The Yankees' first series of 2016 is in the books, and the Bombers have lived up to their name by powering themselves to victory the last two games. Three home runs helped lift the Yankees over the Astros in the afternoon finale, and helped pick up Nathan Eovaldi after a rocky start to his season.
Unlike Wednesday night, the Astros struck first with two home runs in the second inning. Eovaldi wasn't wild by any means, but his hanging breaking balls caught too much of the plate too often and the Astros hitters did not miss them. There was a lot of loud contact, and some of those balls made their way over the wall.
Yankee hitters were up to the task of digging themselves out of the early hole. Chase Headley got New York on the board in the second inning with a sacrifice fly that was deep enough to score Mark Teixeira from third. A Jacoby Ellsbury double in the third that scored Didi Gregorius all the way from first base pulled the Yankees to within one run before the Astros tacked on in the fourth.
From there, however, it was all Yankees. Brian McCann missed a double in an earlier at bat by just a few feet, but his second attempt sailed cleanly over the wall for his first homer of the season. Starlin Castro continued his strong first impression with yet another home run that pulled the Yankees to within a run. New York tied the game on an Alex Rodriguez single, then broke the tie when Mark Teixeira hit a rare opposite field three-run home run for an 8-5 lead.
Carlos Beltran and Chase Headley were the only Yankee starters not to come up with a hit in the game. Of those who did have hits, only Brett Gardner and Didi Gregorius had less than two. It was a great offensive day for a team that needed to score runs to overcome less than stellar pitching from its starter.
The great run of Castro certain continued with two more hits on the day. One of them probably should have been a double, but Castro was thrown out stretching at second base. The other left no doubt and left the park. Small sample size rules are obviously applicable here, but it is a real joy to see the team have even competency from its second baseman. Everything Castro has done so far is above and beyond what the Yankees have gotten out of second base since the departure of Robinson Cano.
Four relievers came on to finish the game for Eovaldi, and they managed to pitch four scoreless innings to do so. Kirby Yates, Chasen Shreve, Dellin Betances, and Andrew Miller worked the formula to perfection, showing how valuable it is to have relievers who can be relied upon when a starter doesn't go deep into the game. Three hits, no runs, no walks, and seven strikeouts in four innings out of your bullpen is great any day of the week.
Miller continued to prove his worth to the team by closing out the game with a chipped bone in his non-throwing hand. Even though it isn't the hand he pitches with, it can't be a comfortable experience. Miller could easily choose to go on the disabled list and let his hand heal, but he is out there helping his team. That's pretty awesome to see.
The Yankees travel to Detroit tonight for the Tigers home opener at 1:00 pm tomorrow. The weather is expected to be absolutely frigid, but maybe they are used to it after a chilly opening series in the Bronx. Luis Severino makes his first start of the season in the series opener tomorrow afternoon.