The Yankees won a four-game series! Against the reigning World Champs Kansas City Royals! Nathan Eovaldi threw another so-so start but the Yankee bats provided some big hits at the right times to help defeat the Royals 7-3. Story of the game? Chase Headley actually getting an extra base hit and Chien-Ming Wang‘s return to the Yankee Stadium.
Long Balls From Infielders
Through the first five innings, the Yankees scored five runs on three home runs – those long balls happened to be the only their only hits at the time. A neat thing about them is that they were all hit by infielder – Starlin Castro, Headley (!!!) and Didi Gregorius all went yard to drive in five.
Castro got the scoring started in the first inning. He drilled the third pitch of the at-bat from Ian Kennedy into right field to give the Yanks a 1-0 lead. It was his fourth home run of the year. He’s having a nice hitting season so far with a .300/.343/.483 line after the game. Castro also had another RBI later in the game in the seventh. With the bases loaded and Yankees leading 5-3, he blooped a single between second baseman and right fielder to drive one in. Not a shabby day for Starlin.
The next dinger came from none other than Headley, whose lack of extra base hits has been a subject of ridicule by many for awhile. In the bottom of second, with Carlos Beltran on base, Headley drove a 93-mph fastball from Kennedy the opposite way out for a two-run homer, giving the Yankees a 3-0 lead. Headley’s teammates seemed understandably pumped, who was in a big time hitting funk for a long while. It took him about a month and half, but Chase finally has an extra base hit this season, raising his ISO to .032 and his SLG to .226. He’s got nowhere to go up (you’d hope).
The Yankees didn’t stop there with homers. Eovaldi gave up two runs in the fourth to narrow the lead to 3-2. In the bottom of fifth, Didi widened it back with a two-run homer. He uppercutted a hanging curveball into the right field seats. All these dingers came against the former Yankee top prospect Ian Kennedy, who was actually having a nice season prior to tonight’s start (2.13 ERA/3.61 FIP in 6 starts coming in), but still giving up a lot of fly balls in general (35.7 GB%, which is quite low).
Chien-Ming Wang, who was ace-like for the Yankees back in the 2006 and 2007 seasons, made his return to Yankee Stadium as a Kansas City Royal. Ever since the unfortunate baserunning incident in Houston in 2008, he struggled to regain his form. He bounced around different organizations (Nationals, Blue Jays, etc.), once signed with Yankees for a MiLB deal, etc. but it wasn’t until 2016 that he reportedly got his velocity back in the low-to-mid-90’s. The Royals liked what they saw in him in ST and gave Wang an ML roster spot.
He relieved another former Yankee Ian Kennedy in the seventh inning with one out and two runners on. He walked Brett Gardner to load the bases and allowed a RBI single to Castro for a 6-3 Yankees lead. Wang did strike out Mark Teixeira but walked Brian McCann to force in a run, 7-3 Yankees. Beltran popped out to end the inning and Wang’s outing for tonight. His sinker was up to 93 mph tonight in the YES broadcast gun but he noticeably had trouble commanding the zone.
I don’t know about you guys but seeing Wang pitch in the Bronx was something sentimental for me. His career as a Yankee ended prematurely because of a freak accident, which is quite unfortunate. I’ve always felt bad for Wanger and hoped that he’d rebound into having a nice ML career. We’ll see how he goes from here. After tonight’s game, he has a 3.27 ERA/2.81 FIP in 11.0 IP. Best of luck, Wang.
Betances – Miller -…Shreve?
The Yankees had a 5-3 lead heading into the seventh. At that point many people, including the YES Broadcast, thought this would be the first time that the trio in the back of the bullpen would each throw a scoreless inning to close out the game. Dellin Betances started off with a scoreless inning, striking out one. In the bottom of the frame, Yankees scored two off of Kennedy and Wang, extending the lead to 7-3. Joe Girardi, who already had Andrew Miller warming up, put him to take care of the eighth and he did what was pretty much expected – a nice one-two-three inning with a strikeout.
Instead of going with Aroldis Chapman in a non-save situation, Girardi put Chasen Shreve in to close out the game. Chasen hadn’t been great this season, carrying a 5.25 ERA with 7.08 FIP in 12.0 IP coming into tonight’s game. Tonight, however, he managed a scoreless inning to not make it dicey for the Yankees.
Box Score, WPA, Highlights and Updated Standings
The Yankees welcome the White Sox for a three-game series in Bronx this weekend. I’m guessing that it will be a challenging one – the ChiSox have one of the best record in ML with 23-12, leading AL Central by five games.