Game 126: TOR vs. NYY — Ichiro 4K, Nix out

Ichiro Suzuki
4,000 career hits

Well, he did it. Ichiro Suzuki hit his 4000th career hit in the very 1st inning. He earned 1278 hits in Japan before coming to America in 2001 and playing for Seattle until last July and donning the pinstripes ever since, earning 2,722 total MLB hits. This accomplishment also pushes him ahead of hitting legend Lou Gehrig on the Yankees all-time hit list, 2nd to teammate Derek Jeter who currently sits at 3,308 total hits. He’s also the 3rd person in MLB history to hit 4,000 career hits (after Pete Rose and Ty Cobb). (Video of different broadcast coverage of the hit here.)

Many congratulations to Ichiro! 万才!We look forward to many more hits in pinstripes!

Oh, and they played another great game of baseball tonight in the Bronx against the Toronto Blue Jays. The funny thing (though not humorous to Toronto fans, I’m sure) about the game between these two teams is that one team (the Yankees) keeps climbing up the standings by winning over the other team (the Blue Jays) which is also pushing them further down in the standings, thus creating a wider gap between the 4th and 5th place teams in the AL East. It’s also the 4th win in a row, the 9th win in the last 11 games, and the 12th straight win over the Jays. Now, I wish I bought all those pre-season magazines that practically guaranteed a Blue Jay World Series victory due to their major off-season acquisitions. That’s why “it ain’t over ’til it’s over”…

Yankees honor Ichiro’s 4,000th hit

Anyway, tonight’s game was started by Adam Warren, who threw his first MLB start today. He threw 61 pitches into the 4th inning, allowing just 4 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, and 4 strikeouts. Really not terrible for his first big league start, seeing as he’s spent most of the season as reliable long-term relief, something that has been well-used this year. Those 2 runs were the only 2 runs the Blue Jays would score all evening — an RBI single in the 2nd and a solo home run in the 4th inning.

The Yankees called on newbie (at least to the Yankees) David Huff for long-term relief tonight (in other words, they asked Huff to be Warren’s Warren). Huff proved why he was an excellent pick up recently, going 5 innings, allowing just 1 hit, walking 4 batters, striking out 2, but keeping the Jays to those 2 runs. And it was Mariano Rivera called in for the actual save opportunity tonight, and he earned his 37th save this year in 11 pitches. Tonight’s game also featured two fantastic defensive moves by both Huff and Rivera.

Now, I need to give credit where it’s due — Toronto’s starter and former Mets pitcher seemed like he was back to the same stuff that earned him the NL Cy Young award last year. He hasn’t been as flawless much this year, but tonight he seemed to remember how to pitch in New York (even if it wasn’t the right stadium). However, the Yankees are on a roll, and tonight was no exception.

In the 2nd inning, with the Blue Jays up 1-0, the Yankees answered back when Austin Romine hit a sacrifice fly (would have been a huge hit if they didn’t have Spiderman in left field) to score Eduardo Nunez and tie up the game. Then in the 3rd, they see the opportunity to jump ahead as Curtis Granderson’s single finds a hole into right field and scores Robinson Cano. When Toronto answers back in the 4th, the game stays tied 2-2 until the Blue Jays last opportunity to shut the Yankees down, which they didn’t.

Instead, with 2 outs, Cano singles, and it’s Alfonso Soriano who, though recently off his hot streak, decided to shake things up with a blast — a 2-run blast into left field. And the game is 4-2 Yankees for the win.

Also, Jayson Nix was hit with a nasty knuckle ball on his left hand, which x-rays revealed is a fracture. No word yet on surgery or length of DL stint, but my guess is this close to the end of the season, he could be out until the playoffs if the hand heals properly. Personally, I’m glad he got in all his heroics with yesterday’s doubleheader because he deserves more credit that he gets as a utility guy, and I know he will be missed on the field and in the clubhouse. We wish him best wishes and quick healing!

And it looks like Derek Jeter will be making his way back to the Bronx soon. He’s scheduled to play with AAA Scranton tomorrow and will probably spend most of the weekend with them. His rehab couldn’t come at a better time, hopefully with no further complications, now to make up for the Nix loss. Strange days we live in as Yankees fans, when it looks like Jeter will be Nix’s replacement, instead of the other way around (like last October).

