Monday, August 24, 2015

Yankees' Bats Quiet, Fall Out of 1st Place

The Yankee bats remained mostly cold over the weekend, having lost the opener of a 4-game home series to the Cleveland Indians on Thursday night.

Masahiro Tanaka started for the Yankees on Friday night, and he went 6 innings, allowing 4 runs (1 of them unearned) on 7 hits and a walk. A team that backs up its starting pitcher would have made that good enough to win.

It wasn't. The Yankees struck out 11 times against Indian starters Carlos Carrasco in 6 innings and change. The Yanks got a run in the bottom of the 4th when Carlos Beltran doubled and Greg Bird singled, but were down 4-1 going into the bottom of the 8th.

Then they got our hopes up by mounting a comeback. Brett Gardner led off with a single, Chase Headley got another, and Alex Rodriguez got another to bring home Gardner. After flyouts by Brian McCann and Beltran, Bird reached on an error that scored Headley. 4-3, the tying run on 3rd and the potential winning run on 1st, but Stephen Drew flew out to end the threat.

Justin Wilson -- not to be confused with the late Louisiana chef, or the British auto racer who crashed at Pocono Raceway last night and remains in a coma, both of the same name -- was brought in to pitch the 9th, and he turned a decent shot at winning the game into a disaster. He allowed 2 singles, a double and an RBI groundout, and it was 7-3 Cleveland. The Yanks went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 9th.

WP: Carrasco (12-9). SV: Cody Allen (25). LP: Tanaka (9-6).

*

Saturday afternoon was Jorge Posada Day. Hip Hip Jorge got his Monument Park Plaque -- his long Latin name of Jorge Rafael De Posada Villeta just barely fitting on the Plaque -- and the retirement of his Number 20.

"I can't believe I'm standing up here right now," the one-club man told the Stadium crowd of 47,032. "And I can tell you, I've never been nervous on a baseball field... Being here seems surreal... "I can honestly tell you, this is one of the happiest days of my life."
The Yankees have this nasty habit of losing on Monument Park days. Not this time, as Posada's happy day got happier.

Luis Severino finally got his 1st major league win, in his 4th start. Oddly, it was probably his weakest performance thus far. He allowed a home run to Francisco Lindor in the top of the 1st inning. But the Yankees bailed him out in the bottom half, with a leadoff single by Jacoby Ellsbury, a home run by Gardner, and another homer by, appropriately, the new Yankee catcher, McCann. (The homers were the 12th of the season for Gardner, and the 22nd for McCann.)

The Yankees scored 2 more in the 2nd, and another in the 8th. Yankees 6, Indians 2. WP: Severino (1-2). No save, although the bullpen pitched 3 scoreless innings. LP: Danny Salazar (11-7).

*

Sunday was Andy Pettitte Day. The Hooded Hawk got his Plaque, and his Number 46 was retired, in front of a crowd of 46,945.

"I was talking with my kids out there -- 100 years from now, I'm going to be dead and gone and people are going to be walking out there and seeing this," Pettitte said. "This is crazy."

As seemed appropriate at the time, a very accomplished pitcher who had been a Yankee postseason hero started, CC Sabathia.

But, sad to say, the Big Fella looks done. He allowed a 2-run homer in the 1st inning, got into trouble again in the 2nd, and again in the 3rd, and then had to leave the game with an injury. Clearly, he never should have been sent out there.

Michael Pineda will return from injury this week, but the Yankees are still 1 good starter away from being a Playoff-worthy team. Tanaka (if healthy), Pineda (if healthy), Ivan Nova and Nathan Eovaldi are a good top 4, but you gotta have a 5th, and CC just hasn't been it. Maybe Severino is the answer -- if, that is, Tanaka and Pineda can stay healthy down the stretch. If not, we'll need another, maybe 2 more.

The Yankees picked up a run in the bottom of the 3rd, after a bad throw turned a double steal into a score. But the Indians got that run back in the 5th. Beltran brought home 2 runs on a ground-rule double in the 7th, tying the game.

Hope didn't last long, as Dellin Betances gave up a homer to Lindor. Headley singled in the 8th, but got stranded, and the Yankees got nothing in the 9th.

Indians 4, Yankees 3. WP: Bryan Shaw (2-2). SV: Allen (26). LP: Betances (6-3).

*

To make matters worse, those pesky Toronto Blue Jays swept the suddenly-hopeless Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and took over 1st place.

So here's how things stand, with 6 weeks to go in the regular season:

The Jays lead the Yankees by half a game, although they're even in the all-important loss column. The Baltimore Orioles got swept at home by the Minnesota Twins, and have faded to 6 1/2 games out (6 in the loss column). They had a decent shot at the American League East, but they've most likely thrown it away. The Tampa Bay Rays are 7 back, and the Boston Red Sox are where they deserve to be, dead last, 13 games back.

The Kansas City Royals have just about wrapped up the AL Central, leading the Twins by 12 1/2.

The Houston Astros lead their cross-State rivals, the Texas Rangers, by 4 games in the AL West, but only 3 in the loss column.

Currently, the AL Wild Card berths would go to the Yankees and the Rangers.

The Mets, shockingly, still lead the National League East, by 5 games over the Washington Nationals. I suppose that will make it all the more stunning when they do blow it and miss the Playoffs completely. But at least they'll be "playing meaningful games in September."

The St. Louis Cardinals still have the best record in baseball, but by no means do they have the NL Central wrapped up, as the Pittsburgh Pirates are breathing down their red-feathered necks, 3 1/2 games out (3 in the loss column). The Chicago Cubs are hanging in there, 6 1/2 games out (6 in the loss column).

The Los Angeles Dodgers lead the NL West by a game and a half (2 in the loss column) over their hated rivals, the defending World Champion San Francisco Giants.

If the current NL standings hold to the end of the season, the Wild Card berths will go to the Cubs and the Giants.

*

The Yankees begin a 3-game home series against the Astros, who have rebounded superbly after 4 straight 100+ loss seasons. Here are the projected starting pitchers:

*Tonight, 7:05: Eovaldi vs. Scott Feldman.
* Tomorrow night, 7:05: Nova vs. Dallas Keuchel, who started for the AL in the All-Star Game last month.
* Wednesday afternoon, 1:05: Pineda vs. Collin McHugh.

Come on you Pinstripes, get some runs!

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