Game 159: BAL vs. NYY — Jeter says farewell to the Bronx

Jeter-finalYS
photo credit: YES Network

Only for Derek Jeter could the Yankees script such a storybook farewell in the last game he would ever play in Yankee Stadium. It poured all over New York all day long, and suddenly as game time approached, the skies cleared, the tarp came off the field, the drying agent applied to the infield, and it was game time as scheduled in the Bronx. And there would be no rain, but instead a glorious orange sunset streaking across the sky as the Yankees warmed up for their final home game this season.

Hiroki Kuroda started tonight’s game, in what may be his own last game in pinstripes (as he has yet to announce his plans for next year). And despite a rocky start, Kuroda settled down and just put the Orioles in their place. In his 8 innings, he threw 95 pitches, gave up just 3 hits and 2 runs, and struck out 9 Baltimore batters. Those runs came as back-to-back solo home runs in the 1st inning. But after that, Kuroda became the Kuroda the Yankees know and love, just keeping those pesky birds from doing much in front of this sold-out crowd.

The Yankees, however, weren’t going to let the Orioles just have this game. In the 1st inning, Brett Gardner singled and then scored as Jeter doubled. Jeter then stole 3rd on a wild pitch and scored on a fielding error that got Brian McCann safely to 1st. The game was tied 2-2 at the end of the 1st inning.

Then came the 7th inning, which has to be the inning where the Orioles realized they weren’t going to win this game. I watched this inning and honestly wondered how a team so sloppy in their defense could possibly be where they are in the standings (much like I did in the first game of this 4-game series). Drew led-off with a strikeout, but ended up safely at 1st due to a passed ball (a rule I still don’t understand exactly, but I’m happy to watch it land in the Yankees’ favor). Ichiro Suzuki then walked, in what could also be his last game in pinstripes, as he too has yet to announce his plans beyond Sunday’s game in Fenway. And then Pirela singled on a bunt and the bases were loaded. Gardner’s groundout gets Drew trying to come home.

Bases are still loaded as the Captain steps up to the plate, and the Orioles bring in a new pitcher as this guy certainly wasn’t doing the job. Jeter actually has a really poor hit on a broken bat, but the Orioles’ shortstop bobbles it badly, so Ichiro and Pirela each score as Jeter and Gardner end up on the corners. Another new pitcher and it’s McCann again for a sacrifice fly to score Gardner.

And it’s 5-2 Yankees.

And into the 9th inning, Jeter takes his place at shortstop for the last time in the Bronx; chants of “Der-ek Je-ter” echo through the stadium, met with a couple of tips of the hat and waves with his glove; David Robertson on the mound for the 9th inning; Yankee fans just praying for those 3 outs to victory. A lead-off walk on base and one out, a 2-run home run to the 2nd deck of left field put the Orioles within 1 run. Another out. And then another left field home run to tie up the game. You could feel the air being vacuumed out of the stadium in an instant. Robertson would get out of the inning with a blown save.

No one moved like the usually do at this point. The guy they came to watch was up 3rd, and his family was right behind the netting, waiting for his final at-bat. Everyone in New York (and I’m guessing across the viewing audience) was praying for something spectacular. Pirela led-off with a single, before speedy Antoan Richardson was pinch-run for him. Gardner’s sacrifice bunt moved Richardson to 2nd. And the world waited. An 86 mph change-up was all it took — a single into right field, Jeter rounding 1st, ball thrown into home, Richardson sliding in… SAFE! WALK-OFF!! It’s what Girardi himself ordered for Jeter’s final at-bat. And when the boss puts in an order, the Yankees deliver.

Game over. Yankees win 6-5. And the madness in the Bronx began. It was as if they had won a Championship. The entire team celebrated, hugging their Captain goodbye. Former Yankees Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Tino Martinez, Gerald Williams, and Bernie Williams were waiting to celebrate with former manager Joe Torre. Interviews, time alone on the field, greeting his family, more interviews, the customary Gatorade shower (by Gardner and Sabathia), and the final walk down the dugout steps to the clubhouse for the final time. And that was it.

