Monday, May 27, 2013

Bumps and Kicks

Ordinarily, taking 2 of 3 on the road, especially against a good team like the Tampa Bay Rays, would be considered a good thing.

But things happened in this weekend's series that draw concern.

Friday night was a mostly encouraging night.  David Phelps started, and took a perfect game into the bottom of the 5th inning before James Loney doubled.

The Yankees led 8-0 at that point.  In the top of the 2nd, Travis Hafner stroked a ground-rule double.  Curtis Granderson struck out, but David Adams beat out a grounder for an infield single.  Lyle Overbay doubled them both home.  Jayson Nixon singled Overbay home.

In the 4th, with 2 outs, Chris Stewart singled to left, and Brett Gardner hit a home run, his 4th of the season. (The season is about 1/3 over, so at that pace he'd hit 12 homers.  Good for a leadoff man.) In the 5th, Curtis Granderson was hit by a pitch, Adams singled, Overbay singled to load the bases, and Nix drew a walk to send Grandy home.  Stewart singled home Adams.  Robinson Cano was hit with a pitch -- I'm presuming, for the time being, that both HBPs were accidental, especially the 2nd, since it forced home Overbay.

Phelps got into the 8th, but ended up allowing 4 runs.  He's really not ready to go more than 7 yet.  Fortunately, Boone Logan (incredibly) got the last out in the 8th, and Shawn Kelley got the last out in the 9th.  The Yankees picked up another run in the 7th, when Nix hit a triple to left, and scored on a wild pitch.

Yankees 9, Rays 4.  WP: Phelps (3-2).  No save.  LP: Roberto Hernandez (2-5).

The worrying part, aside from Phelps proving he wasn't ready to go 8 innings, was that Granderson eventually had to leave the game.  Getting hit broke the pinky on his left hand.  It was just his 8th game of the season, after starting on the Disabled List, and now he'll be out for another month.  Brennan Boesch has been called up from Scranton to replace him.

*

Saturday's game was a big test.  Vidal Nuno pitched for the first time since giving up a walkoff homer in Baltimore.  He showed no ill effects, going 6 innings, allowing 2 runs on 5 hits and just 1 walk.  But he would not figure in the decision, as he was taken out after 1 batter in the 7th.  Nor would Kelley, who also pitched to just 1 batter in the 7th.  Nor would Logan, who pitched to 2 batters in the 7th -- that's 4 batters in the 7th, and no outs.  Preston Claiborne came in, and put out the fire, and pitched a scoreless 8th, too.  David Robertson pitched a scoreless 9th.  But they wouldn't factor in the decision, either.

The Yankees got a run in the top of the 1st, on a Hafner single driving in Gardner.  But they didn't score again until the 9th, trailing 3-1.  They were down to their last out.

But Overbay worked a walk.  Those walks will tend to get you.  Joe Girardi sent Boesch up to pinch-hit for Austin Romine.  It worked: Following a balk that moved Overbay to 2nd, Boesch doubled him home, and then Gardner singled Boesch home to tie the game.  But Gardner tried to put the potential winning run in scoring position by stealing 2nd, and was caught.

The Yankees got nothing in the top of the 10th. In the bottom of the inning, we saw the return of Ivan Nova. And he allowed a leadoff single to Ryan Roberts.  Uh-oh.  He struck out Luke Scott, but then he allowed a single to Evan Longoria and a walk to Ben Zobrist.  Bases loaded, 1 out, the winning run can score without a hit.  And Loney was up, and he usually hits the Yankees well.  Oy vey...

Nova showed us what he was showing us before he tailed off last season: He struck out Loney, and got Matt Joyce to ground out.  Whew.

In the 11th, Overbay again came through with 2 outs, hitting one out to right field.  Thanks a lot, Nova, now sit down and let Mariano Rivera do his job.  He did: One, two, three.

Yankees 4, Rays 3.  WP: Nova (2-1).  SV: Rivera (18 for 18).  LP: Josh Lueke (0-2).

