Monday, September 5, 2016

Yanks Salvage Finale In Baltimore

The Yankees needed to take at least 2 out of 3 in their weekend series against the Orioles in Baltimore to stay in the American League Eastern Division race, and to strengthen their place in the Wild Card race.

It didn't happen.

The Friday night game was an outright disaster. Chad Green started, but was hurt, had nothing, and had to leave the game in the 2nd inning, having already allowed 4 runs. Nick Goody allowed 2 more before the inning was over, and Kirby Yates allowed 2 more.

But our starter could have been fine, and pitched very well, but it wouldn't have mattered. Here's what Oriole starter Dylan Bundy allowed in 5 2/3rds innings: A single (and a pickoff) and a walk by Brett Gardner, a single by Jacoby Ellsbury, a walk by Mark Teixeira, a walk by Chase Headley, and a walk by Gary Sanchez. Here's what relievers Donnie Hart, Vance Worley and Tommy Hunter allowed in the remaining 3 1/3rd innings: No baserunners at all. Not one Yankee batter even reached 2nd base.

Orioles 8, Yankees 0. WP: Bundy (8-5). No save. LP: Green (2-4). Worst game of the season, and at a very inopportune time.

Green went on the Disabled List. We probably won't see him again until Spring Training.

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The Saturday night showed what happened when you get good pitching, but not good hitting. CC Sabathia started, and went 6 innings, allowing 2 runs (1 earned) on 6 hits and 2 walks. That should have been enough. But the home run he gave up to Adam Jones turned out to be all the O's needed.

Because Kevin Gausman can now be put into the category of "Pitchers Who Drive the Yankees and Their Fans Nuts." He went 6 innings and allowed 2 hits. Between him, Mycal Givens, Brad Brach and Zach Britton -- again, 4 pitchers, but 4 completely different pitchers than the ones who shut the Yankees out the night before -- they allowed only the following: Singles by Sanchez, Headley, Starling Castro and Brian McCann; walks by Ellsbury and Aaron Judge; and Didi Gregorius was hit by a pitch.

The Yankees loaded the bases as a result of the Didi HBP, but Gausman worked out of the jam. That was the only time in the 1st 2 games the Yankees got a man to 2nd base, let alone to 3rd.

Orioles 2, Yankees 0. WP: Gausman (7-10). SV: Britton (40). LP: Sabathia (8-12).

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So as you prepared to watch the Sunday afternoon game, you could have been forgiven for thinking that, with Michael Pineda starting, the Orioles would complete the sweep.

But the Yankees scored 3 runs in the top of the 1st inning, on an RBI single by Headley and a 2-RBI single by Austin Romine. Headley beat out an infield single in the 3rd, allowing a run to score. And a Gardner sacrifice fly in the 9th brought an insurance run.

Joe Girardi really juggled the pitching staff. Pineda didn't pitch badly over 4 innings -- 2 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks -- but Girardi took him out, seeing he'd already thrown 87 pitches. (That damn binder again.) He let Luis Severino pitch the 5th and 6th innings, and he allowed 2 walks, but no hits, and no runs. Tommy Layne, Adam Warren, Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances got the remaining outs. Aside from a single given up by Clippard, they were perfect.

Yankees 5, Orioles 2. WP: Severino (2-8), because the rule says that a starting pitcher must pitch 5 innings to qualify for the win. If he doesn't, then the win is granted to another pitcher at the discretion of the official scorer. SV: Betances (8). LP: Wade Miley (8-12).

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So here's where we stand. There are 4 weeks left in the regular season, with 27 remaining scheduled games -- in other words, only 1 day off.

The Yankees are 70-65, 6 1/2 games behind the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL East, 6 in the loss column. The Boston Red Sox trail the Jays by 1 game, the Orioles by 3. The O's and the Detroit Tigers are currently tied for the 2nd AL Wild Card slot, and the Yankees trail by 3 1/2, 3 in the loss column.

Today, the Yankees begin their most important series of the season, home to those pesky Blue Jays. Here are the projected starting pitchers:

* Today, first pitch scheduled for 1:05 PM (a Labor Day matinee): Masahiro Tanaka vs. R.A. Dickey.

* Tomorrow, 7:05 PM: Luis Cessa vs. Aaron Sanche.

* Wednesday, 7:05 PM: Severino vs. Marcus Strohman. Although, with Sevy having pitched 2 innings yesterday, I don't think he's going to end up starting on 2 days' rest. Unless Girardi wants to play musical chairs with the bullpen again. (With September roster callups, it might be possible, but that doesn't necessarily make it recommended.)

If the Yankees want to make the Playoffs, or even win the Division, they must take 2 out of 3 from the Jays.

This is the season right here.

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