Okay, let me get this out of the way up front because basically from the 6th inning on, it’s all anyone could talk about. Masahiro Tanaka was in Seattle today to be seen by the team doctor who is currently there with other fellow medical staff for a conference. Yankees team doctor Dr. Ahmad and two other colleagues (a noted orthopedist and a fellow team doctor) confirmed to Cashman who confirmed with the world that Tanaka’s elbow pain was due to a very small partial tear of his UCL (the ulnar collateral ligament, which runs through the elbow as part of the joint to connect the lower and upper arm bones).
The UCL may sound familiar because it is the ligament they replace and repair in the infamous Tommy John surgery. However, the doctors stressed that because of the size of the tear the first course of action is platelet-rich plasma injections beginning on Monday to help speed up a natural ligament repair. A small tear usually will heal on its own because the body is kind of amazing at doing stuff like that. Should it not heal, then surgery might be back on the table. But that is really looking like a last resort at this point, which is good news.
And Carlos Beltran was placed on the 7-day DL with a concussion from his injury (broken nose from a batting practice ball) yesterday. In his place, the Yankees recalled Yangervis Solarte, who has been absolutely thriving in AAA. (I told you he’d be back.) Beltran will probably be back after the All-Star Break; Tanaka’s return is dependent on how his body reacts to the rehab; and Solarte’s fate is to be decided.
What was decided was that the Indians apparently wanted to make a statement in their final game of this 4-game series in Cleveland. And prior to the game, the Indians gifted Derek Jeter with their contribution to his “I’m not having a farewell tour”. They gave him a custom Gibson guitar (as Cleveland is the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) and a picture of him at bat crafted entirely of Legos, designed and made by the Indians’ visiting clubhouse assistant manager. Cleveland will always hold a special place for Jeter as it was where he had his first MLB Opening Day in 1996, and it’s a place he admittedly enjoys playing in.
Okay, so the Yankees looked like they were doing pretty good for a while in tonight’s game. While David Phelps cruised along, keeping the Indians scoreless for 6 innings, the Yankees racked up some offensive force. In the 4th, Cervelli on base with a single, Zelous Wheeler’s big home run scored 2 runs. And in the 5th, Cervelli on base once again with a hit by pitch, advanced to 2nd on Wheeler’s single, and scored on Solarte’s single. 3-0 Yankees going into the 7th inning.
Phelps threw 103 pitches over his 6 full innings and a couple batters in the 7th. He allowed 7 hits, 2 runs, and 3 walks, striking out 5 batters. It was those 2 runners in the 7th that would end up being a problem, and Phelps was responsible for them because he allowed those back-to-back singles. Matt Thornton came on and loaded the bases with a single, and then a triple cleared the bases and tied up the game, effectively blowing Phelps’ win. A sacrifice fly scored that runner from 3rd and put the Indians on top 4-3. And the Yankees called on reliever Jim Miller to get out of the inning.
The Indians came back in the 8th to add to their lead because a single run lead apparently wasn’t going to be enough and giving a messy 8th inning seemed like the right thing to do tonight. (I should note at this point, most of the news and chatter had shifted off the game on the field and onto the worst case scenario with Tanaka.) Miller, still on the mound, was kind of on the receiving end of what would be a terrible inning for the Yankees. He got a quick strike out, but then gave up a double. The next batter hits what is initially was called a double, but on a challenge was overturned and ruled a 2-run home run. A single, an out, a stolen base, an RBI single, and a 2-run home run suddenly put the Indians up and over 9-3.
And they hold on in the top of the 9th to win tonight’s game 9-3, splitting the series with the Yankees 2-2.
Honestly, my mom wanted the Indians to win tonight because it’s her birthday. And she only thinks it’s fair that the Indians win on her birthday because they are the team she grew up rooting for. She’s only a recent convert to being a Yankee fan, but when they play each other she’s back to being a Tribe fan. She doesn’t have as much luck with the Tribe winning on her birthday, (since 2000) only claiming wins in 2003, 2008, and tonight. Also, going back to 2000, they haven’t played 6 years due to the All-Star Break falling in the middle of July (2000, 2002, 2006; the game actually fell on July 10, 2001, 2007, and 2012).
But I guess a win for her birthday by the team she’s been waiting to win the World Series since before she was born (they’ve only won twice 1920 and 1948), watching them get so close (AL Pennants in 1995 and 1997) and yet falling short (to the Braves in 1995 and the Marlins in 1997). My grandfather used to send my mom newspaper clippings of their team’s weekly progress while she was away at college and into adulthood. When they both got email a few years before he passed away, he would email her all Indians’ news he could find, though I’m sure she could find it herself by then. Baseball was always something special in our family, a connection that isn’t likely to sever any time soon. And every time I talk about the Indians with my mom or my uncle (who’s still a big Tribe fan) or some other family member from that area, it reminds me of that connection. I don’t like it when the Yankees lose, but I don’t mind it when the Indians win. Somehow, I think my grandfather would be celebrating the win of his team, a step closer to that elusive championship — 66 years and counting.
A very happy birthday to my mom, who goes to most games with me because we share the same love for the game, its intricacies, its quirks, its legends, its finest hours, its greatest miscues, and its lasting impact. Of course, it usually ends up being a conversation of me wanting to go to a game and her not wanting to miss an opportunity for an afternoon or evening at a ball park (any ball park). I don’t mind. It’s nice to share baseball with someone who not only gets baseball but loves baseball. And it helps that she’s now a Yankees fan. At least when they’re not playing the Indians, that is. (Mom, this double play made me laugh and think of so many random plays we seem to witness at our games.)