Another farewell that makes me a little sad is that with Jeter’s final at-bat also goes the “Voice of the Yankees” Bob Sheppard. Before Sheppard passed away in 2010, three years after he stepped away from the microphone in 2007, Jeter specifically requested that his at-bats at Yankee Stadium were always going to be Sheppard’s voice announcing him: “Now batting, number 2, Derek Jeter…. number 2”. It’s as nearly familiar to any Yankee fan as Jeter himself. So as we in New York bid farewell to the one announced, we also bid farewell to the Voice that echoed through Yankee Stadium since 1951 announcing the likes of DiMaggio, Mantle, Berra, Rizzuto, and Jackson. It’s part of the old game that now fades into the history books and our memories.

Go Yankees!

Game 147: NYY vs. BAL — Steal home, seal a win on a soggy Saturday

After yesterday’s disappointments, the Yankees came into today’s matinee in need of something… well, less disappointing. Once ordered, so given in front of the sell-out crowd in Baltimore today. Though on what can only be described as a very soggy day at Camden Yards, the game was delayed 35 minutes to start due to rain in the area, and it actually continued to rain through much of the game.

Shane Greene started today’s game and seemed to return to the Shane Greene form we’ve been used to this year. Over his 5.1 innings, he threw 112 pitches, allowed 7 hits and 2 runs, and struck out 9 Orioles’ batters. None of those stats surprise me or lessen the strength of Greene’s outing because they were against the Orioles, a team that very much likes to hit and hit big. Those runs were an RBI single in the 3rd inning and a solo home run in the 6th.

In the meantime, the Yankees found an inning to make an impact. In the 2nd inning, Brian McCann started the offensive roll with a solo home run. Then Teixeira walked, Chris Young doubled, and Antoan Richardson’s single scored Teixeira (Richardson’s 1st career RBI). Now, with hot-streak Young sitting on 3rd and 2 outs on the board, Young stole home. Yes, that’s right, he stole home. Well, actually, the catcher made the mistake of going for the distraction — trying to throw out Richardson going to 2nd, while Young casually strolled his way across the plate. This gave the Yankees enough runs early on to defend with their bullpen, something they did with the same tenacity we expect from the Yankees.

And defend they did — Rogers finished the 6th inning for Greene and the first out of the 7th, then Outman finished that inning; Kelley’s 8th kept the ball rolling (so to speak); and Robertson earned his 36th save of the season in the 9th in 11 pitches.

So it wound up being a 3-2 Yankees win. And I’m always happy for a win.

Go Yankees!

Game 136: BOS vs. NYY — Welcome to September baseball, not so Greene anymore

Well, it’s September baseball. Consider this the long stretch into the postseason. And yesterday, the Yankees had the day off, which I guess was nice for those who wanted to celebrate Labor Day properly. But it also means that the 25-man roster can increase to the 40-man for the playoff race. That being said, the Yankees recalled catcher John Ryan Murphy and pitchers Preston Claiborne, Bryan Mitchell, and Chase Whitley (from AAA Scranton); selected pitcher Rich Hill and outfielder Chris Young (also from AAA); and signed outfielder Antoan Richardson and pitcher Chaz Roe to ML contracts and the active roster (again from AAA). And in less pleasant news, AA Trenton outfielder Slade Heathcott was recalled and moved to the 60-day DL due to right knee surgery; moved Masahiro Tanaka to the 60-day DL (more in a moment); released pitcher Matt Daley; and designated Zoilo Almonte for assignment.

Okay, so Tanaka’s soreness was diagnosed as just that — soreness. That means, he will return to his throwing rehab this week, attempting to work back into the regular season as soon as humanly possible. It feels odd that I must include the term “human”, but I think sometimes some people become so used to the idea of near immortality of the athletes (or even seeing them as simply commodities) that one might forget they are also human, with weaknesses and limitations. We continue to wish Tanaka a speedy recovery, but mostly we want good, whole health.

