This was just not going to be a good day for the Yankees. It started off with terrible news, a loss in the Yankee Universe, and ended with terrible news, another kind of loss.
In tonight’s finale in Toronto, the Yankees were looking for a win to close the gap between them and the Blue Jays for that division title. With just a handful of games left, every game matters. It just wasn’t going to happen tonight, it seems. And that’s a shame.
Ivan Nova started for the Yankees tonight, giving it his all — 110 pitches through 5.2 innings, giving up just 4 hits and 2 walks, striking out 6 batters. Nova was only charged for 1 run under his watch, a lingering runner when he left the game in the 6th inning. With 2 outs, Nova walked a batter on his 110th pitch of the evening. He was exhausted and done, and the Yankees were ready to open their bullpen. James Pazos gave up a single to his lone batter before handing the ball over Caleb Cotham. Cotham struggled his way through his batters, giving up an RBI single (again, charged to Nova) and a walk to load the bases before getting that final out of the 6th inning.
Andrew Bailey came on in the 7th inning, promptly giving up a lead-off double. Two outs and an intentional walk later, a big 3-run home run just firmly planted the Blue Jays’ lead. Bryan Mitchell had a great 8th inning, throwing just 8 pitches for a 1-2-3 inning.
And the grand total of Yankees’ offensive impact — 6 hits and a walk. And not one player crossed the plate. Yep, it wasn’t going to be the Yankees’ night in the giant bright blue sea that is Rogers Centre.
Final score in Toronto: 4-0 Blue Jays, Blue Jays win series 2-1.
I woke up this morning, and like most mornings, I immediately reached for my phone and began the trolling through various news and social media apps. Almost instantly, my news feed was packed with some disheartening news — the great Yogi Berra passed away last night. Son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, Yankee, catcher, war veteran, coach, manager, champion, all-star, humanitarian, educator, legend, inspiration, quotable, mentor, and friend — Yogi Berra was so many things to so many people in his 90 years on this earth. (MLB’s obit here, with links to much of the coverage around the league, with MLB alumni and players, press releases, and more.)
And no matter how you saw him or if you were privileged to know him, Yogi was unforgettable, a character even, but always, always, always spoken of with love and affection and sincere kindness because that’s what he showed to everyone. He was really the first to be so inclusive at the beginning of the desegregation era of baseball. Yogi didn’t care what color or belief or position you played, but rather he judged on the content of your character, a living embodiment of MLK’s famous speech made toward the end of Yogi’s career.
May we all be a little more like Yogi Berra, being legacy-bearers of all he was — complete with quirky sayings, a friendly persona, and a sincere passion for our families and dreams. You will be missed, #8, but forever in our hearts. (My previous post here on Yogi as one of my favorite all-time Yankees.)
(Media links on Berra’s passing: The Yankees Remember Yogi; a flashback: an Aflac commercial; memorials across baseball; the Empire State Building; and tributes by Al Leiter, Paul O’Neill and Bernie Williams, Ron Guidry, Derek Jeter, Joe Girardi, and Hal Steinbrenner.)
(The next time you’re in the New York area, take a trip out to Montclair State University and visit the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center, full of great bits of history and baseball and those great Yogiisms.)