Game 158: BOS vs. NYY — “Almost doesn’t count”

Call it a speed bump or added hurdle or slight detour. Call it “it’s not what you want” a la Girardi in far too many press conferences. Call it whatever makes you feel better, but it’s just disappointment. And yet, the Yankees aren’t out of it. (Also, for tonight’s post’s title opine, a small nod to a CD I wore out in college and to accurately portray my feelings this late Wednesday evening.)

Maybe the constant chatter about all these “magic numbers” and the fact that there’s a grand total of 4 games left of the 2015 regular season, but the high hopes of securing the postseason with a win and a few added stipulations has been the topic of conversation for every game since Monday. A comment on my news feed read: “The 2015 Yankees are pulling off the rare combination of exceeding expectations and being a huge disappointment.” That about sums up these last few games for me too.

Anyway, Masahiro Tanaka was back on the mound tonight. And while he admittedly seemed a bit rusty, he still threw a pretty decent game. Most of the damage was once again in the first inning, but overall, Tanaka threw 95 pitches in his 5 innings, giving up 5 hits, 4 runs, and a walk, striking out 3 Boston batters. After 2 outs in the 1st inning, a single and a walk set-up a big 3-run home run to put the Red Sox on top early. Then in the 3rd, a ground-rule double scored on an RBI single to give the Red Sox a solid lead over the Yankees.

Fortunately, that didn’t last long. The Yankees got one back in the 2nd inning. Young and Bird on base with 2 outs, Rob Refsnyder’s ground-rule double (the very “in thing” this game apparently as there were 4 total in this game) scored Young. Then in the 5th inning, Ellsbury led off with a double and moved to 3rd on a wild pitch, and then after a 1-out walk to Alex Rodriguez, Ellsbury scored on Carlos Beltran’s ground-rule double (told ya).  Rodriguez then scored on Brian McCann’s ground out, and Beltran tied up the game on Chris Young’s RBI single. The Yankees loaded up the bases with 2 consecutive walks after this, but a fly out ended a potential to jump ahead and set the pattern that would be come all to familiar tonight.

Rodriguez, however, did push the Yankees ahead with a 2-out solo home run into those left field seats he favors for such things. So it was the bullpen’s job to protect that. And because it was that kind of night, they did not do so well in that area. Justin Wilson’s 6th inning was nearly perfect, and he got the first 2 outs of the 7th before the Yankees opted for Dellin Betances. This might have been a mistake as he promptly gave up a solo home run to tie up the game again, and Betances was now on the hook for a blown save. Betances bounced back to give the Yankees a quick 1-2-3 8th inning before it was on to Andrew Miller for the 9th inning and the 10th.

Miller’s stats were impressive tonight, spreading his 38 pitches over his 2 innings and striking out 3 batters. Miller is certainly returning to form and should be really impressive in this postseason. Andrew Bailey started off the 11th inning, also known in Yankee Universe tonight as the “inning of doom”. (Maybe that’s too melodramatic, but it’s late and they lost so bear with me here.) With 1 out and runners on the corners, an RBI single gave the Red Sox back the lead and kept runners on those corners. It was on to Chasen Shreve in hopes he’s found whatever timing has been off for him lately. It was not to be. A sacrifice bunt scored another run before a 2-run home run pushed Boston into solid win territory. Caleb Cotham came in to finish off the inning in 2 pitches.

And the Yankees were looking at the wrong end of the 11th inning, with no last-minute rally in their veins.

However, I do need to point out something here about the oddities that are statistics sometimes. Technically, the Yankees bullpen pitched better to the Boston batters — nearly matching on hits (13 Boston hits to 12 New York), the Red Sox pitchers gave up 11 walks (not a typo) and just 6 strikeouts, while the Yankees only allowed 2 walks and struck out 8 batters. The Yankees loaded the bases several times but constantly left players stranded on base to end an inning (15 total players left on base in the game). The offense was simply not taking the scoring opportunities when they were literally right in front of them. That’s why the game went into extra innings, and that’s why the Yankees didn’t win this game.

Final score: 9-5 in 11 innings, Red Sox (technically, the Red Sox have already won the series)

Quick note about these last four games… now, the Yankees have one more home game, tomorrow night against the Red Sox, before traveling down for the weekend in Baltimore. However, there is some potential weather hazards that could hamper said games. There’s supposed to be a storm sweeping through the tri-state area tomorrow night, and there’s this Category 3 hurricane over the Bahamas right now that should head straight up the coast this weekend, potentially making landfall sometime between Sunday and Monday. We’re running out of time for make-up games, so it’s going to be interesting to see how these next few days turn out.

Okay, here’s the final math on those “magic numbers”: basically, if the Yankees can somehow win tomorrow night’s game (and please, God, make that happen), they’re in the postseason as the Wild Card (Toronto officially claimed the AL East title with their near-blowout of the Orioles). If they don’t, then it’s a waiting game on many other potential wild card teams to lose their games tomorrow. It’s just kind of really messy, this postseason math business.

Go Yankees!

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