A great bullpen effort followed a great start by CC Sabathia and shut out the Washington Nationals in the series starter while Didi Gregorius popped two homers to provide most of the offense for the Yankees. By the time the dust was settled and Bryce Harper was on the training table, the Yankees took the first game of their home stand, 3-0.
CC Sabathia faced what has been a struggling offense for the Washington Nationals. Heading into the series, the Nats were ninth in the National League in OPS. Sabathia easily retired the first two batters, keeping them both off balance. He then worked around Bryce Harper by walking him and then got away with a hanger to Anthony Rendon who hit the ball to the track in left.
Tanner Roark started for the Nationals and his stats say that he is very tough on right-handed batters. Brett Gardner is not right-handed, but he struck out on a 3-2 pitch (looking). Gardner was not happy with the call. Judge then hit a line drive 111 MPH to the opposite field and Wilmer Difo (who!?) snagged it on a diving catch. Greg Bird struck out swinging. There is NO way Greg Bird should be batting third on this team right now.
Daniel Murphy, who has be SO good for the Nationals the past couple of years, came to the plate for the first time in 2018. He looked appropriately rusty and struck out on three pitches. Sabathia then struck out Yankee-tormentor, Mark Reynolds, on four pitches. CC then undid the quick inning he was having by walking Michael Taylor. Catcher, Pedro Severino, with his .197 batting average, then singled to left. Wilmer Difo flew out weakly to center even though a loud cussword rent the air from Sabathia who did not like the pitch.
Giancarlo started the bottom of the second with a strikeout. For the third straight game, umpires are calling strikes on him inches inside the strike zone. What gives there? Didi Gregorius then hit a sloppy Roark curve for a homer into the bullpen in right. Roark then walked Aaron Hicks. Neil Walker, playing for Andujar today, then hit a screamer off of Difo's arm that went into right field for a hit. Harper made a terrible throw to third and Walker went to second.
With runners on second and third, Austin Romine flew out to left to get Hicks in to score. It was Romine's 20th RBI. Pretty impressive for a guy who only plays once a week. Gleyber Torres, who is slumping these days, pulled a 3-1 pitch to third to end the inning. But the Yankees had taken a 2-0 lead.
The Yankees and Nats traded scoreless half innings in the third. Sabathia gave up a single and another walk to Harper, but got out of it and the Yankees went 1-2-3 which included another strikeout for Greg Bird. See previous mention...
It was the Nationals' turn to go down 1-2-3 as Sabathia got Mark Reynolds to fly out to center and then recorded his 1,500th strikeout for the Yankees. The big man made a nice play on a dribbler in front of the mound to finish off the inning.
Giancarlo Stanton struck out (at home...again). Didi popped out to the infield. Aaron Hicks was jammed on a 3-2 pitch and flared it to right, but the stacked infield just gave up on it and it fell free for a single. Neil Walker then hit a ball into the gap that Michael Taylor turned into a highlight reel. Walker has gotten robbed so many times this year. HE should be playing first every day.
Didi made a nice over-the-shoulder catch on Difo to start off the fifth. Adam Easton also popped out to Didi. Trea Turner singled. Sabathia then drilled Harper right in the right elbow. Harper does not wear an elbow guard and that really hurt. Anthony Rendon drilled a one-strike fastball to short and Didi caught it on a line as the shortstop made all three putouts in the inning.
The bottom of the fifth started with promise as Austin Romine laced a single to center and Gleyber Torres dunked one safely to right center. Brett Gardner hit the ball hard, but Michael Taylor proved that he is difficult to get a ball by. Romine tagged and went to third. Aaron Judge walked to load the bases. It seemed a perfect time for Greg Bird to come through and shut up his critics (waving hands). Bird got a good pitch to hit, but popped it out to short left and the runner could not advance. Stanton then grounded out to short and promise remained a butter substitute.
Sabathia was getting close to his pitch limit in the bottom of the sixth and everyone was hoping he would make it clear and really, he should have. He easily retired the first two batters, but Michael Taylor hit a swinging bunt to No Man's Land for a luck single and Aaron Boone popped out of the dugout to call for Chad Green.
Green went 0-2 on Severino and threw a pitch very high. Taylor attempted to steal and Romine threw a one-hopper that Gleyber Torres slapped down for the tag. Taylor was called safe. The Yankees challenged and the call was reversed in the Yankees' favor. In fifty years (plus) of watching baseball, no one has ever seemed to tag a runner quicker than Gleyber Torres.
The Yankee announcers were talking about how good Tanner Roark was pitching and while doing so, Didi Gregorius rocketed his second homer of the game. The Yankees went out in order after the homer but only because Trea Turner made a special play to rob the Yankees' best hitter of another single. Who? Oh. Austin Romine. Heh.
Wilmer Difo started the top of the seventh off Green with an excuse me single off the label. But Green retired the next three batters which was important because it meant that Bryce Harper would come up in the next inning as the lead-off batter with nobody to drive in but himself.
The Nats brought in lefty, Matt Grace, to pitch the bottom of the seventh. Brett Gardner hit a single up the middle. Aaron Judge singled off Difo's glove for a single to make it first and third. But rally killer, Greg Bird, grounded into a double play and that was that. Pah-thetic.
Dellin Betances threw two great pitches to Harper to go 0-2. Betances then threw a nasty slider that hit Harper in the back foot. After Harper became Bryce Hopper for a bit, he retired himself for the game. But there was a man on first. Rendon flew out to center for the first out. Daniel Murphy made a great battle of his at bat but he eventually struck out for the second out. Matt Adams pinch hit and Betances hey-heyyed him on three pitches to end the inning. This really has been the fun Betances.
That Nats brought in Wander Suero to pitch the bottom of the eighth. Stanton wandered away suero-ing after getting sawed off for a broken bat roller to short. Didi fouled out and Hicks grounded out and it was Aroldis Chapman Time.
Michael Taylor thought he walked on a 3-1 pitch and ran almost all the way to first before finding out the ump called it a strike. Chapman then blew him away at 100 MPH. Chapman then blew away Severino at 102 MPH. A little loop to right to Judge ended the game and it was another win for the Yankees.