Monday, May 1, 2017

Girardi Blows Sweep of Orioles

The Yankees looked like they were going to sweep the Baltimore Orioles, whom they'd knocked out of 1st place. Jordan Montgomery had pitched 5 innings, allowing 1 run on 2 hits and 2 walks. Meanwhile, a 430-foot home run by Matt Holliday in the 1st inning, followed in the 3rd inning by walks by Starlin Castro and Aaron Judge and a single to Chase Headley, gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead.

But in the top of the 6th, Montgomery walked Manny Machado and Mark Trumbo. Cliche alert: Leadoff walks will kill you. Joe Girardi panicked, and took Montgomery out of the game. He brought in Jonathan Holder, who proved he is inaptly named, because he couldn't hold the lead, he couldn't hold the line, he couldn't even hold my beer.

He allowed a single to Welington Castillo, an RBI groundout by Trey Mancini, a double to Jonathan Schoop, an RBI groundout to Craig Gentry, and a walk to J.J. Hardy, before finally ending the inning by getting Joey Rickard to line out. 4-2 Baltimore.

Then Girardi didn't let Holder pitch the 7th. Good idea. He sent Tyler Clippard in to pitch it. Good idea: He kept it 4-2. Then he replaced Clippard with Dellin Betances for the 8th. Bad idea. Not because Betances didn't pitch well (he did, keeping it 4-2), but because, now, Girardi had wasted 2 Pitchers: Betances, and Bryan Mitchell, whom he brought in for the top of the 9th. (He also kept it 4-2.)

And if that had been the worst of it, I wouldn't have liked it, but I could have lived with it. Except the Yankees came back in the bottom of the 9th. With 1 out, Holliday singled. Castro grounded into a fielder's choice, becoming the lead runner with 2 out. Judge drew a walk. Oriole reliever Darren O'Day balked the runners over, meaning a hit could now tie it.

Buck Showalter came out of the Oriole dugout to argue the call. He was thrown out of the game. He really is not a good manager.

Headley drew a walk. Didi Gregorius singled to tie the game, sending Headley to 3rd. With Chris Carter up, he stole 2nd on fielder's indifference. All we needed Carter to do was somehow get on base and keep it going. But he took a called 3rd strike. Extra innings.

What happened next was straight out of the What the Hell File. Mitchell had pitched the 9th inning for the Yankees, and, for the 10th, knowing that his complete stupidity when it comes to handling the bullpen had left the Yankees short of pitchers, Girardi took Carter off 1st base... and put Mitchell there!

And brought in Aroldis Chapman, the closer. As a result, Girardi had to make a double switch: Moving the pitcher to a fielding position means that the designated hitter is forfeited, and the pitcher must bat, which would have been a huge problem the longer the game went on.

Joe Girardi forgot which League he was in! This was a total National League move.

This was the 1st time a Yankee pitcher had played a position other than catcher since June 11, 1988, also home to Baltimore, when Rick Rhoden was, of all things, the designated hitter. This was due to an injury crisis.

The last time before that, it was August 18, 1983, with Ron Guidry moving to center field for the bottom of the 9th inning. This was due to American League President Lee MacPhail overruling his umpires and declaring the Yankees' July 24 game against the Kansas City Royals to not be over, and let George Brett's pine-tar-aided home run stand (when it shouldn't have), and the manager decided to show MacPhail up. Both times, the manager was Billy Martin.

How would Billy have handled this game? He would have let Montgomery try to pitch out of trouble in the 6th inning, and avoided this situation in the first place.

The right thing to do would have been to keep ex-starter Clippard in, into the 10th. Girardi didn't do that.

And what happened? The 1st batter of the 10th, Castillo, hit a pop-up to 1st... and Mitchell dropped it. And, given a chance he never should have had, got a hit.

Chapman then struck Mancini out; got Schoop to pop up to 1st, with Mitchell catching this one; and struck Gentry out. Mitchell was off the hook -- for the moment.

In the bottom of the 10th, Austin Romine singled. Brett Gardner beat out a bunt. Aaron Hicks bunted the runners over. So it was 2nd and 3rd with 1 out. A sacrifice fly would have won the game.

Girardi sent Greg Bird up to pinch-hit for Chapman. Obviously, he meant to bring Mitchell back to the mound (which was legal, if stupid because Mitchell never should've been on the mound in the first place, so he wouldn't have had to be moved in the second place and now moved back in the third place), and move Bird to 1st base, in case there was a top of the 11th.

Bird was hit with a pitch. Bases loaded, 1 out. The Yankees should have had this.

But Castro grounded to short. Hardy threw home to get Romine out. Now 2nd and 3rd with 2 out. And Judge, who's already come through several times, did not on this occasion, striking out swinging.

Girardi did indeed send Mitchell out for the top of the 11th. He got the 1st out, then a single, then a 2nd out, then a stolen base, then an intentional walk. Then back-to-back singles, producing 3rd runs.

The Yankees went out quietly in the bottom of the 11. Orioles 7, Yankees 4. WP: Logan Verrett (1-0). No save. LP: Mitchell (1-1)

But the loss should really be charged to Girardi and his damn binder. This ended a run of the Yankees winning 14 of their last 17 games.


So, 4 weeks into the 26-week regular season, and with April complete, here's how the American League Eastern Division looks: The Yankees and Orioles are both 15-8, tied for 1st place; the Boston Red Sox are 2 1/2 games back, 3 in the loss column; the Tampa Bay Rays are 4 1/2 back, 6 in the loss column; and the Toronto Blue Jays are 8 back, 9 in the loss column.

