"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice
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Wide Open Spaces

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It’s fun when your team is winning, isn’t it? Even when they aren’t slick or efficient.

Last night, Didi Gregorious had a couple of big hits and made some nice plays in the field. He also had a base-running error and failed to tell Mark Teixeira to slide at home, to prove that he’s far from a polished product. Still, the Yanks will take it. Chase Headley continues to swing a hot bat, as does Teixeira (who was robbed of at least two hits), and Alex Rodriguez hit a solo home run on his 40th birthday.

Ivan Nova appeared to be tired but Chasen Shreve pitched two scoreless innings of relief, and Justin Wilson and Dellin Betances kept the Rangers off the board in the 8th and 9th. Annoyed to see Betances in there? I can relate. But that’s how it went down.

Another fine victory. Then again, aren’t they all fine?

Final Score: Yanks 6, Rangers 2.

And the Yanks are gonna need them because here come the Jays (and you’ve got to figure a starting pitcher will be added to their roster before the end of the week).

[Photo Credit: Owen Perry via MPD]

 

Atta Boy

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Nathan Eovaldi pitched well yesterday. The work-in-progress is progressing as he pitched into the 9th inning  (never mind the final three outs were a chore, Dellin Betances eventually came in and reminded everyone that they aren’t so hard after all).

By then, Eovaldi had a plump lead. He didn’t strike out a lot of guys but got a couple of critical double play ground balls–including one lucky smash that was deftly picked by Didi Gregorious–to help him out of trouble. Chase Headley had the big knocks with some help from Garrett Jones and Stephen Drew.

Final Score: Yanks 7, Twins 2.

Wonderful job by the Yanks after getting blown out on Friday.

[Photo Credit: ANN HEISENFELT/AP]

Long Distance Call (and Response)

A Rod Bomb

You must forgive me for taking so long to get to last night’s happy recap. I think it’s just part of the deal when you’re in your 13th year of blogging. Some days the writing falls through the cracks. There are other commitments–other work, a wife, exercise, cooking–that get in the way. And that’s cool because I know you guys saw that game last night. Or if you missed it, I know you checked it out later, looking at the box score, videos, game recaps.

We all know it was one of those nights you get a handful of times each year–one to savor, one to remember. And it wasn’t just that Alex Rodriguez hit three home runs to keep his team in the game, he hit three absolute bombs. He crushed those balls, each well over 400 feet.

Course a natural reaction is to be suspicious. That’s the price all modern players have to pay, but especially a two-time loser like Rodriguez. And that’s just always going to be part of it for some people with him. I get that. But I’ve always enjoyed rooting for him so I feel as if this has been his most joyous season as a Yankee. Maybe he was really a good guy when he was really young with the Mariners too. But now, at the end (he’ll turn 40 tomorrow) he’s doing an Edgar Martinez impression and it’s a reminder that he is one of the great players. Total cheat, screwed up dude, but also great at baseball.

He’s got the day off today and so does the other hero, back-up catcher J.R. Murphy, who had the game winner. If Rodriguez’s home runs were no doubters, Murph’s looked like a long fly ball at first, good to get a run in from third, but then it just kept going and suddenly it had cleared that very high wall out there. Hilarious back-up catcher home run. He was amped like Tom Cruise in Taps when he got back to the dugout, too. That was pretty funny.

Now, let’s hope Sweet Nathan Eovaldi comes through with a big performance today. He’s got something to prove. Would’t be surprised if he tossed a dud, but I’ll be here rooting for him.

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

Never mind the comebacks:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

[Photo Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn | USA TODAY Sports]

Don’t Look Back

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And yeah, Phil Hughes was good too. Naturally. But the story was Big Mike getting his tits lit as the Twins bombed the Yanks, 10-1.

The Yanks got 10 hits but only the 1 run. Best thing to do is to move along, there’s a new game tonight.

Picture by Bags

One Thing Leads to Another

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Andrew Miller gave up a solo home run to Chris Davis with two men out in the 9th inning last night because he didn’t want to end this odd little streak of one-run games. The homer narrowed the Yankees lead to 4-3 which is where it stayed when Jonathan Schoop struck out to end the game for the second game in a row against Miller.

