When Michael Pineda rung up his final batter — one last strikeout on one last slider — he pounded his chest and pointed to the sky. If there were any question who the Yankees ace might be, Pineda seemed to have answered it definitively this afternoon. Pineda struck out a career-high 16 batters in a 6-2 win against the Orioles. It secured another series win for the Yankees, and left Pineda just two strikeouts shy of the single-game franchise record held by Ron Guidry. He settled for a tie with David Wells and David Cone for second-most. He also cut his ERA to 2.72, got his league-leading fifth win of the year, and moved into the American League lead with 54 strikeouts. He’s still walked only three, none of which happened today.
From the last out of the third inning through the middle of the sixth, Pineda struck out eight of the nine batters he faced, including six in a row. The only damage he allowed was a J.J. Hardy home run in the second inning (Hardy’s third home run in nine career at-bats against Pineda). Hardy was the only Orioles starter without a strikeout, and the bottom third of the Baltimore lineup went 0-for-9 with eight strikeouts.
Four runs in the fourth inning gave Pineda all the support he needed. Carlos Beltran’s first home run of the year tied the game at 1, then the next four Yankees reached base, capped by a two-run double by Jacoby Ellsbury. The Yankees tacked on runs in the fifth and seventh innings, and Esmil Rogers allowed a run in the eighth.
Associated Press photo
Game 32: Yankees vs. Orioles • 05.10.15
RHP Michael Pineda (4-0, 2.97)
Pineda vs. Orioles
Manny Machado 3B
Jimmy Paredes DH
Adam Jones CF
Delmon Young RF
Chris Davis 1B
JJ Hardy SS
Alejandro De Aza LF
Caleb Joseph C
Ryan Flaherty 2B
RHP Bud Norris (1-3, 9.75)
Norris vs. Yankees
TIME/TV: 1:05 p.m., YES Network and MLB Network
WEATHER: Cloudy but nice out. Looks like a solid way to wrap up a short home stand.
UMPIRES: HP Mark Carlson, 1B Mike DiMuro, 2B Tripp Gibson, 3B Brian Gorman
ONE-TWO PUNCH: According to Elias, since the inception of earned runs (1912 in the NL, 1913 in the AL), Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller are the only pair of teammates to each throw 15-or-more innings through their team’s first 30 games of a season without being charged with an earned run. Ellias also notes that the only other Yankees pitcher to have ever started a season with 15 consecutive appearances without an earned run was Lee Guetterman who went 19 straight in 1989.
BAT ON THE BENCH: Jose Pirela has five multi-hit games through his first 10 Major League games (two in 2015 and had three as a September call-up in 2014). He is just the eighth player in Yankees history with at least five multi-hit games through his first 10 career games joining Norm McMillan (six) and Jerry Coleman, Joe DiMaggio, Leo Durocher, Ed Hahn, Phil Rizzuto and Snuffy Stirnweiss (five each). Six of the eight were middle infielders.
ON THIS DATE: It was on May 10, 1936 that Joe DiMaggio went 1-for-4 with his first Major League home run. It came off Philadelphia’s George Turbeville in a 7-2 Yankees win.
UPDATE, 1:28 p.m.: Few base stealers are harder on themselves when they’re thrown out than Brett Gardner. He’s been that way ever since I’ve known him, even in Triple-A. Brutal caught stealing here in the first inning, making the last out of the inning at third base. There’s some benefit to getting into third base in that situation, but not enough to make it worth the risk. Had to be certain he’d make it before he took off, and he was wrong. Bad blunder.
UPDATE, 1:32 p.m.: JJ Hardy’s first home run of the years makes it a 1-0 Orioles lead in the second.
UPDATE, 1:46 p.m.: Second straight Yankees inning with two runners on base. Second straight inning without a run.
UPDATE, 2:20 p.m.: Carlos Beltran’s first home run of the season has tied the game at 1. He missed a home run by a couple of feet his first at-bat. Got it out this time.
UPDATE, 2:26 p.m.: Young makes the wrong decision on a throw to third, and Headley makes an alert break for home to put the Yankees in front 2-1.
UPDATE, 2:31 p.m.: Two-run double for Ellsbury and the Yankees are up 4-1. Orioles going to their bullpen. Three run lead for Pineda after four innings? Would be a letdown to lose this one.
UPDATE, 2:45 p.m.: Pineda with 12 strikeouts through five innings. First time in his career he’s struck out more than 10 in a game.
