I remember very vividly Game 6 of the 2001 World Series. The Yankees, coming off their stellar (very important) season, were up 3-2 over the Diamondbacks and looking for one more win to win their fourth consecutive World Championship. But standing in their way were the Diamondbacks, led by future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson. Johnson pitched that night for Arizona against the usually reliable Andy Pettitte (who only made it through 2 innings that night). It was a blowout game. For the Diamondbacks. Final score of Game 6: 15-2 Arizona (including 22 hits by Diamondback batters). It was not a pretty game in the slightest. (Even Joe Torre talked about his memories from that night with perhaps a tinge of regret, but time, as it often does, softened the harsher memories and focused instead on the more important impactful moments from that season and life-altering year.)
And while tonight’s game was nowhere near that bad, or even crucial in the long run, it certainly brought back memories of that very specific game for me.
Tonight recent call-ups Chad Green and Conor Mullee made their debut with the Yankees. In fact, all 4 pitchers for the Yankees tonight weren’t on the roster a few weeks ago. And honestly, it’s kind of obvious. Green started tonight’s game and got knocked around quite a bit by the Diamondbacks’ roster.
In just over 4 innings, Green threw 79 pitches, gave up 8 hits, a walk, and 6 runs (just 4 earned), and struck out 5 batters. Once again, the strikeouts were the best thing for the pitching staff tonight. Not that it did much in the long run. In the 1st, with 2 outs, a solo home run got things started for Arizona. And a lead-off single, and subsequent stolen base in the 2nd, scored on a 2-out double.
The Yankees weren’t easy to run over just yet (unlike the 2001 game, by the way). In the 4th, Teixeira led off with a double and moved to 3rd on Beltran’s single before scoring on Chase Headley’s single. But despite a bases loaded situation 2 outs later, the Yankees fell back into that RISP (runners in scoring position) chasm and left all 3 stranded. Leading off the 5th inning, Jacoby Ellsbury smacked a beautiful triple and then scored on a rather hilarious throwing error. It was described as a “Little League Home Run” online a few times, and it was honestly the best play of the night.
(By the way, with all of this talk about “making baseball fun again”, this play reminded me of the more questionable displays of so-called “fun” some other players seem to be advocating for. But if that play wasn’t fun, I don’t know what was. Anything that is reminiscent of the game these guys played as kids should be the definition of “fun” for this game, not some convoluted display of prominence.)
Okay, so the game was tied going into the 5th inning, and things were looking up for Green. But not for long. A missed catch error allowed one runner and a walk put a second on base so that the third batter hit a very large 3-run home run to push the D’backs into the lead. After an allowed double (and still no outs of the inning), Green’s night was done.
Nick Goody promptly got 2 outs, one a sacrifice fly that scored the lone runner, before giving a double and RBI single to increase Arizona’s lead even more. Conor Mullee made his major league debut tonight and had some struggles of his own to contend with — a walk, a strikeout, a stolen base, a walk, a force out, a hit-by-pitch to load the bases, and a walk that gave up another run before getting another force out to end the inning. I was informed that Mullee is the first Yankee pitcher with at least 3 walks and a hit-by-pitch in his debut since Betances’ debut in 2011.
It was time to hand over the ball to a more veteran pitcher, not that it would make that much of a difference. Phil Coke’s 7th and 8th innings were plagued with their own troubles. A fielding error, a hit-by-pitch, and a single loaded the bases before a ball ground into a double play scored the lead runner and a strikeout ended the D’backs attempt at running away with tonight’s game (well, even more than they did).
In the 8th, with 1 out, a batter doubles, but trying to stretch it into a triple gets tagged out between the bases (thanks to veteran teamwork there). A single, an RBI double, a walk, and a 2-RBI triple pushed the D’backs into double-digits.
Look, the best thing about the pitching staff consisted of 2 statistics — only 1 allowed walk and 8 total strikeouts, which nearly matched what the Arizona pitching staff came up with (1 walk and 10 strikeouts). But I’m guessing the 15 allowed hits and 12 runs (though only 8 were earned) and 2 errors were a giant part of the final score tonight.
Final score: 12-2 Diamondbacks
Before the game tonight, the Diamondbacks paid tribute to the late Joe Garagiola with a special pre-game ceremony, including a nice video tribute (this is the shortened link) to the former player, broadcaster, and long-time lover of baseball. (Link for full ceremony.) Garagiola’s children, his best friend Yogi Berra’s granddaughter (and MLB reporter), and friend and baseball executive Joe Torre were all on-hand for the celebration and honoring of a legend. Torre, Berra, and a former Diamondbacks co-broadcaster with Garagiola caught the ceremonial first pitches by 3 students from a local school where Garagiola spent his time giving back to his community. (Link for Lindsay Berra’s special report on her Grampa’s best friend and tonight’s tribute.)