Game 45: OAK vs. NYY — #TanakaTime and it still falls short

So, can we blame Michelangelo? Not the Renaissance artist, but the Ninja Turtle. Masahiro Tanaka’s had a rough time this season after a near-flawless Spring, then he dresses up as a turtle yesterday for HOPE Week, and then he throws a near-flawless outing tonight in the opening game of the weekend series against the visiting Athletics.

Tanaka threw a beautiful 111 pitches into the 8th inning, giving up just 5 hits and no walks, and striking out 13 Oakland batters. That statistic alone is a huge feat, as the last Yankee to get 13 strikeouts with 5 or fewer hits was Mike Mussina (September 28, 2001) vs. the Orioles. But the biggest feature is no runs. His last allowed single was on base when he left the mound, thus making him responsible for that runner.

And unfortunately, Tyler Clippard had a rough time getting the final 2 outs of the 8th inning. A pick-off attempt went awry and that runner ended up all the way at 3rd. Defense came in handy on the first batter who hit into a fielder’s choice that had Headley charging the ball and getting the out at home.

But a walk put 2 runners on base to threaten again. A single scored the first run of the night, leaving runners at the corners. The next batter hit into another RBI single to double the A’s score. The Yankees challenged the play, believing the runner was actually out at 1st and thus the run didn’t score, but the call was upheld (but not confirmed). And Clippard was able to find that final out to get out without falling into the threat.

Reliever Jonathan Holder stumbled a bit out of the gate, giving up a single and a 2-run home run to kick off the 9th inning before buckling down and getting the needed 3 outs. But the damage was done.

And into the bottom of the 9th, the scoreless Yankees went, looking for a big comeback. Or at least to get on the board so they’re not shutout. With a new reliever, the Yankees made their move. Hicks worked a walk and ended up at 3rd on Castro’s 1-out single. Judge worked a walk to load up the bases, and with just 1 out, the Yankees were looking for something, anything to happen in this final inning. It would be Didi Gregorius to hit a long sacrifice fly to score Hicks and get the Yankees on the board. But it was also the 2nd out of the inning. But a pinch-hit pop out ended the game and the rally.

Final score: 4-1 Athletics

Injury update: Greg Bird has been tending to his bruised foot, getting some workouts in periodically. But now, he’s on his way to Tampa for further workouts before he will begin his rehab games soon after.

HOPE Week concludes with Day 5, and the Yankees honoring 14-year-old Tyler Cashman. Tyler started “Points for Pain” after his mother began suffering from chronic pain after a 2008 procedure. His idea was to organize local sports teams to partner with fans to donate money based on how many points the teams scored in a game. To date, he’s already raised over $25,000 for a pain foundation, and he’s inspired other kids to start their own programs to raise money.

So, Tyler and his family were hanging out at the Central Park Boathouse when Chris Carter, Aaron Hicks, Matt Holliday, Bryan Mitchell, Austin Romine, and Chasen Shreve showed up for a fun afternoon. They took row boats out on the lake, raced RC sailboats (even donning sailor’s hats), and had a picnic on the grass, tossing a football around a bit.

The Yankees also presented the US Pain Foundation with a $10,000 donation, and Tyler was on hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before tonight’s game.

And that’s it for the 2017 HOPE Week, a new legacy of some amazing kids making a difference in their world. I hope it inspired you to change a part of your world. Because you can make a difference. It is doesn’t have to be in a big way, but there’s always something you can do to change the lives of someone in some way. They say that you don’t have to do it all, but you can definitely do something. So, go and do something.

Go Yankees!

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