A good end to the final road trip of year out of the Eastern timezone. The Yankees beat the White Sox in the rubber game of the series behind an offensive explosion and a strong performance from Ivan Nova.
The Yankee offense gave Jeff Samardzija a hard time this afternoon, and they didn't wait around to get it started. Jacoby Ellsbury sent Samardzija's second pitch out to center field for a 1-0 Yankee lead. It stayed a one run game until the fourth inning, when Brian McCann got things going with a one-out wind-aided bloop single. Things spiraled on from there; Carlos Beltran walked. Chase Headley singled to right to load the bases. Didi Gregorius stayed hot with a two run single the other way to put the Yankees up three. Stephen Drew then re-loaded the bases with a single to right field. Ellsbury added his second RBI of the night with a sacrifice fly to the warning track in center field, didn't miss a grand slam by much. Gardner tacked on a two-run, two-out single to put a five-spot up in the inning, and give the Yankees a six run lead.
Mark Teixeira continued his torrid post-All Star break form with a monster shot into right field leading off the fifth inning. After two lined bullets found gloves, Samardzija hit Headley and walked Gregorius which ended his afternoon on the mound. Scott Carroll came in to face Drew who laced a two-run double to put the Yankees up 9-0. The Yankees scored three more runs in the top of the seventh. First Headley reached on a leadoff double, advancing to third when Gregorius reached on an E4. Drew tripled in both baserunners, before scoring himself on an Ellsbury groundout. This left Drew with a shot at a rare 'natural' cycle, but he struck out in the ninth.
Meanwhile, Nova kept a hot White Sox lineup in check all night. The closest threat when the game was still in close contest came when it was still a one run game in the bottom of the third. Adam Eaton reached on a 2-out single, then stole second and advanced to third on a bad McCann throw. With the dangerous Jose Abreu on-deck, Nova started Tyler Saladino off with three balls, but then battled back to strike him out in a nine pitch at-bat. Chicago didn't get much else going until the bottom of the sixth. Eaton again, walking then advancing to second on a groundout. Melky Cabrera singled him in to break the shutout. Joe Girardi pulled Nova after just 90 pitches and six innings, continuing to ease him back in his return from Tommy John surgery, but Nova looked dominant out on the mound today.
Chasen Shreve, short on work recently, came in to pitch the seventh, and had the old high-leverage reliever letdown performance in a low-leverage situation. First Alexei Ramirez, then Geovany Soto hit long home runs into left field. Adam Eaton lined a ground-rule double down the first base line, which could have easily been a triple if a fan hadn't interfered. This brought Branden Pinder out to get four outs before turning the game over to closer Andrew Miller, also in-need of work, and the Game Enderer quickly dispatched the side for yet another Yankee series victory.
This win coupled with Baltimore losing pushes the division lead back up to six-games, as the Blue Jays won to also remain six back. The Yankees are off on Monday, before starting a three game home set against the Boston Red Sox that will feature two top-50 prospects making major league debuts; Henry Owens for Boston on Tuesday, and the much anticipated first big league start of Luis Severino on Wednesday.