Friday, October 2, 2015

Yanks Finally Beat Sox, Finally Clinch Postseason Berth

It's about freakin' time. Last night, for the 52nd time in their remarkable 115-season history -- slightly under a rate of every other season -- the Yankees clinched a berth in Major League Baseball's postseason.

It was also the 10,000th win in club history.

CC Sabathia started, and showed flashes of the old Big Fella. He only went 5 innings, the minimum for a starter to be officially named the winning pitcher, but allowed just 1 run on 6 hits and 3 walks. Adam Warren pitched 3 scoreless innings, and Dellin Betances finished it off.

The way the Yankees have been hitting lately, a fan who did not see the game and is reading this to find out what happened could be excused for wondering if the Yankees got at least 2 runs to get the win.

They did. Carlos Beltran led off the bottom of the 2nd with a home run, his 19th of the season. After Chris Young followed him by flying out, John Ryan Murphy drew a walk, Greg Bird lined out to short, and Didi Gregorius drew a walk of his own. Brendan Ryan singled Murphy home, and it was 2-0 to the Pinstripes.

The Sox pulled a run back in the 5th, and CC ended the inning having thrown 96 pitches, which set off Joe Girardi's pitch-count alarm, leading him to bring Warren in for the 6th, 7th and 8th.

With 1 out in the 7th, Bird launched a home run, his 11th of the season. Between Bird and the man for whom he has so admirably filled in, the out-for-the-season Mark Teixeira, the Yankees have gotten 41 home runs and 115 RBIs from their 1st basemen this season, and there's still 3 games to go (in the Baltimore bandbox, no less -- and Bird's a lefty hitting to that nice close right-field wall). Teix and Bird combined should get the American League Most Valuable Player award. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way.

Rookie 2nd baseman Rob Refsnyder showed general manager Brian Cashman just how stupid he was to insist upon the use of Stephen Drew all season long, but hitting his 2nd career home run to lead off the 8th, putting the cherry on the sundae.

Betances struck out John Rutledge to end it, and to give the Yankees' their 1st postseason trip in 3 years, an eternity by Yankee standards. Yankees 4, Red Sox 1. WP: Sabathia (6-10). SV: Betances (9). LP: Rich Hill (2-1).

In the locker room, the champagne was finally opened. The players celebrated more than the Yankees normally would have, even though many of them have been there before, as follows:

* Alex Rodriguez: 2000 Seattle Mariners; 2004, '05, '06, '07, '09, '10, '11 & '12 Yankees.
* Carlos Beltran: 2004 Houston Astros, 2006 Mets, 2012 & '13 St. Louis Cardinals.
* CC Sabathia: 2001 and '07 Cleveland Indians; 2008 Milwaukee Brewers; 2009, '10 '11 & '12 Yankees.
* Brian McCann: 2005, '10, '12 & '13 Atlanta Braves.
* Andrew Miller: 2006 Detroit Tigers, 2013 Red Sox, 2014 Baltimore Orioles.
* Chase Headley: 2007 San Diego Padres.
* Chris Young: 2007 & '11 Arizona Diamondbacks.
* Stephen Drew: 2007 Diamondbacks, 2012 Oakland Athletics, 2013 Red Sox.
* Jacoby Ellsbury: 2007, '09 & '13 Red Sox.
* Mark Teixeira: 2008 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim; 2009, '10, '11 & '12 Yankees.
* Brett Gardner: 2009, '10, '11 & '12 Yankees.
* Brendan Ryan: 2009 Cardinals.
* Ivan Nova: 2010, '11 & '12 Yankees.
* Adam Warren: 2012 Yankees.
* Chris Capuano: 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers.
* Andrew Bailey: 2013 Red Sox.
* Justin Wilson: 2013 & '14 Pittsburgh Pirates.

If you looked carefully, you noted that, of those, only A-Rod, CC, Teix, Gardner, Nova and Warren -- 6 players -- had previously made it with the Yankees. And A-Rod and Gardner are the last 2 players on the roster who played home games at the old Yankee Stadium.

Bird is so new to locker-room celebrations that he didn't know that champagne stings your eyes. Why did he think players, at least in the modern era, wear goggles? He thought it was to protect your eyes from flying corks.

Part of the celebration included several of the newer players dressing up as 1980s hip-hoppers -- despite the '80s being the worst decade for the Yankees since the 1910s. Note that Bryan Mitchell, Nick Goody and Bird are dressed as the Beastie Boys, who were Met fans; and that Refsnyder is wearing that blasphemous Boston team jersey because he's supposed to be Erik Schrody, a.k.a. Everlast, a.k.a. the leader of the House of Pain, an act redeemable only when you remember that Everlast also tends to call himself Whitey Ford.


So the last 3 games of the regular season, away to the Baltimore Orioles, are meaningless to the Yankees. Good thing, because Hurricane Joaquin could be a factor. As I write this at around 2:00 on Friday afternoon, it has been raining all day long in Central Jersey. At first, it looked like Sunday was going to be the worst day of the hurricane for Baltimore. Now, it looks as though the worst of it for New York will be on Tuesday morning, about 12 hours before the scheduled first pitch of the Wild Card play-in game.

In other words, the Yankees' next 4 games are all major question marks at the moment.

But at least we know that there will be a 163rd game -- even if any of the 160th, 161st and 162nd games are postponed or outright canceled.

There may not be a Game 164, Game 165 or Game 166. But there will be, if the Yankees win Game 163.

And there will be a Game 163. Whether that's on Tuesday, or Wednesday, or even later, remains to be seen. But it will happen, barring a literal disaster or a national tragedy.

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