I have to say, the 2016 Yankees sure went from boring to fun in a hurry. It’s amazing what some (mostly) internal roster moves can do. The Yankees beat the Angels by a 5-1 score on Saturday night. They’ve won seven of their last ten games overall. It’s Saturday night and this was a West Coast game, so bullet points it is:
- Three Early Runs: Gary Sanchez can’t stop won’t stop. He whacked his sixth home run of the season in the first inning, this one a solo shot to left field. Sanchez was way out in front of Ricky Nolasco’s slow breaking ball, yet he still muscled it out. Kid is crazy strong. A single (Didi Gregorius), a double (Starlin Castro), and a two-run single (Brian McCann) followed. All with two outs too. The Yankees were up 3-0 before Luis Cessa threw a pitch.
- The Good Luis: Luis Cessa out-pitching Luis Severino is not a thing I expected coming into the season. Cessa, in his first big league start, held the Angels to three singles in six outstanding innings Saturday night. He was pitch efficient, he worked fast, and he missed bats with both his fastball and breaking ball. Cessa struck out five and walk one in his scoreless outing. The only thing that could stop him was his pitch count; Joe Girardi wasn’t going to let him throw much more than the 85 pitches he threw after not starting a game in a few weeks. Heck of a job, Luis.
- Two More Two-Out Runs: Nolasco really settled down after that rough first inning. He retired 13 in a row at one point. The Yankees finally got back on the board in the sixth inning. Castro and McCann singled with two outs, then, after McCann stole second (!), Aaron Judge inside-outed a fastball to right field to score two runs and give the Yankees a 5-0 lead. It was maybe the loudest opposite field single I’ve ever heard. The ball makes a different sound off his bat.
- Leftovers: Brett Gardner made an absurd jumping catch to rob C.J. Cron of a two-run homer in the seventh inning. Here’s the video. That’s a legit play of the year candidate … Tyler Clippard (seventh) and Tommy Layne (eighth) threw scoreless innings, and Dellin Betances allowed a garbage time solo homer to Albert Pujols in the ninth. Betances had not pitched since Monday and needed the work. Layne struck out Mike Trout, which was rather unexpected … Castro (single, double), McCann (two singles), and Judge (single, walk) each reached base twice … the 8-9-1-2 wrap-around portion of the lineup went 1-for-17. Ouch.
Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. The Yankees are four games back of the Orioles for the second wildcard spot, and they still have nine games remaining with Baltimore, including the final series of the season at Yankee Stadium. Long shot? Yes. Doable? Also yes. The Bronx Bombers will look to finish the sweep of the Angels on Sunday afternoon. That one starts at 3:35pm ET. Chad Green and Jhoulys Chacin are the scheduled starters.