A sputtering lineup can ill afford to lose 2 of its hottest hitters, yet that's where the Yankees found themselves again last night heading into the middle game of their 3-game set against Tampa. Then things got worse when Carlos Beltran was scratched before the start of the game. Or did they? With a lineup featuring Ichiro Suzuki in the 6-spot, the Yankees erased an early deficit and got the win they needed to keep their playoff hopes alive for another day.
The deficit came swiftly and without warning from the Ray lineup against starter Chris Capuano. Ben Zobrist led of the game with a single after the crack Yankee infield failed to catch a foul pop up, and it quickly became apparent that Capuano had nothing. He got 1 out, went walk-double-walk-single-single to the next 5 batters and his night was over. Joe, not wanting the game to slip away that early, pulled the plug on Cap and went to his 'pen and it was the right decision. A sac fly against first man out Chase Whitley put a bow on Capuano's line: 0.1 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 1 K. Woof.
Whitley and Preston Claiborne teamed up to toss 4.2 scoreless innings to get the Yankees past the 5th and give the offense time to stage their comeback. Brian McCann got it started with a 2-out solo home run in the 1st and kept it going with a 2-out, 2-run single in the 3rd to get the Yanks within 1. New guy Chris Young, in for the injured Brett Gardner and on base for McCann's 2-run knock in the 3rd, flashed some power with a solo shot of his own on a hanging slider from Jake Odorizzi in the 4th to tie the game, and then it was McCann again, chugging around from first to score on a Mark Teixeira triple (seriously) to put the Yanks ahead for good in the 5th.
The work done by Whitley and Claiborne allowed Joe to save his bullpen aces for when he got the lead and once he got it he didn't hesitate to use them. Adam Warren pitched the 6th and got 2 outs in the 7th before handing things over to Dellin Betances, who easily navigated through the 8th. Ichiro and Young hit a pair of RBI doubles in the bottom half to provide the insurance, and Esmil Rogers wrapped things up in the 9th.
- Young went 3-4 with 2 R and 2 RBI, and came within a triple of the cycle. That's more than I ever thought the Yanks would get from Young in his entire time here in 1 game.
- Big ups to the 3-6 spots in the batting order. Combined to go 6-13 with 5 XBH and 6 RBI. Scoring more runs and winning a ballgame when the middle of your lineup produces. Who knew?
- The shine has really come off Capuano in a hurry. That's 21 ER in 28.1 IP over his last 6 starts. His ERA as a Yankee is up to 5.13. There's the difference stuff makes at the Major League level. Guys like Capuano and Whitley get shelled as starters when they don't have their command. Guys like Shane Greene can sometimes battle and get through 5-6 innings because they're throwing better stuff and good stuff is always harder to hit.
- Monster job by the bullpen to back up Capuano though. 8.2 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K. The run allowed by Rogers in the 9th ended the bullpen scoreless streak at 29 innings. Oh well. Start a new streak tonight.
- Stephen Drew took another 0-fer, coming up empty in 4 trips and striking out once. He was also a part of the missed foul pop in the 1st with Teix. Dude might not get offered the league minimum at this point.