UPDATE, 2:50 p.m.: McCann keeps a home run just inside the foul pole to push the lead to 5-1. A four-run lead feels like 14 runs with the way Pineda’s pitching.
UPDATE, 3:32 p.m.: No major league pitcher had more than 12 strikeouts in a game until today. Pineda finishes off the seventh inning with two more strikeouts and has a career-high 16 Ks. He’s well over 100 pitches, so I have to think his day is done. Dominant performance. Yankees still up 5-1.
UPDATE, 3:50 p.m.: Pineda finished after seven innings. Ties Cone and Wells for the second-most strikeouts in a game by a Yankees starter. Guidry still has the record at 18.
The Yankees’ ace takes his turn this afternoon, and everyone knows it except — perhaps — the man himself.
With Masahiro Tanaka on the disabled list and CC Sabathia still looking for his first win, the Yankees No. 1 starter is clearly Michael Pineda. Joe Girardi talks ofter about a team’s ace being whoever is starting on any given day, and that’s a nice idea, but there’s something to be said for a true powerhouse at the top of the rotation.
And after years of waiting for him to get healthy, the Yankees seem to have that in Pineda.
“I think when you look at your starters, you think about how it relates to the bullpen in a sense and how deep they’re going to go into games,” Girardi said. “And he’s one of those guys, who, because he throws so many strikes, and gets ahead in the count, he can go deep into games and you don’t use your bullpen as much. I think people always put those things together as, that’s an ace of the staff, too. Do I think different (on days Pineda pitches)? Yeah, I think sometimes you’re going to get a little more length, but you’re still going to need your bullpen.”
Sabathia has always talked about his responsibility as a veteran rotation leader, and surely Tanaka can’t help but notice the attention and expectation that he carries each time he’s on the mound, but Pineda takes a different attitude. He comes across as a carefree guy, basically the same attitude this year that he had last season when he opened as the No. 5.
“My guess is he doesn’t really think much about it,” Girardi said. “My guess is he just goes out there every fifth day, does his job, loves to compete, has fun, entertains us with some of the things he does out there. My guess, and I have not heard him talk about it – but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t – is that he doesn’t think about it.”
• Alex Rodriguez is back in the lineup after sitting out yesterday with some leg tightness. Would Girardi prefer his 39-year-old just stop at second next time he has a chance to stretch for a triple? “If you can get there, you want a guy to get there, since there are so many other ways to score from third base,” Girardi said. “But I would tell him just to hit the ball over the fence.”
• Tanaka played long toss again today. Seemed to have no issues.
• One day after both Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller were unavailable because of workload, the Yankees would like another game when they don’t need to use their bullpen too much. Only Chasen Shreve and David Carpenter had to pitch out of the pen yesterday. “We were able to get some of the guys a day off yesterday,” Girardi said. “But it’d be nice to get them another day off today.”
• There have been some positive signs with Pineda’s velocity lately. He’s been average up around 93 mph the past two times out — close to 94 mph last time — after sitting closer to 90-91 his first few starts. “I think some of that has to do with weather,” Girardi said. “Some of the days he’s pitched, have not been ideal conditions, and I think as you see the weather warm up — he pitched in a dome the last time – you’ll see the velocity come with it.”
• I was off the first two home Sundays this season. I’d kind of forgotten how quiet these days are pregame. Very few players in the clubhouse before batting practice. Nothing unusual going on during BP. Today there are a lot of pink shirts being worn, but otherwise, it’s just another slow Sunday morning at the stadium.
Associated Press photos
On the day Masahiro Tanaka went on the disabled list, Joe Girardi said he didn’t want any of his starting pitchers to try to fill those shoes. Girardi simply wanted his pitchers to be the best versions of themselves.
Fact is, on any given night, the best version of Pineda just might be the best Yankees starting pitcher even when Tanaka’s healthy. If the title of ace is up for grabs, Pineda made a strong case with tonight’s performance.
“He’s doing the job, and that’s the bottom line,” Girardi said. “It’s what we saw last year from him. He’s been as good as anyone we’ve got.”
Honestly, Pineda could have been better. Not because he didn’t pitch a complete game, but because he didn’t have his complete arsenal in the early innings. It took Pineda a while to find his slider, which accounts for some of those early base runners and hard-hit balls out of the gate. It was only after he found the slider and finished off his three-pitch mix that Pineda was truly dominant in the later innings.
