On Wednesday, April 16, in the day-night doubleheader against the Cubs the Yankees shut out the Cubs in both games. This was the first time since 1987 that the Yankees swept a doubleheader with two shutouts. Tanaka had his best game as a Yankee pitching eight shut-out innings allowing just two bunt singles in the first game and Pineda pitched six scoreless innings in the second game. What was historic about Tanaka’s performance was he was the second pitcher since 1900 to have 8+ strikeouts in the first three games of his rookie year; the other pitcher was Steven Strasburg of the Nationals.
In the first game of the 4-game series against Tampa Bay played on Thursday, April 17, CC Sabathia pitched a strong game giving up just two runs. In that game, the Yankees completed a triple-play started by third baseman Yangervis Solarte who threw to Brian Roberts at second. Roberts then threw a one-bouncer in which Scot Sizemore, playing his first game ever at first base (including 658 games in both the majors and minors), picked it out of the ground. A triple play is very uncommon but what made it even stranger was that it was the third time the Yankees completed a triple play was CC on the hill. Sean Rodriguez, the Rays player who hit into the triple play, also homered in the game. The last player to hit into a triple play and homer in the same game was Russell Martin, playing for the Yankees in 2011. Guess what! It was against Tampa Bay and Sean Rodriguez was playing first base for the Rays. Speaking about the first base position since Teixeira went on the DL the Yankees have used Cervelli, Johnson, Beltran, and Sizemore at first. What is strange is that except for Johnson the other three never played first base in the majors.
Speaking about Solarte what a find he has been. He was invited as a non-roster invitee by the Yankees. A career minor leaguer Solarte spent eight years in the Twins farm system. As a switch-hitter he is currently batting over .350 and has the versatility to play several positions. He hit well in spring training but if it wasn’t for a rash of injuries and his versatility he would probably be in the minors right now. I have watched him in several games and not only can he hit but he has made several sparkling plays at both second and third. It is hard for me to believe the Twins let him go and kudos to the Yankee scout who discovered him. In the same game in which he started the triple-play, he also hit his first Major League home run becoming the first player since 1909 to accomplish the feat of starting a triple-play and hitting a home run in the same game.
In Friday night’s game against the Rays, the Yankees jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the second inning. But the bullpen imploded and the Yankees wound up losing the game 11-5. With respect to strangeness why should this game be any different? It turns out that all 11 runs scored by the Rays came when two men were out. How about that?
It is now Saturday evening. After working hard doing my spring cleaning, it was time to watch game three against the Rays. Well, Nova pitched like it was the home run derby. In four innings he allowed four home runs. This was the first time Nova had issued four home runs in one game. After six innings, the Yankees trailed 14 to 1. I wish there was a 10-run mercy rule in the majors. Dean Anna, a shortstop, pitched the eighth inning for the Yankees. The final score was 16-1. For his sacrifice Anna received a game ball.
Now it’s Sunday. The Yankee received the bad news that Nova suffered a partial tear in his elbow and will probably need TJ surgery. The Yankees split the four game series with the Rays winning the final game of the series 5-1 in 12 innings. Dean Anna’s bases loaded walk ignited the 4-run 12th. This earned Anna his second game ball in two days.
Another week of strange happenings but the Yankees are still in first place!!!