The Yankees squared off against the Red Sox for the first time in 2014 on Thursday and it was a game of intrigue. Going into the game, the Yankees were short on bullpen arms with Shawn Kelley, Adam Warren, and Matt Thornton reportedly unavailable. With the rest of the bullpen’s effectiveness in question, Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi was hoping, perhaps somewhat optimistically, for a hefty start from starting pitcher Michael Pineda. Pineda, himself a question mark, was looking to further prove his ability after being sidelined for two whole seasons. The starting lineup was itself something of interest as rookie infielder Dean Anna started at second base for only his second start in the Major Leagues. The game that unfolded was one of either pure genius or pure madness and I don’t think even the man orchestrating the Yankee attack, Joe Girardi could have predicted it. Or did he?
Michael Pineda would take the mound and pitch an absolute gem. In 6+ innings, he struck out 7 Red Sox batters and allowed only one run. His fastball hit 96 miles per hour on the gun and he was absolutely dominate against the defending World Series Champions. He was subject to some speculation with a suspicious substance on his pitching hand. Nonetheless, Pineda was sparkling and gave Joe Girardi just what he wanted.
Now the bullpen was needed and a collective groan was given when the Yankees’ skipper removed the dealing pitcher. Girardi brought in lefty Cesar Cabral who struck out two batters to end the seventh inning. Cabral’s excellent outing was a surprise as he looked very hittable during his first outing against Baltimore. A pleasant surprise but still a surprise. Girardi sent for David Phelps to start the eighth inning and once again a loud “Ugh!” could be heard throughout New York. Phelps entered the game with a 9.82 ERA and had given up 3 home runs. But Phelps looked great and Yankees’ fans didn’t know what to make of it. He threw 2 innings and locked down the save, the first of his career. An unexpected burst of bullpen strength was the main piece in a Yankees’ victory.
The Yankees also received power from an unlikely source in the form of backup infielder, Dean Anna. In the 5th inning Anna slugged his first Major League home run into the seats in right field, giving the Yankees a 4-1 lead. Even with injuries to Mark Teixeira and Brendan Ryan, the Yankees were able to produce runs on Thursday and take a big win from the Red Sox.
After the second game of the Red Sox series, 150 games still remain in the baseball season. While all parts on the Yankees’ roster may not be clicking, the team will find a groove soon enough. What Thursday’s game represented is that this is a team that can count on support from so many different places. Joe Girardi used what pieces he had available and it payed off. It’s a long season. Players will get hurt and some tough games will be lost. No team will ever go through the season using only the same 25 men throughout. The way to win is to use what you have in the right way and that’s exactly what the Bombers’ manager did on Thursday. The team has a long season ahead and while this was a very nice win to pickup they’ve got to keep up the work and bite down on some losses every now and then. The season could come down to how well Joe Girardi can sew together a game.