Backed by Castro grand slam, Yankee offense blasts off on Star Wars night in 13-7 win

Photo Credit: Seth Wenig | AP
A long time ago (today, actually) , in a galaxy far, far away (fine, in the Bronx)...the Yankees beat the Cleveland Indians 13-7 on the night of their first-ever “Star Wars Night” promotion behind a decent outing by Michael Pineda and an offensive outburst by the Yankee lineup.

The Yankees struck early on a first-inning  RBI groundout by Brian McCann, and added five more in the third. McCann delivered a gap-splitting double for his second RBI of the night, moving Mark Teixeira to third and scoring Jacoby Ellsbury. Josh Tomlin intentionally walked Chase Headley to load the bases for Starlin Castro, who promptly delivered the first grand slam of his seven-year career, giving the Yankees a 6-0 lead. At this point, I expect Terry Francona might have channeled his inner Han Solo, proclaiming, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”
Photo Credit: Seth Wenig | AP
The Indians made it interesting, though, as .198 hitter Chris Gimenez blasted a three-run homer in the top of the fifth off Pineda, who has now given up 21 dingers on the season (this ties his career high, which he previously set last year). However, the Yankees fired right back in the bottom of the inning, as Castro worked a two-out walk and Gary Sanchez ripped a double to score Castro for his first major league RBI. He didn’t have to wait long for his second, as he walked with the bases loaded in the seventh to push the lead to six, following an RBI single by Chase Headley. The Yankees added two more in the seventh, as Aaron Hicks ripped a solo homer and Jacoby Ellsbury singled to score Brett Gardner, who had tripled to right-center.

The Yankees got into trouble again in the eighth, courtesy of a poor outing by Johnny Barbato, who faced four batters, allowed a run, and didn’t get a single out, exiting the game with the bases loaded and none out. His replacement, Adam Warren, gave the Yanks a pretty good scare, surrendering two more runs and allowing the Indians to cut the deficit to four. He did, however, manage to get out of the situation without totally blowing the game (plus, he wasn’t actually charged for any earned runs, as both the baserunners that scored were Barbato’s responsibility).

In the bottom of the inning, though, Brett Gardner put the nail in the coffin with a two-run single, giving the Yanks a 13-7 lead.

Forgotten by the end of the game was Gary Sanchez’s early defense--he showed off his arm, throwing out two prospective base stealers in two attempts. In the first inning, Sanchez caught Jason Kipnis stealing with a frozen-rope throw for the second out. Then, in the second,  the Yankees executed a strike-’em-out, throw-’em-out double play as Pineda got Jose Ramirez with an 85-mph slider and Sanchez gunned down Mike Napoli, who, despite his unimpressive speed, decided to test Sanchez’s arm. After that, the Indians decided they didn’t feel like testing Sanchez any more, not attempting another steal for the rest of the game. Sanchez had a great game on both sides of the ball, but I’d offer him some more wisdom from Han--”Great, kid. Don’t get cocky.”

It was a solid night overall for the Yankees offensively--they had a baserunner in every inning, and every single one of their starters had at least one hit and reached base twice or more.  Mark Teixeira, who, earlier in the day, announced that he would retire at season’s end, went 2-4 with a walk. If Teixeira continues to produce like that, his presence will surely be missed in the Yankees’ lineup next season. Leading the way was Jacoby Ellsbury, who had four hits in a game for the first time since May 2015.

Michael Pineda, who finally got some solid run support, pitched excellently aside from the three-run homer, making few other mistakes. Overall, he gave up six hits and four runs over six-plus innings, with six strikeouts. He picked up his last earned run after leaving the game, as inherited baserunner Jose Ramirez scored on Tyler Naquin’s RBI groundout off of Richard Bleier. His counterpart, Josh Tomlin, pitched poorly, giving up seven runs and allowing eleven baserunners over four-plus innings, picking up just his fourth loss of the season.

It’s been a while since we’ve seen a performance like this from the Yankees--they didn’t pitch especially well, but managed a big win behind strong hitting. The Yankee lineup has produced at least six runs in four of the last seven games (yes, I recognize that this is a small sample size). Whether the Yanks are able to build off of this win and go on a hot streak or not, I think it’s safe to say that the Force was with them tonight.

Nick Goody pitched a scoreless ninth to preserve the win.

Win- Michael Pineda (6-10, 5.17 ERA): 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 1 HR, 6 K
Loss- Josh Tomlin (11-4, 3.81 ERA): 4.2 IP, 7 ER, 9 H, 2 BB, 1 HR, 2 K

Notables:
Jacoby Ellsbury: 4-5, 1 RBI, 2 R
Mark Teixeira: 2-4, 1 BB, 2 R
Brian McCann: 1-4, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 2 R
Starlin Castro: 2-3, HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 2 R
Rob Refsnyder: 2-4, 2 BB
Gary Sanchez: 1-4, 2 RBI, R, 2 DEF CS
Aaron Hicks: 1-4, HR, RBI, BB, R
Brett Gardner: 2-6, 2 RBI, R
Chris Gimenez: 1-3, HR, 3 RBI, R
Jose Ramirez: 3-5, R
Abraham Almonte: 2-3, RBI, R

What’s Next?
The Indians and Yankees will play the second game of the three-game set on Saturday afternoon at 1:05 PM EST. The Yankees start CC Sabathia (6-8, 4.15 ERA), who will look to bounce back from a poor performance against the Mets. The Indians send out former Cy Young winner Corey Kluber (10-8, 3.27 ERA) as they look to force a rubber match.

Article by: Peter Marshall
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