Monday, April 28, 2014

Thanks, Orange County Angels of Anaheim!

At first, last night's rubber game at Yankee Stadium II, between the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the New York Yankees of The Bronx, was going to be a typically 2013 game for the Yankees: Decent pitching, not enough offense to sustain it.

Masahiro Tanaka, who hadn't lost in his first 4 Yankee starts, struck out 11 batters in 6 1/3 innings, but it wasn't enough, because the Yankees weren't hitting. He was trailing 2-1 when he was taken out in the top of the 7th, and even the Yankee run didn't come on a hit: Mark Teixeira walked to lead off the bottom of the 5th, Kelly Johnson struck out, Brian Roberts doubled, Teix couldn't score because he's gotten slower, and Ichiro Suzuki got Teix home on a groundout.

Joe Girardi brought in Adam Warren to stop an Angel threat in the 7th, and it looked like Tanaka, who pitched well enough to win 80 percent of the time, would be tagged with his first Yankee loss.

But Teix led off the bottom of the 7th with a home run, his 2nd of the season, and the game was tied, 2-2. Tanaka was off the hook.

The winning run was scored in an inning that was bizarre enough to be a Yankees-Red Sox inning. With Michael Kohn pitching for the Angels, in relief of Garrett Richards, who'd pitched 7 strong innings, Jacob Ellsbury led off the bottom of the 8th with a walk. Kohn struck Derek Jeter out, but then he walked Carlos Beltran on 4 pitches: All 4-seam fastballs between 93 and 95 miles per hour.

It's the Kyle Farnsworth Rule (Met fans, take note, as Kerosene Kyle is now your closer): It doesn't matter how fast your pitches are, if they don't hit the strike zone. Angel manager Mike Scioscia figured this out, and, not beholden to a Binder like Girardi is, replaced Kohn with Nick Maronde.

The batter was Brian McCann... and Maronde's pitch got away from Angel catch Chris Iannetta, moving the runners up. Now the potential winning run could score on an out.

McCann was still up with a chance to win the game for the Yankees... and the chance was taken away from him, as Maronde, probably shaken up a little by the passed ball, threw a wild pitch! Ellsbury scored! To make matters worse for the Angels, Girardi challenged the call, saying the pitch hit McCann. The replay showed this to be true, and McCann was on 1st.

Thanks, Orange County Angels of Anaheim!

Scioscia pulled Maronde for Kevin Jepsen, who got Alfonso Soriano to ground into a double play, but the damage was done. 3-2 Yankees.

But would it be enough damage? You know David Robertson: He never makes it easy on us. He struck out Ian Stewart, but walked Iannetta: Tying run on 1st, potential winning run at the plate, only 1 out.

He got J.B. Schuck to ground out, but that got John McDonald, pinch-running for Iannetta, to 2nd. Scioscia was really gambling here, replacing his starting catcher, hoping he could get a win in the 9th, without going to extra innings.

And now, batting for Colin Cowgill (not to be confused with Colin Cowherd), was an old friend. Old as in over 40, friend as in saved the Yankees in the 2012 ALDS: Raul Ibanez. With that short porch in right field, and knowing what kind of lefty swing Ibanez still has, Yankee Fans were rightly worried. It could have gone from 3-2 Yankees to 4-3 Angels with one swing. I wonder, if Boone Logan were still on the Yankee roster (thank God and Brian Cashman he isn't), would Girardi have brought him in to face this one lefty batter?

We'll never know. Robertson struck Ibanez out swinging. Whew.

WP: Warren (1-1). SV: Robertson (4). LP: Kohn (1-10.

*

So, 4 weeks into the 26-week MLB season, here's how the American League Eastern Division stands:

YANKEES 15-10
Baltimore 12-12, 2 1/2 back
Toronto 12-13, 3 back
Boston 12-14, 3 1/2 back
Tampa Bay 11-14, 4 back

The division elimination numbers for the Sox and the Rays is 134. For the Jays, 135. For the O's, 137: Any number of Yankee wins and Oriole losses, the rest of the way, adding up to 137, and the Yankees win the American League East.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to The Bronx.

The Yankees have today off, before the Seattle Mariners come to town, with "King" Felix Hernandez (he's never been in a playoff race game, let along a playoff game), and Robinson Cano.

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