Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ellsbury's Bat, Legs Beat Cardinals

After a poor outing by David Phelps, the Yankees needed a good one by the aging and slumping Hiroki Kuroda to close out the 9-game Chicago & St. Louis roadtrip.

It wasn't pretty. Over 5 2/3 innings, he allowed 3 runs on 8 hits -- but no walks, which probably helped hold it to 3 runs. He got up to 94 pitches, which is fine for 8 innings, but not for less than 6 full.

Fortunately, the Yankee bats gave him a cushion. After Kuroda himself, not used to batting but having to in the Interleague game in a National League ballpark, opened the top of the 3rd with a groundout, Brett Gardner drew a walk, Brian Roberts singled, and Jacoby Ellsbury singled him home. Ellsbury stole 2nd base, which turned out to be meaningless once Brian McCann walked. John Ryan Murphy singled home Roberts and Ellsbury. Ichiro Suzuki grounded into a force play, scoring McCann. 4-0 Yankees.

In the 4th, Kelly Johnson led off with a single. Kuroda tried to bunt him over, but could only pop up for an out. After Gardner flew out, Roberts doubled. Ellsbury singled, scoring Johnson and Roberts. Again, Ellsbury stole 2nd, only this time it meant something, because McCann was then able to single him home. 7-0 Yankees.

But as Kuroda tired, some fans began to get a sinking feeling that the Yankees could blow a 7-0 lead. This was, after all, the St. Louis Cardinals, the defending NL Champions, many of their players having won the 2011 World Series, playing in their home park, in front of their home fans, in what Cardinal fans like to call "the best baseball city in America." (Yeah, get in line behind New York, ya rednecks.)

Fortunately, Kuroda bent but didn't break, allowing single runs in the 4th, 5th and 6th innings. Matt Thornton pitched to 1 batter and allowed a hit, but Dellin Betances (who might end up overworked, a la Paul Quantrill in 2004) pitched out of the 6th-inning jam.

Adam Warren pitched a troubled but scoreless 7th, but got in trouble in the 8th. Joe Girardi called on David Robertson to get a 4-out save, but he allowed one of Warren's runners to score on a Kolten Wong single, before getting out of it by striking out the dangerous Matt Holliday.

Then D-Rob created his own jam in the bottom of the 9th, allowing a single to Allen Craig and a walk to 2006 Met tormentor Yadier Molina. Just like that, in a game the Yankees had led 7-0, the tying run was at the plate.

No problem: Jon Jay, struck him out swinging; Matt Adams, struck him out swinging; Daniel Descalso, struck him out swinging.

Yankees 7, Cardinals 4. WP: Kuroda (4-3). No save: Robertson did not get credit for it. LP: Shelby Miller (6-4).

The Yankees went 5-4 on the roadtrip -- not bad at all, considering they'd lost 3 of the first 4.

Now, they come home, for 3 against the Minnesota Twins, and 3 against the Oakland Athletics. 

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