The Yankees went into tonight's game really needing a victory with tough matchups against David Price and Anibal Sanchez coming up while the underwhelming Kyle Lobstein pitched for Detroit. If there was a game to win in this series, this was the one. They didn't really do that much against the lefty Lobstein, but fortunately, the Tigers bullpen that didn't really live up to its horrid reputation on Monday night emerged in full force to put the game mostly out of reach.
To get in the position to beat the bullpen though, the Yankees needed a big start from newcomer Nathan Eovaldi after a couple up-and-down appearances of under six innings each. The 25-year-old righthander toed the line of danger again, but this time, he was much more efficient. The defense was superb, turning four double plays behind him to make up for his comparatively low strikeout total of four. In seven innings, Detroit put nine baserunners on against Eovaldi, all but one of which were hits. Eovaldi refused to give in, and only one run scored in those seven innings of work. It was his best start of the season, and certainly a positive to build off heading into his next outing Sunday night against the Mets.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Yankees quickly got on the board in the top of the first. Brett Gardner walked with one down, and after Alex Rodriguez flew out to center, Mark Teixeira surprised fans with an opposite-field RBI double. Throughout spring training, Tex seemed to be going the other way a little bit more often than he has the past couple years, and if he could just do it a little bit more often rather than rolling over on infield grounders, it could be a considerable boost for the lineup. After the double however, the bats went quiet, occasionally putting a runner on base but never bringing another run home with Lobstein on the mound.
They were successful in wearing Lobstein down, so after 96 pitches over six innings, he departed in favor of another southpaw, Ian Krol. He did not have nearly the success Lobstein did, as within three batters, he allowed twice as many runs as the starter. Both Chris Young and Stephen Drew took him deep:
In a world where the #Yankees offense is powered by Chris Young and Stephen Drew dingers... pic.twitter.com/yaB7IxAyGd— Pinstripe Alley GIFs (@PSA_GIFs) April 22, 2015
Drew and Young now have four homers apiece, knotting them with Tex and A-Rod for the team lead. Obviously. The inning didn't end there for the Tigers, even with Krol gone. Tom Gorzelanny and fictional reliever Al Alburquerque got wild, walking a combined three batters in additional to an Albuquerque wild pitch that scored the Yankees' fourth run. The Tigers chipped one run away in the bottom of the seventh, their only score off Eovaldi, but Brian McCann's smash through the left side with Gardner on the second in the ninth went by Nick Castellanos to make the score 5-1.
Down to their last out with both Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez striking out with Chris Martin on the mound, the always-dangerous Tigers made it uncomfortably interesting. J.D. Martinez and Yoenis Cespedes smoked back-to-back hits, forcing "game-enderer" Andrew Miller into the game for the save. He had Castellanos 0-2 and seemed to have him struck out on a checked swing, but the third baseman eventually walked. Pinch-hitter Rajai Davis walked as well to put the tying run on first base and the potential winning run at the plate. Thankfully, that batter was the unintimidating Jose Iglesias, who struck out to end it. Phew.
The Yankees will roll the dice with Adam Warren against Price tomorrow night, so I really don't see anyway they don't move up in this series 2-1, right? Right? I can dream. First pitch is 7:08pm.