Anyway, a great game, a bummer loss, but good news on the way today!

Go Yankees!

Games 124 & 125: TOR vs. NYY — Doubleheader for the win

Today was a lot of baseball, and to make things a little easier, it was a lot of good baseball. Today was a doubleheader against the Toronto Blue Jays. The first game served as the make-up game for the rain-out from May 19.

In that first game, starter Ivan Nova gave a great outing, save a single inning. Nova threw just 88 pitches over 6.1 innings, allowing 9 hits, 4 runs, and 2 walks, striking out 2 batters. Those 4 runs came in the 2nd inning, the only inning Nova seemed to falter — an RBI single, an RBI groundout, and a 2-RBI double. But the Blue Jays wouldn’t score another run until the evening game.

Keeping Toronto scoreless, Kelley and Logan each got an out to complete the 7th inning, Robertson took his usual 8th inning stint, and Chamberlain and Rivera split the 9th inning to keep the Yankees in the lead. And the Yankees had some great defense in this game, especially in the form of Jayson Nix playing at shortstop today.

Now, the Yankees scored like Bronx Bombers today. In the 3rd inning, Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki on base with a single and double, respectively, and Robinson Cano hits his 200th career home run deep into center field, onto the netting of Monument Park. But the Yankees still trailed the Blue Jays until the 6th inning. With two outs and Alex Rodriguez and Jayson Nix on base with a single and a walk, it’s Chris Stewart’s turn to hit a 3-run home run, this time to left field. And suddenly, it’s 6-4 Yankees, and they never looked back. Cano tacked on extra insurance with a double in the 7th to score Ichiro, and Gardner’s sacrifice fly in the 8th scored Nix to firmly give the Yankees (and Nova) the 8-4 win.

It should also be noted that Ichiro Suzuki is currently sitting at 3,999 combined professional hits (between his time in Japan and in MLB) with his two hits today (3,998 & 3,999). With Ichiro’s passionate following, every game has been the same waiting game as it was for Jeter’s 3000th hit in 2011. You know it’s coming, but the when and how is just around the corner.

And then we had a night game with starter Phil Hughes, who actually did a pretty good job in his 6 inning outing. During his 100 pitches, he allowed 7 hits, just 2 runs, 2 walks, and struck out 6 batters. Those two runs came as a result of a wild pitch in the 1st and a sacrifice fly in the 5th. Preston Claiborne was recalled for the doubleheader only, as per the exception that a doubleheader can hold 26 men on its active roster, and he threw 2 innings, keeping the Blue Jays at just 2 runs. And they sent Rivera out in the 9th again (though not a save situation at that point), who continued the streak.

The Yankees continued their offensive streak, but decided not to show off until the last possible minute. Going into the 3rd inning, the Yankees were down 1-0, so Cano’s hot streak of the day continued as he singled home Romine to tie up the game. In the 7th inning, the Yankees down again 2-1, and it’s Nix to tie up the game with a solo home run to left field. Into the bottom of the 9th inning, on 3rd base is Ichiro, pinch-running for Reynolds, so when Nix slices a single into left field, Ichiro then scores for the walk-off single and the win (awarded to Rivera for his efforts in the 9th).

Like I said before, it’s Jayson Nix Day in the Bronx. He’s always been a strong utility player because he works hard no matter where he’s place in the line-up or on the field. So I guess he’s my “Player of the Day”, if I had to give such an award.

Also, for those of you wondering, the pitcher who drilled Rodriguez Sunday was suspended for 5 games and fined. Girardi was also fined, which is standard practice for ejections. The Red Sox have 2 days off this week in their tour of the West Coast, and typically starting pitchers are allotted 4 games off in between starts. You do the math and decide what you think. I’m trying to be positive here, and I don’t see how people are okay with harming another person, no matter who that person is.

A great day to win a couple of ball games though! Keep the ball rolling, boys!

Go Yankees!

