Houston-area native and Astros great Nolan Ryan was front and center to watch his former team take on the Yankees tonight. About a hundred feet away on the mound was another kid from Alvin, Texas — Nathan Eovaldi. But this pitcher donned away greys and threw a great outing as his fellow Texan looked on — 100 pitches in 6 innings, giving up 5 hits, 2 runs, and 2 walks, and striking out 6 Astros’ batters. The Astros scored in the 3rd and the 6th each on an RBI single. Eovaldi earned his 7th win of the season just 30-ish miles from where he grew up playing Little League.
Chasen Shreve kept things rolling for the Yankees in the 7th with 3 sharp strikeouts. Justin Wilson got the first 2 outs of the 8th before Dellin Betances came in for a 5-out save, his 5th save of the season.
The Yankees offense wasn’t as productive until the 7th inning. With 1 out, Beltran and Jones were each on base with singles, as the Astros opened their bullpen. Chris Young, another Houston-area native, smacked a big 3-run home run to put the Yankees up and over the Astros. And despite loading the bases and forcing another pitching change, the Yankees couldn’t add to their score. Fortunately, they wouldn’t need the insurance runs.
The Yankees had a great defense today behind Eovaldi. One interesting play in the 4th had Garrett Jones sliding in for a catch in right field, but his knee got caught in the field and took a chunk out of the grass. He seemed okay and stayed in for the rest of the game (scoring on that home run in the 7th), but that’s going to leave a mark. And then there’s the funky little catch Mark Teixeira made in the 8th inning, where he went sliding and practically caught the ball over his shoulder in very shallow right field.
Final score: 3-2 Yankees.
Young’s home run tonight, his 9th of the season, got me thinking about how it feels like the team has re-earned their “Bronx Bombers” moniker once again. When I look at the stats, this is what I see for home runs — 18 for Teixeira, 15 for Rodriguez, 11 for Drew and McCann, 9 for Gardner and Young, 7 for Headley and Beltran, and 4 for Jones and Gregorius. That’s a total of 95 home runs for just these guys, 99 in total. (Four other guys each have a single home run for the season — Ellsbury, Heathcott, Pirela, and Williams.)
And the team they are second to in the entire league in total home runs for 2015? The Astros — who currently sit at 107 home runs.
And if you were wondering (and I know you weren’t), the Yankees are also second in total runs scored (to the Blue Jays). Stats are funny things.
I got a chance to share my opinion today about the All-Star Game and the current voting process. Currently, the fans vote on their favorite players to start the All-Star Game. This year, it’s all online voting via the MLB website or on various forms of social media. And because of this all-digital process, the Royals fans have bombarded the voting process to put 7 of their 9 starting players at the top of the fan vote. Amid whispers of cheating or unfairness is the common thread of trouble-shooting — how to solve the easily manipulated process of all-digital fan voting. Opinions range from getting rid of the fan vote altogether to leaving it as it is to various modifications (kiosks at games, a one-day voting alternative, lessening the weight of the fan vote, etc.).
I have mixed feelings, and honestly, I always have on this fan vote thing. Decades before I was born, the city of Cincinnati got in trouble with MLB for manipulating the fan vote for the All-Star Game. In 1957, fan voting elected 7 Reds players to the NL team, which alerted the commissioner to something weird. Upon investigation, they discovered that more than half the ballots cast were from Cincinnati as their paper delivered pre-marked ballots to its customers. The commissioner removed 2 Reds players from the starting lineup and replaced them with Hank Aaron and Willie Mays (undoubtedly better choices than the losing team that was the 1957 Reds). The other non-Reds player was Stan Musial, who was elected over a Reds player, just barely.
As a result, people from Cincinnati weren’t allowed to vote for the All-Star Game until 1969. But now, with this all-digital voting, it’s too easy to make the same Cincinnati mistake. One click can highlight just one team for your voting process. But does everyone on your team deserve to be called an “All-Star” this season? Even the best Yankees had truly terrible years and didn’t deserve to be called “All-Stars” some years — and that includes Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, Jeter, and Rivera.
Last week, they announced that the voting process has cancelled out over 60 million votes due to various disqualifications, but giant questions still abound as to who deserves the title of “All-Star” and who will get in because we live in a tech-savvy era.
All that to say, I think the Yankees are getting rather overlooked in this whole process. Guys like Gardner deserve the All-Star recognition, but cannot eke out enough votes to be in the Top 10. Go vote for who you think is an All-Star, and if they’re Yankees or Royals or Astros, great. But make sure they deserve the title and the honor.
(Several of the Yankees’ pitching staff also deserve the nod — Miller and Betances are at the top of my list — but those are decided by the coaches and players.)
Voting ends July 2 at 11:59 pm. Vote early and vote often. 35 votes per email address. (Can you see how easy it is to beat the process?)