Game 145: NYY vs. MIN — Big offense falls short against big offense

In a game where a team can make great defense plays and hit some major offense, it’s unfortunate when the other team can do the same, despite being below .500 and officially eliminated from the postseason. But the reality is that most teams under .500 aren’t there because they’re terrible (well, a few of them are). They’re having a losing season because they’ve been inconsistent.

Inconsistency will sink a team every time. They go through really terrible streaks at the worst possible times in the schedule, and hit those random highs in the weirdest times, usually against teams they should lose easily to. Let me also clarify that the Yankees have moments of inconsistency, but they have not been consistently inconsistent. It’s why they’re still very much in the postseason picture, though the A’s are just 2 games behind them now in the Wild Card race.

Sonny Gray was called on for a spot-start in this middle game against the Twins and had a tough go of it. He threw 63 pitches in his 3 innings, gave up 4 hits, 3 walks, and 3 runs (2 earned), and struck out just 2 Minnesota batters. He did hold off the home team until the 3rd inning. He loaded up the bases with 2 walks and a single. A passed ball scored the lead runner and moved the other runners into scoring position, something they did on a 2-RBI single, before he got out of the inning.

Jonathan Loaisiga took over in the 4th, but even he had issues against the Twins. In the 4th, a lead-off single moved to 2nd on a ground out and then scored on a 2-out double. But it would be the 5th inning that combined for the real blow to the Yankees tonight. Loaisiga loaded up the bases with 2 walks and a single before giving up another walk to score the lead runner and a 1-out single scored another.

So with bases loaded, Loaisiga responsible for all the base runners, it would be Tommy Kahnle to the mound in the relief. But a missed pitch became a monster home run grand slam over the center field wall to ensure the Twins’ eventual win. After a single, the Yankees’ defense kicked into gear and got a great double play to end this terrible inning.

Stephen Tarpley had the best outing of the Yankee pitchers tonight, throwing 2 solid, scoreless innings. All the while, Yankee Universe was hoping for a bit of a late-inning comeback rally.

The Twins also pieced together their pitching staff tonight, matching the bullpen-heavy names on the Yankee pitching roster. But the Yankees made every effort to not just hand the victory to the Twins (despite what happened above). They got on the board first in the 2nd when Didi Gregorius hit a 1-out triple and then scored on Gary Sanchez’s sacrifice fly.

After the Twins’ big 5th inning, the Yankees had their own big inning in the top of the 6th. With 1 out, they loaded up the bases with Hicks, Andujar, and Stanton. The Twins went to their bullpen again, and the new pitcher promptly gave up a home run grand slam to Didi Gregorius, his 2nd career grand slam.

Riding high on that, the Yankee offense were looking to continue that momentum in a late-inning rally. It just never came. The Twins’ final 2 pitchers in the last third of the game kept the Yankees off the bases, thus away from their large lead.

Final score: 10-5 Twins

I would post about the status of the postseason. However, while the AL is a bit more clear-cut, with the biggest competition happening in the AL West, the NL picture is really competitive with 8 teams still competing for a wildcard spot, and 6 of those with a legitimate chance. The AL may be set soon as the final 2 weeks of games within the division approaches. But the NL is going to go down to the wire.

Finally, I want to once again recognize the lives and legacy of the men and women we lost 17 years ago on this day in New York, D.C. and Pennsylvania. We honor your memories again today and pray for your families as they continue to find their “new normal” with your daily absence. We will never forget.

Go Yankees!

Game 12: ARI vs. NYY — Remembering Jackie Robinson & Boston

For throwing all his 94 pitches over 5 innings, starting pitcher Ivan Nova showed a strong outing, at least a stronger one than we’re used to seeing from Nova. Two-thirds of those pitches were strikes, and after getting into a little trouble in the 3rd inning, giving up 2 runs, he kept the Diamondbacks at bay in tonight’s 4-2 win, assisted by the strong showing from the bullpen via Logan, Chamberlain, Robertson, and, of course, #42 himself, Mariano Rivera.

The Yankees offensively were hitting like crazy tonight earning 12 hits, 3 walks (2 intentional to Cano and Ichiro), a powerful 3-run home run from Robinson Cano in the 4th inning, and a Nunez sacrifice fly to score Youkilis. It was quite an impressive showing tonight in the Bronx, a well-fought and well-earned win.

