Monday, August 22, 2016

Two of Three In Anaheim, Too Little, Too Late?

"The Yankees don't pay me to win every day. Just two out of every three." -- Casey Stengel

In this season, the Yankees winning 2 out of 3 the rest of the way may not be enough, thanks to Brian Cashman's transactions and Joe Girardi's idiotic bullpen management.

This past Friday night, the Yankees began a series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, at Angel Stadium of Anaheim.

If both the team and the stadium are "of Anaheim," which isn't in Los Angeles County, let alone in the City of Los Angeles, does owner Arte Moreno think people in Southern California are stupid, or is he stupid? I don't think he is.

Jered Weaver, brother of Jeff whose gopher ball cost us the 2003 World Series (yes, I'm still bitter), started for the Angels, and Masahiro Tanaka for us. Ronald Torreyes hit his 1st major league home run, and came within a triple of hitting for the cycle. Jacoby Ellsbury hit his 5th home run of the season, and Brian McCann his 16th.

For once, a Yankee starter got much more than he needed. For once, Girardi trusted a Yankee starter to go all the way into the 8th inning. Tanaka was brilliant: No runs, no walks, 5 hits, 9 strikeouts. Ace.

Yankees 7, Angels 0. WP: Tanaka (10-4). No save. LP: Jered Weaver (8-11).


On Saturday, the Yankees got off to a fast start, with 3 runs in the top of the 1st inning. Gary Sanchez hit a home run, his 6th already. (See? The Yankees had prospects, and a lot closer to reaching the majors than the guys Cashman gutted the bullpen for.) They tacked 2 more runs on in in the 6th.

That was plenty of support for rookie pitcher Luis Cessa (another prospect much closer to the majors than anybody Cashman traded for last month). He pitched 6 innings, 3 hits, no walks, 5 strikeouts. Tyler Clippard pitched a perfect 7th, and Tommy Layne a scoreless 8th. Dellin Betances blew the shutout in the 9th, but only allowed the 1 run.

Yankees 5, Angels 1. WP: Cessa (3-0). No save. LP: Ricky Nolasco (4-11).


So the Yankees went into Sunday with a chance at a road sweep. It didn't happen. Don't blame the pitching: Chad Green went 6 innings, and allowed just 1 run, on 5 hits, 1 walk and 5 strikeouts; and the much-maligned (with some reason) Anthony Swarzak pitched a perfect 7th.

Adam Warren pitched the 8th. He allowed a run. It shouldn't have mattered. But since the Yankees were trailing 1-0, any further runs would have been devastating. I warned you all that Warren was a bad pickup. He pitched to 1 batter on Friday night, and got him out; but on Sunday afternoon, Girardi trusted him, and...

Well, it really didn't matter, because Jhoulys Chacin kept them off the board, and 3 relievers pitched 3 1/3rd innings of hitless ball, with 2 walks. Starlin Castro and Aaron Hicks each got 2 hits, and Didi Gregorius 1, all singles; Mark Teixeira had a double; and Sanchez, McCann and Brett Gardner drew a walk apiece. That was it. The kind of game the Yankees were losing in April and May.

Angels 2, Yankees 0. WP: Chacin (4-8). SV: Fernando Salas (4). LP: Green (2-3).


So here's where we stand, with 6 weeks, 39 games, to go in the regular season. In the American League Eastern Division:

Toronto Blue Jays, 70-54
Boston Red Sox, 69-54, half a game behind (even in the loss column)
Baltimore Orioles, 67-56, 2 1/2 back (2)
NEW YORK YANKEES, 63-60, 6 1/2 (6)
Tampa Bay Rays, 52-70, 17 (16)

In the Wild Card race:

Boston Red Sox, 69-54, currently holds the 1st Wild Card spot
Baltimore Orioles, 67-56, currently holds the 2nd Wild Card spot
Seattle Mariners, 66-57, 1 game back (1 in the loss column)
Detroit Tigers, 65-59, 2 1/2 (3)
Houston Astros, 64-60, 3 1/2 (4)
Kansas City Royals, 64-60, 3 1/2 (4)
NEW YORK YANKEES, 63-60, 4 (4)
Chicago White Sox, 59-64, 8 (8)

The fact that there's 4 teams between the Yankees and the Wild Card spots is irrelevant. Only the number of games behind matters.

As I've said, gaining 1 game per week should not be beyond a good team, so you still have a legitimate shot if the number of weeks remaining is greater than the number of games behind. The Yankees are 6 1/2 back, 6 in the loss column, of the Division lead with 6 weeks to play.

To borrow an expression from college basketball's NCAA Tournament, they are on the bubble. Taking 2 of 3 in Anaheim is a good thing, despite the Angels not currently being very good, especially since the Yankees have had such trouble there since that franchise's founding in 1961. But is such a 2 of 3 too little, too late?

