Saturday, July 23, 2016

Playoffs? If They Can Beat Baltimore & San Francisco, Yeah, I'm Gonna Talk to You About Playoffs!

When your favorite baseball team is surging and trying to get back into the Playoff race, the last thing it needs is to face another team that's surging and jockeying for Playoff position because they already have one of the best records in baseball.

Such was the case with the Yankees last night, as they welcomed the San Francisco Giants into Yankee Stadium II for a 3-game Interleague series. The Giants have won the World Series in the last 3 odd-numbered seasons (2010, 2012 and 2014), and they look like they're setting themselves up well for a 4th, having come into last night's game 57-38.

They were also starting Madison Bumgarner, MVP of the 2014 World Series, and who is, counting the postseason, is 50-25 over the last 2 1/2 seasons.

The Yankees started Masahiro Tanaka. For 6 innings, 'Hiro was better than MadBum. Tanaka pitched 6 innings, allowing no runs on 4 hits and 2 walks. And he was staked (or should that be "stoke"? "Stoken"?) to a 2-0 lead, thanks to a Starlin Castro double that drove home Brett Gardner in the 1st, and Carlos Beltran single that drove home Ronald Torreyes in the 2nd.

Tanaka threw only 83 pitches in those 6 innings, The right thing to do would have been to let him pitch the 7th. But Joe Girardi looked into his damn binder, and decided to take him out, and bring in Dellin Betances. And Betances was shaky, letting runners on, and throwing a wild pitch that made it 2-1.

And then Girardi brought Andrew Miller in for the 8th, and he was just as shaky, and let the Giants tie it up. The Giants are the kind of team that will make you pay for your mistakes.

Except Giant manager Bruce Bochy made a similar mistake. Bumgarner threw 115 pitches over 7 innings, and was only trailing 2-1, but Bochy took him out, replacing him with Josh Osich. Chase Headley took advantage of this, leading off the bottom of the 8th by beating out an infield single. (The 3rd baseman who was unable to throw him out was former Yankee Ramiro Pena.)

Osich was clearly not ready for this situation, because, next, he walked Mark Teixeira. And then Austin Romine hit a ground ball to the shortstop, Brandon Crawford. He had made errors that contributed to each of the Yankees' preceding runs. Now, he made a 3rd, making a bad throw that messed up a force play, possibly even a double play. That allowed Headley to score the go-ahead run.

Indeed, bringing in Osich may have been a mistake due to his being hurt: After the error, he was removed for Sergio Romo, who ended the Yankee rally.

Aroldis Chapman shut the Giants down in the 9th. Yankees 3, Giants 2. WP: Miller (6-1, even though he blew a lead). SV: Chapman (20). LP: Osich (1-2).

That's 5 out of 6. And, with the Boston Red Sox losing last night, the Baltimore Orioles jumped back into 1st place, leading the Sox by half a game (even in the loss column), the Toronto Blue Jays by 2 (3), and the Yankees by 6 1/2 (7).

Maybe Girardi was right: Maybe the Yankees are in "Playoff mode."

I can hear Jim Mora Sr.: "Playoffs? Don't talk about... Playoffs? You kiddin' me? Playoffs? I just hope we can win a game!" Well, now, the Yankees have shown they can win games. And against good teams, too: That 5 out of 6 includes 3 out of 4 against Baltimore and 1 against San Francisco.

So, yeah, I'm gonna talk to you about Playoffs.

The Yankees-Giants series continues today, 1st pitch at 4:05 PM (not 7:05 like I said yesterday). Ivan Nova, pitching much better lately, starts against Jeff Samardzija.

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