That’s more like it. The Yankee bats weren’t overly imposing tonight but Nathan Eovaldi showed what kind of pitcher he can be when things click. He had a no-hitter going for the first six innings and pitched probably the best game by a Yankee starter this season. Good starting pitching, the lineup scoring more than the opponent, and the bullpen closing it out – certainly a way to win a ballgame.
The Big Non-RISP Hits
The Yankees caught a break in the pitching matchup. Their ace Cole Hamels was scratched due to a groin issue so the Rangers trotted out LHP Cesar Ramos as their starter. Ramos, a former Tampa Bay Ray, isn’t a stranger to facing the Yanks. Prior to tonight, he faced New York 19 times (21.0 IP) and had a 5.57 ERA against, which ain’t great.
In the second, Mark Teixeira led off with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Chase Headley hit a single to right to make it runners on first and third with one out. Dustin Ackley followed it up with a full-count walk to load the bases. Didi Gregorius hit the first pitch right at 1B Prince Fielder and he nabbed Teixeira at the plate for a fielder’s choice. With the bases still loaded. Austin Romine hit a weak grounder right back to Ramos to end the inning. Not gonna lie, I was afraid that would set up the tone for another RISP fail-filled night for the Yanks. Well, I was right, but the Yanks still turned out fine.
The Yankees had more luck the next inning. Jacoby Ellsbury hit a homer into the right field seats to lead off the inning, 1-0 New York. A batter later, Carlos Beltran worked a walk to reach the first and Teixeira drove a deep double to right-center to drive him in. 2-0. New York posted another run on the board in the sixth. Starlin Castro hit a high 86 mph fastball from Ramos over the left field wall for a solo homer. Notice the theme of all three runs they scored? Those RBI’s came in non-RISP situations. Overall, they hit only 1-for-9 with RISP and left eight runners on base. Had Eovaldi struggled tonight, that could have bode Yankees terribly but luckily,
Seven innings, two hits allowed, six strikeouts, no runs allowed and a big fat W. Eovaldi’s outing was very pleasing to watch. He seemed to be very comfortable with all four of his pitches. He was also inducing weak contact and grounders, generating a nice 62.5 ground ball percentage tonight.
As you may know, Eovaldi had a no-hitter bid going on until the seventh inning. Nomar Mazara, the Rangers’ young hot hitter, squeaked a single between Headley and Didi to get the first hit of the night for Texas. Adrian Beltre followed it up immediately with a GIDP so the situation didn’t become too dire for New York. Fielder hit a double to right to start something but Eovaldi retired Ian Desmond with a ground out. No real harm done.
After seven scoreless innings, Eovaldi faced only one hitter in the eighth (walked Mitch Moreland) and departed from the game after 98 pitches. There’s so much good about his start tonight and one of them is the fact that he’s the first Yankee starter to throw a pitch in the eighth inning this season (h/t Katie Sharp). For the season, he has a 28-5 K-BB ratio in 24.2 IP, which is quite nice. His season ERA sank from 6.11 to 4.38, which is getting close to his nice 3.54 FIP/2.98 xFIP. More starts like this, please.
Dellin Betances came in the eighth to relieve Eovaldi and… allowed a home run to C Brett Nicholas. It was a curve that wasn’t quite sharp and it ran right into Nicholas’ zone. That was his first career homer and, of course, he hit it off of Betances. Dellin finally got himself an ERA for the 2016 season (0.90 after tonight).
You know who has yet to have an ERA though? Andrew Miller. He earned the fifth save of the season after a clean ninth inning. He did not strike out anyone though. Bum!
I knew Headley wasn’t hitting well this season but it just occurred to me how bad he’s been. After tonight, the third baseman has a .157 avg with a .447 OPS. There are several adjectives to describe those two numbers and one of them is “putrid.” I do however, think he’s seeing the ball well, given on his 16.0% BB rate, which is several points higher than usual (10.1 %). Hitting a baseball well consistently is not easy – it’s so easy to fall into funk for an extended amount of time. The good news is that, players do generally find a way to normalize their performance to close to their talent level (see: 2015 Carlos Beltran) so I think I’ll just wait and see on Headley.
Box Score, Highlights, WPA and Standings
The Yankees are back at it again in Arlington tomorrow evening. Luis Severino will be on the mound versus A.J. Griffin. Big fastball versus high-80’s heat, hard slider versus Uncle Charlie – I’ll be waiting for it.