"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice
Category: Game Recap

Give it Away, Give it Away, Give it Away Now

buster-keaton4

When your team is on a losing streak none of the calls go their way, the bloops don’t fall, and line drives don’t hit off the wall then drop onto the warning track, they skip off the top of the wall into the stands. The walks and errors bury them and even when they do catch something of break, like when a touchy home plate umpire ejects the oppositions’ best player early in the game, it doesn’t help. Nothing does. Mustaches, no mustaches. You’re screwed.

Adam Warren pitched well tonight and started the 7th inning with the game tied at 2. Then Chase Headley boots a ground ball, Warren walks a batter, gets ahead of the next guy then walks him to load the damn bases. His night was over and Warren walked off the mound with an aftertaste that will no doubt last until his next start. The Nat’s scored a run and the Yanks couldn’t match them. Alex Rodriguez was called out on strikes by the same schmuck home plate up to end the game. How it was called a strike I still can’t figure, though balls were called strikes all night so I suppose Alex should have prepared to swing at horseshit in order to stay alive.

Final Score: Nats 3, Yanks 2.

This two-game series in Washington wasn’t going to be easy for the Yanks but adman, they could have won both games–especially last night, man. Instead, the losing continues. Tomorrow gives another off-day, then its back home for the weekend.

Let’s hope a return to the Bronx peps them up.

And The Ken L Ration Award Goes To…

KenL

Tasked with holding a 6-2 lead in the 5th inning, Nathan Eovaldi faltered and earned the Ken L Ration Award for the night. His performance was a dog.

He didn’t blow the lead entirely, leaving the game with a 6-5 lead but the damage was done. The Nats tied the score and it remained tied until the bottom of the 10th inning when Andrew Miller gave up his first runs of the season–a two-run home run by Ryan Zimmerman off the right filed foul pole.

Dem things happen, of course, but after a bad week, this loss was regrettable.

Final Score: Nats 8, Yanks 6. 

But that wasn’t the worst of it as Jacoby Ellsbury is headed to the 15-day DL. 

Can I get a “Harumph”?

Tough Week

tumblr_noiw7bhq7M1qkq539o1_500

Well, crud. The Yanks got their asses handed to them today in Kansas City and end a long week (3-5) on a tough note.

They’ve got a couple off-days this week. Two-game series vs. the Nats starting Tuesday.

Clear your heads, boys. Time to turn this back around.

Dr. Feelgood

hc-headley-and-arod-homer-lead-sabathia-yankee-001

Chase Headley got a 3-2 change up and slapped at it like it was a whiffle ball. He hit the ball over the fence in left field, good for a 3-run home run. That broke up a 1-1 tie. Alex Rodriguez re-directed a Joe Blanton fastball on the inside part of the plate over the fence in right for a solo homer in the 9th and the rest was left to C.C. Sabathia who was terrific. The Twin Towers polished off the Royals in the 8th and 9th innings respectively and the Yanks had a tidy 5-1 win to end their modest losing streak.

 

[Photo Credit: Charlie Riedel/AP]

Things That Go Thump in the Night

IMG_4625

Last night’s game was straight up wack. 

Let’s hope, somehow, the Yanks can end this losing streak tonight. But I’m not feeling too confident. You?

 

Move Along

Qué Chiquito es el Mundo

Well, damn. The Rays beat the Yanks handily last night, 6-1. A three-game losing streak. Humble pie for the Yanks who now head to K.C.

Glad they’ve got Pineda going tonight because the sooner we forget another unhappy series down in Tampa the better.

[Photo Credit: Manuel Álvarez Bravo]

Nertz

antiq

Okay, nothing is fucked here. No need to be un-Dude. Still, after scoring a couple of runs again in the first inning, the Yankee offense didn’t do dick (despite getting 10 hits), spoiling a fine outing from Adam Warren as the Rays beat the Yanks, 3-2.

Picture by Bags

Just Short

zzzzzzzzzz

Nathan Eovaldi pitched his best game of the year but a rocky finish earned him his first loss of the season as the Rays beat the Yanks, 4-2.

Hang this one of the Yankees’ offense who scored two runs in the first and had the bases loaded with nobody out. They didn’t score again for the rest of the game.

