Two Yankee rookies came up big in a game the Yankees needed to win to avoid losing ground in the AL East against an inferior team. Luis Severino rebounded from an ugly start his last time out to hold the Rays to a single run in 5.2 innings of work, giving up six hits and striking out seven batters. Greg Bird continues to impress as Mark Teixeira's replacement, coming up with two of the game's biggest hits.
New York got on the board first when Bird doubled home Carlos Beltran all the way from first base. Chase Headley added to the narrow lead by blooping a single over the shortstop that brought home Brian McCann for a 2-0 lead. Severino made that narrow lead stand up, holding the Rays scoreless until the sixth inning when Jacoby Ellsbury lost track of a ball in the Tropicana Field ceiling that fell in for the most ridiculous of doubles for Steven Souza Jr. that scored James Loney. The Yankee bullpen was forced to get a few more outs than most people would probably like to see after Severino's relatively short outing, but they did their job and kept the Rays off the board despite some tense moments from a suddenly shaky Dellin Betances.
Justin Wilson was called on to finish out the sixth inning and get two outs in the seventh before Joe Girardi decided to go with his more reliable relievers to ensure that his team got out of there with a win. Betances proceeded to immediately walk the next three batters and only got a strikeout to end the inning on a ball that was in the dirt. An ill-advised bunt attempt that turned into a double play in the eighth off the bat of Nick Franklin helped Betances' next inning of work go a bit smoother. Andrew Miller came on in the ninth, did his thing like always, and picked up his 34th save of the year.
As weird as it is to say, no one was probably happier to see Chris Archer on the mound tonight than Jacoby Ellsbury. The Yankees' leadoff hitter has been in a terrible slump, but has hit Archer well in the past. The same held true tonight. Ellsbury managed to pick up two hits in the game, hopefully getting him started on a better path than what we've seen out of him as of late. Bird was the only other hitter with a multi-hit game. His ninth inning home run, Bird's seventh of the year, provided more breathing room for Miller late in the game. Didi Gregorius and Headley were the only other batters to reach base via a hit. McCann, Beltran, Bird, and Gregorius all managed to work a walk in the game.
Though the Yankees failed to capitalize on the Braves beating the Blue Jays last night, they were able to grab an important victory tonight in order not to lose any ground in the race for the AL East. Toronto, unlike last night but more like you would expect, beat up on Atlanta this evening. The deficit remains three games for now. Do you believe?
New York has their final off day of the 2015 regular season before picking up on Friday in a weekend series against the NL East-leading Mets at Citi Field. Feel the excitement.