The Yankees lost to the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday night at a cool and misty Yankee Stadium, 6-3, in the third and final game of the series. Luckily for the players and fans at the game the rain never came like it was predicted to. After splitting the first two games they now have a 1-2 record.
CC Sabathia had his first start since May of last season and was not as bad as his stats indicate. He allowed four earned runs (five overall) in 5.2 innings while allowing eight hits. However, a positive sign is that he had eight strikeouts and zero walks.
All four earned runs that Sabathia allowed came in the second inning and he was able to bounce back after that. Toronto’s four runs in the second came as a result of five singles, which means that he was not being hit hard and the results from that inning easily could have been different. If Sabathia did not deflect a ball hit by Danny Valencia that could have been a double play turned by the Yankees instead of a single that loaded the bases.
He was able to throw with more velocity than he did last season while having very good control. He obviously needs to avoid having innings where he gives up multiple hits like he did in the second, but that might be the result of making his first start in 10 months. This is a start that he can build on while looking to improve against the lighter hitting Baltimore Orioles next week.
Offensively, the Yankees were able to score for the first time in the fifth inning as Didi Gregorius hit an RBI single that scored John Ryan Murphy but was easily picked off of first for his second base-running mistake in the first three games. Gregorius is now hitting .143 in the first three games.
Alex Rodriguez was cheered by the sparsely populated crowd at Yankee Stadium during his first at-bat, and then the crowd got even louder when he hit a solo homer to near the second level in the left field bleachers. That was his first homer since September 20 of 2013. Mark Teixeira hit a homer that just cleared the wall in left to put the Yankees back in the game and make the score 5-3 Blue Jays.
Based on it being so long since A-Rod had hit a homer he basically felt lost running the bases. “I felt like I needed Google Maps to round the bases,” Rodriguez said. “It’s been a long, long time. Anytime you get the first one off the column, a win, a hit, RBI, all those things are important.”
The Yankees had a chance to tie the game in the sixth but Stephen Drew, who replaced Gregorio Petit at second, struck out on a high fastball with Chris Young at third and Murphy at second. The Yankees were also hurt by going 1-9 with runners in scoring position and leaving seven runners on base.
Gregorius has made a few uncharacteristic wild throws in the field and had his base-running blunders but his at-bat song, Notorious, is obviously the right one. It rhymes with his name. He was able to make one outstanding play that he will likely make many times this season. He was able to go into the hole between short and third and make a solid one hop throw to first.
The only real mistake pitch that was thrown by a Yankees pitcher was the pitch that Esmil Rogers threw to Edwin Encarnacion in the eighth inning. Encarnacion is one of the premier power hitters in baseball and has hit 34, 36 and 42 homers in each of the past two seasons. Rogers should not have thrown him anything in the middle of the plate. According to Bryan Hoch, Encarnacion is 21-for-53 (.396) with 10 R, 5 HRs and 10 RBIs in his last 14 games vs. the Yankees.
It is a great sign that A-Rod was able to hit his first homer of the season in only the third game of the campaign.
Nathan Eovaldi, the hard-throwing righty, will get his first start for the Yankees when they play the Red Sox on Friday night. The 25-year-old has already mastered the art of shutting down the running game.