It’s official: the New York Yankees will not suffer a winless season in 2017. What a relief.
Last night was the Chase Headley and Ronald Torreyes show, and yes, you read that correctly. First off, the two infielders were responsible for 4 of the team’s 5 RBIs. Torreyes opened up scoring in the third inning, tearing a line drive home run over the left field wall.
It was a no doubter and Torreyes’s second career home run. You have to watch the video to fully appreciate the hit though. With Aaron Judge on first from a line drive single, Torreyes practically catches up to Judge in a near sprint around the bases after the home run. When the two meet at home plate, it looks like a father congratulating his son on his first little league home run. I don’t know if anyone is keeping track of the greatest height differences between players meeting at home plate after a home run, but I imagine this has got to be one of the biggest. Maybe that’s a market inefficiency yet to be exploited.
Headley had himself a day as well, going 2-4 with 1 R, 2 RBIs, and 1 home run, a solo shot to dead center. Here are the Statcast numbers on the home run: 102.9 mph exit velocity, 26 degree launch angle, 420 feet traveled. Nice. It’s only been two games, and I know I’ll jinx everything by saying this, but Headley actually looks pretty good at the plate. Of course after his April last season I’d consider just about anything out of him to be pretty good. So let’s be thankful for that.
In addition to their offensive performances, both of these guys were stellar in the field as well. Torreyes showed off his range all game and made a really nice bare handed play on a ball the deflected off Sabathia’s glove and dribbled just past the mound. At third Headley made a stabbing grab on a line drive straight down the line, saving what would have surely been a double off the bat of Peter Bourjos.
The one Yankees run that did not involve Torreyes or Headley came in the third thanks to the Tropicana Field dome. With Gardner on second, Matt Holliday launched a high fly ball to deep left field, not quite deep enough for a home run though. However, left fielder Bourjos lost the ball almost immediately in the roof, and it ended up landing safely on the warning track about 20 feet away from him. Because there were two outs in the inning, Gardner was basically already at home plate by the time the ball landed, so chalk it up as an RBI double for Holliday.
Starting pitcher CC Sabathia had a good day on the mound, although his line doesn’t quite tell the whole story. Sabathia went 5 IP and allowed 0 R on 3 H and 2 BB while striking out 2. 5 shutout innings is obviously a great way for CC to start his season. However, there were multiple times, especially in the fourth and fifth inning, when CC started losing a little command and really had to work hitters into deep counts. He threw about as many pitches in the fourth and fifth as he did in the first three. Still, he didn’t give up any extra base hits and rarely had to pitch with runners in scoring position. Overall a nice start.
A string of relievers including Bryan Mitchell, Tyler Clippard, Jonathan Holder, and Dellin Betances took over and more or less shut down the Rays lineup, combining for three shutout innings of work with 4 Ks, 2 H, and 1 BB. Then, with a five run lead, Joe Girardi handed the ball over to closer Aroldis Chapman and the game was as good as over. In his inning of work, Chapman allowed no base runners and struck out 2. Here’s the first K:
Are you kidding me? That’s an impossible pitch to hit. Chapman’s fastball gets a lot of attention, but you can’t ignore the fact that his slider is an elite pitch as well. Just filthy.
A couple afterthoughts. Greg Bird got his first hit of the season, a blood double down the left field line. I’m sure that’s a load off his mind. Gary Sanchez remains hitless, although he’s been making some really hard contact that’s been met with some bad luck. As long as he keeps hitting the ball hard, the hits will come.
Great to see the Yanks pick up their first win of the season. They’ll be looking to build on that with their third game against the Rays tonight. Preview to come.