Tex’s 2 HRs protects Green’s 1st big-league win
The Yankees escaped disaster over the weekend at San Diego, thanks to a spot starter and an on-the-spot finisher Sunday. A 6-3 victory over the Padres Sunday was achieved primarily due to the effective pitching of rookie Chad Green and two crucial home runs by Mark Teixeira, who avoided wearing the golden sombrero and in the process cleared the 400-home run plateau.
The Yankees remain the team with the best record in inter-league play since the format began in 1997 (although the Red Sox are right on their heels) but have struggled against National League competition this year. Sunday’s victory improved their mark in inter-league play this year to 3-7. What has hurt the Yankees this season especially in NL parks is a sparse bench. With a 12-man pitching staff and with aging veterans Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran hampered by leg issues, Yankees manager Joe Girardi has been limited in options.
Despite the final score, Sunday’s game was a nail biter until the ninth. Green held the Padres to one run and three hits with no walks and eight strikeouts in six innings but departed the game with merely a one-run lead. Normally, that has been gold with Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman in play, but the No Runs DMC combination had its perceived invincibility shaken Saturday night. Betances allowed an inherited runner to score on a double by Matt Kemp in the sixth inning that tied the score. San Diego almost took the lead that inning as well on a single by Melvin Upton, but left fielder Brett Gardner threw Kemp out at the pomerhlate.
Upton did more damage three innings later when he led off the ninth by driving the first pitch from Miller a long way into the left field stands for a walk-off home run. It marked the first loss in six decisions for Miller this season.
Although Betances allowed two hits in the seventh inning Sunday, he protected the one-run advantage with key strikeouts of Derek Norris and Ryan Schrimpf. Miller also put two runners on in the eighth with a single and a walk but retired the dangerous Kemp on a ground ball to work out of it.
Teixeira had given Miller an extra run to work with when he led off the top of that inning with his 400th career home run. Tex, who had struck out in his previous three at-bats, became the fifth switch-hitter to reach the milestone. The others are Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray, future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones and his teammate, Beltran. Texeira connected again in the ninth following an RBI single by Gardner as the Yankees pulled away at 6-1.
That took Chapman out of the equation but only momentarily. Anthony Swarzak could not close it out as Yangervis Solarte singled for his fourth hit of the game and scored on a home run by Alex Dickerson. Chapman then was summoned to notch his 16th save, which he did by retiring the three batters he faced.
Green had been called up from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to start in place of CC Sabathia because the Yankees did not want the lefthander to have to bat or run the bases at Petco Park. It could not have worked out better for the Yankees, who now must decide whether to fit Green, a righthander, into the rotation somehow. Green was named to the International League All-Star squad on the strength of his league-leading 1.54 ERA.
The victory was a face saver for the Yankees, who were defeated the previous two nights by the NL West cellar dwellers. They will return to American League play Monday afternoon at Chicago with a July 4th date against the White Sox on the birthday of the late Yankees owner George M. Steinbrenner and radio voice John Sterling.