The Yankees bounced back from a tough loss by defeating the Rays 3-1 at the Trop to stay within three of first place Toronto. The Blue Jays were 9-1 winners over the Braves. For the Yanks, rookie first baseman Greg Bird continues to hammer the baseball going yard for a second straight game. His solo shot in the ninth gave the Bronx Bombers a big insurance run. He went 2-for-3 with his seventh homer and two RBI’s including a run scoring double to start things in the first.
The 22-year old Bird has seven dingers and 21 RBI’s in 29 games. The production has come over 101 at bats. The former 2011 Yankees’ fifth round pick is 25-for-101 (.248) since being recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. With starting first baseman Mark Teixeira done for the season, Bird is proving he can contribute in the middle of a playoff race. His 10-pitch at bat the previous night in which he fouled off Jake Odirizzi heaters before driving one to dead center for a two-run blast demonstrated good plate discipline. He kept battling until he got a pitch he could handle.
There’s a lot to like about the Bird man. Or as WFAN Yankee radio voice John Sterling calls him, “Bye Bye Birdie” when he hits one out. He has K’d quite a bit fanning 32 times. However, he’s also drawn 13 walks which shows that he has a good concept of the strike zone.
Bird wasn’t the only rookie to star in the win. Luis Severino bounced back from the worst start of his career by working into the sixth permitting one earned while walking one and fanning seven. Severino improved to 4-3. Justin Wilson, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller held it down with Miller striking out the side for his 34th save. Betances again struggled walking three in one-plus but was unscathed.
There was a Jacoby Ellsbury sighting with the slumping center fielder recording two hits in five at bats. With the win, the Yanks gained a game on the slumping Astros, who got shellacked 14-3 to fall a game and a half out in the AL West. If the season ended today, the Yanks would get the first wildcard while the Astros would get the second. Houston leads the Twins by a game. At last check, Minnesota trailed Detroit 2-1 in the seventh. A win would put them within a half game. The Indians got back to .500 (72-72) with a 5-1 win over the Royals. Cleveland is four off the pace.