Rumors continued to swirl Sunday about the Yankees and their closer, Aroldis Chapman. Even so, there was still baseball to be played, and the Yankees managed to continue to play good baseball, downing the Giants 5-2 to take the series behind a strong start from Nathan Eovaldi.
The Yankees used a pair of solo shots off of San Francisco starter Jeff Samardzija to jump out to an early advantage. The timeless Carlos Beltran opened the scoring in the first with his 21st of the season:
And Mark Teixeira doubled the lead in the second with his 200th home run as a Yankee:
Beltran hiked his superb season slash line to .305/.348/.554. It likely behooves New York to move him with only a few months remaining on his contract, but in the meantime, he is an excellent hitter to watch. Teixeira has been far from pleasant to watch this season, as his batting average still sits well below the Mendoza line. It was his second home run in the past five games, so perhaps he will rediscover his swing soon.
Eovaldi had little trouble during his first trip through the Giants' order, breezing through three scoreless innings. Things threatened to unravel in the fourth. Eovaldi loaded the bases with a pair of walks and a single, but induced a foul pop by Mac Williamson and a groundout by Ramiro Pena to narrowly escape.
Samardzija settled in after allowing the home run to Teixeira, retiring nine of ten batters, but New York opened the game up in the sixth. Samardzija appeared to have limited the damage when he induced a run-scoring double play by Jacoby Ellsbury, but the Yankees kept things rolling with three consecutive two out singles. Didi Gregorius then ended Samardzija's day with an RBI double that made the score 5-0.
Eovaldi ran into problems again in the seventh. Asked to enter the inning despite already having thrown 105 pitches, Eovaldi was removed after an Angel Pagan double put two runners on with two out. Chasen Shreve entered and faced one batter, walking Brandon Belt. Chad Green came on and allowed a two run single to Buster Posey, before retiring Brandon Crawford to end the inning with a 5-2 lead.
It was an interesting start from Eovaldi, who continued to tinker a bit with his arsenal. He hardly threw his slider, focusing instead on his high 90's fastball, while occasionally mixing in a mid 90's cutter. He ended up tossing a season high 118 pitches over 6.2 innings. He allowed two runs, striking out six and walking two. Eovaldi knew entering the game that he needed to provide length with the bullpen having been taxed, and he responded admirably.
With the Yankees' big three unavailable, Joe Girardi allowed Green to close out the game. Green recorded the final seven outs of the game for his first career save, aided by a quite unique 4-1-5 double play in the eighth inning:
The 5-2 victory kept the Yankees 4.5 games out of the Wild Card race. With New York still merely on the fringes of contention, the focus will remain squarely on the Yankees' involvement in the trade market. However, the win did give the Yankees a strong 5-2 stretch against a pair of good teams in the Orioles and Giants. The Yankees will continue playing quality competition as they travel to Houston to face the Astros. That series will begin tomorrow night with Michael Pineda on the mound for the Yankees as they try to keep up their solid play.