*

Yesterday's game had CC Sabathia on the mound.  With the ace on the mound, I was figuring the sweep was in the bag.  But, ever since taking a no-hitter into the 8th inning a few years back, CC has had trouble at Tropicana Field, and he did again.  He allowed 2 runs in the 2nd, 2 more in the 3rd, and 3 more in the 6th.

This is the most worrying thing for the weekend's series: CC has not pitched well lately, and is now 4-4.  Although the Yankees scored 3 in the 9th, including Gardner's 5th homer, it wasn't enough.  The Rays won, 8-3.  WP: Alex Cobb (6-2).

*

On the other hand, the Yankees are in good shape.  Technically, they and the Boston Red Sox are tied for first in the AL east, but the Sox trail by 1 game in the loss column.  The Baltimore Orioles are 3 1/2 back (4 in the loss column), the Rays 5 back, and the Toronto Blue Jays 9 1/2 (10) back.

New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica, one of the biggest Yankee Haters in the media, said in his column yesterday, "I will tell you something right now: If the Yankees get a couple of more injuries, the rest of the American League is going to be in real trouble."

*

There was action at Yankee Stadium on Saturday: English Premier League teams Chelsea of West London and Manchester City completed a 2-game "friendly" series.  The first game was at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on Thursday night.  Chelsea jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but Man City came back to win 4-3.  In The Bronx, Man City won, 5-3.

Former Arsenal player Samir Nasri, the selfish turncoat known as "The Lesbian" for his striking resemblance to TV journalist Rachel Maddow (if only he had her honesty), scored twice for Man City in Yankee Stadium.  So I'm glad I didn't see it.  Former Gunners Gael Clichy (Man City) and Ashley Cole (Chelsea) did not play.  Eight days earlier, to promote the game, Man City executive and Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira had thrown out the first ball before a Yankee game.

Saturday was also the UEFA Champions League Final.  Bayern Munich won the tournament, formerly known as the European Cup, for the 5th time.  They previously won in 2001, and 3 straight, 1974-75-76, led by Franz Beckenbauer, who then moved here to play for the New York Cosmos.

Like the Super Bowl, the CL Final is chosen years in advance, and this year's was at Wembley Stadium in London.  But both teams were German: Bayern beat Borussia Dortmund, in a thriller with Dutch striker Arjen Robben hitting a late goal to win it, 2-1.

On Sunday, the New York Red Bulls avoided an embarrassing defeat away to the Columbus Crew, when Jamison Olave scored in injury time (or "stoppage time," if you prefer).

Also in Major League Soccer action, Robbie Rogers, recently signed by the Los Angeles Galaxy, took the pitch and got a huge cheer.  This made him the first openly gay male athlete in North American sports, as he had not played since publicly coming out.  Nor has basketball player Jason Collins, although he will most likely be signed by someone before the next NBA season starts in November.

Robert Hampton Rogers, a 26-year-old winger from Los Angeles County, who has played most of his career for the Crew but has played in Europe for Heerenveen in the Netherlands and Leeds United and Stevenage in England, came on for his hometown team as a substitute in the 77th minute, in a 4-0 Galaxy win over the Seattle Sounders, at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.

Rogers came on for Vitor Gomez Pereira Junior, a Brazilian player known as Juninho (which means "Little Junior").  Not to be confused with Antonio Augusto Ribeiro Reis Junior of the Red Bulls, or Osvaldo Giroldo Junior of Brazil's 2002 World Cup team, both of whom are also known by the single name Juninho.

People who don't like the Galaxy have nicknamed them the Gals -- and having had "metrosexual" David Beckham for a while didn't help.  I guess, by adding Rogers, they wanted to get more masculine.

L.A. won the game thanks to a hat trick from Robbie Keane, the Ireland star who used to play for Tottenham.  The Galaxy have won the last 2 MLS Cups, meaning that Keane has won as many league titles in the last 2 seasons as Tottenham have won in their entire 131-year history.

I support gay rights, but, as an Arsenal fan, I have say that supporting Tottenham is a deviant, repulsive lifestyle.

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