And as yesterday was an off-day, the Yankees used today to honor Jackie Robinson by every player, umpire, and coach donning #42 tonight. I have to admit, for a few seconds, it wasn’t as disconcerting to watch a Yankees pitcher wearing 42 until I realized it was Nova and not Rivera. But it was a very nice recognition of Jackie Robinson’s impact on baseball. I loved seeing all the 42’s everywhere on every play, every pitch, every hit, every out.

StandUnited Boston
Outside Yankee Stadium today in support of Boston
via Yankees

The most moving event tonight, however, was the moment of silence for those injured or killed in yesterday’s explosions at the Boston Marathon. Much like Boston showed its support for New York in the days following 9/11, New York (however unfortunate the circumstances) used this opportunity to show its support for Boston. As investigators are still sifting through leads and evidence in Boston, the whole country is supporting another city rocked by an outrageous act of violence. We remember these tragedies that have become all too familiar in today’s 24/7 news and social media access. Even as I write this, I have a newspaper to my left that should have had today’s headline about the African winners of the Boston Marathon or the celebration of Jackie Robinson’s career across MLB, but instead we read the words “terror” and “deadly” and “carnage”.

Baseball now is a game of great equalizing, a three-hour distraction from life that is very much needed at times like these. I remember how the 9/11 rescue crews would be listening to a game while they were working, and their conversation wouldn’t be on the task at hand but on what they thought of Torre’s decision to pitch one guy or sit another or why someone shouldn’t be playing for the Yankees anymore. (Nothing changes there except the names.) It wasn’t disrespectful or maudlin, but rather healing to allow the city to remember something that has been static when the whole world was drastically changing. It’s remembering the game you fell in love with as a kid, when so many kids have been ripped of their innocence, discovering that not everyone is going to be nice and play fair in this life. It was that year that we faced the Diamondbacks in the World Series. Nice coincidence today…

I guess I get a little nostalgic remembering  why we are fans in the first place. And I guess it takes world events to remind us that a little distraction is healing and a reminder that while we sort through and find justice, we can count on some things to be the same. And in spite of that, while today we stand with Boston, when we play them again at the end of next month, I don’t expect anything less than the return of our nearly a century-long semi-friendly rivalry. It’s our tradition, it’s our history, and it’s our baseball.

Go Yankees! Our prayers are in Boston today for the families of those who lost someone, for a quick healing of all those injured, and for swift justice to those who would continue to do evil in this world.

Exhibition Game: NYY vs. West Point — Honoring America

The Yankees officially ended their Spring at West Point’s United States Military Academy, touring the campus and playing a game against the cadet’s baseball team. The Yankees may have won today’s exhibition game 10-5, but really the day was about honoring those who dedicate their lives to serving our country. The team spent the morning touring the historic campus, lunching with the cadets, and hanging out in the bleachers and dugout of the USMA. (More stories from today’s visit is available here, via yankees.com.)

And while it was nice to see the Yankees take another win (in another non-game and won’t count for anything), I am always impressed with the club’s respect for our military. They show it at every home game, honoring a veteran and active duty personnel, and taking a moment to honor all those who serve with “God Bless America” at every 7th inning stretch. Other teams jump right into “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” or something semi-relevant to their team or cheesy wedding-DJ type songs. But the Yankees always start with respect and honor.

I remember the days immediately after 9/11 when our country became united in its patriotism and baseball was a remembrance of America’s pastime. Baseball was a temporary distraction from a world that had been shaken to its core and changed forever. Baseball was consistency and competition and a nod to the stability we so desperately needed. Baseball gave people something to cheer on and hope for. Baseball reminded us that we as Americans were on a team, united together for a single cause.

And today’s visit to those who take that “team mentality” to the next level reminded me of those days. Upon graduation, the cadets go on to bring freedom and peace to countries across the globe and here in the U.S. They are our real heroes, and they deserve our respect and honor. And I, for one, am proud to follow a team that regularly shows that kind of respect and honor to our military.

So today, I honor those who have taken their time and risked their lives to serve our country, including so many in my family. Thank you for your service.

Go Yankees!