Who would have thought when the Yankees and the Rays faced each other for the first time this season that they would both be in first place 10 days later?
The Yankees went into that series in mid-April at Tropicana Field with a 3-6 record and having made 11 errors. The Rays had a 6-4 record, but three days later had fallen a game below .500 due to the Yankees’ sweep.
Fortune has followed the two clubs since then and in the tightly-contested American League East of 2015 have found themselves fighting to stay atop the division in this three-game set at Yankee Stadium.
Tampa Bay came to town riding a five-game winning streak while the Yankees had won three straight series, including this past weekend against the Mets, who have the best overall record in the major leagues.
The Yankees took over sole possession of first place Monday night with a 4-1 victory that ended the Rays’ streak. The Yanks have treated Tampa Bay this season like the expansion team it was in the 1990s and early 2000s by going 4-0 against the Rays thus far.
Adam Warren had a quality start with only one run and five hits with no walks and six strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. The glitches were a couple of wild pitches in the sixth inning that helped the Rays tie the score at 1. The run scored on a fielder’s choice with drawn-in second baseman Stephen Drew taking an extra step before throwing to the plate and failing to prevent David DeJesus from crossing.
The Yankees had another strong bullpen effort as four relievers combined for 3 1/3 innings of scoreless, one-hit ball with one walk and four strikeouts. Justin Wilson was credited with his first victory of the season, and Andrew Miller made it 8-for-8 in saves.
Catcher Brian McCann was a big part of the Yankees’ offense. He homered one out into the sixth to put the Yanks ahead again with doubles by Carlos Beltran and Drew pushing the lead to 3-1. In the eighth, McCann led off with an excuse-me swing against the shift for a single and eventually scored when Jacoby Ellsbury was struck by a pitch with the bases loaded.
I do not normally pay much attention to the standings until June in following an old baseball axiom. Yet considering how much the Yankees stumbled coming out of the gate reaching the top of the division says a lot about this team’s resiliency.
Just as important, as manager Joe Girardi pointed out, is how much better the Yankees are playing at home. They were 1-4 during the first homestand but have won three of the past four games at the Stadium.
Although 0-for-4 Monday night, Mark Teixeira has been a major part of their April turnaround and was named AL Player of the Week for the period ending April 26. Tex hit .333 with six runs, one double, five home runs and 10 RBI in seven games and 33 at-bats.
You have probably read numerous accounts in the media how the Mets are poised to supplant the Yankees as the No. 1 baseball team in New York. The return of Matt Harvey, the 14-4 start, the 10-0 record thus far at Citi Field, all of that has Mets fans ready to declare their team king of the New York hill.
Well, not so fast, Mr. Met.
The Yankees made it clear this past weekend they are not ready to roll over and let the Mets steal their thunder. Sure, Harvey was everything everyone says about him Saturday, but the other two games belonged to the Yankees, who overcame a 2-0, first-inning deficit Sunday night to win the rubber game of the series, which was easily the sloppiest for both squads.
But it was the Mets who really saved their worst for last. Jonathan Niese coughed up the lead with help from teammates who sprung leaks in the field and on the bases. The Mets were guilty of four errors, plus the embarrassment of Eric Campbell forgetting how many outs there were and getting doubled off first base.
Sunday night’s 6-4 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 47,510 at Yankee Stadium was not the most stylish of triumphs by the Yankees, either. Their infield committed two errors, and starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi could not get through the fifth inning to qualify for a winning decision that went instead to reliever Chasen Shreve, the first of his major-league career.
Eovaldi did not walk any batters and struck out six, but he gave up seven hits, many of them monstrously struck. A dazzling catch by Chris Young in center field kept the first inning from completely falling apart for Eovaldi.
Niese, who entered the game with a 1.50 ERA, let the game slip away from him in the first two innings. Alex Rodriguez’s 659th career home run started the Yanks’ comeback in the first inning. They kept it up in the second with four runs on doubles by John Ryan Murphy, Gregorio Petit, Brett Gardner and Rodriguez, a single by Young and a woefully poor throw by left fielder Michael Cuddyer. The four doubles were the most in one inning for the Yankees since the first inning of a 7-4 victory May 21, 2009 against the Orioles by Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira and Melky Cabrera.
Even after the Mets closed to 5-4, the Yankees did not panic and got another run in the sixth on A-Rod’s second RBI on an infield out. The key to getting that run was a Yankees challenge on what was originally ruled a groundout by Gardner. Replays showed first base umpire Adam Hamari missed the call that was reversed. Gardner eventually scored.
