Bronx, NY—A win or a loss in an individual baseball game is never the product of one player’s performance. While writers and fans find it simplistic and thus easy to point to one player or one play as the cause for either the victory or defeat, the resaons are usually more complex.
On Saturday afternoon, the Yankees defeated the Angels, 4-3. The pitch count was 286, there were 67 official at bats, five batters drew walks, two pitchers balked. Some happenings were more crucial than others in determining the final outcome.
This article will focus on the performances of three lesser known and more recent players to join the team, who played critical roles in the Yankee victory. The Yankees starter Vidal Nuno, 26 years old, appeared in five games for the Yanks in 2013 and was making his fifth appearance and second start this year on Saturday. With Ivan Nova currently on the disabled list and Michael Pineda on suspension, other Yankees are being called upon for extra duty.
Nuno gave up a home run to the second batter in the game. To put that fact in truer perspective the batter was Mike Trout, arguably the best player in baseball. The homer was Trout’s sixth in 2014 and the run batted in his 15th. Later in the game, off different pitchers, Trout drew two walks, singled and stole a base. His batting average is .313.
The California native of Mexican descent yielded two runs in the fourth after retiring all six batters he faced in the second and third innings. The fourth began with the second straight single hit by future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols. Of course, Pujols has little problem with any Yankee hurler. In limited at bats, he is 17 for 47. The next batter, Howie Kendrick, who holds the highest batting average against the Yanks-.357, walked. Both scored before the inning ended.
The score was tied when Nuno was removed after 4.1 innings, giving up three runs and five hits. Yankee skipper Joe Girardi said Nuno was not as impressive as in his last start (zero runs in five frames) on April 20, but “he gave us a chance to win. He’ll be out there in six days.”
The four relievers for each club did not allow a run to score. Dellin Betances, who followed Nuno earned the win. Betances, 26 years of age, pitched in only two games in 2011 and six last year for the Yanks. Saturday’s relief effort was his ninth appearance this season.
Betances gave up a single and a walk in two innings of work. Girardi commented very favorably on the native New Yorker, “He got a lot of big outs for us today. This was the toughest challenge we’ve given him. He’s had to change roles and had to fight to get here.”
The 6-8 hurler spoke of the effort he makes, “I’m just trying to go out there and make my pitches. I want to do the best I can to help.”
Thanks to a lead-off first pitch home run in the fifth by catcher John Ryan Murphy, Betances obtained his first major league win. Betances commented, “It was good to get the first win, especially from the bullpen. I feel the win goes for myself and everybody who got in the game.”
He had special words of commendation for Murphy, “I’m so happy for him. He did the job today. I’ve gotten to know him in the last few years.”
While the home run was the game winning run batted in, Murphy also got the other two runs batted in for the Yanks. He drove in two runs in the second. The third run in that inning scored on a balk by Hector Santiago.
Girardi said of Murphy, 22, who was in 16 games for the Yanks last year, “He’ll never forget it. Huge day. Great job behind home plate. It means even more because we won the game by one run and he did it.”
Murphy received the game ball after hitting his first homer in the majors. Of the ball, he explained, “[I’ll] probably give it to my mother and let her decide what to do with it.”
The starting pitchers in the rubber game of the three game set which will begin late on Sunday night are two undefeated pitchers, Masahiro Tanaka for New York and Garrett Richards for Los Angeles.