Game 103: TOR vs. NYY — Jays’ streak broken with Yankee loss

Pitcher Chris Capuano started the 2014 season as a member of the Red Sox, but then he was released and picked up by the Rockies before being traded back to the East Coast for cash considerations. This time, instead of pitching for the rowdy Boston crowd, he was putting on rival pinstripes to pitch for the rowdy New York crowd. Today, he got the start for the Yankees against another AL East rival — the Blue Jays.

Capuano had the unfortunate draw of pitching a no-decision for his first outing for the Yankees — 94 pitches over 6 innings, allowing 5 hits, 2 runs, and 4 walks, and striking out 4 Toronto batters. It was mentioned briefly in the broadcast that Capuano may have tired in his latter innings because he was mainly pitching out of the bullpen this year; the most pitches thrown prior to today’s game was about 50. This argument makes some sense as his allowed runs only came in the 5th inning. First, he allowed an RBI double, before loading the bases so a run could score on a sacrifice fly.

Now, that would tie up the game as the Yankees already got their own 2 runs across the plate in the previous inning. Beltran on base with a walk, it was Brian McCann to smack a solid 2-run home run into the Yankee’s bullpen.

Shawn Kelley came on to relieve Capuano in the 7th and instantly struggled. He quickly loaded the bases with a walk, a double, and a poorly executed fielder’s choice before finally getting his first out (a strikeout). So they called on Matt Thornton, but a quick single allowed the leading run to score before Thornton got the Yankees out of that inning. The run was charged to Kelley, of course, who would also get credit for the loss today. Thornton came back out for the 8th and kept the Jays at their 3-2 lead.

For the 9th inning, the Yankees called on former starter Chase Whitley, who moved to the bullpen on the acquisition of Capuano. He seemed to be a little out of his element, allowing a lead-off walk and a double before recording an out. It may take some time for him to find the pattern of being a reliever again. And with 2 men on and just 1 out, Jeff Francis was asked to put a stop to this late inning Jays’ rally. He did the opposite — giving up a 3-run home run. And the score was 6-2 Blue Jays going into the bottom of the 9th inning.

So the Yankees had a 4-run deficit to attempt a rally in their last half inning. With Ellsbury on base with a single and one out, Carlos Beltran plants a 2-run home run into the right field seats right next to the Yankees’ bullpen, cutting the Jays lead to 6-4. But a quick 2 outs later, the ball game was over. The Yankees lost. And the Blue Jays had officially snapped their 17 game losing streak in the Bronx (dating back to 2012).

It’s too bad, but as most streaks do, there was bound to be an end at some point in time.

Tomorrow is the Hall of Fame induction ceremony of three great managers (including Joe Torre) and three former players. If you don’t happen to be in the middle of New York state to participate in the ceremonies in person, you can catch full coverage on MLB Network beginning at noon, with the induction ceremony to start at 1:30 pm. (All times are Eastern Standard Time.) That is unless you’re in the Bronx watching the Yankees play the final game of the weekend series against Toronto at 1:05 tomorrow afternoon.

Personally, I will be double-screening it tomorrow (watching the ceremonies on TV and the game on my computer), all the while wishing part of me was at Cooperstown and part of me was in the Bronx — basically anywhere but where I currently am this weekend.

(And a spoiler alert from Cooperstown in case you are busy watching baseball or doing something else less awesome: all six men elected to the Hall of Fame do get in. There are no losers at the Hall of Fame, just winners. Perhaps, how they get that name…)

Go Yankees!

Game 99: TEX vs. NYY — Heads-up in the 14th inning

I had a sneaking suspicion that there might be some shake-ups after yesterday’s game, but I really didn’t expect the trade they made this afternoon. Pitching prospect Rafael De Paula and Yangervis Solarte were traded to the San Diego Padres organization in exchange for cash considerations and 3rd baseman Chase Headley. Sorry, Solarte fans, but I can see why this trade made a lot of business sense. And it’s already paid off.

This afternoon, Solarte and Headley did a bit of a switcheroo, where Solarte hopped a plane to Chicago where the Padres were playing tonight (they lost to the Cubs) and Headley hopped a plane from Chicago to New York. Headley came straight to the clubhouse from the airport where a uniform with the number 12 waited in his new locker. He put on the pinstripes for the first time and promptly went outside to greet those waiting in the dugout, shaking hands with every coach, player, trainer, and security person as the game continued on just a few feet away. That’s right, Headley wasn’t even in the Bronx when the game began, but he was certainly there for the end of the game, which came just before midnight in tonight’s 4 hour and 51 minute game against the Rangers.

Yes, this almost 5 hour game isn’t because of any delay, but rather what can only be described as the best efforts by both the Rangers and the Yankees to go through as many innings as possible before scoring a single run. I wouldn’t exactly call either side’s pitching the best, as I’d place the blame on the lack of power at the plate.

Another Chase — Chase Whitley — got the start for tonight’s game. Whitley threw 75 pitches over 6 innings (and to one batter in the 7th), allowing 7 hits but no runs and no walks, striking out 6 Texas batters. Thornton and Warren split the 7th inning. Still no runs. Betances on for the 8th, Robertson the 9th and 10th, and then Kelley in the 11th. Still not a single run from either side. David Huff threw a scoreless 12th and came back for the 13th.