The Yankees wasted a leadoff double by Chase Headley in the sixth inning and made nine straight outs after that, but the Mets got nowhere with the Yanks’ bullpen, either. Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller continued their 8th-9th inning tandem. They each allowed one base runner (Betances on a third-strike wild pitch and Miller on a hit batter) but no hits and, more importantly, no runs.
The Mets’ record of 14-5 is still superior to the Yankees’ mark of 11-8, but for the weekend it was 2-1 Yanks. Now they head into a big series against the Rays, whom the Yankees swept a weekend ago at St. Petersburg, Fla. The clubs are tied for first place in the American League East, so the Mets are not the only first-place team in New York.
Despite the Mets’ hot start, Curtis Granderson had not hit a home run for them over their first 18 games. All it took was a little dose of Yankee Stadium to get him going.
Granderson hit 61 home runs at the Stadium in his time in the American League. Thanks in large part to the right field porch at the Stadium, Granderson topped the 40-homer mark twice during his tenure with the Yankees. So it was a familiar sight to see him cut on a fastball from Nathan Eovaldi and drive it over the fence in right-center for his first home run of the season and the 29th of his career leading off a game.
It was part of a wicked first inning for Eovaldi, who was in his first Subway Series but was no stranger to the Mets. He made seven starts against them while with the Marlins and was 1-3 with a 4.62 ERA. The Mets scorched some balls, and it took a splendid play in center field by Chris Young to keep the inning from unraveling entirely.
After Juan Lagares, who had four hits Saturday, smoked a hard grounder off first baseman Mark Teixeira’s glove for a single, Lucas Duda hit a drive directly over Young’s head in dead center field. With the same turn-and-burn approach teammate Jacoby Ellsbury employed the day before, Young put on the jets and caught up with the ball for a back-handed catch in front of the warning track. Lagares was practically at the shortstop position and had to bust it hard to get back to first base.
Third baseman Chase Headley was next to come to Eovaldi’s aid with a diving stop of hard grounder by Michael Cuddyer. But there was nothing Teixeira could do to stop an absolute smoking shot by Daniel Murphy that became a an RBI double.
Eovaldi’s defense helped keep hiom close, and the Yankees’ offense fought back with a vengeance to take the lead away from Mets lefthander Jonathan Niese. It started in the first inning when Alex Rodriguez drove a 2-2 hanger to right field for his fifth home run of the season and career No. 659.
The second inning was when the Yankees jumped all over Niese and also took advantage of a throwing error by Cuddyer in left field to form a four-run rally. Doubles by John Ryan Murphy, Gregorio Petit and Brett Gardner thrust the Yankees into the lead. Young got another run home with an opposite-field single against the shift. On a double to left by Rodriguez, Cuddyer made an awful relay to the infield that allowed Young to score before A-Rod was tagged out trying to advance to third base.
Eovaldi seemed to settle down and retired six batters in a row — four by strikeouts — before the Mets fought back to make the score 5-4 with two outs in the third on a single by Duda and doubles by Cuddyer and Daniel Murphy. With balls searing all over the yard in the early going, this had all the looks of a barnburner.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi mentioned earliet this season that the Yankees would rest the starting pitchers by going to a six-man rotation. The first such situation will occur in the upcoming three-game series witj the Rays at Yankee Stadium starting Monday night.
Girardi said before Sunday night’s finale of the Subway Series with the Mets on ESPN that the Yankees plan to call up Chase Whitley from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes Barre to start the second game of the series Tuesday night. Masahiro Tanaka, who was originally scheduled to start Tuesday night, will start Wednesday afternoon’s game instead. The rest of the roration will get an additional day off because Thursday is an open date. Michael Pineda, the original scheduled starter for Wednesday, will now start Friday night in Boston on six days’ rest.
Whitley has made three starts for SWP and has a 2-0 record with a 2.12 ERA. The righthander, who had been a contender during spring training for the fifth starter’s role that was won by Adam Warren, allowed four runs and 13 hits with six walks and 13 strikeouts in 17 innings without allowing a home run.
