No matter how realistic or unrealistic your postseason aspirations are at any point during the regular season, losing 4 of 5 to the Houston Astros is thoroughly embarrassing and completely unacceptable. The Yankees fell into that trap last night and needed a victory this afternoon to salvage a small sliver of respectability in the series finale at The Stadium. Thankfully for my sanity and sliding glass door, they got one.
Brandon McCarthy hasn't thrown a bad game in a Yankee uniform yet, even though he was the losing pitcher in his last 2 starts despite allowing 4 ER in 12.2 IP while striking out 15 and walking only 1. He had his A-game working today and he twisted the Houston lineup into a pretzel with it. 6 scoreless innings to start, 2 hits, no walks, and 2 separate instances of 7 or more consecutive batters retired. Sinker was sinking, curveball had good bite on it, and he was mixing the cutter in well once he got through the order a first time.
The scoring was once again at a premium and the opportunities were once again not completely cashed in on, but the Yankee lineup did enough to give McCarthy a decent cushion in the 2nd inning. Mark Teixeira singled to lead it off, back-to-back doubles by Martin Prado and Chase Headley brought 2 runs to the plate, and a couple of productive outs brought Headley around to score the third. Leadoff base hits in the 4th and 5th were wasted, as were a pair of singles in the bottom of the 6th, but McCarthy's pitching made the 3-run 2nd stand up.
He did have to dance around runners on second and third with 1 out in the 7th to make it stand up, but did so with a big strikeout and a flyout. From there it was smooth sailing through the 8th and 9th innings in order. From not being able to get a starter through 7 innings to a complete game shutout. Thank you, Brandon McCarthy. I thought Joe would go to D-Rob in the 9th just to get him back on the horse, but there's nothing wrong with riding a hot pitcher when he's locked in.
- Headley's 2-run double in the 2nd was his first XBH since August 6th. His big 2012 power output looks more and more like an outlier similar to Ellsbury's 2011 with each passing game.
- Brett Gardner took an 0-4 day and it's been rough going for him lately. He's 6-37 with 7 Ks in his last 10 games and hasn't stolen a base since August 1st.
- Monster day for McCarthy. No runs, no walks, 8 strikeouts, 11 GB outs. This was him at his absolute best. Whether it's with New York or not, the guy is earning himself a nice little contract for next year.
- The offense was good enough to win today, but still not very good. 1-5 with RISP, didn't draw a single walk, and only had 1 guy reach 2nd base after the 2nd inning, Hard to believe calling up Zelous Wheeler to DH today wasn't the answer to all their problems.