Monday, August 26, 2013

Hanging On, Barely; Gilmar, 1930-2013

The Yankees needed to make a statement against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg this week. They failed.

Yes, they won the finale in dramatic fashion, but that was hardly enough. The Rays are battling it out with the Boston Red Sox for the AL East title, and the loser of that race will almost certainly get one of the AL Wild Card berths in the Playoffs. So the Yankees needed to win at least 2 out of 3.

Hiroki Kuroda started the Friday night game, and allowed 3 runs in the 2nd, 2 in the 3rd, and 1 each in the 4th and the 5th. Instead of Hiro being a hero, the Daily News' back page called him MEATBALL HIRO.

For all Kuroda has done for us the last 2 years, he didn't deserve that. But this is 2 bad starts in a row, and he's no kid, and I'm starting to get worried that he may be running out of gas, just when we need the Yankees to pick it up.

The Yankees scored a run in the 1st and another in the 6th, but that was it.  Rays 7, Yankees 2.  WP: Chris Archer (7-5).  No save.  LP: Kuroda (11-9).

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CC Sabathia, another guy who's logged a lot of innings, started the Saturday game, against David Price: Ace vs. ace.

The duel lived up to its billing for 4 innings, before the Yankees got on the board in the top of the 5th. Alex Rodriguez (yeah, him again, Bill Madden) led off with a single, followed by another by Vernon Wells. Curtis Granderson struck out, but Mark Reynolds singled to short center -- to short to score A-Rod. Austin Romine worked a bases-loaded walk.  Ichiro Suzuki grounded to 2nd to force in another run. 2-0 Yankees.

But in the bottom of the 6th, CC allowed a Sam Fuld single, a Desmond Jennings walk, a Ben Zobrist double and an Evan Longoria single to give the Rays a 3-2 lead. And, in the 8th, off Preston Claiborne, Longoria, who (as John Sterling noted on WCBS) always seems to hit home runs off the Yankees, did it again. The Yanks went out meekly, with the Rays' pen getting out the last 8 batters.

Rays 4, Yankees 2.  WP: Price (8-5).  SV: Fernando Rodney (30).  LP: Sabathia (11-11).

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Then came yesterday's game, which looked like a lost cause. The Yankees got on the board in the top of the 4th, thanks to Robinson Cano's 24th home run of the season. In the top of the 6th, Ichiro led off with a single, and Cano doubled him home. But in the bottom of that inning, Longoria homered again, this time off Ivan Nova, who was once again putting together a very good start before that. That tied the game 2-2.

Nova pitched into the 7th, relieved by Shawn Kelley, then David Robertson, who pitched the 9th. When both teams went 1-2-3 in the 9th, we went to extra innings. A-Rod, pinch-hitting for Chris Stewart, singled to lead off the 10th, and Brett Gardner bunted him over, but Ichiro grounded into a double play to end it.

The bottom of the 10th was, clearly, an attempt by Yankee manager Joe Girardi to make my head explode, because he used both Joba Chamberlain and Boone Logan.

Well, Joba struck out Yunel Escobar to start the inning, but then walked Jose Molina -- whom you'll remember as the replacement for Jorge Posada for much of the 2008 season, and who hit the last home run at the old Yankee Stadium (making it somewhat appropriate that Jorge hit the first homer in the new one). Joba walked Molina, and, as he is slow and fat, was replaced by Fuld. Girardi pulled Joba for Binder Boy Boone, and I prepared for the worst.

Logan got Jose Lobaton to ground into a double play to end the inning.

And then ended up as the winning pitcher! With 1 out in the top of the 11th, Alfonso Soriano doubled, and stole 3rd, and Granderson hit one to center, a sacrifice fly to get him home. Mariano Rivera came on and went 1-2-3, and the Yankees had salvaged the finale.

Yankees 3, Rays 2. WP: Logan (4-2). SV: Rivera (38). LP: Jamey Wright (2-2).

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There are now 5 weeks left in the regular season, and the AL East standings are as follows:

Boston 77-55
Tampa Bay 74-54, 1 behind
Baltimore 70-59, 5 1/2
New York 69-61, 7
Toronto 58-73, 18 1/2

In the loss column, Tampa Bay leads Boston by 1, Baltimore by 5, the Yankees by 7, and Toronto by 19.

