Rumors, recognition, & awards

Tonight, President Barack Obama awarded the Medal of Freedom posthumously to Yogi Berra for his service to his country through his time in the navy, his excellence in athletics, and his continued contributions to the world after he hung up his cleats, including the education and development held daily at the museum that bears his name in New Jersey. His son Larry and many of his children and grandchildren were on hand for the celebration at the White House tonight. Fellow baseball legend Willie Mays was also honored with the Medal of Freedom tonight. Both men are legends not just for who they were on the field but for the men they were off the field. May we see more legends just like them to be a credit to the game and to humanity for their excellence and compassion and heart for greatness and goodness.

As you know, I’ve never given much credence to rumors that perpetually circulate around about baseball. It doesn’t mean I’m not aware of their existence or that I don’t have an opinion on them. In fact, it usually means that I’m waiting on confirmation before I actually pass on such information, turning rumor into truth. However, some rumors start ridiculous and remain ridiculous until they have proved themselves nothing but ridiculous.

So, to be clear, there are many off-season rumors circulating about possible major veteran trades, unhappy former players, possible top-market free agents skipping town, the details of the personal lives of Yankee alumni, and random speculation on the future of prospects. Rumors, all of them. Some could be true, some won’t be, and some are better left to be dealt with privately.

Something that isn’t a rumor any longer is that pitcher Chase Whitley was picked up off waivers by the Rays. So, we’ll be seeing Whitley when the Yankees play the Rays often as they will being division rivals. Best of luck to him. He deserves any great opportunity to shine more.

Also, the Yankees and local volunteers continue their tradition of serving their community in the off-season. For the upcoming holiday, they handed out food vouchers and then opened the stadium up for a community dinner serving East Harlem and the South Bronx a nice Thanksgiving buffet this past Saturday.

And Brian Cashman slept outside once again last week to help raise awareness for the homeless youth of the City. For the last five years, Cashman has worked with local ministry Covenant House and participated in its annual “Sleep Out” with hundreds of leaders and figures from across the U.S. and Canada in 15 cities. This year’s goal was to raise $6 million dollars for the organization to help provide resources to help homeless kids with food, shelter, and basic necessities.

Awards update: a handful of Yankees were up for a few awards this postseason, as usual. But only one made it. A big well-deserved congratulations to Brian McCann on his sixth Silver Slugger Award (his 1st in New York). McCann beat out every other AL catcher, including this year’s World Series MVP with his outstanding offensive year, leading all AL catchers in home runs and leading the Yankees in RBIs. Silver Slugger Awards are based on statistics, but are also given the added weight of being voted on by MLB coaches and managers.

More postseason award information and complete MLB coverage can be found here.

And while I’m always a big supporter of the rivalry, I admit I was a little sad to hear that long-time Red Sox slugger David Ortiz will be hanging up his cleats at the end of the 2016 season. Ortiz has been a major part of the latest Red Sox dynasty and their three most recent World Series championships (2004, 2007, and 2013). Ortiz and the Yankees (specifically those around during those years, the “old guard” from the “glory years” about a decade and a half ago) are a big part of my own memories of the Red Sox-Yankee rivalry. Ortiz also just loves baseball, and it shows in his passion and grit on the field and his gregarious nature off the field. We in Yankee Universe wish you the best of luck in your endeavors in everything but against the Yankees your last season.

With “Big Papi” retiring, it’s like the last of the old guard is finally saying “good bye”. I look back at who actually played in those rivalry games, especially in the harsh postseasons of 2003 and 2004. And Papi is really the last of those guys. The Core Four is on “daddy duty” for the most part now, and the rest of the guys on those teams are rather scattered to the four corners either wrapping up their playing careers or figuring out this post-baseball life. It really is the end of an era. And it really is kind of sad. I really need to process this personally, but I’d expect to see a blog post of some sort in the near future.

