Game 119 Recap: Yankees 4 Twins 3

Bird HR vs MIN I /in Dan Le Batard's voice

GIVE IT TO ME AGAIN!!!

Bird HR vs MIN II

GIVE IT TO ME AGAIN!!!!!!!!!

Bird HR vs MIN III

GIVE IT TO ME AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bird HR vs MIN IV

This afternoon was glorious.  Simply glorious.  Greg Bird officially arrived on the national scene, hitting 2 home runs, accounting for 100% of the team's offensive output, and leading the Yankees to a sweep of perennial punching bag Minnesota.  Don't worry about rushing back from that shin bruise, Sexy Teixy.  #GREGBIRD's got this.

Before we even get to the real slurping of Bird, let's take a few words and acknowledge the sneaky great start turned in by Nathan Eovaldi today.  He did get charged with 3 runs in his 7 innings of work, but that really boiled down to a bad pitch to Joe Mauer that Mauer hit for a 2-run single in the 6th.  Other than that one bad inning, Eovaldi was a hoss.  He set the Twins down in order through the first 5 innings, overwhelming them with a mix of 100-MPH heat, low-90s splitters, and just enough offspeed stuff to keep hitters honest.  He struck out the side in the 2nd, recorded 11 of his first 12 outs on the infield, and came back from the bad 6th to get a 1-2-3 7th.  Eovaldi even punctuated the outing by throwing 100+ on his final pitch of the day, his 120th.

The Yankee offense couldn't get its momentum going over the first 3 innings, wasting a baserunner in every one.  Then the lineup turned over for the 4th and that was when Greg Bird struck.  Carlos Beltran singled with 2 outs to give Bird a chance and after fouling off a fastball for strike 1, Bird got a hanging changeup on the second pitch.  He read it all the way, squared it up, and smashed it into the second deck in right field for his first Major League career home run and a 2-0 lead.  There was no doubt the instant it left his bat.

The second bomb came after the Twins took the lead in the top of the 6th, as in right after.  Beltran walked with 2 outs to get another rally going, and this time Bird decided to tattoo a dead center fastball out into the Yankee bullpen to re-take the lead.  It was a terrible pitch, but Bird recognized that and was all over it.  Great pitch recognition, smooth swing, crazy easy power.  The sample size is still small, but it already looks like Bird is figuring things out at this level.

Anyway, the Yankees took that slim lead into the late innings still working with a short bullpen.  Chasen Shreve navigated his way through the 8th thanks to a big swinging strikeout of Miguel Sano to end the inning, and Dellin Betances handled closer duty for the day.  15 pitches, 8 strikes, 4 swings and misses, 2 strikeouts, 1 sweep.  The dude is nasty and the Yankees are all the way back from that slump.

Game Notes:

- On Bird's home runs. I didn't see either of them live, but I watched the videos and I can tell you that it's not hyperbole or cliche to say the ball sounds different coming off his bat.  It sounded like he actually broke the balls when he hit them.

- Oh, and Bird is 6 for his last 10 with 3 XBH and 5 RBI after starting his MLB career 0-8.  Just wait until he really figures things out.

- Mad props to Eovaldi, who looked like he finally figured all his new stuff out today.  If this was a glimpse at finished product Eovaldi, we're going to be in for some fun future games.  He struck out 8, he got 15 swings and misses, and he put in a hard day's work with plenty left in the tank at the end.  Maybe the Yankees knew what they were doing when they acquired him after all.

- Dellin Betances is the best relief pitcher in baseball.  There, I said it.

- Jacoby Ellsbury kept his hitting streak going with a 1-4 day.  Up to 8 games.

- Second straight 2-hit game for Chase Headley too.

- Sneak preview of tomorrow's 8 AM post: Greg Bird.

(All photos courtesy of Getty Images)