That's more like it. I wouldn't necessarily call it snapping out of their funk from Monday night, but the Yankees did turn in a very good team pitching performance to shut down the Red Sox and picking up a win to even the series. I'll always take a win.
Michael Pineda started the night with the ball in his hand for the Yanks and from the get go it was clear that he was feeling better tonight than he has in a while. He pumped a few fastballs in at 94-95, threw a couple good, hard sliders, and retired 7 of the first 8 Boston hitters he faced. He hit a speed bump in the bottom of the 3rd when Jackie Bradley Jr. smacked a double and came around to score on a Pablo Sandoval hit, but he quickly recovered from that to strike out Xander Bogaerts swinging on a 96 MPH fastball and end the inning.
From that point on, Pineda was a stud. Only Bradley reached base on him again after the 3rd, on another double. But Pineda sandwiched that between 3 strikeouts in the 5th and sandwiched that figurative sandwich in between 2 1-2-3 innings in the 4th and 6th. His cutter had great movement, his 4-seamer had great life, and he buried a ton of sliders for bad swings. This was the Big Mike we saw at his best early in the season and he gave his scuffling offense a big lift.
And boy did they need one because they made Rick Porcello look like a Cy Young candidate last night. I don't know what the scouting report was or why it called for so many guys to take so many strikes down the middle if it did, but it was pretty brutal to watch. Brett Gardner AND Carlos Beltran took strike 3 to end the 1st, Porcello rattled off 3 more strikeouts in the top of the 2nd, and the Yankees stranded the only 2 runners they got over the first 4 innings.
The 2 runs they scored in the top of the 5th were more Boston's fault than their success. With 2 outs and Alex Rodriguez on first, Didi Gregorius hit a hard ground ball to first that should have been the final out. But Travis Shaw didn't get down on the ball and it went under his glove and into right field, putting A-Rod on third and Didi on second. The scorching hot Stephen Drew (not kidding) stepped in and cranked a hanging 2-0 changeup to left-center to score both runs and the Yankees grabbed the lead.
They would never surrender it, but they didn't do much to add on to it. Gardner took another called strike 3 into the 6th, Greg Bird watched one go by in the 7th, and Porcello tallied up 13 strikeouts in 8 innings of work. That's... not what you want. At all. That 8th inning did him in though, when Gardner finally decided to take the bat off his shoulder and swing it at hittable pitches. Porcello grooved a slider with 2 outs and Gardner yanked it out to right for a solo home run. Insurance run ahoy.
That 1 run was all the bullpen would need. Justin Wilson got 2 outs in the 7th and gave way to Dellin Betances, who struck out JBJ to end the inning and navigated his way through a stressful 8th. He got helped out in a big way when the Mookie Betts got thrown out trying to steal third for the second out of the inning. He argued that he was pushed off the base by Chase Headley on the tag, but replay confirmed that he came off the bag on his own and was tagged out. Too bad, so sad. With that free out in his pocket, Betances K'd David Ortiz and handed over to Andrew Miller, who struck out the side in the 9th and hit Rusney Castillo just to make it interesting. Ballgame over, Yankees win.
- Yeah, so about Big Mike. 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K. Was throwing mid-90s late in the game and got 11 swings and misses. If he is 100% healthy and a little more rested from that DL stint, and this is the Michael Pineda we're going to see this month, that's pretty exciting.
- The Yankees really did nothing offensively. 5 hits and a walk in 9 innings. Thank goodness for Stephen Drew.
- How about the golden sombrero for Big Sloppi??? Struck out on a fastball, slider, and changeup against Pineda, and then got straight up bamboozled by Dellin's curveball in the 8th.
I'm much more mature now than I was 5 years ago, and most of my sports hatred has faded away, but I will never stop hating David Ortiz and I was loving every second of watching him swing and miss at everything last night in big spots. If there was a sports channel devoted entirely to clips of him striking out, I would pay to have it added to my cable package. Any amount of money. Eff that guy.
- Don't look now, but Miller is all the way back. Starting with that huge 28-pitch save against the Blue Jays on 8/14, he's given up no runs on 4 hits and 1 walk with 14 strikeouts in 7.1 innings pitched.