Spring Game 19: NYY vs. MIN — Changing of the guard

The most interesting little tidbit about today’s match-up when the Yankees visited the Twins is that outfielder Aaron Hicks was part of a trade this offseason that moved him from the Twins to the Yankees in exchange for catcher John Ryan Murphy, both of whom started this afternoon’s game in Ft. Myers (a couple hours south of Tampa on the Florida Gulf Coast). And oddly, they both were rather large contributors for their new respective teams — like Hicks showing his instinct and power in a great double play in the 4th inning. (Sounds like a fairly even trade to me in light of the outcome.)

Ivan Nova started the game for the Yankees today, not really having the best outing or making a strong case for that 5th starter position (between him and Sabathia, really, more on this later). Nova threw into the 5th inning, giving up 5 hits, 3 walks, and 4 runs, and striking out just 2 batters. In the 2nd, he loaded the bases quickly with 2 singles and a walk, before three identical plays (a force ground out to 2nd) scored 2 runners and ended the inning, escaping further harm. And in the 5th, aforementioned previous Yankee led-off by working a walk, moved to 3rd on a double, and then scored (with the other runner) on a deep 2-RBI single.

That forced Nova out of the game and turned things over to Bryan Mitchell, who is quickly becoming one of those reliable fixtures in the bullpen (like Shreve). Mitchell quickly shut down the Twins and kept that momentum going through the next 2 innings as well, eventually earning him the win (rightfully so too). This then continued through the near flawless Swarzak and Barbato to close out the game for the Yankees.

 

Now, there were two things that really saved Nova (and subsequently the other relievers) from total loss today — a ridiculous defense and an active offense. That offense began in the 3rd inning, with the Yankees down 2-0. Kozma walked, Torreyes singled, and Gamel reached on a fielding error to load the bases, and then Brett Gardner worked a walk to get the Yankees on the scoreboard. Then Aaron Hicks added one more with a sacrifice flysacrifice fly, and Brian McCann’s ground out pushed the Yankees ahead by 1 run.

Then the 5th was all about Ben Gamel. Torreyes singled but then got caught when Gamel ground into a force out. Gamel then stole 2nd, moved to 3rd on Gardner’s ground out, and then scored on a balk (the first called balk of the Spring in a Yankees game, by the way). And in the 8th, with the game tied up, Cesar Puello led-off with a 1st pitch big solo home run over the right field wall. Then Romero drew a 1-out walk, moved into scoring position on Parmelee’s ground out, and then scored on Eddy Rodriguez’s double for that insurance run.

Final score: 6-4 Yankees

 

 

Okay, the “ones to watch” today are fairly easy: Puello and Gamel, mainly for their offensive contributions, but they are assets in that outfield. But I’m really not surprised to find these guys being serious contributors (or anyone else I’ve listed in this section).

Look, in the past 4 years, I’ve seen some really amazing young talent in the farm system on display during March, enough for it to become a favorite of Spring Training. It certainly gives me hope for the future of the organization. Think about the people who watched future legends in similar context. Would they have guessed that some of those guys would go on to wear the now-retired numbers in Monument Park? I wonder which of these guys might get such an honor one day. See, that’s part of the fun of this game… you just never know.

A brief update on Jacoby Ellsbury’s hand injury from yesterday. Currently, he is listed as day-to-day, nursing that sore hand and waiting to be able to do simple things like grip a bat or a ball without wincing in pain. So while he is looking to making the Spring roster again as early as Thursday night’s game, really he’s just focusing on being ready for Opening Day.

And a quick note on the starting rotation (as mentioned earlier in the post). As of now, the Yankees have a plethora of starters — Eovaldi, Pineda, Severino, Tanaka, Nova and Sabathia. Technically, on Spring stats alone, Eovaldi, Pineda, Severino, and Tanaka are a lock for the rotation. But Nova and Sabathia have had an equally bad March so far — Nova still trying to find that rhythm after his Tommy John surgery in late 2014, Sabathia always struggles in Spring but wanting to make sure his personal off-season recovery didn’t hinder any pre-season readiness.

