Friday, September 2, 2016

Yanks Take 2 of 3 From Reeling Defending Champs

The Kansas City Royals won the World Series last year. They've won the last 2 American League Pennants. This time, like the Yankees, they're struggling just to get into the Playoff race.

On Monday night, struggling wasn't necessary for the Royals, because it was what Michael Pineda was doing. Again. He was supposed to be an ace, but he may not even make the rotation next year if Brian Cashman does his job.

Stop laughing.

Pineda struck out 8 and walked none in just 5 innings. But he also allowed 5 runs on 7 hits. That is unacceptable. The Yankees also let former Met Dillon Gee hold them to 1 run in 6 innings. Also unacceptable.

It was only 3-1 Royals going to the bottom of the 7th, but after Kendrys Morales singled to lead off the inning, Joe Girardi relieved Pineda with Tommy Layne. Good move: He got Alex Gordon to ground into a fielder's choice.

Naturally, you let the effective pitcher stay in. Except Girardi immediately took him out, and brought in Blake Parker. What the hell? He gave up a 402-foot home run to Alcides Escobar. Then he gave up a single to Raul Mondesi Jr. Then he got Jarrod Dyson to ground out, but then he gave up a single to Cheslor Cuthbert and a walk to Lorenzo Cain.

Only then did Girardi take him out. And he brought in... Kirby Yates?!? Yates gave up an RBI single to Eric Hosmer, before striking Morales out to end the inning. The Royals had batted around, and scored 5 runs.

Why? Partly because Girardi is a blithering idiot when it comes to the bullpen, and partly because Cashman gutted the bullpen to get a bunch of "prospects," so Girardi couldn't bring Dellin Betances in for the 7th, Andrew Miller for the 8th and Aroldis Chapman for the 9th. But if Girardi had simply let Layne stay in the game... I don't know what would have happened, but I'm pretty sure the Royals would have scored fewer than 5 runs in the inning.

Then the Yankees scored 4 runs in the top of the 8th, the highlight being a 2-RBI double by Didi Gregorius. It could have been Yankees 5, Royals 3. Instead, because Girardi and Cashman were idiots, it ended Royals 8, Yankees 5. WP: Gee (6-7). SV: Kelvin Herrera (11). LP: Pineda (6-11).

Absolutely unacceptable.


On Tuesday night, the Yankees took a 4-0 lead into the bottom of the 3rd, including a long home run by Aaron Judge. It was still 4-2 Yankees going to the bottom of the 6th, because Masahiro Tanaka, as he usually does, was pitching very well.

Then, like the blithering idiot that he is, Girardi took Tanaka out! He'd only thrown 71 pitches, and was pitching well. At that rate, he should have at least been allowed to pitch through the 7th.

For the bottom of the 6th, Girardi sent in Adam Warren. Adam Warren? Who sends Adam Warren in to pitch? A blithering idiot, that's who! Warren allowed a run to make it 4-3. To make this game even stranger, former Yankee Chien-Ming Wang was pitching for the Royals.

Girardi sent Tyler Clippard in for the 7th, and he kept it at 4-3. But when Clippard walked Cain to start the 8th, Giardi panicked, and brought in Betances for the 6-out save. Betances blew it: 4-4. He managed to make it no worse in the 8th or the 9th, and the game went to extra innings.

Brian McCann led off the top of the 10th with a single off Joakim Soria. Girardi sent Aaron Hicks in to pinch-run for him. Chase Headley singled. Soria struck Judge and Tyler Austin out, then uncorked a wild pitch (only wild pitches and wine bottles ever get "uncorked"), to send Hicks to 3rd base and Headley to 2nd. Soria gave Brett Gardner the old unintentional intentional walk, to set up the force play at every base. But Jacoby Ellsbury hit a grounder to 3rd, and Hicks scored.

Girardi sent the newly called-up Ben Heller to pitch the bottom of the 10th, and he had rookie jitters. He hit Mondesi. He let Mondesi steal 2nd. He gave up a single to Dyson that got Mondesi to 3rd -- as the tying run with nobody out. He let Dyson steal 2nd. Then he struck out Cain, and Girardi told him to intentionally walk Hosmer.

