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A Long Night's Journey Into Day

Posted By Hank Waddles On May 29, 2011 @ 4:18 am In 1: Featured,Game Recap,Hank Waddles,Yankees | Comments Disabled

[1]First of all, I apologize for the title. There are few things that irritate me more than when someone says, “Hey, I’ll see you tomorrow…” and then checks his watch, notices that it’s a minute or two after midnight, and corrects himself. “Actually, I’ll see you later today!” Unless it’s New Year’s Eve, can we all just agree that the next day starts when you wake up… the next day? So if you’re waking up the next day and wondering how the Yanks made out in Seattle, you might want to head back to bed. It didn’t end well.

The part you probably saw — a struggling Felix Hernández giving up a solo home run to Robinson Canó in the second and a two-run blast to Mark Teixeira in the third — started out well. Even Ivan Nova looked good, inducing one ground ball after another as he cruised through the first three innings allowing just a single run, and even that run came home on a ground out.

But things soured for Nova in the fourth. Franklin Gutiérrez led off the inning with a hard ground ball that spun off the heel of Derek Jeter’s glove. (The play was initially (and properly) ruled an error on Jeter, but that decision was apparently changed at some point, as it’s recorded in the box score as a hit for Gutiérrez.) Adam Kennedy followed that with a double to push Gutiérrez to third, and Miguel Olivo bounced a ball over the fence in right center for a ground-rule double and a 2-1 Seattle lead. Nova then tightened the screws on his own fingers as he wild-pitched Olivo to third before allowing him to score on a Brendan Ryan single up the middle.

That was it for Nova, and for a good long time, that was it for the Seattle offense. Hector Noesi, David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan, and Luis Ayala marched in and out of the game over the next 7.1 innings and gave up almost nothing. Here’s their line: 7.1 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 7 K, 1 BB. Impressive stuff.

The problem, of course, is that there wasn’t too much going on with the Yankee bats during all this time. They managed to climb back in the game with two out in the seventh when Jeter walked and Curtis Granderson lofted a ball to deep right center. Ichiro was tracking the ball all the way and looked poised to make one of his Spider-Man catches, climbing the wall to pick the ball out of the stands, but something curious happened just as he leapt — the ball hit the wall, probably two or three feet below the top. With Ichiro’s arms and legs flailing it was difficult to track the ball, but it bounded off of the wall far enough to allow Jeter to score as Granderson raced around the bases for a triple. With King Felix struggling with an elevated pitch count, it seemed like the Yankees might have an opportunity to grab a lead. When he walked Teixeira on five pitches, the stage was set for Alex Rodríguez to do something special, but it wasn’t meant to be. A-Rod struck out to end the inning.

After that, there was a whole lot of nothing from both sides. The Mariners managed a single off Robertson and a walk from Joba in the eighth, but couldn’t cash it in. The Yankees got consecutive singles from A-Rod and Canó in the tenth, but Russell Martin popped out end that threat. The only interesting thing, really, was the steady stream of knucklehead fans who kept running out on the field throughout the game, one of whom chose to do so without clothes.

All of which brings us to the twelfth inning. In case you’ve forgotten how great Mariano Rivera is, here’s the proof [2]. By at least one measure — ERA+ [3] — he is the greatest pitcher of all time by a considerable margin, but for some reason he seems to struggle in non-save situations, and he struggled on Saturday night. He certainly wasn’t hit hard, but he was hit. After dispatching Chone Figgins for the first out in the inning, Rivera allowed Justin Smoak to reach on a looping liner that a charging Brett Gardner wasn’t quite able to snare. Jack Cust did hit the ball hard, doubling down the left field line to put the winning run on third with one out. Manager Joe Girardi then consulted with Rivera and it was decided that Gutiérrez would be walked intentionally to face Kennedy. Much was made of what a tough match-up this was for Kennedy and how a double play was a strong possibility, but it didn’t work out that way. Kennedy was able to find a cutter that found just a little bit too much of the plate. Had it cut deeper into him, it likely would’ve dribbled out towards second for a double play. Had it cut a bit less, it would’ve hung up long enough for Granderson to race under it for the second out. But it cut neither too much nor too little, and Kennedy was able to bloop it out into very short center field, and the game was over. Mariners 5, Yankees 4 [4].

All of that’s fairly depressing, but now let me kick you with some stats while you’re down. In games in which he issues an intentional walk, Mariano’s career ERA is 7.61. In road games this year, he is 0-1 with three blown saves, and a 7.50 ERA; opponents are hitting .423. (He’s yet to blow a save or allow a run at home.)

Don’t worry, though. I predict nine innings from CC on Sunday and an appearance by the Score Truck.  Everything will be fine.

[Photo Credit: Elaine Thompson/AP]


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URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://bronxbanter.arneson.name/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/nova.jpeg

[2] here’s the proof: http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/r/riverma01.shtml

[3] ERA+: http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/earned_run_avg_plus_career.shtml

[4] Mariners 5, Yankees 4: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/boxscore?gameId=310528112

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