Honestly, my thoughts are they will opt to go with Sabathia as the veteran for the rotation and move Nova to the bullpen; Nova also has bullpen experience, whereas Sabathia does not. Or they may opt for a 6-man rotation through April to see how everyone settles into the season, and to cushion it in hopes of lessening the strain of another rotation injury (as has plagued the pitching staff a lot these last few years). But then, I don’t make those decisions and all of those thoughts are simply suppositions (a smart-sounding word for gossip, really).

It will be what it is come April 4. And I’ll be rooting for the Yankees to grab that 28th championship this year.

Go Yankees!

The off-season scramble begins

It’s been 10 days since the Royals won the World Series and officially threw all of baseball into the off-season. Congratulations again to Kansas City and the Royals organization on their amazing season and championship. Nearly 800,000 blue-clad Royals fans (in an area of over 2,000,000 residents) crowded part of downtown Kansas City a little over a week ago to cheer on their new hometown heroes for the Royals’ victory parade. When teams win big, it often creates new fans, but whether they retain those recently acquired will all depend on if they can continue their recent winning streak of the last two seasons. But with the free agent market just now starting to break out, next year’s Royals may be shades of 2005 (56 wins-106 losses, last place in AL) or it could be like 2015 (95 wins-85 losses, 1st place in AL).

That’s what makes the off-season trades and acquisitions so interesting — it shakes up every team, and a shake-up can be just as very good as it can be very bad. It’s always a gamble because while the numbers may work in your favor, the team chemistry may not work. Or unpredictable unknowns like injuries and personal issues can alter a potential superstar.

While the team’s GMs are in their annual meetings in South Florida (enjoying the perpetual heat that is Florida in November, I’m guessing), they are already busy making all sorts of deals. A GM’s job is never done. Today, the Yankees announced two such trades. Infielder Jose Pirela is headed to San Diego this Spring (via their Arizona Spring Training) in exchange for pitching prospect Ronald Herrera. And (this one will break a few hearts I know) catcher John Ryan Murphy is headed to Minnesota in exchange for switch-hitting outfielder Aaron Hicks. Both of these deals do make some business sense — the Yankees need an influx of new pitchers in their farm system, and they really have a plethora of really good catchers ready for the big leagues (behind starting catcher McCann, there’s still Romine and Sanchez). What this means for some of the free agents in the Yankees’ system (like OF Young and IF Drew) is still up for conversation and the rumors of dealing current Yankee favorites are of course always circulating.

Last week, Stephen Drew, Chris Young, and pitchers Chris Capuano, Andrew Bailey, and Sergio Santos elected free agency. The Yankees could of course sign them back to the team, but a free agent means they are officially on the market for a good deal and their Spring is still undetermined. The Yankees also released pitcher Chris Martin and activated outfielder Mason Williams and pitchers Domingo German, Jacob Lindgren, and Chase Whitley from the DL. And now with today’s moves, the Yankees are proving to the MLB market that they are back in business and ready to deal.

Also last week, for their participation and activism, former Yankees Jorge Posada and Paul O’Neill along with current Yankee Alex Rodriguez were honored at the Lou Gehrig Awards Benefit which raised money for research and care programs for those suffering from ALS. Another Yankee alumni David Cone was on hand to emcee the live auction of baseball memorabilia.

And just yesterday, the Yankees hosted their annual USO care package drive at Yankee Stadium. Girardi and Cone, along with hundreds of volunteers stuffed care packages for veterans serving abroad — small tokens of “home”, as it were. This is one of several events the Yankees do each year to give back to their community and one of several big ways to honor veterans. It’s two of my favorite things about the Yankees — their generosity (like HOPE Week) and their patriotism (like “God Bless America” at every home game without fail).

In that respect, may I just say that we not only honor and remember those who served and currently serve our country, but those across the globe dedicated to preserving and fighting for peace in this world. “Thank you” never quite feels like enough, but know that we cherish you (and your families) for your commitment and sacrifice this Veterans Day and remember the great dreams of Armistice Day today and every day.

Go Yankees!

Game 136: BAL vs. NYY — A labor of winning

Not a bad way to spend a Labor Day… in the Bronx, a sunny Monday afternoon, battling it out, a really satisfying win. The Orioles are in town for a mid-week 3-game series to continue this big division rivals home stand this week. And after taking 2 of the 3 games from the Rays, the Yankees were raring to go and fend off those pesky black birds from Baltimore.

