Well that was a wild one, huh? Look at that win probability graph up there. The Yankees went from being no-hit in the fifth inning to having two five-run innings by the eighth. The end result was an 11-5 win over the Pirates in the middle game of the series. It’s Saturday, so I’m going to recap this game will bullet points:
- Five & Fly: Not a great outing for Michael Pineda but not a terrible outing either. Three runs in five innings is … serviceable. Andrew McCutchen solo homer in the first, David Freese solo homer in the fourth, McCutchen sac fly in the fifth. That was the damage. Pineda did walk two, which is very un-Pineda-like — he walked one batter total in his first three starts — and he only threw 73 pitches before being lifted for a pinch-hitter. We saw some shades of Bad Pineda in this one — the McCutchen homer came on a hanging slider — but he did fine.
- The Comeback: For four innings plus two outs, the Yankees couldn’t touch Jameson Taillon. No hits and only four balls hit out of the infield. Then six of the next eight batters he faced reached base. One of the outs was Pineda, so Taillon retired only one of the final seven real batters he faced. The big blow: Starlin Castro‘s game-tying three-run homer in the sixth. Starlin hit it like he knew what was coming. A Jacoby Ellsbury infield single and an Aaron Hicks walk set that up.
- And The Yankees Take The Lead: Castro’s home run didn’t end Taillon’s afternoon. Aaron Judge‘s booming double off the wall did. Juan Nicasio came in, hit Greg Bird with a pitch, then allowed a soft single to Austin Romine to load the bases with one out. Ronald Torreyes, who I thought should have been removed for a pinch-hitter in that spot (good one, idiot), dunked a ball in front of John Jaso in right field. It scooted by him and two runs scored, giving the Yankees a 5-3 lead. Hooray for that. Torreyes was given a double on the play.
- And The Bullpen Immediately Blows The Lead: The lead lasted two outs. Jonathan Holder came in for the sixth, got two quick outs, then allowed a double and a single to give the Pirates a run. Blah. Tyler Clippard then came in, hit Jose Osuna in a two-strike count, then allowed a two-strike single to Adam Frazier to tie the game. I have so little faith in Clippard in big spots it’s not even funny. At least he was able to strike out Josh Bell to strand two runners and escape that sixth inning with the score tied 5-5. Clippard went back out to start the seventh because assigned innings are very important, and thankfully Dellin Betances was able to bail him out.
- All He Does Is Catch Touchdowns: An error opened the door. After two quick outs to start the eighth, Romine hit a grounder to short that Frazier bobbled, extending the inning. Torreyes followed with a single to put men on first and second. That brought up Betances’ spot since he was not double-switched into the game. Joe Girardi pinch-hit Chris Carter against the lefty Felipe Rivero, and Carter jumped on a first-pitch changeup for a long three-run home run into the back bullpen. It was only a matter of time until he ran into one. The Yankees made the Pirates pay big time for Frazier’s error. Carter’s blast gave them an 8-5 lead.
- The Last Six Outs: Thankfully, the Yankees tacked on three insurance runs after the Carter homer. Ellsbury made it to third when McCutchen dropped a fly ball — the Pirates gave the Yankees five outs in that eighth inning — and he scored on a wild pitch. Back-to-back doubles by Hicks and Chase Headley gave the Yankees a 10-5 lead. Hooray. All after that Frazier error. Judge then put a ball into orbit for an 11-5 lead in the ninth. Here’s the video. Do not miss it. Bryan Mitchell and Aroldis Chapman got the last six outs without incident. Chapman hadn’t pitched since Monday. Needed the work.
- Leftovers: Every starting position player had a hit except Bird, who did hit a ball to the wall in right field. It would have been out at Yankee Stadium … Torreyes had four hits and raised his batting average from .245 to .296 in one afternoon … Judge and Romine each had two hits. Hicks had a hit and two walks … the Yankees scored at least seven runs for the seventh time this season. No team has done it more.
Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. The Yankees and Pirates will wrap up this three-game series Sunday afternoon. That’s a 1:35pm ET start. Jordan Montgomery and ex-Yankee Ivan Nova are the scheduled starting pitchers.