Saturday afternoon’s game had all the look of another loss thanks to a lifeless offense. Didn’t matter who was on the mound for the White Sox, they Yankees weren’t hitting him. Then a late rally against the bullpen and a surprise extra innings homer gave the Bombers their first win in U.S. Cellular Field since 2012. Let’s belatedly recap the 4-3 win:
- Nuno Recovers: Sixteen pitches into the game, Vidal Nuno allowed three hits and three runs to put the Yankees in an immediate hole. It looked like it would be another short day for the team’s nominal fourth starter, but, to Nuno’s credit, he rebounded very well and took the ball into the eighth (!) inning. He retired 20 of the final 25 men he faced, throwing a season-high 101 pitches. I think he was going to throw 100+ pitches no matter what given the state of the bullpen. Nuno rebounded nicely and held the ChiSox to just those three first inning runs. I’ll take seven innings and three runs from him every time out.
- Danked: The Yankees somehow had more success against Chris Sale on Thursday than they did against John Danks on Saturday. Sure, they had three hits against Danks, but he chucked eight innings and got nothing but weak contact all afternoon. Mark Teixeira hit a ground rule double in the fourth and that was the only ball they really squared up. Getting dominated by Sale is one thing, but post-shoulder surgery Danks? Yuck.
- Blownpen: It looked like the Yankees were ready to tease us in the ninth inning again. Jacoby Ellsbury singled against closer Ronald Belisario with one out to give us some hope, but it wasn’t until Alfonso Soriano doubled (driving in Ellsbury) and Yangervis Solarte singled (driving in Soriano) than the comeback really felt like it had some life. After an Ichiro Suzuki walk pushed Solarte into scoring position, pinch-hitter Brian McCann blooped the game-tying single into center field. After doing nothing against Danks, the Yankees scored three in the ninth to tie the game.
- Extras: If Ellsbury had not hit the go-ahead homer in the tenth inning, I’m not sure how much longer New York could have held out. Adam Warren was unavailable after Friday’s long appearance and Dellin Betances had already pitched for the second day in a row, so Preston Claiborne and Alfredo Aceves were next in line. Thankfully, Ellsbury hit that homer, and David Robertson closed the door in the bottom of the tenth to seal the win. He’s been pitching in high-leverage spots for years now. You didn’t think Friday’s blown save would rattle him, did you? Robertson, Betances, and the Matts (Thornton and Daley) held the ChiSox to one base-runner in three innings, striking out six.
- Leftovers: Ellsbury had two hits in his final two at-bats, which is hopefully a sign he is ready to break out of his slump. They need him to hit … Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter went a combined 0-for-10 from the one-two spots … the Yankees went 3-for-6 with runners in scoring position and six of the final eleven men they sent to the plate reached base (three of the first 29 reached) … Betances struck out two in his perfect inning and now has 49 strikeouts in 28.1 innings. He leads all relievers in strikeouts (by nine) and has an outside shot at 100 strikeouts before the All-Star break.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees and White Sox wrap up this four-game weekend series on Sunday afternoon, when Masahiro Tanaka gets the ball against rookie righty Andre Rienzo. How about a winning streak?
Minor League Update: Here are the box scores for Saturday’s games: Triple-A Scranton, Double-A Trenton, High-A Tampa (G1), High-A Tampa (G2), Low-A Charleston. RHP Zach Nuding threw eight shutout innings, OF Ben Gamel and 2B Rob Refsnyder both had two hits, and homers were hit by SS Cito Culver, 1B Greg Bird, 3B Dante Bichette Jr., and OF Aaron Judge.