Game 83: TB vs. NYY — Haphazardly swept by the Rays

Sinatra’s voice over celebrating fans seems to have a more upbeat tone to it, while a loss makes it sound almost melancholic. I want to wake up, in a city that never sleeps… Perhaps it is the gentle hum of the disappointed fans as they exit the stadium after a loss versus the whoops and cheers of a victorious fan base. I’ll make a brand new start of it… Today, Old Blue Eyes was tinged with melancholy over yet another loss in the Bronx. And find I’m king of the hill, top of the heap… I know that they don’t alter the audio or switch out the tracks anymore, but maybe somehow my own bias is altering what my ears are processing. If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere… Singing with Frank after a win is a sign of determination and triumph, while after a loss it reminds us to hope and regroup. It’s up to you, New York, New York…

And with that in mind, the Yankees played the rare mid-week matinée, their third of a 3-game series against the Rays. And the Rays brought their brooms (I cannot tell you how much I hate that pun or most puns in general, but forgive me, it’s Wednesday after all). The Yankees gave Vidal Nuno the start, and for Nuno’s outings this year, this was pretty good overall for him — 89 pitches, 5 innings (and 1 batter in the 6th), 8 hits, 4 runs (3 earned), 2 walks, and 5 strikeouts. Nuno and the rest of the bullpen did a pretty good job of spreading those runs and hits out over the course of the game.

Actually, it was a very high-hitting game. Together they tallied 22 total hits (10 for the Yankees and 12 for the Rays), which is usually a sign of one of two things — weak pitching or weak infield defense.  I have to say it might be a combination of both today. But more on this later.

It was quite a yo-yo kind of game. In the 1st inning, Brett Gardner started the run scoring with his 8th home run of the season, a solo shot into the 2nd deck of the right field seats. Then the Rays came back in the 3rd to tie up the game on a passed ball. But the Yankees answered back in the bottom of that inning with 2 outs when Brian McCann hit his 10th home run of the season, his own solo shot into those right field seats.

The Rays didn’t wait long to strike back to tie up the game again with an RBI single in the 4th. But again, the Yankees pounced back in the bottom of that inning with their own RBI single from Gardner (who was really doing amazing today both offensively and defensively). And the Rays would then come back to tie up the game in the 5th with another RBI single before putting themselves on top in the 6th with a 2-run home run deep over the center field wall. And the Rays were up 5-3.

Now, that 2-run home run was split in who got charged for those runs because Nuno allowed the runner on base prior to the homer with a single before Girardi called in Shawn Kelley who promptly gave up that home run and then got a quick 3 outs to end the 6th inning.

Adam Warren would take the 7th and 1 out in the 8th, allowing 2 hits, but no runs in his 29 pitches. David Huff finished the rest of the 8th inning and pitched the 9th with his own 29 pitches. After a rather messy couple of plays in the 9th and loading the bases with a force out, single, and intentional walk, Huff finally managed a ground out, but it scored another run for the Rays. And when the dust settled after the end of the 9th inning, the Rays swept the series with today’s victory 6-3 over the Yankees.

Another bummer. And it got me thinking. I watch a lot of baseball. Yes, mostly Yankees games because otherwise I wouldn’t have much to talk about on here. But I still keep up with what’s going on around the other 29 clubs. Well, mostly, if I’m going to be honest. And it seems to me that the All-Star Break couldn’t come quick enough. A lot of the teams are really lagging. Even the ones who are technically “winning” certainly aren’t winning well. And I think everyone is in desperate need of a rest to regroup.

You see, that’s the thing when you have a high standard of excellence. You’re going to notice when excellence isn’t there. Again, statistics only care about wins and losses, but I have to admit that I care more about the quality of the win than the bottom line statistic. I like quality over quantity any day.

Would I love 162 quality wins? Absolutely, that is my dream for every season. But the reality is that of those 162 games, you’re going to watch some really stinker games, some total lucky games, and some really mundane games. But what you wait for are the memorable moments of excellence, the plays crafted for highlight reels, the shining lights of glory for the players and their team. And yes, every once in a while, there’s going to be that high quality win.

It just wasn’t today. But I know it’s coming. It always does.

Also, this Friday is the 75th anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s farewell to baseball speech. So they gave away Gehrig bobbleheads, honored families affected by ALS before the game, and remembered his impact and legacy in small ways — like customizing the bases on the field, spraying a large #4 in front of the dugouts, and both the Rays and Yankees broadcasters spoke about his impact on baseball and his legacy in ALS research for a cure. (Also, MLB put together a great video of current players reciting Gehrig’s famous speech.)

Go Yankees!

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