It's always nice to win a low-scoring game for a change. The short-handed offense wasn't clicking on all cylinders as usual, but it didn't matter because the pitching was fantastic last night. Nathan Eovaldi tossed 7 scoreless innings to hold the Rangers at bay and handed a lead over to the Yankees' dominant late-inning pair. That's always a recipe for success and the it was again last night as the Yankees picked up a much needed win to open the 3-gamer in Texas.
Eovaldi came out of the gate hot last night, facing the minimum number of batters through 3 innings. A runner did reach on an error to lead off the bottom of the 2nd, but error culprit Didi Gregorius made up for it by starting a 6-4-3 double play to erase the baserunner on the very next pitch. Eovaldi actually didn't allow a hit until the 7th inning, mixing pitches well, moving his fastball around, and throwing a ton of offspeed pitches for strikes. This was arguably the best Eovaldi has looked as an all-around pitcher in his career.
The lineup sans A-Rod and Big Mac didn't give Eovaldi a lot of support but even a couple runs were plenty with the way he was pitching. Those couple of runs came in the top of the 3rd on a Jacoby Ellsbury solo home run and a Mark Teixeira RBI double, and they were critical at the time because the Yanks had just gone scoreless in a bases loaded, 1 out situation in the 2nd inning. They didn't generate much in the way of meaningful opportunities after those 2 innings, but a Starlin Castro solo shot to lead off the 6th provided an important insurance run.
Joe let Eovaldi come out to start the 8th inning, which I believe gave him the new deepest start of the year for the Yankee rotation. He walked the leadoff batter and that was all for him. Dellin Betances came on and got another double play grounder to erase the walk, but then hung a curveball to somebody named Brett Nicholas and watched it go for Nicholas' first career MLB home run. That ruined Dellin's hope for a scoreless season, but he didn't allow any further damage and Andrew Miller made quick work of the heart of the Ranger order in the 9th. Ballgame over, Yankees win.
- Dynamite outing for Eovaldi. 7 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 0 R, 6 K, 10 GB outs, 11 swinging strikes, 22 called strikes. And he did that on less than 100 pitches. Bravo, Nate. He was dropping his curveball and slider in for called strikes all night, which helped him get ahead in the count to set up the splitter and made his fastball more effective. When Eovaldi can mix like that and throw everything for strikes at different times, he can really keep hitters off balance. That's what will allow his stuff to play up.
- 2-hit nights for Ellsbury, Teix, Castro, and believe it or not, Austin Romine.
- Dustin Ackley went 0-3 with 2 Ks and didn't screw anything up in right field. I have to think these next few days are going to be his audition to prove he can handle at least one outfield position and not force the Yankees to make a roster move.
- Interestingly enough, this was Miller's second straight appearance without a strikeout. He had 15 in his first 7 and 2 or more in 5 of those 7.