Wednesday, September 4, 2013

So THAT'S What Nunez and Logan Are Doing In the Major Leagues!

Had he lived, yesterday would have been the 100th Birthday of Alan Ladd, best known for the 1953 Western movie Shane, in which he plays an aging gunfighter.  At the end of the movie, he rides off, a kid he'd befriended, played by Brandon deWilde, tries to get him to stay, yelling, "Shane, come back!"

Not "Come back, Shane!" That's one of those lines that always seems to get remembered wrong. I should do a Top 10 of those sometime. Sadly, Ladd attempted suicide twice, succeeding the second time, in 1964, at the age of 50. deWilde would be killed in a car crash in 1972, only 30.

Well, Shane Spencer isn't coming back -- or, as Rick Pitino put it, "Shane Spencer's not walking through that door" -- but the Yankees didn't need him against the Chicago White Sox last night. ll they needed were the current players.

For the 4th straight start, Hiroki Kuroda did not have his good stuff. He made it to the 7th inning, allowing 4 runs on 7 hits and 2 walks, and was outpitched by the Pale Hose's All-Star ace, Chris Sale.

It was 4-1 Chicago (hating the Red Sox as I do, it's weird for me to write "Sox" or "the Sox" when talking about the Chicago White variety) in the bottom of the 8th, when Captain Clutch started perhaps the most emotional rally of the season: Derek Jeter sent a line drive to center field.

Robinson Cano doubled him over to 3rd. (This is a trend that I've noticed: All too often lately, doubles have gotten Yankee runners on 1st only to 3rd, not home.) The White Sox manager, Robin Ventura (who was briefly a Yankee and briefly a Met, after a fine career as the Sox' 3rd baseman), pulled Sale, and that may have been a mistake. He brought in Nate Jones, who gave up back-to-back singles to Alfonso Soriano and Alex Rodriguez, the former scoring Jeter and Cano to make it 4-3.

Ventura then made another pitching change, bringing in Donnie Veal. Curtis Granderson breaded Veal with a game-tying single.

Veal struck out Mark Reynolds for the 2nd out... and then Ventura took him out, after getting a big out. Huh? Does Ventura have a binder, too? He brought in Matt Lindstrom, to face Eduardo Nunez.

Nunez is not one of my favorite people. He can hit a little, but he's got a tin glove, regardless of whether he's playing 3rd base or shortstop -- hence his nicknames NunE5 and NunE6. I even nicknamed him El Doctor Guante Extraño -- Spanish for "Dr. Strange Glove," a reference to the nickname Dick Stuart, a great slugger but a horrible fielder who, since he played in the 1960s, before there was a designated hitter, was stuck at 1st base, traditionally the position where a bad fielder could do the least damage. Sixties sluggers Harmon Killebrew and Dick Allen had been moved there from 3rd base.

Nunez has been one of these guys that makes me say, "What the hell is this guy doing in the major leagues?"

I will tell you what Eduardo Nunez is doing in the major leagues: Hitting a game winning double to left field, that scored A-Rod and the Grandy Man. 6-4 Yankees.

On Facebook, I typed, "I take it all back!"

You know who else has made me say, "What the hell is this guy doing in the major leagues?" Boone Logan. Yet he turned out to be the winning pitcher, having relieved Preston Claiborne (who finished the 7th inning for Kuroda) and pitched a 1-2-3 8th.

Most likely, Girardi brought Logan in because the leadoff hitter was Adam Dunn, a lefthander who can hit a ball 500 feet... when he's not striking out, something Logan made him do for the 2,190th time in his career. That's more than any player who's ever played except for Reggie Jackson, Jim Thome and Sammy Sosa.

Dunn is only 33, so, barring injury, he will get the 408 Ks he needs to surpass Reggie's all-time record of 2,597.  Thome, apparently if not officially retired, is 49 short. Two other players have over 2,000 Ks: A-Rod and Andres Galarraga.  Surprisingly, Jeter has 1,751, breaking Mickey Mantle's club record of 1,710.

(UPDATE: Dunn retired after the 2014 season, with 2,379, still trailing Reggie and Thome.)

Remember when Bobby Bonds (Barry's father) held the record for most strikeouts in a season, with 189? That figure has now been topped 13 times, 4 times by Dunn, who fanned 222 times last season. But that's not the record now: Mark Reynolds, now ours, whiffed 223 times in 2009 while with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He's also topped the old Bonds record 3 other times. Drew Stubbs of the 2011 Cincinnati Reds (now with the Cleveland Indians) has also topped 200, and Granderson had a Yankee record 195 last season.

But Logan was officially the Yankee pitcher when the Yankees took the lead, and so when Mairano Rivera nailed down his 40th save, Logan was the winning pitcher (5-2) -- but I still, due to his futzup the other day, have to add to his Litany of Losing list. Jones was the losing pitcher for the White Sox (4-5).

The Yankees remain 8 games behind the Red Sox for the AL East lead (7 in the loss column), and 2 1/2 behind the Tamap Bay Rays in the hunt for the 2nd Wild Card slot. The former now looks like a longshot, but the latter is definitely doable.

The series with the White Sox concludes tonight at 7:00 (well, 7:05... okay, maybe 7:08), with CC Sabathia starting against Erik Johnson.

Who? He's a 23-year-old 6-foot-3, 235-pound righthander, not as big as CC but pretty big, and not only is he the proverbial "pitcher the Yankees have never seen before," no team has seen him in a major league game: He's making his debut. (Remember, it's September, and the rosters have been expanded.) This season, between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte, he's 12-3, with an ERA of 1.96 and a WHIP of 0.986.

Looks like he's ready for the majors. Let's see if he's ready for Yankee Stadium. Come on you Pinstripes!

And then, tomorrow, the other Sox come to town. The Boston Red Scum.


Note of salute to the Pittsburgh Pirates. By beating the Milwaukee Brewers 4-3 last night, they won their 81st game of the season. Barring a 24-game losing streak (which has happened only once in the history of Major League Baseball), they will have their 1st winning season in 21 years -- since 1992.

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