I said in the game thread post that even though Michael Pineda has been good in June, I'm not exactly ready to buy his performance just yet. Well, he went a long way to proving that he can pitch with authority, as he tossed a stellar six-inning, twelve strikeout performance against the Texas Rangers. The offense may have made A.J. Griffin look like his old self, but a key mistake in the ninth gave the Yankees a walk-off win and a series tie as they head to the west coast. What a great win.
Even though Pineda was amazing today, I would not have guessed it would turn out that way in the first inning. On just the fourth pitch of the game, Pineda placed a fastball right down the middle of the plate, and Shin-Soo Choo launched it over the right field wall. That would be his only mistake of the game. He did walk three, so his control was a bit iffy, but he used his slider with authority and got whiffs when he needed them. After that first inning he only allowed a runner to get to scoring position once, in the fourth, and only because of those walks. I'll take a few more of these starts, thank you very much.
The offense, as I mentioned, was lackluster, which shouldn't be a surprise. Griffin allowed just two hits and two walks over his five innings of work. His only mistake was to Didi Gregorius, who hit a solo homer in the fifth inning to tie the game. The Rangers also got a scoreless three innings from Shawn Tolleson and Jake Diekman. All in all, the Yankees got two major chances to score: they put runners on the corners in the first, and they loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh. They did nothing, and I really thought that could have sunk them later in the game. I'll take the win, but it was the same old story offensively.
The Yankees had a chance to use all of the Big Three this afternoon, and it bought them just enough time to seal the deal. Dellin Betances pitched the seventh and struck out two, and Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman pitched the eighth and ninth and picked up a strikeout apiece. They allowed just two base runners over those three innings.
In the ninth, it looked like yet another chance that the Yankees would squander. Chase Headley walked to start off the inning, and Gregorius dropped down a sac bunt to move him over. Aaron Hicks walked, and Starlin Castro grounded out to move the runners to second and third. With Jacoby Ellsbury at the plate, a pitch from Tony Barnette got past the glove of catcher Robinson Chirinos, and Headley came home to score. Just like that, the Yankees had a win.
The Yankees are back at .500! They don't have an off-day until the All-Star break, so they will immediately fly to San Diego to take on the Padres for a three-game set. Nathan Eovaldi will face Colin Rea (definitely a Star Wars character) in game one. For all you night owls out there, the game starts at 10:40 PM EST.