Game 102: NYY vs. TB — It’s all about the pitching… and the hitting… and the scoring…

You know, they say that if you don’t have pitching, you don’t have anything. Of course, I guess the same could be true about many aspects of the game. If you don’t have hitting, you don’t have anything. But let’s be really honest here: if you don’t have runs scored, you don’t have anything. And that’s the whole thing really. Whoever has the most runs scored at the end of the game is the winner, which makes a weakness in any other area completely void.

Tonight, Ivan Nova got the start for the Yankees in the weekend opener against the Rays. Nova’s name has been tossed around a bit with the trade deadline looming, and he certainly didn’t have a night for the scouts to drool over tonight. He threw 76 pitches into the 5th inning, giving up 6 hits, 3 walks, and 5 runs, and striking out just 3 batters. He started off the game by giving up a lead-off solo home run to the Rays, and then 2 outs later giving up another one to give the Rays an early lead. A lead-off triple in the 3rd scored on a fielder’s choice in a double play attempt (ending in a throwing error). And the lead-off double scored on an RBI double to kick off the 5th inning. After an out and a single, Nova’s night was done.

Now, the biggest problem for Nova is that he (like many of the Yankees) is a perfectionist and holds himself to a high standard. And to be fair, some of the pitches called balls clipped the lower edge of the strike zone on many television and computer graphics programs. But you aren’t allowed to argue balls and strikes.

So as Nova was walking off the field, angry mostly at himself, the plate umpire started arguing at him believing Nova to be “too emotional” or some nonsense. Yes, Nova chattered back at him because he didn’t understand why the umpire was interrupting his walk (and minor pity party) off the field. The umpire pointed to the scoreboard as if to say “that’s your problem not me”. Nova later admitted he had no clue why the umpire felt he needed to yell at him as he walked off the field. This, of course, added fuel to the frustrated pitcher who took it out on his glove as he tossed it against the wall of the dugout when he got back to the bench. Not a great reaction, but seriously. What was all the chatter about?

Anyway, in came Chad Green to finish up the inning. But he loaded the bases with a walk (seeing Nova’s frustration with a higher strike zone), gave up a sacrifice fly (the run charged to Nova), loaded the bases again with a walk, and finally got a strikeout to end the inning. Then Green sailed his way through the rest of the game, only allowing 2 more base runners and getting 4 more strike outs.

Not that the Yankees’ bats were exactly silent. They racked up 10 total hits and a walk against the Rays’ pitching staff, who after the starter left in the middle of the 7th, seemed more like a rotating door at the Empire State Building. And though they could get men on base, the same old story of not being able to score runs was playing at the Trop tonight.

It wasn’t until the 8th inning, on the 3rd pitcher of the evening, that the Yankees offense got through. With 2 outs and Ellsbury on 1st, McCann singled to put Ellsbury in scoring position so that he could easily score on Mark Teixeira’s against-the-shift straight up the middle single. Of course, another pitching changed ended that attempt at a rally. But the Yankees weren’t shut out of the game.

I mean, it was still a loss, but not a shutout.

Final score: 5-1 Rays.

Like I said, the trade deadline is approaching — July 31. So rumors and chatter and ridiculous theories abound from the internet to the talking heads on every sports network that actually talks about baseball more than a 30 second spot. (I’m looking at you… famous sports network I can’t name that never gives baseball more than a brief blip in the middle of the season.) And since I don’t do rumors or anything that’s not solid information, I’ll leave it at that. Rumors aren’t worth the energy to listen and repeat.

Now, facts… well, those are stubborn things.

Go Yankees!

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