“He’s a big-time pitcher,” Jacoby Ellsbury said. “If you don’t have one of your pitches, it’s a game of adjustments, not only from the offense’s side, but from a pitcher’s side. If you can go in there knowing one pitch isn’t working for you and find a way to get outs, that’s very impressive.”
With the slider, Pineda breezed through his final 10 batters. He didn’t seem to be slowing down. Instead, he seemed to be finding his stride. Girardi said he didn’t want to push Pineda past 101 pitches — he still remembers those shoulder problems of the past three seasons — but Girardi recalled the old saying that hitters have to get to a starting pitcher early or they won’t get to him at all. Once Pineda had his slider working, the Blue Jays had no chance.
“He pounds the zone with three pitches, and he knows exactly where they’re going,” Brian McCann said. “So you can throw the 3-1 slider. You can do a lot more to pound the zone. It’s impressive to have the command he has, with the stuff he has. … You can go wherever you want. You can attack hitters’ weaknesses. It’s not, because he can’t find the zone you have to call a fastball. You don’t have to. You see how the game goes, but it’s a lot easier to call a game when a guy knows where it’s going.”
Pineda said he’s not worried about the label of staff ace, but his ERA is down to 2.97 and he’s been the winning pitcher in four of his six starts. He’s pitched into the eighth inning twice and through the eighth inning once. Tonight he shutdown the highest-scoring offense in baseball.
“He’s a top of the rotation starter,” McCann said. “We’re not big on saying this guy’s an ace, that guy’s an ace. We’ve got five guys who compete every single night, and we’re glad he’s at the top of our rotation.”
• Chase Headley didn’t come in for ninth-inning defense because his back was bothering him after last night’s diving play at third base. Headley said it’s no big deal and isn’t the same as the back issue that lingered with him in San Diego. Girardi said he expects Headley to play tomorrow. “Just sore,” Headley said.
• Gregorio Petit had a fluoroscope done on his hand after tonight’s game. That early test came back negative — it’s sort of like an X-ray — and Girardi said the team might do more tests tomorrow. Petit was hit by a pitch in the ninth inning and had to leave the game. “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow,” Girardi said. “If we have to X-ray it, we’ll X-ray it.”
• Worth noting that Petit’s injury could make the move simple for activating Jose Pirela tomorrow. “We’ll wait and see what we’ve got tomorrow (before announcing a move),” Girardi said.
• Jacoby Ellsbury had three hits tonight and now has 18 hits in his past 35 at-bats. “It’s hard to imagine you could be hotter than he is,” Girardi said. “He’s been unbelievable at the top of the order.”
• Ellsbury on his absurd hot streak: “You just go out there each and every day, try to put quality at-bats together and get on base for guys to drive me in. It obviously gives you a lot of confidence going each at-bat, each game. Just trying to keep it going as long as possible.”
• After missing yesterday with a sore lat, Mark Teixeira returned tonight to make some nice plays in the field and hit his team-leading 10th home run of the season. “You deal with bumps and bruises all year,” Teixeira said. “Yesterday, Joe thought it was a good day for me to take off and let it rest. It feels a little better today.”
• Tonight’s home run moved Teixeira into a tie with Carlos Beltran for the fourth-most home runs by a switch hitter. Both have 373. “It’s great to be able to play with a guy like Carlos,” Teixeira said. “I’ve played with Carlos, Chipper Jones and Lance Berkman, three of the best switch-hitters of our generation. It’s been a lot of fun playing with those guys. Hopefully we’ll be battling on that list for the next couple years.”
• This game seemed well in hand with a 6-0 lead in the ninth, but David Carpenter’s brutal night forced the Yankees to bring Andrew Miller in for a one-out save. Miller needed just nine pitches for his 11th save of the season. “It’s not what you want to do, but we had to,” Girardi said. “And we won the game, and that’s the most important thing.”
• Carpenter hasn’t been used very much this season, and he certainly hasn’t been used in many high-leverage situations. Tonight he was hit hard and hit often allowing three runs while getting just two outs. He gave up one home run and just missed two others. “Just missed location,” Girardi said. “That’s the bottom line. He’s a guy that relies on location even though he throws hard. You still have to locate, and he missed location.”
