Sometimes, to secure a win, an offensively-challenged team has to walk a tightrope in a close game.
On Wednesday night against the Angels, the Yankees walked 12 or 13 different tightropes, each hanging above alligators with their mouths wide open waiting hundreds of feet below. Somehow, they survived.
For the second time in less than a week, the Yankees took a 2-0 lead after two offensive batters. Last time, Anthony Volpe and Aaron Judge went back-to-back against the Twins; the Yankees eventually scored just one more run and fell after an eighth inning bullpen meltdown.
This time, Volpe singled and Judge tattooed a massive homer, just a few minutes after he'd robbed one from Shohei Ohtani. Much like last time, though, the Bombers failed to add on. Often, they failed to even threaten.
Eventually, after Michael King and Wandy Peralta both whiffed Shohei Ohtani in clutch situations, Hunter Renfroe and Gio Urshela sandwiched two singles around a balk and tied the game in the eighth.
In the ninth, with Clay Holmes on the thinnest tightrope yet after drilling Taylor Ward and walking Ohtani (wise, in retrospect), he induced a check swing on a full-count pitch to Mike Trout. Replays showed he probably broke the plane. Angels manager Phil Nevin disagreed, attempting to fire his roster up in protest.
Phil Nevin hothead act doesn't work, Mike Trout strikes out, Yankees win
It didn't work.
One brutal squandered bunt by Oswaldo Cabrera in the ninth (avoid bunting directly to first baseman Gio Urshela) led to Ian Hamilton holding Anthony Rendon, Renfroe and Urshela to two pieces of soft contact and a hard grounder stabbed by DJ LeMahieu.
And, in the tenth, after another bunt flub, an intentional walk, and a hit by pitch, a slumping Gleyber Torres finally sent Angels left Matt Moore into the gator tub.
The Yankees went dormant for well over three hours, somehow managing to play a 2022-length baseball game in 2023, with very few rallies or scoring involved.
The entirety of this game won't be framed, but the relief work -- and Jhony Brito's 4.1 innings of bending, but not breaking -- might inspire a little confidence moving forward in an otherwise perilous stretch.
Shame Phil Nevin couldn't stick around to catch the end, but Aaron Boone will probably fill his old buddy in at lunch tomorrow.