Girardi made a change in Sunday’s lineup in sitting down center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, whose right hip tightened in Saturday’s 8-2 loss to the Mets. Ellsbury made a spectacular, lunging catch to rob Eric Campbell of an extra-base hit in the fourth, one inning after he grounded into a run-scoring double play in which he hustled hard to try to avoid getting doubled up. Girardi replaced Ellsbury with Chris Young in the eighth inning. With the Yankees six runs down, Girardi did not want to tax Ellsbury any further.
Young started in center field Sunday night and was in the 2-hole as Brett Gardner took Ellsbury’s usual spot at leadoff. Once again, Didi Gregorius was out of the starting lineup against a left-handed starter, in this case the Mets’ Jonathan Niese. The shortstop has a history of problems against lefties. This year, Gregorius, batting just .212 overall, is 2-for-12 (.167) against lefthanders and hitting .225 against righthanders. For his career, Gregorius is a .260 hitter against righties and a .183 hitter against lefties. Stephen Drew shifted to shortstop with Grtegorio Petit playing second base.
As part of an initiative between Major League Baseball and ESPN to bring atention to Little League teams around the country, a team from Police Officer Michael Buczek Little League in the Washington Heights section of Manhatttan made an appearance on the set of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball broadcast. The youngsters were also invited down to the field at the Stadium to watch the Yankees and the Mets take batting practice before the finale of Round 1 of the 2015 Subway Series. Following batting practice, the Little League team also had the opportunity to interview Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia. The group was provided with tickets to the game, goodie bags and food vouchers.
Saturday was a tale of two pitchers at Yankee Stadium. There was just too much Matt Harvey for the Yankees and not enough CC Sabathia.
Harvey, who grew up in Connecticut as a Yankees fan, pitched as if he had lifted the entire Mets team on his shoulders. He came within one out of a complete game and paid the Yankees back for ending his team’s 11-game winning streak Friday night. The 8-2 victory improved Harvey’s record to 4-0 and dropped Sabathia’s to 0-4.
“I didn’t give us a chance at all,” Sabathia said. “I was missing spots. Everything was up. I couldn’t keep the cutter down. I couldn’t find a rhythm.”
CC beat himself up almost as much as the Mets did. One start after a strong, complete-game outing at Detroit albeit a loss, Sabathia was rocked for seven runs and nine hits in five-plus innings as his ERA skyrocketed to 5.96. As he walked off the mound in the sixth inning, the 6-foot-7 lefthander was targeted by boo birds, which did not surprise him.
“You pitch bad, you get booed,” he said. “I gave up a lot of two-strike hits. I couldn’t finish hitters off.”
The killer two-strike hit was probably a single by Wilmer Flores that followed a triple by Juan Lagares in the fourth inning. It was a two-out, two-strike hit that made a 2-1 game 3-1 and saved an at-bat for rookie catcher Kevin Plawecki, who got his first major-league home run to make it 5-1.
That spread seemed enormous considering the way Harvey was pitching. Showing no ill effects in coming back from Tommy John surgery, the Mets ace looked like a young Roger Clemens.
The first Yankees’ run scored as Jacoby Ellsbury grounded into a double play in the third inning. Harvey walked Brett Gardner after that and then retired 10 batters in a row before Mark Teixeira smacked his eighth home run of the season and third of this series which concludes Sunday night on ESPN with the Yanks’ Nathan Eovaldi against the Mets’ Jon Niese.
Sabathia has been successful in keeping the ball in the yard in his first three starts. He had given up only one home run in 20 2/3 innings. Yet he was stung for three long balls Saturday. Lucas Duda started the parade with a solo shot in the first inning. The two-run blow by Plawecki climaxed a four-run fourth for the Mets, and Eric Campbell went yard to start the sixth.
“CC struggled with location,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He made mistakes up in the zone. I’m not going to make too much of one start. All starters are going to have clunkers. We’ll get him back to work and get him right.”
The Mets do not have to do that with Harvey. He was at 91 pitches at the start of the ninth inning and got two outs quickly. Teixeira then hit a ground single to right field through the shift. Harvey lost a chance for the complete game when he walked Brian McCann. Mets manager Terry Collins felt that at 107 pitches his stud was done for the day.
It was an unseemly sight for Yankees fans as Mets fans drowned them out at the Stadium. That hurt more than the boos.
Now there is something you do not see every day. Mark Teixeira got a single in the second inning Saturday. Facing the Mets’ fireballer Matt Harvey, Teixeira hit a soft spinner to the left side against the exaggerated shift applied by the Mets and beat it out for a single.