• Girardi had the bullpen up at the end of the seventh, but he said that was precautionary. “Just in case (Pineda) got into a long inning and some long at-bats,” Girardi said. “You don’t want to put him out there too long. We’ve talked about Michael, you know. Michael came off a serious shoulder injury and has not thrown 200 innings, so we’re going to watch him a little bit.”
• We’ll give the final word to McCann about Pineda: “I felt like he was tough from the first pitch. He creates such tough angles for hitters, that it’s hard to square him up. And it’s hard to do it consecutive at-bats. That’s why he doesn’t give up big innings. That’s why he pitches deep into ballgames. He’s just got really good stuff and knows what he’s doing.”
Associated Press photos
Game 27: Yankees at Blue Jays • 05.05.15
RHP Michael Pineda (3-0, 3.73)
Pineda vs. Blue Jays
BLUE JAYS (13-14)
Devon Travis 2B
Josh Donaldson 3B
Russell Martin C
Edwin Encarnacion DH
Justin Smoak 1B
Kevin Pillar CF
Chris Colabello LF
Ryan Goins SS
Ezequiel Carrera RF
RHP Marco Estrada (1-0, 0.84)
Estrada vs. Yankees
TIME/TV: 7:07 p.m., YES Network
WEATHER: Pretty nice day out, but they’re going to be playing under a dome.
UMPIRES: HP Ed Hickox, 1B Toby Basner, 2B Dana DeMuth, 3B Mike Estabrook
GOING DEEP: The Yankees have hit 33 home runs, third-most in the American League and fifth in the Majors (the Astros, Dodgers, Reds and Mariners have more). Mark Teixeira (9), Alex Rodriguez (6) and Chris Young (6) are the only set of three teammates with six or more home runs.
STILL HOT AS ELL: Jacoby Ellsbury has a seven-game hitting streak during which he’s 5-for-30 with five stolen bases and a 1.092 OPS. He has raised his season batting average from .282 to .347 over the stretch.
ON THIS DATE: It was on May 5, 1922 that the construction contract for Yankee Stadium was awarded to New York’s White Construction Company with the edict that the job be completed “at a definite price” of $2.5 million by Opening Day 1923. Just 284 working days later, the stadium hosted its inaugural game on April 18, 1923 when the Yankees defeated the Red Sox, 4-1 in front of an estimated crowd of 74,200.
UPDATE, 7:26 p.m.: I was watching on the press dining room TV when Gardner doubled in the first inning, but I was pretty stunned to see he got to second on that ball. Maybe it looked different in person, but on TV I thought it was nothing more than a single. Anyway, Gardner’s double and a two-run double by A-Rod have the Yankees in front 2-0 after a half inning.
UPDATE, 7:42 p.m.: Throwing error, then a botched attempt to catch a shallow fly ball. Couple of Blue Jays mistakes kept the inning going and set the stage for a two-out RBI single by Ellsbury. It’s now 3-0 heading into the bottom of the second.
UPDATE, 7:46 p.m.: Really nice play by Didi.
UPDATE, 8:13 p.m.: Gardner’s range really saved the Yankees in the third. He got to a double in the corner quickly enough to keep a run from scoring, then he tracked down a fly ball in the corner to end the inning (barely keeping the ball in his glove in the process). Pineda is through three scoreless.
UPDATE, 8:36 p.m.: Long three-run home run by Teixeira for a 5-0 Yankees lead in the fifth.
Pitching matchups in Toronto • 05.04.15
RHP Chase Whitley (1-0, 1.80)
RHP R.A. Dickey (0-3, 5.23)
7:07 p.m., YES Network
RHP Michael Pineda (3-0, 3.73)
RHP Marco Estrada (1-0, 0.84)
7:07 p.m., YES Network
LHP CC Sabathia (0-4, 5.40)
LHP Mark Buehrle (3-2, 6.75)
7:07 p.m., YES Network
Associated Press photo
This might not have been the worst game of Alex Rodriguez’s career, but it had to be close. He came to the plate in the 13th inning with a chance to change that completely and instead hit into a game-ending double play, meaning he accounted for seven outs in six at-bats today.
“You just have to press delete,” Rodriguez said. “Today was definitely a tough day for our offense and specifically for me, but just (have a) short memory. Another game on Friday.”
It was the fifth four-strikeout game of Rodriguez’s 21-year career, and according to ESPN Stats & Info, it was the first time he’d ever had six at-bats without a hit. After a blistering start to the season — hitting .344 with four home runs in his first 10 games — Rodriguez has hit .135 with one home run in his past 10 games.