Michael Pineda got the start today and really got roughed up a bit, and in spite of that, he still walked off the mound in the win column. Until he was given a no-decision. Like I said, it was a battle. Pineda threw 99 pitches over 6 innings, gave up 6 hits, 4 runs, and 2 walks, and struck out 5 Baltimore batters. And most of that damage was in the 2nd inning. A lead-off walk ended up at 3rd on a single and then scored on a 3-run home run to put the Orioles in the lead. Then a hit-by-pitch moved to 2nd on a bunt single, then to 3rd on a sacrifice bunt, and scored on a single. Fortunately, the Yankees defense got the following runner out at home in a great throw, and then even after a threatening double, a line out quickly ended the threat.

But the Yankees weren’t exactly down for the count. They made the Orioles’ starter work today, pushing him to 104 pitches in just 5 innings and collecting 9 hits from him. In the 1st, Chase Headley hit a 1-out single and then scored on Chris Young’s 2-out single to get the runs started and the Yankees on the board. Down 4-1 in the 3rd, the Yankees came back with Headley leading-off by reaching 1st on a throwing error, standing at 2nd after 2 outs, and then scoring on Young’s double (these two were a great tag-team duo today).

Alex Rodriguez led-off with 5th inning with a solo home run into the left field seats. And then with 2 outs and Greg Bird on 1st with a walk, John Ryan Murphy smacked a solid 2-run home run to push the Yankees into the lead once again.

Now, with both starters out of the game, the Yankees with a slim 1-run lead, the battle really kicked it up a notch. With Justin Wilson in for relief of Pineda, he gave up a 1-out solo home run in the 7th to tie up the game and officially both blow the save and gift Pineda with a no-decision. However, Wilson would be the pitcher on record when the Yankees would find the offense again in the bottom of the inning. When Beltran led-off with a walk and Young singled, the Orioles hoped a pitching change would fight off the offensive rally; but the Yankees recent secret weapon — Greg Bird — just hit a huge 3-run home run into the Yankee bullpen to ensure the Yankee lead.

Now a save opportunity, the Yankees turned to their Dynamic Duo as the 8-9 inning punches. Dellin Betances’ 8th inning saw him struggle some, with 2 consecutive walks and 2 consecutive strikeouts, then another walk to load the bases before another strikeout shut down on the Orioles’ hopes of a viable rally. Andrew Miller’s 9th inning saw his flair for the dramatic (that Betances seemed to pick-up today) with 2 quick outs and a walked batter to start the drama. Defensive indifference allowed that runner to go to 2nd and then score on a single, but a strikeout quickly shut the door and earned him his 23rd save of the season.

Final score: 8-6 Yankees.

The Revolving Door: Chris Capuano was back on the active roster today as part of the September expanded roster. Girardi has expressed his desire to make sure that his pitchers are not overtaxed going into the push for October. This includes both the starting rotation and the bullpen. If all goes as planned (and predicted), the Yankees will be playing October baseball, at least as a Wild Card, so the necessity of being able to go the distance and not be exhausted before they hit the finish line is very important.

Pitching, bullpen, defense, base-running, and hitting are the five aspects that each team compose a team, and excellence in each category is a symptom of a championship team. Now, the Yankees have definitely had moments where one of these aspects has carried them more than the others, but overall, the Yankees this year are really seeing above average in each category.

Now, I refuse to make predictions (during the regular season, at least) on here as far too many things can happen, but I don’t hesitate to voice my opinions. And it will be interesting to see how my verbal predictions that I formed way back in Spring Training pan out next month. I’ve been right on most of them so far. And you all know how I like to be right. (Well, if you really think about it, who really likes being wrong?)

Go Yankees!

Game 132: NYY vs. BOS — No lead is ever safe in the rivalry

So basic summary of this afternoon’s finale at Fenway — the Yankees got a really big early lead and the Red Sox spent the rest of the game chipping away at it bit by bit. 12 total pitchers (and thanks to the September call-ups no position players needed), 28 total hits, 10 total walks, and 21 total runs scored. The only inning neither team scored a run in was the 4th.

But the games between the Red Sox and Yankees are anything but “normal” games. Never have been, and that’s what keeps the rivalry alive. Well, that and the passionate/rabid fan bases.