Mark Teixeira hit a two-run home run early, and Alex Rodriguez hit the bejesus out of the ball later on for a solo home run which proved to be the difference.

Meanwhile, Teixeria continued to make nice plays in the field, with smooth, agile scoops of throws in the dirt. His fielding excellence is common enough to take for granted but it should be said that while Gardner and Rodriguez have had nice seasons, Teixeira has been their best player. Never would have called that at the start of the year.

Stephen Drew also had a beautiful defensive play, diving to his left to stop a ball in short right field. He gathered himself on his knees and quickly made an accurate throw to Ivan Nova covering the bag for the out. Play like that is why they’ve kept him around I suppose.

Picture by Bags

There’s a Thin Line Between Love and Hate

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The Yanks have won 3 of 4 since the break, all by one run (the game they lost was by a run, too). We could point to certain plays and performances that’ve contributed to the wins, we could talk about fortitude, grit and character, and we can also sit back and just feel fortunate that luck has been on the  Yankees’ side. Because the difference between being 0-4, 4-0 sure feels slender, don’t it? And as we well know, it won’t last.

Nathan Eovaldi was pretty good again–touched 100 mph a few times–but failed to go deep in the game. The firm of Wilson, Betances, and Miller handled the rest, with a nice 9th inning fielding assist from Mark Teixeira. Chase Headley and Brendan Ryan had key hits as the Yanks edged out the O’s in a tough game, 3-2.

Many of us didn’t expect much from this Yankee team at the start of the season but now they are playing well enough so if they tank the rest of the way we won’t be shocked but certainly disappointed.

Picture by Bags

Don’t Cha Know?

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Remember me? Robbie Cano from the Bronx?

Cano beat the Yanks yesterday, 4-3.

Today is broiling hot and the Yanks have the misfortune of facing King Felix. They beat him once this year. Something tells me they won’t do it again.

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

Never mind the heat index:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Picture by Bags

 

Smoke ‘Em if You Got ‘Em

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I got home last night, set to watch the game. The Wife had tentative evening plans with a friend but they fell through. So I put her in the car and we headed down to Manhattan in search of food. We’d heard of a decent Thai place in Hell’s Kitchen so there we were, against all common sense, stuck in Friday night, stand-still traffic.

But we had John and Suzyn and the game. Masahiro Tanaka gave up a couple of home runs but otherwise pitched well.

We finally parked, got to the place, and had a lousy meal. But we were so hungry by that point it didn’t matter. And although our little adventure didn’t completely kick the funk out of The Wife’s mood, it didn’t make it worse either, and that’s nothing to sneeze at.

Afterwards, we walked up 9th Ave, right around where my mother used to come 40 years ago to the spice district to buy all of her dry spices, when we passed a small cigar store called NYC Fine Cigars. The door was open and the smell of cigar smoke rolled out onto the street. A group of men sat on chairs, puffing away. A TV hung from the wall and as we passed I caught Alex Rodriguez circling the bases. I poked my head in and asked, “Is this live?”

The men said yes, and suddenly, our forgettable dinner was made better. Didn’t hurt a moment later when we saw a skinny but hairy Hispanic man dressed in skivvies, a tie dye tank top, and a floppy woman’s hat, saunter past us, doing what looked like a cross between Tai chi and the Cha Cha. In his own world, doing his own thing, a glimpse of the crazy old days in a sea of tourists and freshly-scrubbed young folks.

We listened to the final couple of innings on the radio as we sailed up the West Side Highway and got home just in time to see Andrew Miller strike out pinch-hitter–and former Yankee, Jesus Montero–ending the night with a pair of merciless sliders.

Final Score: Yanks 4, M’s 3.

