The New York Yankees have been knocked off stride by two knuckleballers in recent days.
On Wednesday, with Steven Wright of the Boston Red Sox pitching against the Yankees, the Sox won 2-1. According to Steve Petrella of Sporting News, Wright’s Yankee-baffling performance was his best MLB outing to date.
Wednesday’s win was his finest major league effort yet. Wright struck out nine batters over eight innings, allowing a run, four hits and two walks. He bested Luis Severino, who made a stellar major league debut in his own right. But when Wright’s ball moves like this, there was little the Yankees could do, and the Red Sox picked up a 2-1 win.
Wright’s work last week earned him recognition as Amica Pitcher of the Week, and it seems unlikely that he’ll have to keep shuttling back to the minors. NESN concludes that he has “come into his own since his most recent call-up to the big leagues.”
The 30-year-old has allowed two runs or fewer in three consecutive starts and has won two of those outings, improving his record to 5-4 on the season.
Wright has bounced between Triple-A Pawtucket and Boston this season, but his work as of late proves he’s intent on sticking around at the major league level.
He had the “Wright Stuff,” agree MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch and Ian Browne:
Wright brought back memories of a vintage Tim Wakefield by turning in the best start of his career. The eight innings and nine strikeouts were both career highs. After the Yankees opened the eighth with a single, Jacoby Ellsbury hit a shot back toward the middle that went off of Wright’s leg, and it caromed to shortstop Xander Bogaerts for what wound up as a 1-6-3 double play.
“Outstanding effort,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “He had the feel for his knuckler tonight much earlier than he did six days ago…. He kept guys off stride, obviously with some variation to the speed to the knuckleball. He threw a number of them tonight with good violence to them and a lot of strikes with it.”
Then, on Friday, “Yankees flail again at knuckleball, lose to Blue Jays 2-1.”
Shut down by R.A. Dickey on Friday night two games after flailing at the fickle pitch tossed by Boston’s Steven Wright, New York was beaten by the Toronto Blue Jays 2-1 in 10 innings in the opener of a key AL East series….
“I thought we had better swings tonight than the other night,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “We just couldn’t score any runs.”…
Dickey had his sixth straight start of allowing two or fewer runs. He yielded six hits in seven innings. He had allowed just two runs in 14 1-3 innings against New York this season coming in….
“He had good stuff today,” Gardner said of Dickey. The ball was moving all over the place. We just couldn’t get a lot done. I thought he was good, on top of his game.”
That’s not the last of the dramatic knuckleball news for the week. On Saturday, as the Minnesota Twins were losing 17-4 to the Cleveland Indians, Twins manager Paul Molitor brought in outfielder Shane Robinson. Turns out he’s a practitioner of the knuckleball.
With the game obviously well in hand for Cleveland and way out of hand for Minnesota, Twins manager Paul Molitor decided to spare what was left of his decimated bullpen and call upon outfielder Shane Robinson to finish the eighth inning. As we’ve seen an almost shocking number of times already this season, the decision actually paid off quite well as Robinson was able to stop the bleeding quickly.
His secret weapon? A 64-mph knuckleball, which he used to freeze Cleveland’s Jerry Sands with two runners in scoring position….
If it’s a once-in-a-career opportunity, he certainly made the most of it. Then again, based on that knuckler, maybe there are more days like it just around the corner.