Game 38: NYY vs. ARI — Not enough even against a struggling ace

Well, I suppose I can happy it wasn’t a total blow out again, but I don’t think that anyone can ever realistically be happy with a loss. Especially one that was fraught with more of those disappointing moments when nothing came when most needed.

Still in beautiful but very hot Arizona visiting the Diamondbacks, the Yankees sent up Michael Pineda to start the game, and he certainly had mixed results in his 5 innings — 81 pitches, 9 allowed hits, 1 walk, and 5 runs, and (here’s the upside) 9 very nice strikeouts. In the 2nd with 2 outs, a really nice triple scored on an RBI single to get the D’backs on the board.

In 3 consecutive singles to lead-off with 3rd inning, 1 more run scored. Then 1 out later, another single scored another run. But then with runners in scoring position, Pineda (and his defense) got the requisite 2 outs to get out of the inning. Then with 1 out and a runner on base with a walk, a 2-run home run scored the final 2 runs for Arizona.

Chasen Shreve took the next 2 innings, adding his own very Shreve-like 2 strikeouts. Kirby Yates took the 8th and added his own 2 strikeouts to the total. (These two, when on point, are some of the strongest middle relievers the Yankees have had in their bullpen in a long time. When they reach that consistency point, they’re going to be unstoppable forces.)

The reality is that the Yankees were up against one of the best pitchers (in my mind too) in the National League. This year, he’s with a new team and his ERA is nowhere near where it should be (it’s too high for a pitcher of his caliber). Which means, he’s gotten off to a rather rough start. Which is evident in some of his statistics tonight against the Yankees — like the 5 hits and 3 runs he gave up to them.

The Yankees actually struck first in tonight’s game with Starlin Castro’s 1-out solo home run in the 2nd inning. Then the Diamondbacks’ starter started to falter as he neared 100 pitches in the 8th inning. He gave up singles to Gregorius and Hicks, putting them on the corners. That would be it for the starter, but he was now responsible for those runners on base. Pinch-hitting Carlos Beltran hit into a ground out, scoring Gregorius and moving Hicks into scoring position. Then Jacoby Ellsbury’s single scored Hicks to put the Yankees within reach of the win.

Except they didn’t reach. And they didn’t win. Between the 2 relievers that closed out the final 2 innings, they were effectively shut down and sent further into the loss column.

And once again, the best thing the Yankee pitching staff had going for it was the fact that in total they struck out 13 Arizona batters. But still the Arizona line up seemed to find ways between those strikeouts to do enough to give them the edge.


Final score: 5-3 Diamondbacks

Scranton Shuttle: before the game tonight, the Yankees flew out a few names everyone’s been wondering about — infielder Rob Refsnyder and pitchers Luis Cessa and James Pazos for some fresh arms and a chance at a good back-up bench. In response, they optioned new guys Chad Green and Conor Mullee back to Scranton (a rather short MLB debut stint). And Phil Coke was designated for assignment.

Ah, the endless cycle of DFAs, options, call-ups, assignments, and contracts. A GM’s job is never done. And the chances of a team ending up with the exact same roster as the one from Opening Day is just not reality. Injuries happen, bodies breakdown, slumps hit rock bottom, players peak too early or too late. The fact is that part of the long season is that it means that there are too many variables.

It’s why I don’t put much stock in what the talking heads say at the beginning of Spring Training. You just can’t predict baseball. You can’t predict life. And it’s that kind of part of the fun — the mystery of what could be meets what will be in a big ball of the unexpected. It certainly keeps me on my toes.

Go Yankees!

{Media note: video link issues… I’ll try to get them up by the next post. Sorry!}

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