The Yankees lost to the Toronto Blue Jays after only getting one hit


The Yankees lost to the Toronto Blue Jays, 2-0, at the Rogers Centre in the second game of the series. Michael Pineda pitched well in his fourth start since coming off of the disabled list, but the Yankees lost because the only had one hit off of Drew Hutchison in seven innings and were held hitless in two innings against rookie Aaron Sanchez. 

This was Pineda eighth start this season and it was his eighth start where he has allowed two runs or less. He allowed a two-run homer to Jose Bautista in the first-inning that scored Jose Reyes. It was his only mistake pitch as he said that he left the slider higher in the strike zone than he wanted to. He rebounded very well after that since he only allowed three hits between the second and sixth innings. 

However, the Yankees had their worst offensive performance since September, 4 2009, when they also had one hit. Against Drew Hutchison, who had a 4.68 ERA coming into the game, the only hit that the Yankees had was a double by Mark Teixeira. His double in the fourth came after Beltran was hit by a pitch, but Martin Prado flied out to center with the bases loaded after Brian McCann had also been hit by a pitch. This was the only inning that the Yankees had a runner get to second. 

McCann was impressed with Hutchison and had never seen him perform better. “This was the best that I’ve seen him locate,” McCann said. Chase Headley credited Hutchison’s delivery with him having so much success on Saturday. His deception makes the fastball play up,” Headley said. 

The Yankees will look to win the series on Sunday when they play the Blue Jays at 1:07 p.m. They will have the pitching edge once again as Brandon McCarthy will be pitching against J.A. Happ. The need to win the game to keep pace with the Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners.  

Pitching matchups for the series between the Yankees and Blue Jays


Chris Capuano throwing a pitch for the Yankees.

Chris Capuano throwing a pitch for the Yankees.

After losing two out of three games to the Tigers at Comerica Park, the Yankees will start a three-game series in Toronto against the Blue Jays on Friday. The Yankees are now three games behind both the Tigers and Seattle Mariners for the second wild-card spot. 

The Yankees had an opportunity to win the third game, as Hiroki Kuroda only allowed two runs in seven innings pitched, but the offense was only 1-4 with runners in scoring position. Brian McCann grounded into a double play in the second with with Mark Teixeira on first. Their first run came on a Jacoby Ellsbury single to center that scored Zelous Wheeler. 

They scored one run in the fourth but were in position to tack on a few more. After Carlos Beltran’s double, the Yankees had runners on second and third with one out, but McCann had an RBI ground out and then Chase Headley grounded out to third. The Yankees could have scored three or more runs if McCann had hit a double and then Headley hit a single. 

After Dellin Betances recorded two out of three outs in the eighth inning via the strikeout, Shawn Kelley pitched the ninth and allowed the Tigers to get a walk-off win. Kelley struck out two batters in a row with runners on first and second and the score tied at two, but Alex Avila had the game-winning single. The Yankees would have won the game with more offensive production. The anemic offense cost Hiroki Kuroda another win and prevented the team from gaining ground on the Mariners and Tigers.

The Yankees will look to rebound against the Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre. The Yankees, who have a 69-63 record, are currently 2.5 games ahead of the Blue Jays in the wild-card standings. Toronto comes into the series having lost six of their last nine games. Here are the pitching matchups for the series that the Yankees have to win in Toronto: 

Friday 8/29 7:07 p.m. on YES

LHP Chris Capuano (1-3, 4.37 ERA)

vs. 

LHP Mark Buehrle (11-8, 3.41 ERA)

Saturday 1:07 p.m. on YES

RHP Michael Pineda (3-2, 1.95 ERA)

vs. 

RHP Drew Hutchison (8-11, 4.68 ERA)

Sunday 1:07 p.m. on YES

RHP Brandon McCarthy (5-3, 2.47 ERA with Yankees)

vs. 

LHP J.A. Happ (8-8, 4.40 ERA

 

Nine consecutive hits in the third helped the Yankees beat the Tigers on Wednesday


Shane Greene first start

The Yankees beat the Detroit Tigers, 8-4, on Wednesday as a result of an eight-run outburst in the third inning against former Cy Young winner David Price. With the win in the second game of the series the Yankees are now 2.5 games behind the Seattle Mariners for the second wild-card and six games behind the Baltimore Orioles for first place in the AL East.