These things happen, don’t they?

Picture by Bags

Have Bats, Will Travel

plate

The Yankees belted the ball around last night, scored 11 runs and gave C.C. Sabathia the kind of cushion ever pitcher dreams of. He pitched a decent game, too as the Yanks cruised to an 11-5 win in Tampa. First win for C.C. since Christ was a cowboy.

Smile.

[Photo Credit: Digitalhaas via It’s a Long Season]

Music From Big Pink

image

“In the first inning, I threw the first slider, I said oh, everything is working good today,” Pineda said after today’s game, according to Chad Jennings. “… I don’t know how to explain to you how happy I am right now. But I’m very happy now.”

Stud. That’s what Michael Pineda is. He’s the Yankees’ best pitcher and the only that can temper our feelings about him now is a nagging concern that he won’t stay healthy. Otherwise, he’s been tremendous. Today, he mastered the Orioles for 7 innings. Gave up a run, didn’t walk a batter and struck out sixteen. Can you remember a big dominant Moose like Pineda–with this kind of control and stuff–pitch for the Yanks in the past 30 years?

Carlos Beltran hit a line drive off the right field wall in his first at bat, a foot or two away from being a homer. Later, he did hit a home run, his first of the year. McCann hit a dinger, and Didi Gregorius drove in a pair as the Yanks won, 6-2.

[Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac/Newsday]

Moving Right Along

tumblr_no29w9720w1qkq539o1_540

This is becoming a routine, huh? Yanks get an early lead but their starting pitcher can’t do deep into the game so the bullpen takes over and preserve the lead and the Yanks win. Brian McCann (2-run homer on a 3-0 pitch) and Carlos Beltran (2-run double on a 3-2 pitch) had big hits as Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner continued to set the table, Adam Warren couldn’t make it out of the fifth, and four relievers followed him, Betances and Miller dominant again at the end.

Seems like a dangerous game to be playing. As deft as Joe Girardi is at handling the bullpen it’s not hard to be concerned about them being overused if this keeps up.

Still, another win, and that’s always reason to smile. Final Score: Yanks 5, O’s 4.

Clean Living

shower

Alex Rodriguez was robbed of a 3-run home run in the first inning but he hit a line drive over the wall in center field a couple of innings later, just dropped the bat and extended his arms. Good enough for career home run 661. He got a nice cheer from the crowd, came out for an ovation, which died down almost immediately after he quickly returned to the dugout. No fanfare. Ah, if only all milestones were like this!

Next up for Rodriguez, who got another base hit later in the game, is 3,000 hits. He’s only 38 away.

The Yankees got a decent performance from Nathan Eovaldi and more stellar work from their bullpen. Good for a 4-3 win over the Orioles.

Picture by Bags

Ain’t What She Used To Be

washingtonsquare

Alas, poor C.C. 

Yanks lose, 5-1. 

Picture by Bags

The Art(s) of Hitting

Or science(s), if you prefer.

15008531-mmmain[1]

Jacoby Ellsbury, quiet, balanced and deadly quick, is a joy to watch at the plate. He’s in the middle of a tear right now and you can count on three line blistered drives a night, but even when he’s not scorching, the swing is still a thing of beauty.

It’s a stark constrast to his partner in the outfield and atop the lineup. When Brett Gardner came up I had never seen a worse swing from a Major League player. He’d often lose his bat into the stands, flinging it further than the balls he hit. But Gardner’s swing evolved as he slowly added pull-power to an already useful profile.

image[1]

Look into their numbers and you’ll be there all day (I mean, if you go for that sort of thing and you have some free time, I’m endorsing frivolous procrastination or anything) as you compare and contrast all their different methods to skin the same cat. The cursory glance reveals Ellsbury to have more power, but that’s purely a shadow of the Green Monster.

Ellsbury makes more contact than Gardner, for good and for bad. Fewer whiffs but fewer walks as well. Despite a higher batting average for Ellsbury, Gardner actually gets on base just as often. Neither needs a platoon partner and of course, they have the wheels. But by appearance, you’d never mistake one for the other. Especially the follow-thru. Gardner’s one-handed, full-extenstion epee flick versus Ellsbury’s balanced, two-handed broad-sword sweep.