[Photo Via: Paper Blog]

The Go Figure Yanks Head Into the Break in First Place

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Now, that there’s a fine way to go into the break. Big, fat win at Fenway Park with plenty of big hits and luck on the side of the visitors. Even when the Yanks kicked the ball around in the 9th inning, fortune was on their side and if Rob Refsnyder’s home run in the top of the 9th summed up what’s gone right this year in the Bronx, then Hanley Ramirez’s 7th inning strike out against Dellin Betances said all you need to know about the Sox.

Betances spotted a fastball for strike one, got Ramirez to swing and miss at a tight, unforgiving slider for strike two, and then busted him up with a fastball. Ramirez started to swing, then tried to hold up, and in the process punched the bat out of his left hand with his right hand. He then gave a little jump and shook his hand as if he’d slammed it in a car door. It was humiliating. (And this is against the great Ramirez who had 2 hits today.)

Brian McCann, Chase Headley, and Alex Rodriguez got the key hits for the Yanks–and Gardner had two hits again–but the hero of the game was Refsnyder. He didn’t look like much in his first two at bats but then got his first big league hit with a line drive to center the next time up. His home run over the Green Monster in the 9th bared no resemblance to Bucky Dent’s infamous 1978 pop fly. This was was a shot. Got my ass up, clapping, tell you that.

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Refsnyder also made a decisive, confident defensive move in the 8th inning. Alejandro De Aza led off with a single, the Yanks up 6-4, and Shane Victorino followed with a slow ground ball to second. Refsynder fielded the ball and flipped to second, not the sure out at all. It was a close play but he’d measured it correctly and the Yanks got the force at second.

On the flip side, Refsnyder helped Andrew Miller botch a possible game-ending double play in the 9th, but hey, nobody’s perfect, and nobody will remember the near-miss. Refsnyder gets a few days off riding on a cloud. For a team that’s been uneven but often endearing, it’s been an unexpectedly decent first half. Not great, but not bad. Sort of sucky, sort of good.

Let’s hope these dudes can stay healthy during the long summer. Love to see them with a fighting chance come October.

[Photo Credit: Matthew Healey/N.Y. Daily News]

Hotter n July

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Tough loss of the Yanks last night--they showed some fight but didn’t have enough to catch up (5-3 was the final)–and this afternoon gives the final game of the first half of the season.

Again with the big question mark, Eovaldi. The Sox can hit, couple of their big guys (Hanley, Ortiz) are swinging hot bats. So will Eovaldi keep them down today? He’s been good ever since getting his tits lit down in Miami last month.

I’m…still skeptical.

Rooting for the dude, though.

Jake CF
Gardy LF
Al DH
Tex 1B
C.Y. RF
Mac C
Head 3B
Didi SS
Ref 2B

Let’s hope the Yanks score a mess-o-runs today to give him some support.

Never mind the heat:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

Onward

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I was talking to a friend on the phone with the game on mute when Alex Rodriguez popped  a home run over the Green Monster in the first inning. Course I had to interrupt our conversation to report what had just happened. My friend was amused, “Oh, you’re rooting for Alex Rodriguez again?” And I told him, I’d never stopped.

It was an evening of good news for the Yanks. Big Mike pitched very well, his offense got lucky, thanks to some fast runners taking advantage of a couple of fielding gaffes by the Sox, and The Twin Towers closed it out in the final two innings. By that time the Yankee lead was four runs but Joe Girardi wasn’t leaving anything to chance–his best two relievers were going to nail this one down (after the game, Girardi told reporters that he wants Miller to pitch twice this weekend but not on back-to-back days, so we can expect to see him again Sunday).

Last piece of good news–especially to our pal Dimelo, president of Stephen Drew Fan Club–is that Rob Refsnyder is joining the big league club today.

Final Score: Yanks 5, Sox 1.

[Photo Via: NYC Nostalgia]

Lifted

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Tanaka rebound? Check. Gardy an All-Star? Check. Yankee win? Check.

A good afternoon in the Bronx. And now, to end the first half, the Yanks go to Boston.

Promises to be annoying. In the meantime, let’s be happy like the gals in this picture. Especially for Gardner.