In 13 starts against the Yankees from 2011 to 2013 while pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays David Price, who won the Cy Young in 2012, had a 3.81 ERA. The Yankees have hit well against him in his career, but their performance against Price on Wednesday is hardly ever seen against any pitcher in Major League Baseball. After getting three hits in the first two innings, the Yankees went onto record nine consecutive hits off of Price in the third to force him out of the game. 

Price did not record an out and all eight runs were charged to him. Jacoby Ellsbury led off the inning with a single, Derek Jeter’s 539th double of his career that drove in Jacoby Ellsbury tied him for 35th on the all-time doubles list, Martin Prado singled to left, Mark Teixeira drove Jeter in on his double to right, Prado scored on Beltran’s single to right, Teixeira scored on Brian McCann’s single to center, Chase Headley singled to left for, Brett Gardner’s infield single scored Beltran and then Franciso Cervelli’s single to left sent McCann home for the team’s ninth hit in a row.

Against reliever Blaine Hardy, Ellsbury and Jeter hit a sacrifice fly in consecutive at-bats to make the score 8-0. Here is video of the nine consecutive hits.  David Price, who has had many more dominating starts than not in his career, made a point of saying that he is human and would try to move past this performance. “That is probably the worst game I have had in my life,” Price said.

Ellsbury has been in the leadoff spot the last three games instead of his usual three spot in the lineup and has raised his average from .277 to .285. In the last three games he has gone 8-13 (.615), scored five runs, driven in five runs, stolen two bases and hit three homers. The Yankees need Ellsbury to give this kind of production and hitting first in the lineup might be a reason for it. He is hitting leadoff again on Thursday.

It is tough to get that many hits even if guys hit the balls on the screws,” Ellsbury said. “Fortunately, some balls fell for us. (Price) has tremendous stuff, I have a lot of respect for him. Obviously this was a big game for us. We didn’t score the rest of the game, but I thought we continued to put quality at-bats together.”

Jeter was 1-3 with two RBIs and on August 28 in 2011 he passed Mickey Mantle for 1st on the all-tim Yankees games played list. 

Shane Greene is only a rookie but he was the one who pitched like the former Cy Young. He pitched seven strong innings while striking out eight and only allowing two runs. He allowed an RBI double to left by Miguel Cabrera and a solo homer to Victor Martinez. His slider was his best pitch on Wednesday and he knew early on that it was effective. Greene struck out the last better he faced, Torii Hunter, on a high fastball. 

I hope it (slider) is good for me every time, but Cervelli will let me know if it’s not or if it is, just stay with him, but probably about the second I could tell I had a good slider,” Greene said. “I got to give the credit to Cervelli. I am following his lead for the most part. Like I said before, he knows these guys way better than me.” Greene has now pitched six innings or more while allowing two runs or less in three of his last four starts. 

Dellin Betances pitched the ninth inning and allowed a run on two hits. He had not allowed a run in eight of his previous nine appearances. 

The Yankees will play a matinee game on Thursday at 1:08 p.m. at Comerica Park as they try to win the series. Hiroki Kuroda will pitch for the Yankees and rookie Kyle Lobstein will get the start in place of Justin Verlander. Lobstein is making his first Major League start. The Tigers are also the only Major League team that Kuroda has not defeated. 

Rick Porcello’s gem led to the Yankees’ ending their five-game winning streak


Jacoby Ellsbury running during a game.

Jacoby Ellsbury running during a game.

The Yankees saw their five-game winning streak come to an end as they lost to the Detroit Tigers, 5-2, on Tuesday night in Detroit. Brandon McCarthy had his worst performance in his nine starts with the Yankees. He now has a 2.47 ERA with the Yankees and it was only his second time in nine starts allowing more than two runs.