If the current MLB standings were to hold until the end of the season, the Orioles (due to the Yankees having the head-to-head tiebreaker) would host the Chicago White Sox in the AL Wild Card game; the loser would face the Yankees, and face the winner of the Cleveland Indians vs. Houston Astros Division Series in the League Championship Series; the Los Angeles Dodgers would visit the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL Wild Card game, the winner would face the Washington Nationals in the Division Series, and the winner of that series would face the winner of one between the Colorado Rockies and the Chicago Cubs.

The Yankees are in decent shape. Tonight, they begin a series at home to Toronto, with all 3 games starting at or around 7:05 PM. Here are the projected starting pitchers:

* Tonight: Luis Severino vs. Marco Estrada.

* Tuesday: Masahiro Tanaka vs. Mat Latos.

* Wednesday: CC Sabathia vs. Marcus Strohman.


Days until the Red Bulls play again: 5, this Saturday night at 7:00, away to the Philadelphia Union, at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pennsylvania. This is a local "derby." On Saturday, they beat the Chicago Fire 2-1.

Days until the Red Bulls next play a "derby": See the previous answer. They will play away to the Union again on Sunday, June 18. They will next play the New England Revolution on Saturday, May 27, at Red Bull Arena. They will next play a Hudson River Derby against New York City FC on Saturday, June 24, at Red Bull Arena. And they will next play the D.C. Scum on Saturday, September 27, at Red Bull Arena.

Days until The Arsenal play the FA Cup Final: 26, on Saturday afternoon, at 12:30 (5:30 in the afternoon, their time), against West London club Chelsea, at the new Wembley Stadium. That's a little under 4 weeks. Since their ignominious defeat to North London neighbors Tottenham Hotspur guaranteed that they would finish behind Tottenham for the 1st time in 22 years, and virtually assured that they won't finish at least in the Top 4 and thus at least qualify for the UEFA Champions League, there's no point in posting the next time Arsenal play, until they go after a record 13th Cup.

Days until the U.S. national soccer team plays again: 33, on Saturday night, at 8:00 local time (10:00 Eastern), against Venezuela, in an international friendly at Rio Tinto Stadium, the Sandy, Utah home of MLS' Real Salt Lake. That's a little over a month. This is a warmup for the following week's CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers, the following Thursday at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in the Denver suburbs, against Trinidad & Tobago, and the following Sunday against Mexico at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. At the very least, the T&T game is a must-win.

Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series: 36, on Tuesday, June 6, at 7:05 PM, at Yankee Stadium II.

Days until the next North London Derby: Unknown, as the schedule for the 2017-18 season can't be released until after the season is over, since we don't yet know which 3 teams are being relegated and which 3 are being promoted. The soonest it would be is the 1st Saturday of the new season, which would be August 12. That's 103 days. But derbies rarely kick off the season, so it will probably be a lot more.

Days until Rutgers University plays football again: 
123, on Friday, September 1, home to the University of Washington. Exactly 4 months. This game had been set for the following day, but has been moved back.

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: Unknown, as the 2017 schedule hasn't been released yet. I now know that high school football games have been scheduled in Middlesex County, New Jersey on Friday night, September 8. That's 130 days from now.

Days until the New Jersey Devils play again: We don't know, as the 2017-18 NHL schedule has yet to be released. The NHL season usually begins on the 2nd Friday in October, which, in 2017, would be... ugh... Friday the 13th. That's 165 days. Under 6 months.

Days until the New Jersey Devils next play a local rival: See the previous answer, although the 1st game isn't likely to be against either the New York Rangers, the New York Islanders or the Philadelphia Flyers.

Days until the Alex Rodriguez Contract From Hell officially runs out, and the Yankees can spend his salary on new players: 183, on October 31.

Days until the next election for Governor of New Jersey: 190, on Tuesday, November 7, 2017. A little over 6 months.

Days until the next Rutgers-Penn State football game: 194, on Saturday, November 11, 2017, at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania.

Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving game: 206, on Thursday morning, November 23, 2017, at 10:00. Under 7 months, and thank God it's at home at Jay Doyle's grove, rather than at the purple shit pit on Route 9.

Days until the next World Cup kicks off in Russia: 409, on June 14, 2018. A bit over a year, or under 14 months. Has Bruce Arena turned our chances around? Or will Trump ruin them? Maybe, with the tournament on his soil, Putin will tell Trump to tell Bruce Arena to tank the games. Maybe not. Or maybe just if we end up playing Russia. I don't think Arena will listen. I hope his life insurance is paid up, because Putin kills people.

Days until September 2018 roster call-ups, when we can finally start to expect seeing some of those wonderful "prospects" for whom Yankee general manager Brian Cashman threw away a chance at the 2016 Playoffs: 488. Under a year and a half, or exactly 16 months. Of course, we could end up seeing one or more of them sooner than that, but since most of them are at Double-A Trenton now, if that, who's kidding who? Then again, at the rate the Yankees are going now, we may not need them!

Days until the next Congressional election: 554, on November 6, 2018. Under 2 years, or a little under 19 months.

Days until the Baseball Hall of Fame vote is announced, electing Mariano Rivera: 
618, on January 9, 2019. Under 2 years, or 20 months.

Days until the Baseball Hall of Fame vote is announced, electing Derek Jeter: 
983, on January 8, 2020. Under 3 years, or 32 months.

Days until the next Summer Olympics begins in Tokyo, Japan: 
1,149, on July 24, 2020. Under 3 1/2 years, or a little over 38 months.

Days until the next Presidential election: 1,251, on November 3, 2020. Under 4 years, or a little over 42 months.

Days until Liberation Day: 
1,329at noon on January 20, 2021. Under 4 years, or a little under 45 months. Note that this is liberation from the Republican Party, not Donald Trump. Having Mike Pence as President wouldn't be better, just differently bad.

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