Monday, June 26, 2017
Yanks Spoil Old-Timers' Day Again
Yesterday was Old-Timers' Day at Yankee Stadium. The theme was the 40th Anniversary of the 1977 World Championship. Featured from that year were Reggie Jackson (who has returned for OTD almost every season since 1991) and Sparky Lyle (who usually hasn't, due to managing the independent minor-league Somerset Patriots in Central Jersey, but he has retired from that role).
Also showing up from that season: Ron Guidry, Mickey Rivers, Willie Randolph, Roy White, Gene Michael (he was 1st base coach that season), Mike Torrez, and the man who victimized Torrez when he signed with Boston for the next season, Bucky Blessed Dent.
No sign of Chris Chambliss, Graig Nettles, Lou Piniella, Cliff Johnson, Ed Figueroa, Don Gullett and Dick Tidrow, all pretty important players from that team. Already dead and thus not available: Thurman Munson, Catfish Hunter and Paul Blair.
Also on hand: Tim Raines, newly (and belatedly) elected to the Hall of Fame; Joe Torre, who presented Raines with a gift of 2 seats from the old Yankee Stadium; Jorge Posada, in his OTD debut; Tino Martinez, still with that sweet lefty stroke; Paul O'Neill, once my favorite active player, but currently in my doghouse for his support of Trump; Bernie Williams, who's put on a lot of weight but can still hit; Mariano Duncan, the much-traveled Dominican 2nd baseman remembered for his 1996 World Series-winning slogan, "We play today, we win today, dass it"; Rickey Henderson, who made one "snatch catch" and botched another, showing that he's still preoccupied with 1985; David Cone; John Flaherty, who, like O'Neill and Cone, wore a battery pack to both play and broadcast at the same time, a tradition begun by the late great Bobby Murcer in 1991; 1961-62 World Champions Whitey Ford, Ralph Terry and Hector Lopez; 1956 World Series perfect game hero Don Larsen; and the last survivor of the 1947 and 1949 World Champions, the 92-year-old former 3rd baseman, cardiologist, and President of the American League, Dr. Bobby Brown.
Alas, as is always the case on OTD, there is a regular-season game to play, and the current Yankees played it as if they were the ones with the muscles and bones of men in their 40s, 50s, and beyond. Michael Pineda started, and he had nothing: He allowed 6 runs in the 1st 2 innings, putting the Yankees in a hole from which they could not recover. True, in 2006, they fell behind 9-0 to the Rangers in 2 innings at home, and came back to win 14-13 on a walkoff home run by Posada. But this is not 2006.
The bullpen was good: Tyler Webb in the 5th inning, Chad Green in the 6th and 7th, Dellin Betances in the 8th and Aroldis Chapman in the 9th (why not, DB68 and AC54 both need the work), all pitched scoreless ball, allowing just 2 hits and 2 walks between them. As our old friend Phil Rizzuto would say, "But the damage is done. I tell ya, Bill White, it's givin' me agita. Holy cow."
Not that the Yankees didn't do some damage of their own. Had Pineda pitched well, it might have been a dramatic game. Down 7-0, Mason Williams led off the bottom of the 5th with a single. Two outs followed, and Austin Romine struck out, but Ranger catcher Jonathan Lucroy couldn't handle it, and Romine got to 1st base, Williams to 2nd. Given new life, Aaron Judge singled home Williams, and Gary Sanchez hit a home run to make it 7-4, his 13th dinger of the season.
Ronald Torreyes led off the bottom of the 7th with his 2nd home run. After 2 outs, Judge and Sanchez drew back-to-back walks, and Didi Gregorius singled to right, scoring Judge. Unfortunately, while Sanchez is a really good hitter, he, to borrow Reggie's saying about Lou Piniella, he runs like a dump truck, and was thrown out at 3rd. Cliche alert: You should never make the 1st or last out of the inning at 3rd base. That could have been the tying run. Instead, it ended the inning.
Chase Headley doubled to lead off the 8th, but he was stranded. With 2 out in the 9th, Judge singled to left to give us hope. Another Sanchez homer would have been a walkoff, and a huge emotional lift. Instead, he struck out.
I can't fault Sanchez too much, because he did help get us that close. In fact, the only Yankee starter who didn't reach base was Brett Gardner, who went 0-for-5. Romine went 0-for-3, filling in for Aaron Hicks, who left with an injury. (Romine played 1st base and batted 2nd, Williams was moved from right field to Hicks' place in center, and rookie sensation Tyler Austin was moved from 1st to right.)
If only Pineda had pitched just a little better. If only he had done as well as he usually has this season. But he didn't, and it ended Rangers 7, Yankees 6. WP: Nick Martinez (3-3). SV: Matt Bush (9). LP: Pineda (7-4).
Jacoby Ellsbury, who has been dealing with post-concussion syndrome -- and, given what we've seen from football players, and soccer players from the leather ball era, that is scary -- has been activated from the Disabled List.
Just in time for Hicks to go on it, with a strained right oblique muscle. He says he'll be out for a month.
That would bring him back in late July -- just in time for Brian Cashman to trade him to a contender for either League's Pennant for 13 teenagers who won't see the major leagues in the 2010s.
In addition, Webb and Williams, both of whom did some good yesterday, have been sent back down to Triple-A Scranton -- this, Brian Cashman, you dumb cluck, is not a recommended way to run a ballclub -- and pitcher Ronald Herrera and Rob Refsnyder, once the 2nd baseman of a future that never happened, now a utility man, have been called back up.
These are the times that grind men's gears. (I may use that line again, including as a post title.) The Yankees have now lost 10 of their last 12. During this trying time, there have been 3 saving graces:
1. Chris Carter will no longer be part of then problem. He has been designated for assignment.
2. The Boston Red Sox have not been able to take advantage. Nor has anyone else. The Yanks and Sox remain tied for 1st place in the American League Eastern Division, with the Tampa Bay Rays 2 1/2 games back, the Baltimore Orioles 4 and the Toronto Blue Jays 5. In the all-important loss column, the Yanks lead the Sox by a game, the Rays and O's by 5, and the Jays by 6.
3. The Mets have also been injury-riddled and shambolic, so their fans haven't said much about our struggles, when normally they wouldn't shut up about them.
The Yankees now go on the road, to Chicago to take on the White Sox. All 4 games are set for first pitches of 8:10 PM New York time (7:10 Chicago time). Here are the projected starting pitchers for the series:
* Tonight: Jordan Montgomery vs. David Holmberg.
* Tomorrow: Luis Severino vs. Jose Quintana.
* Wednesday: Masahiro Tanaka vs. Carlos Rodon.
* Thursday: Luis Cessa vs. James Shields.
Then it's off to Houston for 3 games against the rampaging Astros. The Yankees better get what they can against the South Siders.