But to end this on a positive note, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving. Stay safe, and enjoy your time of good family and friends. Be thankful and do something worthy this holiday. Because we can feel all sorts of good vibes and positive thoughts, but they’re rather worthless unless you give them out into the world. Be a blessing to someone this holiday.

You guys are a blessing to me! I’m grateful for all of you this year.

Go Yankees!

The off-season scramble begins

It’s been 10 days since the Royals won the World Series and officially threw all of baseball into the off-season. Congratulations again to Kansas City and the Royals organization on their amazing season and championship. Nearly 800,000 blue-clad Royals fans (in an area of over 2,000,000 residents) crowded part of downtown Kansas City a little over a week ago to cheer on their new hometown heroes for the Royals’ victory parade. When teams win big, it often creates new fans, but whether they retain those recently acquired will all depend on if they can continue their recent winning streak of the last two seasons. But with the free agent market just now starting to break out, next year’s Royals may be shades of 2005 (56 wins-106 losses, last place in AL) or it could be like 2015 (95 wins-85 losses, 1st place in AL).

That’s what makes the off-season trades and acquisitions so interesting — it shakes up every team, and a shake-up can be just as very good as it can be very bad. It’s always a gamble because while the numbers may work in your favor, the team chemistry may not work. Or unpredictable unknowns like injuries and personal issues can alter a potential superstar.

While the team’s GMs are in their annual meetings in South Florida (enjoying the perpetual heat that is Florida in November, I’m guessing), they are already busy making all sorts of deals. A GM’s job is never done. Today, the Yankees announced two such trades. Infielder Jose Pirela is headed to San Diego this Spring (via their Arizona Spring Training) in exchange for pitching prospect Ronald Herrera. And (this one will break a few hearts I know) catcher John Ryan Murphy is headed to Minnesota in exchange for switch-hitting outfielder Aaron Hicks. Both of these deals do make some business sense — the Yankees need an influx of new pitchers in their farm system, and they really have a plethora of really good catchers ready for the big leagues (behind starting catcher McCann, there’s still Romine and Sanchez). What this means for some of the free agents in the Yankees’ system (like OF Young and IF Drew) is still up for conversation and the rumors of dealing current Yankee favorites are of course always circulating.

Last week, Stephen Drew, Chris Young, and pitchers Chris Capuano, Andrew Bailey, and Sergio Santos elected free agency. The Yankees could of course sign them back to the team, but a free agent means they are officially on the market for a good deal and their Spring is still undetermined. The Yankees also released pitcher Chris Martin and activated outfielder Mason Williams and pitchers Domingo German, Jacob Lindgren, and Chase Whitley from the DL. And now with today’s moves, the Yankees are proving to the MLB market that they are back in business and ready to deal.

Also last week, for their participation and activism, former Yankees Jorge Posada and Paul O’Neill along with current Yankee Alex Rodriguez were honored at the Lou Gehrig Awards Benefit which raised money for research and care programs for those suffering from ALS. Another Yankee alumni David Cone was on hand to emcee the live auction of baseball memorabilia.

And just yesterday, the Yankees hosted their annual USO care package drive at Yankee Stadium. Girardi and Cone, along with hundreds of volunteers stuffed care packages for veterans serving abroad — small tokens of “home”, as it were. This is one of several events the Yankees do each year to give back to their community and one of several big ways to honor veterans. It’s two of my favorite things about the Yankees — their generosity (like HOPE Week) and their patriotism (like “God Bless America” at every home game without fail).

In that respect, may I just say that we not only honor and remember those who served and currently serve our country, but those across the globe dedicated to preserving and fighting for peace in this world. “Thank you” never quite feels like enough, but know that we cherish you (and your families) for your commitment and sacrifice this Veterans Day and remember the great dreams of Armistice Day today and every day.

Go Yankees!

