Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Yankees Take Opener In St. Louis In 12 Innings

If the Yankee bats can just give David Phelps, Vidal Nuno, Chase Whitley and whoever else starts in place of the injured Michael Pineda until June, CC Sabathia until July, and Ivan Nova for the rest of the season, enough runs to win, or at least enough runs to get to the bullpen, we'll be in the thick of the fight for the American League Playoffs.

Yesterday, the Yankees opened at 3-game series away to the St. Louis Cardinals. The rookie Whitley started, and went 5 innings, and allowed 3 runs on 8 hits -- but no walks. Command needs work, but good control.

To lead off the game, Brett Gardner drew a walk, followed by singles by Derek Jeter and Jacoby Ellsbury. The same pattern was followed in the top of the 5th, as Ichiro Suzuki walked, while Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson singled, to make it 2-1. This was followed by Whitley grounding out (Interleague game in National League park, so pitcher has to bat), and Gardner hitting a sacrifice fly to score Roberts. 3-1 Yankees.

But Whitley loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the 6th, and Joe Girardi brought in Preston Claiborne, who usually doesn't come in that early. He allowed a forceout and a sac fly, and that tied it. Can't really fault Claiborne, and, as I said, Whitley is a rookie. And being tied after 6 innings is hardly a bad thing.

The game remained tied, and went to extra innings. You know how I get when the Yankees go to extra innings: Every inning from the 8th onward, I think, "We had these chances to win, and we blew it, we're not gonna win this one."

The Yankees didn't listen to me. Fortunately, they did listen to me when they got rid of lefthanded reliever Randy Choate, a.k.a. Randy Choke. He pitched for the Cards in the top of the 12th. Ellsbury walked to lead the inning off. Then Choate hit Brian McCann with a pitch -- a big mistake if it was an accident, really dumb if it was on purpose. Yangervis Solarte bunted the runners over. Cards manager Mike Matheny ordered Ichiro walked to load the bases and set up the force at any base.

It didn't work: Roberts dunked a single into left. It only moved the runners up 1 base each, but it was enough to give the Yankees the lead. Alfonso Soriano pinch-hit for Alfredo Aceves -- scary that Girardi's Binder told him to bring Aceves in, but he now stood to be the winning pitcher. Soriano hit a sac fly to score McCann. Brendan Ryan singled home Ichiro to make it 6-3.

As Yankee Hall-of-Famer -- although I think he was still with Oakland when he said this -- Reggie Jackson said of a home run he blasted out of Fenway Park (metaphorically speaking), "We needed an insurance run, so I hit it to the Prudential Building."

You never know when those insurance runs will come in handy. David Robertson came in to close it out, but Jhonny Peralta -- all this time, and he still can't spell "Johnny" -- reached on an error by, of all people, Jeter. Robertson struck out Daniel Descalso for the 1st out, but allowed an RBI double to Jon Jay.

Okay, D-Rob: Enough fooling around, let's get these guys out. He did: He got Matt Carpenter to ground out, and struck Kolten Wong out singing. (Name sounds like it came out of the old Flash Gordon serials.)

Yankees 6, Cardinals 4. WP: Aceves (1-2). SV: Robertson (11). LP: Choate (0-2).

The series continues tonight: Phelps starts against Lance Lynn. Phelps grew up near St. Louis, in Florissant, Missouri.

"You grow up thinking about playing on this field," he said. "Obviously, you don't think about doing it in a Yankees uniform, but it's really cool. You walk out and you see the Arch. There's small things like that that do make it fun."

Actually, the current Busch Stadium didn't open until 2006. Phelps was already 19. He grew up thinking about playing on the field at the preceding Busch Stadium, just to the south of the new one. That wasn't possible, as he didn't reach the majors until 2012.

In his last outing, he pitched well, but ran into that near-perfect game by Chris Sale of the White Sox. Let's hope he does as well, and gets the runs he needs.

Like I said at the start: If guys like Phelps pitch well for the injured starters, and we get the runs, we'll be just fine.

