Well that didn’t go well. The Yankees got demolished by the Twins on Friday night, dropping the series opener 10-1. They were dangerously close to being shut out for the fourth time this season, but they managed to score a run with two outs in the ninth.
As has been the case seemingly more often than not the last two months, Michael Pineda was not sharp Friday night, especially with his slider location. He hung several, most notably the pitch Michael Sano muscled out to center for two-run home run in the first inning. Pineda threw 39 sliders according to PitchFX and got just six swings and misses with the pitch. Batters swung and misses at just two of his 40 fastballs.
The Twins roughed Pineda up for five runs on eight hits in 5.2 innings. Four of the eight hits came with two strikes, when Pineda should be burying hitters with his slide-piece. He did strike out four and didn’t walk anyone, so that’s good, but it’s nothing more than a consolation prize. Since the 16-strikeout game Pineda has a 4.77 ERA in 12 starts and 71.2 innings. That’s not very good. He’s up to 118 innings on the season after throwing 84 innings last year and 40.2 the year before. Can’t help but wonder if Pineda is running into a bit of a wall.
For once, Phil Hughes did not let an early lead get away. Too bad he was pitching against the Yankees this time and not for them. The Yankees hit Hughes very hard the first time through the lineup — each of the first eight hitters hit a rocket before Stephen Drew popped up to second — but the balls kept finding gloves. Hughes even snagged a hard-hit grounder himself. One of those “he didn’t catch the ball, the ball caught him” jobs.
The hard contact didn’t come as frequently the second and third time through the lineup. The Yankees had seven hits off Hughes, all singles, and only twice did a runner make it as far as third base against him. They were Alex Rodriguez in the first, when he went first-to-third on Mark Teixeira‘s single, and Chase Headley in the seventh. The Yankees strung together three two-out hits in that seventh inning before Jacoby Ellsbury flew out to left. That was their best chance to get back into the game. The score was still 5-0 at the time.
All told, Hughes held his former club scoreless for seven innings, striking out three and walking none. The Yankees scored their one run in the ninth, when Ellsbury drove in Didi Gregorius with a sac fly. The game was all but over by then. It was one of those nights. The Yankees hit more than their fair share of balls hard, they didn’t fall in, and that was that. That’s baseball. Sometimes you do everything right and don’t get rewarded. What can you do.
Branden Pinder recorded the final out of the sixth to bail out Pineda then allowed a run in the seventh. It was a cheap Target Field homer by Torii Hunter, if such a thing exists. Hunter yanked it down the line and it hit the top of the wall right next to the foul pole. Chris Capuano gave up four runs and got hit around in the eighth. Another night of rest of the key late-inning guys.
Teixeira led the offense with three hits and a stolen base. Yes, he stole a base. The Twins weren’t holding him on first with a six-run lead in the eighth, so he took second. That’s about the only way Teixeira will steal a base. Gregorius had two hits including a bloop double, the club’s only extra-base hit of the night. A-Rod and Headley each had a hit and Drew had two. (No, really.) Brian McCann drew the only walk.
And finally, Brett Gardner went 1-for-4 to extend his on-base streak to 25 games. That is a new career-high — he had a 24-gamer in the middle of last season — and the longest active streak in MLB. The longest streak in MLB this season was Matt Holliday’s 45-gamer to start the season.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score and video highlights for the game and overall standings and postseason odds. We also have Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages you may or may not find interesting. At the least the former is fairly useful. Here’s the loss probability graph:
Same two teams Saturday night (argh), in game two of this three-game series. Lefties CC Sabathia and Tommy Milone will be the pitching matchup in one of those rare occasions in which Sabathia can say he’s the hard-throwing one.