Game 40: NYY vs. WAS — An almost stache-less squad, an almost win

Something was missing in the clubhouse before the game tonight. Actually, something started disappearing before the Yankees boarded their plane on Sunday evening. As the Yankees spent their day-off yesterday touring our nation’s capital, something we’ve become accustomed to seeing was missing. The ‘Stache Squad 2015 is no more. It became very official when the instigator himself, Brett Gardner, appeared at BP today as bald on his face as he is on the top of his head. A few hold-outs still roamed the clubhouse, but most of the faces were back to that clean-shaven look that seems to fit the 2015 Yankees (rather than a quirky nod back to the 1985 Yankees).

And it looked like that lack of facial hair was helping… for a time that is.

Due to his former career in the National League, it was Nathan Eovaldi on the mound to start tonight’s game against the Nationals. (Again, for those of you who spend much time following the AL, the NL has no DH and thus the pitcher always hits as part of the roster. So Eovaldi’s time in the NL as a starter became a plus for him to start tonight’s NL-based game, though he didn’t do much at the plate.) Overall, Eovaldi actually had a decent night for most of his outing. With the exception of his bookend innings, Eovaldi was as sharp as ever. In the 1st inning, he gave up 2 solo home runs to give the Nats an early lead. But buckling down and starting to really drive home what makes Eovaldi a good pitcher, allowed him to cruise forward while the Yankees racked up their own offense.

In the top of the 4th, the Yankees started their offensive attack. Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a walk, moved to 2nd on a ground out, and then scored on Chris Young’s single. (Ellsbury came out of the game after this with pain in his knee from his at-bat; more later.) Mark Teixeira walked, and McCann’s ground out put runners on the corners. Chase Headley’s nice double scored Young, and Pirela’s single loaded the bases back up. Then it was Stephen Drew to single home McCann and Headley. This inning alone gave the Yankees a very nice healthy 4-2 lead.

Beltran singled to lead off the 5th inning and then scored later on Teixeira’s big 2-out 2-run home run. So it would be 6-2 Yankees at the halfway point in the game. The Nationals starter officially out of the game — he cruised on 30 pitches through the first 3 innings and then took 40 pitches alone to get himself out of the 4th inning, adding 15 more in the 5th inning.

Eovaldi was still on for the Yankees in the 5th, looking to maintain his healthy lead. But it was not to be — a walk, a strikeout, an RBI double, a single, an RBI single, and an RBI single. And with the biggest hitter on the Nats roster coming up to bat, only 1 out, and 2 runners on base, it was time to open the bullpen. Eovaldi’s night done at 82 pitches through 4.1 innings, 7 allowed hits, 5 runs, 2 walks, and 5 strikeouts.

So the Yankees sent out the hard-throwing lefty Justin Wilson. In 5 pitches, he got that big hitter to ground into a double play to end the inning. And that big hitter celebrated his failure there by spiking his helmet into the first base line, just like the diva I’ve seen him be before. I don’t want to say that kind of stuff wouldn’t fly in the Yankees’ clubhouse, but I just did. So there. (If this keeps up tomorrow, I definitely have some things to repeat from posts I’ve written before. But I’m guessing you already know what I could say if you’ve read my blog for any length of time. My tolerance for divas in baseball isn’t very high.)

It was David Carpenter’s turn to keep the Yankees to their tiny 6-5 lead over the Nationals. And once again, it was not to be. In the 6th inning, he gave up a solo home run to tie up the game, making all Yankee fans across the country groan in frustration. That 4-run lead, gone in a matter of minutes. Carpenter’s 26 pitches took him 1.2 innings, right up to that big hitter from before. So the Yankees sent in a former teammate of that Nationals diva — Chasen Shreve. Shreve’s one time pitching against him before tonight got him out in a quick fly out; tonight, Shreve continued his dominant streak over the diva, getting him to swing at a low ball for the strike out.

So it was a tie game and the 8th inning — time for the Dynamic Duo. But tonight, nothing was “as it should be”. Betances threw 28 pitches through the 8th and 9th inning, waiting for the Yankee offense to wake up, which it never did. Betances’ outing was often Betances-like with 3 strikeouts. And then it was Andrew Miller, still sporting a mustache by the way, in the 10th inning. But Miller wasn’t really sharp tonight — 22 pitches became a strike out, a walk, a strikeout, and a 2-run walk-off home run.

Game over.

Final score: 8-6 Nationals.

Bummer.

Seriously, shave the rest of the ‘staches, guys. ‘Stache-less is definitely the way to go. Your wives/girlfriends/children will thank you. No, I don’t believe that facial hair somehow has some kind of mystical power over the win-loss of a team (no matter what those crazy 2013 Red Sox fans/players will tell you). And I understand the idea of camaraderie and doing silly things to boost morale. But clearly, the ‘stache isn’t doing its job anymore, so it’s time to go.

On a quick side note: for a few moments, it did cross my mind to envision the “Core Four” with facial hair… did anyone do a meme on that? Imagine Andy, Jorge, Derek, and Mariano with their own mustaches. It would definitely be unexpected and probably make them virtually invisible to any of their public, while they enjoy their retirement. Interesting idea…

Injury update: Ellsbury was sent for an MRI on his right knee and will be placed on the 15-day DL with knee sprain. In his place, the Yankees will call up Slade Heathcott from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Bummer.

Also, Chase Whitley opted for Tommy John surgery on his injured elbow. The surgery was performed today in New York by the Yankees team doctor, and it turned out this was a good thing. I’m never a proponent for surgery unless there is no other option, but Dr. Ahmad said that his ligament was shredded and only had a few pitches left before it tore completely. Recovery from TJ surgery is 12-18 months, so we’ll see Whitley back in pinstripes sometime late 2016 at this point. Best of luck and health to him in the meantime!

Can’t wait to see how many ‘staches are left tomorrow… my best guess — just Tony Pena, whose face kind of lends itself to suit a mustache.

Go Yankees!

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