Thursday, August 1, 2013

3-Run 9th Busts Up Kuroda-Kershaw Duel

If you love good pitching, then Dodger Stadium was the place to be last night.  Hiroki Kuroda and Clayton Kershaw went at it as once did Juan Marichal and Sandy Koufax... Don Sutton and Tom Seaver... Orel Hershiser and Rick Sutcliffe.

Kuroda: 7 innings, 5 hits, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts... no runs.

Kershaw: 8 innings, 5 hits, no walks, 5 strikeouts... no runs.

Game scoreless after 8.

Not that shocking, considering that Dodger Stadium is a pitcher's park.  And that the Yankees haven't been hitting lately.  And that the Dodgers' manaager is Don Mattingly, who seems unable to teach the great hitting that he used to do, back when he was a Yankee and the Yankees couldn't win at all.

Actually, the most shocking thing of all is that the winning pitcher ended up being Boone Logan (3-2), who pitched a scoreless 8th.  (Though hardly a perfect one, allowing a hit and a walk.)

But Logan was the Yankee pitcher of record when the tie was broken in the 9th.  Against Ronald Belisario (4-6), Derek Jeter led off with a walk.  Not the most clutch thing Captain Clutch has ever done, but good enough.  As John Sterling often reminds us on WCBS, those leadoff walks can be very dangerous.

With Jeter's strained quadriceps still on the brain (wow, there's a mixed metaphor), Joe Girardi took him out for a pinch-runner, Eduardo Nunez, with the idea that Nunez could play shortstop on the bottom of the 9th and, if necessary, thereafter.  (Of course, the idea that NunE6 could play shortstop is ridiculous, but in a National League park, with no designated hitter and pitchers having to bat, you gotta manage conservatively.)

Robinson Cano grounded into a sure double play, and I typed on Twitter, tapping into my recently-added vocabulary of English soccer terms, "Cano you nonce." Except Robbie beat it out.  So instead of another clutch collapse, we had a man on 1st with 1 out.

Alfonso Soriano also hit an easy grounder for an out, but it moved Cano to 2nd.  The Dodgers decided, with 1st base open, to set up a force play by intentionally walking Ichiro Suzuki.

Girardi sent Lyle Overbay to pinch-hit for Brent Lillibridge.  It worked: After a check-swing on an 0-2 pitch was called a ball, He singled to center, bringing home Cano and breaking the scoreless tie.

Jayson Nix was up next, and he popped up.  It should have been an easy play, for either 2nd baseman Mark Ellis or All-Star rookie right fielder Yasiel Puig.  But they messed each other up, and the ball went off Ellis' glove.  Ichiro and Overbay both scored.  3-0 Yankees.

Donnie Regular Season Baseball went out to make a pitching change, and argued with umpires' crew chief Bill Miller over the Overbay check-swing, and Miller threw him out of the game.

For all the great pitchers who have ever taken the mound at Dodger Stadium, the greatest of them all -- yes, greater than Koufax -- is Mariano Rivera.  In the bottom of the 9th, he struck out Hanley Ramirez and Andre Ethier, and got A.J. Ellis to ground to Cano.  (For his 34th save.)

Kuroda had previously pitched for the Dodgers, and said, "At first, it was a little bit strange, I have to admit.  But I'm wearing a Yankees uniform, now so once the game started I was able to get into a rhythm." His seasonal ERA is now 2.38.
Kershaw: "He's one of the best pitchers in the American League, so we lost that. I've seen him do that for years. He's a tough competitor. I have a lot of respect for Hiroki and what he's doing. I knew I was in for a tough night."
Girardi: "He's been great. To have the ERA that he has in our division, in this day and age, in our ballpark, is pretty amazing."
The Yankees have the day off, before going down Interstate 5 to San Diego, to start a 3-game series against the Padres.  Memories of 1978 give way to memories of 1998; Bucky Dent and Brian Doyle, to Scott Brosius.

Days until the Red Bulls play again: 2, this Saturday night, away to Sporting Kansas City in Kansas City, Kansas.  Tough team, but after that stoppage-time win over Real Salt Lake, they may be ready for it.

