Saturday began with Old Timers’ Day, headlined by a touching surprise tribute to former Yankees starter, and pitching coach, Mel Stottlemyre, which saw him receive a plaque in Monument Park. Stottlemyre, who is battling multiple myeloma, an incurable form of blood cancer, was moved by the tribute. Former Yankees second baseman, base coach, and bench coach, Willie Randolph also received a plaque, though that had been planned.
Wearing the #30 worn by both Stottlemyre, and Randolph, and taking the mound for the first time since getting hit hard by the Miami Marlins on Tuesday, New York Yankees starter Nathan Eovaldi came out dealing on Saturday against the Detroit Tigers, with a 1-2-3 top of the first inning. In the bottom half of the inning, Brett Gardner continued to hit the ball well, leading off with a triple. After a Chase Headley strikeout, Alex Rodriguez drove Gardner home with an RBI groundout, which saw him reach second due to a throwing error. For Rodriguez, it was his second first inning RBI in as many days.
Following a scoreless top of the second, Didi Gregorius led off the bottom half with his second home run of the series, and his fourth of the season. After a Stephen Drew single, a double by Gardner, and a walk to Headley, Rodriguez came to the plate with the bases loaded. Rodriguez extended the Yankees lead to 3-0 with a sacrifice fly.
With a lead in tact, Eovaldi pitched yet another 1-2-3 inning. Leading off the third, Carlos Beltran hit a solo home run, his sixth on the season. After Tigers starter Alfredo Simon quickly retired Gregorius and Drew, Chris Young, Gardner, and Headley all singled extending the Yankees lead to 5-0. Gardner’s single gave him six hits (home run, triple, double, and three singles) in his last six at-bats. Simon was replaced by Ian Krol who came on to face Rodriguez, and attempt to stop the bleeding. Rodriguez hit a three-run home run, pushing the lead to 8-0, blowing the game wide open. The home run was Rodriguez’s 14th on the season and the 668th of his career. It was also his 3,001st hit, moving him past Roberto Clemente for 28th all-time.
Eovaldi continued to pitch great, setting down the Tigers in order, once again, in the fourth. As he did in the third, Beltran once again hit one out, this time from the right side. Following the home run, the Yankees added another run courtesy of singles from Gregorius, Drew, and Young.
Needing just a home run for the cycle, Gardner grounded into an inning-ending double play in his first attempt, though he made up for the double play with an excellent leaping catch robbing Yoenis Cespedes of extra-bases. Eovaldi continued to deal in the fifth, though he did allow his second hit, and first since the second inning.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus took Cespedes, Miguel Cabrera, and Ian Kinsler out of the game to begin the bottom of the fifth, while bringing in Tom Gorzelanny to pitch, who struggled mightily. Gorzelanny allowed singles to Headley and Rodriguez then walked Mark Teixeira to load the bases. Brian McCann followed with an RBI single, and Beltran picked up his third RBI taking a fastball of the toe. Gregorius then drove Teixeira home with an RBI groundout. After pop-outs by both Drew and Young, the inning was over, but the score was extended to 13-0.
Beginning the top of the sixth, Yankees manager Joe Girardi ended Teixeira’s day early, bringing on Garrett Jones to play first base. Eovaldi was unaffected by the change, setting the side down in order for the fourth time. The bottom half of the sixth marked the first inning of the game which the Yankees did not score at least one run.
Mitchell got Josh Wilson to hit into a force play, but then allowed an RBI ground-rule double to J.D. Martinez. With James McCann at the plate, Mitchell threw a wild pitch allowing Wilson to score. McCann then singled to plate Martinez, cutting the score to 13-3. Mitchell, however, responded by retiring Andrew Romine and Jose Iglesias to end the inning.
Eovaldi’s walk to Martinez was his only walk of the night, while he struck out four. He allowed just two runs on three hits in six strong innings. Eovaldi, who didn’t get out of the last inning against the Marlins, made a strong case to avoid relegation upon Ivan Nova‘s return.
In the bottom of the seventh, with Al Alburquerque now pitching, the Yankees once again failed to plate a run, but still had a sizable lead. John Ryan Murphy entered the game in the top of the eighth, replacing Beltran, with McCann shifting to first base, and Jones to right field. Unlike the previous inning, which saw him struggle, Mitchell responded setting the side down in order.
The bottom of the eighth brought for more entertainment as Josh Wilson, an infielder, was brought on to pitch for the Tigers. Although Wilson was throwing quite hard, Chris Young saw the perfect opportunity to add to his stats, hitting a leadoff home run, his eighth of the season. Wilson responded quite well, however, getting Gardner, in his third attempt of the night at the cycle, to fly out. Brendan Ryan, pinch-hitting for Headley, picked up an infield single as Wilson failed to cover first base, but Wilson was able to get Murphy, hitting in Rodriguez’s spot and forcing the Yankees to continue without a DH, to ground into an inning-ending double play.
Mitchell retired the Tigers in the ninth, though he did face some trouble on the mound, allowing two singles. Mitchell picked up the save, the first of his career in both the majors and minors. He allowed one run on four hits with two strikeouts and no walks across three innings.
In a day which seven of the nine Yankees starters picked up multiple hits, and the Yankees offense produced enough to beat a strong opponent by over 10 runs, the main story was Eovaldi’s strong outing. Though he was unable to retire a batter in the seventh, Eovaldi responded strong after a rough outing Tuesday.
The production received from the lower half of the lineup, especially Beltran’s two home runs, is a positive sign for the club moving forward. The 38-year-old Beltran, who homered from both sides of the plate for the 12th time, moved within one of tying the MLB record, which is shared by Teixeira and former Yankee Nick Swisher. He was also one day short of tying Eddie Murray as the oldest player to homer from both sides of the plate.
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