Chase Headley scoring on a passed ball by Robinson Chirinos in the ninth inning with Carlos Beltran at the plate led to the Yankees winning their second walk-off win in a row over the Texas Rangers. They won 2-1 in a matinee game and closer Aroldis Chapman got his second win of the season.
The star of today’s game was Michael “Big Mike” Pineda. He pitched six dominant innings while allowing only one run, two hits, three walks and a season-high 12 strikeouts. According to Katie Sharp, all 12 of his strikeouts were swinging strikeouts, which doesn’t happen very much. He allowed a homer to Shin-Soo Choo to leadoff the game and then was impressively able to rebound from there and keep the Rangers offense off of the scoreboard.
“I feel really good,” Pineda said. “It’s what I am looking for, just pitching good and I am trying to help the team. I want to finish strong.”
This is what Pineda said in reference to how he rebounded from allowing Choo’s homer: “It’s the first batter, so I tried to be aggressive with my fastball and he got it. Then, I was walking on the mound, and said ‘OK, Big Mike, keep your head up, be focused right now and give my team the opportunity to win the game.”
This was impressive because in earlier starts Pineda has gotten frustrated at himself and has allowed one early run to turn into a few runs. It seems like he is figuring out how to motivate himself on the mound.
He has a lot of talent and when his cutter, slider and change are located he is tough to hit. Pineda was much better in June than he was in May. In 37 innings (six starts) he allowed 11 runs, did not allow more than three earned runs in any start and allowed one run three times while striking out 49 and only walking eight batters.
Big Mike has really improved as he has lowered his ERA from 6.92, when the Yankees considered dropping him from the rotation, to the much more respectable 5.24 ERA that it is now. He now seems like a starter that the Yankees will want to give an extension.
The Yankees scored their first run of the game on a homer to right by Didi Gregorius off of Rangers starter A.J. Griffin in the 5th. This was his second homer in two days and yesterday’s blast was the walk-off 3-run homer in the 9th. He has really improved on offense from last season, and he should get strong consideration for a spot on the All-Star team since he ranks near the top in homers, RBI and average among shortstops in the American League.
In 27 games in June, Gregorius had a .337 average with 11 extra-base hits, 18 RBIs, 15 runs scored and a .906 OPS. His extra-base hits included one triple, four homers and six doubles. The Yankees would not have won these last two games against the best team in the American League without Gregorius and it is a positive sign that he is coming into his own and showing real improvement at the age of 26.
“We never give up,” Gregorius said. “Hopefully we go on our best foot forward from now on and end the first half on a good note. We are doing stuff the right way lately and we just have to keep it up. I am trying to put the barrel on the ball, that’s all I’m trying to do. For me, I am just trying to get good at-bats and get something to show for it.”
The Big Three in the bullpen of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman were dominant like normal. They combined to pitch the last three innings, allow only two hits and strike out four Rangers. Betances has only allowed one run in his last 10 appearances (9 innings), Miller has only allowed two runs in his last 10 appearances (10 innings) and Chapman has allowed four runs in his last 10 appearances, but two of those came in one game (9 innings). There is a good chance that the Yankees will win if all three pitch in the same game.
With today’s win, the Yankees earned a split against the Rangers who have the best record in baseball, and it was close to being three out of four since the second game was delayed a few hours due to rain with the Yankees having the lead in the 9th. The Yankees are back to .500 once again and will look to keep the winning streak going in San Diego.
The Bronx Bombers will play a 3-game series at Petco Park against the Padres, who are 13 games below .500 (33-46). They have the worst record in the NL West and just traded away their best reliever, Fernando Rodney, to the Marlins. He has a 0.31 ERA and 17 saves.
The Yankees struggled to maintain momentum the last few times they reached .500, so they will try to reverse that trend against the Padres. If they can win the first two games against San Diego they will be two games above .500 for the first time since they were 4-2. If they sweep the lowly Padres they will be three games above .500 for the first time all season.
Alex Rodriguez will not play in the series against the Padres unless he comes into the game as a pinch hitter. He is strictly a designated hitter now and there is no DH in National League stadiums. If the Yankees sweep the Padres that could prove that the team is turning the corner since they were not able to do so against the Twins.