The pitching news has been coming fast and furious over the last 2 days. Pineda close to returning, Tanaka resuming throwing, Phelps disabled listing, and the Tigers coming to town with the last 3 AL Cy Young Award winners lined up. Mark Teixeira being a late scratch made things easier for Max Scherzer, who had been on a really strong run coming into tonight. He was without his A-game tonight though, and the Yankees squeaked out enough runs to make an excellent team pitching effort stand up.
It was an uneven early going for both sides of the pitching matchup. Brandon McCarthy needed 34 pitches to tip-toe around loaded bases in the top of the 2nd, which he did by striking out the side. Scherzer put 2 men on with 2 outs in a scoreless 1st, walked the leadoff hitter in the 2nd, and had 3 straight singles to start the bottom of the 3rd turn into 2 runs against him on a Jacoby Ellsbury sac fly and a Brian McCann RBI single. It would have been more, but Detroit center fielder Ezequiel Carrera made the play of the year to rob Ellsbury of at least a bases-clearing double with an incredible diving catch.
McCarthy navigated the next 2 innings without issue, although he wasn’t able to do it any more efficiently than he did the first 2. The only run the Tigers scored against him was thanks to a Martin Prado throwing error in the 5th. Conversely, Scherzer maintained a constant battle with his command that saw him miss badly with some pitches and leave others right over the middle of the plate, but he did so while working a very efficient pitch count against an aggressive Yankee lineup. Some bad baserunning and well-timed double plays also helped bail him out and keep the Yankees from adding to their 2 early runs.
Joe called on McCarthy for 116 pitches in an attempt to ease the strain on his bullpen, but that ended up being good for no more than 5.2 innings. Matt Thornton finished off the 6th, Adam Warren threw a good 7th, and Shawn Kelley breezed through a 1-2-3 8th to get the ball to D-Rob for the save. For the third time in as many days he locked the door and put the finishing touches on the newest winning streak.
– Brett Gardner cannot and absolutely will not stop hitting. 2 more on the night, scored a run, and would have driven one in if Prado had been more aggressive running the bases. His AL Player of the Week award was well-deserved.
– Sneaky good start by McCarthy. 5.2 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K. 16 of the 17 outs he recorded were by strikeout or groundout. If he finishes the 6th or doesn’t get his pitch count bogged down in the 2nd and completes 7, that’s a gem.
– Give the Detroit hitters props for how hard they worked McCarthy each and every inning to drive up that pitch count. They had 38 foul ball strikes off him. That’s a lot of extra pitches.
– Nice night at the plate for Ellsbury, who hit the ball very hard and had 2 hits and an RBI to show for it. He’s been money against Scherzer, so maybe facing him was what he needed to turn his slump around.