Picture by Bags

Catfished

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What does it take to get CC Sabathia a win these days? Homers, lots of them. And a quick hook, so he doesn’t decompose after the fifth. And it doesn’t hurt at all for the other starter to leave injured after three innings. Maybe the bullpen bailing him out when he gets in trouble and some shiny defense along the way at points, but that’s the crux of what needs to happen. And if the baseball gods smile upon him and allow him to keep the ball in the yard during his abbreviated stint, well, there’s a chance.

Mark Teixeira supplied two homers and some shiny defense. Drew, using this season to prepare for his upcoming audition as an extra in The Walking Dead, chipped in another blast. Joe Girardi supplied the quick hook and the bullpen locked things down until the freshly reinstated closer Andrew Miller almost undid all that careful work.

Before his injury, Andrew Miller had only allowed two hits once in 26 appearances. And he only allowed one home run. He doubled the tally on both accounts, but held the lead at 5-4. And CC got a very rare win.

Sabathia’s demise calls to mind another very sad baseball story – that of Catfish Hunter. Both mega-stars in their twenties who came to pitch the Yanks into the World Series for big bucks, their careers dashed in their early thirties due to chronic health problems. Hunter did not have Sabathia’s opt-out clause and subsequent extension, and he retired at the end of his original five-year contract at the age of 33. If Sabathia had not re-worked his deal before his opt-out clause kicked in, he’d be retiring at the end of this year, at the age of 35.

Hunter had won so often so early and he appeared so regularly in October that when he did retire, he had done enough to get Hall of Fame votes. His career pales considerably when viewed with current metrics, but you don’t often hear too many people complain about his inclusion.

Sabathia has been the better pitcher for me, but I wonder if two more years of getting smashed by every right-handed hitter in the league will put a permanent stain on his record. Both guys are damn easy to root for though, maybe that will throw a veil over the gory ending.

It’s sad to be finsihed before you’re ready and I don’t think anybody was ready. Probably CC most of all.

 

Photo via Sports Illustrated

Not Quite Good Eonuff

the_pigeon_and_the_chess_game_by_kebbigePeekaboo. I suppose you can say this is the theme of tonight’s contest, as quite a few things you haven’t seen in a while occurred while I was away:

Yanks kicked off their latest homestand against the recently anointed All Star battery of Sonny Gray-Stephen Vogt and the Oakland A’s’; of note, Gray had missed two starts due to a severe case of salmonella poisoning, so while it behooves us to wish him the best of health going forward, it was also important for the Yanks to take advantage of any rust he might have accumulated during his time off.  And so it appeared they did; after starter Nathan Eovaldi gave Oakland a head start with a run in top of the first, the Yanks responded with two of their own by loading the bases right from the start and scoring leadoff hitter Brett Gardner and Chase Headley on a looping infield single by Brian McCann and a hard hit by Garrett Jones.  It seemed like they could have gotten more in the frame, but had A-Rod not flied out and Mark Teixeira not struck out during the earlier run-making seminar, then Chris Young popping out to first wouldn’t have been quite as irritating.

Eovaldi ran into some issues in the third when the first three batters reached base on singles, the third one by All Star Vogt plating a run, but then he struck out trade-bait Ben Zobrist induced  a double-play to escape with the game tied. It stayed that way until the next inning when… (double-checking my notes)… Didi Gregorius drove in McCann on a line drive single to right center.  I’ve heard he was getting better with that bat-thingie… so it stood for a couple more innings as Sonny got his groove back and stifled the Yanks for the rest of his start (7IP, 3ER, 3BB, 5 SO, 2.20), while Eovaldi pitched into the sixth.

That’s when Girardi turned away from baseball for a minute and breaking out the chess board, removing Eovaldi with 86 pitches and one out for lefty Chasen Shreve. There was no official explanation at the time for this move as many probably feared that he was hurt, so I suppose in Girardi’s mind this was genius (and it might have been as Eovaldi has been high and low all season, though lately he’s been on a bit of a hot streak). Shreve struck out Josh Reddick, which was purportedly what Joe was thinking of when he made the move, but then Billy Butler; out of pure habit which has defined his career against the Yanks, homered just inside the fair pole in left. Derp.

