Not only do the Yankees have a winning streak, but they have an extended one! After dropping the first two games of the road trip to the Diamondbacks, they now have won five straight to give them a 5-2 road trip and a four-game sweep against the Athletics. Here's how we got there.
Man, Michael Pineda, even when he's pretty good, is still frustrating to watch. A big problem he's had so far this year is slider location; he seems to do just fine getting ahead early in counts, but then leaves meatball sliders out over the plate with two strikeouts. At least this afternoon, that didn't happen. Even so, he still ran into trouble a decent amount, enough to put the Yankees' chances at victory in jeopardy.
Pineda allowed his first run in the first inning. He allowed a single to Billy Burns with one out, and then did a terrible job of trying to hold him on, as Burns then stole both second and third. Stephen Vogt grounded out to drive Burns in, and the Athletics had an early 1-0 lead.
That lead was erased immediately, as Jesse Hahn allowed a solo home run to Brian McCann to start off the second inning. In the third, the Yankees tacked on another run, but it could have been more. Didi Gregorius led off with a single, but was erased by an Aaron Hicks double play ball. Jacoby Ellsbury then hit a solo home run, and the Yankees led 2-1. It's obviously the fallacy of the preconceived outcome to assume Ellsbury still would have had a home run without the double play, but it's still frustrating to see solo home runs sometimes.
After working through four innings and just as he appeared to have been hitting his stride, Pineda nearly let the game unravel in the fifth. He allowed a one-out single to Jake Smolinski, then a two-out single to Burns to put runners on first and second with two outs. Vogt brought his RBI total to three on the day in that next at-bat, as he hit a double to bring both Smolinski and Burns home, and the Athletics had a 3-2 lead. After Larry Rothschild calmed him down, Pineda got Danny Valencia to ground out.
These Yankees right now, though, are resilient. Earlier in the season this would have been a prime opportunity to roll over and die, but instead the Yankees regained the lead in the top of the sixth. Brett Gardner and Carlos Beltran got a couple of singles with two outs, then, after a McCann strikeout, Mark Teixeira finally got an RBI after hitting an infield single by hitting the ball deep into the shift, and Starlin Castro knocked in one more run in to make the score 4-3.
Pineda worked through the sixth inning, and he finished the day with a quality start. It's a quality start just barely, but I'll take it, honestly. He has been so frustrating to watch this year and we've been dying for him to turn it around, so this is a nice change. He finishes the day with three earned runs, six hits, one walk, and six strikeouts. Good job, Big Mike.
The Yankees were even nice enough to bring in an insurance run in the seventh against Sean Doolittle, and it ended up being the deciding run. Hicks led the inning off with a single, then Ellsbury bunted him over to second. Beltran, who has been absolutely on fire lately, drove in Hicks with a double. Maybe you've missed it, but Beltran has been the best hitter on this team for a full calendar year.
This is in the title, but it's important to note: four of five of the Yankees' runs scored were with two outs. That's cool. Remember when people were panicking because of "RISP Fail" a month ago? Well, regression to the mean is a thing.
The Yankees have an off day tomorrow and their best relievers are well-rested, so a six-inning performance from Pineda immediately led to Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and Aroldis Chapman. Betances worked a scoreless seventh inning and struck out two. Miller got into some trouble after Gregorius and Castro booted ground balls to start the inning, but he induced a strikeout and a couple of ground outs to end the inning. It did bring in a run, though, so the Athletics came within one. That insurance run was very important.
The Yankees were unable to score another insurance run in the top of the ninth, so they had to rely on Chapman to get the save in a tight game. He did just that, as Chapman worked a scoreless ninth to nail it down. Ballgame.
The Yankees, as I mentioned, have an off day tomorrow, then they'll face the Blue Jays at home on Tuesday. The game is at 7:05 PM EST, and Nathan Eovaldi will take on R.A. Dickey.