Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Mets Get No-Hit, But Yanks Do Them a Favor

Remember when people were saying the Mets would be a better team this season than the Yankees? Ah, good comedy.

Last night, Chris Heston, a rookie pitcher with the San Francisco Giants, pitched a no-hitter against the Mets, as the Giants beat them 5-0. It was the 1st no-hitter ever pitched at Citi Field.

Don't tell me Johan Santana pitched one: Carlos Beltran (then a St. Louis Cardinal) doubled down the left-field line, and the umpire screwed up the call. The Mets have still never pitched a no-hitter in 54 seasons of play.

Heston threw 110 pitches -- meaning that Yankee manager Joe Girardi would have taken him out after 7 innings and, had he been available, would have let Boone Logan or Esmil Rogers blow it and lose the game.

But, as Charlton Heston (presumably no relation) would have said, the only way you were going to take history from Chris Heston was to pry it from his cold dead hands!

He allowed 3 baserunners -- oddly, all hit batsmen. That is the 1st time in major league history that this particular confluence of events has ever happened.

This is the 4th straight season that the Giants have had a no-hitter. In each of the last 2, Tim Lincecum pitched one. In 2012, Matt Cain pitched a perfect game.

The losing pitcher for the Mets? Noah Syndergaard. Because of his Scandinavian heritage, he's been nicknamed Thor. But, last night, he got hammered. (By the Giants. Whether he went out and got drunk afterward, I don't know.)

By the way: The pitching coach for the Giants, these last few years, including those 4 no-hitters and 3 World Series wins? San Jose native, lifelong Giants fan, and former Yankee pitcher, with both a no-hitter and the former single-season saves record to his credit, Dave Righetti.

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As for the only real Major League Baseball team in the New York Tri-State Area...

The Yankees began a brief 2-game series against the Washington Nationals. Really, the ultimate twi-night doubleheader, as somebody on Twitter put it: A Tuesday night start at 7:05, followed by a Wednesday afternoon start at 1:05.

Masahiro Tanaka started for the Yankees, and, as usual, some people were holding their breath, afraid that his return from injury wouldn't get sidetracked. It didn't. Against Max Scherzer, who won a Cy Young Award with the Detroit Tigers, he was easily the better pitcher, going 7 innings, allowing 1 run on 5 hits, no walks, 6 strikeouts.

The only run he allowed was a 4th-inning home run to Bryce Harper. So, when do the Yankees open the vault and make the Nats an offer they can't refuse for this star whose legend seems to grow by the day? As Harper himself would say, "That's a clown question, bro."

I read last night that Stephen Drew, "the worst hitter in baseball" (the statistics certainly suggested it), was watching video of himself last week, and found a hitch in his swing. Since correcting it, he has batted .294 with 4 home runs and 6 RBIs.

That includes last night, probably his best game as a Yankee. He opened the scoring in the bottom of the 3rd inning, with a home run down the right-field line. A short-porcher? It counts just as much as a Mantlesque blast into the upper deck.

It was still 1-1 in the 7th, as the Tanaka-Scherzer pitching duel was living up to the hype. Then the Yankees decided to stop playing around and start playing ball. With 1 out, Ramon Flores and Brett Gardner hit back-to-back singles. Chase Headley lined out, but Nats shortstop Ian Desmond bobbled Alex Rodriguez's grounder, allowing Flores to score. (If you're counting up to A-Rod's 2,000th career RBI, he doesn't get one for this.)

Nats manager Matt Williams, the former slugging (with help) 3rd baseman of the Giants, Cleveland Indians and Arizona Diamondbacks, did his best Joe Girardi impression, and panicked. He took out one of the best pitchers in baseball, and brought in Yankee reject Matt Thornton. Big mistake.

He also had Thornton intentionally walk Mark Teixeira to load the bases. Another big mistake: True, the way Teix has been hitting, it was understandable, but the next hitter was Brian McCann, who has also been hitting the Tottenham out of the ball lately. (An Arsenal fan's joke!) McCann singled home Gardner, and Beltran (now, of course, a Yankee) singled home A-Rod.

Drew came up again in the 8th, and hit another screaming liner down the right-field line, for his 2nd homer of the game, his 9th of the season.

Girardi sent Dellin Betances out to pitch the 8th (understandable), then Chasen Shreve to pitch the 9th, to give Andrew Miller some rest. But Shreve allowed a double and a walk. Despite having a 5-run lead with 1 out to go, Girardi consulted his Binder, which told him to bring in Miller for the last out.

Remember those commercials for Folgers crystals? Someday, I want to hear, "Tonight, we've secretly replaced the binder Joe regularly uses with The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." As you'll recall, the titular book-within-the-book has a cover with 2 words on it: "DON'T PANIC!"

Because, clearly, Girardi's Binder Full of Strategies has the word "Panic!" on several pages.

Miller got the last out. Yankees 6, Nationals 1. WP: Tanaka (4-1). No save. LP: Scherzer (6-5). It was the Yankees' 7th straight win, their longest winning streak since June 2012. Roughly the last time, until now, they could be counted on to consistently hit.

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The irony is, by beating the Washington Nationals last night, the Yankees did the Mets a favor, keeping them half a game ahead of the Nats in the Other League East, dead even in the loss column.

In contrast, the Yankees moved to 2 1/2 games ahead of the Montreal Rays in the Real League East, 3 in the loss column.

This was one of the rare days when the Yankees and Mets are playing at home at the same time. Attendance at Yankee Stadium II: 36,613. Attendance at Pity Field: 23,155 (or so they say).

Assuming the Mets were telling the truth about their attendance figure, they got 13,000 less than the Yankees, even though they were in 1st place, against a team with whom they have a historic connection (the Giants being a former New York team), with the cachet of being the defending World Champions, while the Yankees were playing a team with whom (due to Interleague play) they have hardly any connection, and no Derek Jeter, and no Mariano Rivera.

What was that about the Mets "having their swagger back"?

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