DH makes all the difference. After slogging through 2 losses in Miami earlier this week, the Yankees returned home and snagged 2 straight wins with their most important bat back in the lineup. The Alex Rodriguez march to 3,000 was at the forefront of the game again last night, and highlighted a collection of good performances from pitchers and hitters alike that helped create a 5-run win.
The Yankees are the best 1st inning team in baseball. That can't be debated. They scored in the 1st again last night, on 3 straight singles to open the game, and have now scored 62 1st-inning runs this season. The next closest team (Orioles) have 47. A-Rod was the third and run-scoring hit in the bottom of the 1st, giving him 2,998 and setting the stage for a potential record-setting night later.
CC Sabathia made the 1 run stand up the first turn through the Miami lineup. I don't know how he did it, but he went 9 up/9 down and struck out 4 batters. You'll take a chunk of innings like that from the big guy whenever you can these days, and they helped control the bleeding when things started going south in the middle innings. Dee Gordon led off the 4th with a triple to right, one that was aided by Carlos Beltran's slow-footed chasing of the ball. He came around to score on an RBI groundout to tie the game at 1, and another leadoff hit, a hit batter, and a Jeff Mathis sac fly in the 5th gave the Marlins the lead. CC always walks the fine line and he couldn't stay on the right side in those innings. When Giancarlo Stanton did Giancarlo Stanton things in the 6th and smashed a solo homer to left, things started looking glum.
Then the offense finally broke through again against Matt Latos. They had wasted opportunities to score more in the 3rd and 5th innings, but not in the 6th. With 2 outs and nobody on, Mason Williams doubled to center to turn the lineup over. This gave Brett Gardner a fourth look at Latos and it sure looked like he knew what to expect. Gardner took 2 changeups for balls to force a fastball count, and Latos obliged and threw him one. Gardner did what he's gotten really good at doing in these situations and crushed the ball out over the short porch for a game-tying home run. More underratedly brilliant hitting by Gardy.
After that it was on. Carlos Beltran came through with a 2-run shot of his own the next inning to put the Yankees ahead 5-3, and they really got nasty on reliever Sam Dyson in the 8th. Walk, walk, lineout, single, wild pitch, double and his night was over with 3 more runs on the board. Stephen Drew tacked on the 9th with a sac fly later in the inning and it was all over but the crying.
Which Chris Martin seemed more than willing to induce in the mop-up 9th. Miami put together 3 hits off him to plate a fourth run and it took a great defensive play by Didi Gregorius for the second out of the inning to prevent it from being more. He eventually did pull it together and close the game, but damn.
- Gardner, Chase Headley, and A-Rod all had 2 hits and at least 1 run scored at the top of the order. Brian McCann went 3-4 with 2 runs and Mason Williams was 2-4 down in the 9-spot. Hitting up and down the lineup.
- CC's line: 6 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 7 K. You gotta take that from him these days.
- Nice job by the Shreve/Wilson setup pairing throwing 2 scoreless innings in the 7th and 8th. Shreve's ERA is down to 1.95.
- Mark Teixeira was back in the lineup and he went 1-5 with a strikeout.
- The biggest story to come out of the game was A-Rod getting to the doorstep of 3,000. He singled in the 5th for hit number 2,999, and got a chance for 3,000 in that breakout 8th against Dyson. Dyson walked him on 4 straight pitches, all 4 of which were way inside. Stacey is going to have more on this in a little bit, but suffice it to say my Twitter timeline became a very entertaining place for a few minutes after the at-bat.