Michael Pineda. That's all you really need to know about last night's game because that's all the Yankees needed to win it. JV lineup aside, Pineda was positively filthy last night and shut the Baltimore hitters down to lead his team to a 1-hit shutout victory.
It didn't take long for Pineda to dial it in. He retired the first 13 Orioles he faced into the 5th inning and never had a runner reach second base through 7. He had 1 strikeout in every inning from the second to the 5th and 2 each in the 6th and 7th to give him 8 on the night. All 8 of then were swinging. Pineda had everything working: a fastball with late life, a cutter with great movement and location, a slider with biting late action, and even some good changeups. This was the dream the Yankees had in mind when they made the trade and it was a reality last night. When Pineda left after a 1-out walk in the top of the 8th, his ovation was very well-deserved.
He got his support from a pair of 2-run innings involving The Captain. The first was the bottom of the 3rd, when Ichiro reached on a throwing error to lead off the inning and then scored on Jose Pirela's RBI triple. Derek Jeter hit a groundball to short with 1 out that was enough to score Pirela and the Yanks were up 2-0. Jeter drove in the next 2 runs in much better fashion in the 5th, capping off an 8-pitch battle with Wei-Yin Chen by lacing a 2-out, 2-run double into left field. Dare I say it? It was vintage Jeter again.
Chase Headley ended the scoring with a solo shot in the 8th and Shawn Kelley cleaned up the 8th with a strikeout and a groundout. Joe got his daily steps in in the 9th when he used 3 pitchers to record the final 3 outs. If he was doing that to troll people who complain about his bullpen decision making, I applaud him for it.
- Jeter's line: 1-3, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 1 BB. That's 3 straight games with a double, 3 straight with a ribbie, and 4 of the last 5 with 1 XBH.
- Monster performance by Pineda. 7.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K. Threw 106 pitches, 73 for strikes, got more swinging strikes (18) than called (17), and lowered his season ERA to 1.93. We've found our new #2 starter, ladies and gentlemen. And his name is Big Mike.
- 2-hit night for Headley with a homer. He's at .253/.360/.379 with 5 HR and 23 R scored in 53 games as a Yankee. With the excellent defense, FanGraphs has him at 2.3 fWAR in those 53 games. Would you re-sign him?
- Nice little MLB debut for Pirela. 2-3, 2 R, 1 RBI, and a triple for his first career hit. And thanks for basically validating everything I said yesterday, Jose. I really appreciate it. There's a future free AB4AR t-shirt heading your way.
- Yanks have won 5 of their last 6 games. Imagine where they could be if they had done that another time or 2 this season. So many winnable games out there.