Just 6 weeks and 39 games left

Well, it’s that time of year again… there is 6 weeks left to the end of the regular season, and just 39 regular games left to play. And we’re 2 weeks to the September call-ups — when they ask all the guys on the 40-man roster to join them and then select who will be with them in the postseason. And all this means is that every game is very important, and everyone is watching the standings and the injury report like hawks.

But I wanted to use the off-day today to do talk about something other than all the recent drama — the scandal, the suspensions, and the showdown last night in Fenway. So during my research, which includes watching and reading so many of the exact same video footage and the exact same article (where is the creativity and new story lines already?), the most interesting thing that seemed to be buried in all that noise was that Alfonso Soriano was named the AL Player of the Week today.

Soriano - slam
Alfonso Soriano, AL Player of the Week
Led the Yankees to victory this week

This week, Soriano became one of just 6 MLB players to earn 18 RBIs in 4 games since 1920, including Yankees Gehrig (1930), Lazzeri (1936), and DiMaggio (1939). He also batted .484, going 15-for-31, hitting 5 homers, a double, and 9 runs scored, leading every other hitter in the league in hits, home runs, RBIs, slugging percentage (1.000), and total bases (31), and tied for first overall in runs scored.

His amazing week: on Tuesday, Soriano slugged 3 hits, 2 home runs, and a career-high 6 RBIs in the win over the Angels; Wednesday, he went 3-for-3, with a double, 2 more homers (1 grand slam), and a new career-high of 7 RBIs (making him the 3rd player in MLB history with at least 6 RBIs in consecutive games); Thursday, he added to his totals, grabbing 4 more hits; and Friday, he solidified his streak, going 3-for-4, with a home run and 4 RBIs.

So a big congrats to Sori! A well-deserved recognition and honor for a job well-done!

As I peruse over the current roster, it’s rather heart-warming to see how many of the current players have contributed so much already to this season — Gardner, Stewart, Kelley, Nova, Robertson, Warren, Overbay, Suzuki, Wells, and of course Soriano. And I scan through the Injury List and see names that also did their part — Hafner, Phelps, Youkilis, and even Jeter to some extent. And none of those count the names that have come and gone or sent back to Scranton, and according to the recent counts, there have been 30 different starting position players (not including pitchers), with 18 players making 23 trips to the DL (doesn’t include any recent development with Nunez’s hamstring). In other words, Yankee fans haven’t had a solid 25-man roster at all this season. So maybe it’s a good thing there are no names on their backs, as they’ve already been putting the uniform maker into overtime with new requests.

So I guess, on their day off, it’s only right to think about all the contributions of the team and anticipate all the opportunities they’ll have coming up in these next 39 games. Two of those games get ticked-off the schedule tomorrow in the make-up doubleheader against the Blue Jays. We’re now in the part of the season where we’ll be playing division rivals a lot, so I look forward to seeing the Yankees climb in the standings and pushing for that #28. After a season like this, it just might be the ultimate Cinderella story, even to make the play-offs, let alone a shot at the Series. But hey, anything’s possible and thanks to Yogi, “it ain’t over ’til it’s over!”

Go Yankees!

Game 123: NYY vs. BOS — Long road to an unexpected but well-deserved victory

Boston-New York games are always statistically longer than the average MLB game. Tonight was no exception in length coming in at 4 hours and 12 minutes in front of a very heated, very vocal sold-out crowd at Fenway. Tonight’s game was also no exception to the storied history between the two rivals.

CC Sabathia threw 103 pitches over 5.1 innings, allowing 7 hits, 6 runs, and 5 walks, and striking out 5 batters. No where near the Sabathia the Yankees have come to rely on for tough games, but definitely better than some recent outings.  (Those 6 runs were scored by a sacrifice fly and an RBI single in the 1st, a RBI groundout in the 3rd, a sacrifice fly and solo home run in the 4th, and a walked-in run in the 5th.) Keeping the Red Sox firmly planted at those 6 runs, Kelley closed out the 6th inning, then Logan and Robertson each took an inning, before Mariano Rivera entered the game. His first game in a week, after blowing his 3rd consecutive save, and he walks away with tonight’s save (his 36th of the year) and hands Sabathia the win. And the entire Yankee fan base, clubhouse, and executive team breath a collected sigh of relief as the Yankees wing their way back home, winning tonight’s game and the weekend series.

