Game 54: NYY vs. BAL — Better on paper, despite 3 homers

A few days ago at a press conference, Cashman said what we all know to be true — that the Yankees are better on paper than what they’re currently producing on the field. Stating the obvious as he may be, it doesn’t help when the Yankees aren’t doing the one thing that could help their results — be consistent. Except perhaps at being inconsistent.

And the thing about “on paper” is that you focus on things like numbers that even look like they match and yet they don’t. The Yankees’ “numbers”tonight look like the match the Orioles in this first game of the weekend series at Camden Yards. But the Orioles are 5 1/2 game ahead of them in the standings. And the Yankees actually commanded much of this game until the pitching kind of fell apart in the middle of the game, and it took long to recover that aspect before the offense could be… well, consistent.

Nathan Eovaldi got the start and, like I said, commanded the game for most of his outing, but the numbers don’t reflect this because of one bad inning. Eovaldi threw 90 pitches in just over 5 innings, gave up 8 hits, a walk, and 5 runs, and struck out 5 batters. But let me clarify something — going into the 6th inning, his stats were 72 pitches, 5 hits, no walks, 2 runs, and 5 strikeouts. Those 2 runs coming in the 2nd as a lead-off double scored on a 1-out single and in the 4th as a 1-out solo home run.

And in the meantime, the Yankees offense certainly sparked alive on its own. In the 4th, with 1 out and Gardner on base with a walk, Carlos Beltran’s 13th home run of the year went straight up and over the center field wall to put the Yankees ahead of the O’s. Alex Rodriguez promptly followed that up with his own home run — a solo shot to right field. Then despite loading up the bases, a strikeout ended their 4th inning rally.

That’s okay, Austin Romine added his own run with a lead-off solo homer in the 5th inning. And with 2 outs in the 6th inning, Gregorius hit a ground-rule double and then scored on Chase Headley’s single and forced the O’s starter out of the game.

In the bottom of the 6th inning, Eovaldi kind of fell apart. The offense gave him a healthy lead of 5-2, but it got messy really fast. A single, an out, a walk, and a single loaded up the bases so that another single scored 2 runs putting the Orioles within one run. Eovaldi’s night was done.

Enter Kirby Yates, who proceed to strikeout his first batter. Good. Then a double scored the tying run for the O’s. Not so good. A pop out to end the inning, and Yates earned a blown save. So it was onto the backend of the bullpen to keep things under control. Except not so much tonight.

Dellin Betances gave up consecutive singles to put runners at the corners, and then the go-ahead run scored on an easy groundout to give the Orioles the lead and setting himself up for the loss tonight. Richard Bleier came in for the 8th inning and set the O’s down in order, having once again the best outing of the night for the Yankee pitching staff.

And that offense never did pick up to where it could re-take the lead. They ran out of innings to catch up.

Like I said, the numbers seem rather equal — 11/10 hits, 6/5 runs, 1/2 walks, 8/5 strikeouts. But numbers don’t tell the story. Well, one number certain makes a point at the end of it all.

Final score: 6-5 Orioles.

Injury Update: Okay, Brian McCann hyperextended his elbow at one point on the trip to Toronto (the reason we’ve been seeing Romine behind the plate more recently). That is the kind of injury you just need to ice and rest if you plan to see any kind of use anytime soon. And Mark Teixeira came out of the game in the 5th inning with some severe “discomfort” in his right knee. Apparently, he felt his knee “lock-up” back in the 2nd, and by the 5th, it was too painful to keep playing. He’ll be sent for further tests and an MRI.

Now, this is where the story gets interesting. Who do you send to 1st base? Other guys we’ve seen at 1st: Ackley, Bird, McCann — injured; Romine — behind the plate for McCann. So who’s left? Headley maybe, but then you’d call on maybe Torreyes to cover 3rd and technically Torreyes is sitting as the back-up catcher right now (how’s that for a turn of events?!).

So the Yankees did the unexpected (because it’s that kind of year) — Who’s on First? Refsnyder. Yes, Refsnyder, the guy the Yankees were grooming for 2nd base just a couple year ago, made his MLB debut at 1st base tonight. Perhaps, we can say that the Yankees are more interested in Refsnyder the Utility Player rather than a specific position. They are some of the most underestimated, and most important players on the team.

So, who would you put at 1st base tomorrow if Teixeira isn’t back yet? More Refsnyder? Headley? Sabathia? Larry Rothschild? It’s anybody’s guess.

Go Yankees!

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