Friday, April 24, 2015

Watch Out, Flushing Heathen: Yankees Are Ready to Rumble


I have a lot of catching up to do.

So did the Yankees. But they're doing it. If they can do it, so can I.

When last we left the Bronx Bombers Bumblers, they were 3-5, on pace for 61-101. They seemed determined to prove right all the people predicting a disastrous, 1925-style, 1965-style, 1982-style or 1989-style fall from contention.

Meanwhile, fans of The Other Team, fans I have branded the Flushing Heathen, were feeling very optimistic.

I'll get to them later.

*

On Wednesday, April 15, against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards, things got worse. Talk about a taxing day. Nathan Eovaldi looked like yet another former Miami Marlin pitcher who can't hack the American League East. In 5 innings, he struck out 9, but also allowed 8 hits and 3 walks, for 2 runs. Still, he had a 3-2 lead, partly thanks to Alex Rodriguez' 2nd home run of the season.

Of course, Joe Girardi trusts a pitch count more than his own eyes. Nevertheless, this time, he can be excused for removing Eovaldi: It wasn't the 101 pitches that was the problem, it's that he was getting hit.

But the O's scored 5 runs off 3 different Yankee pitchers in the bottom of the 6th. That was it: Despite a couple of runs in the 8th, it ended Orioles 7, Yankees 5. WP: Brad Brach (1-0). SV: Zach Britton (3). LP: David Carpenter (0-1).

The Yankees were 3-6 -- a pace for 54-108. That's expansion-team-level bad. That's post-fire-sale-level bad.

*

Is it possible for a baseball team to have a "must-win game" in April? The Yankees went down to Tampa Bay, facing a Rays team without the classless thug Joe Maddon in charge for the 1st time since 2007 -- the 1st time since we had a warmongering idiot in the White House.

Friday night, the Yankees went into Tropicana Field, a.k.a. The Really South Bronx, where an announced crowd of 15,752 came out. The 752 must've been the ones rooting for the Rays.

It looked like onebadinningitis again, as Adam Warren entered the bottom of the 4th with a 2-0 lead, thanks to homers by A-Rod and Stephen Drew (each man's 3rd of the season), and left it trailing 4-2. But the Yankees tied it in the 6th, as Brian McCann walked, and A-Rod hit another homer.

Carlos Beltran led off the 8th with a single, and was replaced by pinch-runner Brett Gardner. But it looked like the Yankees were going to waste this potential tying run, as both Mark Teixeira and McCann flew out to center. Gardner stole 2nd, hoping A-Rod could single him home. He did.

Yankees 5, Rays 4. WP: Dellin Betances (2-0). SV: Andrew Miller (3). LP: Kevin Jepsen (0-1).

Jepsen? Any relation to Carly Rae Jepsen? "Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but we're the Yankees, you're losing, no maybe!"

*

On Saturday, it was Tanaka Time. Masahiro Tanaka took the mound, and, despite remarks that he hasn't fully regained his velocity after his injury, every time he goes out, you get the feeling that 1 run will be all he needs.

He got more than that. as the Yankees scored 2 on a McCann triple in the 6th, and 7 in the 7th. Observe: A Chase Headley single, a Drew double, a Gregorio Petit sacrifice fly, a Jacoby Elllsbury single, a Gardner single, an A-Rod walk to load the bases, a Teix sac fly, McCann hit by a pitch, and a Chris Young grand slam, his 3rd homer of the season.

Tanaka allowed just 2 baserunners, a single and a double, over 7 innings. Giving him 9 runs seems almost unfair. But then, how often have the Yankees scored 9 runs over the last 3 years?

Yankees 9, Rays 0. WP: Tanaka (2-1). No save. LP: Jake Odorizzi (2-1). Attendance: 20,824.

*

On Sunday, Michael Pineda was a bit uneven. He got into the 6th, striking out 5, but also allowed 3 runs on 7 hits and a walk. Fortunately, the bullpen allowed just 3 baserunners the rest of the way.

