The last time he took the mound, Michael Pineda was coming off a week plus of rest and it showed. His command was bad, his slider had little movement, and he got hit around by the same Baltimore Orioles he owned the last time he faced them. Last night, starting on regular rest, Pineda looked much more like the dominant starter we saw for most of April and May. The Yankees needed that too, as they scratched together just enough runs to support Big Mike and get a win.
As they always seem to do at home, the lineup gave Pineda a very early lead. Chase Headley was hit by a pitch with 1 out in the bottom of the 1st and moved to second on a Brian McCann groundout to bring up Al from Miami. A-Rod singled back up the middle to bring home Headley and bring himself within 4 hits of 3,000. More to come from him.
Staked to that 1-run lead, Pineda came out firing against the Marlins lineup. He retired the first 11 batters he faced into the 4th inning, using mid-90s heat and a biting slider to generate a lot of swings and misses and infield contact. He didn't give up a hit through 6 and hadn't even allowed a ball to be hit into the outfield, which got everybody a little excited heading into the game's final third. Then Christian Yelich got ahold of a first-pitch fastball to lead off the top of the 7th and hit it for a shutout-and-no-hitter-ruining solo home run. Immediate bummer, but Pineda had a high pitch count and wasn't going to be allowed to go all 9 innings anyway, so no biggie.
Also no biggie because the homer wasn't enough to tie the game. Alex Rodriguez was at the center of a 5th-inning rally that brought in the Yankees' insurance run. He singled with 2 outs and Headley on 1st to put a run in scoring position and put some pressure on Miami starter Jose Urena. He didn't respond well to it, walking Garrett Jones on 4 pitches in the next at-bat to load the bases. It was Carlos Beltran's turn and he came through with a run-scoring single to center to make it 2-0 at the time. A-Rod got thrown out at home by about a quarter mile trying to score, which killed the chance for more 2-out runs, but with the way Big Mike was pitching I think it was worth the send.
Joe didn't play around with his bullpen after the Yelich home run. Chasen Shreve came on to get the final out of the 7th and Justin Wilson got the ball in the 8th. He worked into trouble by walking a batter and getting burned by an Ichiro infield single with 1 out, and he got hooked for Dellin Betances. It was shades of early career Mo as Betances wiggled out of the 8th without any damage and then flexed his muscle a bit with 2 strikeouts in a scoreless 9th, the first of which was Giancarlo Stanton. It was a master class in changing levels and a big out in what ended up being a 5-out save.
- Big night for A-Rod. 2 hits, 2 walks, a ribbie, and even a stolen base in the 7th to make up for getting thrown out to end the 5th. He's at 2,997 hits, and after a few days off to rest while he was in Miami, I think those next 3 are going to come very soon.
- Bigger night for Pineda. 6.1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 K. He threw 63 strikes out of 100 pitches and over half (35) were either taken or swing at and missed. That's really good. The Marlins couldn't pick the ball up out of his hand and they couldn't keep up with the stuff when they did. Excellent bounce back start for Big Mike.
- Not too shabby of an evening for Old Man Beltran either. He went 2-3 with a walk and didn't look like complete garbage in right field. I'll take that.
- Nice use of Shreve by Joe. He said after the game that Shreve is his new 7th inning guy for now, but that doesn't mean he can't use him as a LOOGY every now and then when it makes sense. He did, Shreve got the out, only threw 5 pitches, and stays 100% available for tonight.
- Apparently Mark Teixeira has been dealing with a bit of a stiff neck since the Baltimore series, so Joe gave him a full night off and he wasn't available for late-game pinch hitting. Sounds like he'll be back today though, so no worries.