Yankees’ ‘Birdman’ flies high
Birdman won the Academy Award as Best Picture for last year, and the Yankees had their “Birdman” give an Oscar-winning performance Wednesday at Yankee Stadium in a 4-3 victory that completed a three-game sweep of the sinking Twins.
All four runs were driven in by rookie first baseman Greg Bird, who whacked a couple of two-run home runs off Ervin Santana. The initial homer, in the fourth inning following an infield single by Carlos Beltran, was the first of Bird’s major league career as was the curtain call urged on by the Stadium crowd of 38,086.
It provided a 2-0 lead for Nathan Eovaldi, who flirted with a perfect game for 5 1/3 innings before coming unglued somewhat in the sixth and allowed Minnesota to go ahead on two-out singles by Joe Mauer and Trevor Plouffe. Mauer singled with the bases full for two runs off a 3-2 fastball from Eovaldi, the one pitch of the 120 thrown by the righthander he wished he could have back.
“I tried to go middle-in,” Eovaldi said, “bad pitch selection.”
Plouffe’s hit was a dribbler between Eovaldi and third baseman Chase Headley that put the Twins ahead momentarily. Bird’s second homer, in the sixth following a walk to Beltran, returned the lead to Eovaldi, who protected it with a perfect seventh before Chasen Shreve and Dellin Betances (eighth save) followed with scoreless innings that preserved the victory for Eovaldi, who ran his record to 13-2.
This has been quite a week for Bird, who was called up from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre a week ago and is hitting .333 with a double, two homers and five RBI. He started the winning rally Monday night, got his first major league RBI Tuesday night and his first homer Wednesday. He got the ball from his second homer because it landed in the Yankees’ bullpen. The first one wound up in the right field second deck.
“I don’t know yet,” he said about whether he can get that ball. “I’m just trying to do my job. It’s so much fun to come in here every day and hear what these guys have to say.”
Yankees manager Joe Girardi described Bird as someone “with a slow heartbeat,” meaning that he does not get over-excited and keeps an even keel.
“Some players have to learn to slow the game down,” Girardi said. “That’s not the case with him.”
Bird concurred and said he inherited it from his parents, who were at the game seated in the terrace level behind first base. “I just like to be even-keeled and level-headed,” he said.
Bird got extra playing time during the series because regular first baseman Mark Teixeira has been sidelined with a badly bruised right shin. Bird does not play a position besides first base, but he might earn some more playing time if Girardi decides to sit Alex Rodriguez (0-for-3 Wednesday and hitting .131 in 61 at-bats in August) against some right-handed pitching and use Tex at DH to open up first base for Bird.
That is a consideration for the future. Bird was all about the present Wednesday, and what a present he gave the Yankees.