Tonight, the Yankees begin a series in Seattle against the Mariners, including their former star 2nd baseman Robinson Cano, former Yankee pitcher Vidal Nuno, pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr.; and bullpen coach Mike "Great Schools In Denver" Hampton. The M's are closer to making the Playoffs than they have been since 2001, the closest they've been since they've had "King" Felix Hernandez. Here are the projected pitching matchups:

* Tonight, 10:10 PM (7:10 local time): Michael Pineda vs. Cody Martin.

* Tomorrow, 10:10 PM: CC Sabathia vs. a starter to be determined.

* Wednesday, 3:40 PM: Tanaka vs. Hisashi Iwakuma.

Come on you Bombers! There's not much room for error left.


Days until The Arsenal play again: 5, this Saturday, at 10:00 AM U.S. Eastern Time, away to Hertfordshire club Watford. Arsenal's defense redeemed themselves on Saturday against Leicester City, but the offense fell back: 0-0. So the top 2 teams in the League from last season each start this season with a loss and a draw. And the Wenger Out Brigade (WOBs) are as loud and a stupid as ever.

Days until the New York Red Bulls play again: 6, Sunday afternoon at 2:30, home to the New England Revolution. Yesterday, they blew a 2-0 2nd half lead away to their most hated opponent, D.C. United, holding on for a 2-2 draw. (I've tried to tell Red Bull fans: A New York Tri-State Area's arch-rival is always either New England, or Philadelphia, or another Tri-State Area team -- not Washington, D.C. But they don't listen to me.)

Days until the Red Bulls next play a "derby": The same 6. The next game against D.C. United is on Sunday, September 11, at Red Bull Arena. The next game against the Philadelphia Union is on Saturday night, October 1, at Red Bull Arena. There are no further games this regular season against New York City FC, although Metro could face them in the MLS Cup Playoffs.

Days until the U.S. national soccer team plays again: 11, on Friday, September 2, in a CONCACAF Qualifying Match for the 2018 World Cup, away to St. Vincent & the Grenadines. Under 2 weeks. They should win, especially since they took on the best that Latin America had to offer in the Copa America, and reached the Semifinals before being knocked out by Argentina. This will be followed 4 days later by another Qualifier, against Trinidad & Tobago, at EverBank Field, home of the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars.

Days until Rutgers University plays football again: 12, on Saturday, September 3, away to the University of Washington, in Seattle. Under 2 weeks.

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: 18, on Friday, September 9, away to Sayreville, a.k.a. Sewerville. Hell of a place to begin the season, even if the opposition wasn't good -- and, since 1990, they usually have been.

Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series: 24 on Thursday, September 15, at 7:00 PM, at Fenway Park. A little over 3 weeks. It could be pivotal in the AL East race, more so in the AL Wild Card race.

Days until the New Jersey Devils play again: 52, on Thursday night, October 13, away to the Florida Panthers in the Miami suburb of Sunrise. A litle over 7 weeks. The home opener is 5 days later, on Tuesday night, October 18, against the Anaheim Ducks.

Days until the 2016 Presidential election: 78, on Tuesday, November 8. That's 11 weeks. Make sure you are registered to vote, and then make sure you vote!

Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving game: 94, on Thursday morning, November 24, at the purple shit pit on Route 9. About 3 months.

Days until the New Jersey Devils play another local rival: 111. Their 1st game this season with the New York Rangers will be on Sunday night, December 11, at Madison Square Garden. Their 1st game this season with the Philadelphia Flyers will be on Thursday night, December 22, at the Prudential Center. By a quirk in the schedule, the New York Islanders, a team they usually play several times a season, don't show up on the slate until Saturday night, February 18, 2017, at the Prudential Center.

Days until The Contract From Hell runs out, and the Yankees no longer have to pay Alex Rodriguez any money: 496, on December 31, 2017. A little over 16 months.

Days until the next Winter Olympics begins in Pyeongchang, Korea: 536, on February 9, 2018. Under 18 months.

Days until the next World Cup kicks off in Russia: 661, on June 14, 2018. Under 2 years, or under 22 months. The U.S. team will probably qualify for it, but with Jurgen Klinsmann as manager, particularly in competitive matches such as World Cup Qualifiers, rather than in friendlies, you never know.

Days until the Baseball Hall of Fame vote is announced, electing Mariano Rivera: January 9, 2019. A little under 2 1/2 years, a little over 29 months.

Days until the Baseball Hall of Fame vote is announced, electing Derek Jeter: January 8, 2020. A little under 3 1/2 years, a little over 41 months.

Days until the next Summer Olympics begins in Tokyo, Japan: 1,432, on July 24, 2020. Under 4 years, or 48 months.

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