Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Pesky Blue Jays Strike Again; Bobby Myrick, 1952-2012

Those pesky Toronto Blue Jays. You expect them to be tough when they're good (1983 to 1993, and 2006). But even when they're bad (1977 to 1982, 1994 to 2005, since 2007), they give the Yankees fits.

Last night, the Jays came into Yankee Stadium II on a pace to lose 90 games, 17 1/2 games out of first place  Even without Alex Rodriguez and Mariano Rivera available, the Yankees should have swept this 3-game series.

At first, things looked good. Robinson Cano hit his 26th home run of the season in the bottom of the 1st. David Phelps gave up a home run to Adam Lind in the top of the 2nd, but Cano led off the bottom of the 4th with his 27th homer (definitely out of his slump). Mark Teixeira drew a walk. After a Curtis Granderson flyout, Eric Chavez singled, and so did Russell Martin, to bring home Teix. Raul Ibanez' groundout got Chavez home. 3-1 Yankees.

The Martin hit was one of several comebackers in the game that provided scary moments for the pitchers, and Jays starter Henderson Alvarez had to leave the game. They don't yet know if he will miss his next start, but it appears he won't go on the Disabled List.

Phelps gave up another homer the next inning, to Yorvit Torrealba. But Nick Swisher followed in the bottom of the 5th with a 2-run homer, his 20th dinger of the season. 6-3 Yankees.

Phelps allowed a run in the 7th, and Joe Girardi panicked yet again, taking out a starter too soon. He brought in Cody Eppley to finish the inning. It worked, so this panic move wasn't yet an issue -- but it would be, since Eppley would not be available later. David Robertson, who became a first-time father earlier in the day, pitched a scoreless 8th.

Rafael Soriano came out for the 9th. He struck out Torrealba, but allowed a single to Moises Sierra, a strange fusion of Moises Alou and Ruben Sierra, perhaps? He got Adeiny Hechavarria to pop up. (What is with these names on the Jays? They're weird even by Hispanic standards.) Then he allowed a single to Rajai Davis. (Not Hispanic, rather a black outfielder with good speed, from New London, Connecticut.) Up came Colby Rasmus, and Soriano got to 2 strikes, and we were a pitch away from "Untuck." Rasmus cranked the ball into the right field seats to give the Jays a 7-6 lead.

There were a lot of "George Carlin words" coming out of Uncle Mike's mouth at that moment, and a few other Yankee Fans' mouths as well.

If you're going to lose, do it in the regulation 9 innings. Don't put us through extra innings only to lose. So, in retrospect, I am not happy that Derek Jeter hit a home run to tie it in the bottom of the 9th. (His 14th homer of the season -- the 3,262nd hit of his career.) But the Yankees couldn't take the lead.

Derek Lowe pitched all right in the 10th, after Girardi went LOOGY by bringing in Clay Rapada to pitch to one batter. Remember, he couldn't use Eppley there, because he'd already taken him out of the game. In the top of the 11th, Lowe allowed a single to Mike McCoy, made a throwing error on a pickoff attempt to let McCoy get to 3rd, and Hechavarria hit a weak grounder that was just enough.

Ichiro Suzuki drew a walk in the bottom of the 11th, to put the tying run on 1st with 1 out, with 2 guys who had already homered coming up. But Jeter grounded into a forceout, and Swish took a called 3rd strike.

Blue Jays 8, Yankees 7. WP: Darren Oliver (3-2) -- seriously, Darren Oliver, whom the Yankees had owned since the 1996 Playoffs with Texas. LP: Lowe (8-11), though the loss really belongs to Girardi and Soriano.

The series continues tonight, with Phil Hughes on the mound for New York. He's pitched well lately, and we need him to pitch well again: While the Tampa Bay Rays lost, keeping them 4 games behind the Yankees, the Baltimore Orioles won, and closed to 3 1/2 back, 3 in the All-Important Loss Column.


Bobby Myrick has died.  He pitched 82 games in the major leagues, all with the Mets, from May 1976 to May 1978. By the standards of late 1970s Met pitchers, he wasn't all that bad: His "career" WHIP was 1.411, but his ERA+ was 104.

When he arrived, they gave him the locker next to Tom Seaver. At the trading deadline of 1979, still in the minors, he was one of the players the Mets traded to the Texas Rangers for Dock Ellis, who was at the end of a weird but somewhat successful career.

Being traded for Dock Ellis may have been the most interesting thing about Myrick. In spite of him having pitched for the Mets right at the time I was becoming aware of baseball, and most Met games being on WOR-Channel 9 (now WWOR), I have no memory of him.

He was a 3-sport star in his native Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and after leaving baseball he went back home, into the family's building supply business and became an ordained minister. The cause of death appears to be a heart attack while mowing a neighbor's lawn, no evidence of substance abuse or foul play. He was 59.

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