“If I had to answer every time a guy had a bad day at the plate, we’d be here a long time,” manager Joe Girardi said. “We’d be talking about every hitter that we had. A lot of times it’s just pitch selection.”
Pitch selection had been a strength for Rodriguez throughout spring training and through those productive early games this season, but he acknowledged chasing some pitches lately. He’s still drawn plenty of walks — 10 in the past 10 games — but he hasn’t made the same contact lately. He admitted that he didn’t pick up the ball out of Rays’ starter Drew Smyly’s hand very well today.
“I definitely chased today,” Rodriguez said. “And I will often talk about, going back to spring training, one of the keys for our offense — and me specifically — is swing at strikes and take your A swing. And today I didn’t do that.”
Of course, Rodriguez wasn’t alone. Hard to pin an entire loss on him, especially when the Yankees had just seven hits in 13 innings, three of them from Jacoby Ellsbury. The Yankees botched walk-off opportunities in each of the game’s extra innings, and not all of those wasted opportunities hinged on Rodriguez ground balls.
That last at-bat, though, wasn’t a one-of-a-kind moment. Rodriguez just hasn’t been as good lately. His batting average is down to .232, and while his on-base percentage and slugging percentage are still good, any extended slump for a player like this leads to natural questions about whether the first 10 games or the last 10 games is a more accurate picture of who he’ll be going forward.
“It’s just kind of what you go through as a hitter,” Girardi said. “There’s going to be times where you’re extremely hot, and there’s going to be times where you’re not swinging it as well, and you hope when you’re not swinging it as well the other guys can pick you up.”
The other guys couldn’t pick him up this afternoon, and Rodriguez couldn’t turn his afternoon around in that final at-bat.
• Sure, Chasen Shreve lost it in the 13th inning, but this was another really, really good game for the Yankees’ bullpen. Until that two-out, go-ahead single, the bullpen had delivered seven scoreless innings with eight strikeouts. Since April 22, the bullpen has a 0.88 ERA. “The amount of innings they’ve had to pitch is incredible,” Girardi said. “You give up the one run today and it beats you. It’s unfortunate. We got a lot of innings out of them today, and they did a great job.”
• The Yankees bullpen retired the first 14 batters it faced with five different relievers contributing to that stretch.
• According to Elias, that run Shreve allowed in the 13th was the first earned run allowed by a Yankees reliever in 17.2 innings in Michael Pineda’s starts this season.
• Of course, it might not have come to that if the Yankees hadn’t blown scoring opportunities in every extra inning today. They had runners on base in the 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th and had nothing to show for it. “As an offense, you want to be able to come through in those situations and show the bullpen some love,” Chris Young said.
• Dellin Betances has struck out at least two batters without allowing a hit in each of his past six appearances. It’s the longest such streak by any Yankees reliever since at least 1914. That’s according to Elias.
• Andrew Miller pitched two perfect innings with three strikeouts. He has multiple strikeouts in six of his 10 outings and has 20 strikeouts in 11.1 innings today. He’s allowed just three hits.
• Pretty good start for Michael Pineda. The Rays worked some long at-bats against him, and Kevin Kiermaier got the big two-run triple, but otherwise Pineda was pretty good through 5.2 innings. He said he was dropping his hand a little bit in his delivery which led to his occasional struggles. He still didn’t walk anyone.
• Pineda was just about to throw a bullpen yesterday when he found out he was making today’s start. Did that affect him at all? “No. Today is my first day (fully rested) for pitching, you know?,” Pineda said. “Joe tell me that, and I say okay, because today is my first day for pitching.”
• Girardi said he felt OK about going into his bullpen in the sixth inning because he knew there was an off day tomorrow. He felt he had enough innings available to get through the game.
• That game-winning single was actually stopped by Stephen Drew in shallow right field. He made a sliding stop but decided he had no chance to get an out at first base (Mark Teixeira had to rush over to cover the bag, but Drew said there wouldn’t have been time anyway). “I didn’t think I really had a shot, to be honest, to even get to the ball,” Drew said. “When I got up to go throw, there was no shot to get him, and really no momentum, especially when you’re going to your left there.”
• The Yankees struck out 16 times today. That’s their highest total since they also struck out 16 times in a 14-inning game on September 29, 2013.