No homers this time, but Jones went 3-for-4, while Ellsbury, Headley and Didi Gregorious each got 2 hits. Yankees 5, Rays 3. WP: Pineda (2-0). SV: Miller (4). LP: Matt Andriese (0-1). Attendance: 21,791.

Attendance for the entire 3-game series: 58,367. Or slightly more than would have fit into the post-renovation old Yankee Stadium for 1 game.

Or would fit into Montreal's Olympic Stadium for 1 game. #MoveTheRays

*

That got the Yankees back to .500. Off to Detroit for 4 against the Tigers.

On Monday night, CC Sabathia pitched like his old fat self. In other words, brilliantly. He allowed 2 runs on 7 hits and 3 walks, striking out 5.

Wouldn't it have been nice if the Yankees could have taken 2 of those 9 runs from Saturday in St. Petersburg, and moved them to Monday at Comerica Park? Alas, it doesn't work that way. Against Alfredo Simon, Joakim Soria and, yes, Joba Chamberlain (who got 2 outs in the 8th), the Yankees could manage just 1 run on 7 hits. The 1 run was a solo blast by Teixeira in the 4th (his 4th of the season).

Tigers 2, Yankees 1. WP: Simon (3-0). SV: Soria (5). LP: Sabathia (0-3).

Back under .500.

*

On Tuesday night, it appeared that the Yankees had reached a conscious decision to have had enough of this crap, and to start hitting the ball.

Eovaldi was pitching well, but clinging to a 1-0 lead. Clearly, he needed more runs. He got them in the top of the 7th, as Young and Drew each hit his 4th homer of the season. That was all that was needed.

Yankees 5, Tigers 2. WP: Eovaldi (1-0). SV: Miller (5). LP: Kyle Lobstein (1-1).

Back to .500.

*

Then came Wednesday night's game, my favorite game of the season so far. The Yankees scored 6 runs before Adam Warren even threw a pitch. Granted, that can sometimes cause a pitcher to get nervous, or cocky, and lose focus. Indeed, Warren did allow 4 runs in the bottom of the 1st.

But the Yankees took 2 of them back in the top of the 2nd, and the Tigers did not recover, getting only 1 hit and 1 walk the rest of the way. Incredibly, in this blowout, the Yankees only got 1 home run, Teixeira's 5th. Which is fine with me: I don't care how the Yankees score, as long as they win.

Yankees 13, Tigers 4. WP: Warren (1-1). No save. LP: Former Tampa Bay pain in the ass David Price (1-1).

*

Yesterday afternoon, the Yankees proved what they couldn't prove on Monday night: That they could win without scoring many runs.

The teams only got 6 hits between them, as Comerica Park is a pitcher's park, unlike its homer-happy predecessor Tiger Stadium. Tanaka allowed a run in the 1st, and cruised the rest of the way. But he still trailed 1-0 going into the 6th inning.

The Tigers really beat themselves, and the Yankees took advantage. Tom Gorzellany walked Ellsbury to open the 6th, and Ellsbury stole 2nd. Gardner grounded him over to 3rd. Gozellany struck out Beltran, and it looked like another "Yankee RISPfail" in the making. But he balked Ellsbury home to tie the game. Tiger manager Brad Ausmus argued with the umpires, and got tossed.

Ellsbury doubled to lead off the 8th, and Gardner bunted him over to 3rd. Gorzellany intentionally walked Beltran to set up the doule play. It didn't work, as McCann grounded out to get Ellsbury home.

That was it: Yankees 2, Tigers 1. WP: Betances (3-0). SV: Miller (6). LP: Gorzellany (0-1).

*

So, despite all the doubters and doomsayers, the Yankees are 9-7 as they go into this earliest-ever series against The Other Team, who are currently riding high.

Time to lay them low. The Yankees are ready to rumble. Those overhyped schmucked better be ready to get exposed.

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