The Yankees had their fill of offensive effort with their total 17 hits (to Boston’s 9). Things got tricky for the Yankees in the 2nd inning, and without it, I don’t know if there would have been such a push to win this game. Okay, so the Red Sox pitcher threw four really lousy pitches at Alex Rodriguez, tightly behind his back, two tight inside, and then drilled him in the back of his left elbow. The pitcher, clearly out to harm Rodriguez but quick to feign ignorance (and later backed by his manager), ended up being warned and both dugouts were warned by the home plate umpire. A warning for intentional harm? Yeah, Girardi didn’t like that much either. Very heated himself, Girardi’s argument with the umpire quickly escalated to his ejection, but his argument seemed to resonate with everyone else. Why wasn’t the pitcher who intended harm on another person immediately ejected for his reckless behavior? True, he goes home tonight with a big L in his loss column, and I’m guessing his teammates weren’t too happy with this act that clearly sparked the best kind of retaliation from the Yankees — a really good win.

So back to the game, Rodriguez is on 1st base, hit by Ryan Dempster, then advances to 3rd on Curtis Granderson’s double, and scores on Eduardo Nunez’s single. Granderson scores on Lyle Overbay’s sacrifice fly. In the 3rd inning, Rodriguez grounds out but scores Ichiro Suzuki. Now going into the 6th inning, the Yankees are trailing Boston 6-3.

So in another form of excellent retaliation, Rodriguez hits a really solid home run deep into the center field seats. But they’re not done yet, Nunez (later replaced by Jayson Nix due to a tight hamstring) and Overbay each single and Chris Stewart walks to load the bases, and then they all score on Brett Gardner’s amazing triple. The score is now 7-6, and the Yankees never lose that lead again.

Into the 7th inning, Rodriguez singles but gets out on Granderson’s force out. Granderson then scores on a single by Mark Reynolds (in to replace Overbay). Now 8-6 Yankees. (It should be noted that more Boston pitchers hit New York batters — Gardner took one in the 8th and both Nix and Cano in the 9th. I don’t think any of those were intentional, but I’m guessing more than egos are going to be bruised after tonight’s game. Though I should also note that a wild pitch by a Yankee batter accidentally hit the home plate umpire in his upper chest, pretty hard. No Boston batters were harmed intentionally or unintentionally, however, which kind of proves my point of the best kind of retaliation.) Anyway, in the 9th inning, Nix is hit by a pitch, advances to 2nd on a wild pitch, steals 3rd, and glides right into home on Stewart’s single, setting the final score of 9-6 Yankees.

And as if to cap tonight’s messiness, ESPN (tonight’s broadcaster) named Rodriguez the “Player of the Game”, which he honestly deserves. He went 3-for-4, with a home run, scoring 2 of the Yankees’ 9 runs, and earning 2 RBIs. He also handled some really great plays at 3rd base.

Before the game, there was a lot of talk about the recent developments in his case, personally and professionally. And there seems to be quite a bit of miscommunication all over the place. And while I do believe that Dempster intended to hit Rodriguez (and I’m clearly not alone in that opinion), I think it actually did quite the opposite of what he wanted it to do. It got Girardi (and several teammates) to publicly defend Rodriguez, it stirred up normally unbiased (or even slightly anti-Yankee biased) broadcasters to sort of “root for” him, it certainly swayed public opinion (outside of the 37,000 at Fenway) at least for tonight, and it seemed to challenge both Rodriguez and the Yankees to push for the win and succeed brilliantly.

In fact, I think the only people solidly against Rodriguez tonight after that 2nd inning bedlam were most of the Boston fans in the stadium tonight and a handful of long-term online haters. Perhaps they feel justified in their booing and jeering, but the sentiment outside of the game seems to be “how can you cheer someone who intends to do harm on another person?” It doesn’t matter who the recipient of the harm is. This isn’t the Wild West where vigilante justice was the way of life. We live in a society of laws and morals and ethics that protect us from such antics. What pained me the most was seeing small children “get in” on the hatred. Is this what we teach the next generation? That hatred is not only acceptable but encouraged? No matter what he’s done or not done, or who he is at the end of the day, there is never any call for physical harm or outright hatred and anger. Positive things change the world; negative things destroy it. Be the change in your world, not its destruction.

