Thursday, June 30, 2016

Walk Off Wild Pitch Pulls Yanks Back Up to .500

     A day after their biggest win of the season, the Yankees and Rangers faced off in the final game of the four-game series. Looking to build off a strong June and earn a series split, big right-hander Michael Pineda took the bump to try and quiet the potent Ranger offense. Pineda's been really good recently, with a 3.00 ERA in a string of five consecutive quality starts. The Rangers countered with right-hander A.J. Griffin, making his second start since returning from the disabled list. Griffin, before the shoulder injury, was having a comeback player of the year type season for Texas. going 3-0 in seven starts with a 3.08 ERA. And on a beautiful afternoon in the Bronx, both Yankee fans and Ranger fans were treated to a phenomenal pitchers duel.
     Texas got off to a real early start, and by early I mean the first batter of the game. Pineda served up a middle of the plate fastball to Shin-Soo Choo that was belted into the right field seats, giving the Rangers a first inning one run lead. Big Mike would settle in after the first inning long ball, retiring seven of the first nine outs of the game via the strikeout, with six of the seven coming against consecutive batters. Griffin also settled in nicely to begin the game, keeping the Bombers scoreless through the first four frames, retiring eight consecutive batters at one point.
     The Yankees didn't record their second hit until the bottom of the fifth, but, it sure was a big one as the Pinstripers came back to tie the game. After getting Headley to strike out looking, Griffin served up a full count cutter to last night's walk off hero Didi Gregorius who promptly deposited the ball into the right field seats, tying the game at one. And once again, despite the homerun, neither starter looked like they were going to budge as the tone of the game would change once both bullpens were In action.
      Neither starter would factor into the decision, as A.J. Griffin was lifted in the bottom of the sixth, giving way to Sean Tollison. Leaving it up to their weakest link, the bullpen, Griffin left with a final line of five innings pitched, allowing one run on two hits while walking two and fanning eight. Michael Pineda was absolutely tremendous today, recording his sixth consecutive quality start. Pineda left it in the top of the seventh, leaving the games in the hands of No Runs DMC. Big Mike's final line was excellent, going six innings while allowing one run on just two hits, walking three and striking out a season-high 12 Rangers.
      With both bullpens keeping the game tied, the ninth inning is where the drama really began to unfold as the Yankees collected their second consecutive victory and earned the series split. Rangers reliever Tony Barnett led off the bottom of the ninth by walking Chase Headley, who was bunted over to second by Didi Gregorius. After walking Aaron Hicks with one out, Barnett slung a slider into the dirt against Jacoby Ellsbury that got through catcher Robinson Chirinos and chased Headley home from third on the walk-off wild pitch. Not exactly the same tamber of drama as last night's walk off, but, kept the momentum going for the Yankees as they got back to .500.
     New York travels to San Diego tonight, facing off against the San Diego Padres in a three-game series, with first pitch scheduled tomorrow night for 10:40 PM ET.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)