McCarthy allowed five runs, nine hits and two walks in 6.1 innings. He walked two batters in the second after only allowing one in his previous three starts. Those two walks directly lead to Detroit’s first run as he walked Nick Castellanos and then with the bases loaded, after hitting Eugenio Suarez with a pitch, he walked Rajai Davis to send J.D. Martinez home. He was able to get Ian Kinsler to hit into an inning ending double play to end the inning and was helped by a great scoop by Mark Teixeira.

In the third inning, J.D. Martinez’s single to center scored Miguel Cabrera. The Tigers scored two runs in the sixth and the fifth run that they scored off of McCarthy came off of a single by Torii Hunter to left that scored Davis.  

“I wasn’t comfortable mechanically and I wasn’t right from the get-go,” McCarthy said. “It sucks because as we get closer and closer the games become more important.” With the loss, the Yankees are now 3.5 games behind the Seattle Mariners for the second wild-card and three games behind the Tigers.

Besides Jacoby Ellsbury, the Yankees were not able to have any success offensively against Tigers starter Rick Porcello. The Morristown, New Jersey native won his 15th game of the season after only allowing two runs in eight innings pitched. He has a 1.80 ERA in two starts against the Yankees this season.

The solo homers that Ellsbury hit to right field in the fifth and eighth innings were the only runs that the Yankees would score. He has recently been a bright spot since in his last five games he is hitting 9-18 (.500) with five runs scored, three homers and six RBIs. With Brett Gardner out of the lineup the last two games, Ellsbury has gone 6-9 batting leadoff. He was the leadoff hitter while he played for the Red Sox.   

I guess tonight, I got a couple pitches that I could hit, and I didn’t miss them,” Ellsbury said. “I felt pretty good, hopefully I can just keep it going. It is nice to hit the ball hard and get results.” 

In the eighth inning, Brian McCann hit into a double play with no outs. He had attempted to bunt against the shift earlier in the at-bat, and would have had a single if he didn’t foul it off. If the bunt would have gone for a single, the Yankees would have been set up for a big inning with runners on first and second with no outs.  

The Yankees were 2-10 with runners on base and 0-3 with runners in scoring position. The Yankees had runners on first and third in the fourth inning but Stephen Drew lined out to left. The Yankees were able to put together nine hits, but seven of the nine hits were singles and they hit into two double plays. The sinker is Rick Porcello’s best pitch and he got the Yankees to hit a total of 16 ground balls. 

In the second game of the series at Comerica Park, Shane Greene will pitch for the Yankees and David Price will get the start for the Tigers. Greene, the impressive right-handed rookie, is coming off of a start where he had seven strikeouts but allowed three runs and nine hits in five innings. The Yankees need him to pitch like he did in his two starts before that where he allowed two runs combined in 14 innings. 

Brian McCann’s pinch-hit homer in the 10th gave the Yankees their fourth win in a row


Derek Jeter mural that I saw at Stan's.

Derek Jeter mural that I saw at Stan’s.

The Yankees beat the Chicago White Sox, 7-5, on Sunday afternoon for their fourth in a row. The crowd came alive in the 10th inning after Brian McCann hit a walk-off three-run homer to drive in Carlos Beltran and Chase Headley. His pinch hit homer landed about five rows deep near the foul pole in right.

Joe Girardi was impressed with how McCann was able to come in off of the bench and win the game. “It just shows that he had stayed ready all day,” Girardi said. “And mentally he was ready. He came in and got a huge hit for us. He worked the count, saw a lot of pitches and that is a huge hit.  

Every win is important the rest of the season as there are only 34 more games left. The Yankees are 3.5 games behind the Seattle Mariners for the second wild-card. The Bronx Bombers have only gained a game on the Mariners during their winning streak since Seattle is on a three-game winning streak.

Chris Capuano recorded his third quality start in his six starts since being acquired from the Boston Red Sox. He allowed three runs in six innings and had five strikeouts. It did not seem promising that Alexei Ramirez led off the game with a homer, but Capuano was able to get seven of the next nine batters out that he faced. The White Sox scored their second and third runs off of Capuano in the sixth inning when Conor Gillaspie hit a two-run homer to right.

