‘No Runs DMC’ lives up to its billing
Much has happened to the Yankees this season that was not foreseen. There has been the struggle to get their record above .500, the rash of injuries to first basemen, the long stretches of offensive futility, the inconsistency of the starting pitchers, etc.
Yet there has been one aspect of the 2016 Yankees that has been precisely as advertised — the shutdown work of the three power arms at the back end of the bullpen. A formula of Dellin Betances in the seventh inning, Andrew Miller in the eighth and Aroldis Chapman in the ninth has been damn near perfection. The trio was at its best again Friday night in the Yankees’ 5-3 victory over the Twins in front of a Mickey Mantle Bobblehead crowd of 44,808 at Yankee Stadium.
When starter Masahiro Tanaka got the final out of the sixth inning with the Yanks leading, 4-3, there was a strong sense of anticipation in the crowd that this one could be put in the books with the club getting back to par at 36-36.
The inspiration behind the “No Runs DMC” t-shirts on sale at the Stadium were at their most dominant with three more perfect innings, following a similar performance in the Yankees’ prior victory Wednesday. Betances and Miller each pitched a shutout inning with one strikeout. Chapman outdid himself in the ninth for his 14th save by striking out the side with fastballs regularly going into three figures, including a high of 103 miles per hour.
The self-destructing Twins aided the Yankees with three errors that resulted in Minnesota failing to hold leads of 2-0 and 3-2. A bobble of a grounder by Austin Romine by shortstop Eduardo Escobar started the Yankees’ two-run third that overcame their first deficit against Twins starter Tommy Milone. Consecutive two-out hits by Carlos Beltran (double) and Alex Rodriguez (single) plated the runs that made the score 2-2.
After the Twins went ahead by a run in the fourth, the Yankees came right back in the bottom of the inning and filled the bases with none out without a ball leaving the infield on a walk to Chase Headley, a bunt single by Didi Gregorius and an error by Minnesota first baseman Joe Mauer, who failed to globe a sharp grounder by Aaron Hicks. Romine’s fly ball to the warning track in left field tied the score. A two-out single by Rob Refsnyder put the Yankees in front for the first time in the game and for good.
Tanaka (5-2), who was not particularly sharp, held the Twins down for the next two innings to set the table for the most intimidating bullpen in the majors since the Reds’ notorious “Nasty Boys” of the 1990 World Series champion Reds.
Hicks, who came to the Yankees from the Twins in an off-season trade for backup catcher John Ryan Murphy, now in the minors, stung his former teammates with an opposite-field home run to left for an insurance run in the eighth that was as welcome as it was, as it turned out, unnecessary.
The Yankees are 11-0 when all three DMC pitchers appear in a game. They have combined for eight consecutive 1-2-3 innings over the past three games in which all have worked together and have not allowed a ball out of the infield in the past two games. Yankees relievers overall have 40 straight strikeouts since their last walk June 15 at Denver and have retired 23 batters in a row.