Game 20 Recap: Yankees 4 Rays 1

Gardner BB vs TB While CC Sabathia's last start stirred up a lot of conversation and worry among the Yankee fanbase, Adam Warren's terrible start has barely registered as a blip on the radar.  He entered tonight with a tripleslash entirely in the 5s in 3 starts, he'd failed to complete 6 innings in any of them, and he'd walked more batters than he'd struck out.  The injuries to other starters gave him the benefit of more time, but with Chase Whitley pitching tomorrow it is worth wondering if Warren has already reached the point of pitching for his job.  If he has, then tonight was the start he needed to solidify it for a while longer.

It didn't start out pretty.  Warren had runners on second and third with 1 out in the top of the 1st, but struck out Evan Longoria and got James Loney to ground out to end the threat.  The Rays only got 2 hits off him over the next 4 innings, and to his credit Warren struck out the side in the 2nd.  He was throwing all his pitches, his fastball had some good life to it, and he was working efficiently, which isn't something we've seen from him in those first 3 starts.  He held Tampa scoreless through 5 and looked like he was poised to cruise through the 7th.

It took a while for the offense to give him any help against Tampa starter Nathan Karns.  They generated a measly 2 hits in their first 4 innings against him, but with 2 outs in the 5th they mounted a patient rally.  Stephen Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury sandwiched walks around a Didi single to load the bases, and Brett Gardner drove in the game's first run with an RBI walk of his own.  If you aren't going to hit for average and aren't going to hit the ball hard, you better have patience and power on your side.  The Yankees do.

And the power showed up a short while later, in the form of Brian McCann's second home run of the season.  He took a 1-out, 0-1 fastball for a ride to make it 2-0 in the 6th, after some sloppy pitching and defense led to the tying run in the top half against Warren, and Carlos Beltran and Stephen Drew tacked on with a pair of doubles to make it 3-1.  That gave the bullpen a little breathing room, and Ellsbury taking a HBP with the bases juiced in the 8th gave them a little more.

Justin Wilson was the first man out of the 'pen tonight, and he recorded 3 outs no problem.  David Carpenter got 1 in his short work to hand off to the dynamic duo again.  Dellin Betances struck out 2 in a perfect 8th, Andrew Miller picked up his 8th save of the young season with a scoreless 9th.  And just like that, the Yankees are in sole possession of the first place in the division.

Game Notes:

- Garder was on base 3 times tonight with the double, single, and walk, and Ellsbury was on twice again.  Top of the order doing its job, even if the middle of the lineup is still finding itself.

- Final line on Warren: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K.  The short distance is much easier to look past when its coming with that number of runs and walks allowed.  This was a step in the right direction for him.

- The home run for McCann was his first in 41 at-bats.  It'd be nice to see him get on a little hot streak here.

- Same with Drew, who matched McCann and Gardner with 2 hits.  Those 2 have been among the worst Yankee regulars in the lineup thus far.  They need to be better if this team is going to score enough runs when A-Rod and Teix cool down.

- 0-4 night with 3 Ks for Chris Young.  His average dipped below .300 for the first time since very early in the year.