It was Tex’s 13th hit of the season but only the second single. He has become an extra-base hitting machine with four doubles and seven home runs, including a pair of two-run, second-deck shots to right field in the Yanks’ 6-1 victory Friday night.
Teixeira entered the game batting only .218, but his other offensive numbers are monstrous. He ranks fifth in the American League in slugging percentage at .673 and seventh in OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging at 1.006. There is another stat called Isolated Power that measures extra-base efficiency. It is derived by subtracting batting average from slugging percentage. Teixeira’s .455 IP was the highest in the majors entering play Saturday.
Yankees pitchers had not allowed a home run in five straight games, the team’s longest such streak since an eight-game run from July 10-20, 2011. Mets first baseman Lucas Duda ended that streak in the first inning with a solo shot to right field off Yankees starter CC Sabathia. It was only the second long ball yielded in 21 innings this year by the big lefthander.
The third homer off Sabathia this year would prove more damaging. It was a two-run shot by Kevin Plawecki, the rookie catcher who was called up to fill in for injured Travis d’Arnau, out with a broken right hand.
Plawecki’s first major league home run and RBIs capped off a four-run fourth inning that might have been worse if not for some dazzling play in the outfield by Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner.
Ellsbury shaded towards right-center against Eric Campbell made a mad dash to left-center field and made a lunging catch to avert a sure double and a possible triple. Lee Mazzilli, who works with the outfielders in spring training, calls that a “turn-and-burn” play.
Not even Ellsbury could come up with the smoking liner Juan Lagares drove to right-center for a triple that broke up a 1-1 score. CC couldn’t stop the bleeding and gave up a two-out, RBI single to Wilmer Flores before Plawecki went deep.
The inning became more embarrassing for Sabathia when he lost the race to first base covering what became an infield single for former teammate Curtis Granderson. This has been a problem this season for CC, who has slowed down considerably because of his size and surgical right knee.
Gardner saved Sabathia’s bacon with a diving catch in left field to snare a low liner by John Mayberry Jr.
By jumping all over Jacob deGrom early Friday night, the Yankees took some of the buzz out of the highly-anticipated opening of the first round of this season’s Subway Series. They had a six-run lead by the third inning and coasted to a 6-1 victory that put an end to the Mets’ 11-game winning streak, which tied a franchise record.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Friday night at Yankee Stadium marked the first time in the 19 seasons of inter-league play that the Yankees and the Mets faced each other while owning at least a share of first place in their respective divisions. At 13-3, the Mets had the best record in the major leagues atop the National League East while the 9-7 Yankees were tied with the Red Sox for the American League East lead.
There was the usual buzz in the crowd leading up to the game’s start after Bernie Williams tossed the ceremonial first pitch (more like a lob, actually).
Yankees starter Michael Pineda got off a good start with a scoreless first inning with two strikeouts. DeGrom was not so fortunate. The righthander entered the game with a 2-1 record and a 0.93 ERA. The 2014 NL Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year made an impressive debut last year against the Yankees at Citi Field.
Mark Teixeira, who has not been as imposing from the left side of the plate as from the right, turned that situation around. Tex drove a 2-1 pitch into the second deck in right field for a two-run home run that showed the Mets they were no longer at Citi Field. It ended an 18-inning scoreless streak by deGrom.
Teixeira struck again in the third inning but not before Jacoby Ellsbury led off with his first home run of the season. Brett Gardner did deGrom a favor by getting thrown out at second base trying to stretch a single into a double.
After Alex Rodriguez walked, Teixeira went deep again to right field for another two-run blast. It marked the 38th multi-homer game of Tex’s career.
The Yankees were not finished scoring that inning. They loaded the bases on singles by Brian McCann and Chase Headley surrounding a walk to Carlos Beltran. Stephen Drew pushed the Yanks’ lead to 6-0 with a sacrifice fly.
Teixeira had the opportunity to do more damage when he came up with the bases loaded and none out in the sixth, but he fouled out to third against Hansel Robles, a hard-throwing righthander who made an impressive big-league debut by turning the Yanks away with strikeouts of McCann and Beltran.
That was probably the highlight of the game for the Mets. That is how dominant the Yankees were in ending the Mets’ franchise-record-equaling winning streak. The Yankees continued their role and have won nine of their past 12 games.
