Friday, August 8, 2014

It Wasn't Easy Being Greene, But It Was Successful

Shane Greene started the finale of the 4-game home series with the Detroit Tigers, against Rick Porcello.

Coming into the 2nd half of this season, if Rick Porcello was your 4th starter, you were in pretty good shape; if Shane Greene was your 4th starter, you were in trouble.

Or so it appeared. The 25-year-old righthanded Floridian has now made 7 appearances for the Yankees, and while 3 weren't so good, 4 have been very good.

Greene was fantastic. He pitched 8 innings, allowing no runs on just 4 hits and 3 walks. Joe Girardi actually let him start the 9th, but he allowed a leadoff hit, and that was it. Greene walked off the mound to a standing ovation from the Yankee crowd of 47,013. No, it wasn't easy being Greene -- he left leading only 1-0 with the tying run on 1st and the potential winning run at the plate -- but he was successful.

The Yankees scored a run in the bottom of the 4th inning, on a ground-rule double by recent acquisition Stephen Drew. I watched the game with my twin nieces, who are now 7, the same age I was when I started watching baseball on TV regularly. I had to explain to them what a "ground-rule double" is: It's when the ball hits the ground in fair territory, and then it bounces into the stands. (It could also be when a fan interferes with a ball in play, but that subject didn't come up.)

What I did not explain to them was the term "the pitcher's friend." This is another name for a double play, and the Yankees turned 2 key double plays in the first 8 innings.

Porcello was nearly as good as Greene. To see both starting pitchers go at least 7 innings is increasingly rare.

Girardi brought in David Robertson, and he walked the first batter he faced. So, tying run on 2nd, potential winning run on 1st, and nobody out.

But the Yankees turned yet another double play, leaving the tying run on 3rd and the potential winning run at the plate, but with 2 outs.

Robertson finished it off. Yankees 1, Tigers 0. WP: Greene (3-1). SV: Robertson (31). LP: Porcello (13-6).

If you had told me before this series started that the Yankees would take 3 out of 4 from the AL Central-leading Tigers, I would have gladly taken it. With just 1 more key hit in the first 11 innings of the 2nd game, we would have swept.

The Yankees now begin a 3-game home series with the Cleveland Indians, with tomorrow being Paul O'Neill Day. The Warrior gets his Monument Park Plaque. Presumably, he also gets his Number 21 retired, since it's only been worn once since he retired after the 2001 season: Pitcher LaTroy Hawkins wore it in 2008, and was roundly booed, and wisely switched to 22. (Believe it or not, he's still pitching in the major leagues, and very well: At age 41, he's saved 17 games for the Colorado Rockies.)

Here are the projected pitching matchups:

Tonight, 7:05 PM: Esmil Rogers vs. Trevor Bauer.

Tomorrow, 1:05 PM: Brandon McCarthy vs. Corey Kluber.

Sunday, 1:05 PM: Hiroki Kuroda vs. Hector Carrasco.

The Indians are managed by former Red sox manager Terry Francona, and include former Yankees Nick Swisher, Chris Dickerson and Jason Giambi. However, the Giambino is on the 60-Day Disabled List, and, at age 43 and with 440 career home runs, may never play again.

If he does, it won't be in his familiar Number 25: Jim Thome signed a 1-day contract with the Indians, so he could officially retire with the organization, and, as their all-time home run leader, they've retired the number for him. Giambi signed the last Number 25 jersey to be worn by an Indians player in a game: "Jim, It was an honor to be the last person to wear your uniform number in Cleveland Indians history! - Jason Giambi"

Despite his unfortunate steroid episode, Giambi has learned, and has become a class act. He'll never get into the Hall of Fame (I don't think he has the numbers, anyway), but I suspect he'll get a nice hand at his first Yankee Old-Timers' Day, whether that's next year or thereafter.

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