Game 40: NYY vs. WAS — An almost stache-less squad, an almost win

Something was missing in the clubhouse before the game tonight. Actually, something started disappearing before the Yankees boarded their plane on Sunday evening. As the Yankees spent their day-off yesterday touring our nation’s capital, something we’ve become accustomed to seeing was missing. The ‘Stache Squad 2015 is no more. It became very official when the instigator himself, Brett Gardner, appeared at BP today as bald on his face as he is on the top of his head. A few hold-outs still roamed the clubhouse, but most of the faces were back to that clean-shaven look that seems to fit the 2015 Yankees (rather than a quirky nod back to the 1985 Yankees).

And it looked like that lack of facial hair was helping… for a time that is.

Due to his former career in the National League, it was Nathan Eovaldi on the mound to start tonight’s game against the Nationals. (Again, for those of you who spend much time following the AL, the NL has no DH and thus the pitcher always hits as part of the roster. So Eovaldi’s time in the NL as a starter became a plus for him to start tonight’s NL-based game, though he didn’t do much at the plate.) Overall, Eovaldi actually had a decent night for most of his outing. With the exception of his bookend innings, Eovaldi was as sharp as ever. In the 1st inning, he gave up 2 solo home runs to give the Nats an early lead. But buckling down and starting to really drive home what makes Eovaldi a good pitcher, allowed him to cruise forward while the Yankees racked up their own offense.

In the top of the 4th, the Yankees started their offensive attack. Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a walk, moved to 2nd on a ground out, and then scored on Chris Young’s single. (Ellsbury came out of the game after this with pain in his knee from his at-bat; more later.) Mark Teixeira walked, and McCann’s ground out put runners on the corners. Chase Headley’s nice double scored Young, and Pirela’s single loaded the bases back up. Then it was Stephen Drew to single home McCann and Headley. This inning alone gave the Yankees a very nice healthy 4-2 lead.

Beltran singled to lead off the 5th inning and then scored later on Teixeira’s big 2-out 2-run home run. So it would be 6-2 Yankees at the halfway point in the game. The Nationals starter officially out of the game — he cruised on 30 pitches through the first 3 innings and then took 40 pitches alone to get himself out of the 4th inning, adding 15 more in the 5th inning.

Eovaldi was still on for the Yankees in the 5th, looking to maintain his healthy lead. But it was not to be — a walk, a strikeout, an RBI double, a single, an RBI single, and an RBI single. And with the biggest hitter on the Nats roster coming up to bat, only 1 out, and 2 runners on base, it was time to open the bullpen. Eovaldi’s night done at 82 pitches through 4.1 innings, 7 allowed hits, 5 runs, 2 walks, and 5 strikeouts.

So the Yankees sent out the hard-throwing lefty Justin Wilson. In 5 pitches, he got that big hitter to ground into a double play to end the inning. And that big hitter celebrated his failure there by spiking his helmet into the first base line, just like the diva I’ve seen him be before. I don’t want to say that kind of stuff wouldn’t fly in the Yankees’ clubhouse, but I just did. So there. (If this keeps up tomorrow, I definitely have some things to repeat from posts I’ve written before. But I’m guessing you already know what I could say if you’ve read my blog for any length of time. My tolerance for divas in baseball isn’t very high.)

It was David Carpenter’s turn to keep the Yankees to their tiny 6-5 lead over the Nationals. And once again, it was not to be. In the 6th inning, he gave up a solo home run to tie up the game, making all Yankee fans across the country groan in frustration. That 4-run lead, gone in a matter of minutes. Carpenter’s 26 pitches took him 1.2 innings, right up to that big hitter from before. So the Yankees sent in a former teammate of that Nationals diva — Chasen Shreve. Shreve’s one time pitching against him before tonight got him out in a quick fly out; tonight, Shreve continued his dominant streak over the diva, getting him to swing at a low ball for the strike out.

