Friday, June 17, 2016

For Yankees, Awful Twins Are Just What the Doctor Ordered

If Dr. Leonard H. "Bones" McCoy, played by DeForest Kelley on Star Trek, were here, he might say, "I'm a doctor, not a blogger!"

If Robert Young, who played the title role on Marcus Welby, M.D., were here, he might say, "I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV."

Well, I'm not a doctor, and I don't play one on TV. But, for the Yankees, the 20-45 Minnesota Twins may well have been "just what the doctor ordered."

Last night, those teams began a 4-game weekend series with each other at Target Field in Minneapolis. CC Sabathia started for the Yankees, and the Big Fella was fantastic: 6 innings, 1 run, 6 hits, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts.

And still, going into the top of the 6th, the Twins led 1-0, because the Yankee bats, yet again, were just not getting the job done. To make matters worse, who drove in the Twins' run? None other than the worse Yankee infielder I can remember seeing (and I go back almost 40 years), Eduardo Nunez, a.k.a. "NunE6."

But Didi Gregorius led off the 6th with a single. Chase Headley doubled... and Did only got to 3rd. No, it wasn't a ground-rule double. This is the kind of thing that comes down to leadership. It's why, in spite of this game's result, I still want Joe Girardi fired and replaced with a better manager. It shouldn't bee too hard to find one.

The next batter was the Yankees' newest acquisition, the latest attempt to fill the hole at 1st base caused by Mark Teixeira's injury-aided poor season. Number 24. A familiar name to New York baseball fans. None other than ex-Met Ike Davis, son of 1978 Yankee World Champion relief pitcher Ron Davis.

There are 207 men who've played in Major League Baseball whose sons have also done so. But Ron and Ike are only the 2nd father-son duo to have both played for the Yankees. The 1st? Yogi and Dale Berra.

In his 1st plate appearance as a Yankee, Ike drew a walk to load the bases with nobody out. This should have been part of a run explosion by the Yankees. Then Jacoby Ellsbury singled home Didi. But Chase only advanced 1 base, so the game was only tied. Then Brett Gardner popped up, and Carlos Beltran grounded into a double play.

If you load the bases with nobody out, and you only score 1 run, by all rights, that should come back to haunt you. There was a lot of #YankeesTwitter traffic that was in full, "Oy vey, here we go again" mode.

But CC got through the bottom of the 6th okay. The "onebadinningitis" that seems to so often afflict him did not do so -- unless the Yankee bats couldn't get another run, in which case the one bad inning was going to be the 4th, in which he allowed just the 1 run. And, since he'd thrown 116 pitches, there was no way Girardi was going to say, "Gee, he's pitching well, you know what, to Hell with the pitch count, and to Hell with the binder: Leave him in for the 7th."

But Alex Rodriguez led off the top of the 7th with a single. Brian McCann moved him up with a walk. Girardi may have sensed that, giving his bullpen, 1 more run might well be enough, ordered Starlin Castro to bunt the runners over, and he did.

Paul Molitor was a great player, a superbly talented hitter who never got the credit he deserves. But he's not much of a manager. (At least, not yet.) He pulled a real Girardi move, panicking, taking out his starter, Kyle Gibson, and bringing Fernando Abad in to face Gregorius. Boom! Didi did what Gardner or Beltran should have done an inning earlier, and hit a home run over the right field fence, giving the Yankees the lead.

Between them, "No Runs DMC" allowed just 1 baserunner in 3 relief innings: Dellin Betanches allowed a hit in the 7th, Andrew Miller pitched a perfect 8th, and Aroldis Chapman pitched a perfect 9th.

Yankees 4, Twins 1. WP: Sabathia (5-4). SV: Chapman (12). LP: Gibson (0-5).

The series continues tonight. Masahiro Tanaka starts for New York, Pat Dean for Minnesota.

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