The Yankees versus the Orioles should be a mismatch. New York is on track to pile up over 100 wins, while Baltimore is putting together one of the worst seasons in recent memory. Yet the Orioles have played the Yankees close this year, and the Yankees needed extra innings to dispatch the underdogs last night. Not so today, as the Yankees opened up a twin bill with a straightforward, comprehensive victory.
The Yankees got the doubleheader off to a quick start. Giancarlo Stanton worked a walk in the first, and moved to third after Aaron Hicks banged a double off the wall. Stanton scored on a groundout by Miguel Andujar to put the Yankees up 1-0.
Happ was perfect in the first but ran into trouble in the second. Chris Davis walked with one out, and Tim Beckham grounded a double down the left field line past Andujar. Andujar’s struggles on defense have been well-publicized, and this was a more subtle example of Andujar’s defensive weakness. Beckham’s grounder wasn’t hit hard, and a defender with better range and quicker reactions could have turned it into an out, or even two.
That put two on for Renato Nunez, who drove home both runs with a liner into center. John Andreoli followed with a bloop single to right to put two on again, but Happ was able to escape with minimal damage. The inning exemplified the vagaries of pitching, as Happ wasn’t sharp, but mostly was hurt by weak contact and iffy defense. In the box score, the weight of those runs all falls on him.
The Yankees picked Happ right back up, though. Shane Robinson led off the third with a single, and Brett Gardner walked to put two on. Stanton lined out, but Hicks grounded a single into right to tie the game. Andujar then slammed a line drive out over the center field wall to give himself four RBI on the day and the Yankees a 5-2 lead.
The whole sequence was representative of Andujar’s season. The rookie has plenty to work on, but his strengths easily outweigh his shortcomings. He probably should’ve done better on defense in the second, but more than made up for it in the third.
They finally knocked out Yacabonis in the fourth. The 26-year-old right-hander had a rough day, and Buck Showalter removed him in favor of Ryan Meisinger after Robinson doubled with one out. Gardner greeted Meisinger with a high home run to right to make it 7-2. The hits kept on coming in the fifth, as Andujar, Gleyber Torres, and Luke Voit strung together singles to bring home a run. Meisinger induced an inning-ending double play from Kyle Higashioka to keep the score at 8-2.
Meanwhile, Happ was cruising through the Baltimore lineup. He had very little trouble outside of the second frame, and ultimately turned in strong solid innings, striking out nine compared to just one walk. Happ has been exactly what the doctor ordered in stabilizing the Yankees’ rotation, and that continued this afternoon.
The Yankees could have had more, but Baltimore center fielder Cedric Mullins made a sparkling play to take back what would have been Stanton’s 300th career home run. Instead, they’d have to wait for Gleyber Torres’ solo shot in the eighth to add on. The rookie had a pair of hits, as he’s hopefully breaking out of what’s been a colder stretch for him. In the ninth, Hicks added a solo homer of his own, his third hit of the day.
After Happ departed, Luis Cessa came on to see things out. Cessa, the 26th man on the roster for the doubleheader, actually earned the save for his efforts. He was a bit shaky, yielding a couple singles in the ninth to allow Baltimore to scratch across a run, but he brought the game to its conclusion with a score of 10-3.
On the whole, the Yankees couldn’t have asked for a much better start to the twin bill. Happ turned in yet another good outing, the bullpen wasn’t taxed, and the offense smashed four home runs off of an inferior pitching staff. They’ll have a chance to make it three wins in a row later tonight with Sonny Gray (*gulp*) on the mound.