So it was a tie game and the 8th inning — time for the Dynamic Duo. But tonight, nothing was “as it should be”. Betances threw 28 pitches through the 8th and 9th inning, waiting for the Yankee offense to wake up, which it never did. Betances’ outing was often Betances-like with 3 strikeouts. And then it was Andrew Miller, still sporting a mustache by the way, in the 10th inning. But Miller wasn’t really sharp tonight — 22 pitches became a strike out, a walk, a strikeout, and a 2-run walk-off home run.

Game over.

Final score: 8-6 Nationals.

Bummer.

Seriously, shave the rest of the ‘staches, guys. ‘Stache-less is definitely the way to go. Your wives/girlfriends/children will thank you. No, I don’t believe that facial hair somehow has some kind of mystical power over the win-loss of a team (no matter what those crazy 2013 Red Sox fans/players will tell you). And I understand the idea of camaraderie and doing silly things to boost morale. But clearly, the ‘stache isn’t doing its job anymore, so it’s time to go.

On a quick side note: for a few moments, it did cross my mind to envision the “Core Four” with facial hair… did anyone do a meme on that? Imagine Andy, Jorge, Derek, and Mariano with their own mustaches. It would definitely be unexpected and probably make them virtually invisible to any of their public, while they enjoy their retirement. Interesting idea…

Injury update: Ellsbury was sent for an MRI on his right knee and will be placed on the 15-day DL with knee sprain. In his place, the Yankees will call up Slade Heathcott from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Bummer.

Also, Chase Whitley opted for Tommy John surgery on his injured elbow. The surgery was performed today in New York by the Yankees team doctor, and it turned out this was a good thing. I’m never a proponent for surgery unless there is no other option, but Dr. Ahmad said that his ligament was shredded and only had a few pitches left before it tore completely. Recovery from TJ surgery is 12-18 months, so we’ll see Whitley back in pinstripes sometime late 2016 at this point. Best of luck and health to him in the meantime!

Can’t wait to see how many ‘staches are left tomorrow… my best guess — just Tony Pena, whose face kind of lends itself to suit a mustache.

Go Yankees!

Game 37: NYY vs. KC — Okay, Apathy, you win this Friday night. Whatever…

You know it’s not going to be a good night in baseball when the most interesting thing of the game is watching your Twitter feed compete for the wittiest comment on the awfulness that is the display on the field.

I did mention yesterday that the Royals are currently on the same kind of streak this month that the Yankees hit last month at this time. Though I don’t think anyone predicted the Yankee crumble as much as tonight’s game.

Actually, the game certainly wasn’t terrible until the latter half of the game. It wasn’t a memorable game until then either. Michael Pineda started tonight’s game for the Yankees, and despite not having the usual sharpness of his slider, still threw a decent game — 104 pitches over 5.1 innings, giving up 10 hits (off that bad slider mostly), no walks, and 5 runs, striking out just 1 Royals batter.

In the 1st, back-to-back doubles scored the Royals first run. And a 1-out triple scored on a sacrifice fly. The Yankees offense answered back in the top of the 4th inning. Rodriguez hit a lead-off double, moved to 3rd on Teixeira’s single, and then scored on Brian McCann’s sacrifice fly to slice the Royals early lead in half.

Like I said, standard baseball stuff for the first half of the game. Both starters struggled in their own ways, and both ducked out in their own 6th innings. And that’s when things got weird.

So Pineda comes back for the 6th inning. A batter led-off with a double, moved to 3rd on a ground out, and then scored on a triple. That runner easily scored on a single, and that’s when Pineda got pulled in favor of reliever David Carpenter. Carpenter’s lone batter reached on an unsuccessful fielder’s choice — runners safe at 1st and 2nd.

And onto Justin Wilson we go. A ground out moved the runners to scoring position, before they both scored on a deep single. A walk put runners on 1st and 2nd again. Then two back-to-back singles scored 2 more runs. And finally, it was time to call on newly recalled (more later) Jose Ramirez to get a pop out to mercifully end the inning.

