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Two pitchers responsible for a combined five Cy Young Awards took the mound Saturday at Yankee Stadium.
Though Corey Kluber and Max Scherzer may not be at their peaks (both are four years removed from the last time they were voted the top pitcher in their respective leagues), hits were still at a premium and there were whiffs aplenty for most of the afternoon.
But once the bullpens got their hands on the game, all bets were off.
After the Yankees got to Nationals closer Brad Hand in the ninth inning to spoil Scherzer’s 14-strikeout gem, Washington returned the favor by scoring off Aroldis Chapman in the top of the 10th — only for the Yankees to tie it back up off Hand in the bottom of the 10th.
The Yankees got the last laugh, though, when Gleyber Torres providedd the walk-off single on a swinging bunt down the third-base line in the bottom of the 11th inning for a 4-3 win over the Nationals.
DJ LeMahieu began the 11th inning on second base and Nationals reliever Tanner Rainey walked Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge to bring up Torres, who had tied the game in the ninth with an RBI single. The Nationals used five infielders on the final play, but none were in position to field Torres’ dribbler.
In a game that was delayed at the start for 2 hours and 25 minutes by rain, or at least the threat of it, the Nationals did what no other team has done this season by scoring a run off Chapman — though it was unearned, thanks to the automatic runner on second to begin the 10th inning. Victor Robles led off the 10th with a single to put runners on the corners before Trea Turner hit a sacrifice fly to give the Nationals the 3-2 lead.
In the bottom of the 10th, with Clint Frazier starting on second, Mike Ford — who to that point was 3-for-36 on the season — began his at-bat trying to lay down a bunt. But after one attempt went foul, he pulled back the bunt on three straight balls and then swung away for a single through the open left side to bring home Fazier and tie the game at 3-3.
Justin Wilson, who had struggled in each of his last three appearances, settled things down in the top of the 11th. The lefty reliever threw a 1-2-3 inning with a pair of strikeouts to give the Yankees the opportunity to win it in the bottom of the frame.
After winning the first five games of this nine-game homestand, the Yankees (17-16) snapped a two-game skid Saturday.
In 7 ¹/₃ innings against Scherzer, the Yankees’ only offense came on a solo home run from Kyle Higashioka in the third inning — one of two hits the Yankees mustered off the Nationals ace. Otherwise, Scherzer cruised, at one point retiring 13 straight batters before walking Frazier to lead off the eighth inning. He recorded one out before being pulled after 109 pitches, but Daniel Hudson came on to finish the inning and strand Frazier at first.
The Yankees finally pounced in the bottom of the ninth. LeMahieu led off with a walk and took second on a Stanton groundout. Judge then poked a single to no-man’s land down the right-field line, but coach Phil Nevin held LeMahieu at third. Torres came up next and delivered an RBI single to right field, knotting the game at 2-2.
Kluber, the two-time Cy Young winner who was coming off a vintage performance with eight shutout innings last Sunday against the Tigers, wasn’t quite as sharp this time. But he still gave the Yankees a strong chance to win, tossing 5 ²/₃ innings while giving up two runs on six hits and three walks and striking out six.
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