Game 97: NYY vs. MIN — Big Baseball Day, NastyNate and Cooperstown

In almost competing for baseball attention, the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies for the “Class of 2015” happened at the same time as the Yankees-Twins game. (And A League of Their Own, featuring another group of amazing athletes enshrined at Cooperstown, also ran at the same time as the ceremony and game.) It was basically a big baseball-drenched weekend, especially this Sunday afternoon.

In the Twin Cities, the Yankees were looking at finishing this weekend strong before heading down south. After splitting the first two games, it was time for Nathan Eovaldi to turn into “NastyNate” and go for his 10th win of the season (the first starter to do so this season on the Yankees). And that he did. He threw 100 pitches into the 9th inning, the first time in his career that he pitched in the 9th inning as a starter. Eovaldi gave up 8 hits and just 1 walk and 2 runs, striking out 5 Twins batters.

In the bottom of the 3rd inning, with 1 out, the Twins hit consecutive singles that landed them in scoring position at 2nd and 3rd on a throw. The lead runner scored on a ground out. And the Twins sat at that 1-run lead briefly and then clung to that 1-run for most of the game as NastyNate just shut them down at every turn. It wasn’t until the 9th inning that the Twins finally hit Eovaldi’s exhaustion. A lead-off double put Eovaldi at the 100th pitch of the game, and it was time to give him a break.

Justin Wilson was called in to relieve Eovaldi, but unlike most times Wilson is called on, Wilson wasn’t so “Wilson-like” today. His first batter hit a single that scored the Twins’ second (and final) run of the game. After the next batter singled, Wilson was in trouble with 2 runners and no outs. Not taking any chances, Girardi turned to “Old Reliable” — Dellin Betances. 5 pitches. Betances threw a grand total of 5 pitches to get 3 outs. A fly out to a former teammate for the 1st, and then the final batter hit a line out directly to Headley at 3rd who threw the ball across the diamond to Jones at 1st to get the runner there who doubled off on the line drive. 5 pitches and a double play to end the game. Just wow.

In the meantime, what gave Eovaldi (and Wilson) some leeway is the Yankees offense that started in the 5th inning when Chase Headley hit his 9th home run of the season to lead-off that inning and tie up the game. In the 6th inning, the Yankees quickly loaded the bases with Gardner’s single and Teixeira and McCann’s walked and 1 out. Garrett Jones’ shallow single scored Gardner to put the Yankees in the lead, but kept the bases loaded. Then Headley singled deep enough to score Teixeira and McCann, moved Jones to 3rd, and forced the Twins’ starter out the game and opened the Twins’ bullpen. It was to the Yankees advantage as Jones then scored on Didi Gregorius’ sacrifice bunt. And to cap off this inning and the Yankees’ scoring, Stephen Drew hit a big 2-run home run, his 13th home run of the season.

And I have to include my favorite tweet of the game which comes from the terrific defense by Jacoby Ellsbury today (and everyday really) — a running catch in the 2nd and a sliding catch in the 3rd.

Final score: 7-2 Yankees, Yankees win the series 2-1.

This is the 6th straight series the Yankees have won. No wonder the Yankees are strongly leading the AL East (and the 2nd best team in the entire AL).

And nearly 1200 miles to the east, in a tiny town in central New York, four former baseball stars joined the multitude of legends before them in a big ceremony today. The Class of 2015 is Craig Biggio, John Smoltz, Randy Johnson, and Pedro Martinez. Today’s ceremony featured wigs and hair jokes, dancing, memories, gratitude, cheering, dozens of Hall of Famers, and over 50,000 guests. You can read all about the day and watch video clips here. (Full transcripts of the day include the award ceremony and the individual acceptance speeches.)

Go Yankees!

{By the way, A League of Their Own is one of my favorite baseball movies. (This is the scene why.) If you haven’t seen it (because you’ve been living under a rock or something), it’s worth the watch for anyone who loves baseball. There have been a lot of baseball-themed movies, but there’s only a handful I would deem as my favorite. Maybe a future post will feature my favorites and why. What are your top 5 baseball-themed movies? (I’ll give you points if you include something other than Field of Dreams.)}

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