But were the Royals content with an 8-1 lead? Of course not!

So onto the 7th inning… where 2 quick outs look promising for Ramirez. And then he can’t get an out to save his life — a walk, an RBI double, an RBI single, a wild pitch, another walk, and a 2-RBI double. And then it’s Branden Pinder to the rescue with a strikeout. Pinder’s 8th inning kept those pesky Royals from adding to their bloated score.

Final score: 12-1 Royals. (And I wish with all of my being that was a typo.)

When I look at both the Rays and the Royals and hold them in comparison to other recent opponents, the biggest difference I see is that the Rays and Royals are technically a “good team” and their pitching staff isn’t really their best quality. Especially when I think of recent teams like the Tigers, the Orioles, the Blue Jays, even the Mets — all have pretty good offense and pretty good pitching (with some glaring exceptions). The Royals are still riding their AL Championship high, and the Rays get an early season thrill of being the perpetual underdogs.

I don’t know. It’s still too early in the season to be making these kinds of conclusions and assumptions about how things will end up. I mean, there’s 125 more games to play until the postseason. That’s a lot of streaks to break, pitches to throw, bases to run, runs to score.

Whatever…

Chase Whitley’s MRI came back and showed a partial tear of his UCL, usually a direct line into the surgeon for Tommy John surgery. But he stayed behind in Tampa to confirm the tear with the Yankees’ medical staff there and will see the team head doctor in New York on Monday to make plans. This places him on the 15-day DL until more a permanent treatment plan is in place.

In his place, the Yankees recalled Jose Ramirez from AAA Scranton, but Ramirez is a bullpen guy. Whitley’s starting spot will be filled by Chris Capuano, beginning with Sunday’s game against the Royals. Hopefully, I’ll have written a much more positive post by then. Maybe even 2.

Tonight, I’m rather apathetic. So whatever…

Go Yankees!

Game 36: NYY vs. TB — Not quite shut out, but heading north on a loss

Well, the Yankees head northwest about 1300 miles after tonight’s game. And it’s not on a high note, and not looking forward to facing the AL Central leaders in Kansas City (who are basically on the late April Yankees hot streak in mid-May).

Chase Whitley started tonight’s game, but didn’t get very far. He threw 43 pitches in just 1.2 innings before being pulled from the game. He apparently had been privately dealing with elbow soreness for some time, wanting to pitch through the pain, but tonight, it all caught up with him.

In the 1st inning, with 2 outs, the runner on 3rd from a double and wild pitch scored on a single. Then in the 2nd, after 2 quick fly outs, a batter walked then stole 2nd and ended up at 3rd on a throwing error. After walking a second batter, the Yankees noticed Whitley’s pain and decided to pull him. He was sent to the team’s local doctor (as they do have a major club facility here in Tampa) for further tests, including an MRI. But all signs point to some kind of stint on the DL (more later).

Esmil Rogers was called on to replace Whitley and promptly gave up a 3-run home run. Rogers total 51 pitches took him through the 5th inning, giving up 3 of his 5 hits in the 4th inning, one scoring an additional Rays’ run.

David Carpenter took the 6th and in 9 pitches kept the Rays scoreless for one inning, but his reliever Chase Shreve found a sticky situation in the 7th when a double scored on a long single before he got himself out of the inning. Branden Pinder’s 14-pitch 8th was rather good.

Now, it wasn’t that the Rays pitching (or their defense) is truly at this amazing level. No, it’s just that the Yankees aren’t hitting. For whatever reason you want to give (I personally blame the dome and the artificial turf because neither of those things belong in a baseball stadium; it’s unnatural.) The Rays’ pitching staff tonight was divided into two pitchers — the starter (who ultimately got the win) threw his 68 pitches through 5 innings, giving up 1 hit and 2 walks; the reliever (who ended up with the save, but I don’t know why as the score wasn’t close enough for such a statistic) threw 62 pitches through his 4 innings, giving up 4 hits and a run.