• Chase Headley hit his first home run since April 12, and the Yankees have now homered in 17 of 22 games this season. Headley has hit nine home runs since coming to the Yankees, and eight of them have come at Yankee Stadium.
• Jacoby Ellsbury had three singles — the rest of the Yankees had just four hits — and he now has nine multi-hit games this season. He’s hitting .444 with five stolen bases in his past seven games.
• Final word goes to Rodriguez: “Our goal is to win games. We won another series here against Tampa. The team is playing very well. It would have been nice to get today, for sure, for the sweep. But our goal continues to be the same: Go to Boston; win a series.”
Associated Press photos
Game 22: Yankees vs. Rays • 04.29.15
RHP Michael Pineda (3-0, 3.86)
Pineda vs. Rays
David DeJesus DH
Steven Souza Jr. RF
Asdrubal Cabrera SS
Evan Longoria 3B
James Loney 1B
Logan Forsythe 2B
Kevin Kiermaier CF
Brandon Guyer LF
Bobby Wilson C
LHP Drew Smyly (0-0, 3.86)
Smyly vs. Yankees
TIME/TV: 1:05 p.m., YES Network
WEATHER: Really nice day here in the Bronx. Sunny. Comfortable. Nice way to wrap up the home stand.
UMPIRES: HP Chad Fairchild, 1B Jim Joyce, 2B Greg Gibson, 3B Marvin Hudson
GOING DEEP: The Yankees are tied with the Orioles for fourth in the Majors with 27 home runs this season. They trail the Astros, Dodgers and Blue Jays (each with 28 home runs). The Blue Jays, Reds and Yankees are the only teams in baseball with at least four players who have at least four home runs (for the Yankees, that’s Teixeira, Rodriguez, Young and Drew).
FOUR IN THE SCORE: The Yankees are 12-3 when scoring at least four runs this season, and they’re 12-2 when allowing four runs or less.
ON THIS DATE: On April 29, 2006, the Yankees scored at least one run in every inning of a 17-6 win at Yankee Stadium, only the second such time in franchise history and the sixth in American League history.
UPDATE, 1:42 p.m.: Leadoff single in the top of the third is the first Rays hit of the game. Pineda’s looked sharp so far.
UPDATE, 2:07 p.m.: Ellsbury’s been on twice again today. He’s singled in his first two at-bats. Stole a base in the first inning; caught stealing in the third.
UPDATE, 2:16 p.m.: Two-out, two-run triple by Kiermaier has the Rays in the lead, 2-0, here in the fourth inning. Pineda has been pitching well all game, but he’s worked slow and has occasionally looked weirdly uncomfortable on the mound. Rothschild went out to talk to him after the triple. He’s already at 74 pitches and David Carpenter is getting loose in the bullpen.
UPDATE, 2:39 p.m.: After going 55 at-bats without one, Chase Headley just homered to pull the Yankees within 2-1.
UPDATE, 2:46 p.m.: Pineda finished after 5.2 innings, and Wilson comes in to get the final out of the sixth inning. Yankees still down 2-1
UPDATE, 3:29 p.m.: Not sure why, but I’ve been completely unable to get into the blog since the last update. It’s now a tied game heading into the ninth. The Yankees tied it on a Chris Young home run in the sixth. Dellin Betances just pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning, but he seemed to limp off the field after a ground ball to third base ended the frame.
Game 12: Yankees at Rays • 04.19.15
RHP Michael Pineda (1-0, 5.11)
Pineda vs. Rays
David DeJesus DH
Steven Souza Jr. RF
Asdrubal Cabrera SS
Evan Longoria 3B
Desmond Jennings CF
Allan Dykstra 1B
Brandon Guyer LF
Tim Beckham 2B
Rene Rivera C
RHP Matt Andriese (0-0, 3.86)
Andriese has never faced any of the Yankees
TIME/TV: 1:10 p.m., WPIX
WEATHER: One last game under a roof before we head to rainy Detroit.
UMPIRES: HP David Rackley, 1B Jerry Layne, 2B Hunter Wendelstedt, 3B Bob Davidson
DOESN’T HAPPEN OFTEN: If the Yankees win today, it would give them their first series sweep at Tampa Bay since a three-game sweep September 13-15, 2005. It would be their first series sweep against anyone since taking three straight from the White Sox last August.
