Brian McCann’s 3-run walk-off homer led the Yankees to a win in 12 innings over the Rays

Brian McCann’s walk-off homer in the 12th inning to the bleachers in right field gave the Yankees a 7-5 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. It was the first walk-off hit of the season for the Yankees and McCann’s homer drove in Gregorio Petit and Mark Teixeira.

“It’s one of the best feelings that you could possibly have,” McCann said. “A big spot like that against a team in our division, it’s a great feeling.”

Earlier in the bottom of the 12th, to make the score 5-4, Teixeira singled to right to score Gardner and advance Petit to second. Petit pinch-hit for Alex Rodriguez, who had singled for his second hit of the game.

The Yankees were forced to come from behind in the 12th because Kevin Kiermaier and Rene Rivera both hit RBI singles in the top of the 12th. The first run was charged to Adam Warren, who allowed a walk and a sacrifice to begin the inning, and the second was charged to Chasen Shreve, who allowed both RBI singles and got Joey Butler to hit into a inning ending double play.

Shreve, whose 15-game (16 innings) scoreless streak ended, picked up his sixth win of the season, which only trails Michael Pineda and Nathan Eovaldi on the team.

The Yankees came from behind for the first time in the eighth inning when they scored three runs to tie the score at three. Mark Teixeira blasted a 3-run homer to right for his 20th homer of the season.

Dellin Betances threw a 99 mph high fastball to strike out Brandon Guyer for the second out of the ninth. Brett Gardner then made a great throw to nail Asdrubal Cabrera at second for the third out of the inning. The challenge that Rays manager Kevin Cash made was unsuccessful.

Didi Gregorius was on base in all four plate appearances as he had two singles and had his second walk of the game in the ninth. He was sacrificed to second with Jose Pirela’s bunt in the ninth. He reached base safely four teimes for the fhird time in his career.

Chase Headley grounded into a double play to third to prevent the Yankees from getting the win in the bottom of the ninth.

Justin Wilson had two strikeouts in the 10th inning and then Adam Warren came into the game and struck out Steven Souza Jr., who now doesn’t have a hit in his last 25 at-bats, to end the inning. With the win, the Yankees are now one game ahead of of the Orioles and two ahead of the Rays and Blue Jays for first place in he AL East.

Carlos Beltran was put on the 15-day DL due to a strained oblique

Carlos Beltran during his press conference at Yankee Stadiumon December 13th, 2013.  Credit Anthony J. Causi

Carlos Beltran during his press conference at Yankee Stadiumon December 13th, 2013. Credit Anthony J. Causi

On Friday afternoon, the Yankees placed Carlos Beltran on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 1. He is on the DL due to a left oblique stain. Taylor Dugas who was surprisingly called up to the Yankees on Wednesday, was sent back down to Triple-A Scranton.

Beltran now joins Jacoby Ellsbury on the disabled list, which means that two out of their three Opening Day outfielders are on the DL. They will need Chris Young to continue hitting like he has been. In Beltran’s 66 games played this season (242 at-bats), he has a .260 average with seven homers, 18 doubles, 21 runs scored and 30 RBIs.

He has really improved over the last two months as he only had a .162 average at the end of April. After not hitting any homers and only driving in 12 runs in his first 26 games of the season, he went on to hit seven homers and drive 14 runs in his next 31 games. Beltran, who is 38, is batting .306 with a .500 slugging percentage and .883 OPS in his last 21 games.

The Yankees have recalled both middle infielder Gregorio Petit and outfielder Ramon Flores from the Scranton RailRiders. Flores, who has a very strong arm in left field, threw out a few runners at home while appearing in 10 games earlier this season. He had a .250 average with three runs scored and a double in his 28 at-bats. In his 225 at-bats this season with the RailRiders (59 games), Flores has a .289 average with six homers, 24 RBIs and 32 runs scored.

Petit, who has gone back and forth between the Yankees to Triple-A this season, has played second and third this season. Petit, who is 30 and in his first year as a back-up infielder with the Yankees, has a .184 average with five RBIs and six runs scored in 38 at-bats this season. However he has hit much better while playing for Scranton this season as he has a .333 average in 42 at-bats with four RBIs and eight runs scored. He will mainly be relied upon to provide solid defense.

