Two games, two wins in the second half. The Yankees clinched the series win over the Reds with a quick and crisp 7-1 win Saturday afternoon. They should all be like this. Let’s recap:
- Early Runs: Just as they did on Friday, the Yankees struck for some early runs and made the Reds play from behind right away. Carlos Beltran hit a solo homer (in an 0-2 count) with two outs in the second, then Brett Gardner singled in Brian Roberts in the third for a two-zip lead. Roberts reached second when Jay Bruce dropped his routine-ish fly ball in right-center. Must have lost it in the sun. Either way, the Yankees made him pay. Love early runs.
- B-Mac: Can you believe the Yankees got Brandon McCarthy for Vidal Nuno and the Diamondbacks are paying half his salary? McCarthy held Cincinnati to one run (solo homer) in six innings on Saturday, striking out nine and recording seven of his other nine outs on the infield. He struck out eight of the last 15 batters he faced, including the side in the fourth and sixth innings. Two singles in the sixth made things a little dicey but McCarthy escaped with some whiffs. Very nice outing for the team’s de facto number two starter (or the ace?).
- Pile On: The Yankees scored their third and fourth runs in the fifth after two singles (Roberts and Kelly Johnson) and a passed ball put runners at second and third with one out. Gardner (sac fly) and Derek Jeter (single) drove ’em in. They blew things open in the next inning, loading the bases with one out on a infield single (Brian McCann) and two traditional singles (Beltran and Roberts). Johnson squibbed a two-run ground ball single just over the first base bag for the big blow. That was some good ol’ fashioned BABIP luck. Gardner followed with another sac fly for the team’s seventh run. Love insurance runs too.
- Leftovers: Adam Warren, Shawn Kelley, and Matt Thornton got the final nine outs without incident. It’s been a while since they all pitched because of the All-Star break. There is such a thing as underuse, you know … the top five hitters in the lineup went a combined 3-for-17 (.176) with a walk while the bottom four hitters went 6-for-15 (.400). Hey, sometimes the bottom of the order has to do the work … the bullpen is on pace for 591 strikeouts this year. The all-time record is 589 by the 2012 Rockies.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some additional stats, and ESPN the updated standings. Depending on the outcome of the late games, the Yankees will be either three games (Orioles lose) or four games (Orioles win) back of the top spot in the AL East and either 1.5 games (Mariners lose) or 2.5 games (Mariners win) back of the second wildcard spot. Go Athletics and Angels. Hiroki Kuroda and Johnny Cueto will be the pitching matchup in Sunday afternoon’s series finale.