The Yankees had a less-than-ideal start to 2015 on Monday. After a long 48 hours or so, the team took the field, hoping to have a brighter start than, let’s say, 0-2. By the top of the eighth, I was ready to end this recap with “Hey, the 2009 Yankees started 0-2!” but the eighth inning rally led to a 4-3 win and a sigh of relief.
This was not Michael Pineda at his best, but he still did really well – especially considering the cold weather. His fastball hovered around 90~93 mph and he didn’t have the best command to it – but he still stuck to the usual game plan of mixing three pitches. It worked pretty well as he went 6 innings, allowed 6 hits and 2 earned runs but also struck out 6 and walked only one. Imagine when his velocity goes up with warmer weather and the atmosphere will be much easier for the pitchers. Let’s hope he stays healthy.
He got into few (cheap) troubles that led to allowing runs. In the third inning, after a cheap swinging bunt infield single by Kevin Pillar, Justin Smoak hit a screaming line drive double to get the runners on second and third with no out – few feet higher and that ball was a goner. Then, on a Devon Travis grounder, Didi Gregorius overthrew to the first and the run scored, 1-0 Jays. But Pineda minimized the damage since then – using his nasty changeup to strike out Russell Martin and Jose Bautista. That was a thing of a beauty.
In the fifth inning, things got dicey again. With runner on first, Jose Reyes hit a chopper to first base that got away from Mark Teixeira’s glove and Stephen Drew bobbled it. Drew then got the ball and threw to Chase Headley but the runner was safe and Reyes advanced to second. Next batter, the former Yankee Russell Martin, hit a sac fly to make it 2-0. That was not pretty. But again, not too much damage. Let’s hope that the weather is better next time he takes the mound and we’ll get to see a more electric performance from Pineda.
Eighth Inning: The Promised Land
Yankees were one-hit by R.A. Dickey through 4.1 innings and Drew hit a lucky bloop single to get on base. But Didi then grounded out into a double play to kill that rather quickly. Sigh. #The2015Yankees
In the sixth inning, Yankees got a chance. Jacoby Ellsbury got on base with a single and stole a base. Brett Gardner then grounded out and Ells advanced to third. Then Carlos Beltran hit one in the screws but it was right at the CF Dalton Pompey. Ellsbury scored nonetheless. So, yay run! Besides that moment, before the eighth inning, the hitters looked hapless as I remembered they were in the 2014 season.
Then, in the eighth inning, things started to change up. Pinch-hitter Chris Young doubled to start things up, Ellsbury singled to put the runners on first and third, and Aaron Loup hit Gardner with a pitch. Thankfully, Gardy is alright and even better, the Yankees had the bases loaded with no out.
With Beltran up, the Jays manager John Gibbons went with the former All Star reliever Brett Cecil … who uncorked a wild pitch to allow Young to score. After striking Beltran out, Cecil intentionally walked Teixeira. Next batter, Chase Headley, hit a grounder that deflected off of Cecil’s wrist and it somehow escaped into the outfield, giving the Yankees a 4-3 lead. Remember when New York kept hitting home runs to take leads and capitalize the game? This is a far cry from that. But hey, it gave the Yanks a lead so I’ll take it.
Chris Martin came in after Pineda in the 7th inning and didn’t miss a beat from his solid outing on Monday. You know, I really like the decision to give him a chance. He’s a tall guy with a good fastball and overall stuff that flashes potential. He just hasn’t had much chance to get used to pitching to ML hitters. If his stuff and other intangibles translate well, I think he could be a solid addition. Also, a season of endless Coldplay puns.
Dellin Betances came in the eighth inning and had very mixed results. While a lot of people were focused on his velocity, the command was the real problem. He walked two and allowed an unearned run. This is clearly not the same Dellin we saw last season, when he hit the strike zone to get ahead and threw nasty benders to wipe’em away. Hopefully he figures a thing or two out very soon to go back to how he was. On a more positive note, a YES gun did have one of his fastball to 96 mph, which isn’t bad at all especially considering the weather.
Because Dellin pitched in the eighth, Andrew Miller came in the ninth by the process of elimination. Boy, he looked good. He located his fastball well and the slider was nasty, as advertised. He induced two grounders and a swinging strikeout to earn his first save in Pinstripes. I’ll take that any game of the season.
So this one almost looked like another lethargic Yankee loss but thankfully, with some luck, scrappy hitting and opponent’s mistakes, New York came away with a victory. Hope that positive vibe carries on to tomorrow, as CC Sabathia will take the mound against a much younger lefty Daniel Norris. Hope for a series win and maybe a lack of banter about CC’s velocity.