Go Yankees!

Game 122: NYY vs. BOS — Seasonal expectations met, moving on

Today’s game began as a pitchers’ duel, with Hiroki Kuroda manning the helm for the Yankees looking for their next win over Boston. Except it didn’t really work out that way, and Kuroda got out-pitched, as it were.

Kuroda’s 107 pitches only took him into the 6th inning, getting into trouble he wasn’t able to pitch out of in the 4th and 6th innings. He allowed 11 total hits and 5 runs (only 3 were earned) and struck out 5 Red Sox batters. Kuroda pretty much sailed through the first 3 innings, but things got sticky beginning in the 4th. A ground-rule double, single, and strikeout set up the next batter for a failed force attempt that lead to the run scoring, and a double-steal. Another strikeout and 2 back-to-back RBI singles suddenly have the Red Sox leading 3-0.

The Yankees offense answers back in the 5th inning, but the response is weak. Lyle Overbay singles, moves to 3rd on Chris Stewart’s ground-rule double, and scores on Ichiro Suzuki’s groundout to score the only Yankee run of the game. Call it a whimper of an offense in light of recent game spikes.

Well, the Red Sox weren’t through yet. In the 6th inning, a double, an RBI single (4-1), and an RBI double (5-1) that is complicated by a throwing error (and only 2 outs on the board) send the Yankees to the bullpen before any further damage. Adam Warren comes in to close out the 6th inning, but promptly gives up a home run in the next inning, pinning the score at 6-1 Red Sox. Warren continued through 2 full innings, and Logan got the final out for the Yankees defense.

I think, like most people watching the Yankees recently, we were waiting for that spark to be lit in the Yankees’ bats. But it just never showed up today. Actually, the Red Sox were playing like the team they’ve been all year, and the Yankees were playing like the team everyone expected them to be all year. The one thing neither team was doing was playing like the rivals they are, which just made the whole game kind of weird.

The whole day was kind of weird, if I really think about.

And I hate that I can’t just ignore this story, and like many people I think, I wish it would just go away. And since I’m trying to be a positive opinion blog and I’m not a salacious journalistic outlet, I’m going to briefly, objectively mention it. There is a story that now complicates the issue of Alex Rodriguez’s pending suspension. In it, a lawyer for his interests is alleging misconduct on the Yankees’ part to color Rodriguez’s playing history with the Yankees in a negative and intentionally mishandled manner. Both sides are being very vocal, but the subject of the whole conversation Rodriguez himself is however avoiding the conversation. Seeing as this whole thing has very little to do with actual current play on the field, that’s all there is to it. And beyond that, there’s no need for continued conversation.

But I will add my two cents here: there seems to be this constant stream of conversation about a whole lot of things surrounding baseball and not a whole lot of things actually about the sport itself. And with so many assumptions, biased gossip, angry tirades, and press releases and conferences, it’s sometimes hard to separate someone’s passion from that (often elusive or hidden) core nugget of truth. So before you make your judgments on the situation, let’s just wait for all the parties to sort themselves out and get their own passionate expressions of this matter out of the way. These kinds of things have a way of working themselves out and fading into the oblivion in which they belong in the first place.

Go Yankees!

Game 121: NYY vs. BOS — Green Monster home runs & offense continues

Mark Reynolds, former power-hitting corner infielder for the Cleveland Indians, is now a Yankee. And today, he made his mark on their surging offense. The Indians recently released him because he was on a slump for the last few months, but he seems to have left whatever slump in Cleveland, joining other former Indians including Sabathia, Hafner, and recent call-up David Huff in pinstripes. Reynolds had been with Baltimore for the previous two years, starting his career with Arizona. I remember him from his time with Baltimore last year; he was a quite a threat to the Yankees as the two teams battled for the title of the AL East (which the Yankees won). So I’m looking forward to seeing how he will both fit into the clubhouse and how he can impact their games.

