Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Yankees Look Ready for Playoff Push


Well, I've fallen behind in blogging again, and missed 4 games, including an entire series with the 2015 Tampa Bays, a.k.a. the 2019 Montreal Expos.

On Friday night, Luis Severino continued his fine debut, although it's probably too late in the year for him to be seriously considered for American League Rookie of the Year. He pitched into the 7th inning, allowing 1 run on 7 hits and 3 walks, striking out 5.

The Yankees got home runs from Alex Rodriguez (his 27th of the season), Brian McCann (his 24th) and Greg Bird (his 4th). Yankees 5, Rays 2. WP: Severino (3-2). SV: Andrew Miller (30). LP: Jake Odorizzi (6-8).

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Saturday's game didn't go as well. For once, Nathan Eovaldi was shaky, and didn't get run support. Worse: He's going to be out for a couple of weeks with an injury. Possibly including both remaining series with those pesky Toronto Blue Jays.

And Met fans think they're worried about Matt Harvey's "innings limit"? Bitch, please: Eovaldi is a real ace, so is Severino, so is Masahiro Tanaka, and so is Michael Pineda when he's on. At best, Harvey, Jacob deGrom, whoever else the Mets got, would be lucky to even get into he Yankee rotation.

A strong bullpen performance -- Chasen Shreve, Adam Warren, Nick Rumbelow, Jason Pazos and Andrew Bailey combining for 4 2/3 scoreless innings with just 1 hits and 3 walks -- ended up not mattering, unless it provides them with some confidence down the stretch.

The Yankees got only 5 hits. They had a decent 5th inning: John Ryan Murphy led off with a walk, Didi Gregorius doubled him home, a groundout by Brendan Ryan moved Didi over, a groundout by Brett Gardner got him home, and Chris Young and A-Rod walked to load the bases. But Beltran got just under a pitch, narrowly missing a grand slam that would have changed the game (and possibly the season), and Kevin Kiermayer caught it.

They wasted a leadoff single by Carlos Beltran and Murphy being hit with a pitch in the 2nd, a single by Chase Headley in he 4th, another walk by Murphy in the 6th, and singles by Headley and Bird in the 8th.

Rays 3, Yankees 2. WP: Xavier Cedeno (4-1). SV: Brad Boxberger (34). LP: Eovaldi (14-3).

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Sunday's game felt pivotal. Ivan Nova was going against the Rays' supposed ace, Chris Archer. An we didn't want to lose a home series, especially with those pesky Blue Jays doing so well. (Note: I've been calling them"the pesky Blue Jays" for years. It didn't start with them getting good again this year.)

Nova allowed a 2-run homer by Kiermayer in the 2nd, and a "Here we go again" feeling set in. The Rays got a 3rd run in the 3rd. After 5 innings, the Yankees had a grand total of 2 baserunners.

The bottom of the 6th may have turned things around. With 1 out, Jacoby Ellsbury singled to right. Gardner struck out. Beltran drew a walk. Then came a game-tying home run by McCann (his 25th blast of the season). Then A-Rod gave the Yankees the lead, making it, as John Sterling would say, "Back to back and a belly to belly!" (His 28th homer.)

The Yankees got another run in the 7th, and the teams traded runs in the 8th, but, overall, Nova, Justi Wilson, Dellin Betances and Miller got the job done.

Yankees 6, Rays 4. WP: Nova (6-7). LP: Archer (12-11). SV: Miller (31). LP:

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The Rays went out, and the Baltimore Orioles came in, starting at Yankee Stadium II series with a Labor Day matinee. (Remember Labor Day doubleheaders?) Pineda started, but did not have good stuff, although he did get through 6 innings.

A Chris Young single drove home Beltran to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead in the 1st, but the O's tallied 4 in the 2nd, and, with the way the Yankees have hit in September the last 3 seasons (including, so far, this one), the game felt over.

Young doubled home another run in the 3rd to make it 4-2, and then the 5th inning made the difference. A-Rod led off with another homer (his 29th). After 2 outs, Bird drew a walk, and Murphy hit a home run (his 3rd), giving the Yankees a 5-4 lead.

Won-lost record is deceptive. Justin Wilson came in to pitch the 7th, and he allowed a game-tying home run. Nevertheless, he was the Yankee pitcher when they took the lead that they would hold the rest of the way, so he ended up the winning pitcher. Beltran led off the bottom of the 7th with a walk, Young singled, and Bird hit a home run (his 5th).

The Orioles got a run on Miller in the 9th, but he got us out of it. Yankees 8, Orioles 5. WP: Wilson (5-0). SV: Miller (32). LP: Jorge Rondon (0-1).

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So here's how things stand as we go into the games of September 8:

* The Yankees are 77-59, and trail the Blue Jays in the AL Eastern Division by half a game, even in the loss column. There are 26 games to go, including 4 against the Jays at home this coming weekend, and 3 in Toronto starting September 21. The Yankees look ready for a push for the Playoffs. (Shut up, Coach Jim Mora Sr.

* The Kansas City Royals have the AL Central all but wrapped up.

* The AL West is still very much up for grabs. The Houston Astros lead the Texas Rangers by 2 games, and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim by 5 1/2.

* As things currently stand, the AL Wild Card game would be Rangers at Yankees. The Minnesota Twins are a game and a half behind the Rangers, the Angels 3 1/2 back, the Cleveland Indians 5, the Rays 5 1/2, the Seattle Mariners and Chicago White Sox 7 each, and the Orioles and Boston Red Sox 7 1/2 each.

* The Mets' big win over the Washington Nationals last night set aside, at least for the moment, fears of another epic Flushing collapse. They lead the Nats by 5 games in the National League East with 25 to play.

* The St. Louis Cardinals still have the best record in baseball, but the NL Central is hardly wrapped up. They lead the Pittsburgh Pirates by 5 1/2 and the Chicago Cubs by 7 1/2.

* The Los Angeles Dodgers may have the NL West in their pocket now. They lead their arch-rivals, the San Francisco Giants, by 8 1/2. What can I say: It's an odd-numbered year, and the Giants only win the World Series in even-numbered years (2010, '12 and '14). Of course, the Dodgers are still managed by Donnie Regular Season Baseball, so don't expect them to win the Pennant.

* As things currently stand, the NL Wild Card game would be Cubs at Pirates. The Mets trail the Cubs by 3 1/2 and the Nats by 8 1/2, so, out of the Mets and the Nats, whichever doesn't win the NL East is probably screwed. The Giants are 9 back, so they're probably not making the Playoffs. But they've fooled us before.

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