Hey, how 'bout that? A win! I sarcastically didn't think the Yankees were going to get any more of those this season, and I seriously thought there were some people out there who wouldn't have been able to handle another loss on #GREGBIRD Day. But the bats woke up and the crooked numbers returned to the scoreboard as the Yanks ended this disappointing series on the right note.
To borrow some of David Cone's early game analysis, Trevor Bauer has pretty much been an all-or-nothing pitcher this season. You know what you're going to get pretty early with him, and when Brett Gardner drew a 4-pitch walk as the second batter of the game to put 2 on and nobody out, I felt pretty good. Brian McCann brought everybody home with a towering 2-out home run to right field and the Yanks were off and running.
They picked up another run in the top of the 2nd on a Stephen Drew solo shot, 2 more on ribbie doubles by Drew and Gardner in the 4th, and they really could have busted the game open if they would have been able to capitalize on another 2 on/no outs situation in the 3rd. Greg Bird looked like he was going to bring somebody home with a double to left in his second at-bat, but Michael Brantley was able to track the ball down and end the threat. Either way, Bauer didn't make it out of the 4th and the Yanks had a comfortable lead.
It wasn't as comfortable as it could have been because Nathan Eovaldi wasn't at his best last night. His fastball command on the outside corner wasn't there, and since he doesn't work much with it inside it made things a lot more difficult for him. He threw some really nice splitters and called strike curveballs, but he was never able to get into a groove and work quickly. He walked 2 in the 1st, and gave up 2 runs in the 3rd on a leadoff walk, a single, a sac bunt, a sac fly, and another single on a poorly placed 2-strike fastball.
Gardner singled home another run in the top of the 6th to make it 7-2 and it looked like the Yankees were fixing to cruise on to victory, but Eovaldi put the brakes on that again by serving up back-to-back doubles to start the bottom half and another bad fastball single to pull the Indians back within 3. That pitch ended his night, and the first pitch from Adam Warren ended the threat by getting turned into a double play.
Warren was done for the night after that 1 pitch and however many strenuous warmup tosses he threw in the bullpen, and from there it was a lot of nail-biting relief work to get to the finish. Justin Wilson got tagged for 2 hits and a run and only got 2 outs in the 7th, Dellin Betances needed almost 30 pitches to get through the 8th, and Andrew Miller got dinged for 2 more hits and a run in the 9th. The Yankees got a big insurance run in the top of the 8th on Gardner's third RBI of the night, but the 'pen didn't look great heading into this big weekend series.
- 3 hits, 3 RBI, and a walk for Gardner in 5 plate appearances. Good at-bats every time.
- Jacoby Ellsbury went 2-4 with a walk as well. Both of those guys getting hot again at the same time would be sweet.
- Career night for Drew, who set a new career high mark with 4 runs scored. He also drove in 2 and drew one of the team's 5 walks.
- Now onto the big debut. Greg Bird went hitless in 5 trips to the plate, but it wasn't a bad looking 0-5. He stung the ball to right and left field in his first 2 ABs, and off the bat both looked like hits. They were bad BABIP luck more than anything, and both swings showed his ability to cover the inside and outside parts of the plate. He swung through a few fastballs later in the game, but I'm willing to cut him a break because he was up with 2 outs all night and seemingly down 0-2 in the count all night. Tough to stick with your normal approach in those situations. He looked calm and comfortable at the plate, he looked smooth in the field. Hopefully he sticks around longer than Refsnyder did.
- I was banging this drum on Twitter last night, but if you don't follow me I'll make the point here again. I can't help but think Joe made another tactical error by sitting Teix for Bird last night. A-Rod went 0-4 with a walk and a K to drop himself to 6-41 with 11 Ks in his last 11 games, and his swing just looked a little slow. He probably needed the night off more than Teix, and it made more sense to me to give him the night last night so that he would be good to go for the weekend series against Toronto. No offense to Bird, but I'd rather have A-Rod up in those games than him.
Give A-Rod last night, have him back fresh against the lefty Price tonight, and then give Teix a day on Saturday or Sunday so Bird can hit against a righty again. That's how I would have done it. Joe didn't do it that way and now I'm curious to see when he does give A-Rod a blow this weekend, if he even gives him one at all.