And then there was a game with the visiting Boston Red Sox. Shane Greene took the start tonight, and while Greene has been pretty consistent this year in his fill-in status, tonight certainly wasn’t consistent with the Greene I think we’ve been spoiled to watch. In just 2.2 innings, Greene threw 67 pitches, gave up 6 hits, 6 runs, and 3 walks, striking out just 3 Boston batters. To say it was a terrible outing for Greene might be an understatement, and I think everyone wishes this was an April game and not a September one.

In the 1st inning, a single and a walk put runners on base to score on a double and a sacrifice fly. (2-0 Boston) In the 3rd, runners again on base with a single and a walk score when a batter smacked a 3-run home run into the right field seats, only to be followed up 2 batters (and 1 out) later by another home run (a solo shot). (6-0 Boston)

Now, the Yankees answered back in the bottom of the 3rd as Martin Prado hit his own solo home run into the left field seats, but with Esmil Rogers on the mound now (in relief of Greene to get out of the 3rd and pitching into the 4th), Rogers gave up his own solo home run, effectively erasing the Yankees’ attempt. (7-1 Boston). Rogers came back for 1 out in the 5th before handing the ball over to Hill to end that inning.

The bottom of the 5th was, by far, the most productive offensive inning for the Yankees, albeit awfully strange. Beltran and McCann each singled. Then Prado hit a ball that sailed over the left fielder’s head, which should have been a double, but Beltran and McCann were waiting to see if the player could catch it. He didn’t, so Prado headed for 2nd thinking it was a double, but McCann was held up there as Beltran was still on 3rd. Desperately trying to find his way back to 1st as it was deemed a single, Prado ended up getting tagged out. Some people blamed Beltran for not running, some people blamed Prado for running too much, but really it was just a huge miscommunication for everyone. Anyway, Headley walked to load the bases, and then Francisco Cervelli’s walk finally scored Beltran.

Another out brought up Derek Jeter to the plate. Jeter hit a soft grounder to the shortstop who charged the ball and fired it to 1st where the 1st base umpire called Jeter out. This brought Girardi out of the dugout for a challenge. Upon review (and a very boisterous reception from the heated crowd in the steamy Bronx tonight upon seeing the replay on the big screen), it was over turned — Jeter safe at 1st, bases still loaded, but McCann scored. (7-3 Boston) The next batter was Brett Gardner, who struck out on a rather outside pitch; a bit frustrated, Gardner discarded his helmet and bat a little to forcefully, according to the home plate umpire who immediately ejected him. Well, with nothing to lose, Gardner went off on his about his “floating strike zone”.

Like I said, that 5th inning was something else…

Well, this whole game was really something else…

Warren came on to pitch the 6th and 7th for the Yankees, and Huff got his chance in the 8th. Both did an excellent job keeping Boston from adding to this lead that was easily handed to them by sloppy pitching and missed offensive opportunities and whatever happened in the bottom of the 5th to the Yankees.

Chaz Roe made his Yankee debut in the 9th, and I’m guessing it wasn’t quite the impression he had in mind. He gave up a lead-off triple that scored on a sacrifice fly and a walk that scored on a single. The Yankees tried to earn back one of those runs in the bottom of the 9th with Brian McCann’s lead-off solo home run. But it wasn’t enough.

And Prado was pulled from the game in the 9th inning (replaced by Chris Young, the former Met making his pinstriped debut) with hamstring soreness. The initial diagnosis was hamstring tightness in his left leg, but they will have an official diagnosis after he sees the team doctor and an MRI. Fingers crossed for just a couple of days warming the bench and not something more serious (though, this year, nothing surprises me anymore on the injury front).

Like I said, this game was something else… there are literally no words to describe it. Well, there are words, but I’m trying to maintain a positive, clean blog here. And on that note, what would the upside of tonight’s game? They still have 2 more games to win against Boston this week, and there are two rookie pitchers scheduled for the next two days to face the Yankees. Here’s to hoping the stereotypes are true about rookie (and recent call-up) pitchers facing veteran batters…

Go Yankees!

