A winning streak! The Yankees haven’t had one of these in a while. A big hit with the bases loaded and a stellar start from one of the replacement arms carried the Bombers to a 4-2 win over the Royals in Friday’s night series opener, their second straight victory. Let’s recap:
- Don’t Call Me A Reliever: What a start by Chase Whitley. The Yankees haven’t gotten much from length from their … seventh? eighth? I’ve lost count … starter this year, and on Friday he threw a career-high seven innings and held the Royals to two runs on five hits. The Royals managed to string together some hits for a run in the second and a run in the fifth, but otherwise he was never really in a big jam. Kansas City definitely helped him out by hacking early on often, which is in their DNA. Great, great start by Whitley. Sandwich guy approves.
- One Swing, Three Runs: The Yankees nearly blew a prime run-scoring opportunity in the second before Brian Roberts singled in Mark Teixeira with two outs. The third inning is when they did almost all of their damage thanks to Brian McCann’s opposite field, bases-clearing double. They had loaded the bases on two singles (Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner) and a hit-by-pitch (Teixeira) with one out. The two table-setters got it started, the big money middle of the order guy cleaned it up. Perfect.
- More Bullpen: McCann’s double ended the run-scoring portion of the evening — 18 of the final 23 Yankees made out, and two of the base-runners were an infield single and a walk — meaning Joe Girardi had to go to his ace relievers after Whitley. Dellin Betances drew the eighth inning and struck out two to pitch around a single. David Robertson got the ninth, allowed a double (Billy Butler was out at second) and a walk, but otherwise struck out two for his 14th save. Twenty-nine of his last 39 outs have been strikeouts. That is absurd.
- Leftovers: Ichiro Suzuki got picked off first base in the ninth and I would have liked to see Girardi challenge it. Top of the ninth, close game, no outs in the inning, roll the dice there. Oh well … Roberts made a mental error and forgot to cover second base on Lorenzo Cain’s single, so he essentially “stole” second on the throw back to the infield … McCann’s double was the only extra-base hit (of course) and Gardner was the only player with more than one hit. He had two.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees are back in second place in the AL East. Worst second place team in baseball? Sure feels like it. These two clubs will play the second game of their four-game series on Saturday night (argh), when Danny Duffy and David Phelps square off. Do I hear three wins in a row?