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.
The Yankees fell behind early to the Orioles on Sunday afternoon, a day after dropping both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader. Their game, as did every other game on Sunday with the exception of the Braves-Cardinals doubleheader, started at 3:05 or 3:10 EDT, a change Major League Baseball recently made to create fairness on the final day of the season.
Girardi is not a fan. Per the Associated Press:
It was cloudy at Camden Yards at 3:05 p.m., but late-afternoon games often make it difficult for batters to see pitches.
Girardi said, “Here’s the thing that bothers me: If it’s a sunny day you’re playing in shadows.”
He added, “If it’s the most important game of the year to get in, I don’t think that’s right.”
Understanding the idea is for every team to play at the same time, Girardi said, “Then play all night games.”
One wonders if MLB had scheduled Sunday’s slate of games for the night, if Girardi would have instead complained about batters losing fly balls in the stadium lights. Furthermore, both teams have to play in the same conditions.
Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki was given an opportunity to play a new position in Sunday’s series finale against the Phillies. After the Phillies rallied to take a 6-2 lead in the seventh, the Marlins let Suzuki take the hill in the eighth. And, in news that surprises no one, he was impressive.
Though Suzuki gave up a run on two hits, he flashed a fastball that hit the mid-80’s and a breaking ball with some bite.
Suzuki, who turns 42 years old later this month, is 65 hits of 3,000 in his major league career. The Marlins are interested in bringing him back in 2016.