Game 87: NYY vs. MIN — Roster changes, chipping away at leads, All-Star preparations

Before today’s final game in their weekend series against Minnesota, the Yankees made some rather surprising roster moves. They traded Vidal Nuno to Arizona in exchange for starter Brandon McCarthy. They also selected pitcher Bruce Billings for the 25-man roster from AAA. And to make room for him, they opted to designated Alfonso Soriano for assignment. Soriano said that while he understands the mentality behind the decision, he will be taking a week off with his family to explore his options, some must include recent chatter with other teams and the possibility of retirement. Soriano is well-liked by the guys in the clubhouse and the fans in the stadium. He will be missed once again.

And then the Yankees played their fourth and final game in this series at Target Field, the last time most of them would be in the Twin Cities (unless they score a trip to the All-Star Game). So it was Hiroki Kuroda to start the game and throw 105 pitches over his 5.2 innings, allowing 7 hits, 4 runs, and 2 walks, and striking out 3 Twins’ batters. Actually, Kuroda was cruising along quite well for a few innings, but that 4th inning of his really chipped away at all that. With 1 out, Kuroda allowed a walk to a runner that advanced on a wild pitch, before scoring on a single and throwing error by Kuroda. That runner would end up being tagged out trying to get to 2nd. Back-to-back doubles scored another run, and a 2-run home run scored a couple more before Kuroda finally got himself out of the inning.

But before this messy inning, the Yankees decided to stack the deck in their favor, taking advantage of Minnesota’s weak starters. In the 1st inning, Gardner led off with a walk, Jeter singled, and Mark Teixeira’s single scored Gardner. Brian McCann then doubled and scored Jeter. In the 2nd inning, the Yankees quickly loaded the bases with singles by Roberts, Ichiro, and Johnson. Derek Jeter’s sacrifice fly scored Roberts, but it was Jacoby Ellsbury’s monster home run that scored 3 more runs.

And in the top of the 4th, Ichiro and Johnson on base with singles again, Jeter’s single scored Ichiro, and Ellsbury’s ground into a force out scored Johnson. Ellsbury would later score on a balk, putting the Yankees up 9-0 in the middle of the 4th. So when the Twins came roaring back in the bottom of that inning, it wasn’t enough to do much more than chip away at their lead, with a score of 9-4 Yankees.

Adam Warren came on in relief of Kuroda to get the last out of the 6th and came back in the 7th. He allowed a couple of singles, one of which would score on a ground out. (9-5 Yankees) Jim Miller took the 8th inning for the Yankees, whose only weak spot of the whole inning was in giving up a solo home run to the Twins. (9-6 Yankees)

David Robertson gave Yankee fans another minor panic attack, allowing two singles. Two outs later, a single scored one more Twins’ run before he got his last batter to ground into a force out and keep the Twins to a 9-7 loss. Seriously, sometimes Robertson’s saves are the most nail-biting part of the entire games.

But the good news is that it’s another win, and the Yankees also took 3 of the 4 games of the series, thus winning the series too.

And in All-Star Game news: MLB has announced its starting line-up for the All-Star Game coming up at Target Field on July 15. Starters were voted on by fans, and it’s no surprise that Derek Jeter was selected for his 14th and final ASG to start at shortstop. Joining him this year to represent the American League are: Orioles Matt Wieters (catcher), Adam Jones (outfielder), and Nelson Cruz (DH); Tigers Miguel Cabrera (1st base); Mariners’ Robinson Cano (2nd base); Athletics Josh Donaldson (3rd base); Blue Jays Jose Bautista (outfielder); and Angels Mike Trout (outfielder). National League, pitchers, and bench players will be announced (and posted on here) within the next week. It will be interesting to see if any other Yankees will be joining the Captain on what will be a return trip to the Twin Cities in just a little over a week.

Go Yankees!

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