Days until the U.S. National Soccer Team plays again: 13, on Wednesday, August 14, in a friendly against Bosnia in Sarajevo.  This will be a tuneup for the fall's World Cup Qualifiers.  The U.S. beat Panama 1-0 on a Brek Shea goal at Soldier Field in Chicago, to take the CONCACAF Gold Cup for the 5th time.  (Mexico is the only country that's won it more, 6 times -- but their national side is in disarray right now that they're getting booed at Estadio Azteca.  Ouch.)

Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series begins: 15, on Friday, August 16.  Just 2 weeks.  Then another series in The Bronx on Thursday, September 5, and another at Fenway on Friday, September 13.  Oh yeah, if you're a Red Sox fan, that's a day you want to play the Yankees: Friday the 13th!

Days until Arsenal play another competitive match: 16, on Saturday, August 17, home to Aston Villa of Birmingham.  A little over 2 weeks.

Days until the Red Bulls next play a "derby": 16, home to the Philadelphia Union, on Saturday, August 17. They will play Washington's D.C. United at home on Saturday, August 31, and the Boston area's New England Revolution at home on Saturday, October 5.

Days until Rutgers plays football again: 28, on Thursday night, August 29, away to Fresno State University in California.  Just 4 weeks.  The first home game of the 2013 season will be on Saturday, September 7, vs. Norfolk State.

Days until the next North London Derby: 31, on Sunday, September 1, at New Highbury.  Just 1 month.  It is unusual for Arsenal and Tottenham to play each other so soon in the season, just the 3rd League game.  Usually, they wait until November, sometimes as early as October, for the first meeting of the season between the teams.  I have to remember to do a post on "St. Totteringham's Day." So the Red Bulls and Arsenal will each be playing the team their fans hate the most on back-to-back days.

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: 42, on September 12 -- on a Thursday due to Rosh Hoshanah, the Jewish New Year, falling on a weekend.  It's away to South Brunswick.  Just 6 weeks.  It will be the first game they play without Marcus Borden as head coach since Thanksgiving Day 1982 (a loss to Colonia High of Woodbridge), as he has left the program.  (Did he jump, or was he pushed? I don't know.) A new coach has been named: Bob Molarz, who turned nearby Carteret High School, which couldn't buy a win while I was at EBHS, into a team that made the Playoffs 9 seasons in a row and won 3 Central Jersey Group II Championships.  He comes to us from the head job at one of our rivals, St. Joseph's of Metuchen, where he coached their first 2 seasons of varsity ball.  A great hire.

Days until the Devils play again: 63, with the 2013-14 NHL season opener being on Thursday night, October 3, away to the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Just 9 weeks.

Days until the Devils play another local rival: 64, with the home opener being the night after the season opener, against the New York Islanders.  The first game of the season against The Scum will be on Saturday, October 19, at the Prudential Center.  The first against The Philth will be on Saturday, November 2, also at home.

Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving clash: 119 (November 28).  Under 4 months.
Days until the Devils play the Rangers at Yankee Stadium: 178 (January 26, 2014).  Under 6 months.
Days until Super Bowl XLVIII at the Meadowlands: 185 (February 2, 2014).  Of course, we have no idea who the opposing teams will be.  The possibility exists that either the Giants or the Jets could be in it -- or both.  To this day, no team has ever played a Super Bowl in its own stadium -- in spite of multiple hostings by Miami, New Orleans and various California teams.  Only 2 have done so in their home metro area: The 1979-80 Los Angeles Rams, whose home field was then the L.A. Coliseum, and they lost to Pittsburgh at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena; and the 1984-85 San Francisco 49ers, whose home field, then as now, was Candlestick Park, and they beat Miami at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, which had a much larger capacity than Candlestick.
Days until the next Winter Olympics, in Sochi, Russia: 190 (February 7, 2014).
Days until the next World Cup, in Brazil: 315 (June 12, 2014).  A little over 10 months.
Days until Rutgers' first Big Ten Conference football game: 408, on Saturday, September 13, 2014 -- at home, against our most hated rival, now a league rival for the very first time: Penn State.  Yes, even before the 2013 college football season begins, the 2014 Big 10 sked has been released.  I guess that's the difference between the Big East and a real college football league.  Anyway, that's under 14 months.
Days until the next Summer Olympics, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: 1,100 (August 5, 2016).  Just 3 years.

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