They're all must-wins from here on out and the Yankees finally got a win to end their 5-game skid last night in Tampa.
Michael Pineda was his usual self, racking up high strikeout and pitch count numbers in a start that lasted fewer than 6 innings. He also worked himself into trouble with 2 strikes and 2 outs in his one bad inning. With a runner on first and 2 outs in the bottom of the 3rd, Evan Longoria picked up an infield single and Brad Miller took a hanging 3-2 slider and hit it for a 2-run triple. 2 strikeouts to start the inning, 2 runs to finish it. Luckily that was all the danger Pineda would find himself in while he was out there.
The offense got off to a slow start against Tampa's Drew Smyly, but they were awakened by the 2-run deficit that Pineda put them in and responded immediately in the top of the 4th when Mark Teixeira cranked a deep solo home run to left field to cut the lead in half. The big rally came in the top of the 7th when Smyly exited and Brad Boxberger came on. A trio of singles tied the game at 2, the run-scoring hit coming off the bat of Brett Gardner, and 2 batters later Gary Sanchez put the Yanks ahead for good with a monster 3-run shot.
The bullpen was solid in its work behind Pineda. Tommy Layne got the one batter he faced to strike out, Luis Severino picked up 4 outs to get the game to the 8th, and Tyler Clippard didn't let a leadoff triple spiral into anything big in the bottom of the 8th. The run scored, but he got the next 3 batters in a row to never bring the tying run to the plate. A rested Dellin Betances worked a 1-2-3 9th on 16 pitches.
- Sanchez led the offense with the 3-run dinger and 2 walks. Ronald Torreyes and Billy Butler each had 2 hits. Both of Butler's were doubles.
- Aaron Hicks was back in the lineup and batting 2nd against a lefty starter. He went 1-4 with a walk and a strikeout.
- Pineda's 11 K's were 1 off his season high he set back on June 30th. He's had 12 starts with 8 or more strikeouts this year and he's just 5 away from 200 for the season. If only he didn't give up a .900 OPS with 2 outs.
- With the Orioles losing last night, the Yankees stand 3 games back of the Wild Card with a dozen to play. Like I said, every game is a must-win now if you even want to pretend to stay in that race.