Game 60: NYY vs. BAL — Mason Williams, debuting as a ray of hope in Baltimore

Sometimes, I really like my job. I get to watch over 200 baseball games every season and then blog my opinion about the game and the players and baseball in general almost every day. I try to keep a positive spin on it because I do believe that it’s a great sport and keeping a positive attitude is a way to enjoy it, even through the really tough losses (on and off the field).

But sometimes, what happens on the field makes my job (and my night) a whole lot harder. Sometimes, it’s really hard to find the glimmer of hope, the positive outlook, the good things to share with the world. And while there most definitely is some a couple of very cool things that happened on this Friday night, there’s a whole lot of not-so-great things to talk about — including very sloppy defense, an error to break a really great streak, pitchers who couldn’t pitch their way out of a brown paper bag, and (the most cringe-worthy) ball to the groin.

And now that I’ve made you uncomfortable and depressed, here’s how the evening unfolded…

The Yankees got off to a pretty good start. In the 1st inning, Gardner and Headley each singled and Rodriguez walked to quickly load the bases. But then the pitcher realized he was in trouble and got the next three batters out before a run could score. I now consider this a bad omen as it would be repeated a few time this evening for the Yankees.

In the top of the 3rd, Gardner was hit by a pitch, stole 2nd, and scored on Alex Rodriguez’s single to get the Yankees on the board. Then in the 4th, Gregorius on base with a walk, newly called-up Mason Williams got his first Major League hit — a big 2-run home run, while his proud mom watched from the stands.

Like I said, the Yankees could get guys on base tonight, but getting them home didn’t come easily (unless you were Mason Williams, apparently). For example, they loaded the bases again in the 6th and left them all stranded. It was just not a great night all around for the Yankees offense. Again, unless you were making your Major League debut, apparently.

 

Michael Pineda got the start for the Yankees tonight in Baltimore. It certainly wasn’t his best start, but it wasn’t really that terrible either. (To be fair, the Orioles’ starter lucked out because while he pitched horribly, the Orioles gave him enough run-support to cover him. More in a moment.) Overall, Pineda threw 80 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 9 hits, 2 walks, and 6 runs (5 earned), and struck out 2 batters.

In the bottom of the 1st, a lead-off walk, a single, and a fly out put runners on the corners. A run then scored on a single. In the bottom 3rd, the lead-off batter hit a grounder towards 3rd base that bounced up and hit Chase Headley in the groin before rolling into left field. Considered an error, the batter ended up at 2nd while Headley crouched over by 3rd base. Taking some time to sort out how serious the injury is, and recognizing once again the importance of protective gear in athletics, the game resumed. A single put runners on the corners, and then another single scored the lead runner. A 3-run home run pushed the Orioles a big 5 runs scored before the Yankees finally got their 3 outs of that inning. Then in the 4th, the O’s tacked on another run — a double, a single, and an RBI single pushed them up to 6 runs scored.

Despite attempts to push through, Headley wasn’t all that okay. He stayed in the game for another inning, even taking another at-bat, before he started feeling nauseous and opted out of rest of the game. We certainly wish Headley a speedy recovery.

Ryan took over at 3rd beginning in the bottom of the 5th inning. Pineda also wouldn’t make it out of the 5th inning, handing over the ball to Jacob Lindgren who got out of that inning before giving up a lead-off solo home run in the 6th. And it was on to Esmil Rogers.

Now, with Rogers’ recent struggles and the Yankees down 7-3, there must not be that much damage those pesky black birds can do. Right? Nope, here’s where it gets ugly. A single put one runner on, and then a force attempt ended up with runners on the corners due to Teixeira’s throwing error (his first error in 109 games, impressive and depressing all at the same time). A wild pitch scored the lead runner, moving the other one up to 2nd. He then moved to 3rd on a fly out before scoring on 2-out double. The next runner would score on a single before Rogers finally got a batter to strike out and end the inning.

But you know, a 10-3 lead really isn’t enough. In the 7th, the O’s come back with consecutive singles to put runners on the corners. With one out, a batter grounds into what should be double play but the Yankees can’t turn it in time, only getting one out, and allowing a runner to score.