It was that run that broke up the Rays attempt at a shut out tonight — a big 9th inning lead-off solo home run by Alex Rodriguez. It was also his 1,000th RBI as a Yankee.

Final score from the Trop: 6-1 Rays, Rays take the series 3-1.

Up until the home run from Rodriguez, the Yankees were facing their first shut-out game of the season. As of right now, only 3 teams haven’t had lost in a shut-out game — the Yankees, the Tigers, and the Blue Jays.

Also, Brett Gardner has reached base in his last 18 games, and Ellsbury stole his 12th base of the season tonight. These Power Twins are still just kicking it at the top of the batting order on the field, in the batter’s box, and around the bases.

Now, prior to Whitley’s unexpected injury (but really when is an injury ever expected), there was a lot of chatter and suppositions as to what the roster move was to be when Chris Capuano came back into the rotation. Talks of Warren and Whitley (being the newer guys) floated around on merit and history, but as no one ever plan on an injury, it came out of the blue and kind of surprised everyone. I mean, it does make the decision easier. Capuano comes back and takes Whitley’s next start, sliding into the rotation rather easily now. Based on what the results of Whitley’s tests are, where he lands once he’s off the DL is still very much up in the air.

No one ever likes injuries to occur, and it’s rather bittersweet when it does because the person taking the injured player’s spot certainly knows what it’s like to be stifled and unable to play the game you love because your body is fallible. The myth of the superstar athlete is perfection, idealism, that superman syndrome. Reality demands that they are just like the rest of us — prone to failure and pain and the consequences of pushing our bodies to the limit too often.

Get well soon, Chase (and all those still or secretly battling some kind of injury)!

Go Yankees!

Game 31: BAL vs. NYY — Whitley stumbles, Yanks fall

The hardest part about today’s game was watching Chase Whitley struggle his way through this outing. He’s been flawless through so much of the season already, even before the call up when he was in AAA Scranton. But today was just an off-day against the Orioles in this 3rd game of their extended weekend series in the Bronx.

Whitley’s 97 pitches took him through 5.2 innings, giving up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 5 runs (including 3 home runs), striking out 5 Baltimore batters. And honestly, the struggles didn’t start until he gave up that first home run in the 3rd — a 2-out solo home run. He came back in the 4th to give up a 1-out solo home run, and it’s at this point he starts trying too hard to compensate for those runs. The next batter is hit by a pitch, a fly out for the second out, and then a 2-run home run before getting out of the 4th inning. Then in the 5th, the lead-off batter hit a double and later (after Whitley hit another batter) scored on a long single.

Whitley turned over the ball in the 6th to David Carpenter who ends the 6th with a ground out. Carpenter has a bit of his own struggles in the 7th — a lead-off triple scored easily on an RBI double to give the Orioles their 6th and final run of the afternoon. Reliever Chasen Shreve would come on for the 8th and 9th innings, keeping those pesky black birds far away from the plate again.

But the damage was done, and it was enough to stifle any attempt at a decent Yankees offense. The Yankees didn’t start poking holes into the Orioles’ starter until the 5th inning with Headley’s single and Drew’s double. A sacrifice fly from John Ryan Murphy scored Headley. The Yankees gave an attempt at a rally in the 8th inning. Ellsbury (in the only time he was safe on base all day, thus breaking his 11-game consecutive hitting streak) reached first on a fielding error, moved to 2nd on Gardner’s single, and scored 2 outs later on Carlos Beltran’s single.

And that was it. Well, there was a potential RBI single in the 9th inning, but a challenge upheld the original call of out at 1st on the sliding head-first Gardner. (It was pretty close, and because there wasn’t conclusive evidence to overturn it, they had to uphold the on-the-field call.)

Look, the Yankees were hitting today (they got 8 total hits to the Orioles’ 9), just not scoring runs. Without the home runs, the game would have been tied, so I’m sure the Orioles are thankful for what they would consider perfectly placed hittable pitches for those extra 4 runs scored.