Pineda ran his record to 3-0, equaling the mark of teammate Dellin Betances, who was not needed Friday night. Pineda worked into the eighth inning and only hurt himself with a wild pitch that pushed Curtis Granderson into scoring position. A sacrifice fly by Lucas Duda in the sixth inning was the only blemish for Pineda, who lowered his ERA to 3.86. He allowed five hits and no walks with seven strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings. Of his 100 pitches, 78 were for strikes.
“We’ve turned it around,” manager Joe Girardi said. “We have swung the bats well. We’re pitching well. Our defense is doing what we thought it was capable of.”
The Yankees will return home Friday night for the first of six games at Yankee Stadium. The stretch will feature a three-game series against the Mets (Friday-Sunday, April 24-26) and a three-game set against the Rays (Monday-Wednesday, April 27-29).
As part of his retirement celebration, Bernie Williams will throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to Friday’s 7:05 p.m. game vs. the Mets. Additionally, the Hard Rock Cafe will debut a souvenir pin that honors Williams in a pregame ceremony. Fifteen percent of pin proceeds will go to Hillside Food Outreach (www.hillsidefoodoutreach.org).
Prior to Sunday’s 8:05 p.m. game vs. the Mets, Matthew Morrison will sing the national anthem. The Tony, Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated actor is currently starring in the Harvey Weinstein musical Finding Neverland and recently wrapped up the final season of Fox’s musical comedy Glee where he starred as Will Schuester.
Ticket specials will run Saturday, April 25 (Youth Game), Monday, April 27 (MasterCard $5 and Military Personnel Game), Tuesday, April 28 (MasterCard $5, Military Personnel and Senior Citizen Game) and Wednesday, April 29 (MasterCard Half-Price, Military Personnel, Senior Citizen and Student Game).
For a complete list of ticket specials, including game dates, seating locations, and terms and conditions, fans should visit http://www.yankees.com/ticketspecials. Please note that all ticket specials are subject to availability.
The homestand will also feature the following promotional items and dates:
Saturday, April 25 – Yankees vs. Mets, 4:05 p.m.
Brett Gardner Replica Bat Day, presented by Bank of America, to first 10,000 Guests, 14 and younger.
Tuesday, April 28 – Yankees vs. Rays, 7:05 p.m.
Masahiro Tanaka Bobblehead Night, presented by AT&T, to first 18,000 Guests.
Tickets may be purchased online at http://www.yankees.com, http://www.yankeesbeisbol.com, at the Yankee Stadium Ticket Office, via Ticketmaster phone at (877) 469-9849, Ticketmaster TTY at (800) 943-4327 and at all Ticket Offices located within Yankees Clubhouse Shops. Tickets may also be purchased on Yankees Ticket Exchange at http://www.yankees.com/yte, the only official online resale marketplace for Yankees fans to purchase and resell tickets to Yankees games. Fans with questions may call (212) YANKEES [926-5337] or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information on parking and public transportation options to Yankee Stadium, please visit http://www.yankees.com and click on the Yankee Stadium tab at the top of the page.
As part of Major League Baseball’s initiative to standardize security procedures at all 30 parks, visitors are required to be screened via metal detectors before entering the Stadium. The increased security measures are the result of MLB’s continuing work with the Department of Homeland Security and are designed to elevate and standardize security practices across the game. The added security measures are in addition to bag checks that are conducted at all MLB ballparks.
As a result, the Yankees strongly encourage all visitors to budget extra time for arrival and entry to the Stadium for all home games throughout the 2015 season and future seasons.
Although he has not played a game in the major leagues since the end of the 2006 season and has already fallen off the Hall of Fame ballot, Bernie Williams has never officially announced his retirement as a player.
That will change at 5:45 p.m. Friday in the press conference room at Yankee Stadium before the first game of this season’s Subway Series when Williams will formally sign his retirement papers in a ceremony to be overseen by general manager Brian Cashman and assistant general manager Jean Afterman.
During Friday’s press conference, the Yankees will unveil a logo related to his uniform number (51) retirement and Monument Park plaque dedication, which will take place on Sunday, May 24, prior to the Yankees’ 8:05 p.m. game against the Texas Rangers.
Additionally Friday — in an on-field ceremony at approximately 6:45 p.m. — the Hard Rock Cafe will debut a souvenir pin that honors Williams. Fifteen percent of net sales from the pins will go to Hillside Food Outreach (www.hillsidefoodoutreach.org).
Bernie will also throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to Friday’s 7:05 p.m. game against the Mets.
