The battle of the bullpens has begun, and it’s not looking good for the Twins.
Minnesota right-hander Jesse Crain served up a single to Nick Swisher with one out in the top of the seventh inning and surrendered a towering two-run homer to Mark Teixeira a few pitches later, giving the Yankees a 6-4 lead. Teixeira may be in pain because of a month-long battle with a bruised right thumb, but he hasn’t shown any sign of that yet in this young series.
Crain then allowed a single to Alex Rodriguez before finally being pulled in favor of Brian Fuentes, who retired Robinson Cano and Marcus Thames to end the threat.
The Yankees reached into the bullpen for the bottom of the seventh, matching Boone Logan against the top of the Twins’ lineup. Logan, with an impressive 2.93 regular-season ERA, shut down Orlando Hudson and Denard Span. But he gave up a two-out single to Joe Mauer and Yankees skipper Joe Girardi, known for being quick with the trigger, pulled the left-handed reliever from the game.
Yankees righty David Robertson issued a walk to Delmon Young but struck out big left-hander Jim Thome to close out the seventh. The Yankees lead 6-4. We’re headed to the eighth.
CC Sabathia‘s contract with the Yankees expires after the 2017 season but the lefty feels that he has enough left in the tank to pitch in 2018 and beyond, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports.
Sabathia said, “I just know myself. I know I feel like it’s not my time yet. Barring any crazy injuries I know I can pitch past next year. I feel like this is just the beginning of what I’m trying to do. I feel like there’s a lot more still to learn and a lot better to get. It’s exciting.”
The 36-year-old lefty currently holds a 4.02 ERA and a 144/63 K/BB ratio in 172 1/3 innings. It’s his best and healthiest season since 2012. He battled a knee injury last season and checked into rehab for alcohol addiction last October. Sabathia said that being treated for his addiction put him “in a good spot.”
Sabathia is owed $25 million through a vesting option for the 2017 season.
The Red Sox can thank the Orioles for not having to fight to clinch the division on Thursday or later. The Orioles came from behind to defeat the Blue Jays 3-2 on Wednesday evening, clinching the AL East for the Red Sox.
A few minutes after that game went final, the Red Sox squandered a 3-0 lead taken in the eighth inning, culminating in a walk-off grand slam by Mark Teixeira in the bottom of the ninth inning. Closer Craig Kimbrel started the ninth, but didn’t have control over any of his pitches. He allowed a leadoff single followed by three consecutive walks to force in a run. Joe Kelly relieved Kimbrel and seemed to be close to wriggling out of the jam, getting Starlin Castro to strike out looking and Didi Gregorius to pop up. But after starting Teixeira with a first-pitch curve ball for a strike, Teixera clobbered a 99 MPH fastball, sending it over the fence in right-center to end the game.
For the Yankees, the come-from-behind victory was crucial as it staved off Wild Card elimination for one more day.
This is the first time the Red Sox have clinched the AL East since 2013, also the last year they won the World Series.