That was a relatively stress-free win. I like. CC Sabathia allowed a run in the second inning but the Yankee bats jumped on Jake Odorizzi in the fourth and never looked back. This win pulled the Yankees within 3 games of the Red Sox in the AL East and gave them a 4-game lead in the AL Wild Card standings. A productive night! Let’s recap this thing.
Decent, but no cigar
The Rays struck first. Lucas Duda, playing in the Citi Field for the first time since being traded to the Rays, walked on four pitches against Sabathia to begin the bottom of the second. After CC retired Cesar Puello and Cesar Ramos, he allowed an RBI triple to Adeiny Hechavarria to give the Rays a 1-0 lead. The Rays shortstop grinded out a nine-pitch at-bat and CC threw a cutter that stayed a bit middle.
Sabathia got into another pickle in the bottom of the third. Peter Bourjos led it off by bunting (!!!) for base hit and Kevin Kiermaier followed it up with a soft grounder single to the pitcher. Two nubbers in a row that Sabathia couldn’t field. However, Sabathia struck Trevor Plouffe out looking to get the first out. On the next batter, Evan Longoria, the Rays attempted a double steal and Kiermaier was called out for over-sliding second base as Starlin Castro kept the tag on him. Longoria grounded out to third to end the inning. That could have gone much worse.
.. was given a 5-1 lead after the fourth inning, but could not finish the fifth. He walked Bourjos, struck out Kiermaier and allowed a single to Plouffe. The problem was that all three encounters resulted in lengthy at-bats. Even though he had allowed only a run at that point, he seemed to be laboring in that inning – not to mention that Longoria, who owned Sabathia all his career, was coming up. Joe Girardi pulled the plug on him right away and put in David Robertson to relieve. D-Rob, being the Houdini himself, struck out Longoria and Duda to get out of the jam. Girardi went the safe route and CC might not have been happy about it, but Yankees got out of it unscathed.
Five is all you need
After being no-hit by Odorizzi for the first three innings, the Yankees got a rally going in the top of the fourth. They started it out by getting runners on the corners with an Aaron Judge walk and a Gary Sanchez single. Didi Gregorius tied the game up with a sacrifice fly. Castro followed it up by striking out swinging to make it two outs. On a full count, Matt Holliday hit a grounder that went under 3B Trevor Plouffe’s glove and trickled down all the way down the left field line. It should have been an inning-ending ground out but instead, the Yankees took a 2-1 lead. Not sure what exactly happened there. Third base is a hard position (hence why they call it the hot corner) but that’s a play that gets made at least 9.5 out of 10 times.
The Yankees took full advantage of Plouffe’s blunder. After Jacoby Ellsbury reached on an all-time leading 30th catcher’s interference, Todd Frazier went deep for a three-run homer. That was no cheapie – it hit the facing of the second deck of the left field seats. 5-1 Yankees. Tyler Austin, not to be outdone by his teammates, squared a hard double to the left to keep the rally going. Brett Gardner followed it up with a walk and Kevin Cash decided that he’s seen enough. It took Odorizzi 51 pitches to get two outs in the fifth and he was pulled out of the inning for Chaz Roe. Three no-hit innings and get piled on in the fourth. Life comes at you quick.
Ellsbury set the all-time MLB record today… in drawing catcher’s interference. In the fourth inning, he swung at a full-count pitch that went foul but his bat nicked the catcher’s mitt. That, by definition, was catcher’s interference and the 30th of Ellsbury’s career. He surpassed Pete Rose’s record as the king of the category in the ML history.
As mentioned, D-Rob came into relief for Sabathia in the fifth inning and took care of the business through the seventh – a seven-out outing for him! That is the first of his career. He also threw 36 pitches while at it. I guess Girardi really wanted to prioritize holding the lead rather than saving him for tomorrow – he will probably go to someone like Tommy Kahnle in a similar situation.
Dellin Betances followed to pitch in the eighth. He made things a liiiittle bit interesting by allowing two baserunners early on (Longoria single, Duda K, Puello walk). However, in a typical Dellin fashion, he struck out pinch-hitting Logan Morrison for the second out and escaped out of it after retiring Hechavarria with a flyout. Aroldis Chapman, who has regained his role as the ninth-inning guy, pitched a swift 1-2-3 in the ninth to close it out. The Yankees win!
Box score, video highlights, updated standings and WPA graph
The Yankees continue on the series vs. the Rays at Citi Field tomorrow at 7:05 pm. Sonny Gray will be on the mound against Blake Snell.