Spring Game 33: MIA vs. NYY — Almost hitless in tonight’s win

Tonight’s game against the Marlins was split between starters Hiroki Kuroda and Masahiro Tanaka, saving the now finalized bullpen roster from any work tonight. Each gave up 3 hits and had 14 strikeouts between them. Kuroda’s first 3 innings and 4 strikeouts kept those scattered hits (one per inning) from doing much damage. Tanaka flourished in his 6 innings and 10 strikeouts. Neither pitcher allowed the Marlins any breathing room to attempt anything close to a scoring attempt, with one Marlins batter (and former Red Sox catcher) getting all the way to 3rd before the Yankees shut them down.

On the Yankees offense side, it was actually kind of quiet. The Yankees remained hitless until Kelly Johnson’s double in the bottom of the 8th. Oddly enough, the Yankees were already up 1-0 at that point. Yes, you heard that right. The Yankees were looking at a hitless win up until the 8th inning.

Here’s what happened: at first, the Yankees were held to a perfect game by the Marlins starter for 3 innings. And their next four pitchers continued a hitless streak. But in the 4th, Brett Gardner reached on a fielding error, Derek Jeter walked, and Gardner scored on Brian McCann’s ground out. And there the Yankees sat on a 1-0 lead.

And then suddenly, in the 8th inning, they broke through. Johnson doubled, his pinch-runner Eduardo Nunez moved to 3rd on a wild pitch, and then scored on Brian Roberts’ single. Roberts’ pinch-runner Antoan Richardson eventually scored on Yangervis Solarte’s single. And the Yankees walked away with their 3-0 win as fireworks boomed over Steinbrenner Field.

Prior to tonight’s game, the Yankees honored the Quantum Leap Farm, a local non-profit organization that provide equine rehabilitation and events to those with mental and physical disabilities of all ages. As a preview of things to come in this year’s HOPE Week (the time when the Yankees donate their time and money to special organizations serving in their communities), the Yankees gave $10,000 to the farm to help with expenses so they can continue their great work. The farm brought a large group of their staff and special young people who benefit from their work in the Tampa area. One of their special participants even got to throw out the first pitch, which seemed to just make her day (and indirectly mine because of her joy and confidence).

I was talking with some of the staff at the field about how HOPE Week is everyone’s favorite week in the Yankees organization. Everyone seemed to have a story about some organization or something about a HOPE Week in the past that inspired them to do something to give back to their own community. One security guy shared about spending time volunteering in the children’s wing of a New York area hospital (where he lives), bringing them coloring books and gifts because he heard the Yankees doing something similar and wanted to give back however he could. And I think that’s the point of HOPE Week — to inspire people to give back in their own way and make this world a better place, recognizing people and groups that dedicate their lives to helping others.

And there are some finalized roster moves, but there’s still a few moves to be made. That’s a post to come, I guess.

Go Yankees!

Spring Game 27: PIT vs. NYY — Sabathia shut-out

Prior to today’s game against the Pirates, the Yankees awarded the 2013 Minor League Pitcher and Player Awards to pitcher Shane Greene (A-Tampa and AA-Trenton) and infielder Greg Bird (A-Charleston). Plus, pirates (coincidentally, perhaps) from the local Gasparilla Festival (a big party and tradition here in Tampa) sang the national anthem. Then, Dan Marino threw out the first pitch to Jorge Posada, and then he threw out the first football. Literally, he threw a baseball and then a football to Posada. And let me tell you, it was very obvious which one the former QB was more comfortable with.

And the CC Sabathia took the mound and never let up. For seven innings, Sabathia and a slew of great plays by the team kept the Bucks scoreless. He allowed just 4 hits and a walk, striking out 7 Pirates (not the singing kind). Matt Thornton and Shawn Kelley split the 8th inning, keeping Sabathia’s win intact. And presumed closer David Robertson came on in the 9th to ensure both Sabathia’s win and his job as Rivera’s successor.

