So yeah, this was my favorite game of the season. It started with history in the first inning and ended with the Yankees’ third straight win, this one a 7-2 win over the Tigers. Pretty great.
It took one pitch. With two outs and the bases empty in the first inning, Alex Rodriguez deposited Justin Verlander’s first pitch fastball into the right field seats for a quick 1-0 lead and his 3,000th career hit. The Yankee Stadium crowd went crazy and the Yankees came out of the dugout to congratulate Alex. It wasn’t a Derek Jeter celebration — we’re never going to see that again, A-Rod or otherwise — but it was a pretty great moment overall.
A capital-T Tool named Zach Hample caught the ball and was unwilling to discuss a trade with the Yankees, so says Bryan Hoch. “I think that someone like Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez, who has made half a billion dollars in his career, doesn’t really need a favor from a normal civilian and a fan like me,” he said to Brendan Kuty. Hample literally wrote a book on catching baseballs and he goes around to various parks to get balls, pushing people out of the way and tricking players into thinking he’s a fan of their team. And he hates the Yankees. So weak. Pretty much the last guy who deserves the ball.
Anyway, hopefully Alex gets the ball back at some point. A-Rod’s made a lot of history in his career but I’m sure his 3,000th hit ball is one piece of memorabilia he wants to keep. I know I would. A-Rod is the 29th member of the 3,000-hit club and one of three to go deep for the milestone hit, joining Jeter and Wade Boggs. Three World Champion Yankees.
There was still a game to be played after A-Rod got his 3,000th hit out of the way nice and early. Adam Warren ran into trouble in the second inning and allowed two runs when four of the first five batters reached base. Victor Martinez blooped a single, Yoenis Cespedes doubled into the left field corner, Nick Castellanos took a pitch to the hand (barely), and Bryan Holaday singled in two runs. Warren was able to limit the damage to just the two runs that inning.
Following Holaday’s single, Warren went on to retire eleven straight Tigers before Ian Kinsler opened the sixth with an infield single. Miguel Cabrera followed that with a single to right and Chase Headley whiffed on Carlos Beltran‘s throw from right field when Kinsler went first-to-third, but, thankfully, Headley chased the ball down, fired to the plate, and John Ryan Murphy was able to jump to catch the throw and apply the tag to get Kinsler. Headley failed to catch the throw but recovered to get the out at home. Let’s pretend he did it on purpose.
The bullpen was a little short because of recent workloads, so Joe Girardi sent Warren back out not only for the seventh inning, but the eighth as well. He got through those last two innings on 18 total pitches. Just perfect. Two runs, seven hits, no walks, seven strikeouts, 110 pitches. Just three of the last 21 batters he faced reached base. What a stud. Warren’s a starting pitcher. Find someone else to send to the bullpen.
Return Of The Dingers
Prior to Thursday’s game, the Yankees had scored a total of 21 runs in their previous seven games. Not coincidentally, they hit only three home runs during that time. The offense broke out with two homers on Thursday and it carried over into Friday — A-Rod hit his homer, Didi Gregorius swatted a solo shot to tie the game 2-2 in the second, then Brett Gardner ripped the two-run go-ahead homer in the fifth. Dingers! They’re back.
Just to show off their diverse attack, the Yankees tacked on two more runs in the seventh inning while hitting one ball out of the infield. Gardner laid down a perfect bunt single to start the rally, Headley ripped a single literally off Verlander — it hit him in the foot and bounced away from the infielders — and then Gardner scored on a wild pitch. The ball didn’t get too far away from the plate, Gardner was aggressive and it paid off. Mark Teixeira singled in Headley to cap the rally. That was the one ball to leave the infield. Chris Young doubled and Gardner singled to create another run in the eighth. Dingers and manufactured runs. Everyone’s happy.
Gardner, who not that long ago was in a bit of a slump, went 4-for-5 with the homer and the bunt single. When he goes the offense goes. Great game for him. Everyone in the starting lineup except Beltran had at least one hit and Young even picked up a hit off the bench. (Young was in the game because Mason Williams exited with a jammed shoulder.) Thirteen hits and two strikeouts for the offense. That’ll do.
Warren’s eight innings and the late tack-on runs meant the usual relievers got the night off. The just called up Branden Pinder was the only reliever to not just get in the game, but the only reliever to warm up. He allowed a single to Cabrera in the ninth (whatever, it happens) then retired the next three batters to close things out. The bullpen needed that.
And finally, there was some really fine shortstop play in this game. Both Gregorius and Jose Iglesias made some tremendous plays ranging both to their left and their right. It was a shortstop clinic. Lots of fun to watch.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Also check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Now here’s the win probability graph:
The Yankees and Tigers continue this three-game series on Saturday night, but, before that, it’s the 69th annual Old Timers’ Day. The Yankees are also honoring Willie Randolph with a plaque in Monument Park. The ceremony starts at 4pm ET and the game at 7pm ET. Nathan Eovaldi and Alfredo Simon will be the pitching matchup. Head over to RAB Tickets should you make a last minute decision to attend Old Timers’ Day. It’s always fun.