Their swings may be “beauty and the blech” but the results are damn similar (a good lesson to observers who like me, tend make a quick judgment on who can and cannot hit by the shape of their swing). And when they click like this, they’re an especially annoying echo chamber for the opposition. And Yankees are going to win a lot of games.

Like last night. Ellsbury and Gardner reached base five times between them and scored three runs. That alone should have been enough for the Yankees, but in between a strong 8-inning outing from Michael Pineda and a final out from Andrew Miller, David Carpenter got smeared for three runs. No matter though, as the Yankees had three more in their pocket and won 6-3.

***

And now I return you to your regularly scheduled host, Alex Belth. Thanks to Alex and all of you for letting me fill up the space this week. I will head back to twin forges of Little League and Pee Wee Soccer coaching and emerge at the end of June hoping to see the Yankees doing what they’re doing. Playing solid, winning baseball. The only difference is that I won’t be so surprised anymore.

 

Ellsbury Photo by Brad Penner via USA Today and NJ.com

Gardner Photo by AP via Newsday.com

S-c-o-o-p

Anybody play “scoops” growing up? Chucking short-hops at each other until someone spells “s-c-o-o-p”? Like “horse” but more likely to cause a black eye. But I’m ahead of myself.

ice-cream-scoop-3-lg[1]

In the bottom of the 8th inning last night, the Yankees clung to a 1-0 lead, delivered to the bullpen by a sterling Chase Whitley. Dellin Betances, who has been nigh mo-tomatic lately, was not summoned to face the Jays’ three best hitters. Instead, Chris Martin got the very high-leverage appearance and the go-ahead run was on base within three batters. (I didn’t have audio and I haven’t found out yet for sure, but my guess is Miller’s long outing yesterday made Girardi attempt to sneak through this game without him.)

Then came Betances, then came baseball. Dellin’s slow hook got Encarnacion to loft a weak fly ball, but whereas Ellsbury was in the perfect spot to preserve Sunday night’s win, Gardner was in the perfect spot to lose Monday’s lead. The big swing coupled with the weak contact led Gardner on a long, curving route and the ball nestled softly into the corner for a double.

With the go-ahead run on third base, Betances got the second out before facing old-friend Russell Martin. Betances went after him with a steady diet of breaking balls, but with the count full, Martin has seen enough of the knuckle-curve and smacked a hot shot down the third-base line. Chase Headley, playing deep, sprung towards the foul line and snagged the grounder prematurely, as it was surely ticketed for the left field corner. Headley was on his feet and firing across the diamond in an instant, turning a double into a possible out. I’d bet good money the name “Brooks Robinson” was mentioned in the booth. The play was that good.

Too good to be true. Headley’s laser-beam throw from behind the third base bag was right on line but just a hair short. The ball skidded off the dirt as first baseman Garrett Jones stretched heroically but futilely. He swiped his glove at the short-hop, found the ball land true for the briefest moment before failing to squeeze it for the out. The ball skipped to the middle of the infield and two runs scord and the Jays won, 3-1.

It was almost a play for the season’s highlight reel and instead it’s a tough loss. Maybe Teixeira makes the scoop. Maybe. Probably.

Of course he does.

 

Parting is Such Sweep Sorrow

IMG_7212

It’s hard to imagine ever saying this, but a couple more games in Boston would be pretty great right about now. Those guys will get it together at some point this season and they’ll revamp the rotation with young guns or Cole Hamels or whatever and they will not be such easy-pickens.

Even with this vulnerable squad, the Sox turned an 8-0 hole into a nail biter as David Ortiz was one swing away from winning the game with bases loaded and two outs in the ninth. Andrew Miller will not, apparently, save every game in 1-2-3 fashion, so he might be human after all. He issued an ominous lead-off walk that opened the door to the top of the lineup where Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia survived his entire arsenal to reach base (a walk and panic-sweat inducing error by Headley).