And the Yankees only had a bit of success off the Pirates’ pitchers; well, one and only at the beginning. But that was enough to deliver another well-earned win for Sabathia. In the 1st, with 2 outs (and a couple of fouled-off balls off Jeter’s previously injured left ankle, he’s just bruised), Carlos Beltran singled, Mark Teixeira walked, and Brian McCann doubled, scoring Beltran. Teixeira would then score on a wild pitch. So the Yankees were quickly up 2-0.

In the 2nd, Kelly Johnson walked, Brian Roberts singled, and Ichiro Suzuki singled to load the bases. Brett Gardner’s force out on Ichiro at 2nd (they can’t make the double play for Gardner at 1st) still scores Johnson. Derek Jeter’s ground out scores Roberts and plants the Yankees firmly at what would end up their final score 4-0 over the Pirates. There were other opportunities throughout the night for the Yankees to add to their score, but the Pirates’ pitchers are still pretty good, despite the initial early scoring by the Yankees, and kept the Yankees from doing any further damage.

I think tonight was the first game where I’ve finally seen what the Yankees are going to look like for 2014. I imagine the starting lineup to be rather similar to what we will find come Opening Day (with a few minor exceptions). And I’m guessing that this is the team that’s going to function as such all the way through the season. And I’m already really liking what I’m seeing. Johnson is really pretty spectacular at 3rd (despite a fielding error, or rather a ball bobble). Roberts is beginning to display the kind of well-rounded player-ness that made him the face of the Orioles for so long. And McCann is proving himself as a pretty great catcher, complete with 2 very successful outs at 2nd base, on a great strikeout-caught stealing double play twice (in the 1st and in the 3rd).

But that isn’t where the Yankees’ strength ends. No, the guys they send in toward the end of the game, the 40-man guys (or those trying to get on the 40-man) are also rather sharp. I really like watching players like Zelous Wheeler, Yangervis Solarte, and Antoan Richardson, just to name a few. The 48 players left in camp, to be whittled down to the “magical 40” in a week, are all really good, from the veteran players (like Teixeira) to the bench guys (like Cervelli) to the 40-man (like Solarte) to what will end up on the farm (like Russ Canzler). And honestly, it’s an honor to watch them in action.

Ones to watch: Wheeler, Solarte, and Richardson. All three made crucial plays in the latter part of the game, and all three have been rather consistent on both sides of the diamond. Some days, it’s really hard to pick someone for this category, and some days, it’s hard not to pick more than three. Perhaps what would have been easier to do would be to pick someone “not to watch”, but that would defeat the purpose of a positive blog. Easier? Perhaps. Better? Not a chance. And so much like in life, better is always worth the extra effort, especially if the pay-off is positive, encouraging, and uplifting.

Kind of like how I’m feeling about the Yankees and their potential for 2014 right now… and that’s something I can live with.

Go Yankees!

Spring Games 21 & 22: ATL vs. NYY & NYY vs. MIA — Winning internationally is also an art

Well, today essentially erased yesterday’s losses in one fell swoop. 7 would be the Yankees “lucky number” on this St. Patrick’s Day weekend, as both in Tampa and in Panama, the Yankees split-squad each scored 7 total runs. And while the players are busy crossing international waters to head back to regular Spring Training, we take a moment to pause and consider the offensive victories of this Sunday.

In Tampa, on this very sunny, very hot, sometimes breezy afternoon, it was Masahiro Tanaka’s start today. And though he still managed to be fairly good, he still had some struggles and was not his usual “Tanaka-ness”. Over 4.1 innings, he allowed 3 hits, 1 run, and 2 walks, while striking out 6 Braves batters. But it still wasn’t until the 4th inning that the Braves managed to find a hole in Tanaka’s pitching, when a walk scored on a double to tie up the game. Backing up to the 2nd inning, Ramon Flores singled to lead-off the inning and scores later in the inning on Ichiro Suzuki’s single.

