Saturday, September 22, 2012
You Just Can't Predict Baseball
Last night, we needed CC Sabathia to pitch like he had done before his last 3 starts -- all losses. The fact that he was pitching against the Oakland Athletics, the team he grew up rooting for in Vallejo, California, made it even more intriguing.
Well, CC did his job: 8 innings, 3 hits, 2 walks, no runs -- 11 strikeouts, although that's merely spectacular, and not especially relevant.
Did the Yankees get him any runs? Well, one: Curtis Granderson hitting a sacrifice fly to bring home Nick Swisher in the 4th.
So a 1-0 lead, and Rafael Soriano comes on in the 9th to nail down the save and, as the kids are saying on Twitter these days, #untuck
Brandon Moss came to the plate. No, not a wide receiver.
Home run. Tie game.
I warned my Twitter followers that I was about to use perhaps the 2 foulest words in the English language. Rhymed with brother-trucking runt.
I was all set to do this blog entry and again rip Joe Girardi for messing up David Robertson. The pre-injury D-Rob would not have allowed this homer, but Girardi screwed up his confidence by making him lose his closer job when he came back from injury.
So the Yankees didn't win the game in the bottom of the 9th. Robertson pitched the top of the 10th and went 1-2-3. Russell Martin led off the bottom of the 10th. Guy with a .206 batting average, no chance...
"You know, Suzyn, you just can't predict baseball."
What's that other thing that Sterling says?
"Cuuuuuuuut on and missed."
No, not that.
"Heeeeeeee struck him out."
No, not that one, either.
"Swung on, and there it goes! Deep to left field! That ball is high! It is far! It is... GONE! Russell has muscle! Ballgame over! Yankees win! Theeeeeeee Yankees win!"
Yankees 2, A's 1. WP: Robertson (2-7). LP: Sean Doolittle (1-1).
But the Baltimore Orioles also won, beating the Boston Red Sox. Thanks for nothing, you filthy Chowdaheads. So the Yankees remained just 1 game in first place in the American League East.
So, today. One of the strangest games. And the Yankees had to win it, because the Orioles again beat The Scum, scoring 3 in the top of the 12th against the Sox' hopeless bullpen.
Ivan Nova had nothing. He allowed 2 runs in the 1st, and another in the 3rd. Clay Rapada and Derek Lowe each allowed a run. It was ugly on our side.
But it wasn't a whole lot better on the Oakland side. The Yankees scored 3 runs in their half of the 1st, and another on a wild pitch in the 2nd. 4-2 Yankees. Tied 4-4 in the bottom of the 5th, Raul Ibanez hit his 16th home run of the season to make it 5-4.
But Boone Logan replaced Lowe in the 7th, and let the tying run score. If I had a dollar for every lead Logan's blown for the Yankees, I could buy both of us a decent dinner.
So the game was 5-5, and it went to extra innings again. The Yankees hadn't won back-to-back games in extra innings since May 2009, that great series against the Minnesota Twins that started the Year of the Walkoff. Also known as the Year of Pie.
Girardi brought Freddy Garcia in to pitch the 10th. All over Yankees Universe, people were saying, "Oh, no... " But Sweaty Freddy got through the 10th, 1-2-3. He got into and out of a jam in the 11th. He sent the A's down 1-2-3 in the 12th.
But the Yankees went out 1-2-3 in the 10th and the 11th. The 12th looked like an inning that would come back to haunt us. With 1 out, Ibanez doubled. A wild pitch sent him to 3rd. Could Russell Martin be the hero twice within 18 hours? All he had to do was get the ball out of the infield. Except he grounded to 2nd, and the play was made at home. Man on 1st, 2 out. Curtis Granderson walked. A passed ball moved the runners to 2nd and 3rd. But Captain Clutch was not clutch: Derek Jeter flew to right.
Then came the 13th inning. That's 13, the unlucky number. Garcia imploded: Stephen Drew singled, Jonny Gomez hit one out, Yoenis Cespedes hit one out. Out went Freddy, in came Justin Thomas. He got Moss to fly out, then he allowed the inning's 3rd homer to Chris Carter. (No, not the great Minnesota Vikings receiver, nor the creator of The X-Files. How many guys do the A's have who can be confused with great NFL receivers?) Thomas got the last 2 outs, but the damage was done: A's 9, Yankees 5.
There's no way to bounce back from a top of the 13th like that.
You would think, but you'd be wrong. Because, as the man says, "You know, Suzyn, you just can't predict baseball."
Ichiro Suzuki -- who may well be GM Brian Cashman's greatest mid-season pickup ever -- led off with a single. Alex Rodriguez singled. Robinson Cano singled, although even Ichiro, with his speed, couldn't score. Bases loaded, nobody out.
Still, even with this setup, even the Yankees can't complete a 4-run comeback. Not the way we've been hitting with runners in scoring position (RISP) all season long.
Eduardo Nunez up, batting against Pat Neshek. Wild pitch. Everybody moves up, including Ichiro scoring. 9-6.
Nunez flies to center, scoring A-Rod. 9-7.
Ibanez up again. Boom. His 17th homer. As our old friend, Phil "the Scooter" Rizzuto would have said, "And we got ourselves a tie ballgame! Holy cow! Oh, these Yankees can get the clutch hits, Murcer!"
(Yeah, right, the Scooter would have left early. His one flaw.)
Following a comeback like this, the absolute dumbest thing Girardi could have done in this situation -- considering who was left in the bullpen -- would have been to send Cory Wade out to pitch the top of the 14th. After all, he'd already used the other shaky relief pitchers: Rapada, Lowe, Logan, Cody Eppley, Joba Chamberlain, Garcia. But he shouldn't bring in Wade...
He brought in Wade. Mercy...
Wade got 2 groundouts and a flyout. We went to the bottom of the 14th. Still tied, 9-9.
Tyson Ross replaced Neshek on the mound for the A's.
Eric Chavez, against his former team, maybe the A's best 3rd baseman of their Oakland years, led off with a single. Melky Mesa -- not to be confused with the now-controversial ex-Yankee Melky Cabrera -- was sent in to pinch-run for him. Jeter bunted him over. Ichiro was intentionally walked to set up the inning-ending double play.
A-Rod. Clutch situation.
Single to center. But Mesa has to be held up. Bases loaded, 1 out. All it takes to win the game is to get the ball out of the infield. We've heard this story before...
Cano grounds back to the pitcher. Throw to home. Mesa is the 2nd out. Bases still loaded.
Nunez up. He hits a ground ball to Moss... who boots it! Ichiro scores!
Ballgame over! Yankees win! Theeeeeeeeeeeeeeee Yankees win!
WP: Wade. Yes, Cory Wade (1-1). LP: Ross (2-10... oy vey).
The Yankees remain 1 game ahead of the Orioles.
There are 11 games left in the regular season.
This series with the A's concludes tomorrow, 1:05 start. Hiroki Kuroda vs. A.J. Griffin.