Game 100: TB vs. NYY — A walk-off Gardy Party

100 games. The Yankees hit this milestone on an upswing, winning their last 5 of 6 games, and just a game behind the Red Sox in the AL East. So they went into this 4-game weekend series against the visiting Rays with this momentum.

CC Sabathia got the start tonight and held off the Rays for most of his outing, but then struggled to find his footing in his final inning. Sabathia threw 86 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 5 hits, a walk, and 4 runs, but struck out just 3 batters. He gave up a lead-off home run in the 4th to get the Rays on the board, but it would be the 5th inning that would give him trouble. With 1 out, he gave up consecutive doubles that scored one more run. After a walk, the Yankees gave Sabathia to hook and replaced him with Chad Green.

Unfortunately, Green promptly gave up a double that scored 2 more runs for the Rays, both charged to Sabathia, before Green got himself out of the inning. Green had some issues in the 6th as well, giving up a 1-out solo home run. It wasn’t clean, but the damage was limited.

Kahnle did a fantastic job in the 7th, throwing just 9 pitches to breeze through the Rays. With 2 quick outs in the 8th, Betances, of course, gave up a couple of singles to make things interesting before getting a ground out to get out of the threat. Warren’s 9th inning also kept the Rays from adding to their score.

The Yankees actually got on the board first. In the 2nd inning, Headley hit a 1-out single and then scored on Jacoby Ellsbury’s double. Ellsbury then scored on Todd Frazier’s single. Gary Sanchez’s 1-out solo home run in the 3rd to keep the Yankees in the lead, but after the Rays caught up and passed them, the Yankees took their time to catch up.

In the 8th, Gregorius led-off with a single and moved to 3rd on Headley’s single. After a new Rays pitcher, pinch-hitter Matt Holliday hit into a fielder’s choice out at 2nd, but scored Gregorius. And Brett Gardner led-off the 9th inning with a triple and then scored on Gary Sanchez’s 2-out single to tie up the game and force them into extra inning.

Aroldis Chapman just fired his way through the 10th and 11th innings in just 19 total pitches and 4 stellar strikeouts, setting himself up for the win. Brett Gardner liked the 3rd pitch in the 11th inning and hit a big home run into the right field seats, his 18th of the season, for the walk-off home run victory.

Final score: 6-5 Yankees, in 11 innings.

CC Sabathia earned his 2800th career strikeout tonight. He currently sits at 21st on the all-time strikeout leaders, just 3 behind legendary pitcher Cy Young. Sabathia also the leader among all active pitchers, nearly 400 more than the next active pitcher. {Note: the graphic on the video link and posts on Twitter list Sabathia as now surpassing Young, but every other noteworthy source, even MLB.com itself, has Cy Young listed at 2803 strikeouts, not the 2799 you’ll see on the link. I’m assuming it has to do with how often scoring differences and record-keeping occurred before a lot of general regulations we’ve become so accustomed to these days.}

In a brief side note, the strike zone was a little high tonight (basically shoulder to mid-thigh, rather than the standard numbers to knees), which angered both teams for most of the game. Eventually, it would be Girardi to get the boot in the 7th

Both Aaron Hicks and Tyler Austin are nearing their rehab assignments, which will probably both be right after this weekend series. Hicks’ oblique issue is concerning because it can feel deceptively better and then a slight twist to the torso can tweak it all over again. Austin’s hamstring is a fairly common injury, but still needs caution in the process of recovery.

Muscle issues are much harder to bounce back from than broken bones. When broken bones are healed, there’s definitive evidence — it’s not broken any more and the bone has fused itself back together (it’s actually a really cool process). But with muscles, there’s no clear-cut way to tell if you’re 100% healed, even if it feels much better. Minute tears in the muscle can hide and suddenly cause much more damage, setting back recovery even further. Stay safe, guys!

Go Yankees!

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