What's the best way to get over another Opening Day loss? By coming out and whoopin' up on that team that beat you in game 2. That's exactly what the Yankees did last night, forcing Houston to go to their bullpen in the 1st inning and never looking back on their way to a double-digit beatdown of the Astros.
That end result came no thanks to New York starter Michael Pineda. After a strong start to his spring, Pineda came back to earth at the end of camp and his traditional set of problems were all front and center last night. He threw fastball after fastball that drifted over the plate, he left slider after slider up in the strike zone, and he did both of those things with regularity when he had 2 strikes on guys. The 2 pitches he threw that Carlos Correa tattooed for home runs were some of the worst pitches you'll see, and the one that George Springer hit for a grand slam to briefly bring the Astros back into the game in the top of the 2nd wasn't much better.
To his credit, Pineda did manage to complete 5 innings after looking like he was going to need the hook in the 2nd or 3rd. And he didn't walk a batter. But he was far too hittable and his 2-strike execution was brutal. It was a bad first start and he's lucky he got the support that he did from his lineup.
Because that's what this game was all about. The lineup. The textbook Yankee power and patience combo was on full display, well really more patience and power since they basically forced Houston starter Colin McHugh out of the game by taking a bunch of pitches and drawing walks. Jacoby Ellsbury got on to lead off the bottom of the 1st on catcher's interference in a 6-pitch at-bat, then Brett Gardner drew a walk on 7, A-Rod took one on 6 after going down 0-2, and Mark Teixeira singled on the 7th pitch of his AB to score Ellsbury. From there, Brian McCann doubled to make it 3-1, Chase Headley singled to make it 5-1, and McHugh hit the showers with 1 out to his credit on 43 pitches.
The power took over from there, with Starlin Castro clubbing a 3-run homer to left in the bottom of the 2nd. Teix followed that up with a 3-run shot to right in the 3rd that put the Yankees back up 12-5 and up for good. They got their licks in against sacrificial bullpen lamb Michael Feliz and didn't stop when he left. Carlos Beltran banged a solo homer off of Tony Sipp to lead off the 6th and the bench got into the act when Ronald Torreyes tripled in 2 against Josh Fields in the 7th.
That made life very easy for Ivan Nova, who came out to replace Pineda in the top of the 6th and looked pretty darn good taking the game to the end in his first relief appearance of the year. He gave up 4 hits in his first 2 innings, but worked efficiently out of trouble both times and struck out 5 over 4 innings, including Correa swinging in the 9th. He really had the curveball working and it was probably good for him to have some early success in a low-stress setting. If he has to settle into a relief role for the long term, that's a nice way to start the process.
Yanks evened things up last night and they'll have a chance to take the series win this afternoon if the weather allows. The forecast looks pretty crappy and we're on tap for first pitch a little after 4 PM. If it happens, the starting pitchers will be Nathan Eovaldi and Mike Fiers.
- There's patience and then there's what the Yankees did to poor Colin McHugh in the 1st inning. 3-ball counts to the first 4 batters of the inning, foul balls all over the place, and all 4 guys reaching base in 2-strike counts. He threw 26 pitches in those first 4 ABs. Dude was probably gassed after that. I know I would be.
- The star of the night was Castro. He went 4-5 with 5 RBI and finished a triple short of the cycle. His 7 RBI in the first 2 games of the season ties him with Tino Martinez, Yogi Berra, and Babe Ruth for the franchise record. Decent company, I guess.
- Gardner came to the plate 3 times in the first 3 innings and drew 3 walks. He didn't have an official at-bat in the game until the 5th inning and he had already scored 2 runs. Something something, can't predict baseball.
- Correa's second home run off Pineda was a BOMB. Off the window of the restaurant in center field. Truly impressive stuff.
- Pineda threw 87 pitches in his 5 innings and 61 of them were strikes. That's an over 70% strike rate. The guy's biggest problem is that he throws too many strikes. And he always seems to throw the worst ones at the worst times. Hopefully he can get the ball down in his next start.
- Multi-hit nights for Teix, Beltran, McCann, and Didi Gregorius, who had a sneaky 3-hit night. Gardner drew 4 walks, A-Rod drew 2, and 10 different players scored at least 1 run.