Thursday, September 15, 2016

Bums Out. Off to the Sox. This Is It.

On Tuesday night, the Yankees bounced back against the Los Angeles Dodgers. CC Sabathia pitched into the 7th inning, allowing just 3 hits and 1 walk, striking out 7. But the Yankees hadn't scored either. Julio Urias, at 20 the youngest player in the major leagues (a major league player who was born in 1996! Unbelievable), and one of the few ever to wear a single digit (Number 7), left the game in the 4th inning, but he and 3 relievers kept it 0-0.

Until the bottom of the 7th. Jacoby Ellsbury and Didi Gregorius hit back-to-back home runs. In the 8th, rookie sensation Gary Sanchez struck again. It was their 9th, 18th and 14th home runs of the season, respectively.

Yankees 3, Dodgers 0. WP: Adam Warren, of all people (6-3). SV: Dellin Betances (11). LP: Ross Stripling (4-7).

The Wednesday game would not be as good. There were 3 separate rain delays. Clayton Kershaw took a perfect game into the bottom of the 5th inning, and Dodger manager Dave Roberts -- yes, the same Roberts who stole that base against us in the 2004 American League Championship Series -- left him in after the last delay ended.

In contrast, Joe Girardi took Michael Pineda out after 4 innings. That's 4 scoreless innings, in which he'd allowed only 2 hits and 2 walks. If April showers bring May flowers, then September showers bring shitshowers from Girardi. How stupid is he? I don't give a damn how long the rain delay is: If a guy is pitching well, you leave him in! Roberts knows that, why doesn't Girardi?

Starling Castro led off the bottom of the 5th by reaching 1st base on an error. Chase Headley singled. Gregorius sacrificed them over to 2nd and 3rd. Just 1 out. All we needed was for the next batter, Rob Refsnyder, to get the ball out of the infield. But Refsnyder struck out. So did Austin Romine, to end the threat.

Technically, Girardi did the right thing by having Didi bunt. But maybe, with 1st and 2nd and nobody out, and Didi hitting like crazy this year, he should have let Didi swing away.

Girardi had Tommy Layne pitch the 5th inning, Luis Severino the 6th and the 7th, and Tyler Clippard the 8th. And he sent Betances out to pitch the 9th, with the game still 0-0.

Now, if Girardi weren't a blithering idiot, he would have known that it doesn't take 5 pitchers to pitch a goddamned shutout. He could have kept Pineda in for at least 7 innings, and then pitched Clippard in the 8th and 9th. Or he could have let Severino -- who, in case he's forgotten, is a starter -- start the 5th, and keep going until he tired. He could have pitched all the way through to the 9th. Instead, he went with Pineda for only 4, Layne for the 5th, Severino for the 6th and the 7th, Clippard for the 8th, and...

Betances for the 9th. Castro returned the favor he got earlier by making his own leadoff error, allowing Corey Seager on base. Justin Turner doubled him home. An Adrian Gonzalez groundout moved Turner to 3rd, and Yasmani Grandal's groundout got him home.

In the bottom of the 9th, with the Yankees still within a bloop and a blast, or a walk and a wallop, Sanchez led off with a strikeout. Castro tried to redeem himself, and got a hit, and advanced to 2nd on defensive indifference. But Headley and Gregorius both struck out, and that was it.

Dodgers 2, Yankees 0. WP: Luis Avilan (2-0). SV: Kenley Jansen (44). LP: Betances (3-5).

In the end, the loss should have been charged to Girardi. Or to general manager Brian Cashman, who traded away the bat of Carlos Beltran and the arms of Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman, all of which we could have used, for nothing. Think about it: Even if Beltran had gone 0-for-4, it could have been, even with Girardi's stupidity, Pineda for 4, Layne for the 5th, Clippard for the 6th, Betances for the 7th, Miller for the 8th, Chapman for the 9th, and then, if it went to extra innings, Severino, a starter, for innings 10 through up to 15.

Oh yeah: There's also the matter of Aaron Judge getting hurt. He'll miss the rest of the season, even if the Yankees somehow win the Pennant and the World Series goes to 7 games. (Not that he would have been on the Series roster anyway.)

*

So here's where we stand: The Yankees have 17 regular season games left. They trail the Boston Red Sox in the American League Eastern Division by 4 games. The Baltimore Orioles trail the Sox by 1 game, and the Toronto Blue Jays trail them by 2.

The Orioles currently hold the 1st AL Wild Card slot, the Jays the 2nd. The Yankees trail the Jays by 2 games. The Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners both trail the Jays by a game and a half. (This is easily the closest that the Mariners' "King" Felix Hernandez has ever gotten to the postseason.) The Houston Astros trail by 3 1/2 games, and the Kansas City Royals by 5.

ESPN rates the Yankees chances of making the Playoffs at 10.8 percent. That's about 9-1 odds.

The Yankees' remaining schedule is as follows:

* Tonight through Sunday: 4 games away to the Red Sox.

* The following Tuesday through Thursday: 3 games away to the Tampa Bay Rays.

* The following Friday through Monday: 4 games away to the Blue Jays.

* The following Tuesday through Thursday: 3 games home to the Red Sox.

* And the following Friday through Sunday: 3 games home to the Orioles.

The Yankees will be lucky to get a split in Boston, but should take at least 2 out of 3 in St. Pete. If the recent home sweep of the Jays is any indication, 3 out of 4 in Toronto isn't too much to ask. Then, the final homestand. Got to take at least 2 out of 3 against both Boston and Baltimore.

Do that, and it's 11-6, for a record of 88-74. That probably won't be enough to win the Division, but taking 4 games off the Sox -- 2 net -- will help, especially if their other opponents can knock them down. And 88 wins could win a Wild Card berth, although a Division title would be infinitely preferable -- as the idiot Girardi didn't figure out in 2010 and 2015.

It's still up for grabs. This series against The Scum at Scumway Park in Scum Town will go a long way toward deciding the Yankees' fate for the season. This is it.

Here's the projected pitching matchups for the series:

* Tonight, 7:10: Masahiro Tanaka vs. Eduardo Rodriguez.

* Tomorrow, 7:10: Luis Cessa vs. Clay Buchholz.

* Saturday, 1:05: Bryan Mitchell vs. David Price.

* Sunday, 8:00: CC Sabathia vs. Drew Pomeranz.

Come on you Bombers! Let's light up that little green pinball machine in the Back Bay! Beat The Scum!

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