Yanks rally early but need pen to secure victory
The national television audience watching Fox’s coverage of Saturday night’s Yankees-Orioles game had to be wondering about all the reports they read or heard about the Bombers’ slumbering offense.
There were the Yankees on national TV lashing out 16 hits and scoring runs in bunches. It was a throwback to the days when the Yankees loved coming to hitter-friendly Camden Yards against some weak Baltimore clubs to improve their batting averages and slugging percentages. The Orioles have had the upper hand in recent years, but the Yankees looked like the Bronx Bombers of old in building a 7-0 lead through six innings.
Ivan Nova was cruising along on a three-hit shutout until Mark Trumbo led off the seventh with his 18th home run, most in the majors. That was just the beginning of the wheels falling off for Nova, who gave up an infield hit to Matt Wieters and a two-run, opposite-field homer to Pedro Alvarez. The onslaught did not give Yankees manager Joe Girardi must time to get a reliever warm up in the bullpen and stayed with Nova, who gave up a bloop single to Jonathan Schoop and walked Ryan Flaherty on a full count.
Nova was on fumes at this point, so Girardi brought in Nick Goody, who proceeded to yield a three-run home run to Adam Jones. Suddenly, 7-0 was 7-6, and the Yankees had nine more outs to get. What for a time was a laugher became a sweat box.
With Dellin Betances, who had pitched the previous two night, unavailable, Girardi relied on Andrew Miller, who did a yeoman’s job in retiring the six batters he faced over the seventh and eighth innings. The Yankees came up with a huge insurance run in the ninth off reliever Vance Worley with one out on a double by Aaron Hicks, who entered the game in right field as a defensive replacement in the seventh, and a single by Alex Rodriguez, his third hit of the game.
Aroldis Chapman took it from there, although the ninth inning began with catcher Austin Romine having to leave the game after being cut on the left hand trying to catch a warmup pitch in the dirt. Brian McCann, who was on the bench nursing a hyperextended left elbow, took over behind the plate.
Chapman walked Jones with two out before striking out pinch hitter Nolan Reimold looking for his ninth save and put to rest any chance of an Orioles comeback. The bullpen has been leaky of late. Kirby Yates and Betances contributed to the Yankees’ blowing a 5-2 lead Friday night. Thursday night in Detroit, the Yankees were up 5-1 and held on for a 5-4 victory despite Betances, Miller and Chapman all being scored upon over the final three innings.
A serious injury to Romine would be critical. The Yankees are running out of catchers. McCann is still not 100 percent, and Triple A Scranton/Wilkes Barre’s Gary Sanchez is on the disabled list. The Yankees purchased the contract of first baseman Chris Parmelee from SWB to help fill the void of Mark Teixeira, who was placed on the 15-day DL because of torn cartilage in his right knee. Dustin Ackley, who had been Tex’s back-up at first base, had season-ending surgery on his right shoulder and was transferred to the 60-day DL. That opened a spot on the 40-man roster for Parmelee.
Girardi spoke before the game of a possible platoon at first base with Parmelee and Rob Refsnyder, yet with righthander Tyler Wilson starting for the Orioles the manager started Refsnyder, who had an RBI double in four at-bats. Parmelee took over in the field in the eighth.
After taking a 1-0 lead in the third on a sacrifice fly by Romine, the Yankees attacked Wilson for four runs and five hits in the fourth. Carlos Beltran and Rodriguez started the rally with singles. Starlin Castro, who had three hits, doubled home Beltran. A-Rod scored on an infield out. Refsnyder restarted the rally with his double that scored Castro and came home on a single by Romine.
Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner, who were a combined 4-for-10 at the top of the order, teamed on a double steal with two out in the sixth that resulted in Ellsbury’s second swipe of home this season and the third time in his career.
Everyone in the Yankees’ starting lineup plus Hicks had at least one hit. It would have been an absolute crime if the pitchers could not make all that offense hold up.