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Walking in the Spiderwebs

ARod

A little over four years ago I wrote a piece here imagining a world in which Ivan Nova had developed into the Yankees’ ace while CC Sabathia had become the team’s fifth starter and even been sent to the bullpen for the postseason. The year I was imagining was 2015, which seems kind of hard to believe, but that future is now.

Has Nova become the ace I once imagined? Prior to his elbow surgery he had had his moments of brilliance, but he never looked like a consistent frontline starter. Now, however, he’s been cast as the savior for a rotation that’s been consistent only in its unpredictability. (In fact, the most dependable starter, Adam Warren, was shipped out to the bullpen on Tuesday, but more on that later.)

Nova sent hopes soaring with his debut outing last week, posting seven scoreless innings with stuff just as electric as we remembered, but things were different on Tuesday night in Anaheim. He found trouble early, giving up two singles in the first inning before getting a strikeout from Albert Pujols and a ground out from Erick Aybar to escape that jam, then loading the bases in the second before wriggling free from that one.

The Yankee offense got started in the top of the second when Mark Teixeira launched a towering fly to left center field for his 19th homer of the season, which seemed like a promising start. After that, however, the bats on both sides started to collect spiderwebs.

The Yankees were facing Andrew Heaney, who was making just his second major league start. If you’ve been following the Yankees closely over the past fifteen years — and I know you have — you know that rookie pitchers are their Kryptonite. I don’t have the stats to support this, and it may very well be that the stats don’t support this, but my memory tells me that the Yankees always seem to go down meekly when facing pitchers they’ve never seen before. And so it was with Heaney.

He retired the Yankees in order in the first, gave up Teixeira’s homer in the second, yielded a single to Brett Gardner in the third, walked Chase Headley in the fifth, and walked Teixeira in the seventh. And that was it. Thanks to a couple of double plays, Heaney faced only 24 batters in seven innings. He was the one who looked like the future ace.

After Nova’s early struggles, however, he was matching Heaney pitch for pitch. He cruised through the third, fourth, and fifth innings, giving up just a single and a walk and never really breaking a sweat. In the sixth, however, the bubble burst. Pujols turned on Nova’s first pitch of the inning and produced a majestic home run deep into the trees that grow beyond the centerfield fence; two pitches later Erick Aybar followed suit with a shot of his own to center, and suddenly the Angels had a 2-1 lead. Nova would get one out in the inning before Matt Joyce hit a ringing double down the right field line and sent our future ace to the showers.

Adam Warren came in to make his first relief appearance of the season, and guess what? He was good. He skated through the final two innings and change, allowing just a hit and a walk and perhaps a regret or two from Joe Girardi. But we’ll never know about that last part.

For their parts, the Yankee hitters didn’t do much the rest of the way. Didi Gregorius reached on an error with one out in the eighth, but he was quickly erased by a Stephen Drew double play ball, and the top three hitters went down quietly in the ninth. Final score: Angels 2, Yankees 1.

There is good news, however. While the Yankees have forgotten how to win, the rest of the American League East has been sputtering as well, and the Pinstripes have lost no ground in the standings. So that’s something. Nova didn’t get the win, but he pitched well, something most of us probably weren’t counting on this year. He might not be the ace yet, but he’s pitching.

Oh, and here’s one more thing. My son and I will be in the stands instead of on the couch tomorrow afternoon, so things are already looking up!

[Photo Credit: Jae C. Hong/AP Photo]

Orange You Glad to See Me?

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Ivan Nova’s second start comes against some bona fide hitters.

Brett Gardner CF
Chris Young LF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Carlos Beltran RF
Chase Headley 3B
Didi Gregorius SS
Stephen Drew 2B

Adam Warren shows he’s a real pro.

Never mind the California Highway Patrol:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

[Photo Via: Convinces]

Tragic Kingdom

CC
If you’ve been paying attention, you know that I despise the California Angels, the Anaheim Angels, and the Los Angels Angels of Anaheim in equal measure, so instead of rehashing my usual litany of invectives against Gary DiScarcina and Garret Anderson and Mike Scoscia, I’ll instead focus on the game at hand, the opening frame of a three-game set in Anaheim.

CC Sabathia was on the mound for the Yankees, which means that expectations weren’t too high, but old CC pitched fairly well. Sure, he coughed up a run in the bottom of the first, but it wasn’t anything too awful. Johnny Giavotella, or Johnny G, as the Angels announcers love to call him, singled to lead off the game, then came all the way around to score on a two-out double from the resurgent Albert Pujols. Nothing to worry about yet, right?

The Yankee hitters got that run back in the top of the third, but it could’ve been more than that. DiDi Gregorius walked with one out and moved to second on a single from Brett Gardner, which brought up Chris Young. Young hit a rocket to left center, a ball that would easily have scored both runners for a 2-1 Yankee lead, but Mike Trout raced deep into the gap, reached across his body at the warning track and made the grab for the second out of the inning, sending the runners scampering back to their bases. Alex Rodríguez came up next and punched a ball to right field to tie the game and salvage something of the inning, but Trout’s play still stung.

