Friday, April 4, 2014

Bats Wake Up, and Welcome to the Yankees, Yangervis Solarte

See what happens when you wake up the bats? Sometimes, it doesn't have to be a 14-2 demolition. Sometimes, 4-2 is enough.

Indeed, the Yankees scored more runs against the Houston Astros tonight (4) than in their first 2 games combined (3).

The surprise of the night was Yangervis Solarte, a 26-year-old switch-hitting infielder from Venezuela, who made his major league debut as the Yankees' 3rd baseman. He's wearing Number 26, worn the last couple of seasons by Eduardo Nunez, who, thankfully, has been designated for assignment, and won't be screwing up anymore -- not for the Yankees, anyway.

With Ivan Nova repeating the first 2 games' pattern of allowing a run in the 1st inning (although it was only 1, like Hiroki Kuroda last night, not 4, like CC Sabathia the night before), the top of the 3rd inning was the key one. With 1 out, Ichiro Suzuki singled, and in his first big-league at-bat, Solarte singled him over to 3rd. Then Brett Gardner singled home Ichiro to tie it. Derek Jeter, who came to bat with 3,317 big-league hits, drew a walk to load the bases. Carlos Beltran hit a sacrifice fly to give the Yanks a 2-1 lead, their first lead of the season.

Nova settled down after that, and in the top of the 5th, Solarte picked up his first big-league extra-base hit, a double to center field. After Gardner took a called 3rd strike, Jeter singled Solarte home -- his 3,318th hit, and his 1,262nd RBI. 3-1 Yankees.

The Astros got a run back in the bottom of the 5th, but in the top of the 7th, with 2 out, Ichiro singled, and Solarte doubled him home. So he was involved in all 4 Yankee runs.

Nova went 5 2/3 innings. Adam Warren got the last out in the 6th, and pitched a perfect 7th; Shawn Kelley pitched a perfect 8th, and David Robertson got the first post-Mariano Rivera save for the Yankees, pitching a perfect 9th. The Yankee bullpen faced 10 batters, and retired all of them.

Yankees 4, Astros 2. For the first time since September 29, 2013 -- say it, John Sterling: "Ballgame over! Yankees win! Theeeeeeeeeeeeeeees Yankees win!"

WP: Nova (1-0). SV: Robertson (1). LP: Brett Oberholtzer (0-1).

The Yankees now leave Texas (thank God, for many reasons), and head to that other foreign country, Canada, to face those pesky Toronto Blue Jays.

Tomorrow night, Masahiro Tanaka makes his North American debut, and Dustin McGowan starts for the Jays.

Saturday afternoon, Michael Pineda makes his long-awaited Yankee debut, and former Met "ace" R.A. Dickey knuckles down for Toronto.

Sunday, Sabathia makes his 2nd start of the season, and Drew Hutchison starts for the Jays.


Speaking of they Jays, tonight they finished a series in St. Petersburg against the Tampa Bay Rays, losing 7-2. Evan Longoria hit his 163rd home run for the Rays, tying the franchise record previously held by Carlos Pena.

Attendance tonight: 9,571. No, that's not a misprint: Nine thousand, five hundred and seventy-one. It's a regular-season game. It's a perennial Playoff team. It's a night game. There's no excuse, people.

The game last night had 10,808. The night before, 11,113. The opener had 31,042.

That's a total of 62,534. Take out the opener, and it's 31,492. That combined crowd for Games 2, 3 and 4 would not sell out any current MLB stadium -- except for The Trop, when certain seats, over 11,000 of them, are tarped over because they know they can't sell them.

Indeed, here's a list of cities whose ballparks could hold tonight's Rays' attendance with room to spare. Note that these are all minor-league cities, not major-league ones:

Birmingham (actually Hoover) and Huntsville, Alabama; Scottsdale and Tucson, Arizona; Fayetteville, Arkansas; Fresno and Sacramento (actually West Sacramento), California; Grand Junction, Colorado; Jacksonville, Florida; Lawrenceville, Georgia (suburb of Atlanta); Indianapolis, Indiana; Des Moines, Iowa; Louisville, Kentucky; New Orleans (actually Metairie), Louisiana; Bowie, Maryland (between Baltimore and Washington); Albuquerque, New Mexico; Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, New York; Charlotte, North Carolina (actually Fort Mill, South Carolina); Durham, North Carolina; Columbus and Toledo, Ohio; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Scranton (actually Moosic), Pennsylvania; Providence (actually Pawtucket), Rhode Island; Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee; Frisco, Texas (suburb of Dallas); Salt Lake City, Utah; Norfolk and Richmond, Virginia; and Tacoma, Washington. And, uh, George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa.

Move the Rays. Tampa Bay won't support a winning team, so they don't deserve any team.

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