It's gone a tad under the radar, but that's 7 wins in 10 games and 3 straight series victories for the Yankees going into the All-Star break. They closed out this road series in Boston with a hard fought and sloppily-finished victory today and head into the break with a 3.5 game division lead, 5 in the loss column.
Nathan Eovaldi got the ball this afternoon, and his outing was about as textbook Nathan Eovaldi as it could have been. He worked around 1-out hits in each of the first 2 innings, but needed over 40 pitches to do so. When the lineup turned over in the 3rd, the Red Sox hitters were keyed into what he was doing and he couldn't put anybody away. 5 base hits in a 6-batter span, the last 2 in 2-strike counts, plated 3 Boston runs and gave them a brief 1-run lead.
The lead was so short thanks to a 2-run, opposite field home run by Brian McCann off lefty starter Wade Miley in the top of the 2nd. Those types of homers are as rare as a heads up penny sitting in a field of four-leaf clovers, but credit Big Mac for going with a fastball on the outer half. Credit him with starting the game-tying rally in the 5th as well with a leadoff double. It had been a whole lot of nothing offensively in between his at-bats. Chase Headley followed up with a single to put runners on the corners, and even though the next 3 hitters couldn't bring anybody around, a balk by Miley was enough to score McCann.
To his credit, Eovaldi settled down and retired the next 6 in order to get through 5 innings. But his pitch count was north of 100 at that point and Joe went to his bullpen rather than send Eovaldi back out. I thought it was the right move, but Adam Warren looked bad, giving up 3 hard-hit balls (double-lineout-single) to pull Boston within 2. He got the hook and it was up to Justin Wilson to hold things at 2. He did that, bridged to Dellin Betances with 2 outs in the 7th, and got the lead into the hands of Joe's best guys.
That lead came in the 6th when the Yankees went HAM against Miley and reliever Tommy Layne. 2015 American League All Star Brett Gardner led off with an infield single and scored on Alex Rodriguez's double into the left-center field gap. This started a parade of doubles, as Chris Young doubled Alex home and Chase Headley doubled Young home to make it 6-3. Rob Refsnyder chipping in with a big 2-run homer in the top of the 9th seemed to seal the deal.
Then the 9th inning came. Brock Holt drew a leadoff walk against Andrew Miller, and after a Xander Bogaerts strikeout, Pablo Sandoval tapped a ball in front of the plate for what should have been out 2. McCann flubbed the pickup, however, and threw enough inside that Mark Teixeira couldn't make the catch. Error, 2 on, 1 out. No biggie, Miller got a double play ball off the bat of Hanley Ramirez in the next at-bat... and threw the ball into center field for another error and a run scored. Alejandro De Aza hit a sac fly to bring the tying run to the plate, but Didi Gregorius made a nice running catch to end the silliness and secure the final out.
Yankees are 8 games over .500 and leading the AL East at the break. That's a pretty good place to be for the next few days while Betances, Gardner, and Teix go represent in the ASG.
- 5 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 102 pitches. That's so Eovaldi.
- Gardner, McCann, Headley, and Refs all had 2 hits. Jacoby Ellsbury and Didi were the only players in the lineup to go hitless.
- Mad props to Refsnyder for that home run, the first of his MLB career. Got a hanging slider with 2 strikes and walloped it. That error on him in the 9th was bogus too. Miller threw the ball away. I thought Refs looked pretty good these last 2 games. No way the Yankees should even think about sending him back down.
- Tough day for Warren, but no cause for concern. He's gone 5.2 innings with 4 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, and 7 Ks since getting moved to the bullpen.
- Tip of the cap to Wilson. He's been quietly excellent for a long time now. Just 1 ER allowed in his last 21 appearances dating back to May 26th.