Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Hope For the Future, But Not Much For the Present

I fell behind again -- and, with the Yankees at least theoretically still in the Playoff race, that's not good.

On Saturday, the Yankees sent Chris Capuano out against those pesky Toronto Blue Jays, and he didn't get the job done, allowing 4 runs in less than 6 innings. Still, RBI singles by Brian McCann and Francisco Cervelli got the Yankees to within 4-2.

The bullpen wasn't much help: Chase Whitley and David Phelps each tacked on a run. Despite an RBI double by Derek Jeter in the bottom of the 9th, it ended Blue Jays 6, Yankees 3.

WP: Marcus Strohman (11-6). SV: Casey Janssen (24). LP: Capuano (2-4).

*

On Sunday, the Yankees got their best news since Masahiro Tanaka arrived: Tanaka came off the Disabled List and pitched again.

Joe Girardi was cautious, only letting him throw 70 pitches, which got him into the 6th inning. He allowed 1 run on 5 hits and no walks. Very effective.

McCann hit 2 home runs, raising his season total to 22. Brett Gardner hit one, raising his to 17 (and anybody who predicted he'd hit that many, you're lying.)

Yankees 5, Blue Jays 2. WP: Tanaka (13-4). SV: David Robertson (38). LP: Josh Hutcherson (10-13).

*

Then, last night, the Yankees began Jeter's final home series, against the newly-crowned American League Eastern Division Champion Baltimore Orioles. Michael Pineda, who's spent more time on the DL than Tanaka (not this season, though, but bad enough), was masterful, pitching into the 8th (shocking that the natural nervous nellie Girardi would let him pitch that long), allowing no runs on 1 hit and 1 walk.

Where were you when Jose Pirela made his major league debut? The 24-year-old righthanded Venezuelan, normally an infielder and possibly a successor for Jeter (he played mostly shortstop for Scranton, batting .305 with 10 homers and 60 RBIs), debuted last night, for the Yankees, wearing Number 67, batting 9th, and standing as the designated hitter. In his 1st at-bat, against Wei-Yin Chen, who normally gives the Yankees trouble, he drilled a pitch to deep left-center, going for a triple and driving in Ichiro Suzuki. Jeter got him home on a groundout.

That was all that Pineda needed, although Jeter added an RBI double in the 5th -- he is not going away quietly -- and Chase Headley added a homer, his 5th since becoming a Yankee.

Shawn Kelley, Rich Hill and Phelps finished the shutout. Yankees 5, Orioles 0. (For all the good that does now.) WP: Pineda (4-5). No Save. LP: Chen (16-5, still a serious Cy Young Award candidate).

*

There are 6 games left. The Yankees are 4 games out of the 2nd AL Wild Card. The Kansas City Royals, who have gone longer without making the Playoffs than any team, currently hold that spot.

If the Yankees can win all 6 games, then the following would still have to happen for them to make the Playoffs:

* The Cleveland Indians would have to lose at least 1 of their last 5. And...

* The Seattle Mariners would have to lose at least 2 of their last 6. And 1 of the next 2 would have to happen...

* The Royals would have to lose at least 4 of their last 6. Or...

* The Oakland Athletics would have to lose at least 5 of their last 6.

Not good.

But, with Tanaka and Pineda pitching great, and Pirela making his debut, maybe we saw a little bit of the future last night.

But there's just 6 games left, only 3 at home, before Derek Jeter is firmly a part of the Yankees' past.

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