many possibilities. And doesn’t that mysterious factor just make things a bit more interesting?