Monday, August 11, 2014

Yanks Trudge Into Biggest Series of Year After 2 Bad Losses

There was so much optimism in Yankeedom as the 2nd half of the season went on. It's mostly gone now.

Saturday, in addition to being the 2nd game of a 3-game home series against the Cleveland Indians, was Paul O'Neill Day. For some reason, Paulie Pinstripes did not get his Number 21 official retired. Here's the text of his Plaque:

PAUL ANDREW O'NEILL
"THE WARRIOR"
NEW YORK YANKEES
1993-2001

AN INTENSE COMPETITOR AND TEAM LEADER,
O'NEILL WAS BELOVED FOR HIS RELENTLESS
PURSUIT OF PERFECTION. IN NINE SEASONS
WITH THE YANKEES, HE WON FOUR WORLD
SERIES AND MADE FOUR ALL-STAR TEAMS,
COMPILING A .303 BATTING AVERAGE WITH
185 HOME RUNS AND 858 RBIS. WAS ALSO
KNOWN FOR HIS STRONG ARM AND
RELIABLE GLOVE IN RIGHT FIELD.
WON 1994 AL BATTING CROWN
WITH A .359 AVERAGE.
 
DEDICATED BY THE
NEW YORK YANKEES
AUGUST 9, 2014

Then, as they did earlier this year when Tino Martinez and Goose Gossage got their Plaques, with some of their storied teammates on hand (in Paul's case: Tino, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, David Cone, Jorge Posada, current manager Joe Girardi and former manager Joe Torre), the Yankees embarrassed their visiting legends.

Brandon McCarthy didn't pitch badly, but when your team doesn't score any runs, you're not going to win. It really pisses me off when people say, "Defense/Pitching wins championships." No. It doesn't. It never has, and it never will. All defense and pitching can do is hold off the opposition well enough to give your offense the chance to win.

McCarthy pitched into the 7th inning, allowing 2 runs on 7 hits and no walks, but the Yankees got only 5 hits all game long: Doubles by Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner, and singles by Ellsbury, Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki. Chase Whitley allowed an additional run, on a home run by Michael Brantley, but even when it was only 2-0, I never felt that the Yankees were going to win.

Indians 3, Yankees 0. WP: Corey Kluber (13-6). SV: Cody Allen (15). LP: McCarthy (7-11).

*

Then, yesterday, the Yankee bats looked even more anemic. Hiroki Kuroda didn't get out of the 5th inning, and it wouldn't have mattered if he had. Ellsbury singled in the 1st, Stephen Drew singled in the 2nd, and then there wasn't another baserunner until Mark Teixeira singled in the 7th.

Ichiro doubled in the 8th, and Ellsbury hit a home run in the 9th, his 10th homer of the season. That was it.

Indians 4, Yankees 1. WP: Carlos Carrasco (4-4). No save. LP: Kuroda (7-8).

*

So, now, there are 7 weeks left in the regular season, and here's how the AL East stands:

EASTWLPCTGBHOMEROADRSRADIFFSTRKL10POFF
Baltimore6750.573-32-2635-24502454+48Lost 17-385.5
Toronto6356.529533-2630-30538509+29Won 24-630.1
NY Yankees6156.521629-2932-27468493-25Lost 26-411.6
Tampa Bay5760.4871027-3230-28458455+3Lost 14-65.7
Boston5265.4441527-3125-34444501-57Won 14-60.1

Now, making up 6 games in 7 weeks doesn't sound too hard, but when you consider that the Yankees have allowed 25 runs more than they've scored, it makes you wonder how they're 5 games over .500, let alone in the race at all. For the 2nd AL Wild Card, we're 2 1/2 games back.

The good news is, the Yankees now have a chance to do something about it: We start a 3-game series against the 1st-place Baltimore Orioles. The bad news is, the same thing: The Orioles could pretty much bury us, at least as far as the Division is concerned.

Clearly, this is the biggest series of the season. If we can take at least 2 out of 3, there will be bigger series. If we don't... then, once the Wild Card race sees most of the other teams drop out, we'll see who we need to beat out, and that will be the biggest.

There is one new piece of optimism: On Wednesday, Michael Pineda will be activated from the Disabled List, and he will start against the Orioles.

Here are the projected pitching matchups for this series, with all 3 games having a scheduled start time of 7:05 PM:

Tonight: Chris Capuano vs. Bud Norris.

Tomorrow: Shane Greene vs. Wei-Yin Chen.

Wednesday: Pineda vs. Chris Tillman.

And if you need a pick-me-up: Tomorrow at noon, the YES Network will be showing Game 1 of the 1996 World Series, the Jeffrey Maier Game. (They're showing it because it was against this opponent, the Orioles.)

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