An initial rain delay stalled the game for over an hour before the Yankees could face the Twins for their middle game of this series. It certainly didn’t help kick things off right away, and for what ended up feeling like a long game (though only about 3.5 hours), an extra hour before the first pitch made tonight feel a little long. The only pay-off? A Yankee win.
And some pretty good pitching by CC Sabathia again. Sabathia threw just 77 pitches in his 6 innings, giving up 6 hits, a walk, and 2 runs, and striking out 5 Minnesota batters. This, of course, set him up for the eventual win. Though he certainly got off to a rough start. In the 1st, 3 consecutive singles quickly loaded up the bases, but a double play scored one run and started a momentum for Sabathia which carried through most of his efficient remaining innings, save a lead-off solo home run in the 3rd.
The Yankees then handed off the ball to the stellar bullpen beginning with the standout that is Chad Green. David Robertson, however, showed off his nasty stuff in his 12-pitch 8th inning. And Aroldis Chapman’s 9th easily set him up for his 20th save of the season.
Meanwhile, the Twins’ pitchers just didn’t have a very good hold on things, despite their attempt to piece together relievers through the innings. They ended up sending in 7 relievers after their starter exited the game in the 4th inning after 90 pitches.
In the 2nd, Castro led-off with a walk, moved to 2nd on Bird’s 2-out walk, and then scored on Brett Gardner’s double. Ellsbury led-off the 4th with a double and then after Bird’s 1-out walk, Ellsbury scored on Gardner’s single to tie up the score again. After the starter left the game, the reliever promptly threw a wild pitch that moved both runners into scoring position. And then Aaron Judge’s sacrifice fly scored Bird.
With a new pitcher and 1 out in the 5th inning, Headley was hit by a pitch and Castro singled. Both runners moved up on a ground out, and Frazier’s walk loaded the bases. Then with another new pitcher on, a fielding error allowed Bird to reach base safely and score Headley. But even with loaded bases, a pop out ended the hope to expand their lead further.
Judge and Sanchez led-off the 6th with singles to put runners on the corners. Then with 2 outs, Starlin Castro singled and scored Judge, and a wild pitch moved runners up to scoring position. The Twins opted to intentionally walk Ellsbury (again) to load up the bases, which worked in their favor as a ground out ended yet another Yankee offensive threat.
But that would be it for the Yankees. And tonight, that would, once again, be enough.
Final score: 5-2 Yankees
Postseason prep: Just another FYI on the AL East standings… the Red Sox won another extra innings game tonight. They took the Orioles into the 11th inning totally scoreless, until the Red Sox finally found their opportunity and scored on a wild pitch in the top of the 11th. And the O’s couldn’t find their chance in the bottom of the inning. So the standings stand still at 3 games between the Red Sox and Yankees.
And in a little follow-up story, remember the “thumbs-down guy” from the game last week? The guy who stood up and gave a big “thumbs-down”, which Todd Frazier picked up and the entire team eventually turned into a weird positive symbol. Well, it turns out he’s actually a Mets season ticket holder, who took advantage of the cheap tickets for the relocated game to get good seats behind home plate. And on a whim, the man stood up and gave a thumbs-down. He seems to be enjoying his status as an internet sensation, but is also totally chill about it.