The home crowd got really into the game for the first time in the bottom of the sixth inning because the Yankees were able to put four runs on the scoreboard. They did so on only two hits. Martin Prado was able to reach second on Dayan Viciedo’s error and then was driven in on a double by Mark Teixeira. Beltran and Francisco Cervelli both walked and then Zelous Wheeler’s hit by pitch sent Teixeira home for the team’s second run. The standing ovation from the crowd got even louder when Ichiro Suzuki’s single to deep right center scored Beltran and Cervelli.

The Yankees impressively scored four runs off of White Sox starter Chris Sale, whose 2.03 ERA is first in the American League. However, all of those runs were unearned as a result of Viciedo’s error. 

David Robertson, who had previously only blown two saves all season, gave up a home run to Avisail Garcia in the ninth inning to tie the score at four. He had previously converted 22 straight saves before his last blown save. His ERA is now 3.06, and he was relieved after the game that the team got the win in extra innings.

I think the whole team was happy,” Robertson said. “It’s obviously a pitch I want back. I tried to throw a curve ball for a strike. I didn’t mean to hang it as bad as I did. I didn’t see that outcome coming. It is easier to shake that one off when the team wins the ballgame, that is for sure.”  

McCann’s homer with two outs in the 10th was his 15th of the season. The Yankees won their fifth walk-off game of the season and their fourth in the Bronx. This was also their sixth series sweep of the season. Their offensive has also recently improved since they have scored more than four runs in their last two games after scoring four or fewer in their previous 11 games. 

The Yankees will look to extend their winning streak to five games when they play a game in Kansas City against the surging Royals on Monday night. This game was previously rained out earlier in the season. Michael Pineda will pitch for the Yankees and James Shields will pitch for the Royals. Both starters allowed two runs in their previous start. 

Yankee Stadium right after the win and McCann's Gatorade shower.

Yankee Stadium right after the win and McCann’s Gatorade shower.

Martin Prado and Hiroki Kuroda led the Yankees to their second win in a row against the White Sox


Martin Prado.

Martin Prado.

The Yankees defeated the Chicago White Sox, 5-3, on Saturday afternoon for their third consecutive win. The Yankees scored more than four runs for the first time in their last 11 games

Martin Prado, who had a walk-off hit on Friday, led the Yankees with three hits and also had two RBIs and a run scored. In the fourth inning, for the team’s second and third runs, Prado hit a double to left that scored Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran. In the sixth inning, a challenge was ruled in the Yankees favor giving Prado another double, and his hustle would help him score on Chase Headley’s shallow sacrifice fly. His other hit was a bunt single in the second.

In his last three games, Prado has six hits in 12 at-bats, five RBIs and three runs scored. His offense, defense and energy has greatly improved the team. Joe Girardi has been impressed with Prado in his three weeks with the Yankees. “He is a guy that grinds it out everyday,” Girardi said. “I knew how good of a player he was and he has been a good acquisition.” 

Prado, who had four productive seasons with the Atlanta Braves before moving on to the Arizona Diamondbacks, is a true team player. “I am trying to do whatever I can to help the team,” Prado said. “We are not looking at stats right now.” 

In the second-inning, Mark Teixeira scored on Chase Headley’s double play. Beltran, who was 2-4 in his first game since Tuesday due to his elbow injury, hit his 15th homer of the season in the sixth inning. Prado scored the team’s fifth run later in the sixth inning on a Stephen Drew sacrifice fly. 

Right now, I am just thinking about winning ballgames,” Beltran said. “That is all we are thinking about as a team. It is good to always contribute to the team. Most importantly, we need to go out there and try to get Ws.” He made a point of saying that he didn’t want to answer another question about his injury. 

Hiroki Kuroda was also key in helping the Yankees bring their winning streak to three. He pitched six solid innings while only allowing two runs. He had six strikeouts and retired the last three batters that he faced before Shawn Kelley came in for the seventh. Jose Abreu hit a single that scored Alexandro De Aza in the fifth, but Kuroda was then able to get Adam Dunn to hit into an inning ending double play.

Kuroda was pitching on a day of extra rest, and he has proven to pitch with much more effectiveness when this happens. In the last six starts that he has had one or more days of extra rest he is 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA. His second consecutive dominating start lowered his ERA to 3.94 and gave him his ninth win of the season. 

