Power bats sparking Yanks in early going
The long ball is back for the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, which they will continue to need if their starting pitchers cannot pick up the pace. One game after Michael Pineda lucked out behind a 16-run, 17-hit attack, Nathan Eovaldi struggled through five innings only to be saved by his teammates’ wiping away 3-0 and 5-2 deficits in an 8-5 victory over the Astros Thursday in the rubber game of the season-opening series.
Mark Teixeira’s second three-run home run in two days unlocked a 5-5 score in the seventh inning and was a great sign from a player who has a history of grim Aprils and is coming off a leg injury that ruined the final portion of his — and the Yanks’ — 2015 season. Tex is batting .364 with two homers and seven RBI after a somewhat lackluster spring training during which he expressed concern about his poor timing at the plate. He has come alive at the right time. His 193rd home run with the Yankees pushed him past Tino Martinez into 17th place on the club’s all-time list.
There were plenty of other good signs from the Yankees in a game that began with a 12-minute rain delay but stayed dry the rest of the way. Starlin Castro continued his torrid hitting with two more knocks, including his second home run. Brian McCann got on the board with this first homer of the season and is batting .455 with three RBI. Mac’s 50th homer since joining the Yankees was his 36th at the Stadium. The Yankees belted seven home runs in the series, including three in each of the past two games.
Alex Rodriguez still has not homered since his first at-bat of the exhibition season, but he broke out of a 0-for-9 season start with a single in the fifth that scored the tying run. A-Rod also singled in the seventh and scored on Tex’s homer, an opposite-field blow off Ken Giles thaty cleared the left-field wall. Jacoby Ellsbury entered the game batting .111 and contributed two doubles and an RBI.
For the second straight game, the Yankees got four scoreless innings from their bullpen. Wednesday night all four frames were handled by Ivan Nova. Thursday, it was an ensemble effort with a shutout inning apiece from Kirby Yates, Chasen Shreve, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller, who earned his first save. Miller allowed two hits but struck out the side in showing no ill effects from a chip fracture in his right (non-pitching) wrist. Betances bounced back from the Opening Day loss with a 1-2-3, two-strikeout eighth.
Eovaldi’s five-inning start was a mixed bag. He did not walk anybody, which was good. He had seven strikeouts, which was good. But the righthander was touched for two home runs, which was not good, that came in successive at-bats in the second inning by Tyler White and Preston Tucker. White made it a four-RBI game when he singled in two more runs in the fourth as Houston regained its three-run lead. The power bats of McCann and Castro came to Eovaldi’s rescue, and he got off the hook when Rodriguez knotted the score in the fifth. It was A-Rod’s 1,066th RBI with the Yankees as he passed Jorge Posada for 11th place on the franchise’s career list.