I don’t like being wrong with some very notable exceptions. I went into today’s game with the expectation that Tampa Bay’s pitcher was very good. And despite that expectation being met, the Yankees really held up their end of the being a dominant team in the AL East and ended up winning the game and the series to kick off this long week.
Ivan Nova took the mound in today’s finale against the Rays and really threw a pretty good game — 80 pitches in 6 innings, giving up 6 hits, 1 walk, and 3 runs, striking out 3 batters. In the 2nd, a 1-out single scored on a 2-out 2-run home run to start the Rays’ scoring. And in the 3rd, a walk scored on a 2-out RBI single.
The Rays’ starter really did keep the Yankees from scoring for quite some time. The Yankees finally broke through in the 6th. With 2 outs and Ellsbury and Beltran on base, Brian McCann’s 3-run home run into the right field bleachers tied up the game. And then it was Alex Rodriguez’s 28th home run of the season to push the Yankees ahead of the Rays and setting Nova up for the win. The Yankees added another run in the 7th. Gregorius led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, and scored on Brett Gardner’s force out and a throwing error (which should have really been a double play).
So, even after Nova’s afternoon was done, the Yankees kept things tight. Justin Wilson’s 2 outs in the 7th kept things rolling on the pitching side. And Dellin Betances finished the 7th and threw into the 8th inning. Betances really wasn’t as sharp as usual today, giving up a 1-out solo home run and hitting a batter before getting the final batter to hit into a double play.
The Yankees took that run back in the bottom of the 8th. The Yankees faced a new pitcher from their bullpen and quickly loaded the bases with 2 walks and a single. The Rays changed pitchers again, which seemed better at first for them as Headley hit into a force out at home to stop the run from scoring, but left the bases loaded. But it would be Didi Gregorius’ single that still scored a run anyway.
Andrew Miller closed out the game with his 31st save and still managed to allow 2 hits and get 2 strikeouts in the 9th inning. I’m really starting to think Miller likes to amp up the drama before earning that save.
Final score from the Bronx: 6-4 Yankees, Yankees win series 2-1.
Next up: 3 games against the Orioles and 4 against the Blue Jays. With the Yankee’s win and Toronto’s win today, the Yankees still trail 1.5 games behind. So with the Blue Jays and Yankees still intensely battling it out for the AL East, they face each other next weekend in the Bronx and then again in Toronto in 2 weeks — 7 games of tense dominance for the division title. This is going to be a very interesting September.