Thursday, April 10, 2014

Rollercoasters, In Baseball and In Real Life

The last 3 days have been a bit of a rollercoaster for me. The new job I was starting on Monday turned out to be a sham. I was told it was one thing, for which my skills and my experience were a good match; and it turned out to be another, telemarketing. The word "telemarketing" was never mentioned by the interviewer, but she said that's what the job was all along.

She flat-out lied to me. If you can't trust someone, don't work for them. I couldn't trust my last boss, which is why I no longer work for him.

So I am still unemployed.

And with everything that's been going on -- between that awful day, another interview, and other things -- I haven't been able to post on the now-concluded Yankees-Orioles series. Which also turned out to be a rollercoaster. So here goes.

*

Monday was the Yankees' home opener. The weather couldn't be better, and Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera threw out ceremonial first balls to Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada. Reggie Jackson was there. So was Yogi Berra, about to turn 89 and looking very frail, but still with it.

Hiroki Kuroda (1-1) pitched into the 7th inning, allowing 2 runs on 8 hits, and no walks. Except for an 8th-inning walk by Adam Warren, the bullpen, including Shawn Kelley (1st save), didn't allow a baserunner.

David Robertson was injured overnight, and placed on the Disabled List, meaning we now have Kelley where we once had Rivera.

Meanwhile, the Baltimore starting pitcher was Ubaldo Jimenez (0-2), not exactly the guy you want on the mound, especially in a hitter's park like Yankee Stadium II -- or Camden Yards, for that matter. In the top of the 3rd, our new friend Yangervis Solarte led off with a walk, and Brett Gardner singled him over to 3rd. Jeter grounded into a double play, but it got the run home.

In the 4th, Alfonso Soriano singled with 1 out. After Brian Roberts flew out, Kelly Johnson drew a walk, and Solarte singled him home.

(I can't wait until Solarte hits his first home run. John Sterling can say, "Yangervis provides service! He is Solar-te-powered!")

Jeter led off the 5th with a double, and Jacoby Ellsbury singled him home -- but was caught stealing 2nd. (Yeah, we got you to get to 2nd, not get caught trying.) Singles by Carlos Beltran and Soriano bracketed a flyout by Brian McCann, then Roberts walked to load the bases. The Orioles made a pitching change, but Zach Britton walked Johnson. That made it 4-2, and that was the final score.

A happy Opening Day for the Yankees. Still a bad day for me, personally.

*

On Tuesday, Ivan Nova got slaughtered. He allowed 7 runs on 10 hits, and didn't even get out of the 4th inning. Vidal Nuno was just as bad, allowing 7 on 8.

The Yankees got 4 runs on 13 hits, which should be enough to win, but in this game, it wasn't even close. The Yankees got 1st home runs of the season from Soriano off Wei-Yin Chen (1-0), and from Johnson off Brian Matusz, but it wasn't nearly enough.

It's worth noting that "Yankee RISPfail" (failure with Runners In Scoring Position) happened again: 1-for-10. It's also worth noting that the Yankees could have gone 5-for-10 with that, and it might not have mattered at all.

Orioles 14, Yankees 5.

*

Then last night was the home debut of Masahiro Tanaka. A lot of hype.

Tanaka was more spectacular than effective, with his 10 strikeouts. He pitched 7 innings, 3 runs, 7 hits... but only 1 walk.

He's got good control, and that will help him on days when he doesn't get a lot of run support. Unfortunately, last night was one of those days. He left the game with a 3-3 tie. The 3 Yankee runs came on homers by Beltran and Johnson in the 3rd, and a Soriano groundout in the 4th.

Admit it: Not only did you not expect the Yankees to get much from 3rd base, since you probably hadn't heard much about Solarte before Opening Day; but you couldn't have guessed that, going into the games of April 10, the Yankees' leader in home runs would be Kelly Johnson.

Matt Thornton and then Warren pitched a scoreless 8th. But in the 9th, it all went wrong. Kelley proved that, at least for the night, he was no Rivera, he wasn't even Robertson. More like Soriano -- Rafael, not Alfonso.

He hung a 1-2 slider to Ryan Flaherty, who doubled to center. He hung an 0-2 slider to Jonathan Schoop, who singled to center. Then he hung a 1-0 slider to Nick Markakis, who singled home Flaherty. Then he hung a 2-2, you guessed it, slider to Delmon Young, who singled to load the bases. Finally, he threw 4 pitches to Chris Davis, only one of them a slider, but Davis' sacrifice fly to center was enough to score Schoop.

If this were an Arsenal match, Yankee Fans on Twitter would be spitting blood, demanding Brian Cashman sign "a world-class closer" because Kelley (who, remember, wasn't even projected as the regular setup man) is "shit." He got out without further damage, but it was 5-3 O's.

One of the outs he got was a strikeout of Adam Jones, who was flapping his gums a lot this week. I don't know what it is about athletes named Adam Jones. This guy isn't as bad as the former NFL defensive back nicknamed Pacman, but he's bad enough.

The Yankees did make an effort in the bottom of the 9th. Soriano led off with a double to right. Johnson hit a shot that Davis could only contain, and he reached first. Joe Girardi pinch-ran Ichiro Suzuki for Johnson. The Yankees had the tying runs, both fast runners in spite of their age, on 1st & 3rd, with the winning run at the plate, and nobody out. And you didn't have to worry about "Strikeout Soriano" messing up your rally, because he was already on base. You had to like your chances here.

Roberts channeled the spirit of Paul O'Neill (who is, of course, very much alive), and fouled off 4 pitches before he finally got a fastball he liked from Tommy Hunter. Soriano scored, and it was 5-4 Orioles, with Ichiro the tying run on 1st, and new hero Solarte the winning run at the plate, with only 1 out.

But Solarte grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end it. Cue people saying the honeymoon is over in five, four, three...

WP: Matusz (1-0). SV: Hunter (3). LP: Kelley (0-1).

*

So, going into tonight's game, the Yankees are 4-5 -- but so are the Orioles and the Boston Red Sox. The Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays are 5-4. So all 5 American League Eastern Division teams are within 1 game.

And tonight, to start a 4-game series in The Bronx, here come the Sox. The rollercoaster continues.

Maybe a long matchup with The Scum is just what the Yankees need. Here's the pitching matchups:

Tonight, 7:05: Michael Pineda, in his first Yankee Stadium start, vs. Clay "Pigeon" Buchholz.

Tomorrow night, 7:05: CC Sabathia vs. Jon "Mo" Lester.

Saturday afternoon, 1:05: Kuroda vs. John "Villain's Grinning" Lackey.

Sunday night, 8:05: Nova vs. Felix "I don't have a nickname for him but he's still a Red Sox so he's scum" Doubront.

Come on you Pinstripes! Beat The Scum!

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