After Rogers threw 50 pitches in his 2 innings, giving up 5 hits and 4 runs (though only 1 was earned), it was Chris Capuano for the 8th inning. Capuano threw a very efficient 8 pitches, keeping the Orioles from touching a single base under his watch. I’m growing to like Capuano in the bullpen more and more.

And one more comment about the Orioles’ pitching staff. Look, their starter didn’t really do that good of a job — 105 pitches into the 6th inning, 6 hits, 3 runs, and 2 walks. He just had the luck of the swings tonight. The Yankees struck out 6 times under him (11 times in total), while the Orioles’ batters only struck out 4 times total. The O’s bullpen did a better job keeping the Yankees from doing much, using their very nice lead as a cushion to take their time and throw some great pitches.

Final score: 11-3 Orioles.

I’ve heard it said that there’s something about Baltimore’s Camden Yards — some call it the “blackbird voodoo”. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the Yankees just fall prey to that over the last few years. Of course, I’m not really superstitious, and I’ve seen the Yankees kick the Orioles to the curb enough in Baltimore to know it’s really just a terrible night. But when things just aren’t working, and it’s really just a big old mess out there, sometimes, it’s just easier to blame some mysterious force rather than to accept the inevitable — tonight, the Yankees just sucked.

Roster moves: yesterday, the Yankees shook up their roster a bit (though there was a bit of talk about this following Wednesday’s game). Jose Pirela was optioned to AAA Scranton; David Carpenter was traded to the Nationals for minor league infielder Tony Renda; Chris Martin was recalled; Mason Williams was recalled (and saved tonight’s game from being a big wash-out); and Ivan Nova was sent to AAA Scranton for his rehab assignment (meaning his return in pinstripes is just around the corner).

Before the game, the Yankees moved Gregorio Petit (remember him?) from the DL and optioned him to AAA Scranton. And just after the game, in a move that surprised no one, the Yankees outrighted Esmil Rogers to AAA Scranton. The Yankees are hoping Rogers uses his time there to figure out what’s been missing from his pitching arsenal and work on sharpening the skills they know he has.

 

 

Go Yankees!

Game 59: WAS vs. NYY — Midweek matinee madness

Well, they split the series, but they didn’t give it up easily, forcing extra innings. Nathan Eovaldi was actually matched against the Nationals’ starter pretty well. Nasty Nate threw 97 pitches into the 8th inning, giving up 8 hits, 3 runs, a walk, and 4 strikeouts. He gave up back-to-back 2-out doubles in the 3rd for the first Washington run and a big 2-out solo home run in the 5th to give the Nats a decent 2-0 lead at the regular halfway point in the game (middle of the 5th inning).

The Yankees found their own offense in that 7th inning once again. Young led-off with a single and then scored on Brendan Ryan’s big triple. That knocked the Nats starter out of the game, which proved good for the Yankees. Brett Gardner hit a nice double that easily scored Ryan and tied up the game. And despite 2 outs, Washington went for yet another pitching change. Didn’t help. Alex Rodriguez hit his own double that score Gardner so the Yankees could take the lead. Gardner would later score on Brian McCann’s accidental single to put the Yankees up over the Nats 4-2.

That lovely lead didn’t last long. In the 8th, Eovaldi gave up his last hit, a single, and then got a standing ovation as he exited the game and handed the ball over the young reliever Jacob Lindgren. That runner initially got out on a force out, but that batter quickly scored on a big 2-run home run to tie the game once again. Justin Wilson maintained the tie in the 19-pitch 9th inning, forcing the game into extra innings. And Chris Capuano did the same through the 10th. But it was the his 11th inning that caused some trouble — a lead-off single, moved to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt, then 3rd on a ground out, and then scored on a single that got to 1st just a hair too late to allow the run to score and pushed the Nationals up over the Yankees.

The Yankees just weren’t able to compile a run in the bottom of the 11th and surrendered the game to the Nationals.

Final score from the Bronx: 5-4 Nationals, in 11 innings. Yankees and Nationals split this series 1-1.

Before today’s game, the Yankees activated Brendan Ryan from the 60-day DL, which was a great idea as Ryan (sporting a questionable mustache and all) was a crucial key to both the Yankees offense and defense. Ramon Flores was optioned to AAA as the corresponding roster move, and he was joined by Jose Pirela following the game today.

Injury updates: Ivan Nova is still on rehab assignment in Florida and doing well to work his way back. Jacoby Ellsbury worked out at Yankee Stadium this morning, testing out his knee strength; he will travel with the team on their upcoming road trip to continue those kinds of workouts before heading to Florida next week to spend time at the Minor League complex for future rehab workouts that will lead to his rehab assignment that will lead to being back in the Bronx.

And the big question during the game was “where were the Dynamic Duo?”. Simple answer — Betances was on rest so as not to overuse him, and Andrew Miller will be on his way to the DL with a strained forearm muscle (a common injury from overuse). No major worries — just rest for Miller and Betances will become the closer in save situations until further notice.

And for the final day of the draft, here are the list of players selected by the Yankees in rounds 11-40: Joshua Rogers, Terrance Robertson, Trey Amburgey, Will Carter, Bret Marks, Kolton Mahoney, Brody Koerner, Zack Zehner, Mark Seyler, Isiah Gilliam, Joshua Roeder, Cody Carrol, Garrett Mundell, Patrick O’Brien, Austin Afenir, Icezack Flemming, Michael Hicks, David Sosebee, Kane Sweeney, Chad Martin, Hobie Harris, Alexander Robinett, Christian Morris, Andrew Miller (the one in a New Jersey high school), Alex Bisacca, Dustin Cook, Matthew Schmidt, Mike Garzillo, Deacon Liput, and Will Albertson

The draftees now are to make a decision to sign or decline the offer. The young players range in ages from 18-22, some graduating high school this year, some graduating college. So they will now have to decide whether a pro-ball career is worth the shot now or choose education and college ball for now, taking a shot at the draft next year (or in 4 years). When the final list is posted for those who sign with the Yankees, I will post the new Baby Bombers on here. Stay tuned.

Go Yankees!

Game 57: LAA vs. NYY — Home runs help CC’s Angelic Sweep

Today was that picture perfect day in the Bronx, a great day to sweep the visiting Angels and continue the Yankees’ 6-game winning streak (two back-t0-back 3-game sweeps against Seattle and now the Angels).

To close out the weekend series, the Yankees turned to veteran lefty CC Sabathia. Sabathia was hit right in the 1st inning with back-to-back solo home runs, but instead of letting that get to him, Sabathia buckled down and got the job done. Albeit in the midst of a rather curious strike zone. To be fair, it wasn’t exactly biased one way or the other, just inconsistent and frustrating to hitters and pitchers (and their managers) alike. Sabathia threw 87 pitches over his 6 innings, giving up 5 hits, a walk, and those 2 runs, and struck out 7 Angels’ batters. Sabathia actually reached a great milestone today — becoming the 31st pitcher to earn 2,500 strikeouts, currently leading all active pitchers in career strikeouts.

And Sabathia would’ve been back for more except for that 6th inning — a strikeout (#2,501 of his career), a single, a frustrating walk, and then the last batter ground into a double play. Sabathia excited that his infield defense played well to get that play expressed his excitement. Sabathia was questioning whether a particular pitch was to be called a ball or strike, a normal question umpires get from pitchers or batters so as to figure out whether they shouldn’t have swung at a low pitch or how that batter grounded into an out. For some reason, this caught the attention of the home plate umpire who immediately began a heated conversation believing that Sabathia was questioning his judgment and ejected him. Well, if you’re going down, go down swinging. That made Girardi jump the dugout fence (quote of the night, “Girardi may be the only manager who can jump the fence like that.”) and argue the ejection himself. And as you know, that means, bye-bye Girardi, as Sabathia was literally held back by Headley, Murphy, Tony Pena, Rob Thomson, among others. The two ejected compatriots made their way to the clubhouse at that point in the game to watch as the Yankees finished off the Angels.

I should say that normally I do not advocate any kind of action, words, or most things that lead to an ejection. I don’t like diva temper tantrums or bat or helmet slamming or angry bickering among opponents. But this escalated to ejection without any reason.

Fortunately, the bullpen was rested and sharp enough to make up the difference. And the offense gave them support to carry the day. Wilson, Betances, and Miller closed out the game, keeping the Angels scoreless and hitless, and getting 5 strikeouts between the three of them.

Now, in the 3rd, the Yankees began their offense attack today. Pirela led-off with a double, moved to 3rd on a fly out, and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ ground out. In the bottom of the 5th, Chris Young led-off with a solo home run into the left field seats to tie up the game. Then with 1 out and Murphy and Gregorius on base each with singles, Brett Gardner hit a long 3-run home run into corner of the right field seats to break the tie and give the Yankees the lead. One of the comments made to me was how fast Gardner still runs the bases even for his “home run trot”. And to cap off the scoring, Jose Pirela launched a solo home run into the visitors’ bullpen — his first major league home run, which was just enhanced by the biggest smile on Pirela’s face that didn’t seem to fade in the slightest for the rest of the game.

But let me also mention that there was really a great play made by the Yankees defense in the 3rd inning. There was some early defensive trouble in that inning, including an error. So there’s 1 out on the board and runners on the corners. The batter hit the ball deep into right field where it was caught by Beltran. All the runners tagged up and then took off to see if they could advance before Beltran tried to throw either of them out. Beltran opted for the closer bag and threw to a waiting Gregorius at 2nd to tag out the runner, which he did just before the other runner crossed home plate. This effectively ended the inning without giving the Angels an extra run. After an Angelic pause to assess the plausibility of that accuracy of the call, they surrendered to the obvious correctness of the call and the inning was over.

Final score in the Bronx: 6-2 Yankees, Yankees sweep the Angels 3-0.

In other good news: a couple of rehabbing players are working their way back to the Bronx. Ivan Nova, coming off last year’s Tommy John surgery be in Tampa to start Monday’s game with the Advanced-A game. And Brendan Ryan is continuing his rehab assignment with AA Trenton after a nasty calf strain in Spring Training and some earlier set-backs.

And in case you were wondering, the MLB annual draft is being held beginning tomorrow. Teams tend to approach the draft either out of a need to fill in whatever missing pieces in their farm system or strictly the best there is. This year, the Yankees will focus their draft picks with the latter motivation. Last year was motivated by a need to up the pitching staff in the organization, and last year’s pick, Jacob Lindgren, is already on the Yankees’ active roster, filling a crucial role in the bullpen. The Yankees will select 16th and then 30th (due to the signing of Robertson to the White Sox. Then again, 57th and 92nd all-around in the 2nd and 3rd rounds before continuing to select according to the set order for rounds 4-40.

Recent draft signees include Heathcott, Murphy, Warren, Mitchell, and Pinder (2009 — a very good pay-off year for the Yankees); Culver and Whitley (2010); Hensley (2012); Jagielo (2013); and Judge and Lindgren (2014). So who knows what gem the Yankees will find this year…

Go Yankees!

Game 28: NYY vs. TOR — Rather lackadaisical evening in “Queen City”

On the plus side, it only took 2 hours and 30 minutes to finish tonight’s game, and it was nice enough in Toronto for the retractable roof to be open. And the Yankees took an early lead in the 1st inning — Young singled, Rodriguez doubled, and then Young scored on Mark Teixeira’s ground out.

CC Sabathia served a mixed bag tonight and earned his 5th loss of the season tonight. Honestly, it was a decent outing, but the Blue Jays were just hitting. A lot. A total of 12 hits off Yankee pitching tonight. Sabathia’s 102 pitches in 6.1 innings, gave up 9 of those hits, 4 runs, and 2 walks, striking out just 4 batters. In the 2nd, a lead-off single and a double both scored on a long single to right field. In the 4th, that pesky former Yankee singled (one of his 3 hits of the evening), advanced to 2nd on a balk, and then scored on a single. And then in the 6th, that same pesky ex-Yankee got a big solo home run.

When Sabathia exited the game after getting the 1st out in the 7th inning, the game was 4-1 Toronto, and it was Esmil Rogers to try to keep things under control. But in the 8th inning, Rogers found himself in some trouble. After a pretty great double play to erase a lead-off single, Rogers gave up a single before turning the game over to reliever Chasen Shreve. Unfortunately, a big triple scored that runner to add an extra run for the Blue Jays before Shreve got a strike out.

Final score in Toronto: 5-1 Blue Jays. Blue Jays win the series 2-1.

Jose Pirela is made his 2015 debut tonight at 2nd. Pirela suffered a major concussion following a literal run-in with a backfield wall during Spring Training. The corresponding roster move was Gregorio Petit, who was placed on the 15-day DL due to a contusion (bruise) on his right hand, occurring late in yesterday’s game when he took a foul ball off his hand in an at-bat. X-rays were negative, but I can imagine things like holding a bat or a glove or a ball aren’t exactly high on his list right now of pain-free activities.

And Brett Gardner was sitting out tonight due to a stiff neck he seemed to injure himself sliding head first in yesterday’s game. Nothing serious, just a slight kink or twinge in his neck. He should be fine for this weekend’s 4-game home series against the Orioles.

On that note, I really don’t get this year’s schedule. They’ve been on the road this whole last week, and they’ll be home just 4 days before heading back on the road for 11 days (9 games — 4 in Tampa, 3 in Kansas City, and 2 in DC). And for future planning, the Yankees only play a total of 10 home games of 29 total games they’ll play this month. Ah, the joys of trying to balance 30 different schedules that require some of the oddest specifications for their 162 total games. 19 games against divisional opponents (76 games), 6 or 7 games against inter-division teams within their league (66 games), and the remaining 20 games are inter-league — 6 games against their inter-league rival and 3-4 games (for a total of 14) against the other four teams in the opposing division. And if that makes any kind of easy sense to you, I’m sure you can apply for a job at MLB headquarters sometime in the near future. Good luck!

Go Yankees!

{City nickname note: In case you were wondering, I was originally going to refer to Toronto as “Hollywood North” or the “416”, but I remembered that most French-Canadians refer to their city as “Queen City” still and decided to recognize that nickname over some of the more amusing ones like “Hogtown” or “Centre of the Universe” or “The Big Smoke”.}

Game 27: NYY vs. TOR — Tex, Ells, Big Mike, & Andy

Another night at Rogers Centre, another night north of the border, and another night of cruising behind some great starting pitching by the Yankees and then panicking when the bullpen opens. I’m not liking this latter pattern one bit.

Michael Pineda threw an absolutely outstanding outing tonight — 101 pitches through 8 solid innings, giving up 5 hits, 1 walk and no runs, and striking out 6 Toronto batters. He earned his 4th win of the season, and believe me, he earned every moment of that win.

The Yankees were also able to give him some run support because they were just hitting. To start the 11 total hits by the Yankees tonight, Jacoby Ellsbury led-off the game with his 1st of 3 hits tonight (continuing his massive hitting streak) and Gardner’s double moved him to 3rd before they both scored on Alex Rodriguez’s double to start the run-parade tonight.

In the 2nd, following 2 strikeouts, Petit singled, ended up on 2nd on a throwing error, and then scored on Ellsbury’s long single.  Then in the 5th, with 2 outs and Ellsbury on 3rd, Mark Teixeira hit his 10th home run of the season — a 2-run home run out to those center field seats. And just for a bit of insurance, the Yankees came back in the 8th and added one more run — McCann walked, Drew singled, and then Didi Gregorius singled home McCann.

While the Blue Jays were on their 4th pitcher of the evening, the Yankees were up 6-0 going into the 9th inning. Pineda turned the ball over to David Carpenter, and things got tense once again. In 18 pitches, the Yankees went from a shutout game to a save situation — a lead-off solo home run (from that pesky former Yankee), 2 outs, a walk (and stolen base on defensive indifference), an RBI ground-rule double, and an RBI single.

Not willing to risk his shrinking lead, Girardi pulls in a reliable source, calling on Andrew Miller to throw 9 pitches to get that final out. First, he walked a guy (though replay clearly showed he struck out on a checked swing), but a long pop up to right field ended the game and landed Miller his 11th save this season. Not terrible for a guy who literally had 1 career save prior to pitching for the Yankees.

Final score: 6-3 Yankees.

Oh, and there were fire alarms once again. Because apparently, the losing team does everything they can to distract the Yankees from their focus. Once again, no one cared, and most were just annoyed at the false alarm. Seriously, whoever keeps doing this needs to just go away; it isn’t funny and it’s a federal offense. (Wait, is it a federal offense in Canada?)

Good news on the injury front: after his concussion, recovery, and rehab stint, Jose Pirela joined the team in Toronto today and is scheduled to be activated tomorrow; corresponding roster move yet to be determined. Also, Chris Capuano, injured quad at the beginning of Spring, currently on assignment with the Tampa Yankees, threw 4 innings at a game on Saturday; this is part of what is considered his extended Spring Training.

Not so good news on the injury front: Brendan Ryan, on rehab assignment for his calf strain, injured his hamstring (same leg) earlier this week and is now on rest for the week.

While the three guys listed above are scheduled for May returns, and with Nova and Tanaka looking at coming back in June if all goes as planned, it looks like the shifting roster will continue to do just that. A healthy team can only make things better. And continuing this rather strong streak the Yankees have started here can only mean good things.

Fingers crossed. Knock on wood. Whatever your own superstition dictates you should do. Mine says I should just hope for the best and stay positive.

Go Yankees!

Game 10: NYY vs. TB — Alex, Stephen, Alex, Alex, and Andrew

I grew up here in Florida, and this was Braves territory for most of my growing up years. Though most of the people I knew rooted for whatever team their parents or grandparents grew up rooting for because most everyone came from some other part of the country (or their family did in a recent generation or two). For example, my mother’s family is from Northeast Ohio, so our family were Indians fans for most of my life.

Or people were football fans (and this was during the orange-saturated Buccaneers era). But mostly, everyone was either a Gator or Seminoles fan — this area takes its college football loyalties very seriously. (Still does, actually.) See in the world of professional baseball, with Spring Training and minor league games so big, MLB didn’t think there was much fan base for pro ball in the state of Florida. So Miami didn’t get their team until 1993, and the Rays didn’t move into the Tampa area until 1998. Not that I want to date myself or anything, but by the time the area was progressively converted to the new spectacle that was the “Devil Rays” in all the colorful glory and domed stadium in St. Petersburg, I was already a closeted Yankee fan.

There is still a bit of lacking when it comes to outright fan base in the area. The stadium doesn’t get many seats filled, even for a big-name team like the Yankees and even when the Rays are any good. And there’s been so much talk about moving the team to a “better location” in the area (read: new stadium) and trying to build that fan base. And believe me, I can talk and express my opinions with the best of them (and have); but now is not the time for this.

But I do have friends who are passionate about “their team”, upset over favorite players traded or signed away recently, bummed that they can’t make it to more games during the season, hopeful the management change is a sign of good things to come, and highly opinionated on how the Rays can be a better team. In other words, they have quite a fan base, much like almost every other team in the league.

And you could hear that fan base. At Yankees-Rays games at Tropicana Field, you usually get about half and half for a fan base, mainly because the Yankees are the second favorite team in the area (partly due to Spring Training and the minor league team and partly because the Yankees are America’s team). But tonight’s game featured cheering for the almost all-rookie team of Rays players louder than usual. Fans cheering at 2-strikes for the strikeouts and that anticipated build-up to catch that long fly ball on the warning track. For not being a big turnout, the Rays fans showed up to be Rays fans. And that’s rather impressive, especially as most of the area has hockey fever (the city’s NHL team is in the playoffs this week).

Adam Warren got the start for the Yankees tonight and started off pretty good. He threw just 46 pitches through his first 3 innings, but then things just fell apart for him in the 4th. Two runners on base with a single and a walk, with just 1 out, a big 3-run home run puts the Rays on top only to be accentuated by the solo home run of the next batter. Eventually getting out of the messy inning, Warren would end up with a stats line of 80 pitches over his 4 innings, giving up 6 hits, 4 runs, and 2 walks, and striking out just 2 batters.

Esmil Rogers came on to pitch the 5th and 6th innings rather flawlessly, only giving up 1 walk. He got one out of the 7th before reliever Wilson got his one out. Then the ball was handed over to Betances to finish the 7th and get 2 outs in the 8th (all 3 outs were strikeouts, by the way). Then it was the Andrew Miller show for the final 4 outs — 3 of them were strikeouts, and it was a beautiful save, his 3rd of 3 save opportunities this season so far.

But all of that would be nothing without hitting. And for hitting it really came down to two things — home runs and Alex Rodriguez. In the 2nd inning, Rodriguez started the ball rolling with an amazing 471 foot home run into left-center field. (For the record, the longest home run hit in the Trop was 478 feet by the Blue Jays’ Vinny Castilla in April 2001.) Then with 2 outs in the 4th inning, it’s Stephen Drew’s turn for glory — a solo home run to right-center field, his 100th career home run.

In the top of the 6th, the Rays are up 4-2 over the Yankees, so it’s time for some hitting. With 1 out, McCann walked and then scored on Rodriguez’s 2-run home run (this one only 400 feet into the left field seats). This would be Rodriguez’s 61st career multi-home run game, his most recent in May 2012 against the Royals.

And it’s into the 8th inning, with the score tied 4-4. Beltran singled and then was replaced by pinch-runner Brett Gardner (who would take over in left field on defense). Two outs and many pick-off attempts later, Gardner stole 2nd and then scored easily on (who else tonight?) Rodriguez’s single.

Final score from the Trop: 5-4 Yankees.

Injury updates: Brett Gardner’s MRI yesterday came back as predicted — a bone bruise, which made him day-to-day; but he jumped into today’s game as a pinch-runner and that definitely worked out for the best, so I imagine we’ll see him more frequently unless the arm tightens up again. And in Tampa today, Ivan Nova, in rehab after Tommy John surgery last year, threw batting practice, which makes him on target for some minor league rehab starts come May 1. Chris Capuano threw to Jose Pirela for their own extended Spring Training/Injury Rehab, both injured in March; Pirela is expected to begin regular games Monday, somewhere in the minor league system. And Brendan Ryan will be on his way back to Tampa for his rehab, beginning workouts next week.

Things are rolling, pieces are falling into place, the new normal has arrived. With shades of yesterday and hopes for the future, this is my kind of now.

Go Yankees!

Spring Game 21: NYY vs. NYM — Home-runned over

It’s a crisp, clear 41-degrees in New York today, as both the City’s baseball teams met up in today’s game at the Mets’ Spring home in Port St. Lucie, under clear, but rather warm 87-degree skies. PSL is across the state and a bit southeast from Tampa (almost a 3 hour drive).

CC Sabathia got his 2nd start of the Spring, and it certainly didn’t go so well. He threw 53 pitches over just 2.2 innings, giving up 5 hits, 4 runs, and striking out 4 Mets batters.

The first batter he faced hit an inside-the-park home run, but this was in part due to a serious injury incurred by center fielder for the day Jose Pirela. Pirela ran full-speed into the back wall in pursuit of the ball and came crashing back down to the ground. Ramon Flores, from left field, came over and quickly got rid of the ball trying to get the guy somehow, but like everyone else on the field (except the Mets), the real concern was the player still laid out on his back on the center field warning track.

When it was obvious Pirela wasn’t getting up any time soon, Flores, Jones (right field), and Gregorius (shortstop) came all the way out to that center field wall, motioning to Girardi and head trainer Steve Donahue for help. Girardi called for a cart to get Pirela off the field for further medical attention when it was immediately obvious (because he was very dizzy and a tad disoriented) that Pirela wasn’t going to make the 500-foot walk back to the dugout on his own. Pirela was later carried out of the park on a stretcher in an ambulance. He was later diagnosed with an concussion, though further medical tests were ordered to rule out anything more serious.

In the meantime, that injury still heavy on the minds of his teammates, just 2 outs later, a Mets batter hit a solo home run, putting the Mets in the lead 2-0 at the end of the 1st. Sabathia had a better 2nd inning, as no one scored or got past 1st base. But in the 3rd, with 1 man on base with a single, a 2-run home run pushed the Mets up 4-0 over the Yankees. Martin came in to relieve Sabathia and got out of the inning. Reliever Baker kept the Mets from adding to their lead for the next 4.1 innings.

And with that momentum, the Yankees opted for Chasen Shreve to finish out the 8th inning in hopes the team could bounce back and at least make up some of the difference in the offense at the top of the 9th. No such luck today. With 2 outs on the board, Shreve gave up a solo home run, a single, and an RBI double before finally getting that 3rd out. It was now 6-0 Mets, and the Yankees weren’t hitting much at all today (10 Mets hits to 3 Yankees hits)

To be fair on the hitting front, the Yankees were facing one of the best pitchers in the NL on his return from Tommy John surgery for the first 5.2 innings of the game. With that and the unknowns of Pirela’s injury still looming, it’s no wonder the Yankees weren’t really up to par today.

Well, our prayers here go out to Pirela as he recovers from his concussion for a quick and complete healing.

Go Yankees!