Going into the 5th inning, after Tanaka struck out a batter, he was replaced by Matt Thornton who struggled a bit, allowing a double, and an RBI single before getting those last two outs. Thornton, despite allowing the Braves to jump ahead, was technically the pitcher on record when the Yankees jumped ahead in what ended up being a gift-wrapped inning from the Braves.

Ichiro and Eduardo Nunez each walked and scored on Brian McCann’s double. Kelly Johnson singles, then Flores scores McCann’s pinch-runner. O’Brien walks to load the bases. A wild pitch scores Johnson and advances Flores and O’Brien. Mason Williams’ sacrifice fly easily scores Flores, as O’Brien lands on 3rd on a throwing error. Castillo reaches on another error, which allowed O’Brien to score. Suddenly, the Yankees are up 7-2 by the end of a very long half-inning.

Shawn Kelley dazzled in the 6th, complete with 2 strikeouts and no hits allowed. Shane Greene took the 7th and 8th, and only gave up a single hit, a solo home run; Greene struck out 4 batters. It was Dellin Betances’ turn for the 9th, and he wasn’t as sharp as he usually is, allowing a walk, a hit by pitch, and a single to load the bases with one out, so a ground out could score a fourth and final run for the Braves. Betances got that final out with a signature strikeout, and the Yankees were gifted with a 7-4 win in Tampa today.

Meanwhile, only an hour behind their Tampa crew, the rest of the Yankees played their second game against the Marlins in the exhibition series in Panama. Last night, they were hitless, and today, they more than made up for that off-night. CC Sabathia took the mound and proved once again why he’s the cornerstone of their starting rotation, with 5 hitless, scoreless innings and 5 strikeouts. Robertson took the 6th, Claiborne the 7th (allowing the only hit the Marlins would get all day), before Cabral and Leroux polished off the 8th and 9th, handing the Yankees their second victory of the day.

Well, of course, in order for their to be a victory, there has to be some hits and runs on the other side of the field. And there certainly was, beginning in the 2nd inning. Francisco Cervelli and Yangervis Solarte each singled, before Cervelli scored on Zelous Wheeler’s ground-rule double. In the 5th, Corban Joseph doubled, Jeter walked, Carlos Beltran singled home Joseph, Cervelli singled Jeter home, and Solarte’s single brought Beltran and Cervelli to punch the score up to 5-0 Yankees.

So in the 9th, the Yankees wanted to secure their win, so they added 2 more runs. Antoan Richardson singled and then scored as Gary Sanchez homered out to right field. And the Yankees flew away from Panama with a one-hitter shut-out win against the Marlins, winning 7-0. So in total, the Yankees had 15 total hits in Panama and 7 total runs, all in today’s game (plus 12 hits and 7 runs in the game in Tampa). Today was the Yankees being the Yankees, hitting, scoring, and finding the holes in their opponents’ game.

Ones to watch (having only watched the Tampa game, I’m limited to those I saw): Ramon Flores and Shane Greene. Flores may be my personal favorite player to watch this Spring, and he continues to prove he’s worth watching with his Granderson-like defense in the outfield and his consistency in the batter’s box. Greene has had his ups and downs, but he was pretty great to watch today, and except for the random solo home run, he threw 4 strikeouts in just 2 innings.

I have to point out two regular players that have been outstanding, especially in today’s game — Mark Teixeira and Francisco Cervelli. Teixeira had an absolutely amazing outing on defense at 1st base today, something that reminds me of pre-injured Teixeira days. Cervelli clearly has one of the highest batting averages of the Spring and continues to prove his mettle as an ardent defender at the plate. The Yankees are coming off strong this Spring, and that’s a really good sign.

Go Yankees!