Neither Flores or Petit will get the start tonight against the Tampa Bay Rays, as the Yankees will play the same lineup as they did during Wednesday’s win against the Angels. The Rays and Toronto Blue Jays are both one game behind the Yankees (42-37) and Baltimore Orioles, who are both tied for first place in the very competitive AL East.

After this series, the Yankees will play three games against the Oakland Athletics (37-45) and then three games against the Red Sox (37-44) before the All-Star break. It is important that the Yankees win six or more games in this nine-game stretch because all three teams are either struggling or at least seven games under .500.

Here are the pitching matchups against the Rays, who have lost eight of their previous 10 games.


RHP Masahiro Tanaka (4-3, 3.88)
RHP Chris Archer (9-5, 2.31)
7:05 p.m., YES Network and MLB Network

RHP Michael Pineda (8-5, 4.08)
RHP Nathan Karns (4-4, 3.26)
1:05 p.m., FS1

RHP Ivan Nova (1-1, 1.50 ERA)
RHP Erasmo Ramirez (6-3, 4.01)
1:05 p.m., YES Network and MLB Network

Eovaldi and the bullpen led the Yankees to a win over the Angels in the series finale

Nathan Eovaldi

Nathan Eovaldi

The Yankees beat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 3-1, to prevent being swept in the final game of the series. The Yankees scored as many runs in this game as they had in their previous three games combined.

After the Yankees had a 1-0 lead in the sixth inning, as a result of Chase Headley’s single to right that scored Didi Gregorius in the third, Garrett Jones hit what ended up being the game-winning homer. His homer to right field over the scoreboard with two outs was his fifth of the season and first hit in his previous eight at-bats.

The Yankees tacked on an insurance run in the eighth inning on an RBI single to center by Gregorius that scored Brian McCann. Gregorius was 2-4 and has three multi-hit games in his last five contests.

“I just have to keep hitting the ball hard and contribute when I can,” Jones said. “I feel like I saw it in the middle and got a nice smooth hard swing on it. Nate pitched a great game and our bullpen shut them down. You have to tip your cap to them.”

Nathan Eovaldi had what was his best start of the season as he held the Angels scoreless in 5.1 innings. He allowed five hits and held the opposition scoreless for the first time this season. He was taken out of the game after walking Mike Trout and Albert Pujols to load the bases in the sixth inning with one out.

He has rebounded from allowing nine runs in less than an inning against the Miami Marlins in Miami to allow two runs or less in his last three starts. These three starts lowered his ERA from 5.12 to a more respectable 4.52. His improved off-speed pitches have helped him not have to rely on his fastball as much.

“My split has been a lot better for me,” Eovaldi said. “I got a lot of outs with it. Not having to rely on the fastball all the time helps out.” He said that he now trusts and believes in his off-speed pitches more and can throw them in any count.

Eovaldi was able to use his improved command to get Mike Trout and Albert Pujols out after Giavotella was on second with one out in the first inning. Eovaldi had 11 ground ball outs. The Angels went 0-22 with runners in scoring position against the Yankees during the three game series.

Chasen Shreve got Erick Aybar to pop up and David Freese to ground out to third after coming into the game the bases loaded in the sixth. In the seventh, he retired the side in order after striking out Efren Navarro to end the frame.

“He has been doing it all year so we have a ton of confidence in him,” Joe Girardi said. “He throws strikes, he doesn’t walk people and he uses his split really well. He doesn’t beat himself and throws strikes.” Shreve has 15 straight scoreless appearances.

“I just try to focus on the glove and make my pitches,” Shreve said. “I just try to stay focused and stay with my routine.”

Chase Headley played well on offense and defense against the Angels. He had seven assists during the game and went 3-5 with his 29th RBI of the season. This game could get him back on track as he only had one hit in his previous 15 at-bats.

The only run that the Angels scored was a homer by Trout off of Justin Wilson that went just over the fence in right center. Trout’s 21st homer came after Wilson retired Giavotella and Calhoun, which meant that the homer didn’t cause much damage.

Dellin Betances retired the final batter of the eighth inning and pitched out of trouble in the ninth inning for his seventh save of the season and seventh scoreless game in his previous eight.

He walked two batters in the ninth but was able to strikeout Daniel Robertson on curve ball and then strikeout C.J. Cron to end the game. The Yankees are now 36-2 when leading after seven innings.

“We went on a tough road trip, but 3-4 is a lot better than 2-5,” Girardi said.

