The Yankees acquired Michael Pineda from the Seattle Mariners for top catching prospect Jesus Montero in 2012, and two years later, Pineda finally got a chance to make his Yankee Stadium debut Thursday night, when the Yankees hosted the Boston Red Sox in the first game of a four-game set this weekend.
Pineda was trying to follow up Masahiro Tanaka, who made his Bronx debut Wednesday night by tossing seven innings of three-runs ball while striking out 10, and I must say that he did a very, very good job.
Pineda didn’t strike out the 10 batters that Tanaka did, but he was close, setting down seven Sox hitters on strikes, permitting just one runs on four hits, with two walks in six-plus innings of work.
The only run that Pineda gave up was a solo homerun by Daniel Nava to open the 7th inning, and it was crushed, landing in the upper-deck of the seats in right field. Xander Bogaerts followed up with a single off Pineda, and that’s when Joe Girardi decided to go to the bullpen.
Pineda started the game with a 1-2-3 first inning, sitting mostly in the 93-95 mph range, and even topping out at 96 mph a couple of times. He would stay in that range with his fast ball most of the night, a good sign early in his return that the velocity might slowly be coming back.
He proceeded to set down the Boston hitters with out much trouble over the next three innings, issuing just the two walks through the first four inning — the first to Jackie Bradley Jr. in the 3rd, and the second to Mike Napoli in the 4th.
Pineda actually took a no-hitter into the 5th inning, where he would give up a lead-off single to Bogaerts. The only other hit given up before the Nava homerun was a long double that one-hopped the wall in right-center field by David Ortiz.
Looking like he might be able to save the tired Yankees bullpen, Pineda cruised into the 7th, where he gave up the Nava blast and Bogaerts single, ending his night. He left with the announced crowd of 42, 821 giving him a loud standing ovation.
His fastball looked pretty good in the early innings, and he was throwing strikes, with 63 of his 94 pitches going for strikes. I thought his slider, which is his go-to out-pitch, was good, and will continue to be very good as the year goes on.
With him following behind Tanaka, and the way both of these two pitchers have performance through their first two starts, the Yankees could have one of the best rotations in the game as long as the top three starters — CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova — get on track. If not, at least they’ll have the best back of the rotation in the game.