NEW YORK -- Houston, you have a problem. You were unable to put the finishing touches on a sweep of the Yankees in the Bronx.
That was largely due to the excellent pitching of Brandon McCarthy, who has been a revelation in his brief time as a Yankee, and one inning (in the second) of offensive brilliance. Otherwise, a quiet, well-played, and brief (2 hours, 7 minutes) 3-0 game at The Stadium as the Yankees salvage one win out of three against one of the weakest teams in the American League. Hey, it's a start.
Striking performance: McCarthy gave a clinic in what pitchers like to call "pounding the zone," needing just 107 pitches (79 strikes) to get through nine innings, striking out eight, five of them looking, allowing just four hits, and always seeming to be ahead in the count. He went to three balls on only one hitter, Chris Carter, who wound up striking out -- looking, of course -- on a 3-2 pitch. McCarthy became only the second Yankees pitcher to throw a shutout this season. Masahiro Tanaka has the other one.
Something new: Old-timers say that every day, you can see something at the ballpark you never saw before. Today, McCarthy saw three runs in the second inning, after having been shut out by his own offense in his previous two starts. Mark Teixeira got the ball rolling with a leadoff single, followed by Martin Prado's double to left-center that put runners at second and third with none out. When Chase Headley delivered a double sliced down the right-field line, McCarthy had two more runs than he has had since Aug. 4, when he beat the Tigers 2-1.
Head's up: Good baserunning by Headley resulted in the Yankees' third run of the inning. Headley wisely held his ground at second on Francisco Cervelli's grounder to third baseman Matt Dominguez, but broke as soon as the throw left his hand, and easily advanced to third, from where he was able to score on Ichiro Suzuki's fly out to left.
Branded: After retiring the first nine Astros (four by Ks), McCarthy got into a jam in the fourth when a single and double gave Houston runners at the corners with two out. Right fielder Marc Krauss scorched one off McCarthy's leg, and he had trouble locating the ball for a few seconds, but recovered in time to throw out the runner and prevent a run from scoring.
Lucky bounce: The Yankees got a break when Krauss' seventh-inning drive into the right-field corner bounced on the warning track and into the crowd, costing them a run when Dexter Fowler (forceout) was forced to stop at third with one out. McCarthy made the most of his good fortune, striking out Jon Singleton and getting Carlos Corporan to fly out to shallow left to preserve the Yankees' 3-0 lead.
Tomorrow: The Chicago White Sox come in for three games: Shane Greene (3-1, 2.93) vs. lefty John Danks (9-8, 4.94) Friday at 7:05 p.m. ET; Hiroki Kuroda (8-8, 3.97) vs. righty Scott Carroll (5-7, 4.99) on Saturday afternoon and Chris Capuano (1-3, 4.35) vs. lefty Chris Sale (10-3, 2.12) on Sunday, both afternoon games at 1:05.