Watching winning baseball is a lot of fun.
While I wouldn’t exactly say the world’s at my feet, at least I had a handful of respectful Friday night options. Ultimately I decided to reward the New York Yankees for a solid week of work by grabbing a pizza, two liter of cola and staying in to watch the Yanks/Cards series opener in the Bronx live, instead of via DVR early tomorrow.
In turn, the Bombers compensated my faith with their most thrilling game of the young season.
New York used the long ball, something they’ve been doing a lot of this week to go with efficient starting pitching and a lockdown bullpen to defeat the Cardinals, 4-3 and win their fifth straight.
It’s the first time they’ve won their first four at home in 14 years.
A two run homer by Starlin Castro in the first deleted an early 2-0 hole, Austin Romine gave the Bombers a lead with a solo shot the next inning and the offense tacked on another in the fifth before holding on for dear life the rest of the way.
Mashiro Tanaka gave up a two run shot to Matt Carpenter in the first to put his team in a hole but pitched effectively the rest of his night; going 6.2 innings and allowing three runs, five hits and a walk to go with five strikeouts.
Tyler Clippard magically worked out of trouble left behind by Tanaka in the seventh, Dellin Betances struck out the side in the eighth and Aroldis Chapman got out of two-out trouble in the ninth for his third save in as many games.
My Take(s): I’ve been a Yankee fan my entire life and have waited for an opportunity to blog about them for a long time. Having that said if we’re being honest, I wasn’t expecting them to be any good this year and once Gary Sanchez went down I was rather sure. I’m starting to think I was wrong. I don’t think veteran bats off to solid starts like Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Starlin Castro and (especially) Chase Headley will continue to be this productive, but the final nine outs of this bullpen are deadly and I’ve seen enough promise in starts this week from Michael Pineda and Luis Severino to have renewed optimism. That’s strengthened after the Tanaka outing tonight, who looked at least closer to the ace he’s capable of being.
Speaking of Tanaka, fans ready to jump off the ledge after that first inning pitch to Carpenter can exhale a little, although It sure looked like he was headed towards a third consecutive shit start early. Fortunately he quickly recovered and his command was good (not great) with strong velocity. He retired 10 straight at one point and got over 100 pitches (103 to be exact) before tiring and handing the game off to the trusted bullpen.
Sticking with that “speaking of” theme, Betances and Chapman get most the recognition at the back of the bullpen as they should, but Clippard has been great in helping deal with the trade of Andrew Miller last year. He entered a very difficult situation with runners on the corner and one out with a 4-3 lead, but got Kolten Wong to pop out and Dexter Fowler to fly out in keeping the Cards off the board.
Three Betances strikeouts in the eighth and Chapman getting out of danger in the ninth have the Yanks winners of five straight.
They’ll go for a half dozen tomorrow afternoon (1:05pm) when C.C. Sabathia takes the ball and opposes Cardinals ace Carlos Martinez.
A few other notes:
I like Greg Bird as much as the next guy, I really do. But dude went 0-for- and is hitting .043 and has 11 strikeouts in 23 at bats. Right now, Chris Carter is Tony Gwynn compared to him.
Ho-hum, Chase Headley had two hits and is hitting .400. He also stole his second base.
The Yanks have now hit eight home runs during this five-game win streak.