After a short break that saw Derek Jeter honored at the MLB All Star Game, baseball's second half began on Friday night with David Phelps and the Yankees taking on young righty Mike Leake and the Cincinnati Reds in the Bronx. Phelps pitched into the seventh inning, and other than a couple mistakes to Brayan Pena (filling in at first for the injured Joey Votto), Phelps pitched quite well, striking out seven and only walking one. Jacoby Ellsbury hit a two run shot in the bottom of the fifth that proved to be the difference maker, breaking a 2-2 tie and giving Phelps and the bullpen just enough support to squeak out the win.
The Yankees wasted no time getting on the board, tacking on a run in the bottom of the first. Brett Gardner took a pitch off his back foot to get on base, Mark Teixeira worked a walk, and Brian McCann, trying to keep up the momentum he built at the plate before the All Star break, ripped a two-out double to center to plate Gardner.
The Reds tied the game in the top of the third, as Pena led off the inning with a solo shot to the short porch in right. The Yankees immediately responded: Phelps escaped the third without any more damage, and Jeter and Ellsbury opened up the bottom half of the inning with a pair of singles. After Teixeira then struck out and McCann just missed a three-run homer to left, Carlos Beltran came to the plate and singled to center, scoring Jeter and giving the Yankees back the lead.
In the fourth, the ugly state of the Yankee infield became painfully obvious. Brian Roberts bobbled a grounder just to the right of second base that surely would've been an easy double play, giving the Reds two on with no one out. After a Jay Bruce groundout advanced the runners, the Reds tied the game when Jeter couldn't handle a Devin Mesoraco grounder. While Phelps pitched well enough to keep the Reds from going ahead, it was a pretty sad showing by the middle infielders, all in all.
In the bottom of the fifth, Ellsbury broke the tie with a two run homer to right, scoring Jeter and making it 4-2 Yankees. The Reds closed the gap in the seventh as Pena hit another solo shot to right (to almost the identical part of the park his first homer landed), but that was as close as they would get. After a single by Chris Heisey, Phelps struck out the number nine hitter before being pulled from the game in favor of Dellin Betances. Betances did his thing, striking out three in just under two innings of work, and Robertson came in and slammed the door shut in the ninth.
Tomorrow, former Diamondback Brandon McCarthy will take on All Star Alfredo Simon. Game time is 1:10 EST.