There was a time when the Yankees and Giants fought one another for the New York spotlight. They shared the same stadium for 10 seasons (1913-22) and faced off in six World Series before the Giants moved west. They've only met in one fall classic since (1962), but the return of interleague play makes it possible for these old rivalries to be renewed. San Francisco has visited their old home three times since 2002, including this past weekend.
It was a series dominated by pitching, with just 15 runners crossing the plate in three games, a relatively miniscule total for bandbox Yankee Stadium. Teams put crooked numbers on the board only twice in 30 innings. And in a mild shock, New York's staff won the war.
The Yankees pushed runs across in the first and second against Madison Bumgarner and took a 2-0 lead into the seventh, a point at which most of their contests are effectively over. But flaccid performances by Dellin Betances in the seventh and Andrew Miller in the eighth allowed San Francisco to tie things up. New York was then given a gift in the bottom of the eighth, as a Brandon Crawford throwing error allowed Chase Headley to score the go-ahead run. Aroldis Chapman and his fireballs closed things out in the ninth, handing San Francisco its sixth straight loss to start the second half.
Ivan Nova and Johnny Cueto were both impressive Saturday, allowing just one run each. Neither bullpen leaked any oil on this night, so the game went well into extra innings. In the 12th, Mac Williamson's RBI single lifted the Giants on top; they would ultimately win, 2-1. Williamson had both of the team's RBIs on this night, adding the single to a solo homer in the fifth.
New York jumped out early in Sunday's rubber match, thanks to solo homers by Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira in the first and second. The Yankees added three runs in the sixth, chasing Jeff Samardzija from the game. Yankees starter Nathan Eovaldi shut out the Giants for the first six innings, but was pulled in the seventh. In a questionable-at-best twist, Joe Girardi gave all three of his star relievers the day off at once, so Chasen Shreve trotted in, walked Brandon Belt, and trotted off the mound. Chad Green then surrendered a two-run single to Buster Posey before eventually ending the inning. Green pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth to earn his first career save and clinch the series for his team.
This series was Chapman's last act in New York, as the Yankees shipped him off to the Cubs Monday. Coming the other way are Gleyber Torres, an elite shortstop prospect; Adam Warren, a versatile pitcher and former Yankee; and two minor leaguers, Rashad Crawford and Billy McKinney. The Yankees are mulling over trading other players (Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran, and the guys they signed to megadeals in the late-aughts), but the first domino has fallen.
The Giants ended a six-game skid Saturday and finally recorded their first win since the All-Star break. Per Elias, that's the longest losing streak by a team that had baseball's best first-half record since the 1991 Dodgers (seven straight). That squad missed the playoffs, although it's worth noting that the wild cards didn't exist yet. The Giants are still sitting pretty at 58-40, though. Skids happen.
Crawford's big-time error Friday was his third of the game, which nearly doubled his season count from five to eight. He's widely regarded as one of the sport's top defensive shortstops; a 2.2 DWAR backs this up. But some nights, the game can speed up for even the best.
Texeira's quest for a .200 batting average continues. The Yankee first baseman went 1-for-5 Saturday and 1-for-3 with a homer Sunday, and he's up to .188. The homer was his ninth of the year and 403rd in the bigs. He hasn't passed the Mendoza line since May 19, but he's still fighting. His name has come up in trade talks, but it's tough to figure out who would want him at this point.
Beltran, on the other hand, will be one of the hottest commodities on the trade market this week. His Sunday long ball was No. 21 this year, and his OPS is up past .900. No teams in particular currently stand out, but someone will probably step up. Beltran has been traded twice at the deadline in his career: in 2004 from the Royals to the Astros, and in 2011 from the Mets to the Giants. Amazingly, he's still chasing his first championship, which would be the icing on an already-very-sweet career cake.