Tyler Austin, you magnificent bastard, you did it! Austin came through with the big walk-off hit in the bottom of the 9th, on a solo homer no less, to give the Yankees their 5th straight win last night in the series opener against the Rays.
It looked like it was going to be a big night for both offenses early. The ball was flying out of Yankee Stadium and neither starting pitcher was on his game. CC Sabathia gave up solo home runs in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd innings, 2 of them to lefty-swinging Kevin Kiermaier, and generally looked like he was out there with nothing. His velocity was down, his location wasn't sharp on any of his pitches, and he labored through 4+ innings before getting the hook.
Tampa starter Alex Cobb was just as inconsistent with his pitch location, and the Yankees teed off on him for 4 runs in the first 4 innings. The first 2 came on a pair of leadoff bloop singles in the top of 1st, an RBI base knock by Didi, and a throwing error on a pickoff attempt by Cobb. The last 2 came on a pair of solo dingers off the bat of Brian McCann, and brother they were both big time bomb jobs.
The burden falling on the bullpen was a heavy one again, and it got off to a mixed results with the first pitcher. Jonathan Holder came on and got out of Sabathia's jam in the top of the 5th, then served up a mammoth home run to Steven Souza Jr. to tie the game in the 6th. But somehow the group of Chasen Shreve, Blake Parker, Kirby Yates, and Tommy Layne combined to pick up the final 9 outs without allowing a run and give Austin a chance for the theatrics.
It took confidence by Joe to even let Austin hit in that situation. With 2 outs and a righty reliever coming on, it would have made tactical sense to pinch hit Mark Teixeira. But Joe stuck with Austin, who's been swinging a hot bat lately, and Austin came through. He worked a 3-0 count, took a strike, swung through strike 2, then stayed back on a 3-2 fastball and smacked it out to right for the win. Tremendous piece of hitting in a situation like that and an absolutely awesome win.
- 2-4 night for Austin with the homer. He's 6-12 with 4 XBH in his last 4 games. Starting to put it together...
- Big night for McCann too with the 2 homers and a single. The rest of the team had 5 hits combined.
- Combined line of all the pitchers who came in after Sabathia: 5 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K. Considering who those 5 pitchers were, that's incredible.
- It looked like CC's fastball velocity was down, so I wonder if he's starting to feel a little fatigued late in the season. Or maybe it was just an off night for him and he'll be back to normal next time otu.