Yanksees get a jump start in road opener
A nice combination of speed and power brought the Yankees back from a 4-2 deficit Monday night in the seventh inning at Camden Yards on the way to an impressive 6-5 victory.
Orioles lefthander Wei-Yin Chen limited the Yankees to two runs over six innings on solo home runs by Chris Young and Mark Teixeira and was thrust into the lead when Adam Jones connected for a two-run homer off Michael Pineda in the bottom of the sixth that unlocked a 2-2 score.
Tommy Hunter, Baltimore’s hard-throwing righthander, came on in the seventh, and the Yankees were ready for him. Young started things off with a single, and John Ryan Murphy worked a walk on a full count.
Curiously, Orioles manager Buck Showalter had lefthander Brian Matusz warming in the bullpen but did not bring him on to face left-handed Garrett Jones, pinch hitting for Gregorio Petit. After Jones flied to left for the second out, Matusz remained in the pen as lefty-swinging Jacoby Ellsbury came up against Hunter.
Here was the speed part of the rally. Ellsbury hit a slow roller to second base and beat the play at first base for a single that filled the bags. Brett Gardner was due up but was held back because of a swollen right wrist.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi went with Stephen Drew as the pinch hitter and looked like a genius when Drew worked the count to 3-1 and then drove a fastball over the center field wall for a grand slam and a 6-4 Yankees advantage. That was the power part.
Michael Pineda put the lead in jeopardy when he gave up two singles in the bottom of the seventh. Dellin Betances relieved Betances with one out and gave up another single that loaded the bases. A run scored on a fielder’s choice that the Yanks failed to convert into a double play, but a fine stop at first base by Teixeira protected the lead.
Betances walked Steve Pearce, which re-loaded the bags for the Orioles, but rebounded to fit the golden sombrero on Chris Davis, who suffered his fourth strikeout of the game, this one on a nasty slider.
Pineda was more hittable than Yankees fans are accustomed to seeing. He allowed nine hits in 6 1/3 innings but did not walk a batter and struck out nine.
Nor was Betances what Yankees fans have gotten used to seeing. He gave up two hits and a couple of walks in his inning of work with only 10 of his 24 pitches going for strikes. Betances was aided in the eighth when catcher John Ryan Murphy threw out Adam Jones, who had led off with a single, trying to steal second base.
After Betances walked Travis Snider, Girardi also went against convention and brought in lefthander Andrew Miller to face two right-handed hitters, Manny Machado and Jonathan Scoop. Both struck out. Miller withstood hitting a batter with two out in the ninth to notch his second save and give the Yankees their first winning streak of the year.
It was a good night for Girardi moves.