The Yankees moved Preston Claiborne to AAA Scranton and David Phelps to the 60-day DL with continuing elbow strain, so Reynolds could make his Yankee debut in the Green Monster tonight.

Starter Andy Pettitte entered the game coming off some rough starts recently, a record of 7 wins to 9 losses, and thus needed tonight’s win against Boston more than just the win over their long-standing rivals. Let’s be honest, a win against your famous rivals is always sweet, but this win had personal sweetness for Pettitte.

But tonight, Pettitte did a good job, not on the Pettitte-legend level, but still leaps and bounds over recent outings. He threw 97 pitches over 6.2 innings, giving up 6 hits and a walk, striking out 5 Boston batters, and giving up just 3 runs (the only runs Boston would score all night). Those 3 runs came from an RBI single in the 4th inning and 2 RBI singles in the 7th, before Girardi replaced Pettitte for Shawn Kelley who recorded the final out in the 7th inning.

David Robertson threw a solid 8th inning, and Joba Chamberlain was called in for the 9th inning. But getting into a jam and loading the bases with 2 outs, the Yankees called on David Huff to replace Chamberlain to grab that final out, winning the game.

Now, the Yankee defense was rather entertaining to watch because the Red Sox are a good team this year (currently at the top of the AL East), so it forces the Yankees to run for long fly balls, use pick-off maneuvers, move quickly for double plays, and work together in a more fluid motion than against any other team. I mean, the Yankees-Red Sox games always bring out the big plays and hustles from both sides because of the long-standing rivalry. They both fight like there’s no tomorrow, and even on years where one team is really bad, it’s always a really stressful, exciting game.

But the Yankee offense had some fun tonight. Right off the top of the 1st inning, Brett Gardner singles, advances on Eduardo Nunez’s sacrifice bunt, watches Robinson Cano walk, and scores on Alfonso Soriano’s single (1-0). In the 2nd, Wells is on base with a walk as Reynolds steps up for his first at-bat as a Yankee only to slam a long 2-run home run over the left field wall (that tall ugly green wall that lends its name to the nickname of Fenway “The Green Monster”). And the Yankees are up 3-0.

In the 3rd inning, Nunez singles and Cano reaches on a sloppy force attempt and field error. Soriano’s 3-run homer, a homer that went deep over the Green Monster, continues to push the Yankee lead up to 6-0. And Nunez triples on a deep fly ball to center field and scores the Yankee’s 7th run of the evening on Cano’s single all in the 4th inning.

Going into the 9th inning, the Yankees led 7-3, but the Yankees wanted insurance runs in case their bullpen faltered again. Soriano and Rodriguez each singled and successfully pulled off the double steal move right before Ichiro Suzuki singled Soriano home (8-3). There are two outs as Reynolds singles home Rodriguez (9-3), and then Chris Stewart gets in on the offensive action with his single that scores Ichiro for the final score of 10-3 Yankees.

I have to say it was rather fun to watch Alex Rodriguez play defense tonight, diving for plays, using the momentum of a hustle to continue to make a play, and really just be the excellent 3rd baseman he is. No matter what the controversy surrounding him at any point in his career, he was selected 20 years ago for MLB because he was a great baseball player. And tonight, he certainly reminded me of that player they must have seen way back then. And offensively, he contributed as well, going 2-for-4 with a walk, meaning he is now a .300 batter for the short season he’s played so far.

I guess it reminded me of some previous seasons with what I consider one of the best infields in all of baseball (Teixeira, Cano, Jeter, and Rodriguez), when watching them work together on everything from double plays to routine fielding is like something out of a movie or something. Maybe it gives me hope that those days are still in the near future — sans Teixeira, that could be possible some time in the next few weeks, as Jeter returns from the DL. Or maybe I’m just hopeful for the continuing rise of offense, watching the Yankees push for a better spot in the standings, and a spot in the postseason.

Go Yankees!

