Game 18: NYY vs. PIT — Just barely dropping the rubber match in Pittsburgh

Not exactly the best way to end the Yankees’ time in the “City of Bridges“, but it really was pretty close and not without its opportunities. It’s probably the only game this series that felt both tight and that it could go either way at any point.

The Yankees sent rookie Jordan Montgomery to the mound to start the finale against the Pirates in today’s rubber match. Montgomery threw another pretty great game, throwing 92 pitches in his 6 innings, giving up 7 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs, and struck out 5 Pirates batters.

In the 1st, Montgomery immediately got into trouble by loading the bases with a walk and 2 singles (and no outs), but then he got a well-placed strikeout and a sacrifice fly scored the Pirates’ first run before getting out of the inning with a pop-up out. And a 1-out walk in the 3rd scored on a solid double to double the Pirates’ score.

And because those were lone runs allowed under Montgomery (and also the game), it was really a pretty good outing and game overall for the Yankees’ defense. Bryan Mitchell got into a base-loaded and no-outs situation in the 7th, but then got out of the inning without the Pirates adding to their score. Mitchell then sailed through the 8th inning in just 8 pitches.

Meanwhile, the Yankees faced an old teammate making his first start against his old team and really just knew how to keep the Yankees from doing much on the bases and as far as runs, with just 4 hits and a walk in his 7 innings. The only great shot the Yankees got was Jacoby Ellsbury’s lead-off solo home run in the 7th.

Then the Yankees had several opportunities in the last 2 innings, including loading the bases in the 9th, but they never did much to capitalize on those opportunities to tie up or push ahead in the game.

Final score: 2-1 Pirates, Pirates win series 2-1.

The Pirates wore their alternate Sunday uniform, a throwback to their championship style 38 years ago. It’s always weird to have alternate uniforms because the Yankees have just 2 uniforms — home and away. (Yes, there is a Spring Training jersey top as well.) So, the Yankees could potentially play a 3-game series against a single opponent and have the opponent wear a different uniform in each game.

According to MLB.com: In 2016, “The Pirates unveil a new Sunday alternate uniform, a replica of the iconic 1979 World Champion Pirates uniform. The gold v-neck pullover jersey is accompanied by black pants, designed with two gold stripes running down the outside of each leg. The uniform is completed with a Pirates pillbox cap, designed with three gold stripes and the classic Pirates gold “P.” The new alternate uniform replaces the team’s early 1970’s-era inspired Sunday alternate, a mustard gold cap and a pullover style jersey that was introduced during the 2013 season.”

I don’t mind honoring the past with uniforms every once in awhile, like for a special game honoring a team legend or milestone or something. But I don’t like it when teams just get colorful for the sake of being different. There are some pretty terrible alternate uniforms out there, and every year when they release a new one, I am forever thankful the Yankees stick to the tried and true two that work and have led them to 27 Championship. (Not that uniform colors and styles have anything to do with championships, but you got to believe somewhere someone’s drawing that weird connection for no reason other than to fill internet space.)

Now it’s onto Boston to face the Red Sox in their first rivalry series of the season. Any series against Boston are always interesting, even when one or both teams are having a terrible year. It’s like the 2004 ALCS all over again every single game. And honestly, Fenway is a beautiful park, a tribute to the legacy and history of the game. So, it’s especially great when the Yankees win (or even better when they sweep) there, and that’s my hopes for this week.

Go Yankees!

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