Masahiro Tanaka got the start in today’s rubber match against the Red Sox, and today he had two things going for him — decent pitching and plenty of run-support. Tanaka threw 92 pitches in 6.1 innings, giving up 6 hits, 1 walk, and 4 runs, striking out 5 Boston batters. In the 1st, the Red Sox struck first with a lead-off double that scored on a 2-out ground-rule double. Another lead-off double in the 5th scored on a sacrifice fly. And a lead-off solo home run in the 6th added to the Red Sox’s total. After giving up a 1-out walk in the 7th, the Yankees opted to start the open door of their bullpen.

Before that, the Yankees hit the Red Sox pitching hard. In the 2nd, with 1 out and Headley on base with a walk, Greg Bird hit a 2-run home run to put the Yankees in the lead. John Ryan Murphy’s solo shot into the Green Monster (and right into the hands of some Yankee fans in the 2nd row up there) began the offensive push the Yankees needed. The bases were then loaded with Gregorius’ single, Drew’s double, and Gardner’s walk. Chris Young then singled to score Didi and somehow Gardner got caught in between 2nd and 3rd which was already occupied by Young and Drew respectively, so he was tagged out because there was literally nowhere to go. Alex Rodriguez’s single scored both Drew and Young and forced the starter out of the game in the middle of the 2nd inning. Carlos Beltran promptly hit his own deep Green Monster home run, a 2-run shot to cement the Yankees 8-run 2nd inning and their strong lead in today’s game.

In the 3rd, Bird and Gregorius on base with walks and one out, Stephen Drew’s 3-run home run into the first row of the right field seats pushed the Yankees into double digits. And Didi Gregorius’ 2-out solo home run in the 5th gave the Yankees a decent cushion to fend off the slowly advancing Red Sox, giving them enough to keep and maintain that lead in the end.

Once Tanaka was out of the game and responsible for the runner on 1st in the 7th inning, Andrew Bailey was called on for relief. Bailey has been on the mend from shoulder surgery two years ago and made his return against his old team. It wasn’t really ideal as he promptly loaded the bases with two more walks. A sacrifice fly scored one run and a single scored the other before reliever Justin Wilson got the final out of the 7th in just 3 pitches.

The Yankees fought back in the 8th with Gardner’s lead-off double. And two outs later, he scored on Jose Pirela’s single. (Some of the newest and returning faces as part of the September call-up got some play time in today’s game — Pirela, Noel, Cotham, and Bailey.)

In the bottom of the 8th, the Red Sox took advantage of Bryan Mitchell’s recent struggles, after returning from the DL. Consecutive singles and a wild pitch put runners in scoring position with 1 out. Then two more consecutive singles scored 2 more Red Sox runs. After a walk to load the bases and still just that 1 out, the Yankees called on Dellin Betances to work his magic and stop the Red Sox rally attempt. 11 pitches later, a strikeout and a force ground out and the Yankees were out of a jam and headed into the final 6 outs of the game.

Caleb Cotham got his chance in the 9th but immediately struggled. Consecutive doubles scored the Red Sox’s final run of the evening, and forced Cotham out of the game. And even though there was no save opportunity, they weren’t about to risk losing this game. It was Andrew Miller time — ground out, ground out, walk, and strikeout on that 14th pitch. Game over.

Final score in Boston: 13-8 Yankees, Yankees win series 2-1.

And after tomorrow’s off-day, the Yankee will face all division rivals in a 10-game home stand — Rays, Orioles, and Blue Jays. Expect standings to change drastically after this next week. Should be the start of a very interesting September as we head into the final 30 games of the season. Yes, just 30 left of the regular season.

Go Yankees!

Game 122: CLE vs. NYY — Big win to honor Posada, #HipHipJorge

After another wonderful HOPE Week, the Yankees end their week of generosity honoring two of their great Yankees. Today, it was Jorge Posada Day in the Bronx. The Yankees hosted a pre-game ceremony retiring #20, putting a plaque in Monument Park, and surrounded him with former teammates and mentors, friends and family. (More following the game recap.)