Spring Game 13: TB vs. NYY — Pitching to a tie

There’s an animated movie that’s been in the works for a very long time now called “Henry & Me” about a boy with an illness who encounters Yankee greats of the past and present, including Ruth, Berra, Munson, and Matsui. Spearheading the All-Star voice cast is long-time Yankee fan Richard Gere, who voices “Henry” (spoiler alert: he’s Henry “Lou” Gehrig). Gere brings his sons to a weekend at Spring Training every year, and in return, the Yankees allow him to throw out the first pitch, like he did today. (Oh, and there is finally a release date on the movie — June 15, 2014, about 8 years after it was first announced.)

David Phelps took the mound for start for today’s game against the Rays, and for 5 innings, Phelps continued to prove his solid candidacy for that 5th starter’s spot. He allowed just 3 hits, striking out one batter, and relying on a very good infield today, led almost solely by Derek Jeter. 7 of the 15 outs in those 5 innings were as a result of Jeter’s defense, something that should certainly give those who slam that defense a moment of pause.

Dellin Betances took over for Phelps and continued his march toward a nice bullpen spot. And the Rays and Yankees seemed determined to have a pitching contest for a very quick first 6 innings. And then things started to slow down, as the “replacements” came filtering in.

Bruce Billings got the ball in the 7th, and promptly gives up a ground-rule double, a sacrifice bunt that makes it to 1st and scores the runner on Billings’ throwing error. That runner stole 2nd and then 3rd on a passed ball, and then scores on a single. With only one out, Yankees fans started groaning and Rays fans were on their feet. Fortunately, the next batter hits into a double play lining out and getting the runner doubling off first.

So the Yankees weren’t going to let the Rays’ lead 2-0 stand for long. So in the bottom of the 7th, with one out, Soriano (Ramon Flores pinch-runs) singles and Kelly Johnson (Canzler pinch-runs) gets plunked on the back by a ball, and the Rays don’t hesitate to pull that pitcher before things get out of hand. A wild pitch by the new pitcher advanced Flores and Canzler to 3rd and 2nd, respectively. Brian Roberts hits a sacrifice fly to score Flores and put the Yankees on the board 2-1 behind the Rays.

And thus began the back-and-forth between the AL East rivals. In the 8th, with one out, a Rays batter popped a ball up in the shallow outfield that three Yankees were going for, but the late afternoon sun seemed to cause some confusion, as shortstop Dean Anna couldn’t seem to keep the ball in his glove, and the runner ended up at 2nd and then 3rd on a wild pitch by Danny Burawa. A single scored that 3rd Rays run. Now, Burawa’s fastball approached 98 mph today, and he is certainly turning into a really great pitcher. Both the Yankee and opposing team scouts were very interested in watching him pitch the 8th.

Jose Pirela singled and moved to 2nd on a ground out in the bottom of the 8th. Adonis Garcia singled and moved Pirela to 3rd. A messy pitch allowed Garcia to steal 2nd, and the catcher tried to throw him out and missed terribly, so Pirela scored and the Yankees trailed 3-2 to the Rays. So the Yankees send sidearm Matt Daley to pitch the 9th, who shut down the Rays in 3 batters, striking out 2 of them. Even the umpires seemed impressed by Daley’s pitching.

A last-ditch effort of sorts, the Yankees headed into the bottom of the 9th determined, but got 2 outs almost immediately. But then Gil singled (Antoan Richardson to pinch-run), and Jose Pirela singles and moves Richardson to 3rd. Another wild pitch scores Richardson easily and ties up the game. But they can’t push anything past that. Montgomery then takes the 10th, putting the Rays down in order rather quickly. And at that point, it’s either a win or a tie for the Yankees. But a new Rays pitcher returns the favor and forces the 3-3 tie.

To watch: Danny Burawa (despite the run) is still something, and you can practically feel the heat off his fast ball. Matt Daley’s side arm could earn him a great spot as a one-inning specialist in the bullpen, and he seems to be something to watch. And I have to mention Jose Pirela again, who continues to outshine most of the other “replacements” in the later innings in the batter’s box and out on the field.

A tie isn’t really great as it’s not a win, but it’s always better than a loss, so I’ll take it. It is what it is. And that’s not so terrible going into an off-day.

Go Yankees!