Homestand taking a positive ‘shift’
As if a no-hitter is not difficult enough for a pitcher to accomplish, now they have to deal with all this over-shifting going on in the infield. I was thinking about that Tuesday night as Adam Warren was dealing in the early innings against the Royals.
Notions of a no-no entered my head as Warren set down the first 10 Kansas City batters in order with only one ball reaching the outfield. With left-handed hitting Mike Moustakas up in the fourth inning, I watched the Yankees go into one of those shifts with shortstop Didi Gregorius moving to the right side of second base and second baseman Stephen Drew paroling shallow right field.
Moustakas withstood the temptation of dumping a bunt to the left side and fouling up the defensive strategy altogether. Instead he swung away and hit a hard grounder between Gregorius and Drew for the Royals’ first hit. Watching the video replay, I felt it would have been a routine 4-3 out against a conventional infield setup. These shifts often give up as much as they take away.
Warren did not become unglued in losing the no-hitter; anything but. The righthander set down six more batters in a row before giving up the only run he allowed in his 6 1/3-inning stint on right fielder Paulo Orlando’s first career home run, with one out in the sixth.
That made the score 5-1 as the Yankees provided Warren with a comfort zone. Mark Teixeira drove in four of the runs with a two-run home run in the first inning off lefthander Jason Vargas and a two-run double in the fifth off righthander Joe Blanton. Tex scored the fifth run on a sacrifice fly by Chase Headley.
It was a positive sign for Teixeira, who had been 1-for-13 on the homestand. He is still an extra-base machine. Of Tex’s 36 hits, 23 (64 percent) have been for extra bases (9 doubles, 14 homers). Batting in front of Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez provided RBI chances by reaching base three times with two singles and walk. A-Rod scored twice on Teixeira hits.
After experiencing an embarrassing three-sweep at the hands of the Rangers to begin the homestand, the Yankees have a chance to salvage it Wednesday afternoon by completing a sweep of the more dangerous Royals.
Funny how that six-game losing streak seems like ancient history.