I feel like I keep repeating myself, and I don’t imagine this will change until the Yankees play at the Rangers later this month… but it’s really cold there this month. Colder than it should be for baseball. It’s like NFL weather cold out there.
And yet, they play on, meeting this afternoon in Comerica Park in Detroit for the second game of the weekend series there. With the weather coming in at a lovely 31°, some scattered clouds overhead and with slight wind and some snow flakes gracefully falling about at times, the Yankees prepared for today’s game behind CC Sabathia. Sabathia’s unexpected (but wonderful) off-season changes coupled with his shaky Spring made many people a little nervous about his start today. So Sabathia went out there and proved them all wrong. (Nice going!)
Sabathia threw 90 pitches into the 7th inning (the first Yankee starting pitcher to go at least 6 innings this year so far), gave up just 4 hits, 4 walks, and 3 runs, and struck out 3 Tigers’ batters. But it was a pretty solid outing overall. Sabathia kept them scoreless and perfect (9-up, 9-down) until the 4th inning. He gave up 3 walks to load up the bases (a sign he was slowing down, I imagine) with 2 outs, before a single scored 2 runs. Another single loaded up the bases again, but he got out of it with a line out to Gardner there in left field
His first batter in the 7th got a single, and at 90 pitches and another runner on base, it was time to call it a day. Sabathia could walk away proud of his first 2016 start, giving the Yankees enough to do something with. Kirby Yates came on in relief and struggled some to maintain control of the game. A single and a fielding error put runner in scoring position. The first runner (charged to Sabathia) scored on a wild pitch, and the next scored on a ground out. After allowing a double, Yates was in no position to continue, so the Yankees called on their trusty reliever Shreve to get the next player (the Tigers’ super-power-hitter) to ground out quickly to end the inning.
Betances struggled some through the 8th, but still managed to get 3 nasty strikeouts. And Miller threw a fantastic 9th inning in just 8 pitches to close out the game.
On the flip side, the Yankees basically laid into the Tigers’ pitching staff for most of the game and didn’t let up. After being shut out of yesterday’s game, I can’t imagine they wanted a repeat performance. The Yankees did the entirety of their offensive damage in the first half of the game today. In the 1st, with 2 outs, Alex Rodriguez hit his first home run of the season deep to left-center field to start the Yankees’ scoring. McCann hit a lead-off single in the 2nd, moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, got to 3rd on Beltran’s ground out, and scored on Didi Gregorius’ 2-out single.
In the 4th, the Yankees loaded up the bases with a walk and 2 singles and 1 out, so Gregorius’ sacrifice fly could score McCann. Torreyes loaded the bases again with his single (more on him later), before Jacoby Ellsbury’s beautiful triple cleared the bases scoring all 3 runners and forcing the Tigers’ starter out of the game. Then in the 5th, with McCann on 2nd (after his 1-out single and another wild pitch), Carlos Beltran’s right field home run scored 2 more runs for the Yankees.
And that would be it for runs, but the Yankees still managed to rack up an impressive 14 total hits.
Final score: 8-4 Yankees.
Ronald Torreyes is certainly making his mark as a Yankee. He started today, filling in for Headley at 3rd (a routine day-off for the veteran), and promptly went 3-for-4 with a run scored. So far in the 2 games he’s played, he’s 4-for-5 or batting .800. And yes, that will go down quite a bit over the course of the season, but he’s really off to a fabulous start if he hopes to get more play time and to be considered a reliable alternative for the regular players. It means that when Girardi needs to rest anyone, the offense (and defense) won’t miss a beat. (Or perhaps even some days, it might improve!)
Also, Starlin Castro (who is making his own impact on the Yankees) hit his 1000th career hit with a nice single in the 7th this afternoon, making him the 5th youngest player to ever reach this milestone (after Miguel Cabrera, Roberto Alomar, Ken Griffey Jr., and Alex Rodriguez). A big congrats to him.