Is it okay to breathe yet?
Yes … but it wasn’t okay for about 30 minutes on Friday night when it looked like the Yankees might do the impossible and blow an 8-1 lead in the ninth inning. Esmil Rogers and Dellin Betances combined to allow six runs in the final frame before the Yankees were able to escape with a 8-7 win in the series opener.
How rare was this near-loss? The last time the Yankees gave up six-or-more runs in the ninth inning and still won the game was June 20, 1986 against the Toronto Blue Jays. Before Friday, the Yankees had allowed a total of four runs in the ninth inning in their first 54 games combined, the fewest of any AL team.
Rogers let the first five baserunners he faced to reach base and was pulled before retiring a batter. He was charged with five runs, becoming the first Yankee to allow at least five earned runs without recording an out in a game since Steve Howe on April 8, 1993 vs. the Indians. The last Yankee to manage that feat without allowing a home run was Tom Underwood on July 11, 1980 against the Rangers.
Dellin Betances finally has a non-zero number next to his ERA after allowing an earned run for the first time in 2015. His streak of 26 straight appearances to begin a season without giving up an earned run was the third-longest by any major-league pitcher in the last 100 years. Only Mike Myers (33 appearances in 2000) and Brad Ziegler (29 in 2008) had longer streaks.
First things first
The Yankees wasted no time in trying to erase the bad memories from Friday’s ninth inning debacle, scoring six runs in the bottom of the first inning and cruising to a stress-free 8-2 win on Saturday night.
It was the fourth time they plated six-or-more runs in the first inning, something that the Yankees hadn’t done in a season since 1948, according to STATS, Inc.
Adam Warren continued to state his case to remain in the rotation, pitching into the seventh inning for the fifth straight time and allowing just two runs on four hits. He’s the only Yankee pitcher this season with five consecutive quality starts and his ERA during this stretch — 2.70 since May 13 — is easily the best among the starters on the team.
Chris Capuano pitched a perfect ninth inning to secure the win, but he had to work hard for the final out as Carlos Perez fouled off seven pitches before Capuano got him swinging on the 13th pitch. It was the longest game-ending strikeout by any major-league pitcher since Billy Wagner on June 13, 2004 against the Twins’ Matt LeCroy.
The Yankees finished off their second sweep in a row with Sunday’s 6-2 win at the Stadium. It was the first time the Yankees swept the Angels in New York since August 1995. How long ago was that? The winning pitcher for the third and final game in that series was Sterling Hitchcock!
CC Sabathia won his first game at home in nearly two years, despite getting ejected at the end of the sixth frame. His six-start losing streak in the Bronx was tied for the longest by any Yankee over the last 100 seasons.
It was the third time Sabathia had been ejected in his career. The others came with the Indians, on July 21, 2006 and July 4, 2003. Before Sabathia, the last Yankee starting pitcher to be ejected for arguing balls and strikes was Randy Johnson on Sept. 16, 2005 against the Blue Jays.
Jose Pirela hit his first career homer in the seventh inning off C.J. Wilson, and is now 14-for-25 (.560) vs. left-handed pitchers as a major-leaguer. That’s the best batting average against lefties by any player since Pirela’s debut last season on September 22 (min. 10 PA).