Thursday, June 25, 2015

Super Nova Returns, Yanks Give Him Enough Runs


In their 3-game home Interleague series against the Philadelphia Phillies, the Yankees scored 8, 6 and 10 runs. That should have been enough for them to win every game. Instead, they only won 1.

Phillies legend turned broadcaster Richie Ashburn used to turn to broadcast partner Harry Kalas and say, "The game's easy, Harry, if you get good pitching, you get good fielding, and you score a few." And if you don't...

On Tuesday night, CC Sabathia did not give the Yankees good pitching. He had to leave in the top of the 5th inning, trailing 6-3. There is now talk (on social media, if not from the Yankee brass) about putting him in the bullpen.

But the Yankees bailed him out, as far as the loss was concerned. Having already had Garrett Jones' 4th home run of the season, and Brett Gardner's 9th, the Bronx Bombers got back-to-back homers leading off the bottom of the 5th, from Chase Headley (his 7th) and Alex Rodriguez (his 15th). In the same inning, doubles by Carlos Beltran and Chris Young tied the game at 6-6.

Closer Andrew Miller is on the Disabled List, but, with the game still tied going into the 9th, Joe Girardi may have brought in Dellin Betances anyway. Normally up to the task -- until mid-June, ol' Number 68 hadn't allowed an earned run all season -- this time, as C.J. Cregg (Allison Janney on The West Wing) would say, he compwetewy impwoded. This is what he allowed: Double, hit by pitch, RBI double, groundout, hit by pitch.

Girardi removed him for Nick Rumbleow, who walked the bases full, and allowed a bases-loaded triple.

Phillies 11, Yankees 6. WP: Ken Giles (3-1). No save. LP: Betances (4-1).

*

For yesterday afternoon's series finale, the Yankees badly needed a good start. And they were depending on Ivan Nova, who, due to injury, hadn't pitched in the major leagues since April 2014.

The man once known as Super Nova pitched into the 7th inning, allowed no runs, earned or otherwise, just 3 hits and 2 walks. While a no-hitter would have been better in a technical sense, realistically, considering where he was coming from (over a year on the DL), the Yankees couldn't have realistically hoped for a better start.

Ah, but for all the talk about how "pitching is 75 percent of baseball" and "pitching and defense wins championships," the cold, hard truth is that you can't win if you don't score. It would have been just like the 2013 and 2014 Yankees if the 2015 Yankees followed 2 games where they scored a few and lost with 1 where they held the opposition to few and scored fewer.

And the Phils' pitcher was Cole Hamels, one of the few remaining players from their 2008 and 2009 Pennant winners. He's gotten better lately, leading some people to think that he's making himself look good for teams to trade for him. Even the Yankees are rumored to be interested.

Bottom of the 2nd: Young led off with a single. John Ryan Murphy drew a walk. Didi Gregorius bunted them over, and beat it out to load the bases with nobody out.

If you're a Met fan, you're thinking, "Aw shit, now the pitcher's spot in the order is coming up. Why, oh why, did I have to become a fan of a team in a league that doesn't have the DH?"

Fortunately, you're a Yankee Fan, and this is a real league, and the pitcher's spot was not up. Jose Pirela was, and he grounded to 3rd, and instead of starting a double play, Andres Blanco made a bad throw, and 2 runs came home.

Bottom of the 4th: Gregorius led off with a double. Pirela walked. Gardner singled home Gregorius. Headley doubled home Pirela. A-Rod grounded out, but Mark Teixeira singled home Gardner. 5-0 Yankees.

Young added an RBI single in the 6th, and the Yankees put it away in the 7th after Nova left: An RBI double by Pirela (yeah, he's ready for the major leagues) and RBI singles by A-Rod and Teix (did somebody say they were old and washed-up?).

Bryan Mitchell got the last out for Nova in the 7th, and pitched a scoreless 8th. Girardi brought in Diego Moreno to pitch the 9th, and he was a bit shaky, allowing a couple of runs, but put an end to it.

Yankees 10, Phillies 2. WP: Nova (1-0). No save. LP: Hamels (5-6).

*

The homestand over, the Yankees have flown to Houston, where the Astros, now in the American League, have followed 4 straight horrible seasons with a run that has them in Playoff contention. Here are the projected starting pitchers for the series:

Tonight, 8:10 PM (7:10 Central Time): Adam Warren vs. Dallas Kuechel. Why is a guy named Dallas pitching for Houston?

Tomorrow night, 8:10: Nathan Eovaldi vs. Vincent Velasquez.

Saturday afternoon, 4:10: Masahiro Tanaka vs. Brett Oberholtzer.

Sunday afternoon, 2:10: Michael Pineda vs. Collin McHugh.

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