New York Yankees Recap: Break the Sleeperhold

Jun 6, 2016; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees second baseman Starlin Castro (14) hits a solo home run against the Los Angeles Anglels during the seventh inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 6, 2016; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees second baseman Starlin Castro (14) hits a solo home run against the Los Angeles Anglels during the seventh inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

Bob Lorenz said it best on the post-game show. The Yankees were in a sleeper hold all game long, but managed to break out of it late and turn the tides, in an exciting 5-2 victory on Monday night.

Any time Masahiro Tanaka‘s on the hill, you feel pretty good about the Yankees chances to at least stay in the ballgame long enough to scratch a couple of runs across the board and sneak a win. For the first six innings, it looked like the Yankees were going to waste yet another quality start from their ace. If not for a couple of clutch two-out solo homers in the bottom of the seventh, they would have.

Unfortunately for Masahiro, those two homers were the only help he got, and, while he didn’t get the loss, he didn’t stick around long enough to factor in any decision at all. This marked the seventh start of the year in which the right-hander has allowed two or fewer runs and not gotten a win, which ties him for the league lead in that particular statistical category.

His final line for the night was, as has become the norm for him, again impressive: 7 Ip, 6 H, 2 R, 2 BBs and 3 Ks on 91 pitches, and a tough no decision. If I were the Yankees, I’d start scoring some runs for this guy, or his post-2017 opt-out will be a foregone conclusion.

Matt Shoemaker, meanwhile, basically matched our hero pitch for pitch, except for a while he was even better. Through the first 6.2 innings of the game, the Bearded Righty™ kept the Yankees completely off-balance, allowing only three singles and continuing the absolute roll he’s been on over his last three starts (22.2 innings, 4 runs, 31 Ks).

Unfortunately for him, The Yankees offense finally woke up. After the first two batters in the seventh were retired easily, Brian McCann homered twice in the same at bat. OK, so the first one went about a foot foul, but he hammered the very next pitch inside the foul pole for the Yankees first run. The very next batter, Starlin Castro hit an absolute bomb out to the second deck in left field. Just like that, Shoemaker’s lead was gone, and we had a whole new ballgame on our hands.

The Yankees weren’t done yet though. After Andrew Miller, who ended up with the win in this one (3-0), absolutely blew the Angels away in the bottom of the eighth, striking out Kole Calhoun, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols on twelve pitches, the Yanks put together another two-out rally in the bottom of the eighth.

After Chase Headley struck out and Aaron Hicks grounded out to start the inning, Jacoby Ellsbury laced a single to right–his third hit of the night–and Brett Gardner blooped a single to center. That was the end of the night for Shoemaker, who was replaced by lefty reliever Jose Alvarez. All Alvarez had to do to get out of the jam was retire Carlos Beltran.

Fortunately for us, Beltran, who I still think is our lone beacon of hope on offense this season, wasn’t having any of that. The 39-year old got a pitch he could handle and cranked an opposite field homer to right, his 14th of the year. The home run, which was the Yankees’ first three-run homer since April 7th (I know, I couldn’t believe that either… how awful), gave the Bombers a 5-2 lead in thrilling fashion.

As the formula goes, Girardi brought Aroldis Chapman in to finish things off in the ninth, and the fireballing lefty avenged Sunday’s blown save–his first of the year–with a 123 inning. Kudos to Chris Parmelee for making the last two putouts on popups, one of which took him practically into the stands.

Solid starting pitching. Two-out big flys. Legendary bullpen. That’s a recipe for success if I’ve ever seen one, and the Yankees were cooking it all up tonight. I’m not sure how much longer this team is going to stay together (I’m still advocating a July fire sale), but they’re fun to watch when they play like this.

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They’ll be back at it at the stadium on Tuesday night, as Michael Pineda tries to keep his positive momentum going against former Yankee David Huff. Let’s go, Big Mike!