Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Yanks' Momentum Screeches to a Halt

This past Saturday, the Yankees made it 7 straight wins, 4 games behind the Boston Red Sox for the American League Eastern Division lead, and tied with the Baltimore Orioles for the 2nd AL Wild Card slot.

Playing the last-place Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium II, they got another great performance from Masahiro Tanaka: 7 1/3rd innings, 1 run, 5 hits, no walks, 10 strikeouts. The game was scoreless until the 6th inning, when home runs by Jacoby Ellsbury (his 8th) and rookie phenom Gary Sanchez (his 13th), put 3 runs on the board.

Yankees 5, Rays 1. WP: Tanaka (13-4). No save. LP: Chris Archer (8-18, although he's pitched better than that for a bad team this year, and doesn't deserve to become a 20-game loser, as now seems likely).

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But on Sunday, the Yankees' momentum came to a screeching halt. Luis Cessa started, and was shaky, not getting out of the 6th inning. Luis Severino, Tommy Layne and Blake Parker pitched 3 1/3rd scoreless innings out of the pen, but, aside from a Chase Headley home run (his 15th) in the 5th, the Yankees couldn't touch the Rays' 4 pitchers.

Rays 4, Yankees 2. WP: Matt Andariese (7-7). SV: Alex Colome (32). LP: Cessa (4-1).

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Yesterday, the Los Angeles Dodgers came to town. Due to the Interleague Play schedule, this was the 1st time in 3 years that the Bronx Bombers had faced the former Brooklyn Bums. And their manager is no longer former Yankee "legend" Don Mattingly (who now manages the Miami Marlins), but Dave Roberts -- the man whose pinch-run stolen base turned the 2004 AL Championship Series around, and allowed the cheating Roid Sox to go on the postseason run of all time.

There were fans chanting, "Let's go, Dodgers!" at Yankee Stadium. I'll bet you any money you like, none of them were from Brooklyn. To paraphrase the line from The Sandlot, Heroes get remembered, but grudges never die!

(What, you thought I was gonna say, "Yer killin' me, Smalls"?)

Bryan Mitchell, who had been so good in his last start, got pounded: He allowed 6 runs, although he was betrayed by his defense, as only 2 of those runs were earned; and didn't get out of the 3rd inning.

Starlin Castro (his 21st) and Aaron Judge (his 4th) hit solo home runs, but that was all that starter Jose De Leon gave up in 5 innings, and 4 relievers allowed only 3 baserunners the rest of the way.

Alex Rodriguez did nothing last night... Sorry, force of habit. Of course, he did nothing: He's retired.

Dodgers 8, Yankees 2. WP: De Leon (2-0). No save. LP: Mitchell (1-1).

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So here's where we stand, going into tonight's action: The Yankees trail the Red Sox by 5 games for the Division, and the Orioles by 2 games for the 2nd Wild Card slot.

There are 19 games left:

* Tonight and tomorrow afternoon, at home against the Dodgers. CC Sabathia pitches against Julio Urias (at 20, the youngest player in the majors) tonight, and tomorrow at 4:05, Michael Pineda goes against Clayton Kershaw, who might be the best pitcher in baseball when healthy but is now coming off the Disabled List. Maybe we can get a split of those 2.

* Thursday through Saturday, away to the Red Sox. A repeat of the 1978 4-game series at Fenway Park known as the Boston Massacre may be too much to ask for, but if we take 3 out of 4 from The Scum, it will blow the AL East race wide open. From this series onward, starting pitchers have not yet been projected.

* The following Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, away to the Rays. We should be able to take 2 out of those 3.

* The following Friday through Monday, away to the Toronto Blue Jays. If we could sweep them 3 straight in Toronto just a few days ago, 3 out of 4 in this series isn't too much to ask for.

* The following Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, home to the Sox. Should be able to take 2 out of 3.

* And the final series of the regular season, home to the Baltimore Orioles. Another 2 out of 3 is called for.

We can take 14 out of 18? If we can do that, winning the Division is still possible. Even if we only take 11 out of 18, the Playoffs should be possible.

Come on you Pinstripes! #ChaseFor28

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