On Star Wars night in The Bronx, The Evil Empire played host to the inbound Cleveland Indians who were greeted rather unceremoniously despite touting a lofty record and standing in the AL Central. The Yankees bopped them around seemingly from start to finish and never once relinquished the lead in the ballgame.
The scoring started on a fielder’s choice in the first inning served up by Brian McCann. Then after a McCann double in the third inning, Starlin Castro made life miserable for pitcher Josh Tomlin and swung his bat to propel the ball into the bleachers for the first-ever grand slam of his career. Castro’s blast put the Yankees up 6-0 in the third inning, and there was still plenty more damage to be dealt on Friday night.
A Chris Gimenez homer slashed the lead in half for the Bombers but the boys in pinstripes answered in the ensuing inning. Youngster Gary Sanchez connected with a double to center field that scored Castro and then in the following inning, Sanchez would draw a walk that would score a run after Chase Headley had ripped off an RBI single. Aaron Hicks would hit a rare home run in the seventh inning and was then followed by Jacoby Ellsbury on the hit parade, as Ellsbury would single to drive Brett Gardner home to tally their 10th and 11th runs of the game to that point.
The Tribe would threaten in the eighth as they’d load the bases and gave the Yankees fits. Just three runs would be plated however as the Yankees eluded what would have been a catastrophic situation had they melted down from the 11-4 lead they had built up. By night’s end, the Yankees would weave their way into the win column with an 13-7 victory after tacking on two late runs, and in turn put more heat on Cleveland as the surging Detroit Tigers defeated the crosstown rival Mets to pull within two games of first place.
If you’re not going to be contending, you might as well spoil the fun for the others, right?
The Play: Starlin, use the force (WPA +.125)
If you expected that a grand slam would provide the biggest WPA, well: You’d be right. Castro’s third-inning dinger provided enough ammo for the Bombers to pull ahead by a large total and increase their win probability even more. No play in the game proved more pivotal than this grand salami.
– Jacoby Ellsbury went 4-for-4 on the night at the plate on Friday night. Ellsbury was one of five Yankee hitters to record a multi-hit game as they ripped off a collective 16 hits in the outing.
– Michael Pineda enjoyed a pretty solid outing on Friday night despite omitting four earned runs. Pineda struck out six batters in the six innings he pitched. Luckily, despite allowing those runs, the offense was able to pick him up and provide a boost leading to him being the pitcher of record in the game.
– After announcing he would be retiring at the conclusion of the 2016 MLB season, Mark Teixeira had a 2-for-4 night at the plate with two runs scored and a walk with a double to boot.
The Highlight: The young padawan gets on the board
Gary Sanchez recorded his first career RBI Friday night to help improve the Yankee lead in the bottom of the fifth. Sanchez’s sweet swing propelled the ball into right-center field as his RBI double would bring Starlin Castro in. The young padawan certainly is getting off on the right foot in his career in The Bronx. May many more hits follow.
Former Indians pitcher CC Sabathia (6-8, 4.15 ERA) will toe the rubber for the Yankees on Saturday afternoon. Opposing him will be former Cy Young winner Corey Kluber (10-8, 3.27 ERA) as the Yankees will look to net themselves a series win against the first-place Tribe.
Photo Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports