Friday night’s 5-2 win over the Orioles was one of the more interesting Yankees games we’ve seen in a while. Good pitching, timely hitting, catastrophically bad defense, insanely clutch good defense … this one had it all. Let’s recap…
- Big Time: PitchFX says CC Sabathia averaged 90.3 and topped out at 92.3 with his fastball in the blistering cold on Friday, but the radar gun readings didn’t really matter. The big man held the Orioles to two runs (one earned) in eight innings in the series opener, striking out nine and walking zero. The unearned run scored when Kevin Youkilis bobbled a ground ball, the runner was balked to second, and a ten-hop ground ball squeezed through the infield. Of course, Sabathia needed some help to escape a first-and-second, no outs situation in the eighth, but we’ll get to that in a bit. Otherwise, he was awesome.
- Smallball: With the game knotted at one in the fifth, the Yankees employed some good ol’ fashioned smallball to take the lead. Frankie Cervelli worked a ten-pitch walk to leadoff the inning before Brett Gardner bunted him over to second. Robinson Cano got a mistake first pitch fastball — Matt Wieters set up outside but Miguel Gonzalez caught too much of the plate — that he laced into left to score the run. The epitome of a manufactured run.
- Errorball: This was too good. After the O’s tied the game in the top of the seventh, the Yankees answered right back thanks again to Cervelli, who worked another walk (six-pitch) to leadoff the inning. Gardner bunted him over to second again, but this time Cano grounded out to short. Southpaw Troy Patton was ordered to intentionally walk Youkilis to setup the left-on-left matchup with Travis Hafner with two-outs, but Pronk worked a full count before taking a pitch to the left thigh. The bases were loaded with two outs when Vernon Wells lifted a hard-hit but certainly playable fly ball to center. Rather than the final out being recorded, this happened…
He just muffed it. All three runners came around to score and the Yankees took a decisive three-run lead. (GIF via DERP)
- 4-6-5-6-5-3-4: A half-inning after the Jones error, Alexi Casilla (infield single) and Nick Markakis (single to left) started a comeback rally by reaching base to leadoff the eighth inning. Sabathia’s pitch count was getting up there and David Robertson was warming in the bullpen, but then this happened in the blink of an eye…
Yep, a 4-6-5-6-5-3-4 triple play to end the inning. It’s the first of its kind in MLB history and the second triple play the Yankees have turned in the last three seasons. You might remember the around-the-horn job in Oakland back in April 2010. Sabathia was on the mound for that one as well. This was the team’s first triple play at home in over 40 years. Very heads up play by Jayson Nix at second base to go to third there. That was a smart play even if they only turn a boring double play. (GIF via @GoldAndOrSmith)
- Leftovers: Mariano Rivera allowed a single in an otherwise uneventful ninth inning for his second save of the season … the Yankees only had six hits (all singles) on the night, and Cano (two) and Youkilis (three) accounted for five of ‘em. Lyle Overbay had the other … Gardner drew two walks in addition to the two sac bunts while Hafner walked in addition to the hit-by-pitch … Ichiro Suzuki went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and continues to look just awful. I wonder how long his rope will be … Eduardo Nunez left the game after taking a pitch to the right wrist, and he is day-to-day with a contusion. Wrist injuries can be very scary, he and the Yankees got lucky the x-rays came back clean.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs has the nerd score, and ESPN has the updated standings. Hooray for being over .500 and tied for first place in the division. Yes, it’s only April, but still. These same two teams will meet Saturday afternoon, when Phil Hughes gets the ball against Jason Hammel. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch the game in person.