This game felt like a postseason matchup, didn’t it? Fans were treated to a pitching duel in the Bronx, that included a dominant performance by an unlikely starter for the Yankees. Things got a little dicey in the late innings, but the Bombers pulled off the victory by the score of 2 - 1.
For a little while it looked like Ervin Santana’s well documented struggles at Yankee Stadium would continue on Monday night. In the first inning he encountered Aaron Judge, who apparently has rediscovered his home run stroke. He deposited a 2 - 1 fastball into the right field seats to give the Yankees an early lead. This one went airborne, too.
After that, Santana stifled the Bombers for five innings. The team had a few chances to score against the right-hander, but they couldn’t capitalize. At least until the sixth inning, that is. After quickly retiring Didi Gregorius, Santana then loaded the bases. That led to a Todd Frazier sacrifice fly to put the Yankees ahead, 2 - 1. The bats went mostly silent after that, but it proved all the offense necessary.
Meanwhile, Jaime Garcia apparently conjured up supernatural pitching talent. He recorded an insane nine strikeouts through the first four innings. The only trouble he ran into came in the fifth inning. Eddie Rosario got things started with a single off the glove of Gregorius. He advanced to third on a single by Eduardo Escobar, which Judge bobbled for an error. Rosario then scored on a Robbie Grossman fielder’s choice to tie the game at one.
That lone run proved the only blemish on Garcia’s night. He worked himself into a jam in the sixth — David Robertson had to bail the southpaw out -- but otherwise pitched a sterling game. This, without question, was the best he’s looked since joining the Yankees. His fastball velocity played up and he worked with a particularly nasty curveball.
I can’t say that I expected Garcia to give up just one unearned run over 5.2 innings, complete with nine strikeouts. No complaints here, though. I’ll take that any day of the week though. That was one heck of an outing by the Yankees sixth starter.
Joe Girardi turned to Dellin Betances in the eighth inning after Robertson’s brilliant work. Unfortunately, Mr. Hyde showed up. Betances loaded the bases and recorded just one out. In typical bad Dellin fashion, the Twins reached on a pair of walks and a hit by pitch. Betances struggled with his control so badly that Girardi had to remove him in favor of Aroldis Chapman. The Yankees flat out need Betances to be better than this.
Chapaman thankfully wasted no time in putting out the fire. He struck out Joe Mauer on a 103 mph fastball before getting Byron Buxton to fly out. The Yankees needed that in the worst way. He then worked a scoreless ninth to seal the victory for the Bombers. A healthy and effective Chapman will go a long way if the team makes a playoff run.
Game two of the series features a showdown between Jose Berrios and CC Sabathia. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm and you can watch on ESPN or WPIX.