*

Hours until the Red Bulls play again: 2, tonight, at 9:00 PM Eastern Time, away to Sporting Kansas City. This past Saturday, Metro played a lousy game in losing at home to 2-1 to the Portland Timbers.

Hours until the U.S. national soccer team plays again: 3, tonight, at 10:00 PM Eastern Time, against former Soviet "republic" Azerbaijan, in one of the last events that will be held at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. Under 2 weeks. This will be the first of 3 warmup matches for the World Cup, also facing Turkey at Red Bull Arena and Nigeria in Jacksonville.

Days until the Red Bulls next play a "derby": 11, a week from this Saturday, June 7, 7:30 PM, vs. the New England Revolution, at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

Days until the 2014 World Cup in Brazil: 16, on Thursday, June 12. A little over 2 weeks. In other words, the tournament could be underway before I do this list again.

Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series begins: 31, on Friday night, June 27, at 7:00, at Yankee Stadium II. Just 1 month.

Days until Arsenal play again: Officially, not until the new season starts in August. Unofficially, it's this, and I'm just busting about it:

Days until the Arsenal-Red Bulls match at Red Bull Arena: 60, on Saturday, July 26. Just 2 months.

Days until the 2014-15 Premier League season begins: 81, on Saturday, August 16. Under 12 weeks. (I previously had this erroneously listed as being on August 9.) The fixture list is usually released on the first Friday in June.

Days until the next North London Derby between Arsenal and Tottenham: Unknown. The next season's schedule, or "fixture list," usually comes out on the 2nd Friday in June. Derbies are rarely held that early in the season -- the 2013-14 season's September 1 match was unusually early.

Days until Rutgers plays football again: 93, on Thursday, August 28, away to Washington State, at CenturyLink Field, home of the NFL Champion Seattle Seahawks. (It had been listed as August 30, but was moved up.) A little over 3 months.

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: 100, on Thursday, September 4, home to Woodbridge. It's on a Thursday night, rather than a Friday night, because of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

Days until Rutgers makes its Big Ten Conference debut: 109 days, on Saturday, September 13, time to be determined, against old enemy Penn State.

Days until Derek Jeter's last regular-season home game (barring injury): 120, on Thursday, September 25, against the Baltimore Orioles. Under 4 months.

Days until Derek Jeter's last regular-season game (barring injury): 123, on Sunday, September 28, against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Days until the Devils play again: 129. The 2014-15 NHL schedule has been released, and the Devils will open the season away to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday, October 3, at 7:00 PM.

Days until the Devils next play a local rival: 130. Their home opener will be against the Islanders on Saturday night, October 4, at 7:00 PM.

Days until Game 7 of the 2014 World Series -- the absolute latest you can ever again see Derek Jeter in a competitive game: 155, on Wednesday, October 29. Just 5 months, and no more Jeter -- not as an active player, anyway.

Days until the next East Brunswick vs. Old Bridge Thanksgiving game: 196, on Thursday morning, November 27, 10:00 AM. Just 6 months.

Days until New York City FC make their Major League Soccer debut: Unknown, but a new MLS season usually begins on the 2nd Saturday in March, which would be March 14, 2015. That's 291 days. A little over 9 months. Whether it will be a home game, and thus at the new Yankee Stadium, is yet to be determined.

Days until the New York Islanders' last game at the Nassau Coliseum: 316, on April 8, 2015, at 7:00 PM, against the Ottawa Senators. A little over 10 months.

Days until the Islanders' first home game at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn: Unknown, but an NHL regular season usually begins on the 1st Friday in October, which would be October 2, 2015. That's 493 days. That's a little over 16 months. Or, to put it another way, "493 Sleeps Till Brooklyn." Until then, even with their 4 straight long-ago Stanley Cups, they're just a Small Club In Hempstead.

Days until the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: 801, on Friday, August 5, 2016. A little over 26 months. (I had previously undercounted this by nearly 200 days, but the months figure was right.)

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