David Robertson pitched the ninth and saved his 34th game in 36 chances this season. It was the 22nd consecutive save chance that he has converted.  

The Yankees are now 3.5 games behind the Seattle Mariners for the second wild-card as a result of Seattle’s win on Saturday. The Yankees gained ground on the Detroit Tigers, who have lost three in a row, and are now only two games behind them.

On Sunday, the Yankees will face the White Sox ace, Chris Sale, as they try to sweep the White Sox. 

Brandon McCarthy’s shutout against the Astros ended the Yankees losing streak


Brandon McCarthy

Brandon McCarthy

Brandon McCarthy‘s complete game shutout helped the Yankees snap their two-game losing streak and win the series finale against the Houston Astros, 3-0. He needed 107 pitches to get through nine innings and only gave up four hits. His eight strikeouts were the fifth time out of eight starts with the Yankees that he had seven or more strikeouts. 

McCarthy has also allowed two runs or less in seven of his eight starts with the Yankees and had his second start where he allowed zero runs. He now has a 5-2 record and an outstanding 1.90 ERA since being traded from the Arizona Diamondbacks to the Yankees. He is best when he is allowing a lot of ground balls, and he did just that on Thursday as he induced 12 ground balls. The Astros were 0-3 with runners in scoring position, Dexter Fowler and Marc Krauss were the only ones with extra base hits. 

After allowing 15 homers while pitching for the Diamondbacks, McCarthy has only allowed three homers in eight starts and two of those have come at Yankee Stadium. “I think my pitch mix is better now,” McCarthy said. “The cutter and the four-seam have become pitches I can use as weapons again. In turn, that just starts to build confidence.” 

Catcher Francisco Cervelli gave him a loud pep talk in the seventh-inning when McCarthy was losing his confidence after allowing a double and single. “He was like, ‘Your stuff’s is so good, let’s go. We’re going to get all the way through this.‘ From early on in the game he was on me,” McCarthy said.

His complete game was clutch because he was able to give the overworked bullpen an night off. The Yankees will now be able to potentially have Dellin Betances and David Robertson for two out of the three games against the Chicago White Sox. He has proven that the Yankees should definitely give him a new contract in the offseason.

The Yankees did not score more than four runs for their 10th consecutive game, but they scored enough runs in the second inning to give the team a needed victory. Chase Headley’s double to deep right in the second that scored Mark Teixeira and Martin Prado gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead. For the third run of the second-inning, Ichiro Suzuki hit a sacrifice fly to score Headley. With Cervelli’s single in the fifth, he is now on a five-game hitting streak.

On Friday, the Yankees will start a key three-game set against the White Sox, who are in fourth place in the AL Central with a 59-68 record. They need to win two games and it is important that they sweep the series so that they make up ground in the wild-card standings. They are four games behind the Detroit Tigers and 3.5 behind the Seattle Mariners for the second wild-card, and they both lost their last game.

It will be important that the Yankees to win the first two games because the Tigers ace, Chris Sale, will be pitching on Sunday. Here are the pitching matchups for the series at Yankee Stadium:

Friday at 7:05 p.m.

RHP Shane Greene (3-1, 2.91 ERA)

vs.

LHP John Danks (9-8, 4.94 ERA)

Saturday at 1:05 p.m.

RHP Hiroki Kuroda (8-8, 3.97 ERA)

vs.

RHP Scott Carroll (5-7, 4.99 ERA)

Sunday at 1:05 p.m.

Chris Capuano (1-3, 4.35 ERA)

vs.

Chris Sale (10-3, 2.12 ERA)  

The offense was only 1-8 with runners in scoring position in the loss to the Astros


Michael Pineda

Michael Pineda

The Yankees lost to the Houston Astros, 5-2, at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night. It was their second consecutive loss to the Astros and they are now 1-3 against Houston, who have a 54-73 record.

The Yankees are now 2-7 in their last nine games and a major reason for that is that they have not scored more than four runs in any of their last nine games. In fact, they have scored four runs twice in those nine games and have scored two or fewer runs four times.

