Monday, July 15, 2013

The Good, the Bad, and the Painful

We are at the All-Star Break, and the American League Eastern Division standings look like this:

Boston 58-39
Tampa Bay 55-41, 2 1/2 (2)
Baltimore 53-43, 4 1/2 (4)
New York 51-44, 6 (5)
Toronto 45-49, 11 1/2 (10)

In layman's terms, the Yankees are 7 games over .500, 6 games out of 1st place, though only 5 in the all-important loss column.  They are 3 games out of the AL's 2nd Wild Card slot.

Of the other 29 teams in the major leagues, 18 have a worse record, 14 are further out of 1st place in their Division, and 17 are further out of a Wild Card slot.

Certainly, the Yankees have underachieved, even considering their injuries.  But the Toronto Blue Jays, preseason favorites in the AL East, are 4 games under .500.  The San Franicsco Giants, the defending World Champions, are 8 games under.  The Philadelphia Phillies, perennial contenders until last season brought them injuries on the same scale that the Yankees now have, needed to win their last 2 and 7 of their last 10 just to get to .500 at the Break.  The Arizona Diamondbacks are leading the National League West, and yet they're only 5 games over .500 -- they'd be below the Yankees in the AL East.  The high-payroll, high-hype Los Angeles teams? The Dodgers have won 7 of their last 10, and they're still at only .500; while the Angels are 5 games under.

Is knowing that the Yankees could be a lot worse off a comfort? It should be... but since we Yankee Fans measure achievement differently, it isn't.

*

Friday night, there was a rain delay after 4 innings, and Joe Girardi brought Hiroki Kuroda back for the 5th once it resumed.  A shock.  But only for that 1 more inning.  But, between them, Kuroda (1st through 5th), Preston Claiborne (6th), Boone Logan (7th, incredibly), David Robertson (8th) and some guy named Mariano Rivera (9th) pitched shutout ball.  Between them, they allowed no runs, 8 hits, 2 walks, and struck out 12.

None of which would have mattered if the Yankees hadn't scored, either.  And, in 8 out of 9 innings, they didn't.

But Luis Cruz led off the 5th with a single, Chris Stewart bunted him over, and Brett Gardner singled him home.  One-nil to the Pinstripe Boys.  Ichiro Suzuki grounded out, moving Gardner to 3rd.  Robinson Cano singled him home.  2-0 Yankees.

That was it, but that was enough to win that one.  WP: Kuroda (8-6).  SV: Rivera (30).  LP: Ryan Pressly (2-2).

*

Saturday's game wouldn't be so productive.  Phil Hughes pitched into the 8th, struck out 10, walked only 1, allowed only 5 hits -- but 3 were home runs, and the Yankees couldn't counter.

With 1 out in the 1st, Ichiro doubled and Cano singled, making it 1-0 Yankees, but Vernon Wells then grounded into a double play.  Austin Romine singled with 1 out in the 3rd.  Wells singled with 1 out in the 4th, and with 2 out Zoilo Almonte singled.  Romine walked and Gardner singled in the 5th.  Lyle Overbay walked with 2 out in the 6th.  Travis Hafner doubled with 1 out in the 7th.  Ichiro led off with a single in the 8th.  Almonte led off with a single in the 9th.  All stranded.

Twins 4, Yankees 1.  WP: Samuel Deduno (5-4).  SV: Glen Perkins (21).  LP: Hughes (4-9, and that really does not reflect how well he's pitched lately).

*

The Yankees were never really in yesterday's game.  CC Sabathia was really undone by his defense.  The Twins got 2 in the 2nd, 3 in the 3rd and 3 in the 4th, and the Yankee bats couldn't compensate.  Ichiro homered in the 7th, his 6th of the season, but that was about it.

Twins 10, Yankees 4.  So much for "Can we play you every week?" WP: Kyle Gibson (2-2).  No save.  LP: Sabathia (9-8).

We got 2 runs on Friday and it was enough to win; we got 4 runs on Sunday and it wasn't even close.

*

So, now, the All-Star Break.  Four days off, except for Cano and Rivera, who will be in the All-Star Game tomorrow night at Pity Field.  Cano and David Wright, captain of the host team, a.k.a. The Other Team (Small club in Flushing, you're just a small club in Flushing), will be opposing captains for the Home Run Derby.  (And if you care about the Home Run Derby, then you need to sort our your priorities.)

Then, on Friday night, we ship up to Boston to play The Scum.  Derek Jeter should be back; Alex Rodriguez could be back, depeneding on whether the Daily News is right about him being suspended for 150 games without actually testing positive for anything, or whether they've gone into full, New York Post-style full of shit mode.

This season has had moments of the good, the bad, and the painful.  Anybody who knows how it's going to end is just guessing.

I'll tell you this: Even taking 2 out of 3 in Scum Town will be a big boost.


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