The magic number is 3. There are 7 games left, 4 when the Red Sox come to town and 3 in Baltimore. You do the math. In today’s finale against the White Sox, the Yankees needed to continue their push in a very successful way, including winning (and not splitting) the 4-game series. They did.
Luis Severino took the mound to start this afternoon’s game and promptly threw a very good game for the rookie pitcher, earning his 5th win of his very short season. In his 6 innings, Severino threw 99 pitches, giving up 5 hits, 1 walk, and no runs, striking out 2 Chicago batters. Yes, Severino kept the White Sox from scoring any runs, giving the Yankees’ offense a chance to do something awesome.
In fact, the only run the White Sox scored was under Justin Wilson’s watch, a very big 1-out solo home run in the 7th inning. But then with Dellin Betances’ scoreless 8th inning and Bryan Mitchell’s flawless 11-pitch 9th inning, the White Sox didn’t stand a chance with the Yankees’ pitching today.
So that made it possible for the Yankees to really hit into Chicago’s pitching staff. In the 1st, the Yankees loaded the bases with Ellsbury’s walk and 2 errors to allow Gardner and Beltran to reach base safely. Ellsbury then easily scored on Brian McCann’s sacrifice fly.
Dustin Ackley’s lead-off home run in the 6th started the Yankees’ push into solid win territory. Two outs later, the bases were loaded with 2 singles and a walk, and a passed ball scored lead runner Slade Heathcott, moving everyone up a base. Another walk loaded the bases again, but a pitching change (getting the White Sox starter out of the game with 121 pitches in less than 6 full innings) and the inning was over with a strikeout.
That’s okay, the Yankees weren’t done with their run-scoring. In the 7th, Greg Bird led-off with a ground-rule double, then despite 2 consecutive strikeouts, they loaded the bases again with a walk and a single. So Jacoby Ellsbury’s single scored Bird.
And in the 8th inning, the Yankees capped off their runs scored with a bit of a rally, removing them from a save situation (hence no Miller in the 9th). Beltran led-off with a single and was pinch-run by the speedy Rico Noel. Noel ended up a 3rd on a throwing error on a pick-off attempt and later scored on a 1-out single by Greg Bird. Bird moved to 3rd on Headley’s double, and the bases were once again loaded with a walk (the ultimate trend of the afternoon) so Bird could score on Slade Heathcott’s sacrifice fly.
And I can’t talk about this game and not mention the ridiculous double plays the Yankees’ defense showed off today. There were 4 by the Yankees — a 1st inning standard DP, a strikeout-throw out in the 2nd inning, a 5th inning choreographic defense, and then a 6th inning repeat of the first one.
Final score in the Bronx: 6-1 Yankees, Yankees win the series 3-1.
Next up… the Sox change from White to Red as Boston arrives in town for a 4-game final series in the Bronx. Again, the Yankees will end this season in Baltimore over the weekend. It’s rather hard to believe that the season’s almost over. Wasn’t it just Spring Training like yesterday?
But no, my calendar reminds me it’s almost October. So the postseason is right around the corner, and basically unless the world implodes, it looks like we’ll have Yankees in October baseball once again. And all is right with the world.
Also, Yankees On Demand produced a great video on the evolution of Brett Gardner as an athlete, from underdog college player to a Yankees leader on and off the field. If you didn’t admire Gardner before, well, I have no idea why you’re reading this blog because you’re clearly not a Yankee fan. But this video may clarify why Gardner is definitely one of the great Yankees, a good guy and a great player in every way.