The Yankees came into the weekend fresh off of winning a four game series against the Baltimore Orioles and would face a once local foe in the Giants for three games. Although the Giants still owned first place in the NL West, they had been struggling since the All-Star break. The Yankees had been playing better baseball against better competition the past couple of weeks, winning six of nine against the Indians, Red Sox, and Orioles.
A top flight pitching matchup
The opening game of the series would pit Masahiro Tanaka against Madison Bumgarner in a duel of staff aces. Neither pitcher had their best stuff, but both managed to wiggle out of enough trouble to pitch quality starts. Tanaka would give the Yankees six innings of shutout baseball, scattering four hits and two walks in the process. The defense bailed him out in the second inning when Carlos Beltran threw out a runner at the plate. Tanaka then bailed himself out in the fourth with a strikeout of Gregor Blanco that came with the bases loaded. Tanaka would let out a rare bit of emotion with a fist pump and yell afterwards.
Neither offense could take advantage early on and for the game both teams had many lost opportunities. The Giants were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position with 10 left on base while the Yankees were 1-for-10 with 9 LOB. Seizing the moment was lost on both clubs on Friday night. Starlin Castro led the way for the Yankees with three hits and Beltran reached base four times with both players collecting an RBI apiece. Chase Headley scored the winning run in the eighth on a throwing error by Brandon Crawford.
The Yankee bullpen would finish off the game, but not before Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller would both allow runs in their respective innings. Aroldis Chapman would finish the ninth after allowing a leadoff double. The Yankees moved back to two games over .500 with the 3-2 victory and would look to continue their recent success on Saturday with Ivan Nova on the hill.
One that got away
Nova would continue a recent run of solid performances for him over the past couple of weeks. After the first few innings, he would get his feet under him and pitch 7.0 solid innings of one run baseball. Nova would strike out 7 and give up six hits and two walks. Nova would also benefit from a runner being thrown out at the plate in the second inning. Clutch outfield defense for the second consecutive day.
The Yankees offense would once again not be able to produce with runners on base. Their lone run came after Mac Williamson would bobble a single off the bat of Mark Teixeira in the fourth inning that would allow Didi Gregorius to race around from first base and score. The numbers were pretty ugly. 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position with 11 left on base. They made Johnny Cueto throw 117 pitches just to get through six innings, but should have put up more runs than that.
To make matters worse, the Yankees blew a ripe opportunity to win the game in the tenth inning. Aaron Hicks and Brett Gardner would walk to leadoff the inning. A bit of curious strategy led to a sacrifice bunt by Jacoby Ellsbury. The strategy would backfire because after an intentional walk to the Bombers hottest hitter in Beltran, Brian McCann would pop up on the first pitch of his at bat and Castro would fly out to end the inning.
Miller, Betances, and Chapman would see things through to extra innings before Anthony Swarzak would be tagged with the loss giving up a run in the top of the 12th inning. Opportunities against a quality club can’t be wasted. The Yankees wasted many of them on Saturday, both early and late. They will try for the series win on Sunday afternoon.
And another series win
Nathan Eovaldi continued his recent resurgence with 6.2 solid innings and the offense did enough to propel the Yankees to a series win over the San Francisco Giants. In a run of 14 games against four of the better teams out there right now, the Yankees managed to come up with a 9-5 record. While this run still has them 7.5 games back in the division and 4.5 back of the second wild card, many assumed this stretch of games would be the wrecking ball to their season. Instead, it has seen their most consistent play of the past couple of months. And right at the trade deadline.
Eovaldi helped save a mostly unavailable back end of the bullpen with his performance allowing 7 hits and 2 runs. The 2 runs were inherited runs the bullpen allowed. If these last two starts were showcases for a trade back to the National League, Eovadli may have just increased his asking price. After Chad Green gave up the two run single to Buster Posey, he finished the game for the save with 2.1 innings of work.
The Yankees got early runs courtesy of solo home runs from Beltran and Teixeira to take a 2-0 lead. Then in the sixth, they put together a three run inning with Castro and Gregorius getting the big hits. The 5-0 lead was certainly not too safe considering the bullpen pieces that were unavailable, but they made it work to garner the 5-2 victory.
The Yankees will now hit the road against another hot team of late, the Houston Astros. It will be an interesting week as the trade deadline is only seven days away. The roster and possibly entire organization will be reshaped to some degree. How much is anyone’s guess.