Game 122: NYY vs. LAA — Maybe not a superhero but flying high on hope and grit

I wish the Yankees were the kind of team that had fun nicknames based on superheroes because there are games when I’d like to refer to a pitcher as such. And with all the constant rotation, there’s enough superheroes in either of the main two comic book universes to lend itself to every single player on the Yankees in recent years. (If you don’t believe me, google it or ask your local teenager. And you can blame my recent superhero movie marathon this weekend for my mental road trip.)

Anyway, even without any special nicknames, the Yankees seem to take advantage of the low-season of the Angels in tonight’s middle game of the series. One reporter put it rather succinctly: “So, the Angels are just not good.” But Luis Cessa certainly was. Cessa threw 85 pitches into the 7th inning, giving up just 3 hits and a walk and striking out 5 Angels batters. For being a rookie, he’s certainly having a rather strong season. Now with the starting rotation depleted with injuries and unexpected career slumps, it’s nice to be able to have kids like Cessa step up and do well.

Clippard and Layne covered the 7th and 8th innings, respectively and kept the Angels scoreless for two more innings. In fact, the Angels had an interesting streak — going 17 innings without scoring a run. (Their last run scored was the 3-inning 8th against the Mariners on Thursday night.) But that was snapped when Dellin Betances threw his first pitch to one of the legends on the Angels’ roster (Pujols) who promptly sent it deep into the left field seats (and tied with 90’s legend Mark McGwire on the all-time homers list at 583). Then Betances shut the next 3 batters down in 14 pitches.

On the flip side, the Yankees’ offense took control early on and never let go, thanks to Cessa and company. In the 1st inning, with 2 outs, Gary Sanchez hit his 6th home run of his career (and the season), a solo shot to left field to get the Yankees on the board. Then Didi singled and moved to 3rd on Castro’s double to put them in scoring position. Which was extremely helpful as Brian McCann’s single easily scored both of them.

The Yankees came back in the 6th, down 2 outs. Castro and McCann each singled, putting them on the corners. And then Brian McCann stole his first base of the season. Yes, you read that right: McCann stole 2nd and not on a passed ball or wild pitch. Both runners then scored on Aaron Judge’s single.

Final score: 5-1 Yankees.

Okay, I got to brag a little on the defense in tonight’s game — like Didi Gregorius lying out flat to make a great catch in the 5th, Gary Sanchez’s quick reaction in the 6th to nab out a runner headed back to 1st with the help of tonight’s 1st baseman Tyler Austin, and the most talked about Brett Gardner practically sitting on the outfield fence to rob the batter in the 7th inning of a home run.

And it does help to play in what is essentially “Yankee Stadium West”. There are a ton of Yankee fans on the Left Coast, and many of them in the LA area. So when the Yankees come into town, there is a large contingency of Yankee fans that populate Angel Stadium. So when the Yankees do something good, you could almost imagine you might be in home territory with all the cheering from the 44,129 fans.

One more game there tomorrow afternoon as the Yankees go for the sweep before heading up the coast to Seattle. Seattle sits ahead of the Yankees on Wild Card standings, currently at 3 games ahead of the Yankees. So the Yankees are looking to close that gap or even flip it in these next 4 games. It’s going to be a tight squeeze these next 40 games before the end of the season, but the Yankees, as Gary Sanchez said on Twitter today, are in it to win it.

Go Yankees!

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