In Wednesday night’s game, the Yankees actually out hit the Astros 10-9, but the Yankees only went 1-8 with runners in scoring position and left 10 runners on base. Mark Teixeira was 0-4 and 0-2 with runners in scoring position. Martin Prado and Brian McCann were also 0-4.

There were plenty of opportunities for the home team to score runs. Teixeria had a 3-0 count with runners on first and second in the first inning but ended up striking out. McCann popped out to the shortstop with runners on second and third to end the first. Brett Gardner grounded out to the shortstop with runners on second and third to end the second.

In the fifth inning, Derek Jeter grounded out to third with Ichiro Suzuki on second with one out. Jacoby Ellsbury’s bunt single that scored Ichiro was the only hit that the Yankees had with runners in scoring position. The Yankees continued to be unsuccessful with runners in scoring position and two outs as Ellsbury struck out with runners on second and third to end the seventh inning.

I don’t see them doing anything different than they are in their other at-bats, we are just not getting it done,” Joe Girardi said. “Sometimes it is a little bit foul, sometimes they just miss out, we are just not getting it done. These guys get better every day and it is just not happening.” 

Michael Pineda had his second consecutive impressive start since coming off of the disabled list. In his first start, he allowed one run in five innings, and on Wednesday, he allowed two runs in six innings and deserved to get the win. He had three strikeouts and only gave up four hits in six innings. He was taken out of the game after throwing only 89 pitches, and Joe Girardi could have left him in longer since Dellin Betances and David Robertson were both not available. 

Pineda said that coming out of the game after allowing a walk to Jason Castro in the seventh was out of his control. “I am feeling good, I had good energy, but I don’t have control for this situation,” Pineda said. “Today it was a pretty good slider.”

After David Huff gave up a single to Marwin Gonzalez, Esmil Rogers allowed three runs on four consecutive singles, including a two-run single to Robbie Grossman. Only two of those runs were charged to him as a result of Pineda’s walk and single that Huff allowed. The results in the seventh might have been different if Pineda was still pitching or if Shawn Kelley or Betances were pitching. 

With their last two losses, the Yankees are now five games behind the Detroit Tigers for the second wild-card. After Thursday’s series finale, the Yankees will play three games at home against the Chicago White Sox, who are 59-68 and in fourth place in the AL Central. The Yankees need to win the last four games of the homestand in order to make up ground and have a chance of playing meaningful games down the stretch. 

Thursday’s game will be a matinee at 1:05 p.m. Brandon McCarthy will look to allow two runs or fewer for his seventh time in eight starts with the team, but it is just as important that the offense finally score more than four runs. 

Pitching matchups for the series between the Yankees and the Houston Astros


Chris Capuano pitching against the Blue Jays.

Chris Capuano pitching against the Blue Jays.

The Yankees will play three games against the Astros (52-73) and then three against the Chicago White Sox (59-66), who are both in fourth place in their respective divisions. The Yankees are currently in second place in the American League East, 7.5 games behind the first-place Baltimore Orioles. If they win at least four out of their six games against the Astros and White Sox at Yankee Stadium, they will have a chance of getting the second wild-card spot since they are now three games behind the Seattle Mariners, and need all of the wins that they can get. The Blue Jays, who are half a game behind the Yankees, have gone 3-7 in their last 10 games, so it could be between the Yankees, the Mariners and the Detroit Tigers, who are tied with the Mariners, for the second wild-card.

The Astros have the 27th worst batting average (.242) and 22nd worst on-base percentage (.310) in major league baseball. However, Jose Altuve has been one of the best players in the American League as he has a .339 average, 67 runs scored and 46 stolen bases this season.  

Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal, the Yankees general partner/vice chairperson, recently took the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise money and awareness for ALS. She talked about Pete Frates, who was a former baseball player at Boston College who got ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) a few years ago and started this Ice Bucket Challenge, and Lou Gehrig, who was a Yankee Captain and played in 2,130 consecutive games. “He was the first athlete on the Wheaties boxes, I don’t know if a lot of you all knew that, he was in seven world championships, seven All-Star Games, he was truly a fine individual in every front,” Swindal said. “At the age of 36 he found out that he had ALS disease. He died two years later at the age of 38.”  She challenged Derek Jeter, the present Yankees Captain, and the people who work in the Yankees offices in Tampa and the Bronx.

