Give the Yankees credit. Even though they don't lose a lot these days, they still manage to make each less extra frustrating. If that's their way of making up for playing so well for the last month, I guess I appreciate the effort in keeping my emotions balanced. They jumped out to an early lead against Tampa ace Chris Archer last night, only to sputter offensively and cough up the lead in the late innings.
That early lead was very early, as in "scoring multiple runs in the 1st inning again" type of early. Single-Single-Walk from the red hot top of the order loaded the bases to start the game and Brian McCann singled in Jacoby Ellsbury to get New York on the board. Carlos Beltran followed up with a a ribbie single of his own to make it 2-0, but the inning stalled when Chase Headley, Stephen Drew, and Garrett Jones failed to bring in even 1 more run with their 3 outs. Looking back on it today, this was probably the most important part of the game.
Yankee starter Nathan Eovaldi made those 2 runs look like 200 for most of the night. He only allowed 1 baserunner through the first 4 innings, and he eliminated that one himself with a 1st inning pickoff. He gave up 2 hits in the 5th but held the Rays scoreless by recording 2 big outs, and went 1-2-3 again in the 6th. Eovaldi was mostly fastball-slider again, with the fastball sitting 95-97 early. That's good enough to get by when you're hitting spots and that's what he was doing.
He finally stepped in it in the 7th. Evan Longoria led off the inning with a bloop single to left, and with 1 out Eovaldi walked his first batter of the game to put 2 men on. A wild pitch to David DeJesus in the next at-bat advanced both runners into scoring position, and with the infield pulled in DeJesus singled up the middle to bring them home and tie the game. Lotta bad luck and bad timing involved there. Tough break, but it's not like Eovaldi started getting knocked around.
This is why it made sense to bring him back out for the 8th at 91 pitches. The Yankee 'pen has been worked hard and Joe probably didn't want to use Betances and Miller for 7-8 outs last night if he didn't have to. I get the decision, but it backfired when Eovaldi walked another and gave up a hit to the final batter he faced to put 2 on with 1 out again, This time Betances couldn't put out the fire. Longoria hit a sac fly to bring in the go-ahead run against him, and after an intentional walk to James Loney Betances threw 2 wild pitches in the same at-bat to give Tampa an insurance run.
Turns out they didn't even need it. The Yankee offense went completely to sleep after the top of the 1st. They ran themselves out of 2 base hits in the 2nd, then managed only 1 more baserunner against Archer all night. They had a chance to put him a big hole and work him harder in the 1st inning and they didn't do it. Once he settled down and settled in, it was over.
- Tough luck line for Eovaldi: 7.1 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 6 K. He probably should have only given up 1 run in this game, if that. He had 30 combined called or whiffed upon strikes, which suggests his command was much better, and Joe showed some confidence in him letting him come out for the 8th. He's making progress.
- On the flip side of his bad luck line, Betances' ERA on the year is still 0.00. Yay for that.
- If you want to criticize Joe for a pitching decision, criticize him for not pulling Eovaldi after the second walk. I understand wanting to get more length out of him if you can, but he already gave you 1 out and if he puts more runners on then you lose your margin for error with Betances. That's what happened, Betances came in with a runner on third base, and the run scored on an out. Go to Betances with just the man on first and 1 out and maybe you get out of that inning clean.
- Ellsbury and Brett Gardner each had 2 hits at the top of the order. Gardner also drew another walk to get on base a third time, but they each got gunned down trying to steal in the 2nd. Hard to argue with the aggressiveness since it's served them well, but after the long 1st maybe be a little more patient and let A-Rod and McCann swing against Archer?
- Tough nights for Stephen Drew (0-4, 2 K) and Didi Gregorius (0-3, 2 K) at the bottom of the order. With the news that Drew will now be the backup at third, I think we might start to see some more Jose Pirela in the lineup soon.