The Yankees (42-37) went into their off day on a positive note as they are now half a game out of first in the AL East. The Rays and Blue Jays are both one game behind the Baltimore Orioles.

The Yankees lost to the Angels 2-1 for their second consecutive loss in Anaheim

Mark Teixeira

Mark Teixeira

The Yankees only had two hits in their 2-1 loss to the Angels in Anaheim on Tuesday night. They are now on a three-game losing streak and have scored only one run in all three of those losses. The Yankees could have moved up in the AL East with a win since the Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays all lost on Tuesday.

Against Andrew Heaney, who was making his second start of the season and the seventh one of his career, the Yankees did not get a single runner into scoring position. The only run that the Yankees scored off of the No. 1 prospect in the Angels organization after the 2014 season was a solo homer near the rocks in center in the 2nd inning by Mark Teixeira on a low fastball. That was his 19th homer and 54th RBI of the season.

Heaney pitched seven strong innings while striking out seven and only allowing two hits. Brett Gardner, who is now on an eight-game hitting streak with five multi-hit games in that span, had the only other hit off of Heaney. Chris Young, Alex Rodriguez and Brian McCann, who were the No. 2, 3 and 5 hitters in the lineup, combined to go 0-11 with three strikeouts and two double plays.

“I think overall we had some pretty good at-bats,” Rodriguez said. “We hit a lot of balls hard right at people tonight. The kid had good stuff and pitched a good game. He challenged us all night long with a lot of fastballs and today he was just a little better than us.”

Rodriguez thought that the pitching that he saw from Ivan Nova and Adam Warren can be a sign of what is to come. “What I am most encouraged about is tonight we saw a little preview of hopefully what the rest of the year is going to be like for us with Nova, with Warren, we have (Jacoby) Ellsbury coming back soon and Andrew (MIller),” Rodriguez said. “I am really optimistic about the rest of the year.”

Nova was not as effective as he was in his first start this season when he allowed no runs and three hits in 6.2 innings, but he did pitch very well with runners in scoring position, which helped him only allow only two runs in 5.1 innings even though the Angels had eight hits and two walks off of him. Nova had seven strikeouts and the Angels went 0-7 with runners in scoring position against him.

The Angels won the game because they hit back-to-back homers off of Nova to begin the sixth inning. Albert Pujols, who is a nine-time All-Star and is having his best season since coming to the Angels, hit his league leading 24th homer. Erick Aybar, who is not know for his power, hit his second homer of the season to give the Angels a 2-1 lead.

Warren, who was making his first appearance out of the bullpen since leaving the rotation due to Nova’s return from the disabled list, pitched 2.2 innings while only allowing one hit. He will add another reliable righty reliever to the bullpen. Warren, who had a solid 3.59 ERA in 14 starts this season, had an impressive 2.97 ERA in 69 games out of the bullpen last year.

In the ninth, with longtime closer Huston Street pitching, Young struck out on a check swing and Rodriguez grounded out to third to set off the fireworks and end the game. Street picked up his 298th save and his 51st with the Angels.

During Tuesday’s loss Carlos Beltran aggravated an existing injury to the left side of his ribcage in the fifth inning. He will likely receive an MRI when the team returns to New York after Wednesday’s game. It was announced that the Yankees will call up outfielder Taylor Dugas to replace Beltran.

The Yankees have one more game in Anaheim before returning home. The Yankees, who are half a game out of first in the AL East, have a 21-14 record at Yankee Stadium and a 20-23 record on the road. In the series finale, Nathan Eovaldi (7-2, 4.81 ERA) will pitch for the Yankees and Matt Shoemaker (4-6, 5.03 ERA) will get the start for Anaheim.

Ivan Nova will look to build on his strong debut to his season as the Yankees take on the Angels

New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles April 24,  2011

New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles April 24, 2011

After losing to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 4-1, in the series opener in Anaheim, the Yankees (41-36) and Angels will play Game 2 at 10:05 EST on Tuesday. Ivan Nova will get his second start of the season for the Yankees after throwing a shutout in 6.2 innings last week and Andrew Heaney will also get his second start of his season.

CC Sabathia allowed four runs in 7.1 innings in Monday’s loss. He has now allowed four earned runs or more in three out of his last four starts to raise his ERA to 5.59. He would have a better ERA this season but his 19 homers allowed lead the American League.

