On Wednesday, the Yankees won the second and final game of the series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. After losing the first game 6-1 after Tanaka allowed three earned runs and picked up his first loss since August of 2012, the Yankees won in 13 innings on Thursday as Preston Claiborne picked up the win as he pitched 1.2 scoreless innings and executed a perfect sacrifice bunt in his first MLB at-bat.
After Jeff Samardzija had yet another outstanding start but did not get the win as a result of the Yankees scoring two runs in the ninth to tie the game, Matt Daley, Matt Thornton, Claiborne and David Robertson, who picked up his ninth save in as many chances, combined to only allow two hits in four innings.
Chase Whitley, who was making his second start, held his own once again as he allowed one run in 4.1 innings while striking out three. Dellin Betances came on in relief of him to pitch 1.2 perfect innings and add three more strikeouts. He now has an impressive 45 strikeouts in 26 innings.
In the ninth inning, when the Yankees were losing 2-0, Ichiro Suzuki scored after grounding into a fielder’s choice to the shortstop and then Brendan Ryan scored the tying run after defensive replacement Darwin Barney made an error throwing to first.
The Yankees came through in the clutch off of Cubs closer Hector Rondon. The offense came up big once again in the 13th inning. After Ryan singled to leadoff the inning and Yangervis Solarte walked, Claiborne’s perfectly executed sacrifice bunt in front of the pitcher advanced the runners to second and third with two outs. Ryan, who came into the game in the ninth inning, scored the winning run on a wild pitch by former Yankee Jose Veras, and John Ryan Murphy’s single sent Solarte home from third.
Murphy is now hitting an impressive .406 in 32 at-bats. Solarte, who had two hits in four at-bats and scored that insurance run, improved his average to .317. He is still leading the team in average, on-base percentage (.394), RBI (24) and total bases (70). The Yankees (24-21) would not be in first place in the American League East without Solarte, who had previously spent his career in the minors in both the Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers organizations.
The Yankees will now move onto the south side of Chicago where they will play the White Sox for four games at US Cellular Field. Thursday’s game will be at 8:10 p.m. EST. The White Sox, who have a 23-25 record and have lost three of their past five games, are third in MLB in runs scored, seventh in batting average and seventh in slugging percentage.
However, the White Sox are now without impressive rookie Cuban slugger Jose Abreu, who is out indefinitely with an ankle injury. He was leading the team in homers (15), RBI (42), and runs scored (29). He is also currently leading the AL in homers and RBI. The Yankees are lucky that their depleted pitching staff will not have to face him in this series.
On Thursday night, White Sox ace Chris Sale will make his return from the disabled list. His last start came on April 17 when he allowed one run in seven innings to the Red Sox. Sale had a 1.23 ERA in two starts against the Yankees last season.
For the Yankees, David Phelps will get his third start of the season since Michael Pineda was put on the disabled list. Phelps has allowed one, four and zero earned runs respectively in those three starts. His best start came on May 17 against the Pittsburgh Pirates as he struck out a season-high five batters and walked three in five scoreless innings. He was able to earn his first win of the season.
On Wednesday it was revealed that Pineda, who is on the disabled list as a result of a back strain, is making progress and looked comfortable during a 30-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium. This obviously means that he has not suffered a setback, which is a good sign.
The starting pitcher on Friday for the Yankees will be Hiroki Kuroda (3-3, 4.61 ERA), and the starter for the White Sox will be former Yankee Hector Noesi (0-3, 5.32 ERA). On Saturday, at 2:10 p.m. EST, Vidal Nuno (1-1, 5.82 ERA) will face John Danks (3-4, 5.64 ERA). In the series finale, at 2:10 p.m. EST on the YES Network, Andre Rienzo, who is a rare baseball player from Brazil, will get the start for the White Sox. Masahiro Tanaka (6-1, 2.39 ERA), the rookie sensation from Japan, will look to bounce back from his first loss of the season.
This will be the first series that the Yankees have played against the American League Central this season.