I know it’s April, and the season is only 13 games old, but it always feels good to take three out of four from the defending champs, especially when the defending champs are the Red Sox. Last night, the Yankees did just that. Carlos Beltran provided the big bopping heroics, Ivan Nova battled deep into the game and the bullpen hung on, in what felt like a huge game at The Stadium. Let’s get into the particulars, shall we?
First of all, Nova didn’t have his best stuff, which has been the case with a lot of Yankees pitching wins so far this season. I feel like we should have a team T-shirt that says “I Didn’t Have My Best Stuff Today, and All I Got Was This Stupid Win.” Anyway, Nova wasn’t as wild as he has been so far this season, and he didn’t walk anyone for the first time, but he did leave a lot of pitches up in the zone. As a result, his 7.1 innings with only 2 runs allowed seemed a lot more laborious than the pitching line would suggest. He scattered 8 hits and was bailed out by some nice defensive plays, including Brett Gardner gunning down Jackie Bradley at the plate in the top of the 2nd. That all being said, 7.2 innings and 2 runs (with 4 Ks) is head and shoulders above what he’s been able to do in his other starts, so I’ll take that as a big step forward in his season. We’ll even forget the monster home run he game up to Mike Napoli.
I mentioned this in the opener, but Carlos Beltran really was the hero of this game. The Yankees struggled all night when it came time to get the big knock, which has been an annoying pattern over the last few years. The Yanks only pushed 3 runs across the board, despite not having any 123 innings all game long. In the first inning, They were peppering Felix Doubront left and right, and had 2nd and 3rd with 1 out, and managed to score no runs. The inning ended on a fly ball from Soriano. Beltran tagged and jogged home to score, as he should have, but Ellsbury decided to take third and was thrown out before Beltran could score. Sure, Beltran could have hustled more, but Ellsbury was going top speed and still got thrown out by a mile. He should have stayed put.
Anywho, Beltran more than made up for it in the bottom of the 3rd, smashing a 2-run homer deep into the night. It was Beltran’s second go ahead home run in as many days. He’s really starting to hit, and that’s why they signed him. Later on, when Fransisco Cervelli blew out his hamstring (and because Derek Jeter and Brian Roberts were also nursing injuries), Beltran played first base for the first time in his professional career. The way Joe Girardi told it in the post-game, he asked Beltran if he’d ever played first and Beltran said “No. Whatever you want.” It is obvious that Beltran loves being a Yankee and really just wants to win a championship before his career ends. He’s selfless, and he’s been a great addition to the team in 2014.
I have to mention the bullpen a little more before I end this post. The 8th inning was very scary. After Nova got the first out, Matt Thornton came in to get “Big Papi” David Ortiz, and almost blew the lead. If not for Ichiro making a great catch while crashing into the wall, Ortiz might have been at third with one out, which could have changed the complexion of the game. One could also give Beltran some credit there. If he’d refused to play first, would he have caught that ball against the fence? We’ll never know. David Phelps, coming off of his best performance of the year, was brought in to get the last out. He allowed a shift-aided double to Napoli, walked Daniel Nava and hit A.J. Pierzynski to load the bases, before finally striking out pinch hitter Mike Carp to end the threat. I’m not sure why Cesar Cabral wasn’t brought in to face either of the last two lefties, but it worked out. Kudos to Shawn Kelley for his breezy 123 9th inning to seal the win.
The Yankees will now finally have a day off on Monday, before the Cubbies come to town for three games starting on Tuesday night. I’ll be here to cover it.
Featured image courtesy of: Kathy Willens/AP
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