Man, taking three of four from the Red Sox in Boston to close out the first half is about as good as it gets. Let’s recap…
- More Early Runs: The Yankees have now scored multiple first inning runs in six of their last seven games. It was just two runs on Sunday night, but it would have been only one had third baseman Mauro Gomez not thrown the ball into the infield grass attempting to turn a routine double play. As for their first inning run totals in the series, the Yankees went 5-4-3-2. Clearly, the offense is in decline.
- Big Boy: That was some outing by Ivan Nova. He had to battle — both runs came across after defensive miscues — and grind his way through each inning, but he racked up ten strikeouts and killed the Red Sox with his curveball. Forty-seven of his 111 pitches were the yakker (42.3%), and he recorded eight of his strikeouts on the the pitch. He threw 35 of the 47 for strikes (!) and Boston’s batters swung and missed at the curve eight times. Two runs (one earned) across six innings is just dandy. Nova was fantastic and became the first Yankees starter to win two games at Fenway Park in a single season since Randy Johnson in 2006.
- Tack-on Runs: No lead is safe in Fenway Park (or so they say), and the Yankees did a really nice job of tacking on runs in the middle innings. Alex Rodriguez clubbed a monster triple into the center field triangle in the fifth, plating one run before coming around to score on an Andruw Jones single. Andruw then launched a two-run homer in the seventh, his fourth dinger in the last 36 hours or so. He had himself one hell of a series.
- Bullpen: With four days of rest coming up, Joe Girardi went for the kill with his A-relievers despite having a five-run lead. Cody Eppley walked two of the three guys he faced in the seventh before Clay Rapada bailed him out by whiffing David Ortiz. David Robertson recorded the final out of the inning before pitching into and out of danger in the eighth (one run on two walks and a double). Rafael Soriano closed it out with a stressful but scoreless ninth. Did they protect the lead? Yes. But they also walked six guys in three innings. Knock that off.
- Leftovers: Derek Jeter was favoring his right shoulder early in the game and it may or may not have contributed to his two miscues — a dropped popup and a bobble on a ground ball — but it didn’t bother him at the plate; he went 3-for-5 … Robinson Cano extended his hit streak to 15 games with a booming ninth inning double off the top of the Green Monster … everyone in the starting lineup had a hit except for Chris Stewart, while Jeter (three singles), Curtis Granderson (two singles), Mark Teixeira (single and double), Nick Swisher (single and double), and Jones (single and homer) all had multiple hits … home plate ump Angel Hernandez had a pretty wide strike zone but it was consistent for both teams, so whatever I guess.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the advanced stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees head into the All-Star break with a 52-33 record, the best in baseball. They’ll take the next four days off before opening the second half with a three-game set against the Angels in the Bronx. Hiroki Kuroda gets the ball against … probably Jered Weaver or C.J. Wilson. Not sure who’s starting for the Halos. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch that game.