Another Homer by Greg Bird Gives #Yankees a Win over Birds
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK (SPORTS)- The dramatic battle between the Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays for the pennant in the American League East continued on the Labor Day holiday as the players on both teams were not given the day off from work.
The Yankees won their eighth game in the last 10 to rise to season high of 18 games over .500 (77-59) with 26 games remaining in the regular season and to again move to 0.5 games behind the Blue Jays.
Yankee starter Michael Pineda ran into serious difficulty in the second inning as he walked one batter, hit a batter and gave up five hits including a three run homer to Jonathan Schoop on an 0-2 pitch. Other than the four runs the right-hander surrendered in the second, he held the Orioles scoreless in the other five frames he pitched. He settled own to only yield one other hit, a single and retired 13 of the final 15 batters he faced.
Yankees skipper Joe Girardi explained his pitcher’s problems by saying, “It was a struggle for him today. He was just a little off. He righted himself.”
The Yankees starter gave much credit to his catcher, John Ryan Murphy, “He helped me a lot. I tried to make adjustments.”
Murphy also helped offensively with a two-run homer in the fifth with two out. Pineda remarked, “I was very happy for him and for the team."
Two other home runs were crucial to the victory. Alex Rodriguez led off the fifth with his 29th home run of the season. It was his third in the first four games of the current homestand. Girardi believed the three days off for A-Rod during the last road trip in Atlanta was responsible for his improvement.
The third Yankees home run, a three-run blast by rookie Greg Bird in the seventh made the difference in the result as the Yanks won, 8-6. Bird explained the at bat scenario, “I was looking for a fastball. I looked at a video when he [Brian Matusz] came in. It’s easier to go from a fastball to an off-speed.” Bird homered off a slider.
Girardi spoke highly of the rookie, “He’s come up with some really big hits for us. We thought he could make an impact. That’s why we called him up. He doesn’t get nervous. He fit right in.”
The Toronto loss allowed the Yankees to gain a game on Labor Day. Girardi commented, “It’s nice to see them lose, but we have to take care of things ourselves.”