Then the Yankees were looking to stop the advance of the Cleveland Indians, who have already taken the first two of their 4-game weekend series in the Bronx. And it was Luis Severino to start, looking for his first win of his career, who after 2 hours and 52 minutes got that coveted first win in his MLB career. Severino threw 107 pitches in 6 innings, giving up just 3 hits, 1 run, and 4 walks, and striking out 6 Cleveland batters. The sole run he allowed was a 1-out solo home run in the 1st inning. And after that, Severino showed off why everyone has been talking about him as a really amazing prospect all year.

The Yankees struck back in the bottom of the 1st and never looked back. Ellsbury led-off with a single and then scored on Brett Gardner’s 2-run home run. Immediately, the Yankees were in the lead, and that just fired them up. One out later, Brian McCann hit a solo home run, his 22nd of the season. Then in the 2nd, the Yankees went from long-ball to small-ball to score their runs. Drew and Murphy were on the corners with singles. Ellsbury reaches on a combination fielder’s choice and error, which scored Drew. A fly out allowed Murphy to move to 3rd, where he could then score easily on Carlos Beltran’s sacrifice fly.

And then the runs seemed to dry up for a while. Adam Warren’s 7th was nearly flawless with 2 strikeouts and 12 pitches; Warren is certainly finding a really nice home in the bullpen in this half of the season. Dellin Betances’ 8th was a little shaky, with a lead-off double that scored on a 2-out RBI single, but relying on his defense primarily pulled the Yankees through the inning.

The Yankees pushed the Indians’ starter out of the game in the 5th inning by driving up his pitch count early. His relievers were a bit better, but they still managed to rack up a total of 13 hits in the game. That included some offensive additions in the 8th inning. Gregorius hit a 1-out double, moved to 3rd on Drew’s single, and scored on a sacrifice fly by John Ryan Murphy. The Indians finally pulled their defense together and threw out Drew trying to score on Ellsbury’s single to end the inning.

And Andrew Miller’s 9th was just a beautiful 8-pitch inning to close out the game and seal the win for the Yankees on this beautiful Saturday afternoon.

Final score: 6-2 Yankees.

Yes, today was Jorge Posada Day. Following a video tribute that featured Posada’s amazing 17-year career with the Yankees, including his 275 home runs, 1065 RBIs, 5-times as an All-Star, and 5 World Series championships, Posada and his family (his parents, sister, wife, and two teenage children) unveiled his newly retired number in Monument Park before they were taken by golf cart from the area beyond center field to the area in front of the pitcher’s mound for the ceremony.

Special guests for the ceremony today included former GM and Yankees executive Gene Michael; former trainer Gene Monahan; former teammates Scott Brosius, David Cone, Hideki Matsui, and Paul O’Neill; former manager Joe Torre; and former teammates Tino Martinez, Bernie Williams, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter.

After Posada and his wife Laura unveiled his Monument Park plaque (which incited his “Core Four” brethren to make some teasing remarks), the Yankees presented some further gifts to the great catcher from other legendary Yankees catchers — Yogi Berra sent a video message, and the late Thurman Munson’s wife Diana presented Posada with a replica of his plaque with Girardi (remember, he was also a Yankees catcher). Managing partner Hal Steinbrenner gave him a replica of his retired number, and vice chairperson Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal gave him an engraved ring with diamonds forming the number 20.

Posada took the microphone for his moment to reflect, remember, and show his gratitude for the honor in front of the packed house at Yankee Stadium. He admitted to never having a “plan B” and just being passionate about baseball and the Yankees, borrowing DiMaggio’s famous line, “I thank the good Lord for making me a Yankee.”

(You can watch the full pre-game ceremony here. It’s about 35 minutes.)

Posada later threw out the ceremonial first pitch to his son, Jorge Jr. (who from birth dealt with a severe medical issue called craniosynostosis, which is an abnormal brain-skull growth pattern that required many corrective surgeries). Posada, never being a pitcher, threw wide, for which he caught a lot of guff from his son for his bad throw. In hindsight, maybe the roles should’ve been reversed, but I think we all liked seeing the strong father-son bond between them.

