802 days after the trade that sent Michael Pineda to the Yankees, the 25-year old right-hander finally made his regular season debut with the team today in Toronto.
After a dazzling spring that won him the 5th spot in the rotation, Pineda has come into this season with expectations of being way more than a 5th starter. While people wanted to see what he can do in real games, many experts believe he has a chance to be a dominant All-Star starter like he was when he last pitched in the Majors in 2011.
So today Pineda took the mound and it was as if he never missed the last two seasons. He looked calm, cool, collected, and worked quickly, bringing some nasty stuff to the table - a fastball topping out at 95 mph and devastating sliders and cutters that moved beautifully across the plate. After throwing 83 pitches, he was pulled by manager Joe Girardi just to make sure he didn't push him too hard in his first Major League start in 31 months. His line read as 6 innings pitched, allowing just 1 run on 5 hits while striking out 5 and walking none.
Pineda certainly was deserving of his 10th career win, but it seemed as if the Yankees lineup just didn't want to help him out. Going up against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, they looked foolish at the plate, as the heart of the order (Beltran, McCann, Soriano, Johnson) went a combined 0-16. Jacoby Ellsbury had another 3-hit game and Francisco Cervelli and Yangervis Solarte each had 2 hits, but that was really it.
Oh, and Derek Jeter walked twice. I figure anything he does in most games this season matters, right?
Anyway, the aforementioned lone surrendered by Pineda run came on a Josh Thole RBI single in the bottom of 2nd inning. In the top of the 3rd, Cervelli led off with a double, and after Solarte and Dean Anna struck out, Ellsbury singled to center. Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus fielded the ball and fired a one-hop throw home to Thole, who essentially blocked the plate and tagged Cervelli out, ending the inning and keeping the score 1-0 Toronto. As with the recent rule changes in baseball, a catcher can stand over home plate but when and only when he has possession of the ball. Thole seemed to obstruct Cervelli seconds before he caught the ball, which could result in calling him safe at home if the umpire caught the obstruction.
However none of them did, and so Girardi came out of the dugout to argue and challenge the play. Replays also showed that Cervelli's foot touched home plate before he was even tagged, but somehow the umpires missed that too. The call was upheld, and the Blue Jays had a lead they would not relinquish.
The Yankee bats had their chances to make that play irrelevant, but they could only get a runner as far as third base for the rest of the game. Vidal Nuno relieved Pineda in the 7th, but walked Lind, prompting Joe to go to David Phelps. He got out of the inning unscathed, but in the 8th, everything fell apart for him. Melky Cabrera homered to right, Rasmus doubled, and Jose Bautista hit another long ball to left, extending the Jays' lead to 4-0.
And that was pretty much the ballgame. The Yanks threatened in the 9th when they got runners on first and second with 2 outs, but Ellsbury struck out ending the potential rally.
Tomorrow, the Yankees will look to take the rubber-game of the three-game set in a Sunday matinee. CC Sabathia and Drew Hutchinson will face each other and both make their second starts of the season. After that, the Bombers return to the Bronx for their home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium. This upcoming week is going to be a lot of fun.