Game 53: NYY vs. DET — Lucky 7th & Ref to the rescue

Well, it certainly wasn’t snowing in Detroit today. No, it was 80 and a bit cloudy tonight at Comerica Park. And coming off a sweep in Toronto, the Yankees needed a bit of luck to carry them into this weekend’s series against the Orioles, who currently sit just a game behind Boston for the AL East lead.

They got it. Barely.

Michael Pineda was coming off his last couple of rough starts and need something fairly clean to help right his track. He got it, though he ended up with a no-decision, which doesn’t help his flailing stats. Pineda threw 96 pitches just shy of 6 full innings, gave up 7 hits, no walks, and just a single run, and struck out 8 Detroit batters.

Actually, Pineda was in command of the game for most of his outing. It was the 4th inning that broke his scoreless streak. Their lead-off batter (Triple Crown winner and 2-time MVP power-hitter and all-around good guy) doubled, moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on a 2-out single to kick things off for the Tigers.

The Yankees came back and tied the game up in a similar fashion in the 6th inning. Rob Refsnyder (who basically was the Yankees’ main offense tonight, going 2-for-3 with an RBI) doubled and nicely broke up the Tigers’ starter’s no-hitter, moved to 3rd on a fly out, and then scored on Jacoby Ellsbury’s sacrifice fly.

With the game tied and Pineda approaching a triple-digit pitch count, the Yankees called on Dellin Betances for a 4-out outing. Betances closed out the 6th inning with familiar ease and some help from Castro, who started at shortstop tonight.

The Yankees, meanwhile, came back at the top of the 7th to break their tie and dip into that “luck” I was talking about earlier. With 1 out and Headley and Romine on base, a single by Refsnyder (who is clearly making a case for him to stay in the Bronx) scored Headley and forced the Tigers’ starter out of the game.

The new reliever threw exactly 1 pitch to Aaron Hicks, who singled and scored Romine, before that pitcher was also relieved of his duty. Ellsbury’s monster triple scored Refsnyder and Hicks to pad the lead for the Yankees going into the final stretch of the game.

But you’re thinking, “hey, we’ve got the ‘Warriors Three’, so what could happen?” Well, a lot apparently. Because our faithful back-end of the bullpen decided to shake things up with some dramatic flair. Like I said Betances came back out for the 7th, looking for that 4-out stint and he was already 1-out down. But then he walked the first batter in the 7th, who moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, and then scored on an RBI double. But that’s okay because then Betances proceeded to plow through the next 3 batters with nasty strikeouts to keep them at bay.

And onto the 8th inning with Andrew Miller. And drama. Miller walked the first batter (not liking this pattern). Then with 2 nice strikeouts, things were looking up. But then there was a 2nd walk. And then it got dramatic again. A double scored the lead runner, and the other runner made a dash for home plate but was called out on the slide home for the 3rd out of the inning. The Tigers challenged the play at home, citing the home plate collision rule (believing Romine was effectively blocking the plate like they’re not allowed to do anymore), but the call on the field was upheld, rightly so. And the inning was over.

So to complete the dramatic flourish that was the final third of this game, leave it to closer Aroldis Chapman to jump on the bandwagon and load up the bases with no outs. A really slick double play scored one run (I might’ve watched that play a dozen times already), putting the Tigers within a single run of the Yankees’ lead. And things looked bleak as that same Tigers’ champion stepped into the batter’s box. One pitch was all it took for an easy ground out to end the game, giving Chapman his 8th save.

Final score: 5-4 Yankees.

Technically, that ends the Detroit series from that weekend in April. The Yankees had split that weekend originally, which means that with tonight’s win to make-up for the April 10th game, the Yankees won the series 2-1.

Another interesting thing is that the Yankee pitchers were simultaneously very good and very bad, as only this team can be this year. They gave up a total of 11 hits and 4 walks to Motor City batters, but also got them to strike out 13 times. This is why you can’t put full stock in statistics. They just don’t tell the whole story.

It was nice to be proven right after yesterday’s post. Like I said, it’s actually impossible for the Yankees to lose the rest of their games. And I don’t know about you, but I’m okay with that. To be perfectly fair, it’s also completely impossible for the Yankees to win the rest of their games. Just what side of the win-loss game they shake out at come October is still anyone’s guess. There’s still a good chunk of this season to play yet.

Go Yankees!

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