Saturday, May 6, 2017

Yanks' Comeback Kids Beat Champ Cubs

Yesterday, the Yankees did something they rarely do: Play a day game on a Friday. This is because they were playing the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, which still plays more day games than night games.

They also did something they've never done before: Play the defending World Champion Chicago Cubs. There was no Interleague play the last time the Cubs were defending champs, in September 1909.

For a while, it looked like the titleholders would win. Don't blame Michael Pineda: He pitched well for 6 innings, but allowed home runs by Kris Bryant in the 1st inning and Kyle Schwarber in the 6th. Still, 2 runs should have been enough for this current bunch of Yankees to overcome.

But it just wasn't happening. With 1 out in the top of the 1st Aaron Hicks doubled off Kyle Hendricks, and Gary Sanchez had the last thing you want to have happen to a guy in his 1st game back from injury happen to him: He was hit with a pitch. He was okay, though, and, given the situation, it almost certainly wasn't intentional. But Starlin Castro hit a liner right to shortstop, who threw to 2nd to double off Hicks. Bad luck on that one.

Aaron Judge led off the 2nd, nearly hitting another home run, but was stranded. Pineda got his 1st major league hit to lead off the 3rd, and Hicks singled. But, in between, Brett Gardner struck out; and, afterward, Sanchez grounded into a double play. The Cubs were, uncharacteristically for their history, getting the breaks.

Chris Carter and Gardner drew walks in the 5th, but couldn't be brought around. Castro, Judge and Didi Gregorius loaded the bases with singled in the 6th, but the Cubs got out of it. And a Castro single was wasted in the 8th.

So it was 2-0 Cubs going into the 9th inning, with Hector Rondon on the mound. To borrow John Sterling's cliche, all the Yankees needed to tie it up was a bloop and a blast. But Didi led off by grounding out. Chase Headley singled, and got to 2nd on a wild pitch. Carter struck out. Jacoby Ellsbury was sent in to pinch-hit for Jonathan Holder, who had pitched the bottom of the 8th. (Remember: Interleague games use the rules of the League of the home team. The Cubs are in the National League, so no designated hitter.) Ellsbury drew a walk, to bring up Gardner.

Gardner is now the senior Yankee, the last remaining player who played a home game at the old Yankee Stadium; and, along with CC Sabathia, 1 of the last 2 remaining members of the 2009 World Champions. But he was an unlikely hero in this situation.

Well, "unlikely" this: He hit one out to left field to give the Yankees the lead. From the audio, there sounded like a lot of shocked Cub fans, and a few very happy Yankee Fans.

Aroldis Chapman, who Brian Cashman traded to the Cubs, giving them the World Championship and throwing away a shot at the postseason, but re-signed in the off-season, saw Headley make an error to lead off the bottom of the 9th. Then he got strikeout, groundout, strikeout to end it in yet another comeback victory. Yankees 3, Cubs 2. WP: Holder (1-0, his 1st major league win). SV: Chapman (7). LP: Rondon (0-1).

The series continues tonight. Jordan Montgomery starts against Brett Anderson.

No comments: