The Yankees rode a 6-game winning streak into the series finale tonight against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Michael Pineda started for the Yankees, hoping to continue the success he had in his previous outing. Pineda was dominant in the home opener, carrying a perfect game into the seventh inning and earning the win. Tonight, he got into trouble immediately.
After striking out the first batter of the game on three pitches and inducing a line out to center, he issued his first walk of the season. A sacrifice attempt resulted in the Cardinals having runners on 1st and 2nd when no one covered first base. Pineda got out of the jam by striking out Matt Adams to end the inning.
The Cardinals took a 1-0 lead in the 2nd. With one out, Jedd Gyorko singled. He advanced to 2nd on a fielder's choice groundball to Pineda and scored on a Greg Garcia single to left field. Garcia advanced to 2nd on a Dexter Fowler single to right. Pineda avoided further damage when Aledmys Diaz flied out to Aaron Hicks in center to end the inning.
The Yankees came right back with three runs in the bottom of the 2nd. After Chase Headley led off with a single, Aaron Judge hit a long fly ball to right-center field. A fan in the bleachers appeared to catch it, but the ball fell out of his glove and landed on the field. The umpire initially called it a ground-rule double, but the replay official ruled fan interference. Judge was awarded a triple, allowing Headley to score the first Yankee run of the game. Greg Bird promptly hit a towering 429-foot home run to right-center, giving the Yankees a 3-1 lead.
The Yankees extended their lead to 4-1 in the fifth on an Aaron Hicks homer to right, but missed a chance to further pad their lead in the 6th. Following a Greg Bird lead-off walk, Austin Romine hit a double play ball to third. Cardinal second baseman Greg Garcia dropped the ball on the transfer, but Bird was still called out. Instead of 1st and 2nd with no outs, the Yankees had a runner on 1st and 1 out. The Cardinals got out of the inning when Dexter Fowler made a spectacular running catch to rob Ronald Torreyes of a RBI double and Brett Gardner grounded out to the pitcher to end the threat.
The Yankees did not miss a scoring opportunity in the 8th. After Headley and Judge walked, Greg Bird singled to right to load the bases. Romine doubled to deep right-center, driving in Headley and Judge, and moving Bird to third. Torreyes then doubled to deep left, scoring Bird and Romine. A Gardner groundout to first moved Torreyes to third, and he scored on a Hicks sacrifice fly to center to complete the Yanks' scoring. The Yankees scored 5 runs in the frame to take a 9-2 lead into the 9th.
Pineda settled down after his rocky start to get the win and lift his record to 2-1. He pitched 7 innings, giving up two runs (both earned) on six hits, while walking one and striking out six.
The Cardinals crept closer in the seventh when Yadier Molina led off the inning with a home run to left off Pineda. They added a run in the ninth off Yankee reliever Bryan Mitchell who was called on to mop up. Betances pitched a scoreless eighth to earn his third hold of the year.
Greg Bird had a big day, going 3-3 with a walk. He singled, doubled, and homered, scoring two and driving in two.
The Hicks homer in the fifth proved to be the game winner as the Yankees beat the Cardinals 9-3, sweeping the three-game series.
The Yankees now sit 1/2 game behind Baltimore in the AL East. They carry their seven-game winning streak into a three-game series with the Chicago White Sox which begins tomorrow at Yankee Stadium. Jordan Montgomery (0-0, 3.86) is set to oppose Derek Holland (1-1, 1.50) in the opener. First pitch will be at 7:05 EDT.