Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Oh HELL No, Yankees; Zito, 1932-2015

After winning 7 straight games for the 1st time in 3 years, and finally getting some people to believe in them as a serious contender again, the Yankees have fallen into another slump.

On Wednesday afternoon -- a bit of an extended doubleheader, as we played them the previous night, and these were the only 2 games of the series -- Nathan Eovaldi and Gio Gonzalez of the Washington Nationals got into a pitchers' duel, one in which neither one of them would be the winning pitcher.

The Nats led 2-0 going into the bottom of the 7th inning, but Chris Young led off with a single. Jose Pirela lined out, but Brendan Ryan tripled him home. Brett Gardner tied the game with a double. Chase Headley flew out, but Alex Rodriguez gave the Yankees the lead with an RBI double, Mark Teixeira was hit with a pitch, and Brian McCann singled home A-Rod. 4-2 Yankees.

But after Eovaldi allowed a leadoff single to Yunel Escobar in the top of the 8th, Joe Girardi consulted his binder, and it said, "PANIC!" So he brought in Jacob Lindgren, and he allowed a game-tying home run to Michael Taylor. Then he made the mistake of letting Chris Capuano into a game, and he blew it in the 11th.

Nationals 5, Yankees 4. WP: Blake Treinin (2-2). SV: Drew Storen (19). LP: Capuano (0-4).

*

So the Nats went back down I-95, and so did the Yankees, for a weekend series against the Baltimore Orioles, their 1st visit since Charm City was wracked with police brutality-inspired racial unrest.

The Friday night game didn't go so well. Michael Pineda had perhaps his worst outing as a Yankee, allowing a run in the 1st, 4 in the 3rd, and another in the 4th. Esmil Rogers allowed 4 more in the 6th.

Looks like the Yankees may finally have had enough of Rogers: They sent him down to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, taking him off the 40-man roster entirely. He's 29, but he's a pitcher, and there's always going to be some team desperate for pitching. Let's just hope the Yankees don't get so desperate that they call this bum back up.

The newly called-up Mason Williams hit his 1st major league home run, but it was a cherry on a sundae made of brussels sprouts. Orioles 11, Yankees 3. WP: Ubaldo Jimenez (4-3). LP: Pineda (7-3).

Mason Williams is a native of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, longtime home of the Red Sox' Triple-A farm team, but he grew up outside Orlando, Florida. I don't know if he stayed a Red Sox fan. He's a center fielder, not a pitcher, so don't expect him to throw any Classical Gas.

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Speaking of Yankees with the same name as musical performers, after CC Sabathia could only pitch 5 innings, allowing 4 runs, in the Saturday game, Girardi brought Chris Martin in to relieve. His performance was, shall we say, some cold play: 1 full inning, 3 runs, and he ended up as the losing pitcher.

Alex Rodriguez hit his 12th home run of the season off Bruce Norris. It was the 666th home run of his career. It was a long drive into the right-center field bleachers at Camden Yards, so you could say that Number 666 was a hell of a shot.

It also gave A-Rod 2,000 runs batted in for his career. So far, 2,000 RBIs doesn't have the same cachet as 500 home runs, or 3,000 hits, or 300 wins, or 3,000 strikeouts. Maybe it should: The only other players with 2,000 RBIs are Hank Aaron with 2,297 and Babe Ruth with 2,214. Lou Gehrig just missed, at 1,995 before he got sick and had to retire.

Speaking of 3,000 hits, Home Run Number 666 was also Hit Number 2,995.

Chase Headley had 3 hits, and Teix and McCann 2 each, but it wasn't nearly enough to pull the Yankees out of this Dante's Inferno of a game. Orioles 9, Yankees 4. WP: Chaz Roe (2-0). No save. LP: Martin (0-2).

To make matters worse, closer Andrew Miller had to be put on the Disabled List. He could miss a month. Good thing Dellin Betances is ready to step in.

*

The Yankees needed to snap out of it for the Sunday game. At first, it seemed like they had, as Teix -- the native of the Baltimore suburb of Severna Park, Maryland still booed by the Camden Yards faithful for signing big-bucks contracts with Texas, Atlanta and New York but not Baltimore -- doubled home Gardner in the 1st. But Adam Warren didn't have good stuff, and he allowed 2 runs in the bottom of the 1st.

