Despite foreboding forecasts, Mother Nature cooperated this weekend, allowing the Yankees to take the four-game series against the last-place Rangers. The Bombers won the finale today 7-2, behind CC Sabathia’s best performance of the year and a pair of bombs from Giancarlo Stanton and Didi Gregorius.
Stanton continued his power surge in Judge’s absence. Batting in the two-hole once again, the defending NL MVP lined a screaming solo home run into the left-field bleachers in the bottom of the first for the second straight day, giving the Yankees a quick 1-0 lead. The blast was Stanton’s 30th homer of the year, and fifth in the last six games.
The Bombers put the game away with five runs in the fifth inning. Austin Romine reached on a one-out single, Brett Gardner followed with a double, and both scored when Aaron Hicks lofted a dying-quail single to center. Hicks moved to third on a Stanton opposite-field line-drive single and scored on a Miguel Andujar ground-ball forceout. Didi Gregorius then rocketed a hanging slider into the right-field seats. His 21st home run of the year gave the Yankees a commanding 6-0 lead.
CC Sabathia hurled a gem, easily his best start of the 2018 campaign. The veteran southpaw tossed six scoreless frames, while limiting the Rangers to just one hit. Oddly, that lone knock came on a Joey Gallo comebacker to CC in the bottom of the second. It followed an error by Andujar, and gave the Rangers a first-and-third with two-outs opportunity. But Sabathia induced Isiah Kiner-Falefa to ground out, ending the threat.
The Rangers also worked a couple of one-out walks in the third, but CC also shut down that threat. He walked the leadoff man in the fourth, but he was erased on a double play. Three walks, seven strikeouts, one hit, 97 pitches, six innings. It was a great outing by CC.
Sabathia was aided by some great defense today. With two outs in the first inning, Didi made a nice back-handed stop in the shortstop hole, and completed the play with a perfect throw to nab the runner at first to end the frame. Andujar also made a nice back-handed stop in the second.
New York added the seventh run with a trio of singles in the sixth. Luke Voit and Neil Walker gave the Yankees a first-and-second, no-out opportunity. Romine moved them over on a ground out, and Gardner knocked Voit in.
Sonny Gray came on in relief in the seventh and gave up two of the softest runs imaginable to spoil the shutout. Robinson Chirinos led off with an easy groundball to second base, except to no one was there due to the infield shift. So instead of one out, Gray had a man on first. Chirinos moved to third on a Gallo double, and scored on a Kiner-Falefa groundout. The second run scored on what was apparently another groundout, except the umpire ruled the runner safe at first and the play was upheld on replay review.
Despite the frustrating turn of events, Gray kept his cool, escaping the frame with two more grounders that actually turned into outs. Gray also began the eighth, but after allowing the first two batters to reach, he was replaced by Jonathan Holder. Holder got the final six outs of the game to wrap of the series win for New York.
With the victory, the Yankees improve their record to 74-43. Tomorrow night, the Bombers host the Mets in the rainout makeup game. Luis Severino (15-5, 3.11 ERA) faces off against Jacob deGrom (6-7, 1.77 ERA). Join us for the battle between Cy Young Award hopefuls. First pitch is set for 7:05 PM EDT.