When things aren’t going right and you really want to keep living in denial to soothe the hurt, the easiest thing to do is blame the easiest target, the thing that is the most ridiculous and least logical reason for all your troubles at that point and time. So Canada, it is then for this final game at Rogers Centre.
Especially as Masahiro Tanaka threw a pretty good outing tonight, like Sabathia did last night. The Yankees just didn’t do much to help out in the offensive neighborhood. And unlike most of this season, the bullpen didn’t just falter — it crumbled into tiny little cookie crumbs.
Tanaka threw 104 pitches through his 6 innings, giving up 7 hits, a walk, and 2 runs (just 1 earned), and striking out 2 Toronto batters, earning his first loss of the season so far. Tanaka held off the Blue Jays through most of the game actually. In fact, for awhile, it was looking like a bit of a pitchers’ duel.
In the 5th, a lead-off single moved to 2nd on a ground out and then scored on an RBI single that ended up being an awkward out for the Blue Jays as the batter tried to stretch it into a double but the Yankees offense was on point and got him in his cavalier base-running. The first batter in the 6th hit a nice double and moved to 3rd on a fielding error (Ellsbury misplayed and bobbled a usually easy catch to earn his first error since 2014). The next batter ground into a double play but scored the lead runner to double the Blue Jays’ score and lead.
And then the crumbling 7th inning. Tanaka passed a trailing game over to the bullpen who let the Blue Jays fly away (needed a bird pun somewhere) with the game. Kirby Yates started the inning giving up a single, a stolen base, a walk, an pop up (infield fly rule), and another walk to load the bases before a single scored 2 runs to again double the Blue Jays’ score (one a great diving catch by Gregorius).
So it was time to try Nick Goody. But he too struggled his way through the inning. A double scored another run, and a single scored two more to cap off the scoring before he finally got the necessary 2 outs to get out of the inning. But the best outing overall was by recent call-up Richard Bleier who threw a nice 10-pitch 8th inning and didn’t let one Blue Jay score a run.
The Yankees’ offense was limited to 7 hits and 2 walks because the Blue Jays’ pitching was actually really good tonight, including a recent much-talked about acquisition in their bullpen. Together the Yankees got the Blue Jays to strike out just 3 times, while the Blue Jays’ pitchers got the Yankees to swing away and get 8 strikeouts tonight (half of those by Headley, who takes home the cheesy and unwanted honor of the “Golden Sombrero”).
Final score: 7-0 Blue Jays, Blue Jays sweep the series 3-0.
And now to say “good riddance” to Canada and move forward. The Yankees head to Detroit for that make-up game tomorrow night before heading to Baltimore for the weekend to complete their current road trip.
Okay, so if you’re feeling a little dejected by the return of the slump, just remind yourself that there is still 110 games to play. And the reality is that the Yankees cannot lose all of them. It is an actual impossibility.
In fact, going back in the history of the modern era baseball tells me that even the absolute worst teams still won at least 36 games. But if we limit this to the expansion era (1961-today) when they actually played 162 games every season (before then, it was 154 games) there are only 2 teams that make the all-time “worst” list — the 1962 Mets who finished the season with just 40 wins and 120 losses (and 2 ties due to no stadium lights for night games) and the 2003 Tigers with 43 wins and 119 losses.
So doing the math, the Yankees current sit at 24 wins and 28 losses. And here’s the kicker, the Yankees are not even the worst team in the AL East (that would be the Rays), let alone the AL (the Twins) or the entire league (the Twins just recently eked out over the Braves for this one). So chill out, everyone. It’s a slump.
Don’t make me quote Journey or some other ear-worm on you. Remember which “universe” you’re part of and just be positive. I have to be, but it’s better than the alternative.
“I’d rather be an optimist and a fool than a pessimist and right.” (Albert Einstein)