These are the pitching match-ups for the series between the Yankees and the Astros at Yankee Stadium: 

Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. – 

LHP Chris Capuano (1-3, 4.13 ERA) 

vs. 

LHP Brett Oberholtzer (4-8, 3.87 ERA) 

Wednesday at 7:05 p.m.

RHP Michael Pineda (2-2, 1.82 ERA)

vs. 

RHP Scott Feldman (6-9, 4.45 ERA)

Thursday at 1:05 p.m.

RHP Brandon McCarthy (4-2, 2.30 ERA)

vs. 

LHP Dallas Keuchel (10-8, 3.11 ERA) 

Hiroki Kuroda and Brett Gardner led the Yankees to a win over the Tampa Bay Rays


Hiroki Kuroda pitching.

Hiroki Kuroda pitching.

The Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-2 on Sunday afternoon to give them their second consecutive win and a much needed series win at Tropicana Field. Hiroki Kuroda only allowed four hits and two runs in 6.2 innings, and Kuroda, who threw 97 pitches, impressively did not pitch much worse after he threw 80 pitches like he had in previous starts. 

Kuroda won his eighth game of the season and lowered his ERA to 3.97. He was impressively able to retire 17 consecutive batters between the first inning and the seventh inning. Evan Longoria drove in the first run off of Kuroda in the first inning and he drove in the second run in the seventh on a single that scored Matt Joyce. Kuroda credited his extra rest with his improved performance. 

“I think so,” Kuroda said. “The two extra days, I was able to physically get refreshed as well as mentally. For me, I think my slider, especially against the right handed hitters, was pretty decent.”

The offense supported Kuroda on Sunday, which has not happened in many other games that he has pitched for the Yankees. The first three runs that the Yankees scored were off of singles. In the fifth inning, Brett Gardner hit a single to center that scored Stephen Drew and Martin Prado and then Jacoby Ellsbury broke his 17 at-bat hitless streak with a single between the shortstop and third baseman that sent Gardner home to make the score 3-1. Jeremy Hellickson, who pitched five innings, allowed the three runs in the fifth with two outs. 

In the eighth inning, to give the Yankees an insurance run, Mark Teixeira hit a 403-foot homer to right-center. That homer was his 20th homer of the season, which means that Teixeira now has 11 20-homer seasons. He is the 14th player in Major League history to hit 20 homers in at least 11 of his first 12 seasons. His 361st career home run tied legendary Yankee Joe DiMaggio for 80th place on the all-time list.   

We hadn’t played well the first few games of the road trip, so it is really good bouncing back the way we did the last few games,” Teixeira said. “Hellickson was really good. He was mixing up his pitches. Give the guys credit, that two-out rally really gave us a shot in the arm. Other than that, he was really impressive. Anytime you get men on base and have a chance to score runs when your team’s not scoring runs, you’ve got to try to take advantage of it. And we did.” 

The bullpen came through for Kuroda as well and was better than in previous games behind him since they had lost five games for him this season. Kuroda left with a 3-2 lead, and Shawn Kelley, Dellin Betances and David Robertson combined to allow only one hit in 2.1 innings. Kelley struck out the only batter he faced and then Betances’s two strikeouts in the eighth increased his season total to an impressive 109. Robertson recorded his 33rd save in 35 chances in his first season replacing Mariano Rivera as closer.

After previously struggling mightily with runners in scoring position, the Yankees are now an improved .364 with RISP over their last two games. They still only scored four and three runs in their last two games, respectively, but they will have to continue hitting well with runners in scoring position to continue winning games. 

As a result of their last two wins, the Yankees are now 3.5 games behind the Seattle Mariners for the second wild-card spot. After an off-day on Monday, they will play three games against the Houston Astros and then three against the Chicago White Sox.

The Astros and White Sox have a .416 and .476 winning percentage, respectively, which makes winning those two series very important because the Yankees have the hardest remaining schedule of all 19 remaining playoff contenders, according to Jeff Passan. Of their final 30 games, 27 are against teams in the American League East. 

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