THROWING STRIKES: Because of guys like today’s starter Michael Pineda, the Yankees have the highest strikeout-to-walk ratio of any rotation in the American League (61 strikeouts, 15 walks) and the fifth-best in the Majors.
ON THIS DATE: It was on April 19, 1960 that Roger Maris made his Yankees debut on Opening Day in Boston. He went 4-for-5 with two home runs, a double and four RBI, setting the stage for his first of two consecutive A.L. MVP awards.
UPDATE, 1:18 p.m.: Single, balk, sac fly, walk and sac fly. The ultimate in small bites has given the Yankees a 1-0 lead in the first.
UPDATE, 1:28 p.m.: Rare walk to start the game for Pineda, then a two-run homer. Rays in front 2-1.
UPDATE, 1:54 p.m.: Ellsbury opens the third inning with his second hit of the day, but he’s caught stealing. Now Gardner has a hit to bring A-Rod up with only one on, not two.
UPDATE, 1:57 p.m.: Double by Alex. Second and third with one out for Teixeira.
UPDATE, 2:00 p.m.: Teixeira grounds to second for an out and RBI, then Headley singles softly up the middle for a 3-2 Yankees lead.
UPDATE, 2:16 p.m.: Brian McCann had the team lead in triples for less than 24 hours. He’s now joined at the top of the leader board by, of all people, Garrett Jones.
UPDATE, 2:17 p.m.: Sac fly by Murphy and it’s a 4-2 Yankees lead in the fourth.
UPDATE, 2:39 p.m.: Pineda is through four innings with the 4-2 lead intact.
UPDATE, 3:26 p.m.: If Rodriguez’s bat hadn’t cracked on that swing, he would have had his fifth homer of the year. Instead it’s caught short of the wall. The two teams traded runs in the fifth and now it’s 5-3 in the bottom of the sixth.
First Sunday day game of the year, and I’d kind of forgotten what the clubhouse is like on days like this. Quiet. Not many guys hanging around. Lineup posted late. Not a whole lot to talk about. It was only a few hours ago that we were last year, so not much has changed since last night.
The important thing is whether the Yankees situation will change by the time they board tonight’s flight to Detroit.
After Friday’s comeback and Saturday’s blowout, the Yankees have a chance to sweep this series. They already have their first series win of the season, and with a win today they would improve to .500 for the first time since the third game of the season.
“Within our division, I think it’s really important, and to try to get on a roll here,” Joe Girardi said. “We have a lot of games in the next 30 days. That’s important as well. To get back to .500 would be good.”
The Yankees have Michael Pineda and his surprisingly high 5.11 ERA heading to the mound. If he could follow Masahiro Tanaka’s lead and finally deliver his first gem of the season, that would be helpful. It would also be helpful if the Yankees offense could continue some of the promising signs it’s shown these past few days.
“It’s been really good,” Girardi said. “Even the last week, I think we’ve swung the bats better. We put a tough inning on Odorizzi in the sixth inning and finally broke through there and exploded in the seventh (last night). It was nice to see.”
• The Yankees still have not decided when Masahiro Tanaka will make his next start. There’s a chance he’ll pitch Thursday on four days rest, and there’s a chance the Yankees will insert a sixth starter sometime next week to keep Tanaka — and everyone else — on an every-six-days schedule. The Yankees don’t want to make a decision right away because there’s a solid chance they’ll be rained out tomorrow.
• Carlos Beltran is still sick. “He feels weak,” Girardi said. “I’m really hoping I get him back tomorrow.”
• Girardi said that, if Beltran were playing, he could have considered leaving Alex Rodriguez on the bench for a day game after a night game, but as it is, the Yankees feel good about putting A-Rod back in the No. 3 hole. “His at-bats are good,” Girardi said. “So there’s nothing that tells me he’s physically tired. If I see something, I’ll make an adjustment.”
• There’s a chance Rodriguez will play the field one of these upcoming four games in Detroit, but Girardi said he doesn’t have a game picked out or anything. It might happen. Might not.
• This is Pineda’s third start of the season. He’s trying to get back to the form he showed in spring training when he was the Yankees’ best pitcher. “We all feel good when Michael is on the mound,” Girardi said. “He works quickly, he gets quick outs, he has pitched extremely well. He’s got outstanding stuff and hopefully he gets deep into the game today.”
• Anything else, Joe? “I have no earth-shattering news,” he said
Associated Press photos