Monday, August 17, 2015

Yanks Drop Toronto Finale But Remain In 1st Place


Having taken the 1st 2 games of their big series away to the Toronto Blue Jays, and reclaimed 1st place, the Yankees went back to their ways of the preceding week: Backing up their fine pitching with next to nothing.

Luis Severino made his 3rd major league start, and went 6 innings, allowing 3 runs on 5 hits and 3 walks, striking out 9. He's already a better pitcher than Met "ace" Matt Harvey (who also pitched 6 good innings yesterday, and also didn't get the win, also because his team's hitters hardly showed up).

The game was decided in the bottom of the 3rd. Severino got the 1st 2 outs without much trouble. But Troy Tulowitzki launched a drive to right field, and Carlos Beltran, who'd been a hero the 1st 2 games of the series, totally botched it. Tulo got credit for a double, since Beltran never actually touched the ball. But that's an unofficial error. Josh Donaldson singled him home, and then Jose "No, No, Really, I Don't Use Steroids" Bautista hit a home run.

Believe it or not, Bautista only has 274 home runs in his career. You'd think he'd have more, with all the fuss made over him, more than Toronto has ever had for a slugger -- more than George Bell, Jesse Barfield, Joe Carter, anybody. Believe it or not, only 29 of those home runs have come against the Yankees. He's actually hit more, 34, against the Boston Red Sox. (Maybe they should demand he be tested for steroids. They'd probably be taken seriously. Oh, the irony.)

Anyway, that was the game, because the Yankee bats just didn't get the job done again:

* 1st inning: Jacoby Ellsbury leads off the game with a single. He isn't advanced, so he figures, "If you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself" -- and he gets caught trying to steal 2nd base.

* 4th inning: Alex Rodriguez draws a 2-out walk, and is stranded on 1st.

* 5th inning: Brian McCann leads off, is hit with a pitch, and is subsequently erased via a double play.

* 6th inning: Ellsbury hits a home run, his 6th of the season.

* 7th inning: McCann hits a 2-out double. Aside from Ellsbury's homer, this is the only time all game a Yankee reached 2nd. He is stranded.

* 9th inning: Brett Gardner singles with 1 out, but gets no closer to scoring.

That's it: 9 innings, 6 baserunners (if the homering Ellsbury counts as a "baserunner"), no more than 1 in any inning.

Blue Jays 3, Yankees 1. WP: Drew Hutchinson (12-2). SV: Roberto Osuna (13). LP: Luis Severino (0-2).

So, for the 3rd time, Severino has pitched in the major leagues, and, each time, has come up with a good start -- but hasn't won.

*

So, 20 weeks into a 27-week season (not the traditional 26), and 116 out 162 games being played (71.6 percent), here's how things stand:

The Yankees lead the American League Eastern Division by half a game over the Blue Jays, 2 in the loss column. The Baltimore Orioles trail by 4, the Tampa Bay Rays by 6 1/2 (7 in the loss column), the Red Sox by 12 1/2 (13 in the loss column). Theoretically, the Rays are still in the race, if you presume that a team that gains 1 game per week remaining still has a decent shot of winning. But it's probably going to come down to Yanks, Jays and O's -- and the Yanks visit the O's in the last series of the regular season.

Elimination numbers, the total number of wins by the Yankees plus losses by the team in question to eliminate them from winning the AL East: Sox 34, Rays 40, O's 43, Jays 44. The Yankees' Magic Number to clinch the AL East is 44.

The Kansas City Royals have all but wrapped up the AL Central, leading the Minnesota Twins by 12 games.

The AL West is tight, with the Houston Astros leading the Whatever They're Calling Themselves This Season Angels of Anaheim by 3 1/2 and the Texas Rangers by 4 -- in each case, by 3 in the loss column.

If the current standings hold, the Jays and O's would be the AL's Wild Card winners. Trailing the O's for the 2nd slot are the Angels by half a game, the Rangers by 1, the Twins by 1 1/2, the Rays by 2, the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox each by 4 1/2, the Seattle Mariners and Cleveland Indians by 6, and the Red Sox 8 1/2. As bad as the Red Sox have been -- right down to their manager John Farrell having to step aside to fight a diagnosis of lymphoma -- if they gain 1 game per week on the O's, they'd still have to find only 2 more games to gain between now and October 4 to sneak into the Playoffs. The only team really out of the AL Playoff race at this point is the Oakland Athletics, 10 1/2 out -- so explain to me, again, how Billy Beane is a "genius."

The Mets have begun to struggle, but have benefited from the Washington Nationals struggling more, to lead the Nats in the National League East by 4 1/2 games, 4 in the loss column.

The St. Louis Cardinals lead the NL Central by 5 (4 in the loss column) over the Pittsburgh Pirates and 7 1/2 (7) over the Chicago Cubs.

The Los Angeles Dodgers lead the NL West by 2 1/2 (2) over the San Francisco Giants.

The NL's Wild Card slots are currently held by the Pirates and Cubs. The Giants trail the Cubs by 4 games. The Nats trail by 9 1/2, so it looks like whoever wins the NL East out of the Mets and Nats, the loser is out of the Playoffs entirely. The Arizona Diamondbacks are 10 games out of the Wild Card race. The Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, Colorado Rockies, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers, Philadelphia Phillies and San Diego Padres are out of the Playoff hunt.

So with 7 weeks left, out of MLB's 30 teams, 22 teams still have a shot at the Playoffs, and 18 still have a reasonable shot. 10, of course, will make it.

*

The Yankees have come home to begin a series with the struggling Twins. Here are the projected pitching matchups:

* Tonight, 7:05: Bryan Mitchell vs. Kyle Gibson.

* Tomorrow, 7:05: CC Sabathia vs. former Met Mike Pelfrey.

* Wednesday, 1:05: Ivan Nova vs. Ervin Santana. He was born Johan Ramon Santana, but changed his name, saying, "I just came up with Ervin... 'Ervin Santana,' that sounds good." It was so that he wouldn't be confused with Johan Santana the Twins pitcher who "pitched a no-hitter" for the Mets -- and now, Johan-turned-Ervin is on the Twins, and actually pitched a no-hitter a year before Johan "pitched a no-hitter."

On a personal note: Ervin Santana, then with the Atlanta Braves, was the 1st MLB player to follow me on Twitter. I don't know why. Maybe he just likes what I write.

Well, he won't like what I write on Wednesday afternoon, because I'll be rooting for the Yankees and against him. It's personal, but it's personal for the Yankees. He just happens to be the scheduled opposing pitcher. Come on you Pinstripes!

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