Miller went to the slider to bury Ortiz and it looked like he wouldn’t test his shovel as the first two pitches baffled Papi. But Ortiz buckled down in that annoying way great hitters do and that last strike a lot tougher than the first two. He spit on two chasers and then lashed a liner to center. With all the shifts in baseball, especially with hitters like Ortiz, it’s always a mystery as to where the fielders are standing when they cut to the field camera. Fortunately, this time Ellsbury was standing right where he needed to be and wrapped up the win (and a wonderful night for himself), 8-5.

And now to Canada! Through customs and everything, to face the Blue Jays who so rudely ruined the season opening series by kicking Yankee-butt. Fortunes have flipped though and let’s hope the Yankees can return the favor.

***

After a very thorough second-grade Social Studies unit on Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, we went to visit the museum and ride the ferry. The kindergartner was very taken with the immigration process as we moved from Great Hall to examiniation room around the island. When we had visitors from Boston a few weeks later, he checked with me, “Will they have to go through Ellis Island to get here?” They should Henry, they should.

The Flayed Man

House-Bolton-heraldry-no-background

The Yankees beat the Red Sox today 4-2, and through 24 games, this season has been a breath of fresh air. Suck it in, savor it, because here comes the stench.

Word-murderer Brian Cashman announced after the game that the Yankees have chosen not to pay Alex the six million dollar bonus he earned last night. He says they are honoring the contract by opting out. As dumb as that sounds, it sounds even dumber when I don’t paraphrase. This from the Wallace Matthews ESPNNewYork.com article :

“We’re going to honor our responsibilities of the contract,” Cashman said. “(But) how it’s been reported . . . and what the contract actually says are two different things. It’s not ‘you do this, you get that.’ It’s completely different. It’s not all of a sudden, we’re choosing not to do something. If we choose to pursue something we’ll choose to pursue it. If we choose not to, it’s our right not to. In both cases, we’re honoring the contract.”

There are a few people who are privy to the exact wording of the contract, but it’s very hard to believe it’s written in such a way that the Yankees can honor a contract built to pay a player for hitting home runs by not paying him for hitting those home runs. For this to be the case, these well-reported milestone bonuses would rather be Yankee-held options on marketing contracts that they get to consider when the homers are hit. If that sounds absurd just on the face of it, consider this contract was written in 2007!

It makes no sense for Alex to give the Yankees right of first refusal on a marketing partnership so many years in advance without getting something for it. What he got, or obviously what everybody thought he got, was a guaranteed $6 million pay out when he hit the dingers. And the Yankees were going to Steinerize and memorabiliorate until the cows came home with profits. The cows appear unladen and the Yankees are backtracking, feebly.

Putting the organization’s shamelessness aside (After all, that’s the primary reason Cashman is still around right? He’s SO willing to be publicly humiliated on a semi-regular basis) the focus for all of us fans and all other players ever contemplating signing another free agent contract with the Yankees should be on the willingness for the Yankees to have this debate in the public forum. Just as last year, when they relied on our distaste for Alex to join with Bud Selig to railroad him out of baseball for an entire season (112 games more than the CBA dictated) again they are cocksure that we’ll take their side when they deny him his bonus.

This organization became caretakers of the longest running success story in American sports history, experiencing victory in every conceivable way from 1994-2012 (forgiving 2008) and took a pillow to it. They’ve been so ruthlessly effective that just two-plus years removed from the last division title, Yankee fans are gobsmacked by a hot streak in April. The team was so dead on arrival this year that I got an email asking if I’d like to come to Opening Day. On Opening Day. And the fact that they have a pulse on May 2nd is thanks to the surprisingly strong heartbeat of the very man they plan to screw six ways to Sunday.

The Yankees are the devil masquerading as a bank but appearing as a joke. It’s time for the inverse of Seinfeld’s laundry theory. Root for the flesh and blood. Fuck the pinstripes.

 

Say Hey-Rod

Six. Six. Oh, so sweet.

When I was a kid, I cared deeply about Reggie hitting his 500th homer and climbing the ladder of all-time greats. Even with the all the bias of the fanatic, I knew there were some numbers that would never, ever fall. 660. 714. 755.

