Thursday, May 7, 2015

Reasons to Be Pleased -- But Also to Be Concerned


Between a weird work schedule and getting slammed with one hell of a cold, I have fallen behind again. Here goes:

The Yankees won a Sunday night ESPN game against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. This means that anything can happen.

Mark Teixeira got things going with his 9th "Teix Message" of the season in the 1st inning. 2-0 Yankees. In the 3rd, singles by Jacoby Ellsbury and Alex Rodriguez, and doubles by Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran made it 5-0 Yankees. Gardner hit his 2nd home run of the year in the 6th inning, giving the Bronx Bombers a whopping 8-0 advantage.

Of course, this was the little green pinball machine in the Back Bay, where, yes, anything can happen, especially when the Sox are playing the Yankees.

Adam Warren pitched brilliantly over the 1st 5 innings, but the Sox struck back in the 6th, scoring 4 runs. Joe Girardi brought in Esmil Rogers, who allowed a 5th run by put out the fire. Rogers and Justin Wilson got through the 7th without further damage, and Wilson and David Carpenter did the same in the 8th.

Girardi brought in his new closer, Andrew Miller, for the bottom of the 9th, and he looked more like the belaboring but effective David Robertson than the coldly efficient Mariano Rivera. He walked Allen Craig to start the inning, then struck out Xander Bogaerts and Blake Swihart. But he walked Mookie Betts. (That must amaze anyone old enough to remember the 1986 World Series: The Red Sox counting on a player nicknamed Mookie.)

The dangerous Dustin Pedroia came up, and Chase Headley mishandled his grounder, and now the bases were loaded. This brought the winning run to the plate. The batter? Who else but the biggest (certainly, the fattest) Yankee Killer of all time, the big fat lying cheating bastard himself, David Ortiz.

Time for Miller to earn his Pinstripes -- even though he was wearing the road gray.

He got Ortiz to hit a line drive to center field. Easily playable for Ellsbury, and the formerly beloved Boston star caught it for the last out.

Yankees 8, Red Sox 5. WP: Warren (2-1). SV: Miller (10). LP: Joe Kelly (1-1).

A little more than a week earlier, both Met fans and Red Sox fans -- the Flushing Heathen and the Chowdaheads -- were talking smack, saying the Yankees were "old," and "washed-up," and "had no chance at the Playoffs."

Since then, the Yankees have taken 2 out of 3 from the Mutts, starting a decline they've now fallen into, bringing their idiot fans down to Earth; and swept The Scum in Boston. And remain in 1st place. They had now won 13 of their last 17, rendering their usual "slow start" a short one this time.

*

The Yankees then flew into Toronto to play those pesky Blue Jays. On Monday night, ex-Met Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey had his knuckleball working, and they couldn't do much with it. The game was scoreless until the top of the 7th, when the Yankees got a run home on a groundout.

Chase Whitley pitched 7 shutout innings, allowing just 6 hits and no walks, striking out 6. He threw 90 pitches. Unfortunately, Girardi once again made the stupid decision to let the pitch count, rather than using his eyes to judge the pitcher's effectiveness, dictate when to remove the starter.

Girardi brought Chris Martin in to begin the bottom of the 8th. Martin, like his English singer namesake, brought some cold play. He got the 1st out, then allowed a pair of singles. Girardi brought in Dellin Betances, who allowed a double and a single (bracketing a popup), to blow the game.

Blue Jays 3, Yankees 1. WP: Dickey (1-3). SV: Brett Cecil (2). LP: Martin (0-1 -- Betances got charged with a blown save, as it was still 1-0 Yankees when he came in, but that's not completely fair, as Martin allowed the go-ahead run on base).

*

On Tuesday night, Girardi handed the ball to Michael Pineda. In a move that stunned many, given both Girardi's foolishness in handling pitchers and Pineda's tendency toward injury, he went a full in 8 innings, allowing no runs, 8 hits, just 1 walk, fanning 6.

The Yankees got on the board quickly, leading off the game with an Ellsbury single and back-to-back doubles by Gardner and A-Rod. An Ellsbury single brought home another run in the 2nd. In the 5th came another Teix Message, Mark's 10th of the year. Didi Gregorius, who really hasn't gotten the job done as Derek Jeter's replacement at shortstop, either in the field or at the plate, singled home a run in the 8th.

The game began to look like a repeat of Sunday night in Boston. The Yankees took a 6-0 lead into the bottom of the 9th, and it began to fall apart. David Carpenter was brought in to reliever, and he allowed a home run to the Jays' Canadian-born catcher, former Yankee Russell Martin. He got 2 more outs, so it looked like the Martin homer would be no big deal. But he allowed a walk, a double and a single, and suddenly it was 6-3.

Girardi pulled Carpenter and brought in Miller. He walked Jose Bautista, and that brought Devon Travis to the plate as the tying run. Well, Travis is no David Ortiz. (Especially since, as far as we know, he's not a cheater, or a liar about it.) Miller got him to fly to right.

Yankees 6, Blue Jays 3. WP: Pineda (4-0). SV: Miller (11). LP: Marco Estrada (1-1).

*

As optimistic as we can now be about Pineda, it is time to get concerned over CC Sabathia. Half of his games this season have been bad, while the other half have been hard-luck. It's beginning to look like the major leagues' winningest active pitcher (208) may never win another game -- not necessarily through any fault of his own.

Last night, the Yankees gave him a 1-0 to start with, on a Chris Young single, an A-Rod double and a Teix groundout. But he couldn't hold it, allowing 2 runs in the 2nd, another in the 4th, and another in the 6th, on another homer by Russell Martin. He didn't pitch badly, but the Yankees just didn't hit for him, never scoring again after the Teix grounder.

Blue Jays 5, Yankees 1. For the first time in 3 weeks, the Yankees lost a series. WP: Buehrle (4-2). No save. LP: Sabathia (0-5).

*

The Yankees come home, and tomorrow night they start a 4-game set against the Baltimore Orioles. Here are the projected pitching matchups:

Thursday, 7:05 PM: Nathan Eovaldi vs. Chris Tillman.

Friday, 7:05 PM: Warren vs. Miguel Gonzalez.

Saturday, 1:05 PM: Chase Whitley vs. Wei-Yin Chen.

Sunday, 1:05 PM: Pineda vs. Bud Norris.

Come on you Pinstripes!

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