Friday, September 12, 2014

Young's Walkoff, Headley's Tests Encourage Yankee Fans

The conclusion of the Yankees' 3-game home series with the Tampa Bay Rays was not looking good. It looked like it would go down as another one of those games, the games the Yankees have lost in the last 3 seasons because they just couldn't hit enough, and/or because their pitching ran into one bad inning.

Michael Pineda was terrific in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th innings. But he allowed 3 runs in the 4th, and that was making the difference going into the 7th, when he allowed a home run by Yunel Escobar to make it 4-0 Rays.

Joe Girardi felt comfortable leaving him in until the 8th, which is a good sign, considering his injury history.

The Yankees struck back in the bottom of the 8th, with a double by Chris Young and a home run by Martin Prado, his 11th of the season. Now it was 4-2 -- and that additional run that Pineda had allowed was starting to loom large.

On to the 9th. Rays manager Joe Maddon, who has allowed dirty play by his team before, especially against the Yankees (A home-plate collision in spring training, really?), brought in Jake McGee to close it out.

Chase Headley, one of the few bright spots for the Yankees this season, led off -- and was hit on the chin by a 96-mile-per-hour fastball.

A lot of Yankee Fans on Twitter were sure, due to Maddon's reputation as a dirty manager, that it was on purpose. I don't think so. Why would you purposely put the leadoff man on, especially when it would bring the tying run to the plate? Besides, the count was 1-and-2: Why would you hit a man when the next pitch could strike him out?

Headley was down for 5 minutes, but got up, and walked off the field under his own power. Tests this morning showed no fracture. That's a relief. He will, however, continue to be monitored for a concussion. It might be for the best to put him on the shelf for the season, just in case.

Austin Romine was sent in to pinch-run. Ichiro Suzuki doubled, making it 2nd & 3rd with nobody out.

But Zelous Wheeler struck out. Another Yankee RISPfail? This one, as late in the season as it is, would have been especially notorious.

Young came up. He fouled off a 98-MPH fastball from McGee. Then he swung at a 97-MPH fastball, and John Sterling yelled, "Driven to deep left! It is high! It is far! It is GONE!"

Home run. Ballgame over. Yankees win. Theeeeeeee Yankees win! Yankees 5, Rays 4.

Chris Young -- whom the Mets had as recently as a month ago, and released. Chris Young: As David Bowie would say, "We could be heroes, if just for one day."

It was Young's 10th home run of the season, his 2nd as a Yankee. If the Yankees somehow make the Playoffs, it will be the biggest hit of his career (so far).

WP: Shawn Kelley (3-5). No save (there never is when there's a walkoff home run). LP: McGee (4-2).

With 18 games to go, the Yankees are 4 games behind the Detroit Tigers for the 2nd American League Wild Card Playoff berth.

Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins was also beaned last night, but it looks like he's also going to be okay.

This afternoon, the Yankees begin a 4-game series in Baltimore against the 1st-place Orioles, with the opener a rescheduled rainout.

Chris Davis, one of the biggest reasons the O's will almost certainly win the AL Eastern Division, has been suspended for the rest of the season. He was caught using Adderall, which is on MLB's banned substances list. He previously got an exemption, but apparently that's gone. And now, so is he. That could be a big blow -- not necessarily in this series, but in the postseason. The O's have not won a postseason series since 1997, nor a Pennant since 1983, which is also their last World Series win.

Here are the pitching matchups:

Today: Brandon McCarthy vs. Kevin Gausman.

Tonight: Rookie Bryan Mitchell, making his 1st major league start after a 2-inning relief appearance in his debut, vs. Bud Norris.

Tomorrow afternoon: Shane Greene vs. Miguel Gonzalez.

Sunday night (on ESPN): Hiroki Kuroda vs. Chris Tillman.

Incidentally, with both the Yankees and the Mets at home, on September 11, with pregame ceremonies honoring the victims and rescue workers of the 9/11 attacks, the Yankees' attendance was 32,627 -- the 2nd-lowest of the year, after the previous night's game, proving that nobody wants to see the Tampa Rays, at home or on the road -- while the Mets' attendance, against the NL East-leading Washington Nationals, was listed as 21,111. It was probably less than half that who actually showed up with a purchased ticket. (The Nats won 6-2.)

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