Game 125: HOU vs. NYY — McCarthy vs. the Astros (the 2014 version)

I was watching today’s game, brainstorming ideas for titles and story angles, and what kept coming back to me was the idea of a man named McCarthy and the place that boasts the home of the Space Race. Except this isn’t the 1950s and this isn’t the government. No, it’s 2014 and we’re talking baseball. I just found the coincidence a little amusing this Thursday afternoon. (And if you have no idea what I’m referring to, I weep for your education; Google will fill you in.)

First off, let me just say this was easily the quickest game the Yankees have played in a very long time at 2 hours and 7 minutes. And no, that’s not a misprint. It was just over 2 hours long. And in a day where everyone seems to complain about the average game length being just under 3 hours and the rumors that the newly elected MLB Commissioner is interested in shortening game lengths, today’s game will most likely be used as an example on how to keep things moving. But I believe this has more to do with pitching efficiency than anything else. I’ve seen pitchers who seem to love taking their time between every pitch, let alone every play or out, but every single pitch. That slows the game way down. Want a shorter game? Train pitchers to be efficient with their time on the mound.

So, the Yankees played that rare Thursday afternoon matinée in the Bronx today, the final of 3 games against the Astros. Technically, the Astros will be flying away from New York today with the series already in the win category after winning the last 2 games. But they certainly weren’t going to sweep — not if starter Brandon McCarthy had anything to say about it.

And he did — he threw 107 pitches over all 9 innings, allowed just 4 hits, no runs, and no walks, striking out 8 Houston batters. That’s right, a complete game and a shut out for McCarthy. Now, on the other side of things, the Astros only sent up one pitcher of their own for their 8 innings, and he threw just 96 pitches. Honestly, in a normal game, if the Astros could actually hit off McCarthy today, they should have had enough to make a go for the win. But they weren’t hitting, the Yankees were.

I’d like to believe the pre-game informal meeting of the players had something to do with it. They agreed that enough was enough and decided to play more aggressively, or in their words “with more emotion”. In total, the Yankees accumulated 7 hits and 3 runs today. All of those runs came in the 2nd inning, which meant that the Yankees spent 7 more innings defending their lead. And call it emotion or passion or just sheer willpower, they did it. In the 2nd inning, Teixeira led off with a single and moved to 3rd on Prado’s double. Teixeira and Prado both scored on Chase Headley’s double. Headley ended up at 3rd on Cervelli’s ground out and then scored on Ichiro Suzuki’s sacrifice fly.

They say that to win, you need to score runs and have good pitching. Sounds exactly like what happened today.

In roster moves: Carlos Beltran felt some soreness in his elbow, the one with the bone spur that had him on the DL last month, and is currently day-to-day and getting some treatments like cortisone shots to increase healing and decrease pain. So in the meantime, the Yankees knew they needed outfield support. So they called on Zelous Wheeler, who jumped in as today’s DH, and optioned Chase Whitley to AAA Scranton.

I guess I’m still stuck on the Space Race against McCarthy… Houston might have won that battle half a century ago, but today it was McCarthy. And personally, I’m a bigger fan on this McCarthy than his “red-chasing” namesake. Maybe it’s because they’re actually named the “Astros”, but every time the Yankees play them, it pulls out every bad rocket-related pun leftover from that Space Age era that I’ve ever heard. It’s a very good thing their paths won’t be crossing any more this year. I can put off all the bad jokes until 2015.

Well, at least space-related ones…

Go Yankees!

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