Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Eduardo NunE6 Strikes Again -- This Time In Yankees' Favor!


So the Yankees began a series with the Minnesota Twins, at home at Yankee Stadium II in The Bronx, all ready to gain half a game on those pesky but idle Toronto Blue Jays.

And then Joe Girardi pulls a fast one on us, moving CC Sabathia's start back to tonight. He said it had nothing to do with whatever it was that happened with CC in Toronto on Friday night. He just wanted to give his starters an extra day of rest. Because, after all, who knows more about handling a pitching staff than Joe Girardi?

(I do. And you may also.)

Instead, the start went to Bryan Mitchell. A 24-year-old righthander from North Carolina, he was making just his 13th major league appearance, all for the Yankees August 10 of last year.

He got through the 1st inning with little difficulty. The Yankees gave him a 3-run cushion thanks to the smoking hot bat of Brian McCann, who launched his 21st McCannon Shot of the season. (Hey, if Mark Teixeira can "send a Teix Message," Brian McCann can "launch a McCannon shot.")

Mitchell gets the 1st 2 outs in the top of the 2nd. Then he allows singles to Eddie Rosario and Kurt Suzuki, bringing the tying run to the plate.

The batter was Eduardo Nunez. You remember him, don't you? Noonie? The absolute worst fielder in the history of the Yankee franchise? A guy who played 2nd base, shortstop, 3rd base, left field and right field, and none of them with the slightest shred of competence? The reason Derek Jeter couldn't retire until 2014? The infield equivalent of Boone Logan? A guy the Yankees traded to the Twins right before the 2014 season for Miguel Sulbaran, a 21-year-old Venezuelan lefthanded start pitcher, who just made his 1st start at Triple-A, had a 4.77 ERA in Double-A, is by no means ready for the major leagues, and I'd still rather have him in the Yankee organization than Eduardo NunE6? Yeah, that Eduardo Nunez.

That Eduardo Nunez hit a line shot up the middle, hitting Mitchell in the face. It was a Herb Score situation, and everybody got scared. Rosario scored on the play, but nobody cared about that.

After a couple of minutes, Mitchell got up under his own power, blood soaking through a towel and dripping on his uniform. He was taken across the Harlem River to Manhattan's New York-Presbyterian Hospital (formerly Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, built on the site of the Yankees' first home, Hilltop Park), and was founded to have a broken nose. It could have been much worse. At last check, he showed no evidence of a concussion.

The last thing Girardi needed was to have to bring a reliever in to pitch the 2nd inning. He brought in Caleb Cotham, a 27-year-old righthander from Tennessee, making only his 2nd big-league appearance. He got the last out in the 2nd, pitched the 3rd, and into the 4th. But he allowed 4 runs, and was replaced in the 4th by Chasen Shreve, who got the last out, and also pitched the 5th, allowing another run. Justin Wilson was brought in to pitch the 6th, and allowed another run.

McCann had a 2-run single in the 3rd, but going into the bottom of the 6th, the Twins led 7-5. Not good. The Yankees needed runs.

They got them. Teix led off the inning with a walk. McCann struck out. But Carlos Beltran, the goat in the previous game but a hero in the preceding 2, drove one down the left-field line for his 13th homer of the season. As the Scooter used to say, "And we got ourselves a tie ballgame! Holy cow, this is unbelievable!"

Dellin Betances pitched a perfect 8th, and stranded a leadoff single in the 9th. The game went to extra innings, which Girardi, the Yankees, and their fans most definitely did not need, considering that closer Andrew Miller was brought in to pitch the 10th, and there was literally nobody left in the bullpen. Girardi later said that if he needed to replace Miller, he'd bring in CC, thus neutralizing his strategy of giving his starters an extra day of rest.

Apparently, Girardi's binder doesn't have a contingency for "Starting pitcher gets hit in the face with a line drive in the 1st 2 innings, and has to leave the game."

Miller cruised through the 10th, and, this time, the Yankees decided not to drag out either a win or a loss, as we've seen a few times in the last few years. Greg Bird, who earlier in the game got his 1st Yankee Stadium hit, led off with his 2nd, a double. McCann hit one off the wall -- but Bird, not knowing if the ball would be caught, had to hold up, and could only get to 3rd. (If you were having a flashback to the Bobby Meacham, Dale Berra, Carlton Fisk play of 1985, 30 years ago this month, it would have been understandable.)

Paul Molitor, the Milwaukee Brewers Hall-of-Famer who's from St. Paul and got his 3,000th career hit with his hometown Twins (as did Dave Winfield, also from St. Paul), ordered Beltran intentionally walked to set up the double play started at home plate -- but also loaded up the bases with nobody out.

Then Molitor made a bizarre move. Yogi Berra once said it's harder to manage in baseball than to coach in football because, "You can't make up no trick plays." Wrong: There's the infield shift. This was even trickier: He replaced Torii Hunter in right field with Eduardo Escobar, and made him a 5th infielder. It would have been all right on an ordinary ground ball, but if the next batter hit a fly ball, it drops, and the Yankees win.

The batter was Chase Headley. He hit a weak grounder to short. It should have been an easy play for the shortstop to throw home to get Brendan Ryan, whom Girardi had sent to pinch-run for Bird.

But the shortstop was Eduardo Nunez, and he couldn't handle it. Error for NunE6.

Yankees 8, Twins 7. WP: Miller (1-2). No save. LP: Glen Perkins (1-4).

So one of the weirdest games of the season ends in the Yankees' favor, and nobody died -- which was not certain at the moment Mitchell got hit.

The series continues tonight, CC starting against former Met Mike Pelfrey.



 






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