Williams, 46, played his entire 16-year major-league career with the Yankees (1991-2006). The switch hitter batted .297 over 2,076 games. In franchise history, the former center fielder ranks third in doubles (449), fifth in hits (2,336), sixth in games played and runs scored (1,366) and seventh in home runs (287) and RBI (1,257). The five-time American League All-Star (1997-2001), four-time Gold Glove winner (1997-2000) and Silver Slugger Award recipient (2002) won the American League batting title in 1998 with a .339 average.
A four-time World Series champion in pinstripes (1996, ’98, ’99, 2000), Williams is the Yankees’ all-time postseason leader in home runs (22) and RBI (80), ranks second in playoff runs scored (83), hits (128) and doubles (29) and is third in games played (121). He was named the 1996 AL Championship Series Most Valuable Player after batting .474 with two home runs and six RBI in 19 at-bats in the Yankees’ five-game series against the Orioles. In Game 1 of the 1999 ALCS against the Red Sox, Williams hit a 10th-inning home run to win the game for the Yankees.
I remember telling Bernie when the 2012 Hall of Fame ballot came out by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America that whether he liked it or not he was officially retired. He just laughed and said, “Man, I can’t believe five years went by so fast.”
Williams stayed on the ballot for only two years. He received 9.6 percent of the vote in 2012 and 3.3 percent in 2013. Players need to achieve 75 percent of the vote to gain election and are dropped from consideration if they do not get five percent of the vote. I voted for him both years and wish more of my colleagues recognized the Hall of Fame worthiness of his career.
That the Yankees seem to have righted themselves could not have come at a better time. The Mets, the hottest team in the major leagues with an 11-game winning streak, a 10-0 home record and an overall best mark of 13-3, come to Yankee Stadium Friday night for the first round of the 2015 Subway Series.
While the Mets were winning all 10 of their games at Citi Field thus far, the Yankees went on a 10-game trek through Baltimore, St. Peterburg and Detroit and emerged with seven victories and showed exceptional pitching, timely hitting and much improved fielding.
After dropping two of three games to the Orioles, the Yankees swept a three-game series from the Rays and took three of four games from a Tigers team that had the best record in the majors at the start of the set and might have been knocked out of first place in the American League Central if the Royals could win Thursday night against the White Sox. Similarly, a Red Sox loss Thursday night would have thrust the Yankees into a first-place tie in the AL East.
All this sounded impossible a week and a half ago when the Yankees seemed adrift with an abundance of hitting, pitching and fielding lapses. They started the trip with a woeful 2-4 record and come home with a strapping 9-7 mark.
Granted, they ran into a Tampa Bay club that is already heavily laden with injuries, but the Detroit team the Yankees faced has one of the most ferocious lineups in the game and yet was held to nine runs in four games, an average of 2.3 runs per game by the Tigers, who began the series averaging 6.4 runs per game.
The Yankees’ 13-4 victory Wednesday night when they jumped on former AL Cy Young Award winner David Price for six runs in the first inning contained more runs by them than the Tigers scored in the entire series. Former two-time AL Most Valuable Player Miguel Cabrera was tamed with a 2-for-13 showing.
The Yankees followed that blowout with a tight pitching duel in Thursday’s frosty Comerica Park (33 degrees at first pitch) between Masahiro Tanaka and Anibal Sanchez. Neither was involved in the decison as the score was 1-1 in the seventh inning, the last for each starter.
Tanaka gave up a first-inning run on a sacrifice fly by Victor Martinez and held the Tigers to two hits, both doubles by J.D. Martinez, one out into the seventh with two walks and six strikeouts. The Yankees’ offense wasn’t much better. They had merely three hits. Their runs, both scored by Jacoby Ellsbury, came on a balk by Sanchez and an infield out.
The winning decision went to Dellin Betances (3-0), who snuffed out a rally in the seventh with two critical outs and added a scoreless eighth with two strikeouts. Andrew Miller followed with a no-hit, two-strikeout ninth inning to go 6-for-6 in saves.
Behind the pitchers was outstanding defense from a team that made 11 errors over its first eight games. The Yankees in their past eight games have committed only one error. Third baseman Chase Headley made two sparkling, back-handed plays that robbed hits and in one case in the seventh inning saved a run.
Playing a day game gave the Yankees the opportunity to get back home the same evening and not in the wee hours of the following morning, so they could enjoy a deserved night of rest before the job ahead of them against their resurgent neighbors from Queens.