In the bottom of the third, Trout would sting the Yankees again, this time with his bat, as he slugged a homer just ten feet or so beyond the spot where he had robbed Young in the top of the inning. I can never look at Mike Trout without imagining him in pinstripes, patrolling center field and thrilling a generation of fans who weren’t lucky enough to have followed Mattingly and Jeter before him. If only.

The game stayed at two to one until it looked like the Yankees might tie it up in the top of the fifth. Gardner, the reigning American League Player of the Week, stood at second base after a quirky double down the right field line, and Chris Young stood at the plate. Once again he launched a blast deep into the left center field gap. This ball was fifteen or twenty feet to the left of where the last one had died, but Trout was still coming and coming and coming. Once again he leapt at the last second, and once again he broke Young’s heart, this time with a catch that was even more impressive than the first. Young stared out at Trout for a second, then waved his hand in disgust before heading back to the dugout. After the game he suggested that baseball’s rules be changed to give a team half a run on plays like that, just to make the hitter feel a little better. In the space of three innings, Trout had stolen two runs with his glove and added one with his bat. That’s what greatness does.

If Sabathia had skipped over the odd innings on Monday night, he’d have thrown a shutout, but just as there are no half runs, there are no skipsies in baseball. And so came the bottom of the fifth (an RBI double from Kole Calhoun) and the bottom of the seventh (a towering homer from C.J. Cron) and suddenly the Yankees were down 4-1.

Their best opportunity to get back in the game had come back in the top of the seventh when Brian McCann led off with a walk and Gregorius pounded the Baltimorest chop you’ve ever seen off the front of the plate for an infield single to put two runners on with nobody out. I know that Brett Gardner is about ready to burst into flames, and I know that the Angels were creeping in at the corners, but I just couldn’t figure out why Joe Girardi didn’t send Gardy up there to bunt. It was only 3-1 at the time, and I sure would’ve liked to have seen Young and Rodríguez get shots to drive in the tying runs, but Girardi didn’t see it that way. Instead Gardner popped out to left, Young bounced into a fielder’s choice, and A-Rod grounded out to short. The Yankees felt dead in that moment; Cron’s home run in the bottom half just made sure. Nothing of interest happened after that, but tomorrow is another day.

[Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images]

A Way Out West

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Yanks out in suburban Southern California for the next three days to play the Angels.

Brett Gardner CF

Chris Young LF

Alex Rodriguez DH

Mark Teixeira 1B

Carlos Beltran RF

Chase Headley 3B

Jose Pirela 2B

John Ryan Murphy C

Didi Gregorius SS

It’s our man C.C. Really hope he pitches well tonight.

Never mind the In-and-Out Burgers:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

[Photo Credit: Stephen Shore via This Isn’t Happiness]

Peace, I Gotta Go

zzzbluebags

You know, it was a drag of a loss, but not dispiriting. 3-1 was the final, spoiling a good outing by Big Mike.

Sure, there was a dumb-looking miscommunication between Brett Gardner and Garrett Jones that led to a run–man, the Yanks have specialized in some of these Mack Sennett miscues this season–but really, they got out-pitched and lost a close game is all. No disgrace there. And it was an entertaining series if you can forgive the awkward chemistry between the YES announcers, Ryan Ruocco and John Flaherty. This was the D-List Yankee announcing team but kudos to YES for trying out some young blood. Ruocco is young but informed, attentive, and not without personality. Was he trying too hard at times? Maybe, but that’s not the worst sin. I got the feeling that his partner, John Flaherty wasn’t impressed. The former big leaguer busted Ruocco’s chops about a “Peace!” home run call on Saturday, but his teasing wasn’t funny, and I thought Ruocco’s call was fine. Let him play around a little, you know? Flaherty is the wrong man–aesthetically, at least–to pair with a young guy like Ruocco because Flaherty, while he is proficient, is not generous, often sour, and lacks a sense of humor. I don’t find him to be good company. Ruocco strained when he gave the needle back to Flaherty. They tried to swing a generation-gap Odd Couple thing but it didn’t click.

I was prepared not to like Ruocco and while he doesn’t have a great voice, he was much better than I expected. Be nice to see him with Cone, Singleton or Leiter next time out.

Anyhow, onward to Anaheim.

Picture by Bags

Movin’ n Groovin’

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Hey guys. I’m out and aboutski so I apologize for not recapping yesterday’s win. Tanaka wasn’t too good again but the bullpen picked him up and so did the offense. After six early runs, they looked flat during the middle innings, but a pair of late hits–one by Mark Teixeira, the other by Chase Headley–put the game away and gave the Yanks a 9-6 win.

Today, we’re hoping that Michael Pineda can finally right himself. Should be interesting to see how he does against this Monster Mash, Swing-from-the-heels lineup.

