It wasn’t supposed to be like this. The Yankees drove their fans crazy in the ninth inning last night before escaping with an 8-7 win over the Angels. They maintained their 1/2 game lead in the AL East in the process. They are 30-25 on the season.
They entered the top of the ninth with what seemed to be a comfortable 8-1 lead. When the inning ended, it was 8-7, and the Angels had the tying run on third and the go ahead run on first. Dellin Betances, who Joe Girardi would have wanted to have the night off, had to be rushed in to finish the game. In the process, he struggled and finally gave up his first earned run of the year (you knew it would happen sometime).
Stephen Drew got the Yanks on the board in the second inning with the first of his two homers on the night, a 2-run shot. 2-0.
Mark Teixeira hit a two-run shot, #17 (#380 career) in the third. We just passed the 1/3 point of the season, and Teix has 17 HR. Forget his batting average and look at how valuable he has been to the Yanks so far this season. The V in MVP stands for valuable. MVP doesn’t necessary mean Player of the Year or Best Player in the League. It’s Most VALUABLE Player, and if the season ended today, Teix would have to be in the consideration. If he did win with a .240 batting average, it would be the lowest by a non-pitcher ever. Marty Marion of the Cardinals hit just .267 in 1944 (a WWII year, and today as I write this is D-Day) to have the lowest batting average by a non-pitcher MVP. The AL record? Roger Maris hit .269 in 1961 when he hit 61 HR. Forget the .240 Teix has. Look at what his 17 HR means to the team.
In the fifth, Gardner tripled and A-Rod singled him in to make it 5-0. A-Rod had four hits on the night to move him to 2991 for his career, just nine short of 3000. The RBI was #1997, passing Barry Bonds on the all-time list. 3 short of 2000. Unofficially, only three men have hit 2000 RBI. Aaron, Ruth and Anson, and MLB and the Elias Sports Bureau only recognize Aaron (the RBI became an official stat in 1920, eliminating some 222 Ruth RBI (they credit him with 1992) and Anson played 1871-1897).
Up 5-0, Eovaldi had to be replaced in the sixth. You wish he could have given more length than 5 1/3, but he did get the win. The Angels did get one run in the sixth but the Yanks got two back in the bottom of the inning on a McCann double, move up on a groundout, Gregorius SF and Drew’s second HR of the game (7). 7-1 Yanks.
Chris Young singled in a run in the seventh to make it 8-1.
Then came the top of the ninth. Hmm. I saw the game the night Bernie Williams’ #51 was retired, and in that game, Jose Pirela made some defensive mistakes. In the top of the ninth, with Headley having moved 3B to 1B, Drew moved to 3B from 2B and Pirela inserted at 2B (most likely to give Teix a rest with the big lead), a popup fell between Headley and Pirela. Maybe in retrospect, Pirela should have just steered clear of Headley who had it all lined up to catch. Brendan Ryan has played a couple of rehab games now. I wonder if this could be a trigger to send Pirela down and call Ryan back up. After that botched popup, if the Boss were alive and in his prime, Pirela may be on his way down.
Anyway, Esmiel Rogers started the ninth and couldn’t pitch around that mishap. (It was ruled a hit because no one touched the ball. Really, someone should have been given an error on the easy pop up). Rogers faced five batters, gave up four hits and a walk and all five batters scored.
Betances came in and gave up a run. Next thing you know it’s 8-7, fans like me are pulling their hair out (no wonder I have a big bald spot), and Betances has to escape with the tying run on third and the go-ahead run on first. I am sure, as Bob Costas stated on MLB, that manager Girardi and pitching coach Rothschild weren’t happy that Betances had to be used. After yesterday’s off-day, they wanted two consecutive days off for both Betances and Miller. Now Betances is most likely unavailable tonight after having thrown 33 pitches last night.
Eovaldi (W, 5-1, 4.16) 5 1/3 IP, 1 R, 4 H, 4 walks and 4 K.
Shreve 1 2/3, 0 R, 1 H, 1 walk and 1 K. 2.22
Lindgren 1 IP, 0 r, 0 H, 1 walk and 2 K. 3.38
Rogers 0 IP (5 batters) 5 R, 4 H, 1 walk, 0 K. 6.39
Betances (2nd save) 1 Ip, 1 R (first ER of season), 1 H, 2 walks and 2 K. 0.30.
Meanwhile, in order to save Michael Pineda’s arm, the Yanks are skipping his next start and giving him some extra rest. Instead of starting Sunday, he’ll make his next start on Friday.