Game 120: LAA vs. NYY — 3 out of 4 ain’t bad

It’s a real shame that starter Phil Hughes walks away with another loss because he actually pitched pretty good, at least as far as Phil Hughes has done this season. I said after yesterday’s game that the Yankees had already won the series against the Angels by taking the first 3 of this 4-game series. Perhaps, somehow, I subconsciously knew this wasn’t going to be their game today.

Hughes went a full 6 innings with his 104 pitches, allowing just 6 hits and a walk, and striking out 5 batters. He allowed only 3 runs — an RBI single in the 1st inning and a sacrifice fly and solo home run both in the 4th inning. If the Yankee pitches had kept it there, the Yankees would have won the game due to their last-minute rally. But they didn’t, so they didn’t.

In the 3rd inning, Brett Gardner managed to eke out a triple of a nice left field hit and then score on Alfonso Soriano’s single. And that was all the offense for most of the game from the Yankees. They sat at 3-1 Angels until the 8th inning.

Hughes was replaced by Shawn Kelley in the 7th, who after giving up a double in the 8th was replaced by Boone Logan, who quickly gets two outs. Logan intentionally walks one of their power hitters and then unintentionally walks the next batter to load the bases. The same guy who hit the solo home run off Hughes in the 4th then hits his 2nd home run of the game — a grand slam. And it’s suddenly 7-1 Angels. (Fun fact for all you Yankee fans: it’s Chris Nelson, who was briefly with the Yankees earlier this season, picked up from the Rockies but due to his low production was released and picked up by the Angels. Irony is something, isn’t it?)

With that single pitch, the Yankees reach into their bullpen and pull out Joba Chamberlain. (And really, a Hughes start isn’t complete without a Joba appearance.) His three batters doubled, singled home that runner (8-1), and then (mercifully) strike out for the final out of this messy inning.

Going into the bottom of the 9th, the Yankees have their last chance to put up better numbers than a measly single run today. So they make the effort. (The Angels start with a pitching change.) An out, Gardner walks, Soriano singles, (another pitching change) and Cano’s single scores Gardner (8-2). (Yet another pitching change.) Another out. And for the final rally effort, Vernon Wells doubles scoring Soriano and Cano (8-4).

Now to do my original math right, if Logan had gotten that final out instead of 2 walks and a grand slam, and the Yankees had their 9th inning rally, Wells’ double would have been the walk-off double and the series sweep. It’s amazing how a single pitch can alter a complete game outcome.

But isn’t that just life? A single decision along one road can forever alter the end result. And once that decision is made, there’s no going back. Perhaps that’s a simplified version of the consequences/rewards lesson we all learn as children that we develop as adults and consider “wisdom”. But it’s really the same thing we learned as children — that our decisions have long-term effects, sometimes for good, sometimes for bad. Sometimes we have better control over the decisions and sometimes we don’t.

But what makes you a better person is how you react to the outcome, whether good or bad. We don’t praise adults for reacting well to a bad outcome, but we’ll make note of a childish “sore loser” response to a bad outcome. That’s why players who spike their helmets or bats get booed by the crowd (and usually ejected from the games). And the bad winners, like the guys who show-off when they get a home run, get subjected to criticism. As a society, we like good winners and even better losers. Humility is always praised in adults, while the ego-driven diva is condemned. We’ll celebrate with good winners, and feel compassion for good losers. But society doesn’t tolerate show-offs or temper tantrums in adults, let alone in their children. As we have seen in many areas of life, the simplest decision can alter the outcome. So make wise decisions now, and be humble no matter what the outcome.

I have instant replay news. According to USA Today, MLB decided to approve the expanded instant replay across the league beginning in the 2014 season. This means that all plays during the game are up for questioning, except the strike zone. Apparently, they are stipulating some regulations on how many challenges a manager has during the game and when he can use those challenges. I don’t know if I fully understand or even agree with this idea, but they have 6 months to tweak and finalize those details. It will be interesting to see how it works in the guinea pig year that will be 2014 for the instant replays in baseball. (The YES network broadcasters discussed the details here.)

And maybe, just maybe, those guys on the bleachers at the football games will find something other than baseball being all “back in the Stone Age” to complain about our sport. Something like the uniforms or salaries or other such ridiculous nonsense that they have no control over.

Go Yankees!