And that’s when things started to get interesting. The lead-off batter in the 13th inning got a solo home run, so the Rangers were up 1-0 as they went into the bottom of the 13th. Now, the Yankees just fought off the Rangers for 12 1/2 innings, so they weren’t about to let them go without any effort. And honestly, they had a couple of really close calls in the 11th and 12th, putting runners in scoring position, even loading the bases with 1 out (in the 12th), but couldn’t cobble together a last-minute run to end the game. So in the bottom of the 13th, Gardner got on base with a double, moved to 3rd on Jeter’s sacrifice bunt, and then scored on Ellsbury’s single.

The game is tied 1-1 and into the 14th inning we go.

Recent acquisition pitcher Jeff Francis was called on to pitch the 14th inning. Francis was signed on July 11, and tonight was his debut as a Yankee. 12 pitches later, and the Yankees had a chance to finish this game with a win.

With 1 out, Brian Roberts smacked a ground-rule double and advanced to 3rd on Cervelli’s single. And then Chase Headley is up to bat. Headley came into the game in the 8th inning and took over at 3rd making an awesome jumping grab and contributing much to the defense on the hot corner. So now, it was his chance to do something offensively for the Yankees. So a nice single scored Roberts and won his new team the game in a walk-off single, with a final score of 2-1 Yankees. Plus, Francis earned his first win of the season as part of his own Yankee debut. A long night perhaps, but a very good night for those two new Yankees.

So if there are any lingering doubts about Headley’s potential contributions as a Yankee, I think he earned himself a whole bunch of new New York fans tonight. That is, I suppose, those that were either still awake to watch the game or those still lingering in the progressively emptying stadium. It’s going to be interesting to watch him more this season, but I have high hopes for him over there at 3rd base, something I think is shared by the Yankees organization.

I don’t think the shake-ups are over with that looming trade deadline of July 31 quickly approaching next week. But when I think back to the last couple of years, I am reminded of a couple of great pick-ups at that deadline that certainly worked out well for the Yankees during their second half. Anyone else remember Ichiro in 2012 and Soriano in 2013? Yeah, it’s not always bad news. It doesn’t always work out, but these things have a way of sorting themselves out for the better. And I’d prefer to hope for the better for everyone involved on all the aspects of this business of baseball.

Folks, let’s remember that while we enjoy the game, what makes it function is that it’s a business. It’s why they get paid and we have to buy tickets to watch a game. You pay to play in Little League, but you pay to watch in the Big Leagues. It’s a business. You may not always like it (and I know I certainly don’t), but it’s part of game. It’s why Boston still hates New York for the whole Babe Ruth fiasco almost 100 years ago before anyone who even attends the games were born. Because a businessman decided Ruth wasn’t important enough for his team and his overall life’s vision. It was business, and the Red Sox fans still blame him for their 86 year curse. It’s also why the Yankees became the team that they were. What’s good business for one team can sometimes be bad for the other. You just got to hope you’re on the right side of the deal when all the ink is dry, just like the Yankees in 1918.

Go Yankees!

Game 92: NYY vs. BAL — 10th inning walk-off loss

Tonight’s game began the weekend series against Baltimore, the last 3 games before the All-Star Break. Hiroki Kuroda started tonight’s game, throwing 103 pitches over his 7 innings. While he was a little sloppy at times (3 wild pitches and 2 batters hit-by-pitch), the rest of his game was pretty good, allowing just 3 hits and 2 runs, striking out 3 batters. Actually, the Orioles couldn’t poke through Kuroda’s pitching until the 4th inning. A hit-by-pitch and single put runners on the corners, the first one scored on a wild pitch and the second on a sacrifice fly.

Prior to the Orioles’ offensive attempt, the Yankees racked up their own 2 runs. In the 2nd, Brian Roberts hit a 2-out solo home run, and Kelly Johnson hit his solo home run in the 3rd. This made the game all knotted up and tied 2-2 for quite some time.

Dellin Betances came on to relieve Kuroda in the 8th and 9th, spreading 23 pitches and 3 strikeouts over his 2 hitless innings. So when the game went into the bottom of the 10th, the Yankees turned to Adam Warren. Warren allowed a lead-off double that scored on a single just two batter later — a walk-off single to put the Orioles over the Yankees 3-2.

In the wake of the injury to Masahiro Tanaka, the baseball world is still reeling from the immediate loss and spinning around so many “potential outcomes”. (I say “baseball world” because the sports world in general seems rather preoccupied with another sport’s superstar’s recent signing to a former team.) The predicted rehab time for Tanaka is about 6 weeks, which puts him back in the rotation somewhere at the beginning of September should rehab go well (and I know everyone is certainly praying for that outcome). But like the class act that he is, Tanaka himself released a statement apologizing for his injury and promising to do what needs to be done to return whole and healthy. We continue to pray for a speedy, healthy recovery.

And some roster moves were made today. The Yankees acquired pitcher Jeff Francis and cash considerations from the Athletics. Francis had been designated for assignment and has a history of being a starter with previous teams, though he was used by the A’s as a reliever. No word on how they plan on adding him to the pitching staff. In addition to Francis, the Yankees designated Jim Miller for assignment and recalled Matt Daley from AAA Scranton.

One of the regular players yesterday commented that this never-ending injury plague seems to be focused on a particular part of their clubhouse, noting that last year it was the position players and this year it seems to be the pitchers. How about it’s no one after the All-Star Break?

Go Yankees!