Well, we’re all pretty glad He made Posada a Yankee. Posada will be eligible for Cooperstown in 2017, and critics aren’t sure of his chances. Yankee fans though know why Posada deserves such a recognition. Posada certainly fits my set requirements for what makes a great ball player — ability (in spades), teamwork (just take a look at the “Flip Play” or Cone’s perfect game), and character (absolutely undisputed). And great players deserve to be honored and remembered for the icons they are so that future generations can aspire to such greatness — dream big like this kid who started his career playing the wrong position and ended his career a legend and an inspiration.

Because dreams really do come true.

Go Yankees!

Game 106: BOS vs. NYY — Debut marred by quiet bats

Luis Severino made his MLB debut tonight as the Yankees starter in the second game of this mid-week series against the Red Sox. Not a bad way to make an entrance in pinstripes. Except he earned the loss in tonight’s close call. He certainly showed some great pitching for a young rookies — 94 pitches in 5 innings, giving up 2 hits, no walks, and 2 runs (1 earned), and striking out 7 Boston batters. In the 2nd, with 2 outs, a throwing error allowed a runner to reach base and then score on an RBI double. And a lead-off solo home run in the 4th inning gave the Red Sox their lead. (As much as I hate to admit it, it was a really nice, really big home run deep into the right field bleachers.) Literally, the only runs they scored were a result of the only hits Severino allowed tonight. Again, not a terrible way to make your entrance into the big league.

Adam Warren came on to throw the next 3 innings and do so with the efficiency we’ve come to expect from Warren — just 41 pitches (about 13 pitches per inning) for the 6th, 7th, and 8th innings, giving up just 1 hit and striking out 2 batters. Warren kept the Red Sox away from the plate before handing the ball off to Chasen Shreve in the 9th. Shreve struggled a bit, loading the bases with two walks and a single before striking out the final batter to get out of his own jam.

The Yankees lone run was a lead-off 7th inning home run by Carlos Beltran. It got the Yankees on the board, and despite getting 2 runners on in the bottom of the 9th, the Yankees just couldn’t get the tying or winning run as McCann popped out to end the game.

The Red Sox pitching was pretty good tonight too. Honestly, it was kind of equal in a lot of respects — 5 Yankee hits to the Red Sox’s 4; technically only 1 earned run for each team; 3 walks to the Yankees vs. 2 walks to the Red Sox; and 10 strikeouts by Red Sox hitters to the 9 by Yankee batters.

There was a moment I was almost positive the Yankees had the game and then it just deflated, much like the energy of the stadium on that final out in the 9th.

Final score: 2-1 Red Sox.

 

 

It’s Good News/Bad News time…. roster moves…
Garret Jones is back! After being designated for assignment on July 31 and spent the last week at his father-in-law’s house in Chicago growing a beard, the Yankees finally called. Today, he was on his way back to New York, clean-shaven, and ready to return to the roster to help once again. Pitcher Danny Burawa was designated for assignment to make room for Jones. All this became crucial when recently acquired Dustin Ackley was sidelined with a serious back issue. Jones was originally DFA’d to make room for Ackley.

Yesterday, Brian McCann twinged his knee a bit doing his job and blocking a pitch. He was not scheduled to start tonight’s game and will probably not be behind the plate for a couple of games to allow him to rest that knee. He was available off the bench in a pinch (bad pun for a tweaked knee, I know), which he did in the bottom of the 9th to unsuccessful results. John Ryan Murphy, however, did a pretty good job behind the plate as always, with a great foul catch at the net and even a nice hit to contribute to the rather quiet offense tonight.

Go Yankees!

Game 99: NYY vs. TEX — Careening into the “ridiculous” territory

Tonight’s game was ridiculous. There is no other word for it. It was over 100° in the Dallas area today, with the first pitch temperature reading at 98°. It was so hot that the Yankees cancelled on-field BP today before the game. It just wasn’t worth having a player pass out from heat exhaustion before playing what would be this crazy game tonight. The Yankees are at Arlington for four games this week, and yesterday’s game 1 seemed rather normal in comparison to their second game tonight. With this pattern, I cannot imagine what’s in store for the next two nights. However, this blogger certainly wouldn’t complain with a bit of normal; though, upon reflection, I realize there is no “normal” this season.

