The Yankees ended this game in the top of the 1st inning. Mets’ pitcher Jonathon Niese allowed three consecutive hits to start the game. Mark Teixeira delivered a two run double down the line to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead, which was all the offense they wound up needing. For good measure, however, Robinson Cano also laced a double to the opposite field to drive Tex in, making it 3-0 Yankees before the Metropolitans had lifted a bat.
Ivan Nova was not sharp, but he was lucky and there’s truth in the old saying that it’s better to be lucky. Nova gave up only one run on 89 pitches in five innings of work, but he allowed seven hits and walked two batters. That’s almost two base runners an inning. Nova repeatedly came one well placed hit away from giving up the lead, but managed to work out of trouble through a combination of good situational pitching and incredible defense.
Nova’s biggest challenge came in the bottom of the fifth inning when the Mets loaded the bases with two outs. After a brief conference on the mound with Russell Martin, Ivan got Angel Pagan to strike out to get out of trouble. His spot came up with the bases loaded in the top of the sixth, so Joe Girardi decided that rather than have Nova strike out with the bases loaded it was best to take him out after only 89 pitches to let Jorge Posada strike out with the bases loaded.
The big plays with the leather came courtesy of Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, Eduardo Nunez, and home plate umpire Jerry Layne. Cano ended the first inning with an unassisted double play. He ran down a grounder that took an awkward hop near second base, and made a strong throw to first across his body, all in one motion. Later in the game A-Rod did his best Derek Jeter impersonation. After stabbing a ball in the hole at third base, he pivoted on one leg, jumped and fired a strike to Tex at first, who was grabbing throws in the dirt all night.
In the bottom of the seventh, with Jose Reyes on first, Reyes tagged on a routine fly ball to center. Eduardo Nunez dropped the relay throw from Curtis Granderson and Reyes took off for third. Nunez threw a strike to A-Rod. With the third base umpire inexplicably in left field, home plate umpire Jerry Layne had to cover the play. From his vantage, Reyes was out. Replays, however, make it look pretty clear that Jose slid in under the tag. Mets’ manager Terry Collins was furious, and was thrown out arguing the call. The Yankees were up only 3-1 at that point. The call was the difference between having a runner at third with one out, versus having no one on and two outs.
There was only one thing to complain about in what was otherwise a solid, all-around victory. Joe Girardi used seven different pitchers, in a nine inning game,
because he’d been taking tips from Rangers’ manager Ron Washington for no apparent reason at all. Girardi didn’t even take the pitchers out because the nine hole in the lineup came to bat six different times. Often he was giving his pitchers comically short leashes. Luis Ayala was given only 0.2 innings of work. He walked one batter and immediately got pulled. Boone Logan was used for that all important one batter. Hector Noesi got one out in the ninth with a four run lead before allowing a hit that led Girardi to turn to Mariano Rivera. In a non-save situation, with one out in the bottom of the ninth and a four run lead, anytime you have a chance to use your 41 year old closer you have to be all over it like a rash. When it was all said and done the Yankees had only Sergio Mitre left in the bullpen.
Apart from being frustrating, the excessive use of the ‘pen was also questionable strategically. The Yankees don’t have an off day until the All-Star break. They play their next two games in NL ballparks, where Joe the tinkerer goes a little crazy. Bartolo Colon pitches for the first time since coming off the DL Saturday, and could easily last only a few innings. So, why not use all your relievers for short appearances?
Offensively, the Yankees had a balanced attack. Cano, Tex and A-Rod all had RBI doubles, while Eduardo Nunez managed to go four-for-four for the first time in his young career. In total the Yankees managed 11 hits from six different players.
The Yankees look to extend their win streak to seven games today. The game is at 4pm and will be on Fox, which means Larry will get a chance to watch it from his vacation, but he’ll have to suffer through Joe Buck and Tim McCarver to do it. Bartolo Colon returns for the Yankees. The Mets counter with Dillon Gee.
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