Then Girardi pulled Heller for Chasen Shreve. What kind of a bonehead bullpen decision was this?!? No kind: Shreve struck Morales out, and got Salvador Perez to fly to center to end the game.

Whew. Yankees 5, Royals 4 in 10. WP: Betances (3-4). SV: Shreve (1). LP: Soria (4-6).

Lucky. Of course, it never should have come to that. A 4-0 lead had been blown. As they would say in English soccer, "Four-nil, and you fucked it up!" And, again, Cashman's gutting of the bullpen was an issue.


On Wednesday night, Luis Cessa started, and did not have good stuff. He managed to get through 6 innings, allowing 4 runs, 3 of them earned, on 6 hits and a walk. Not bad, but hardly effective. Shreve kept it going from the previous night, as he pitched a scoreless 7th and a perfect 8th. Girardi brought Layne in for 1 batter (again), and then Warren, and, between them, they pitched a perfect 9th.

Against former Yankee Ian Kennedy, the Bronx Bombers struggled for 5 innings. But Ellsbury led off the 6th with a single, Gary Sanche drew a walk, Mark Teixeira hit a sacrifice fly to get Ells to 3rd, and Gregorius hit another sac fly to score Ellsbury. Then Starlin Castro crushed a 415-foot drive to left-center, his 19th home run of the year, and it was 4-3 K.C.

With 1 out in the 7th, Hicks drew a walk, and Royals manager Ned Yost had seen enough of Kennedy. I guess he asked not what his starting pitcher could do for him, and asked what he could do with his bullpen. He brought in Scott Alexander, and he was neither Great Scott nor Alexander the Great. Gardner singled Hicks over to 3rd, and Ellsbury brought him home with a game-tying sac fly. This time, it was the Royals who'd fully blown a 4-0 lead.

This one also went to extra innings. Parker redeemed himself with a perfect bottom of the 10th, and worked out of a jam in the 11th. Heller pitched a perfect 12th.

Gregorius led off the top of the 13th by beating out a grounder to 1st. Castro smacked a double to left, sending Didi to 3rd. McCann hit yet another sac fly, and Didi scored.

Betances walked Cuthbert to start the bottom of the 13th, and, as we all know, those walks'll kill you, especially the leadoff walk. This is why the double play is known as The Pitcher's Friend, and Betances got Hosmer to ground into one. Then he got Morales to fly to right to end it.

Yankees 5, Royals 4 in 13. WP: Heller (1-0, his 1st major league win). SV: Betances (7). LP: Chris Young (3-9).

The Yankees came close to sweeping this series. They came even closer to getting swept.


So here's how things stand, with the Yankees having 30 games left: The Toronto Blue Jays lead the American League Eastern Division, the Boston Red Sox are 2 games behind them, the Baltimore Orioles are 4 games back, the Yankees are 6 1/2 back (6 in the loss column), and the Tampa Bay Rays are 19 1/2 games back, out of the race.

In the Wild Card race, the Red Sox hold the 1st slot, and the Orioles and the Detroit Tigers are tied for the 2nd. The Houston Astros trail by 1 game, the Yankees by 2 1/2 (2 in the loss column), the Royals by 3, and the Seattle Mariners by 4.

So the Yankees are very much in the Wild Card race, and the Division is still a possibility, especially with 7 games left against Toronto, 7 against Boston and 6 against Baltimore.

And tonight, the Yankees begin a 3-game series away to those Orioles, before coming home for a big, big 3-game series against those pesky Blue Jays. Here are the projected pitching matchups:

* Tonight, 7:05 PM: Chad Green vs. Dylan Bundy.

* Tomorrow, 7:05 PM: CC Sabathia vs. Kevin Gausman.

* Sunday, 1:35 PM: Pineda vs. Wade Miley.

Come on you Bombers! Let's roast those Birds. Smoke 'em like Boog Powell does to that meat out behind the right-field wall at Camden Yards!

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