That was a pretty great start to the second half of the season, no? The big money lineup additions got big hits to drive in runs and three homegrown arms preserved the lead in Friday’s series-opening 4-3 win over the Reds. Undefeated after the All-Star break, baby. Let’s recap the interleague win:
- C.R.E.A.M.: The Yankees sunk a lot of money into Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, and Jacoby Ellsbury over the winter, and they all came through in this game. McCann’s two-out double drove in the game’s first run and salvaged a first inning rally that looked like it might go for naught. Two innings later, Beltran drove in the team’s second run with a two-out single. Those are the big hits neither guy was providing in the first half. Brett Gardner (single) and Mark Teixeira (walk) set up the first rally while Derek Jeter (single) and Jacoby Ellsbury (single) set up the second.
- Phelps Phriday: Other than the two solo homers by Brayan Pena (seriously?!?), David Phelps was once again rock solid. He held the Reds to three runs (two earned) in 6.1 innings, striking out seven and walking one. Errors by Brian Roberts and Jeter gave Cincinnati at least two and possible three extra outs in the fourth inning, leading to a run. It appeared Roberts would have been able to turn a double play had he not totally muffed Todd Frazier’s grounder. Oh well. Phelps was very good yet again, taking the ball into the seventh and sparing some relievers.
- No. 3 Hitter: The fourth inning defensive shenanigans knotted the game up at two, though it took Mike Leake all of five pitches to give up two runs in the fifth inning. Jeter led off with a single to right and Ellsbury followed with a two-run homer to right, a kinda sorta Yankee Stadium cheapie. It wasn’t a wall-scraper but it was only two or three rows back. Who cares, it counted. Ellsbury has been miscast as a number three hitter this year, but, for at least one game, he filled the role perfectly. The homer was his seventh of the year.
- Dellin & Dave: Joe Girardi did not mess around after the four-day All-Star break. He went right to Dellin Betances in relief of Phelps and let him carry the ball all the way to David Robertson in the ninth. Dellin struck out three of five batters faced while Robertson pitched around a two-out single in an otherwise uneventful ninth for his 24th save. These two are going to have to protect every lead they’re given in the second half if the Yankees are going to have a chance.
- Leftovers: The top six hitters in the Reds lineup went a combined 2-for-23 (.090) with one walk and nine strikeouts. The light-hitting Zack Cozart (63 wRC+) had the two hits, naturally … Jeter, Ellsbury, and Beltran all had two hits. Gardner and Teixeira drew the only walks while McCann and Kelly Johnson had one hit apiece … the Yankees stole three bases (Gardner, Ellsbury, Beltran (!)) for only the seventh time this year. I would have guessed it was more … Jeter made his 2,610th career start at shortstop, breaking a tie with Omar Vizquel and giving him sole possession of the most starts at short in history.
For the box score and video highlights, go to MLB.com. FanGraphs has some other stats and ESPN has the updated standings. Depending on the outcome of the late games, the Yankees will be either four games (Orioles lose) or five games (Orioles win) back of the top spot in the AL East and either 2.5 games (Mariners lose) or 3.5 games (Mariners win) back of the second wildcard spot. Brandon McCarthy and Alfredo Simon will be the pitching matchup in the second game of this three-game series on Saturday afternoon.