66791

 

And even though a slew of sluggers have crashed the club in the recent era, only one guy knocked down those big three numbers, and Barry Bonds is the greatest hitter I’ve ever seen. In the eighth inning tonight, Alex Rodriguez launched a game-winning missile over the Green Monster for, get this, the first pinch-hit homer of his career. And it was also #660, tying him with Willie Mays for fourth on the all-time list.

But this was a scene within a scene. Alex began the game on the bench as Girardi stacked the lineup with lefties against right-hander Justin Masterson and his notorious platoon split. He had come off a brutal game in Wednesday’s extra-inning loss and surely wanted to get back on the horse. YES had already generated graphics showing the long homerless stretches that accompanied his previous milestones.

When Joe called on Alex to pinch-hit in the 8th, the score was tied 2-2 as the lefties created chances but never really broke through. Oh, the boos. Sustained, lusty boos rained down on Alex when he came up. He took some close pitches and found himself at 3-0. In the interview after game, he told Meredith Markovitz that Girardi had directed the Yankees to rethink their approach and take more advantage of just such counts. Alex said he heard Joe’s voice in his head right before the pitch…

He took advantage. Junichi Tazawa centered a 94 mph fastball and Alex lashed a blue dart right down the line. The ball didn’t clear the wall by a lot, but there was nothing cheap about it.

Andrew Miller (we don’t talk about pitchers becoming TRUE Yankees like we do with hitters, but Andrew Miller makes a pretty great Yankee, don’t you think?) capped three scoreless bullpen innings and CC Sabathia pitched just as well as you could hope a down-on-his-luck lefty could pitch in Fenway.

I hope there’s a kid out there who cares about this homer as much as I did when Reggie hit his.

Thirteen

The Yanks lost to the Rays 3-2 in thirteen innings today, and #13 was el-stinko, going hitless in six at bats, striking out four times and ending the game as the winning run by grounding into a double play. Egads, lock that game in a box and drown it. Alex… he’s come a long way, but he ain’t there yet.

IMG_6911

They had chances to win with a base hit in the 10th and 12th, but Didi Gregorius kept finding himself holding the bat in those spots and I’m not 100% certain he knows how to use that thing. Oh well, the Rays weren’t going to lose every game they play against the Yanks this season.

The Yankee bullpen, reprising it’s ongoing Winston Wolf impersonation, backed up a good-not-great Pineda with 7.3 spectacular innings. They struck out seven, and allowed only five baserunners (four of those in the last two innings by Shreve, one of which was an intentional walk). And the bullpen took the loss. Tough luck.

So the Yanks are stuck on thirteen wins, but still in first place for at least another day. Boston is only one game behind and that’s who’s on deck. Another series win would be sweet.

 

 

 

Why Don’t You Stay Awhile?

Chase Whitley threw 75 innings for the 2014 Yankees. Huh. (File that to the long list of things that I missed about the 2014 Yankees.) The Yanks called on him for a spot start in May that turned into twelve. It’s happening again.

Called up for a spot start Tuesday, Whitley found himself in the rotation before throwing a pitch as Tanaka’s forearm injury will sideline him for a month. Whitley, for his part, didn’t make things awkward since he went out and pitched well into the sixth in another Yankee victory, 4-2, over the Rays. Those of you well-attuned to the 2014 club will also know the Yankees won eight of Whitley’s twelve starts last year and won’t be that surprised.

These Yanks, what’s the word for them? Versatile? I’m open to suggestion. They’ve won all kinds of ways thus far.

They’re at the top of the league in homers and doubles. But they’re not winning slugfests every night. And they keep tacking on runs throughout the game, as opposed to, you know, not scoring many runs at any time. They’re winning the tight ones where the Plan-A bullpen has to lock down four innings, like last night. Last night the Plan-A bullpen wasn’t even available and they plowed through the Rays just the same.

The only kind of game they haven’t won yet is that 1-0 or 2-1 starting pitcher duel. And sadly, when they win one of those, it probably won’t be their best pitcher on the hill. It’s a shame to lose Tanaka, but if there’s a less-surprising DL stint not involving Carl Pavano, I can’t recall it.

Step inside, Chase Whitley, step inside.

i

 

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson via ESPN.com)

feed Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via email
"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver