Game 94: NYY vs. BAL — Stupid rain

I think the only thing I hate more than rain delays is games being called on account of rain delays. I blame nature, of course, for actually sending what can only be described as an Act of God over the city of Baltimore this evening. And I blame ESPN for making this AL East division rivalry game their Sunday night broadcasted game, forcing them to play in what quickly became a monsoon, while the entire day leading up to game time was a beautiful summer day. Okay, I realize I’m being a little facetious and unreasonable, but after 2 hours and 20 minutes of basically roaming around the internet waiting for closure on tonight’s game, I feel a little cheated.

And that’s the reason I hate midway called games the most is the lack of accomplishment with which they leave you feeling. It’s not really over, but circumstances have forced a stunted closure to a game in progress. There is no real closure, just a lot of hanging “what ifs”.

But there was a partial game tonight. Brett Gardner led off the game with a solo home run. And then starter Chase Whitley delivered 3 innings with no runs scored. But it was the 4th inning that got him into trouble (and again, I blame the evil weather tonight, but just for tonight). Whitley allowed a lead-off walk to put a runner on base so that the next batter (one of the Orioles best hitters) to smack a 2-run home run. A double next ended up at 3rd 2 outs later and scored on a single before the Yankees called on David Huff to get out of the inning.

But the damage was done. It was 3-1 Orioles going into the 5th inning. After a quick 3 outs for the Yankees at the top of the 5th, the heavens altered their course of attack from sprinkles to rain to deluge, and in the middle of an at-bat, the umpires called for the tarps. Players retreated to their dugouts, fans scurried to covered areas. And once lightning became a valid threat, players ducked into their respective clubhouses and fans dove for better shelter to wait out the storm.

It looked like there might be some leeway about just under 2 hours after the rain delay began, but the storm system behind the current one dousing the filed hurried itself up and chased the first system out of the area so it could have its turn to open up over Charm City. Of course, the rain paused there for a minute while I was writing this, but it’s back on again. It doesn’t matter any more, as the players are now making their way home and a few players are hopping a plane to Minneapolis. So the game ends there in the 5th inning, 3-1 Baltimore wins.

And the Yankees head into the All-Star break an even .500, 47 wins-47 losses, and 5 games behind Baltimore. I guess it’s better than having a losing record.

All-Star festivities are in full-swing in the Twin Cities. Fan fest began on Friday and will run through Tuesday. Last night, they held a concert featuring some powerhouse singers and performers. This morning, there was a 5K Color Run for charity, followed by the Futures Game (featuring two Yankee prospects) and the Celebrity Softball Game. A block party is running from tonight until Tuesday. Tomorrow will be the Players’ Workout Day, which proudly features the Home Run Derby. Tuesday will begin with the Red Carpet Show and end with the 85th All-Star Game at Target Field. You can find out all the details, see pictures, and shop ASG gear on this site.

Pre-game roster moves: Zoilo Almonte and Matt Daley optioned to AAA Scranton, Jim Miller outrighted to AAA Scranton, and pitcher Bryan Mitchell recalled from AA Trenton. But then again, it’s just the beginning of the All-Star break, so it’s still anyone’s guess who’ll be on the roster come Friday when the Yankees host the Reds back in the Bronx.

Happy All-Star Week!

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!

Game 91: NYY vs. CLE — Splitting the series, bad news, all on a better day

Okay, let me get this out of the way up front because basically from the 6th inning on, it’s all anyone could talk about. Masahiro Tanaka was in Seattle today to be seen by the team doctor who is currently there with other fellow medical staff for a conference. Yankees team doctor Dr. Ahmad and two other colleagues (a noted orthopedist and a fellow team doctor) confirmed to Cashman who confirmed with the world that Tanaka’s elbow pain was due to a very small partial tear of his UCL (the ulnar collateral ligament, which runs through the elbow as part of the joint to connect the lower and upper arm bones).

The UCL may sound familiar because it is the ligament they replace and repair in the infamous Tommy John surgery. However, the doctors stressed that because of the size of the tear the first course of action is platelet-rich plasma injections beginning on Monday to help speed up a natural ligament repair. A small tear usually will heal on its own because the body is kind of amazing at doing stuff like that. Should it not heal, then surgery might be back on the table. But that is really looking like a last resort at this point, which is good news.

And Carlos Beltran was placed on the 7-day DL with a concussion from his injury (broken nose from a batting practice ball) yesterday. In his place, the Yankees recalled Yangervis Solarte, who has been absolutely thriving in AAA. (I told you he’d be back.) Beltran will probably be back after the All-Star Break; Tanaka’s return is dependent on how his body reacts to the rehab; and Solarte’s fate is to be decided.

What was decided was that the Indians apparently wanted to make a statement in their final game of this 4-game series in Cleveland. And prior to the game, the Indians gifted Derek Jeter with their contribution to his “I’m not having a farewell tour”. They gave him a custom Gibson guitar (as Cleveland is the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) and a picture of him at bat crafted entirely of Legos, designed and made by the Indians’ visiting clubhouse assistant manager. Cleveland will always hold a special place for Jeter as it was where he had his first MLB Opening Day in 1996, and it’s a place he admittedly enjoys playing in.

Okay, so the Yankees looked like they were doing pretty good for a while in tonight’s game. While David Phelps cruised along, keeping the Indians scoreless for 6 innings, the Yankees racked up some offensive force. In the 4th, Cervelli on base with a single, Zelous Wheeler’s big home run scored 2 runs. And in the 5th, Cervelli on base once again with a hit by pitch, advanced to 2nd on Wheeler’s single, and scored on Solarte’s single. 3-0 Yankees going into the 7th inning.

Phelps threw 103 pitches over his 6 full innings and a couple batters in the 7th. He allowed 7 hits, 2 runs, and 3 walks, striking out 5 batters. It was those 2 runners in the 7th that would end up being a problem, and Phelps was responsible for them because he allowed those back-to-back singles. Matt Thornton came on and loaded the bases with a single, and then a triple cleared the bases and tied up the game, effectively blowing Phelps’ win. A sacrifice fly scored that runner from 3rd and put the Indians on top 4-3. And the Yankees called on reliever Jim Miller to get out of the inning.

The Indians came back in the 8th to add to their lead because a single run lead apparently wasn’t going to be enough and giving a messy 8th inning seemed like the right thing to do tonight. (I should note at this point, most of the news and chatter had shifted off the game on the field and onto the worst case scenario with Tanaka.) Miller, still on the mound, was kind of on the receiving end of what would be a terrible inning for the Yankees. He got a quick strike out, but then gave up a double. The next batter hits what is initially was called a double, but on a challenge was overturned and ruled a 2-run home run. A single, an out, a stolen base, an RBI single, and a 2-run home run suddenly put the Indians up and over 9-3.

And they hold on in the top of the 9th to win tonight’s game 9-3, splitting the series with the Yankees 2-2.

Honestly, my mom wanted the Indians to win tonight because it’s her birthday. And she only thinks it’s fair that the Indians win on her birthday because they are the team she grew up rooting for. She’s only a recent convert to being a Yankee fan, but when they play each other she’s back to being a Tribe fan. She doesn’t have as much luck with the Tribe winning on her birthday, (since 2000) only claiming wins in 2003, 2008, and tonight. Also, going back to 2000, they haven’t played 6 years due to the All-Star Break falling in the middle of July (2000, 2002, 2006; the game actually fell on July 10, 2001, 2007, and 2012).

But I guess a win for her birthday by the team she’s been waiting to win the World Series since before she was born (they’ve only won twice 1920 and 1948), watching them get so close (AL Pennants in 1995 and 1997) and yet falling short (to the Braves in 1995 and the Marlins in 1997). My grandfather used to send my mom newspaper clippings of their team’s weekly progress while she was away at college and into adulthood. When they both got email a few years before he passed away, he would email her all Indians’ news he could find, though I’m sure she could find it herself by then. Baseball was always something special in our family, a connection that isn’t likely to sever any time soon. And every time I talk about the Indians with my mom or my uncle (who’s still a big Tribe fan) or some other family member from that area, it reminds me of that connection. I don’t like it when the Yankees lose, but I don’t mind it when the Indians win. Somehow, I think my grandfather would be celebrating the win of his team, a step closer to that elusive championship — 66 years and counting.

A very happy birthday to my mom, who goes to most games with me because we share the same love for the game, its intricacies, its quirks, its legends, its finest hours, its greatest miscues, and its lasting impact. Of course, it usually ends up being a conversation of me wanting to go to a game and her not wanting to miss an opportunity for an afternoon or evening at a ball park (any ball park). I don’t mind. It’s nice to share baseball with someone who not only gets baseball but loves baseball. And it helps that she’s now a Yankees fan. At least when they’re not playing the Indians, that is. (Mom, this double play made me laugh and think of so many random plays we seem to witness at our games.)

Go Yankees!

 

Game 87: NYY vs. MIN — Roster changes, chipping away at leads, All-Star preparations

Before today’s final game in their weekend series against Minnesota, the Yankees made some rather surprising roster moves. They traded Vidal Nuno to Arizona in exchange for starter Brandon McCarthy. They also selected pitcher Bruce Billings for the 25-man roster from AAA. And to make room for him, they opted to designated Alfonso Soriano for assignment. Soriano said that while he understands the mentality behind the decision, he will be taking a week off with his family to explore his options, some must include recent chatter with other teams and the possibility of retirement. Soriano is well-liked by the guys in the clubhouse and the fans in the stadium. He will be missed once again.

And then the Yankees played their fourth and final game in this series at Target Field, the last time most of them would be in the Twin Cities (unless they score a trip to the All-Star Game). So it was Hiroki Kuroda to start the game and throw 105 pitches over his 5.2 innings, allowing 7 hits, 4 runs, and 2 walks, and striking out 3 Twins’ batters. Actually, Kuroda was cruising along quite well for a few innings, but that 4th inning of his really chipped away at all that. With 1 out, Kuroda allowed a walk to a runner that advanced on a wild pitch, before scoring on a single and throwing error by Kuroda. That runner would end up being tagged out trying to get to 2nd. Back-to-back doubles scored another run, and a 2-run home run scored a couple more before Kuroda finally got himself out of the inning.

But before this messy inning, the Yankees decided to stack the deck in their favor, taking advantage of Minnesota’s weak starters. In the 1st inning, Gardner led off with a walk, Jeter singled, and Mark Teixeira’s single scored Gardner. Brian McCann then doubled and scored Jeter. In the 2nd inning, the Yankees quickly loaded the bases with singles by Roberts, Ichiro, and Johnson. Derek Jeter’s sacrifice fly scored Roberts, but it was Jacoby Ellsbury’s monster home run that scored 3 more runs.

And in the top of the 4th, Ichiro and Johnson on base with singles again, Jeter’s single scored Ichiro, and Ellsbury’s ground into a force out scored Johnson. Ellsbury would later score on a balk, putting the Yankees up 9-0 in the middle of the 4th. So when the Twins came roaring back in the bottom of that inning, it wasn’t enough to do much more than chip away at their lead, with a score of 9-4 Yankees.

Adam Warren came on in relief of Kuroda to get the last out of the 6th and came back in the 7th. He allowed a couple of singles, one of which would score on a ground out. (9-5 Yankees) Jim Miller took the 8th inning for the Yankees, whose only weak spot of the whole inning was in giving up a solo home run to the Twins. (9-6 Yankees)

David Robertson gave Yankee fans another minor panic attack, allowing two singles. Two outs later, a single scored one more Twins’ run before he got his last batter to ground into a force out and keep the Twins to a 9-7 loss. Seriously, sometimes Robertson’s saves are the most nail-biting part of the entire games.

But the good news is that it’s another win, and the Yankees also took 3 of the 4 games of the series, thus winning the series too.

And in All-Star Game news: MLB has announced its starting line-up for the All-Star Game coming up at Target Field on July 15. Starters were voted on by fans, and it’s no surprise that Derek Jeter was selected for his 14th and final ASG to start at shortstop. Joining him this year to represent the American League are: Orioles Matt Wieters (catcher), Adam Jones (outfielder), and Nelson Cruz (DH); Tigers Miguel Cabrera (1st base); Mariners’ Robinson Cano (2nd base); Athletics Josh Donaldson (3rd base); Blue Jays Jose Bautista (outfielder); and Angels Mike Trout (outfielder). National League, pitchers, and bench players will be announced (and posted on here) within the next week. It will be interesting to see if any other Yankees will be joining the Captain on what will be a return trip to the Twin Cities in just a little over a week.

Go Yankees!

Spring Game 31: NYY vs. TOR — 5th inning reversal of fortunes

Well, there was good news, a very large chunk of bad news, then some good news, and an unfortunate end to today’s story in the Yankees’ game against Toronto.

The Yankees really gave a beating to Toronto’s starter for the first 3 innings. In the 1st, Derek Jeter walked, Carlos Beltran singled, Alfonso Soriano singled to load the bases, and Kelly Johnson’s single scored Jeter and Beltran. So the Yankees were up 2-0. Then in the 2nd, Brian Roberts’ lead off single advances him all the way to 3rd on a throwing error and then scores on Dean Anna’s double. Brett Gardner walked, Jeter singled to load the bases, and Beltran’s double scored Anna and Gardner. And Jeter scored on Soriano’s sacrifice fly. So the Yankees were up 6-0 in the 2nd inning.

Meanwhile, Chris Leroux was busy at work on the mound on his first start of the Spring. In the bottom of the 2nd, his first slip was to allow a solo home run. And then he seemed to get nicked by a couple of line drives in the 3rd, which certainly affected his performance (though he seemed physically okay, just a little bruised), allowing 4 singles, one that scored an additional run for the Blue Jays. But still the Yankees were up 6-2 going into the 4th inning.

Pitchers Daley and Lewis split the 4th inning and kept the Yankees lead solidly intact. Things were looking up indeed, and the usually heated (albeit a little chilly today due to the recent cold front) Canadians seemed quite subdued.

But like I said in the beginning, a very large chunk of bad news was about to happen in the bottom of the 5th. When 3 different pitchers decided to hand over the game to 12 Toronto batters. Lewis was up first, giving up a double and an RBI single. (6-3 Yankees)

So the Yankees turned to Preston Claiborne, who had a really stellar 2013, but has really struggled this Spring. Today was no exception. He promptly gave up a double and loaded the bases with a hit-by-pitch. A single then scored 2 runs, and a ground-rule double scored another, and a walk loaded the bases once again, before a single scored 2 more runs. (8-6 Toronto)

Oh, and there were still no outs. So mercifully, they decided to go with another pitcher, bringing in Jim Miller. A sacrifice fly scored another run. The next batter flied out. A fluke double scored another runner, before another fly out got that final long-awaited out of the half-inning. And it was 10-6 Toronto, due to the 8 runs scored in that single inning. (If you are feeling a little curious, you can peruse some of the videos of Toronto beating up on the Yankees today here.)

Fortunately (here’s the next piece of good news), the combination of Betances, Burawa, and Tateyama in the 6th, 7th, and 8th innings (respectively) and the tight defense of the “replacements” kept the Blue Jays from adding to their score, though they threatened. Unfortunately, the deficit was too much for the Yankees to overcome, so they kept planted at that 10-6 loss (the bad news again) for the rest of what felt like a very long game (though it was still under that 3 hour standard).

I expect the last round of cuts and the final 40- and 25- man rosters within the next couple of days, and it’s going to be interesting to see where everyone I’ve been watching ends up. (Perhaps, I’ll do a “Ones to Watch” wrap-up with where they’ll be starting their 2014 season.)

In odd news, Fortune released its list of 50 most influential leaders, with names like Pope Francis (#1) and the Dali Lama (#9), Warren Buffet (#4) and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos (#10), Bill Clinton (#5) and Michael Bloomberg (#15). Of course, the big surprise (and why I might talk about it on this particular blog) is who placed #11 — Yankees Captain Derek Jeter. On a list with spiritual, political, academic, and financial leaders, it’s both odd and fascinating that someone like Jeter would make the list. Of course, Yankees have known for years how important his leadership is to the team and to the city and those affected by his foundation, and there are a handful of important sports coaches on the list. But I take this a sign for great things to come in the future from Jeter.

Plus, it helped me end this post on an uplifting, positive note. Congrats to the Captain (and indirectly the Yankees)!

Go Yankees!

Spring Game 11: DET vs. NYY — A walk-off balk on Berra Day

yogi-carmen
Carmen & Yogi Berra, a 65 year partnership
via nydailynews.com
Photo credit: Michael Schwartz

First, let me start off with my deepest condolences to the entire Berra family. The great Yogi Berra’s wife of 65 years Carmen passed away last night. She was 85. As much as Yogi was a part of the Yankee Universe, Carmen was too. She was his partner in all things, standing by his success as a player and his struggles as a manager. Together, they opened the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center near the home in New Jersey (it’s on my list of places to visit this year), and together, they raised 3 sons, 11 grandchildren (one of whom writes for MLB), and 1 great-grandchild. Many people saw Carmen as the First Lady of the Yankees, but I think of her as the First Lady of Baseball. Through her class, kindness, and generosity, she showed what it meant to be a Yankee and baseball wife, leaving a legacy for generations to follow. She will be sorely missed. (There is a great article in the Daily News about Yogi and Carmen’s love story and their legacy.)

And then there was a game. A very cold (for Florida) game against the Detroit Tigers. For every game at Steinbrenner Field this year, they are honoring the Yankee legends; we’ve had Gehrig, Ruth, DiMaggio, Stengel, and Mantle. And today, not planned at all but a very nice surprise on timing, Yogi Berra graced our tickets — something I didn’t even notice until after I was already in the gates. Before the game, the Yankees took a moment of silence to remember Carmen and pray for the Berra family. It was really Berra Day at the stadium, and the Yankees pulled off a win that really suited Yogi and Carmen’s sense of fun.

Hiroki Kuroda started for the Yankees, allowing just a single and a walk and 5 strikeouts over his 2.2 innings. It was a bit of a rough start, with Kuroda seeming to have a bit of trouble finding command of his pitches. But he came into the 3rd determined and found that rhythm and the strike zone for a quick 2 outs. Shawn Kelley came in for a 1-pitch, 1-out fly out in the 3rd. At the bottom of the 3rd, Derek Jeter got his second hit of the night (and not a weak lucky chopper like the 1st inning) and took 2nd on a wild pitch. And then Carlos Beltran (DH-ing for the night) promptly smacks his 2nd home run of the Spring over the right field bleachers onto the Walgreens’ Deck. The Detroit right fielder, who basically got every other ball hit in his general vicinity, barely moved to make even an effort towards the wall because he knew before everyone else did that the only people who could get the ball were sitting at the bar on the Deck. And the Yankees were up 2-0 over Detroit.

David Robertson practiced his closer capabilities in the 4th inning, striking out 1 of his 3 batters. That “Houdini” magic continues, and it’s looking like it’s going to be Robertson’s year to fill some big shoes. But the real surprise came in the 5th and 6th innings watching Michael Pineda pitch. Pineda, if you recall, hasn’t been able to contribute to the Yankees’ rotation or bullpen because of injury, surgery, and just some really bad timing, so this seems to be the year that he can finally show off that arm that the Yankees invested in a few years ago. And he delivered, allowing a single and striking out 4 Detroit batters over his 2 innings. (Together, Kuroda and Pineda recorded 9 of the 11 strikeouts in tonight’s game.) It was something watching him pitch, like I’m seeing the beginning of something I can’t quite put my finger on the depth of its significance.

And then Matt Thornton took the 7th and proceeded to blow the Yankees 2-0 lead. With 1 out, Thornton allowed a single, an RBI triple (which was a really nice hit, by the way), an RBI single, another single, and a double steal to land 2 runners on 2nd and 3rd. Yankee fans everywhere (well, those left who braved the chilly night air) groaned. And suddenly, Thornton pulls it together and strikes out the batter and gets the next one to ground out. And it’s over. The game is tied going into the “Honoring America” 7th inning stretch.

So the 8th inning was led by Preston Claiborne, who continues to make a very good case for Set-Up Man. With 1 out and a man on due to a throwing error by an infielder, he proceeds to get the next 2 batters to pop up for center fielder Antoan Richardson, who dives and slides for both outs (he’s the one to watch after this game). Still tied in the 9th, the ball goes to Jim Miller, who gets two outs quickly and allows a single that promptly gets out when he tries to stretch it into a double.

To the bottom of the 9th we go, the handful of fans praying for a walk-off so we can all go home and get warm. But no one was expecting what happened. With 1 out, Zelous Wheeler singles and then moves to 3rd on Francisco Cervelli’s solid single right up the middle. And just as Jose Gil was digging in for his turn at bat, the Tigers’ pitcher balks on a pick-off throw to 3rd. So Cervelli is given 2nd base and Wheeler advances to home for the 3rd Yankee run and inadvertently the win.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a walk-off balk before. But on Berra Day, I don’t think anything else would have made sense. As people started leaving in droves beginning in the 4th inning, fleeing the 50 degree windy night (I know some people who would love to get up to 50 degrees today, including those in Detroit and New York, but it’s all relative), I was very much reminded of the Yogi Berra famous phrase “it ain’t over ’til it’s over”. And if it ain’t over ’til that last out or last run in recorded, then we wait and witness a very strange way to win a ball game.

It was almost too strange, too perfect, too Yogi Berra. And somewhere, Carmen is laughing and shaking her head. Well, this one’s for you, Mrs. Berra, who always found such joy in life.

Go Yankees!

{Addendum 3/9/14: The YES Network recorded a brief tribute to Carmen, which you can watch here.}

Game 142: BOS vs. NYY — Is there such a thing as a “better loss”?

I don’t think there really is a good thing as a “good loss”. But perhaps after the last two nights, we could call this one a “better loss”. At least, in some ways.

The Yankees looked to David Huff to start today’s game, in a chess move to switch Hughes to the bullpen for a more reliable long-term relief. But after a sign of promise in the 1st inning, Huff met the heart of the order for the Red Sox and just never was able to recover. He went 3.1 innings, gave up 8 hits and 9 runs. Yep, that sound you heard there was Yankee fans running for the exit or switching the channel. (I know I flipped back and forth between old sitcoms and the game, keeping an eye on the damage via my computer.)

So let’s just recap chronologically…

In the 2nd, a 2-run home run put Boston on top early (2-0). The Yankees answered back in the bottom of the 2nd as Lyle Overbay’s single scores Soriano (2-1), cutting Boston’s lead in half and setting the pattern for the rest of the game. With two on in the 3rd, a Red Sox batter slices a 3-run homer into the left field seats (5-1). But Ichiro wasn’t going to let them have any more and made the most ridiculous catch in the corner of right field to rob a batter of anything spectacular. Answering that call, Robinson Cano singles and hits in Gardner (5-2).

Then the 4th inning got messy. Huff allowed two singles to score on a double (7-2). Two more runs score on each a groundout and a double (9-2), the Yankees opt for a new pitcher. Recently signed (from AAA Scranton) Jim Miller comes in to pitch. (The roster move for him was moving Vidal Nuno to the 60-day DL with groin strain.) He promptly gives up an RBI single (10-2) and a double before getting the final two outs to mercifully end the inning. In a small effort to dent the score, Ichiro Suzuki hit an RBI double to score Nunez (10-3).

But the Red Sox weren’t satisfied with a 7-run lead and proceeded to pad their score. Another 2-run homer (12-3) in the 5th, prompts another pitching change. This time, the move to Brett Marshall proved a smart move, perhaps the smartest move of any pitching staff on either side of the field. Marshall went 4.1 innings, giving up just 3 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, and 3 strikeouts.

Now, most people at this point would think the Yankees would just take the loss, but not this team and not against this team. Rivalries are rivalries for a reason. So the Yankees found a rally point in the 6th inning. Nunez walks, (a strikeout), Ichiro walks, pinch-hitting Murphy (in for Romine) grounds into a force out and advances to 2nd, and then Nunez and Murphy score on Brett Gardner’s double (12-5). Derek Jeter singles home Gardner (12-6), slicing that lead in half again, forcing the Red Sox to make a pitching change and the Yankees to send Reynolds to pinch-run for Jeter. After Cano singles, Alfonso Soriano singles home Reynolds (12-7) and a fly out ends the Yankees rally.

Suddenly, there was hope going into the 7th inning.

The Yankees would come back again with a small rally in the 8th. JR Murphy opened the inning with his first major league hit (in front of a large collection of his family and friends, cheering him on). Gardner walks, and with Mark Reynolds’ double, both Murphy and Gardner score (12-9). A Red Sox batter got his 2nd home run of the game in the 9th inning via a long solo home run deep to center field and setting the score at 13-9 Boston.

Now, they pulled Jeter off the field after his single in the 6th inning because Girardi didn’t like how Jeter was running, after twisting awkwardly on a play at shortstop. Because it was his ankle that has been broken, repaired, re-broken, re-repaired, and stiff/irritated today, they sent him to the hospital for a CT scan (which is more invasive than a standard MRI and thus more accurate). And as I was writing this, the report came back negative (good news!), but they will send the results and scan to his surgeon for confirmation. This may mean a few days watching from the dugout (something that is becoming all to common a sight for him and far too many Yankee players), but if the surgeon confirms the results, that is the best news the Yankees may have gotten in weeks. (Even as I write that sentence, it feels wrong to be thinking this way, but it is the way of this very strange season.)

The Yankees finish today’s game with 20 games left of their regular season. Depending on how games today pan out, the Yankees are sliding further down the standings and the Wild Card race. However, they are only 3 games out of the second Wild Card spot and officially 19 games from elimination. You do the math on that. That means, they will have to lose 19 of their last 20 games to be completely eliminated.

This, of course, is betting on the other 4 teams ahead of them (Texas, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, and Cleveland) also sliding down. And September isn’t getting any easier. After tomorrow’s finale against Boston, there’s 3 at Baltimore, 3 at Boston (scary though after this weekend), 3 at Toronto, 3 against San Francisco, 3 against Tampa Bay, and 3 at Houston. A mixed bag, looking at current standings, but in baseball, nothing is predictable.

Nor should it be. 162 games and it’s still anyone’s game, every single day, every single inning, every single out, every single pitch. You just never really know until that final out of the 162nd game. And in spite of a weekend series like this one (so far), that sole fact keeps fans going to games, cheering on their teams, jeering on their rivals, and hoping against all hope that there’s still a glimmer of October in their future.

Go Yankees!