The return of ARod gave Girardi the chance to shuffle the lineup and I was interested to see what he did. He decided to put ARod back in the 4th spot, even though he hasn’t hit like a 4th guy all year (which is actually fine because those designations are overrated in the middle of the lineup…at the beginning you do want your OBP guys in front of your boppers). I thought they may put ARod behind Cano, but was more interesting, yet not surprising, was Jeter in the leadoff spot against a righty and Gardner at the bottom of the lineup. I am sure Jeter’s surge had a lot to with it and I am sure that putting Jeter 9th was not going to happen so instead of dropping Cano to the 6th hole, this was his only option. Interestingly, Jeter and ARod were both up with the bases loaded and 2 outs and neither got the job done. In fact, ARod was 0-5 and looked bad at the plate not hitting anything real well.
Yanks had two very good opportunities in the first 2 innings but failed to cash them in. The key AB was Nunez up with the bases loaded and one out with a 3-0 count on him, the pitcher threw 3 straight fastballs and struck Nunez out swinging; poor job in that spot.
The next big situation was when Granderson and Swisher did not communicate well and then at the end both players backed off and the ball fell for a double. First, that is an error and I don’t want to hear anything about they didn’t touch it, that is an error and the CF should get it because he should be in charge. If he calls for it and the other fielder runs into him and he drops it then the other fielder gets the error. In this case both called for it but the CF’r needs to take charge and Granderson is too nice a guy (I actually said that last year) to be the take charge guy he should be. This gave Nova a 2nd and 3rd situation with nobody out, but he worked out of it showing an excellent curve, a fastball that he dialed up to 95 when he needed to. For the game he mixed in some sliders but didn’t throw nearly as many as last game and he only threw 3 or so change-ups. That change is a pitch I would like to see him control more as it would work really well with what he has. Overall, Nova pitched an excellent game (still a weak lineup) walking only one batter and allowing 5 hits in 7 shutout innings.
The Yanks got their first run on a beautifully stroked double by Cano down the LF line and then he moved to 3rd and a deep drive by Swisher and scored on a sac line drive fly by Martin.
The 2nd run came on some excellent hustle by Granderson who hit a towering fly ball high up on the right center wall that had both outfielders play the ball like it wasn’t their own home park as the ball caromed far toward the infield. By the time they chased it down and then executed the relay poorly, Granderson had a head first sliding inside the park HR. I have been a little critical (haven’t mentioned it) by the lack of hustle by the Yankees down the first base line, but Granderson was not guilty here and it paid off.
Tex followed with a “normal” HR
Robertson struggled in the 8th, loading the bases, but worked his way out of it keeping his streak of no runs allowed on the road this year in tact.
The Yanks almost scored a run in the 8th and I wondered whether Girardi would have used Rivera if it was not a save situation. With the day off he most assuredly should have, but you know Girardi manages differently if the situation is not a save…Anyway, the Genius Maker worked about as smoothly as possible in picking up the easiest save in the book. Mo threw 10 pitches (8 strikes) and stuck out two guys.
A couple other points:
ARod made an excellent play on a bunt charging on throwing a strike on an extremely well executed bunt that was shown very late. He later in the game back handed a ball that he could have easily got in front of jammed his glove hand into the ground and made an error…even though they called it a hit…it was clearly an error. BTW, when he jammed his left hand into the ground he reached for his thumb, hopefully he is ok.
Gardner gave up on a pop up that I think he might have been able to catch…first time I have said that about him.
Also, of note, Nunez worked an error free game at SS and Tex committed an error. When you think about it, it was a pretty poor defensive performance by the Yanks.