He allowed one run respectively in the first, third, fifth and seventh innings, which is different from many of his starts because he has usually been victimized by many runs in one inning. In the first inning, Albert Pujols hit a double to right to score Johnny Giavotella to give the Angels a 1-0 lead. The Yankees tied the game in the third inning when Alex Rodriguez hit a grounder between first and second, off of C.J. Wilson, to score Didi Gregorius for his 45th RBI of the season.

Mike Trout‘s homer just over the wall near the rocks in center gave the Angels all the runs they would need. That homer gave him four 20 plus homer seasons before the age of 24, and he is now one of six players to accomplish that feat. Kole Calhoun hit an RBI double to right in the fifth and then C.J. Cron hit his second homer of the season in the seventh inning.

The Yankees actually out hit the Angels, 8-6, but were only 1-10 with runners in scoring position and left 10 runners on base. Chris Young was 0-4 and Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran and Brett Gardner were all 0-1. Young would have had two RBI doubles in this game, but Trout made two outstanding Gold Glove caliber running catches in center field on two of his line drives.

Trout was the MVP last season for a reason as he can dominate the game offensively and defensively.

“Mike showed you his talent in every phase tonight,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

Ivan Nova will look to dominate tonight just like he did in his first start after coming off of the disabled list. Against the Philadelphia Phillies on June 24, he pitched 6.2 shutout innings while only allowing three hits. He was able to throw his fastball effectively and he was able to locate his curveball after his extra minor league start.

Heaney, who was the Angels No. 1 prospect after the 2014 season according to Baseball America, had a 4.71 ERA in 14 starts at Triple-A Salt Lake City before being called up before his start on June 24. He only allowed one earned run in six innings while striking out six in his major-league debut. He relies primarily on a sinker (92mph), curve (80mph) and changeup (84mph).

The Angels have a more powerful offensive lineup than the Phillies, which means that this will be a true test to see if Nova is all the way back. In 2013, which was Nova’s last healthy season, he had a 2.44 ERA at home and a 4.40 ERA on the road leading to a very good 3.10 ERA. Tonight’s game will be played in Anaheim, which means that those splits are not in Nova’s favor, but their lineup is not very strong outside of Pujols and Trout.

Chris Young, who is hitting .370 in the last seven days, will be batting second for his second consecutive game. Before the last three games, he had four consecutive multi-hit games. This is the lineup for tonight’s game against the Angels, who have a 40-37 record:

Brett Gardner CF
Chris Young LF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Carlos Beltran RF
Chase Headley 3B
Didi Gregorius SS
Stephen Drew 2B

Brett Gardner was named the American League Player of the Week

Brett Gardner

Brett Gardner

Brett Gardner, who is in his eighth year with the Yankees, was the AL Player of the Week for the week of June 22-28. He had an outstanding .500 (13/26)/.581/.885 slash line with two homers, four doubles, six RBIs and nine runs scored during the previous week. In the last six games, his average has improved from .279 to .300. The Yankees went 3-3 in those six games.

He has been a catalyst at the top of the lineup with Jacoby Ellsbury on the disabled list. Ellbury, who completed one final running test before the game on Sunday in front of Joe Girardi and Yankees personnel, was to begin a minor league rehab assignment today. He had a .324 average with a homer, six RBIs and 14 steals in 37 games as of May 19 when he went on the disabled list due to right knee sprain.

Gardner will likely go back to hitting second in the lineup when Ellsbury finishes his minor league rehab at the end of the week. When Ellsbury is healthy, the Yankees will have two players capable of wreaking havoc at the top of the order who can steal bases, get on base at a high rate and score a lot of runs.

Gardner, who went to the College of Charleston and is from South Carolina, has been hitting very well for all of June and especially the previous 10 games. Gardner has an outstanding seven multi-hit games in his his previous 10 games, and in the month of June he has a higher than normal .343 (35-102) average with two homers, nine doubles, 18 RBIs and 27 runs scored.

He has only missed six out of the 76 games this season, which proves how durable he has been. Besides Sunday’s game when he let a ball drop between him and Garrett Jones, he has played outstanding defense the whole season. He is locked in at the plate right now and his 19 doubles are tied for fifth in the American League, his 58 runs scored are tied for first in the AL, his .373 on-base percentage is 12th in the AL and his 15 steals are tied for second in the league.

He will be batting leadoff once again tonight in the series opener against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. During their series in Houston against the Astros the Yankees (41-35) won two games and lost two games. Jose Pirela will play second with Stephen Drew getting the night off and John Ryan Murphy will be behind the plate with Brian McCann getting the game off due to a lefty pitching.