Here's the Wild Card standings. Remember, the top 2 qualify:

Tampa Bay 74-54
Oakland 72-57
Cleveland 71-59, 1 1/2 behind
Baltimore 70-59, 2
New York 69-61, 3 1/2
Kansas City 65-64, 7

Detroit currently leads the AL Central, and Texas the AL West. The other AL teams -- Seattle, Anahiem, Toronto, Minnesota, Chicago and Houston (the Astros have lost 86 games with over a month to go, on top of the 106 they lost last year and 107 the year before) -- are out of the race.

The Yankees head to Toronto, and they've played those pesky Blue Jays pretty well this year. In fact, if it wasn't for games against the Jays and the Minnesota Twins, the Yanks would be under .500.

And Derek Jeter is expected to be activated from the Disabled List.  o that's good news.

There are 32 games left to play. 7 of these (4 home, September 5-8; 3 away, September 13-15) are against the Red Sox. Only 3 (September 24-26, all at home) are against the Rays.

In order to have any hope of winning the Division, the Yankees will need to take at least 7 of those 10.

There are 3 left against the Rays. There are 7 left (3 home, August 30-September 1; 4 away, September 9-12) against the Baltimore Orioles. None left against the Oakland Athletics or the Cleveland Indians.

In order to have hope of winning the Wild Card, instead of the Division, the Yankees will need to take at least 7 of those 10.

In the cases of either of those 10, they will also, of course, have to take as many of the other 22 as they can.

Stay tuned. For the moment, the Yankees are hanging on.  Barely.

*

Speaking of barely, I have one thing to say about Miley Cyrus: You CAN stop. And you should.

The Mets got swept by the Detroit Tigers. They allowed 7 runs in the 9th inning yesterday, to lose 11-3. The Tigers got 41 hits in the 3 games.

Hey, Met fans: Do you still like Interleague Play?

The Philadelphia Phillies had a weird game on Saturday night, home to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Starting pitcher Ethan Martin didn't get out of the 1st inning, and they were down 6-0 in the bottom of the 5th. They got to within 7-3 by the 6th, and then tied it in the 8th. But the game kept going and going and going. The last 2 pitchers they used were position players, Casper Wells and John McDonald.  McDonald, normally a shortstop, had never pitched in the majors before. Wells, normally a left fielder, had, once before, earlier this year for the Chicago White Sox.  nyway, the D-backs scored 5 runs in the 18th inning to win, 12-7, making Wells the losing pitcher.

The Giants played the Jets this weekend. The Jets won in overtime, 24-21.

In the words of the immortal Billy Martin, "It's an exhibition game, George! It doesn't mean anything!"

Well, here's what it means for the Jets: Mark Sanchez, supposed to be the starting quarterback, got hurt. He may not be able to play in the regular-season opener.

Here's what it means for the Giants: Eli Manning had a bad game, leading to thoughts that he might now be in decline (yes, he's no kid anymore), and Stevie Brown tore up his knee, so he's out for the season.

With players now bigger than ever, and faster than ever, resulting in collisions that are harder than ever, resulting in more and worse injuries than ever, I'm starting to wonder if American football is even worth it anymore.

Of course, there's that other kind of football... and, as an Arsenal fan, it is now #TottenhamHateWeek!

I'll have more on that later in the week.

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Gilmar is dead. You may not know his name, or even his nickname, unless you've studied Brazil before Mexico '70.

Gylmar dos Santos Neves -- why the spelling was changed to "Gilmar," I don't know -- was born on August 22, 1930 in Santos, São Paulo state, Brazil. A goalkeeper, he starred for local sides Corinthians and Santos, the latter with Pelé in front of the team.
He won São Paulo state championships in 1951, 1952, 1954, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1967 and 1968. He won Brazil's newly-established national championship, Campeonato Brasileiro Série A, in 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965 and 1968. He won the Copa Libertadores, South America's continental title (their version of the European Cup/UEFA Champions League), in 1962 and 1963.

He played on the Brazil teams that won the World Cup in 1958 in Sweden and 1962 and Chile, and also on the 1966 team at the World Cup in England. He is the only starting goalkeeper on 2 World Cup winners.
He participated in the 50th Anniversary celebrations of Brazil's 1st World Cup win in 2008, and died on August 25, 3 days after his 83rd birthday.

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