Game 136 Recap: Yankees 8 Orioles 6

Bird HR vs BAL I don't know what to say to people who aren't on board with this team yet.  if you don't enjoy watching and don't have full confidence in this team at all times, you must live a very sad life.  The Yankees opened up a home set with the Orioles this afternoon and they pulled the comeback card again today, slowly battling back from a rough start for Big Mike before icing the game late with a big blow from the Birdman.

It was a quick start for Michael Pineda, as he retired the side in order in the top of the 1st on fewer than 10 pitches.  But his fastball command was not present in the slightest today, and that lack of command got him in big trouble in the 2nd inning.  He walked Chris Davis to start the inning, gave up a single to Jimmy Paredes, and threw a horrible 0-2 fastball down the pipe Jonathan Schoop that Schoop yanked out to left field for a 3-run home run.  He then hit Nolan Reimold with another 0-2 fastball in the next at-bat.  This all happened before an out was recorded in the inning.  When all was said and done, Baltimore had 4 runs on the board in the inning and it was looking like a short day in the making for Big Mike.

The good news was that the offense gave him some early support to keep the game close.  They got a run in the bottom of the 1st on a trio of singles, the last by Chris Young, and another in the 3rd when Chase Headley reached on a tough call error to lead off the inning and Young drove him with a 2-out double to left.  They didn't appear to be fooled by anything Wei-Yin Chen was doing and they worked him hard in every inning.  That persistence paid off in the bottom of the 5th when Alex Rodriguez took him deep on a 3-1 fastball, and John Ryan Murphy did the same with 2 outs after Greg Bird fought back from 1-2 to draw a walk.  Chen threw over 100 pitches to get through 5 innings and he left without the lead his offense had given him.

That was where Pineda's day turned into a good one.  Whatever was killing his command in the 2nd inning got fixed in a hurry, and for the rest of the game he was brilliant.  1 hit, 1 walk, and no runs for the O's from the 3rd through the 6th, and Pineda finished with 5 strikeouts.  He might have even picked up the win had it not been for Manny Machado being a boss and taking Justin Wilson out to dead center for a game-tying home run in the top of the 7th.  That gave the Orioles life again, but in the end all it did was slightly delay the inevitable.

Jorge Rondon worked a scoreless 6th inning in relief of Chen, but he didn't fair nearly as well in the 7th.  He walked Carlos Beltran to start the inning, Young singled for his third hit of the day to knock him out, and Brian Matusz came on to face Greg Bird.  He quickly got ahead 0-2 on fastballs and tried to get Bird to swing over his slider.  But Bird recognized the hanging pitch, waited on it, and drove it into the right field seats for a back-breaking 3-run homer to put the Yanks ahead for good.  It was smart, calm, professional 2-strike hitting, not what you'd expect from a 22-year-old, and it gave the Yankees enough cushion to survive some shaky late-inning relief work from their main guys.  The day started off ugly and finished beautifully.  Seems like that happens a lot with this team.  Gotta love  'em.

Game Notes:

- Quickly on those late innings, Dellin Betances struck out 3 and walked 3 in a stressful 8th.  He didn't have his fastball command again and threw a lot of pitches a day after throwing a lot of pitches.  We won't see him for the rest of this series.

- Andrew Miller gave up a run on a hit and a walk in the 9th, but his outing wasn't nearly as sweat-inducing as Dellin's.  I imagine he won't be available tomorrow either, but remember that these guys have not been overworked lately.  Joe could afford to lean on them and rest them the next few days.

- Big day for Young.  3 hits, 2 RBI.  Good to see him have some good swings against lefties.

- Solid all-around day for JRM too.  A walk, a homer, a couple ribbies, and a lot of nice stops behind the plate.  He's hitting .282/.326/.427 on the year.  This is admittedly my Yankee homerism talking, but is he the best backup catcher in baseball?

- 3 homers in 4 games for A-Rod, although he also took some awful swings in his first 2 at-bats against Chen so who knows if he's really out of his slump.

- Nice day defensively for both Bird and Headley on the infield corners.  Some nice stabs and throws by Headley on tough balls and more than a few nice scoops by Bird.

- Tanaka goes tomorrow night and the Yankees will be looking for some length from him.  Have to think Shreve and Warren will be the 2 late-inning guys if it's a close lead.