Gotta admit, I wasn’t feeling too optimistic about this game. Wasn’t feeling the Ivan Nova vs. the HR-hitting Orioles matchup much. However, Nova somehow came away with a solid six-inning, one-run outing and earned a win. The Yankees needed two runs minimum and, well, that’s exactly what they got. A 2-1 win against the AL East-leading team, I’ll take it.
The Three Instances of Scoring
The Yankees scored first! A-Rod led off in the second inning with a thundering solo homer. Kevin Gausman threw a fastball right down the middle and Rodriguez put a no-doubt home run swing on it. You could tell right off the bat that it wasn’t coming back. Wow. That dinger was No. 696 of his career and No. 9 of the season.
Right in the next inning, the O’s answered back with a leadoff HR of their own. Jonathan Schoop, who is rising as one of the best 2B of the league (hitting for 124 wRC+ after tonight’s game), hit one into the away bullpen. Nova put a 93 mph sinker right down the middle. Big mistake. 1-1 game. Manny Machado immediately followed it with a sharp single down the line. I thought it’d be a double off his bat but perhaps it was hit too hard – Machado had to stay on first.
The Yankees scored another run in the third to make it 2-1. Brett Gardner led off with a base hit and Carlos Beltran advanced him to third with a single that got by the shift. Brian McCann hit a sac fly to score Gardner. Two runs in three innings aren’t that much, but man, New York was working Gausman. By the end of that frame, he had thrown 60 pitches in 3 IP.
The Rest of the Game
Aaaaand that was pretty much all the offense that happened. After A-Rod’s third inning walk, Gausman went on to retire the next 12 hitters. He’s a young pitcher still finding his groove as an ML starting pitcher, but he already has a history of pitching well against the Yankees.
As for the O’s side, I think this was a game that they could have easily scored more. In the first inning, Ivan Nova ran into a bases-loaded trouble after some command issues (walking Mark Trumbo and hitting Matt Wieters with a pitch). However, Pedro Alvarez popped out on a curveball to let him off the hook.
On the fourth, Nova allowed a walk to Nolan Reimold with one out. The next hitter, Ryan Flaherty, hit a chopper down the line that Headley had to reach. It was a sure base hit since it seemed too late for him to try to get the runner out on first. However, Reimold misread the grounder and way overran second base. Headley immediately saw it and the Yankees ended up getting Reimold out in a rundown. Had Reimold stayed on second, the O’s had a potential game-tying situation.
Nova had a one-run, six-inning outing (4 hits allowed, 3 walks and 4 K’s). I feel like he looked a bit worse than his stats suggest. There were several hard-hit balls early from his poor pitch location that didn’t end up haunting him much. However, props to him for not breaking despite some early troubles.
With a 2-1 lead in the top of seventh, Yankees went to the familiar plan: the Dellin Betances-Andrew Miller-Aroldis Chapman sequence. Betances struck out two in a scoreless frame. Miller and Chapman, however, failed to record a strikeout. Bums! They did, however, each toss a scoreless inning to keep the 2-1 lead till the end. Chapman, by the way, must’ve felt extra loose with his arm tonight. He hit 105 mph twice and 104 mph thrice. Not bad at all.
Box Score, Highlights, WPA and Standings
The Yankees continue tomorrow with this series versus Baltimore. Nathan Eovaldi returns to the rotation as the O’s send out former Twins’ Opening Day starter Vance Worley.