Thursday, July 10, 2014

Game of the Day (7/9/14)

Yankees 5, Indians 4 (14). Brandon McCarthy made his Yankee debut in this game, facing off with Cleveland's Josh Tomlin. Apropos of nothing, I saw Tomlin in person earlier this year; he pitched an efficient and effective game against the Rangers in Arlington.

After Tomlin worked around a Derek Jeter single, the Indians went to work in McCarthy's first inning as a Yankee. Jason Kipnis led off with a single, and with one out, Michael Brantley singled and Carlos Santana reached on a Mark Teixeira error to load the bases. Lonnie Chisenhall grounded out to drive in one unearned run, and Nick Swisher singled home two more. David Murphy singled as well before McCarthy retired Yan Gomes, finally bringing the inning to a close.

Tomlin worked around a single in the second (by Ichiro) and another in the third (by Jacoby Ellsbury). The Indians had chances in each of those innings as well, as Chris Dickerson and Asdrubal Cabrera both singled in the second and Santana walked in the third, but a double play in each inning helped McCarthy keep the game within three runs. Teixeira then led off the fourth with a homer to get the Yankees on the board. After a perfect bottom of the fourth from McCarthy, New York added an Ellsbury double, a Jeter single, a Brian McCann sac fly, and another Teixeira homer in the top of the fifth to take a 4-3 lead.

Cleveland rallied to tie in the bottom of the fifth on a Cabrera double, a Brantley groundout, and a Santana single. Tomlin was perfect in the sixth, while McCarthy worked around a Swisher single; Tomlin kept the bases clear once more in the seventh, and McCarthy gave way to Matt Thornton with two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the inning, with Thornton retiring Brantley to finish off the perfect frame.

Scott Atchison and Dellin Betances combined to allow only a walk in the eighth, while Bryan Shaw and Adam Warren gave up a single apiece in the ninth. The game then progressed to extras, and the tenth inning featured the first real rallies from each side in some time. Jeter walked and McCann singled in the top of the inning before Cody Allen recovered to strand them. After Warren recorded the first out in the bottom of the tenth, David Huff walked Brantley, Santana, and Chisenhall (all on full counts) to load the bases, but Shawn Kelley relieved and got through the next two hitters with the winning run staying at third.

John Axford walked Brendan Ryan, but gave up nothing else in the eleventh, while Kelley set the Indians down in order. Axford and Mark Rzepczynski posted a spotless twelfth, while Chase Whitley yielded only a Cabrera single in the bottom of the inning. Rzepczynski worked around a Brian Roberts single in the thirteenth; Whitley didn't have any runners to work around in the bottom of the inning.

After Rzepczynski retired the first hitter of the fourteenth, he was replaced by Vinnie Pestano. One out later, Pestano served up a go-ahead home run to Ellsbury. David Robertson allowed a single and steal to Kipnis in the bottom of the fourteenth, but stranded him at second to end the game.

There are a number of things that helped New York come out on top in this one. Mark Teixeira's pair of homers continued his resurgence into respectability (his current 124 OPS+ would tie his best mark since 2009), and the more recent big-ticket free agent Jacoby Ellsbury had three hits and the game-winning homer. But the most obvious factor in the win is this: In the thirteen innings after Teixeira's error opened the door for a three-run first, the Yankee pitching staff allowed one run. That sort of thing tends to help you win a significant fraction of games.

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