The New York Yankees completed their brief 2-game series with the Chicago Cubs Wednesday afternoon at Wrigley Field. A day after witnessing staff ace Masahiro Tanaka losing his first regular season game in over 600 days, rookie Chase Whitley took the mound for the Bombers as they attempted to leave the Friendly Confines with a series split. Jeff Samardzija opposed Whitley, looking for his first victory of the 2014 campaign. For Samardzija, he is the first starter in the National League to lead his league in ERA this late into a season without having a victory to show for it since former Cubbie Bruce Sutter in 1977.
The Yankees went down in order to open the afternoon action, but they weren’t as lucky with the hosts. After retiring the first hitter, a single and a stolen base from Junior Lake put the Cubs in position to score early. A 1-out walk to Anthony Rizzo followed by a pop-out from Stalin Castro left the Cubs with 2 on and 2 out. A groundout by Luis Valbuena to Mark Teixeira left Whitley dodging an early bullet in the opening frame.
After exchanging goose eggs through the first three innings, the Cubs struck first in their half of the 4th inning. A pair of singles, followed by a hard hit ground ball that ate up first baseman Mark Teixeira left the bases loaded with only one out. Mike Olt hit a long sacrifice fly to Jacoby Ellsbury in centerfield, allowing Luis Valbuena to score from third. A ground out ended the inning with the Cubs taking the initial 1-0 lead.
For the second day in a row, Cubs’ first baseman Anthony Rizzo was involved in a controversial strikeout/HPB call at home plate. Last night, he was called out on a pitch he swung at and missed, even though replays clearly show he was hit by the pitch. Today, it happened again. The ball hit Rizzo on back-to-back pitches, and the third base umpire rung him up, calling him out on strikes and costing the Cubs a potential second run of the ball game. Chase Whitley wiggled out of any more trouble after yielding a lead-off triple to Emilio Bonifacio, getting the final hitter of the inning to fly out to Ellsbury in center, stranding Bonifacio at third.
Whitley only lasted 4 1/3 innings in his second big league start, allowing the one earned run on six hits, while striking out three and walking only one. He was relieved by Dellin Betances, who tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings to keep the Yankees in the game, but the bats continued to be deathly silent as Sarmardzija made short work of the Bombers on this getaway day series finale.
Adam Warren came on and allowed the second triple of the ball game to Ryan Kalish, who scored on a sacrifice bunt which resulted in a play at the plate, with Kalish being called safe, and giving the Cubs some breathing room at 2-0. Junior Lake followed that up with another base hit, moving Bonifacio to third with only one out. Anthony Rizzo followed that up with a bases loading walk. The Captain, Derek Jeter ensured there would be no further damage, turning one of his patented 6-3 double plays to end the inning.
In what was his final at-bat ever at Wrigley Field, Jeter received a standing ovation from the Cubs’ faithful prior to the start of his at-bat. Jeter hit a long fly ball to right field for the second out of the inning. Starlin Castro robbed Jacoby Ellsbury of a hard hit ball up the middle to end the Yankees’ threat in the 8th inning with Brett Gardner stranded at first base.
The Bombers posed a late threat in the 9th inning, with a base hit and a walk to open the top of the final frame against the Cubs’ closer, Hector Rondon. The “Yangy Clipper”, Yangervis Solarte loaded the bases with a soft looper to center field, bringing Ichiro Suzuki to the plate. Suzuki then bounced into what should have been a close double-play, but after the exchange for the first out, a poor throw to first base allowed Ichiro to reach safely, Teixeira to score the Yankees’ first run, and pinch-runner Brendan Ryan to come home with the tying run. Pinch-hitter Alfonso Soriano struck out, and Ichiro stole second. Kelly Johnson rolled a slow grounder to third base to end the Yankees’ ninth inning, but not before tying the game at 2, and costing Samardzija yet another opportunity to pick up his first win of the season. The Yankees retired the Cubs in the bottom of the ninth, so the teams headed to extras to determine the outcome.
Yankees’ reliever Matt Daley came on in the 9th, and tossed a scoreless frame, but ran into trouble in the bottom of the 10th. He allowed both Rizzo and Valbuena to reach, but retired Castro and Castillo before Joe Girardi gave Daley the hook. Matt Thornton came on, and retired Nate Schierholtz on a fly ball to Brett Gardner.
Neither team could do any damage until the Yankees’ half of the 13th inning. Preston Claiborne held the Cubs at bay after relieving Thornton. Former Yankees’ reliever Jose Veras found trouble, allowing a single to Ryan, and issuing a free pass to Solarte. Claiborne helped his own cause with a sac bunt that moved the runners up to 2nd and 3rd with one out. A wild pitch by Veras allowed the Yankees to take their first lead of the day, as Ryan scored with John Ryan Murphy at the plate. A single by Murphy made it a two-run Yankees’ lead. Yankees’ closer David Robertson came on in the bottom of the 13th to retire the Cubs for his 9th save of the season in 9 opportunities. Solarte, Ichiro, and Ellsbury all had two hits each.
The Yankees don’t have far to travel for the start of their few games, returning to American League play as they open their 4-game series against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. David Phelps (1-0, 3.33) draws the ChiSox’ ace in Chris Sale (3-0, 2.30). First pitch is at 8:10 p.m. ET. Be sure to tune in to the Yanks Go Yard Radio Show with host Ricky Keeler tonight at 11 p.m. for the Yankees/White Sox preview!