Gardner tied the game with a sacrifice fly in the 2nd, but the Orioles reclaimed the lead in the 4th. But then, Oriole pitcher Mike Wright got wild: He walked Headley, A-Rod and Teix to start the top of the 5th, including what turned out to be a meaningless wild pitch.

Our old friend Buck Showalter, now the Oriole manager, had seen enough, and brought in Brian Matusz to relieve. Fat lot of good that did: Matusz walked Garret Jones, making Jones the 4th consecutive beneficiary of a base on balls, and forcing in the tying run. He struck out Stephen Drew and Didi Gregorius, and it began to look like another episode of New York's least favorite TV drama, Yankee RISPfail. But John Ryan Murphy doubled home A-Rod and Teix to make it 5-3 Yankees.

That turned out to be the final score, as Chasen Shreve, Justin Wilson and Betances pitched shutout relief for 4 2/3 innings, the only baserunners being 2 walks. WP: Shreve (3-1). SV: Betances (3). LP: Wright (2-2).

*

Then the Yankees went down to Miami to face the Marlins, a franchise which, if fair was fair, wouldn't even exist. Not because of what they did to the Yankees (who mainly did it to themselves, including Jeff Bleeping Weaver) or even the Cubs (who also did it to themselves) in 2003, but for what they were doing to Montreal fans at the same time.

Masahiro Tanaka pitched well, but your starter can't win unless you get him some runs. Teixeira hit his 18th homer of the season in the top of the 2nd inning, but the Marlins came right back in the bottom half and tied the game. Aside from that homer, the Yankees got only 2 hits all night, a single and a double, both by Gregorius.

When Derek Dietrich -- no, not Derek Jeter -- led off the bottom of the 7th with a home run, you knew it wasn't going to be the Yankees' night. Marlins 2, Yankees 1. WP: Tom Koehler (5-4). SV: A.J. Ramos (9). LP: Tanaka (4-2).

*

And then, last night, things got worse. Not only did Eovaldi and the Yanks get clobbered, but they got stopped by a great pitching performance by someone who was deemed not good enough to stay with the Yankees this season: David Phelps.

The Marlins scored 8 runs in the bottom of the 1st, shelling first Eovaldi, then the hapless Capuano. There was 7 Marlins who got at least 2 hits.

Marlins 12, Yankees 2. WP: Phelps (4-3). No save. LP: Eovaldi (5-2).

That's 5 losses in the Yankees' last 6 games. Can this be allowed to continue? Oh, hell, no!

*

Zito is dead. No, not Barry Zito. This was a man who, like many other Brazilian soccer stars, was known by a nickname.
He was born José Ely de Miranda on August 8, 1932 in Roseira, in São Paulo state. A midfielder, he starred for his home-state club Santos from 1952 to 1967. That club also included Mauro Ramos, Cuotinho (not the one now playing for Liverpool), Mangalvio, Pepe (not the one now playing for Real Madrid), and, of course, Pelé. All of these would contribute to one, or both, of Brazil's World Cup wins in 1958 in Sweden and 1962 in Chile.

Zito wore Number 19 in 1958, moving up from reserve to starter, and Number 4 in 1962, starting all the way and being named in the Team of the Tournament, scoring in the Final against Czechoslovakia.

He later served in Santos' administration, helping produce young players Robinho (later to star for Real Madrid, Manchester City and AC Milan), Diego (who starred for Porto, Werder Bremen, Juventus and Wolfsburg, and now plays in Turkey for Fenerbahçe; and Neymar, now part of the Barcelona "system."
Holding up a current Brazil Number 19 shirt
at the 50th Anniversary celebration

Zito was part of the celebrations in 2008 for the 50th Anniversary of the 1st of Brazil's 5 World Cup triumphs thus far. But he develped Alzheimer's disease, and he died on June 14, at the age of 82. He is the 5th member of that team to have died just in the last 2 years, following Djalma Santos, Gilmar, Nilton Santos and Hilderaldo Bellini, and leaves Pelé and Mario Zagallo as the last 2 living members.

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