Monday night, the Yankees pumped out three runs in the first inning and they looked poised to add to that total. Instead, they struggled to even get rallies going, let alone sustain them. Tonight, the bats picked up where Monday’s first inning left off.
Chris Stewart, of all people, led the way. The semi-maligned backup catcher contributed two hits and three runs batted in, two of them coming in the third inning. Those runs gave the Yankees the lead and chased Minnesota starter Francisco Liriano, who, despite some hard contact, looked good in the first inning. Liriano was consistently hitting 94 on the YES gun and was using his slider effectively. But, the third inning proved to be his downfall.
In the top half of the third–the game’s most eventful inning–the Twins took a 3-1 lead on an RBI double by Clete Thomas (who replaced the ejected Denard Span) and an RBI single by Jamey Carroll. It could’ve been worse if not for a sliding catch by Brett Gardner on a Josh Willingham ball. Despite being pegged to a lead for a second time–Willingham had a second inning home run to give the Twins a 1-0 lead–Liriano couldn’t hold it. He gave up an at ‘im ball to Alex Rodriguez to start the bottom of the frame. Andruw Jones followed with a single up the middle and Curtis Granderson slapped a ball into right that moved Jones to third; a misplay in right allowed Granderson to move to second base. A well placed infield single by Eduardo Nunez followed and plated Jones. This single happened despite Nunez bucking convention in two ways on one play: 1. He swung at a 3-0 pitch and 2. He slid into first (which way too many players do). Liriano then walked Brett Gardner and gave up the aforementioned two run single to Stewart. Derek Jeter tacked on a run with sac fly, giving the Yankees a 5-3 lead. The lead could’ve swelled to more than two had Danny Valencia not made a diving play on a Nick Swisher grounder to end the inning.
After the Yankees took the lead, Yankees’ starter CC Sabathia calmed down and turned in his best performance of the year (7.1 IP; 4 H, 3 R/ER; 1 BB; 7 K). Before issuing a walk to Trevor Plouffe in the 8th, Sabathia had retired 13 straight batters. He came out for the 8th inning and struck out Luke Hughes before turning the ball over to David Robertson and Cory Wade, who closed out the game without issue.
–Jeter added a two-out RBI single in the 5th. With the single, he’s now recorded a hit in ten of his 11 games this year.
–Gardner had two doubles and two walks.
–Jones hit his second homer of the year, a shot to deep left in the 4th.
–Both starting pitchers balked
–Stewart’s 3 RBI were a career high (he came into this game with 13 career RBI)
–Neither of Nunez’s two hits left the infield
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