The New York Yankees win a game at home against the Houston Astros! Turns out the solution to a hitting and bullpen slump is Brandon McCarthy pitching a complete game shutout. McCarthy has sparkled since being traded to the Yankees, and turned in an absolute gem today, striking out eight batters and holding Houston to four hits. Masterful.
He was perfect through the first three innings before a scare in the fourth when McCarthy briefly lost the baseball on a Marc Krauss grounder up-the-middle with Robbie Grossman bearing home from third base. He found it in time, though, and threw a strike to Mark Teixeira just in time to get Krauss out and strand a pair of runners. McCarthy then went back to shutting down the Astros until the top-of-the-seventh when a Chris Carter single and a Krauss ground-rule-double set the Astros up with a pair of runners in scoring position and one out. A strikeout of Jonathan Singleton and a pop-up from Carlos Corporan ended the threat.
The recent struggles of the Bronx Bombers offensively have been well-documented, but today the bats got going early. The Yankees scored three runs in the second inning against a good pitcher in Dallas Keuchel off three hits and some good aggressive base running by Martin Prado and Chase Headley. Mark Teixeira led things off with a shift-beating base-hit, Prado came through with a hustle-double and Headley doubled in the corner to score both runners. Headley then opportunistically took third base on a Francisco Cervelli groundout before coming home to score on an Ichiro Suzuki sacrifice fly.
The offense then resumed normal service, briefly stirring in the sixth inning when Derek Jeter and Jacoby Ellsbury led off the inning with back-to-back hits and looked like they might get something going before Teixeira struck out and a pair of grounders from Prado and Headley snuffed out the threat.
The story of the game was very much McCarthy though, who was in control of all his pitches today; fastball, sinker, curveball and the cutter the Diamondbacks banned him from throwing. He's rapidly gone from a helpful late-season rental to a player the Yankees should take a long look at re-signing.
This win puts the Yankees 4.5 games behind the Detroit Tigers, who are currently losing 1-0 to the Tampa Bay Rays. The Seattle Mariners, Cleveland Indians and Toronto Blue Jays are all still very much in the mix as well, so losing 2 of 3 to the Astros has not helped New York's playoff hopes. It is better than getting swept though, so there is that.