The Yankees only had two hits in their 3-1 loss to the Astros in the series finale

Brett Gardner

Brett Gardner

The Yankees lost the series finale to the Houston Astros, 3-1, to split their series at Minute Maid Park. The Yankees had previously won two of the first three games in Houston. Michael Pineda pitched eight dominant innings with Justin Wilson, Chasen Shreve and Dellin Betances not available, but the offense was not able to score enough runs to get him a win.

Pineda pitched eight innings while allowing two earned runs on seven hits while striking out seven. He bounced back well from his last start when he allowed eight runs in only 3.1 innings.

“I thought Pineda had good stuff from the beginning,” Joe Girardi said. “It is unfortunate because he pitched a really good game. It helps our bullpen, but the bottom line is that we wanted to win the game.”

The offense did nothing to support Pineda as they only had two hits the whole game. Brett Gardner hit a single with Stephen Drew on second in the third to score their only run and then Alex Rodriguez hit a single in the sixth.

The Yankees really struggled off of Collin McHugh as all of his pitches were working leading him to retire the side in order in the second, fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth innings. Drew was the only Yankee who advanced to second the whole game, which proves how effective McHugh was. McHugh had eight strikeouts and only that one earned run and Chase Headley and Mark Teixeira both went 0-4 with two strikeouts against him.

McCugh has a 12-6 curveball and his cut fastball, according to David Cone, worked for him all day.

Pineda had an excellent fastball and had a great slider for most of the game, but the Astros did damage against it in the seventh. Pineda left a slider up in the zone to Evan Gattis in the seventh inning. Gattis slugged a triple to the wall in left center to drive in Carlos Correa in what was the game winning run. Astros catcher Jason Castro, who was 0-2, hit a sacrifice fly in the eighth to score Preston Tucker for Houston’s third run.

“I try to do the best today and this is the game,” Pineda said about not getting the win. “It’s a little surprising but Jones and Gardner got a little confused. Today, I’m feeling good and I tried to do my best on the mound.” Pineda threw 39 sliders out of his 107 pitches.

The Astros first run was unearned because Correa hit a fly ball to left center and the ball dropped right between Brett Gardner and Garrett Jones. Gardner should have caught the ball since he is the center fielder and his miscue could have happened because Jones doesn’t have much experience in left. Correa scored on the play and it was ruled a double and an error because Gardner didn’t pick up the ball.

“Jones was saying I got it, I got it. They said that they couldn’t hear each other,” Girardi said.

“It was loud and neither of us heard each other,” Gardner said. “As the center fielder, I’ve got to go after it. It frustrating as good as big Mike pitched that we couldn’t get the win for him.”

Luke Gregerson, who is in his first year as the Astros closer, retired all three batters he faced in the ninth for his 18th save of the year.

After splitting the series in Houston, the Yankees (41-35) are half a game behind the Tampa Bay Rays (42-35) and the Baltimore Orioles (41-34) in the tightly bunched AL East. The American League East is the most competitive division in baseball as the top four teams are separated by only one game, and it is the only division that has four teams above .500 (Toronto is the fourth).

The Yankees will now fly to Anaheim to play a three-game series against the Angels. The Angels are only a game above .500, but Mike Trout (.300, 19 homers and 42 RBIs) and Albert Pujols (23 homers and 47 RBIs) are both putting up impressive stats.

The lineup for the series finale against the Houston Astros

Carlos Beltran

Carlos Beltran

After winning Game 3 of their series against the Astros, 9-6, the Yankees play the Astros at Minute Maid Park at 2:10 p.m. EST in the series finale. In Saturday’s game, the Yankees had a 6-0 lead and then Masahiro Tanaka allowed two runs in the second, one in the fourth and then three in the fourth including a two-run homer by rookie Carlos Correa to tie the game. Tanaka had his second consecutive subpar performance to raise his ERA to 3.88 and is not being consistent enough right now to be considered the No. 1 starter.

The Yankees won the game as a result of Mark Teixeira’s two-run double to deep left center in the eighth to score Brett Gardner and Chris Young. Chase Headley hit a solo homer in the ninth to give the Yankees an insurance run. Teixeira’s two RBIs in the eighth gave him 53 for the season, which puts him in a three-way tie for first in the American League.

