Progressive Field in Cleveland hosted the Yankees for a traditional doubleheader today to make up for the rained out days back at the beginning of April. And today, they split the outcome each earning a shutout win. Game 1 was 1-0 for Cleveland, and Game 2 went 7-0 for New York.
In the 1st game, it was a pitching duel. Cleveland’s pitcher really was outstanding going the full 9 innings and keeping the Yankees scoreless, only allowing 4 hits and walking 3, while striking out 9 batters. David Phelps gave the Yankees 6.2 innings, striking out 7, walking 5, and allowing only 1 run to score off a 1st inning solo home run. To help Phelps keep the Indians from further damage, Logan got the final out in the 7th inning and Claiborne closed out the 8th.
Offensively in the 1st game, the Yankees didn’t have much to show in the way of power. But their defense is a credit to the single run allowed. Game 1 saw more regular players in their regular spots, which was needed to keep the Indians’ attempts to get on base throughout the game.
In between games, the Indians, in partnership with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, presented Mariano Rivera with a gold record of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”, the closer’s well-known walk-up music. I don’t think Cleveland could have selected a better option to honor Rivera on his final trip to Progressive Field.
Also, Brennan Boesch was optioned to AAA Scranton in between games as there is talks of bring Curtis Granderson back sometime this week. Granderson has been doing really well in his rehab games with the Scranton team, and if he is ready to go, they will be bringing him back to New York with them and probably in one of the games against Seattle or Toronto this week. This I see as a good sign of the first of many recovering regular Yankees making their way back to the Bronx healthy and raring for a piece of the winning streak the Yankees have been on lately.
For the 2nd game, it was the Yankees who struck first with a run scored on a force out and the score stayed at 1-0 until the 7th inning. In his first start in the major leagues, Vidal Nuno showed why he was chosen as the outstanding candidate in Spring Training. He allowed only 3 hit and no runs over his strong 5 innings and earned the win. He’s really on the way to being a strong contender for the regular starting rotation sooner rather than later. He split today’s work with another outstanding Spring candidate Adam Warren who only allowed 2 hits over his 4 innings and notching his first save.
I have no idea what happened in the 7th inning, but the patchwork of Yankees forced their way through 10 batters in the top of the inning, scoring 6 runs against 3 different pitchers before it was over. Here’s what happened: Corban Joseph (in his 2nd outing with the majors, Game 1 was his first) doubled; newly acquired Alberto Gonzalez bunts out; Austin Romine (his 1st major league hit and RBI) doubles and scores Joseph (1); pitching change; Gardner walks; Jayson Nix singles out to right field and scores Romine (2), Gardner to 3rd; Cano strikes out swinging; Vernon Wells singles to left field and scores Gardner (3), Nix to 2nd; Lyle Overbay doubles out to center field, scoring Nix (4) and Wells (5); pitching change #2; Ben Francisco reaches on a throwing error and scores Overbay (6); and Corban Joseph flies out to center field.
That inning was reminiscent of the other games the Yankees played in Cleveland last month when they took advantage of poorly placed pitches and fielding errors. But they were quick and sharp to capitalize on the lack of natural teamwork that the Indians aren’t really displaying. But I’m not going to excuse them for this by attributing this to inexperienced players or the taxing momentum of a doubleheader because they Yankees are in the same boat, if not worse — most of those on the 2nd game roster are brand new Yankees, some even making their pinstriped debut this month (or today in Joseph’s case) and yet they find a way to work together and make it happen, working as a team, as if they’ve played their whole careers together.
They’re calling this year’s team the “No-Named Yankees”. But isn’t that the point of not having their names emblazoned on their back? Because it’s not about who’s in the shirt as much as who they represent. Again, we have to credit Girardi for pulling the impossible out of whomever is donning the uniform and somehow they still manage to win ball games and sit firmly atop the AL East and is one of the best teams in the whole league.