Game 52: NYY vs. SEA — A new “King” in the Emerald City

It rained in Seattle tonight. I know, I know. Why does that surprise anyone? Well, for some reason, even though the skies were darkened and rain threatened all day, the people at Safeco Park believed it would be a good day to open the retractable roof for game time. And then it poured about a third of the way into the game, thus forcing the closure of the roof and ensuring a rather muddy infield. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the forecast says rainy tomorrow and Wednesday, so following that pattern, expect an open roof at game time. And if you’re going to the game, bring a poncho!

Okay, going into tonight’s game, I didn’t really have high expectations. Not that the Mariners are that spectacular of a team this year. (Honestly, they haven’t been that kind of team since Junior played with them.) But tonight’s starter is one of the best pitchers in the AL, perhaps even one of the best in the entire league. So good, his following in Seattle is big enough that he has been dubbed “King Felix” and has a “court” of supporters in left field that all wear bright yellow shirts and hold up “K” signs when he gets one of his many strike outs. The court was awfully silent tonight.

Michael Pineda started for the Yankees tonight, and (fun fact) the Yankees actually traded Seattle for Pineda in 2012. And tonight, he kind of showed Seattle what they lost in that trade, how the Yankees certainly fared better in that deal just 3 years later. Pineda didn’t have much trouble until the 7th inning — keep Seattle scoreless, giving up just 4 hits and a walk, and striking out a whopping 9 batters. But the 7th inning seemed troubling for him. A lead-off single scored easily on a nice triple, then that runner scored on a double, and after a walk, they opted for the bullpen to relieve Pineda of his 97-pitch, rather stellar outing.

Justin Wilson was brought in to get all 3 outs of the 7th inning for the Yankees in just 10 pitches. He was followed by Dellin Betances and Chasen Shreve, each for an inning. Betances was his usual sharp self, getting 3 rather nasty strikeouts, and Shreve was able to close out the game in a non-save situation rather nicely.

With the recent addition of Tanaka to the rotation, moving Capuano to the bullpen, a move from the bullpen down to AAA will likely come tomorrow or Wednesday as one of the now 5 lefties in the bullpen. But then again, they could do something completely different, and anymore, it wouldn’t surprise me.

I must confess I held my breath through the 3rd inning, the inning that seems to give the Yankees’ pitching staff some trouble recently. But no, Pineda did his job well, and pushed on through rather quickly.

Now, the Seattle starter, this King of Emerald City (though I would think some Seattle residents might declare that to be Russell Wilson, the quarterback of the Seahawks, who was at tonight’s game, by the way), earned just his 2nd loss of the season, when his 85 pitches took him just 4.2 innings. The Yankees did a lot of damage — 6 hits, 5 walks, 7 runs, and just 4 K’s for the King’s Court.

In the 4th, Gardner led-off with a single, and Headley’s single put runners on the corners. A wild pitch scored Gardner as the 1st run, moving Headley to 2nd. Walks to Rodriguez and Teixeira loaded up the bases. McCann hit into a double play, and it still scored Headley. Up 2-0, the Yankees found themselves beating up on the King’s reputation. A lead-off walk to Drew, a Flores single, and a walk to Gardner loaded the bases again. Chase Headley’s sacrifice fly scored Drew, but Rodriguez’s single loaded the bases once again. That’s fine. Mark Teixeira walked up to the plate and hit a monster grand slam into the seats in right-center field, his 9th career grand slam and 15th home run of the season.

After a pitching change, the Yankees collected just 1 more hit, but the Seattle bullpen effectively shut them down. But after those 2 big innings, it was enough to send the Yankees to the winner’s circle tonight.

Final score: 7-2 Yankees.

Apparently, the only reason Seattle is known as the “Emerald City” is because of some contest from 1981 to give the city a new nickname. The name, inspired by the many evergreen forests in the area, took over Seattle’s old nickname of “Queen City” the following year. (It had been “Queen City” since 1869, the year Seattle was incorporated as a city.) So Dorothy’s Kansas tornado took her to Seattle so she could take down the Wicked Witch of West (suiting the concept of being on the West Coast) under the Space Needle… though she wouldn’t need a bucket to melt her, just shove the green lady outside for 10 minutes. It is after all Seattle. And yes, it’s late here on the East Coast and this is where my mind wanders while watching late baseball. Thought I’d invite you all into those thoughts on a final random note. Sorry. Enjoy your own rambling thoughts now… also if you can put some weird pun out there about how the Yankees recently “swept” the Royals, who are from Kansas City into this whole mess, good ‘on ya! (Tip of the hat there to my friends from Oz, the real one!)

Go Yankees!

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