Castro has perfect timing in ruining no-hit bid
Starlin Castro picked an ideal time to break up a no-hitter with a two-run home run Sunday that gave the Yankees a one-run lead. After all, it came in the top of the seventh inning at Tropicana Field. Yankees fans know what that means this season — here come Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman to do their 7-8-9 magic in the late innings.
It was a startling turnaround for the Yankees, who were facing losing the series against Tampa Bay and falling back into last place in the American League East. On top of that, after being smashed, 9-5, Saturday, the Yanks were on the verge of being no-hit Sunday for the first time in 13 years.
Jake Odorizzi was that good.
If not for a change in an umpire’s decision that allowed Dustin Ackley to reach first base on an error by Rays shortstop Brad Miller, Odorizzi still would have had a perfect game going one out into the seventh. As it was, a no-hitter was in place even after he walked Brett Gardner. Then Castro came through with perfect timing. His home run to left-center was the first — and last — Yankees hit of the game, but it gave them a 2-1 lead in the very capable hands of Betances, Miller and Chapman, who teamed up for nine consecutive outs, seven on strikeouts.
Betances retired the side with two strikeouts in the seventh. Miller struck out the side in the eighth. Chapman duplicated Betances’ feat in the ninth for his seventh save. The 2016 back end of the bullpen formula was perfect again and gave the Yankees a lift leaving Florida for Canada and a three-game date in Toronto with the Blue Jays, who took two of three last week at Yankee Stadium.
As seems to be the custom these days, the Yankees were hit with another injury, a jammed right shoulder to Ackley diving back into first base. Ackley had been playing first base in place of regular Mark Teixeira, who has been out with neck stiffness that required a cortisone injection last week.
After Michael Pineda’s disappointing start Saturday that ended a stretch of nine straight six-plus-inning outings by Yankees starters, Nathan Eovaldi got the rotation on another hopeful roll. The righthander allowed one run, six hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in six innings and extended his personal winning streak to six games. Over his past seven starts, Eovaldi has pitched to a 2.72 ERA with 35 hits allowed, 12 walks and 35 strikeouts in 43 innings.
Masahiro Tanaka got the weekend off to strong start with seven innings of no-run, two-hit pitching Friday night in a 4-1 victory that featured home runs by Alex Rodriguez (No. 6 and career No. 693) and Carlos Beltran (No. 11 and career No. 403). Beltran raised those numbers to 12 and 404 with his 2,500th career hit Saturday off Matt Moore, the lone highlight in a loss that continued the slide of Pineda, who was battered for six earned runs and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings as his record fell to 2-6 with a 6.92 ERA.
Eovaldi did a terrific job keeping the Yankees close in a game in which they struggled to get a hit and settled for merely one. But it was good enough for an important ‘W.’