Brett Gardner CF

Chase Headley 3B

Alex Rodriguez DH

Mark Teixeira 1B

Brian McCann C

Garrett Jones LF

Chris Young RF

Didi Gregorius SS

Stephen Drew 2B

Never mind nuthin’:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Home on the Range

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Let’s see if our man Masahiro can rebound from that beating he took last time out.

Brett Gardner CF
Chris Young LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez DH
Brian McCann C
Carlos Beltran RF
Chase Headley 3B
Didi Gregorius SS
Jose Pirela 2B

Never mind Nolan:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

[Photo Via: Flowers of Boredom]

Young at Heart

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Nathan Eovaldi was the shit last night, composed, aggressive, effective, the bullpen was sharp and Chris Young’s 3-run home run was all the offense our boys needed to win the game, 3-2.

Picture by Bags

Choose Your Own Adventure

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The Big Huh?, Mr. Choose-Your-Own-Adventure, the Texas native, Nathan Eovaldi is on the hill tonight.

Brett Gardner CF
Chase Headley 3B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Carlos Beltran DH
Garrett Jones RF
Chris Young LF
Didi Gregorius SS
Stephen Drew 2B

Never mind the fix in’s:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

Don’t Be Sker’d, it’s Just a Beard

George Carlin

I only caught the last couple of innings and boy Dallas Keuchel was as good as he is silly-looking.

Final Score: Astros 4, Yanks zip. 

A Taste of Texas

zzedeggy

The Yanks are in Houston for a four-game series against the too-legit-to-quit Astros.

I’m curious to see these guys.

Never mind the humidity:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

[Photo Credit: William Eggleston]

Get Outta Town

quickride

Ivan Nova, welcome back.

The Score Truck delivered, clobbering Cole Hamels and the Phillies to the tune of 10-2.

Picture by Bags

 

The Return of Ivan Nova

Branco

It’s the return on Ivan Nova as the Yanks look to stop sucking. At the very least, they’re looking to avoid being swept.

Welcome back, Hoss, no pressure.

Yanks have a tough assignment this afternoon in Cole Hamels.

Brett Gardner CF
Chase Headley 3B
Alex Rodriguez DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Carlos Beltran RF
Chris Young LF
John Ryan Murphy C
Didi Gregorius SS
Jose Pirela 2B

Nice to see Tex back too.

Never mind this losing:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Eric Branco.

Good Grief

closedb

Et tu, Dellin?

Another tough night for a Yankee starter, and an even rougher one for the Yankees’ closer as the Phillies beat the Yanks again, 11-6. Dellin Betances had given up one run all season. Last night he gave up four.

Alex Rodriguez had a couple of hits, including a solo home run, but with runners on second and third, one man out in the bottom of the sixth, he could not drive a run home. Brian McCann followed and grounded out to end the inning and that was the last real threat posed by the Bombers (Brett Gardner hit another dinger too because that’s, apparently, what Brett Gardner does).

So this is what it is–another losing streak. Today won’t get any easier despite the return of Ivan Nova as Cole Hamels is pitching for the Phils.

We can only hope, true to form, that this losing streak will be followed by a winning streak.

Picture by Bags

Try Again

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Brett Gardner CF

Chase Headley 3B

Alex Rodriguez DH

Brian McCann C

Carlos Beltran RF

Garrett Jones 1B

Chris Young LF

Didi Gregorius SS

Jose Pirela 2B

It’s CC and get your head-out-of-your-ass boys.

Never mind last night:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

Who’s the Doo Doo Man?

michael-pineda1

Big Mike, what’s doing on, Dude?

The Yanks pitching was horseshit for the most part last night and got their tits lit by the lowly Phillies.

The hitters put in work, scored 8 runs but it wasn’t enough.

Final Score: Phillies 11,  Yanks 8. 

Phooey.

[Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images]

Come Out and Play With Me

zedbags

Nova’s coming back this week. Tonight gives Big Mike.

Brett Gardner CF

Chase Headley 3B

Alex Rodriguez DH

Brian McCann C

Carlos Beltran RF

Garrett Jones 1B

Didi Gregorius SS

Chris Young LF

Stephen Drew 2B

Never mind playing down to the competition:

Picture by Bags

Cool Off

sprinkler

File Sunday’s game under the Every-beating-deserves-another file.

Masahiro Tanaka had an off-day, J.D. Martinez hit three home runs, and the Tigers pounded the Yanks, 12-4.

Boom Bap

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The Yankees enjoyed Old Timer’s Day yesterday–has Willie finished his speech yet?–and then went ahead and pounded the crap out of the Tigers to the tune of 14-3. Big night for a lot of guys–notably Carlos Beltran, Brett Gardner, Nathan Eovaldi, Alex Rodriguez, Didi Gregorious, and Chris Young.

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Picture by Bags; Frank Franklin II/AP

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver