CC Sabathia didn’t have his best stuff today, but neither did Astros starter Charlie Morton. It didn’t matter. On this day, the Yankees won the battle of the bullpens, defeating Houston 6-5 on a Torres walk-off single in the tenth.
Sabathia pitched himself into the soup right off the bat. George Springer led off the game with a soft groundball single on the first pitch he saw — a Sabathia sinker that didn’t quite sink — and advanced to second on a Gleyber Torres throwing error. After Alex Bregman grounded out, Jose Altuve lined a single to right field, moving Bregman along to third. With Altuve running on an 0-2 pitch, Yuli Gurriel lined out to Aaron Judge, who completed the easy 9-3 double play. CC miraculously managed to escape the first inning without yielding a run.
The Bombers struck immediately in their half of the frame, when Brett Gardner hit the second pitch he saw into the right-field seats. Gardner’s third home run of the year — and second in four games — gave the Yankees a quick 1-0 lead. They missed a golden opportunity to get more, though. Greg Bird hit a one-out double, but was left stranded when Giancarlo Stanton grounded out and Gary Sanchez fanned. New York’s lead didn’t last long.
Evan Gattis led off the top of the second with a long home run deep into the left-field seats. The Astros nearly went back-to-back, when J.D. Davis launched a towering shot toward the left-field corner. Gardner ran back, went up, and timed his leap perfectly to make the catch. The drive wouldn’t have cleared the fence, but Gardy prevented the Yankees from facing a runner-on-second with no-out situation and CC on the ropes. The catch was the defensive play of the game for the Yankees. Marwin Gonzalez followed with a single, but CC wiggled out of the jam by inducing two straight groundouts.
New York broke the tie in the bottom half when Miguel Andujar launched a two-out double and scored on a Torres single. Unfortunately, the Bomber’s 2-1 lead didn’t last. Although Sabathia recorded a 1-2-3 inning in the third, he gave up the lead again in the fourth. Gattis drew a one-out walk, Davis singled, and Gonzalez doubled them both home.
The Astros carried a 3-2 lead into the fifth, when things got ugly. Bregman reached on Andujar’s throwing error. Jose Altuve followed with a chopper up the middle — a possible double-play ball. Instead of letting it go through, CC tried to field it. The ball bounced off his glove and away from him. Sabathia picked it up and fired into right field, allowing the runners to advance to second and third. Gurriel singled home Bregman. Gattis followed with a sac fly. Just like that, the Yankees were down 5-2.
They got one run back immediately in the home half, when Aaron Judge launched the first pitch into the right-field second deck. The opposite-field blast was his 12th homer and 33rd RBI at home this year. All Rise leads MLB in both categories.
CC’s night ended after five innings and 99 pitches. He allowed five runs (three earned) on eight hits and walked two. The outing was his fourth straight shaky start. The bullpen did a fantastic job keeping the Yankees in the game. Jonathan Holder pitched two scoreless frames, and David Robertson followed with one. Dellin Betances walked the first two batters in the ninth, but then recovered to retire the next three.
Cue the magic and mysticism of Yankee Stadium. The free-swinging Andujar led off the bottom of the ninth with a five-pitch walk. After Torres struck out swinging on a slider, the red-hot Gardner came up and launched a dramatic game-tying two-run homer that just cleared the right-field fence.
It’s a Gardy Party in the Bronx!— YES Network (@YESNetwork) May 30, 2018
Brett’s second homer of the night ties the game at 5-5 in the ninth!
Full postgame following the final out on YES! pic.twitter.com/icT8JeS5Sj
New York then got the winning run into scoring position with one out, but couldn’t bring him home. Judge followed Gardy’s blast with a double. Bird struck out, Stanton reached on an infield single, and Sanchez struck out.
The Bombers didn’t whiff on their next opportunity to win it. In the 10th, Andujar smashed a two-out double down the left-field line. Torres then drove him home with his clutch walk-off single.
Aroldis Chapman got the win in relief. He came on to pitch the 10th, and the wheels nearly came off. Tony Kemp drew a two-out walk and moved to second on a wild pitch. Chapman then uncorked another wild one, but Sanchez grabbed it and gunned out Kemp trying to advance with a perfect throw to Andujar at third base.
This contest began as the story of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, with the Yankees defense playing all three titular roles in one game. They committed an embarrassing five errors, but it didn’t matter in the end. The Bombers also overcame 17 strikeouts to claim the victory.
Tomorrow is the rubber match of the three-game set and season-series finale with the defending champion Astros. The Yankees send ace Luis Severino (7-1, 2.28 ERA) to the hill to face Dallas Keuchel (3-6, 3.39 ERA). First pitch is a half-hour earlier than usual, 6:35 PM EDT. Join us.