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?)