But let me also recognize the Yankee defense once again. One of the most consistent things the Yankees have going for them all season is their defense. It’s probably the most overlooked part of their game, and honestly, it’s a really crucial part of why they’re still at the top of the league right now. And no where is that more obvious than in the persistent hustle of one Chase Headley. Today, he had more than his fair share of some great defensive plays. (Here is one from the 4th inning and one from the 6th.)

Final score: 6-2 Baltimore.

One more game at home against Baltimore before the Yankees hit the road once again. Like I said in a previous post, this May is basically on-the-road month for the Yankees. Maybe it’s just a nice gift this month for all the Yankee fans across the States who can’t make it to New York. (Trying to be positive here.)

Prior to today’s game, Chris Martin was moved to the 15-day DL with right elbow tendinitis, and in his place, they called up reliever Branden Pinder.

 

 

Game 26: NYY vs. TOR — Wasted pitching duel

Okay, there is so much about this game that went so well that it’s rather depressing to have to talk about what went so wrong. And unfortunately, since there was no miracle last-minute comeback, the right gets overshadowed by the wrong in this case.

Look, the Blue Jays’ starter happens to be a very good pitcher, a former Cy Young award winner. And when he’s good, he’s really, really good. And tonight, he was really, really good, keeping the Yankees, coming to Toronto on their Fenway sweep high, from doing much tonight. They poked through his strategy in the 7th inning — Beltran led-off with a double, moved to 3rd on a ground out, and then scored on Garrett Jones’ ground out. It was the first run of the game (more on that in a moment), and it was the only run the Yankees would score. Honestly, the Yankees weren’t hitting much at all tonight — a grand total of 3 hits.

But the Yankees were cruising along quite nicely for most of the game, and that sole run scored looked like hope behind the stellar night starter Chase Whitley was having tonight. Overall, his 90 pitches took him 7 innings, giving up 6 hits, no walks, no runs, and striking out 6 Toronto batters. Honestly, it was one of the best outing from a Yankees starter all season, even getting himself out of trouble on several occasions (like in the 3rd and 6th).

Like I said, it was really good for a while. And then it wasn’t.

In the 8th, the Yankees turned to reliever Chris Martin, who in 7 pitches began the unraveling of all of Whitley’s hard work. A ground out and 2 singles was enough for the Yankees to turn to the bullpen.

So they asked Dellin Betances for a 5-out outing, and much like his closing counterpart (Miller) did last night, he struggled to find a close to the inning. A double scored Toronto’s first run and tied up the game, and a pop up got a second out of the inning. And a former Yankee stepped into the batter’s box and singled, scoring both runners; though this play was considered a single and a throwing error, which doesn’t really make sense with how it played out to me, as it is usually scored as either/or not both/and. Betances got his sole strikeout of the game to end the inning and his night.

Final score: 3-1 Toronto.

It was a quick game, just 2 hours and 18 minutes, but mostly that was due to the very efficient starting pitchers. And it seemed like Toronto forgot that there was a baseball game tonight — just 40% of the seats at Rogers Centre were occupied. And Canadians have no excuse, as their NHL team the Montreal Canadiens (in the play-offs) played yesterday (and lost to the Lightning (my Florida friends are happy) and won’t play again until Wednesday.

So, come on, Canada, be the obnoxious fans you are in Spring Training and show up to support your boys, even the ones in cleats rather than skates. I mean, the Rangers are in the play-offs too, and New Yorkers still show up in droves to watch the Yankees.

But then again, I can see the appeal of showing up for a Yankees game even when other local sports teams are doing something awesome. If I didn’t, I just might be a Toronto fan. I mean, I did go to enough of their minor league games growing up, especially over the years they were pretty good (and won the Series twice). And now, I’ve dated myself. Enjoy figuring that one out!

Go Yankees!