The game stayed tied into extra innings, where All Star Dellin Betances, pitching a second inning (again, a Girardi decision) hung a breaking pitch to leadoff hitter Brett Lawrie, who promptly deposited it in the Billy Butler Bank of New York (left), giving the lead back to the A’s. For Betances, this was his eighth earned run in his last 14-1/3 innings after having given up absolutely nothing for the first couple of months of the season (there are lots of stats to throw in that basically say the same thing).  I’m not going to give him a hard time; he’s young and has been exceptional since last season, so if this is what others are calling a rut, there are plenty of reasons to think he’ll come out of it soon; not the least of which is the pending return of Andrew Miller on Wednesday.  But for now, Eovaldi had a relatively good outing go to waste on a questionable decision that backfired, and the Yanks tried hard to make up for it in the bottom of the tenth against former Yank Tyler Clippard when he walked Gardner and Alex in between pop-ups by Drew and Headley, but after going 3-0 on Teixeira, he battled back with a strike and a foul before throwing a change-up that everyone in the stadium knew he was going to throw, and because they also knew that Teix always seems to miss change-ups, that’s exactly what happened.

After the game, I guess there was no point in asking Joe why he did what he did because I didn’t hear a word from him in any post game report (note: Joe actually did admit to being a bit overconfident in the match-ups). I did hear poor Dellin telling himself and the reporters that it was just another game and he would have to knuckle down and get himself right.  Somehow it just didn’t seem fair; it wasn’t his idea to pitch two innings and give up a go-ahead homer in a close, relatively low-scoring game that didn’t need to get there, but that’s Life in Baseball, and you’re an All-Star, so keep it moving kid and don’t let it get to you.

A winnable game under the circumstances, but a rather annoying 4-3 10 inning loss.

Boom

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Now, that was the way the start of the Fourth of July weekend.

Masahiro Tanaka got out-pitched by Chris Archer but the Yanks were able to chase Tampa’s ace from the game with two men out in the 7th. Trailing 3-0, Mark Teixeira had the big knock in the 8th, hitting a 3-run home home run.

Just felt like the Yanks were going to win the game, never mind the double plays they hit into to end the 8th and 9th innings. When Evan Longoria was called out at second after a replay review in the 11th, the good vibes continued. Longoria slid into second and for a fraction of a moment came off the bag. Nice catch by the Yankees to even review it. Strangely, for my glass-half-empty-ass-self, I still felt hopeful even after the Rays scored a couple of runs in the top of the 12th.

The bottom of the inning went like this: Brett Gardner walked–oh, those lead-off walks–and after Chase Headley whiffed, Alex Rodriguez hit an excuse-me single to right. It was a slow ground ball, squibbed off the end of his bat, but since the Rays were positioned for him to pull, a sure fire double play turned into a single, with Gardner taking third. Rodriguez smiled on his way to first, and could have been singing “With a little bit of luck” if he was a musical theater kind of guy.

Gardner scored when Mark Teixeira singled hard to right field. It was a relief too because Teix took the first pitch of the at bat, a fastball right down the middle, and I figured that’d be the best pitch he’d see. The one he singled on wasn’t as good, but fat enough.

So, Yanks down 5-4, first and second for Brian McCann. Oh, a double play loomed in our minds but McCann golfed a fastball over the fence in right field for a 3-run, game-ending home run instead.

Smiles, cheers, high-fives, first place. After the game, Brett Gardner called it “the biggest win of the year for us, by far.”

Yanks 7, Rays 5.

Illustration by Michael Sloan.

Bend it like Betances

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The Yanks didn’t score but 3 runs by Nathan Eovaldi pitched well, the bullpen was even better, and even though Dellin Betances walked a couple of batters in the 9th, struggling to locate his curve ball, eventually he got it to bend the way he wanted to, got a strike out to end the game and sent the Yankees home, 3-1 winners.

[Photo Credit: Jing Huang via MPD]

Walking in the Spiderwebs

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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]

Tragic Kingdom

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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]

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!

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