In today’s game Michael Pineda will get the start for the Yankees. He will look to rebound from his previous start as he allowed eight runs on 11 hits in only 3.1 innings. He did not have command of his slider during that start against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Carlos Beltran, who has a .320 average with four doubles in his last six games, will get the day off. He needs more rest days than some players because he is 38 years old. With Beltran out of the lineup, Alex Rodriguez will be the DH and Garrett Jones will get the start in right field.

The Yankees will look to win the series 3-1 before going to Anaheim to play the Angels. Here is the lineup against the Astros:

Brett Gardner CF

Chase Headley 3B

Alex Rodriguez DH

Mark Teixeira 1B

Brian McCann C

Garrett Jones LF

Chris Young RF

Didi Gregorius SS

Stephen Drew 2B

The Yankees evened their series in Houston against the Astros

Chris Young in September of 2014.

Chris Young in September of 2014.

The Yankees (40-34), who were led by Houston-area natives Chris Young and Nathan Eovaldi, were able to even their series in Houston on Friday night with their 3-2 win over the Astros (43-33).

With the Yankees losing 2-0 in the seventh inning, Young hit a three-run homer off of Will Harris over the 19-foot wall in left field at Minute Maid Park to give the visitors a 3-2 lead. Young’s game-winning homer, which was his ninth of the season, drove in Carlos Beltran and Garrett Jones.

“That is huge,” Joe Girardi said. “We had not done much up until that point. He (Young) has been really hot and that is why he is playing everyday.”

He is from Houston and always enjoys playing at Minute Park based on how well he plays and that his friends and family can watch him person.

Young said after the game that he left 50 tickets for friends and family to attend the game. He began his career back in 2006 and has been playing games as a visitor in Houston ever since. In 105 at-bats at Minute Maid Park he has hit nine homers with a remarkable .409 average.

I’m sure it’s something to it,” he said of playing in his home park. “I mean it definitely doesn’t hurt to have some extra support behind your back, a little extra little fire when you to the plate.”

Young, who struggled in May after his hot start to the season, is on a nine-game hitting streak with four consecutive multi-hit games to raise his average to .271. He has been playing very well the previous seven games with Jacoby Ellsbury still on the disabled list and if he continues hitting like this he will deserve to split time with Beltran when Ellsbury returns.

To be able to do it in front of your family, your home town, and the city you grew up coming to baseball games in and now you’re one of the players on the field, it’s a little special for me,” Young said.

The Yankees were only 1-5 with runners in scoring position, but Young came through when it counted as he hit his third homer in June.

Eovaldi (7-2, 4.81 ERA) is from nearby Alvin, Texas, which is well known as the hometown of Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan. Eovaldi looked up to Ryan growing up and said that he didn’t know that the all-time leader in strikeouts was sitting behind home plate until the fifth inning.

“Growing up, for me, I connected baseball with him,” Eovaldi said of Ryan.

He allowed two earned runs in six innings and this was his second consecutive start limiting the opposition to two runs scored. This means that he has bounced back very well from allowing nine runs in two thirds of an inning to the Miami Marlins on June 16.

Eovaldi, who had six strikeouts, used his splitter very effectively against the Astros according to Girardi. “I think his curveball was important for him tonight and the command of his fastball,” Giradi said. “He was able to elevate it at times and go down and away at times. I thought they mixed the pitches very well and kept them off balance.”

He has improved his stuff and has kept hitters off balance a lot more in his last two starts since he has allowed five and three hits respectively in his last two starts after allowing a combined 17 hits in his previous two starts.

“Tonight I was just trying to take it pitch by pitch,” Eovaldi said.

According to the Yankees PR Department and Fangraphs, Eovaldi’s fastball has the highest average velocity (95.9) in the Majors this season. He can be an effective starter when he locates his secondary pitches and throws his fastball at the right time, but he just needs to avoid starts when he completely loses his command.

After Eovaldi was taken out of the game after throwing 100 pitches, Chasen Shreve, Justin Wilson and Dellin Betances combined to throw three innings and not allow a hit. Shreve, who has not allowed a run in his last 13 games to lower his ERA to an impressive 1.76, had three strikeouts in his inning pitched, and Betances struck out two of the four batters he faced.

After winning the game on Friday in Houston with big contributions from hometown players, the Yankees will play the Astros at 4:10 EST and will try for their first winning streak since they won straight from June 17-20. Masahiro Tanaka will make his first start against the Astros and will hit for the second game this season.

