Game 124: HOU vs. NYY — All about #NastyNate

A pitchers’ duel in the Bronx is an interesting way to spend a Monday evening. When your pitcher is on the mound, it’s pins-and-needles, anxiety to watch every pitch carve itself through the strike zone, cheering every out, nearly every strike. And when your team is up at bat, it’s mostly disappointing when the other pitcher seems to nearly mirror the actions of your pitcher and get your guys out, especially disheartening with runners on base in scoring position. In the latter part of the game, you’re really just waiting for any team to break through and score a run. Hopefully, it’s your team. You don’t really feel like asking for “any team” until it’s in the extra innings.

Fortunately, tonight wasn’t an “any team” kind of night. And fortunately for the Yankees, it was a “Nasty Nate” kind of night. Yes, it was Nathan Eovaldi on the mound to start tonight’s opener against the visiting Astros, and Nasty Nate quickly showed up and just dominated. It is unfortunate that the Yankees weren’t able to provide him directly with run support because he certainly threw a game that was worth a win. But alas, the no-decision outing was still one worth talking about and should make Eovaldi rather proud — 109 pitches in 8 full innings, just 4 hits, 3 walks, and 7 strikeouts. Just outstanding.

Honestly, the Astros’ starter was really just keeping up with Eovaldi, nearly pitch-for-pitch, stat-for-stat — 110 pitches over 8 full innings, 6 hits, no walks, and 6 strikeouts. While the Astros weren’t really hitting much off of Nasty Nate, the Yankees weren’t hitting much off the Astros’ starter either. (This should really be no surprise, as the Astros are their division leaders mainly because of their great starting pitching.)

So it would be the 9th inning that would ultimately decide tonight’s game. Andrew Miller, though not in a save situation, needed a good inning to make up for some lack-luster (though decent for the most part) outings recently. He threw 17 pitches, gave up a lead-off hit before shutting down the Astros, including 2 great strikeouts. Miller would be the pitcher on record for when the Yankees would come to bat in the bottom of the 9th, looking for something “walk-off” related.

Birthday boy Brett Gardner led-off the 9th with a walk and then stole 2nd on a terribly wild pitch. The Astros then opted to intentionally walk Rodriguez before loading the bases with a walk to McCann. Oh, and there’s absolutely no outs. Frustrated with their reliever’s lack of outs and loaded bases, the Astros changed pitchers. The new pitcher threw one pitch to Carlos Beltran who promptly hit the ball to the center fielder as Gardner jogged in home to score the walk-off run on a sacrifice fly.

Gardner celebrated his 32nd birthday by scoring the winning run of the game. (Happy Birthday!)

Final score: 1-0 Yankees.

The Revolving Door: it’s been awhile since I’ve been able to use space for this, so here’s the most recent update since late last week.

  • Garrett Jones has been unconditionally released from the Yankees; his time in pinstripes is over, and he will be looking for a team somewhere else in the league, where he will undoubtedly become a valued member of their organization. Best of luck.
  • Bryan Mitchell is still on the 7-day concussion list, but he’s been working out and is expected to return to the bullpen soon as a long reliever and spot starter.
  • Michael Pineda has been on rehab starts with AAA Scranton this week and is expected to be back in the rotation for the game on Wednesday, the finale against the Astros and this home stand.
  • Branden Pinder was recalled on Saturday to allow for some fresh arms as the Yankees complete this home stand.
  • To make room for Pinder, Chris Capuano was once again designated for assignment. However, with a recent injury, Capuano elected free agency and agreed to a new contract with the Yankees to bring him back to the bullpen. (Basically, this is Capuano’s 2015 story, perhaps the title of his autobiography “Designated for Assignment to be Recalled”. And I want credit and residuals for that!)
  • So, CC Sabathia has been playing through a sore knee all season. He’s had surgery and dealt with this knee issue for a while now, and on Sunday, it got the better of him. He hit that point where fighting through the pain became too much. An MRI revealed no new damage, but a natural inflammation from continued pain. He was sent to the 15-day DL (Capuano was his replacement on the roster), and there is already talk of Sabathia being out for the rest of the season. Critics are already talking the end of his career, but I don’t see him as one who would just take an end like this. I would lay money on Sabathia taking the time to fix the issue and do whatever he could to go out on top, on his terms. He’s not the kind of competitor to let this injury get the better of him in the long run. Best of luck to him on his road to recovery! Can’t wait to see him back on the mound in true CC-fashion!

Also, the Yankees are currently sharing the lead of the AL East with the Blue Jays as the Blue Jays are certainly on a tear right now, fighting and clawing their way through their games to try to topple the Yankees from their spot on the top. They’ve attempted it a few times this season already, but the Yankees don’t like to lose (or follow) even for a game or two. So we’re sharing the top spot. This is setting up a very interesting race to the postseason already. It’s going to be a nail-biter, and those birds from the north are going down.

Go Yankees!

(On a rather strange note: the final mustache is gone! Brendan Ryan’s upper lip is as bare as teammates Beltran and Gardner’s heads. I rather miss the curly monstrosity now…)

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