The first inning should have tipped off everyone that this game wasn’t going to be normal. Chris Capuano got the start, and I’m guessing this is one outing he’d probably wish he could forget. And oddly, it wasn’t that long after he left the game that everyone else certainly forgot about his outing. That 1st inning, however, was brutal. Capuano threw 42 pitches, getting just 2 outs, giving up 3 hits, 5 walks, and 5 runs without striking out a single batter. Here’s what happened: a lead-off walk, 2 fly outs, a walk, an RBI single, a walk to load the bases, a 2-RBI single, a walk to load the bases again, and a walk to walk in a run and keep the bases loaded.

It was time to move on for everyone and bring in newly called up Diego Moreno to get that final out of the 1st inning. It was a 29-minute half-inning. And while Texas fans were already heated up (and not just because of the actual heat), Yankees fans were groaning in defeat. But nah, it’s just the 1st inning, and this is a very strange new Yankee team. A 5-run deficit is nothing to these guys.

And they proved that right away in the top of the 2nd. And it’s just easy to do this chronologically: Chris Young led-off with a double, Chase Headley singled home Young, John Ryan Murphy singled, Didi Gregorius was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Brendan Ryan doubled to score Headley and Murphy, Jacoby Ellsbury singled to score Gregorius, Brett Gardner’s single scored Ryan and tied the game, and Alex Rodriguez’s double scored Ellsbury. And that’s when the Rangers looked at the score board, now reading 6-5 Yankees with no outs, and pulled their starter from the game. Basically, a bad night for starters in Texas. The reliever finally got a strikeout, but the Yankees bounced back with Young’s walk and Headley’s single scored Gardner. With another strikeout on the board, Gregorius cleared the bases with a big triple and then scored on Ryan’s double before a third strikeout ended the inning.

Yes, the Yankees scored 11 runs in a single inning. And just like that, not only were the Yankees back in the game, they were dominating. And they never looked back.

Quickly to wrap up the Yankees pitching: Diego Moreno earned the win of tonight’s game in stellar fashion, throwing 70 pitches over his 5.1 innings, only allowing a single base runner (a walk) but no more runs or hits, and striking out 5 Rangers’ batters in the process. Adam Warren came on for the final third of the game and filled his stats with a line of zeros — no hits, no runs, no walks, and no strikeouts, with 34 pitches. And he earned the save.

Now, I wasn’t sure how that was possible, so I looked it up — to earn the save, the pitcher must be the finishing pitcher in a game won by his team; not the winning pitcher; credited with at least ⅓ of an inning pitched; and meets one of the follow — enters the game with a lead of no more than three runs and pitches for at least one inning; enters the game, regardless of the count, with the potential tying run either on base, at bat or on deck; or pitches for at least three innings. Since he did the latter, he gets the save. Apparently, Warren has 4 career saves — his first was earned in similar fashion when he pitched the final 4 innings of a 7-0 game.

And even with that lead, the Yankees weren’t done with their offensive show tonight. In the 3rd, they loaded up the bases again with Gardner and Rodriguez’s singles and Teixeira’s walk. That set the stage for the dramatic that was tonight — Chris Young’s big grand slam, his 2nd of the season, 4th of his career. Then in the 4th, with 2 outs and Gardner and Teixeira on the corners, Young reached safely on a fielding error which allowed Gardner to score again.

In the 6th, with yet another new Rangers pitcher, Gardner led-off with a walk, and 1 out later, Teixeira was hit by a pitch and pinch-run (and later subbed at 1st) by Jones. Then Young doubled home Gardner, and Murphy’s 2-out single scored Jones and Young. And then in the 9th, facing a position player as the Rangers’ 7th pitcher of the evening, Ellsbury reached on the second catcher’s interference of the game and then scored when Gardner hit a 2-run home run to push the Yankees into ridiculous territory.

The Yankees were basically hitting and base-running machines — 19 hits and 10 walks, which everyone contributed in someway. It was basically the Yankees all the way from the 2nd inning until the end.

Final score: 21-5 Yankees. (Not a typo — 21 Yankee runs, like I said “ridiculous”.)

 

 

 

And it’s back! Roster moves: Without throwing a pitch, Nick Goody was optioned to AAA before the game today. In his place, the Yankees brought up reliever Diego Moreno to get longer arms in the bullpen, instead getting tonight’s real game-winner.

Go Yankees!