After Keuchel’s shutout in the 1st game of the series, the Yankees will look to bounce back with Eovaldi pitching

Nathan Eovaldi

Nathan Eovaldi

In the first game of their four-game series in Houston against the Astros, the Yankees were shutout 4-0 after a gem by Dallas Keuchel. The Astros ace pitched his third complete game of the season and recorded a career-high 12 strikeouts.

Keuchel lowered his ERA to 2.17, which is third best in the American League, and he lowered his WHIP to 0.96, which is the second best WHIP in the AL. His command of all four of his pitches, in addition to changing speeds, kept the Yankees off balance during the whole game. He only allowed six hits and one walk & retired the side in order in the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th innings.

The ninth inning was the only inning that the Yankees were able to get a runner into scoring position against Keuchel. After Keuchel retired Chris Young and Chase Headley, Alex Rodriguez singled, Mark Teixeira walked & then Carlos Beltran hit a single past third baseman Luis Valbuena’s glove to load the bases. However, with the bases loaded and a chance to drive in two or more runs, Jose Pirela grounded out to third to end the game.

“He (Keuchel) stays done in the zone, attacks all night, he just pitched well,” Joe Girardi said. “The guys were looking for a pitch and if they got a pitch early they were trying to hit it, and that didn’t work too well. I thought he might make a change but he is their ace so they let him go.”

Adam Warren pitched well overall in what was likely his last start before being moved to the bullpen. Warren allowed two earned runs (three overall) in 5.2 innings before Chris Capuano came on in relief. However, it did not help that Stephen Drew and John Ryan Murphy both had an error while Warren was pitching. Warren had a throwing error that allowed Evan Gattis to advance to third before being taken out of the game, but Capuano got Preston Tucker out to end the sixth.

“He (Warren) pitched really well again tonight,” Girardi said. “He has been consistent and it’s too bad we didn’t score him some runs tonight.”

For the Astros, Jose Altuve was 3-3 with three runs scored, Gattis was 2-4 with two RBIs, Colby Rasmus was 1-2 with an RBI and Tucker’s opposite field double to the wall off of Warren in the second drove in the Astros first run. The only run that the Astros scored off of Capuano was Gattis’s double that sent Altuve home in the eighth.

The Yankees hit zero extra-base hits for the fifth time this season. Brett Gardner (.292 with 55 runs scored), who was out of the lineup on Thursday after having gone 16-32 in his previous seven games, is back in center field tonight. Gardner has scored six runs over his last three games and will look to be the same spark at the top of the lineup that he has been the past few weeks.

Brian McCann is also back in the lineup after getting a routing game off like Gardner on Thursday. McCann has a .328 average with three homers and 12 RBIs in June and has had a much better start to the season than he did in his first season as a Yankee. McCann is also coming into the game with a five-game hitting streak with five RBIs in that span, so he will be one of the hitters that the Yankees will count on to drive in runs.

Nathan Eovaldi (4.95 ERA) will get the start for the Yankees tonight and Vincent Valasquez will take the mound for Houston. Valasquez (4.15 ERA), whose three starts in June were the first three of his career, didn’t pitch more than five innings in any of those starts. He allowed five earned runs in his second start but threw a shutout in five innings against the White Sox in his third start.

Eovaldi pitched very well in his previous start against the Detroit Tigers as he limited them to two earned runs on three hits in 6 innings. He had success because he commanded and located his secondary pitches.

Beltran will be the DH tonight since Rodriguez will be getting the night off. Rodriguez, who could come into the game as a pinch hitter, is on a nine-game hitting streak with five multi-hit games in that span.

His average was .267 before the hitting streak started and it is now a solid .289. A-Rod has performed better than anyone could have expected to this point and the Yankees would not be 1.5 games out of first in the AL East without him. He is tied for 13th in the AL with his 44 RBIs, is tied for eighth in the AL with his 15 homers and is tied for 12 in the league with 42 runs scored.

Tonight’s game will begin at 8:10 EST and can be seen on the YES Network.

Another Day In The Office

I run around and pick up baseball bats for the Oakland Athletics

Muskat Ramblings's Carrie Muskat has been covering Major League Baseball since 1981 and is the author of "Banks to Sandberg to Grace: Five Decades of Love and Frustration with the Cubs." You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. Here, she blogs about the Cubs.

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