For the early part of tonight’s game, the story was Michael Pineda. He was back, he looked really good, and he was mowing down the Baltimore lineup. Then the Yankee lineup did its usual disappearing act, Joe made a couple of questionable decisions, and the bullpen gagged away another late lead.
To call Pineda “really good” as I did above was an understatement for the first 4 innings. Pineda was perfect. 12 up, 12 down, 45 pitches to do so, and 4 strikeouts. He had everything working. 4-seamers and cutters in the low 90s, lotta early strikes, swing-and-miss slider. He wasn’t going to his changeup much, but he didn’t really need it to be effective the first 2 times through the order.
The Yankees scored 3 runs in the game and had 6 hits as a team. 2 of the runs and half the hits came in the top of the 3rd, when Stephen Drew doubled with 1 out and Francisco Cervelli smoked a 2-run home run off Chris Tillman on a 3-2 curveball. Brett Gardner singled after that to try to keep the rally going, but Derek Jeter grounded into an all too predictable inning-ending double play and that was all the Bombers would get until the 9th. They had 1 hit after the 4th inning.
Pineda got in trouble on a Nelson Cruz double to lead off the 5th. Cruz came around to score on a single and sac fly, but Pineda limited it to just that. He was at 67 pitches and still looked fresh, so it was somewhat surprising to see Joe go to Dellin Betances for the 6th. Betances pitched 2 scoreless frames before surrendering a game-tying homer to Jonathan Schoop with 1 out in the 8th. I know Joe said he had a “full” bullpen before the game and that meant he was going to use it. I don’t see why he would choose to do that and force extra outs on the ‘pen when Pineda was pitching that well and was 20 pitches short of his limit for the game.
Joe took the HR as a sign that Betances was done and maybe he was. 5 days off or not, 33 pitches and 2+ innings is a lot to ask from a reliever who’s been worked as hard as Betances. Shawn Kelley got the call and gave up a single to Nick Markakis after being ahead 0-2, walked Chris Davis on 6 pitches, and served up the game-losing 3-run shot to Adam Jones on a first-pitch slider. All with 2 outs. Of course the Yankees scored a token run in the 9th too. Of course they did. Teix walk, Beltran double, Headley RBI groundout, who cares?
– Final line on Pineda: 5 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K. Threw 48 of 67 pitches for strikes and had 5 outs apiece on flyballs and groundballs.
– Joe was ejected by Gerry Davis following a questionable out call on Stephen Drew to end the top of the 7th. Davis ruled that Drew ran out of the baseline and interfered with the throw, which Joe obviously disagreed with. My opinion comes with a natural pro-Yankee slant, but I thought the call was horrible and Joe was 100% correct in telling Davis that he was wrong.
– No Yankee batter had more than 1 hit. Cervelli and Mark Teixeira were the only guys to reach base more than once.
– That’s 2 putrid outings in 3 appearances dating back to last Friday for Kelley. The bridge to D-Rob has all but collapsed.