Game 145: NYY vs. TB — Tight win against the “Queens Rays”

We say farewell to Citi Field today, the Rays’ displaced home this week thanks to the invasion of Hurricane Irma this past weekend. While the entire state is in the midst of clean-up, restoring power, searching for open gas stations, and getting their lives back to a semblance of normal, baseball continues with the lingering thoughts of the fans “back home”.

During the games, and all over the City this past week really, it was interesting to see that the primary thought on most people’s minds were those in the path of the hurricane, including Florida, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and the entire Caribbean. (Also, if you haven’t donated and still want to get involved, MLB has a fundraising site you donate to that will help hurricane victims of both Harvey and Irma to get back on their feet.)

Today, the Yankees and Rays played their last game in Citi Field for this quirky misplaced series this afternoon. Jaime Garcia got the start and threw a decent, albeit abbreviated game. He threw 78 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 5 hits, a walk, and a run, and struck out 4 Rays batters. His lone allowed run was a lead-off solo home run in the 3rd. But the Yankees’ defense certainly backed him (and the rest of the pitchers) today.

Chad Green was brought on in the 5th to close out that inning for Garcia, and breezed his way through 4 outs, including 3 strong strikeouts, setting himself up for the eventual win. Kahnle’s 7th inning was a mixed bag, as he gave up 2 hits, but then got out of the inning without adding to the score.

But Dellin Betances’s shaky 8th inning was a bit too close of shave. The Yankees weren’t about to allow much of a leash on their pitchers. Betances got a fly out, gave up a single, and then struck out a batter. So after 18 pitches, that was it for him, much to his dismay as he wanted that 3rd out. Aroldis Chapman came on and had his own issues — giving up a walk and an RBI single (charged to Betances) before getting that 3rd out, a strikeout. Chapman then walked the lead-off batter in the 9th, but then breezed his way through the next 3 outs, all 3 strikeouts, and earned the save.

The Yankees’ offense did it once again in a single inning. This time in the 2nd, they hit into the Rays’ ace starter pretty hard. Castro and Ellsbury hit consecutive singles to lead off the inning and put runners in the corners. Todd Frazier’s single easily scored Castro. Then Romine’s 1-out walk loaded up the bases, so that Brett Gardner’s single scored both Ellsbury and Frazier to give the Yankees an early lead. One they spent the rest of the game defending.

It was almost not enough, but they clung to that 1-run lead all the way through to the end.

Final score: 3-2 Yankees, Yankees win series 2-1.

Yes, that does make it their 4th consecutive series won, which is great news for their push for the postseason. And there are a lot of numbers and charts and graphs to negotiate through to assess the postseason before the regular season has ended. Yes, there are already teams that have been eliminated entirely, and there are those who are clinging to a single-digit chance of postseason dreams. But the Yankees are basically a shoo-in for October baseball, at least as the first Wild Card spot.

But that’s not really good enough. Not for a team like the Yankees this year. And especially not with the Red Sox being just a few games ahead of them with more than 2 weeks left of the season. This is the time of year when we’re watching the scoreboard and rooting for all the teams that could help boost the Yankee standings (read: any one playing against the Red Sox, which isn’t unusual for Yankee fans, but especially needed at this point in the season — so tonight, it’s “Go, Oakland!”)

Next up, the Yankees moved back to the Bronx to host a 4-game weekend series against the Orioles starting tomorrow. Then the Twins come to town in what could be a preview of the Wild Card game (if the Yankees don’t win the AL East), then it’s up to Toronto next weekend before closing out the season back home against the Royals (a make-up game from May), the Rays, and Blue Jays. Finger crossed, Yankee universe, this could be a rather interesting final 17 games.

Also, the reason no team is named the “Queens” anything is because it sounds like a British sports organization, as you can see from my blog title today. Though I’m still a little torn as to why certain other area teams are dubbed “New York {Sports Team}” when they play in New Jersey, as I would be if the Rays were called the Tampa Rays when they play in St. Petersburg. I know it’s about the area (with the other teams), but that’s the same reason as to why the Rays are the “Tampa Bay Rays”, so they don’t offend the city that holds their stadium’s contract hostage.

Go (Bronx Bombers/New York) Yankees! (See why that works…)

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