There was a lot of harrumphing last night as Joe Girardi used the bullpen’s second string in extra innings against the Rays. That harrumphing led to claims this morning that the Yankees really don’t care about the division and are just playing for the wild card. I kind of doubt that they’re actually planning on that — baseball teams are always trying to win — it just may be that health and fatigue concerns are making such a course the likely one.
Latest example: A-Rod, who was gimpy on the basepaths last night. Buster Olney suspects that this will lead to a lot of days off for him down the stretch. May be the same for Nick Swisher, actually, as he looked practically crippled trying to run out a ground ball. He’s having an MRI today.
The Yankees aren’t young. And they haven’t been terribly healthy this year. They are still talented, of course, and will likely prove dangerous in the postseason. But only if they can get back into better shape. Doing things like resting the stars and spelling the pen when necessary will help them do that.
And if it forces them to the wild card, well, so be it. And that’s even if the tabloids go crazy.
The Yankees’ offense finally woke up, scoring eight runs in Game 3 of the ALCS on Monday night while the pitching kept the Astros’ offense at bay. That came after scoring a total of two runs against Astros pitching in the first two games. For a recap of the Yankees’ scoring in Game 3, click here.
CC Sabathia wasn’t dominant, but he executed pitches when he needed to most, preventing the Astros from capitalizing on their opportunities. Overall, he gave up three hits and four walks while striking out five on 99 pitches. He’s the first pitcher, age 37 or older, to throw six shutout innings in the postseason since Pedro Martinez for the Phillies against the Dodgers in Game 2 of the 2009 NLCS. Monday’s start also marked Sabathia’s first career scoreless outing in the postseason — it was his 22nd postseason appearance.
Astros starter Charlie Morton couldn’t escape the fourth inning, when he allowed a run and loaded the bases before departing. Will Harris allowed all three inherited runners to score on Aaron Judge‘s three-run home run to left field. Morton was ultimately charged with seven runs on six hits, two walks, and a hit batsman with three strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings.
The Yankees’ bullpen held the fort after the sixth. Adam Warren worked a scoreless seventh. Warren returned in the eighth and retired the side in order, despite yielding a pair of well-struck balls to deep center field.
In the ninth, Dellin Betances walked both hitters he faced to start the frame. Unsurprisingly, manager Joe Girardi had a short leash and brought in Tommy Kahnle. Kahnle gave up a single to Cameron Maybin then struck out George Springer, but walked Alex Bregman to force in a run. Kahnle got Jose Altuve to ground into a 4-3 double play to end the game in an 8-1 victory, giving the Yankees their first win of the series.
The ALCS continues on Tuesday at 5 PM ET. The Astros haven’t announced their starter yet, but the Yankees will send Sonny Gray to the hill.