3. Michael Pineda’s Mother’s Day Masterpiece
Another signature start for an oft-forgotten Yankee (who’s usually forgotten for all the right reasons).
Michael Pineda brought a 4-0 record and 2.97 ERA into his May 10 start in 2015 at Yankee Stadium against the Baltimore Orioles. Considering the context, it seemed like the Yankees might have acquired a genuine game-changer in the Jesus Montero trade; Pineda’s shortened season the year prior featured a lot of good batted-ball luck, but also a 1.89 ERA, which you can’t discount.
Safe to say, though, that no one expected this against a powerful O’s lineup, and no one expected it to be the peak of his powers in the Bronx, either. Pineda twirled a powerhouse performance, throwing seven one-run innings on 111 pitches along with a bulky 16 strikeouts, leaving a record-breaking 21 in nine innings very much up for grabs. Unfortunately, up 6-1, the Yankees went to struggling reliever Esmil Rogers to finish the game. He was bailed out by Dellin Betances, but only two more Ks were recorded, leaving the Yanks tantalizingly close.
An early JJ Hardy home run had the Bombers trailing in this one until the fourth, when Carlos Beltran, Stephen Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury teamed up to put runs on the board (why did we do this to ourselves six years ago?). Once the Yanks took the lead, it was clear that an electric Pineda had no intention of relinquishing it.
There’s something about watching huge, powerful pitchers shine, isn’t there? This was like Roger Clemens’ 2000 ALCS start without the added context. Pineda simply couldn’t be touched, and leveled up to Hall of Famer status for one afternoon only. You’re welcome, mom.