Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Bird the Word Again, Yanks Need to Win It For Yogi

Within the sad reality of the loss of the irreplaceable Yogi Berra, there was a game last night as he drew his last breaths, and it left many of us, metaphorically, breathless.

Luis Severino started this must-win game, against the 1st-place Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre, under more pressure than any 21-year-old Yankee pitcher has ever been, and went 6 innings, giving up 2 runs on 3 hits and 3 walks. Of course, Joe Girardi was reluctant to use him for longer, but Justin Wilson and Dellin Betances each pitched a scoreless inning.

Sevy (who really needs a better nickname) got an immediate boost. Jacoby Ellsbury led off the game with a double (that's what he hasn't been doing lately, but it is why he gets the big bucks). Brett Gardner flew out, but Alex Rodriguez drew a walk. Brian McCann singled home Ellsbury, and Carlos Beltran hit a sacrifice fly to bring home A-Rod. 2-0 Yankees, before the Blue Jays could even come to bat.

The Jays got single runs in the 3rd and the 4th to tie it. Beltran hit a home run in the 8th (his 17th of the season), and it looked like the Yankees had it wrapped up.

But in the bottom of the 9th, the usually reliable Andrew Miller blew it. He gave up a 1-out, game-tying home run -- to Dioner Navarro, the former top Yankee prospect whom we included as part of the trade package for Randy Johnson. (Which didn't work out.) At least Navarro didn't become a star anywhere, although he's done better than that other great Yankee catching prospect who got really fat, Jesus Montero.

Miller almost made it worse: He got a 2nd out, but allowed a double and 2 walks to load the bases before finally getting out of the 9th.

Fortunately for Miller, Bird was the word. McCann led of the top of the 10th with a single, Rico Noel pinch-ran for him, Slade Heathcott reached on that rarest of plays, catcher's interference, and then Greg Bird let his bat do the squawking, driving a 3-run shot deep to right field. 6-3 Yankees.

Girardi left Miller in for the bottom of the 10th. It seemed unfair that he'd get to be the winning pitcher. It seemed less fair when Miller allowed another home run, this one to Edwin Encarnacion, who always seems to hit the Yankees hard. But Miller closed the game with no further damage.

Yankees 6, Blue Jays 4. WP: Miller (3-2). No save. LP: Mark Lowe (1-3). The Yankees are now down by 2 1/2, 2 in the All-Important Loss Column, with 12 games to play.

Tonight's game is easily the biggest of the season, and the Yankees will take the field with black Number 8s sewn onto their left sleeves, in memory of Yogi. Ivan Nova starts for the Yankees, Marcus Strohman for the Jays.

Come on you Bombers! Win it for Yogi!

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