New York, Minnesota, Texas, doesn't matter where. The Yankees show up at the ballpark on any given day and they're probably going to beat you. That's just how things are going right now. Everybody is chipping in, everybody has their turn to contribute, and the Bombers are rolling like a well-oiled baseball machine as they pull away in the AL East.
Ivan Nova got the start last night and once again he turned in an outing that wasn't nearly as good as his line made it look. The Rangers got to him for 2 runs in the bottom of the 2nd, all generated with 2 outs. Josh Hamilton singled and scored of Elvis Andrus' double, then Andrus came home on a Lenonys Martin. The Rangers looked like they were going to put a hurting on Nova, then he managed to get through the next 3 innings scoreless. He had to escape a bases loaded/1 out situation in the 4th with a couple ground ball outs, and he put 2 men on with 2 outs again in the 5th, but no more runs crossed. He wasn't all that sharp and he put 8 men on base in 5 innings, but Nova gave the Yanks just enough to have a chance.
They grabbed that chance in the top of the 3rd when Chase Headley led off with a base hit and Didi Gregorius homered (!!) on a Matt Harrison first-pitch fastball to tie the game at 2. Brendan Ryan tripled after that and Brett Gardner walked to keep the rally going. A Chris Young sac fly plated the go-ahead run but Alex Rodriguez banged into an inning-ending double play to put the brakes on a potentially big inning.
No matter. He just made up for it when he came to the plate for a third time in the top of the 6th. He knew what Harrison had at that point and he didn't budge when Harrison threw 4 straight fastballs, only 1 for a strike, to start the at-bat. Harrison tried to throw a fifth straight one down and away and A-Rod went with the pitch, driving it just out over the right field wall for a home run. Happy birthday indeed.
Didi provided the insurance with a 2-run single in the 7th and Joe turned the game over to his well-rested 'pen upon Nova's departure. Chasen Shreve was spectacular in 2 scoreless innings, striking out 4 and making guys look plain silly on a couple swings. Justin Wilson handled a scoreless 8th and Dellin Betances shook off some mini-rust on a walk in the 9th before gathering it up and shutting the Rangers down. The Yankee formula working to perfection again.
- 3-4 night with 4 RBI for Didi, a new career high for him. He's up to .248/.297/.340 on the year. The home run was also his first off a lefty.
- 3-hit night for Headley too as he continues his strong start to the second half. He's up to .268/.318/.394.
- I thought it was a smart move by Joe to cut Nova when he did, thinking he was trying to get him out on a high note after an up-and-down night. Turns out Nova was experiencing arm fatigue and that's why he got pulled. Nova said he wasn't feeling any pain, so this could just be a simple case of fatigue coming back from TJS. I'm sure we'll hear more about it in the days to come.
- Shreve is a monster. This was maybe my second time actually watching him pitch this season and he's awesome. Doesn't look like much standing there and doesn't look like much throwing the ball, but he's got some stuff. 27.5% K rate on the year.
- Tough night for Mark Teixeira. He crushed the ball 3 times and had nothing to show for it in his first 3 plate appearances, then he hits a seeing-eye single in the 8th and gets thrown out at home on a bad send by third base coach Joe Espada. Teix was noticeably upset after he was tagged out at home, almost like he was surprised that Espada sent him. Oh well.
- A-Rod's homer made it the 6th time he's homered on his birthday in his career, the most in MLB history.