There’s been some question among Yankee fans about whether Matt Holliday would see time in the field during this stretch of NL games. The big right-hander owns a 152 wRC+ early in the season, and there is some debate around if the Yankees would find it worthwhile to accept his poor defense in exchange for that kind of offense.
For one night, that debate ended. The Yankees exploded for five runs in the first inning, Cubs starter Brett Anderson recorded an out before leaving due to what was called an injury. His final line: 0.1 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 1 K. Not the start Chicago would want.
The Yankees’ five-run first was punctuated by doubles from Brett Gardner, Starlin Castro, and Chase Headley. Aaron Hicks and Gary Sanchez chipped in with RBI singles, and the Bronx Bombers were off and running.
The bats came alive again in the third inning. Following back to back singles from Sanchez and Didi Gregorius, Chris Carter bounced a grounder to Kris Bryant, who misplayed the ball for an error and led to Sanchez scoring.
Castro, in his first series back in Wrigley Field, continued the offensive explosion against reliever Felix Pena in the fourth, crushing a ball to left field that scored 2 more runs, putting the Yankees up 8:
Jordan Montgomery continued his stretch of impressive starts that leave a little more to be desired, at least for me. He did have some great elements of his start, like the 6.2 innings, just three hits allowed, and keeping Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs’ lethal “Bryzzo” combination, to 0-6 with a walk.
Against a team like the Cubs, those are all real positives to keep building on. Having said that, the four walks, including a walk to a relief pitcher, made me grind my teeth, and showed that Monty still has work to do with regards to his command.
Only two of the three allowed runs were earned for Montgomery, however. An airmailed throw by the usually dependable Gregorius led to Javier Baez coming home and scoring what was at the time the second run for Chicago.
Oh, yeah, Aaron Hicks had a decent game for himself. He went 4-5 with three RBI and three runs scored, including a laser of a home run in the top of the eighth off reliever Rob Zastryzny.
Note: It’s not super important who the relief pitcher was, I just wanted to see if I could spell Zastryzny.
Gary Sanchez also had a terrific night, especially defensively. A great play on a squib off the bat of Ben Zobrist in the third and a force out at second in the eighth put to rest any concern about the health of his throwing arm.
Tommy Layne and Rob Refsnyder combined to make the game somewhat interesting in the bottom of the eighth. Layne’s general ineffectiveness and Ref’s poor fielding (a ground ball up the middle went down as a hit, but I feel like that was home field scoring) worked to narrow the gap to five runs.
Miguel Montero, a catcher and therefore not a pitcher, came in to pitch the ninth against the bottom of the Yankee order. He walked two, got a hard lineout from Chase Headley (snakebitten all night) and a flyout from Refsnyder to escape with no damage. Not the most noteworthy position player pitching.
Fortunately, Joe Girardi was able to avoid burning Dellin Betances or Aroldis Chapman, using Adam Warren to record the last four, uneventful outs.
A rather fun WPA chart tonight, Castro led the pack with his huge home run giving him .124 WPA. Hicks gets an honorable mention for his 4-5 game, and the .096 WPA.
The Yankees look for a sweep tomorrow night on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. Luis Severino gets the ball with first pitch scheduled for 8:05 pm EDT.