The old switch-a-roo just before the holidays…

I’ve been watching a lot of the off-season moves with some measure of amusement. Honestly, sometimes it’s made me shake my head in confusion as I see what should be high-ticket players off to small- or low-market teams as a road of rebuilding (or perhaps a bit of redemption) as they regroup for the 2015 season. Though the Giants now trying to defend their third title in 5 years, I have little doubt 2015 will not be a Giants win as they seem to have an aversion to odd number years and winning teams, and it seems all the other teams seem ready to pounce on such an opportunity. The Cubs, Marlins, and Padres are all teams that seem to be on the losing end of things and have all made recent deals which make even the biggest pundit in sports news second guess their previous biases against such teams.

I am less convinced, but perhaps it is because I am cynic by nature and prefer to reserve my hopes and positive thoughts for things (and teams) I care about and be pleasantly surprised (and sometimes disappointed) however things turn out. In fact, I have been rather grateful recently that I didn’t choose to blog for another team as I’ve been using the “shaking my head” gesture quite literally as I read teams trade away their better players and become harvesting grounds for big-spenders or regrouping teams. I try to remain positive even when I don’t agree with such moves or it’s rather bad news, and those teams certainly would stretch my desire for positivity on here with what I consider (for lack of a better term) “bonehead moves”.

But I digress…

I spent the day doing the exact opposite of what I do for this blog — I took the day off and did some personal holiday preparation with a good friend. In other words, I wasn’t checking social networks and following leads for the latest news. And it’s on days like this that decide to pull the rug out and surprise my brief holiday vacation with a sudden impact on the 2015 season.

And thus, today’s blogpost…

Okay, two big moves secured further depth on the Yankees’ pitching staff and certainly created some options on the infield. First, in a deal with the Marlins, the Yankees traded Martin Prado and David Phelps for pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, pitching prospect Domingo German, and 1st baseman/outfielder Garrett Jones. Now, the Yankees took on Prado’s $3 million year salary when they picked him up the middle of last season and will continue to owe him this for the 2015 and 2016 seasons. But the Yankees were looking for proper back-up for Teixeira and the outfield, which looks like the reason Jones was chosen, including some chatter that “his swing was made for Yankee Stadium”. Eovaldi is a starter who could flesh out the rotation with some National League level pitching. (Long-term readers will understand my affinity for the strength of NL pitchers.)

The second move picked up reliever Gonzalez Germen from the Mets in exchange for cash considerations. (Another NL pitcher; is this a trend now?) To make room for him on the 40-man roster, the Yankees have designated Preston Claiborne for assignment.

One reporter commented that it should be noted that the Yankees picked up both a German and a Germen on the same day. However, I suspect German (from the Marlins) will stay in the minors for a while as he develops as a player, though initial scouting reports rank him high on their list of prospects. Germen (from the Mets) has spent a couple of years with the Mets, and this marks the first trade with their crosstown rivals in a decade (December 3, 2004 Felix Heredia to the Mets for Mike Stanton, a pretty good trade overall).

There was some initial fan backlash over the first trade (with the Marlins), something I didn’t quite understand as it seemed to be in direct contrast with previous backlash in relation to the same players in quite the opposite manner during the actual season. But I suppose that only further serves as a reminder that no one can pick on family but family. Like I can mess with my brother (and have) as much as I want (don’t worry, he’s great at revenge), but if someone else were to try to mess with him, heaven help that person.

I learned this basic fact at my first Yankee game sitting among long-term season ticket holders (as in inherited seats and fan status from their fathers and grandfathers). They could dissect why certain players weren’t the right fit or how the Yankees need to fix all their problems, even debating each other on specific facts or team history or opinions. But if a non-Yankee fan tried to join in and tell them why the team sucked, the fans would join forces and school the “other guy” on why he was oh so wrong and couldn’t mess with their team.

Well, guys, we lost a couple of “relatives” today, but we gained a few too. And this whole crazy off-season trade madness is really just getting started.

I don’t expect to blog before Christmas or the New Year, so have a wonderful, joyful, and safe holiday season. I am certainly looking forward to a great 2015. I expect the unexpected, so I can be pleasantly surprised and seldom disappointed, and I hope to continue this into 2015. Perhaps my surprise will be a great Yankee season. Sounds like a plan to me.

Happy Holidays!

Go Yankees!

Game 161: NYY vs. BOS — How to lose a game: shoddy pitching & sloppy errors in one inning

Okay, let me get this out of the way… Yes, Derek Jeter played in Fenway today, as the DH, taking 2 at-bats and going 1-for-2 with a single before being taking out of the game to rest. No, they did not use the “Voice of God” from Yankee Stadium, though they had permission from the Yankees, Jeter opted to keep Sheppard’s introduction back in the Bronx where it belongs. And yes, Jeter plans to play as DH in tomorrow’s final game of the season against the Red Sox. And yes, for some reason, every Red Sox fan has turned into a major Derek Jeter fan this weekend, and it’s kind of confusing to hear such cheers and chants for him from the Green Monster and those old seats all over the old park.

Now, there were 79 other players (40 in Red Sox and 39 Yankee uniforms, due to the expanded September roster) that actually played a game (well, a good portion of them at least) in Boston today, and much to Boston’s delight, it swung their way this afternoon.

Masahiro Tanaka will end this season with a 13 wins and 5 losses record, without any furtherance of that record today. Because it was really messy out there. No, this wasn’t due to his elbow. Tanaka was just having a really bad off-day and couldn’t find his command to save the game, literally. He threw 50 pitches in 1.2 innings. Yes, he didn’t make it out of the 2nd inning, and that is the reason for my blog post title today. This is the inning that forced the game into the Red Sox’s favor. Tanaka allowed 7 hits, 7 runs (though only 5 were earned), and 2 walks, and striking out only 2 batters.

After an RBI single allowed in the 1st inning, it was the mess of a 2nd inning that inflated the Boston’s lead. Boston sent up 14 batters alone in the 2nd inning — that’s 1 1/2 times through the roster. So here’s how it happened: strike out, walk and stolen base, groundout, RBI single, walk, single to load bases, 2-RBI single (with the runner ending at 3rd on a throwing error), and RBI single. Tanaka was then pulled from the game, with Preston Claiborne coming in for relief. The 9th batter of the inning reached on a fielding error, ending up at 2nd as 2 runners score. Then here’s part 2 of the inning: RBI double, RBI single, single, walk (to load bases), and finally force out to end the inning.

It would be 9-0 Boston going into the 3rd inning. So much for a short game, so much for a close game.

Bryan Mitchell would come on as long-term relief and with a single exception, really put some great innings in for the Yankees. He threw just 44 pitches over his 4 innings, giving up 4 hits and a run and striking out 3 batters. That sole mistake was a lead-off double in the 6th that scored on a single that featured (what else today?) a throwing error. (That would be the 3rd of the Yankees’ 3 errors today.)

After Mitchell’s outing, the Yankees turned to Chase Whitley for the 7th and 8th innings. And Whitley did a great job of keeping the Red Sox from adding to their 10 runs scored.

Now, the Yankees weren’t going to let the Red Sox completely blank them out of a game, even one where they led 10-0 going into the 7th inning. So it would be Jose Pirela’s triple to start the offensive kick; he would then score on Brendan Ryan’s sacrifice fly. But the highlight of the Yankees’ offensive would be the 8th inning. Loading the bases with singles by Cervelli (having pinch-hit for Jeter earlier in the game), Romine, and Headley, with just 1 out, it looked like the Yankees were finally in a position to do some damage. So they did. Chris Young’s single scored Cervelli, keeping the bases loaded; and then Stephen Drew’s ground-rule double scored Romine and Headley.

But really, the play of the game was a defensive one for the Yankees in the 4th inning. With 1 out and a runner on 2nd, a Boston batter hit the ball to Pirela (2nd base), who threw it to Ryan (3rd base) as the runner was trying to round 3rd and score; Ryan threw it to Romine (catcher), who threw it back to Ryan who tagged the runner in a rundown. Immediately, they saw that the runner at 1st had doubled off, so Ryan threw it Headley (1st base) to get the original runner of this play. A 4-5-2-5-3 double play, but a great show of teamwork by the Yankee defense. This to me was the quintessential mark of what we can usually rely on from the Yankees — teamwork and quick instincts defensively.

I was thinking about that play as the Yankees battled their way up from a 10-0 hole to lose today’s game 10-4 because I promised myself and you readers that I would keep it positive on here. So “think on good things” right? That play was a very good thing. And if you notice, with a single exception (Headley, though he was at 1st), everyone else was not a regular starter this season. And yet, they played like Yankees. So what was all that chatter about the new era of the Yankees not being what we’re used to? Yeah, I thought so…

Go Yankees! (Just one game left… bittersweet Saturday as it is…)

Game 143: TB vs. NYY — “It’s not how it starts, it’s how it ends”

The Yankees are a study in perseverance this year, using this game as a very explicit demonstration of such a motto. I saw this on my Twitter feed right after the Yankees took the win today against the visiting Rays thought it completely summed up tonight’s game (and hopefully a nice predictor of the future).

Chris Capuano got the start tonight and really just seemed to be having what has to be the worst off-night of his career. He faced 7 batters, gave up 4 hits and 2 walks, got 4 earned runs (an RBI double, 2 RBI singles, and a sacrifice fly), struck out 1 batter (the only out he got), and threw 36 pitches. I should mention this was all in the 1st inning.

Chase Whitley was brought on in relief to stop the bleeding, something he did quite successfully. Whitely finished the 1st quickly and plowed right through the 2nd and 3rd innings, throwing just 41 pitches overall. Preston Claiborne got the nod for the 4th and 5th innings, keeping that steamroller going to keep those pesky Rays in check and holding at just 4 runs. This also meant that he would be on the hook when the Yankees caught up and took the lead.

Aside from Brian McCann’s 2-out solo home run in the 1st, it would be the 3rd inning for the Yankees to start making their offensive move. Chris Young led-off the inning with a single and ended up at 3rd when Ellsbury walked and the catcher for some reason tried to throw Young out stealing first (remember Ellsbury just walked and that meant that Young would automatically advance to 2nd, no stealing necessary); so while the ball rolled into center field, Young just dashed his way to 3rd. So the stage was set for McCann again to contribute to the offense, this time with a 2-run single. It was now 4-3 Rays. And despite loading up the bases, the Yankees couldn’t push it to a tie.

Yet…

It would be Young, who stated the 3rd inning rally, to tie up the game with a solo home run to the left field seats in the 4th inning. And in the 5th inning, the Yankees pushed for the win. McCann, on base with a hit-by-pitch, scored easily on Mark Teixeira’s triple. Teixeira would then score on Chase Headley’s single. So it was 6-4 Yankees to defend all the way to the finish line.

In the meantime, Warren and Betances split the 6th, 7th, and 8th innings, continuing that steamrolling over the Rays, who were kept to those 4 runs. Except it wasn’t enough for the Yankees because sometimes to win, you need a little insurance of that cushion of victory. Something they decided to earn in the 8th inning. Headley led-off with a single and then scored on Ichiro Suzuki’s double. Ichiro would then score on Young’s double. So it would be 8-4 Yankees going into the final half-inning.

Esmil Rogers took over in relief for the 9th, and he quickly got 2 outs , pushing an already energetic crowd in the Bronx to their feet with anticipation of a much-needed victory in the air. But a solo home run from a Rays power-hitter,  had the Bronx booing in eagerness to see a win. But an out later, the Rays’ hopes of a last-minute comeback were dashed, and the Yankees claimed the win 8-5.

Carlos Beltran is out of the lineup for a couple of days with elbow soreness again. This is the same elbow that has a bone spur that will need to be operated on following the season and has been receiving treatments of cortisone shots to keep him in the game before having to resort to the inevitable surgery. But now with the new flare-up, they will forego the next round of treatment to see if the elbow “calms down” on its own. However, if it doesn’t, they will probably shut him down for the season, send him in for surgery, and begin his recovery for the 2015 season.

Beltran joins the list of “wait-and-sees” like Prado who’s out with a hamstring issue and Gardner who’s nursing an abdominal injury. As always, we wish these guys (and those still on the DL) a quick, and speedy recovery, but mostly we wish whole healthy for the long-term. Take care of yourselves, people!

Go Yankees!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, this whole game was really something else…

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

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

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

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

Go Yankees!

Game 57: OAK vs. NYY — Delayed extra inning loss

It’s a shame that the Yankees couldn’t hold off the surging tide that is Oakland right now because Hiroki Kuroda was actually pretty on point tonight and left the game while the Yankees were still in line for  the win. But right now, the Athletics are on the rise and the Yankees seem to be hitting some speed bumps.

I’m guessing the hour and 12 minute rain delay at the prior to the game didn’t do them any favors either. And I’m guessing book-ending the game with an extra inning wasn’t exactly the cap on a marvelous day that they hoped for.

Anyway, Kuroda’s outing included 6.2 innings and 93 pitches, just 2 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, and 2 strikeouts. The sole run he allowed was a solo home run in the 5th inning. Kuroda was back to being Kuroda, and the Yankees offense was big enough to set him up for the win. In the 1st, Gardner singled and then scored on Mark Teixeira’s single. And then Teixeira got a solo home run in the 6th inning. So the Yankees were up 2-1 as Kuroda stepped off the mound, clinging to a win.

So they turned to Dellin Betances to finish the 7th inning, which he did quickly. In the 8th, however, Betances did something so rare for him — he struggled. With 2 outs, he walked a batter (another rarity for him) and that runner scored on a long double and allowed Oakland to tie up the game, and Betances earned himself a blown save.

Robertson’s 9th was rather flawless, but it’s too bad it was wasted on a tied game. The Yankees couldn’t come up with much in the bottom of the 9th, so the game went into extra innings. And whoever was still left at Yankee Stadium on this late night, settled in hoping for a Yankee walk-off that would never come.

Adam Warren was sent up in the 10th, and Warren’s night came unraveled pretty quickly. He allowed a lead-off solo home run to push the Athletics into the lead. Then a batter walked and then scored on a double. A fly out kept the runner in place, but he scored on a single. And suddenly, the A’s were up 5-2 over the Yankees. They brought in Claiborne to close out the 10th, and the Yankees couldn’t come up with that needed offense to make up the difference.

Of course, the best part of tonight’s game is that Mark Teixeira was back in the line-up and playing first base like only Teixeira can. The doctor cleared his rested wrist for return to normal. Michael Pineda was placed on the 60-day DL, and Scott Sizemore was recalled and placed in tonight’s line-up. It was good to have both Teixeira and Sizemore back on the field again, as their contributions defensively (and Teixeira’s offensively) were crucial to keeping the A’s from doing damage under Kuroda’s watch. It’s too bad that didn’t carry over towards the end with everyone else.

Also, Masahiro Tanaka was named AL Pitcher of the Month for May for his outstanding show of force during last month’s six appearances. Currently, Tanaka is riding a 5-1 win-loss record and a 1.88 ERA for his rookie 2014 season. He continues to impress every team, every scout, every broadcaster, and every fan with his high-capacity for excellence. And that in itself is a Yankee trait. It’s good to know he’s on “our side” of this game.

Go Yankees!

Game 53: MIN vs. NYY — Losing with pitching and their home runs

Honestly, there was a lot of sloppy pitching on both sides tonight. Neither team really put on their best outing of the season. The Twins in town with a 3-game weekend series and it means the return of a couple of former Yankees to make an appearance at some point this weekend.

Vidal Nuno got the start for the Yankees tonight, 101 pitches, 6.2 innings, 7 hits, 4 runs, and 6 strikeouts. Nuno’s biggest issue was poorly placed pitches that lingered just a little too long in that sweet spot because all 4 of those runs were scored on home runs — two solo home runs in the 2nd and 4th and a 2-run home run in the 4th. It was quite enough to push the Twins easily in the lead, something they never let go.

Preston Claiborne was brought into the game in the 7th to get that last out, while Nuno was in a spot of trouble. He did, but his trouble spot was his 8th inning. That and his pitch count — 35 pitches in just 1.1 innings. In the 8th, with 2 outs, a lead-off single and a walk on base ready to score two more runs on two back-to-back RBI singles. One of those singles was by former Yankee Eduardo Nunez, who received some scattered applause on his return to the Bronx. (Nunez was always a fan favorite and a favorite in the clubhouse, but unfortunately, things just didn’t work out to keep him on the roster. Though I’m happy he’s found a new home in a different set of pinstripes.)

Matt Daley took the 9th inning and really gave the strongest performance of his season and of the night as a whole — 14 pitches in that inning, no hits, no runs, no walks, and 1 strikeout.

The bottom line is that even with bad pitching, games are still won by scoring the most runs. And the Yankees certainly didn’t do that tonight. Their sole run came in the 3rd inning. Murphy singled and then out at 2nd by Gardner’s force out; Gardner stole 2nd base; Jeter’s groundout advanced Gardner to 3rd; and Jacoby Ellsbury’s nice double scored Gardner. Small ball paid off there, but not enough to add up to much of anything else.

Like I said before, it wasn’t a great day for pitching. The Twins may have racked up the runs, due mostly to those 3 home runs (scoring 4 of their runs), but they also allowed the Yankees 9 hits and 4 walks, striking out 7 Yankee batters. While the Yankees technically gave up more hits (10), but walked just 2 and struck out 10 Twins batters. It ended up being one of those game. I think even if the score had been closer, based on the performance of the pitching, it still would have been a rather disappointing game overall as the Twins win 6-1.

There was one odd play tonight — a rundown of sorts. For a rather mundane game (as evidenced by the incessant fan use of the “Wave”), it was a rather amusing point in the bottom of the 5th inning, even if it didn’t turn out well for the Yankees. With 1 out and Gardner on 1st with a walk, Gardner then steals 2nd (his 13th stolen base of the season). Jeter singles and the outfielder (in 1 of 2 times he made this play with his ridiculous arm) threw Gardner out trying to get home. Well, actually it was a 9-2-4-2-5-2 to get that out — right field to catcher to try to protect home, catcher to 2nd base to try to get Jeter unsuccessfully, 2nd base to catcher to actually get Gardner out at home, catcher to 3rd base trying to get Jeter running there again unsuccessfully, and 3rd base to catcher to protect the plate in case Jeter tried to go home. All that for 1 out and a single that landed the runner on 3rd. (I wish there was a good video link because it made more sense watching it, so I hope I didn’t confuse you there.)

Unfortunately, they left him stranded there on 3rd unable to turn out anything useful. Which seemed to be the order of the day for the Yankee batters. Like I said, it was just one of those games. Chapter closed, tomorrow is a whole new ball game. Literally and figuratively.

Go Yankees!

Game 50: NYY vs. STL — Rain delays, extra innings, & Memorial Day

Donning camo-colored hats and other camo-touched parts of their uniforms, the Yankees and Cardinals honored past and current veterans on this Memorial Day in St. Louis. The skies and forecast threatened to interrupt, even causing a one hour rain delay before the first pitch was thrown. But the sold-out crowd joined the two long-storied franchises to play an American past time on a day of remembrance and honor.

Chase Whitley was given the start to today’s game, and overall, gave another outstanding performance for only his second major league start — 91 pitches over 5 innings (and 3 batters in the 6th), 8 hits, 3 runs, no walks, and 2 strikeouts. He bookended his outing with some trouble. He seemed a little hesitant in the 1st, allowing a lead-off tripe to score on an RBI double. But he quickly buckled down and pushed through. In the bottom of the 6th, his first 3 batters loaded the bases with a double, single, and hit by pitch. So they turned to Preston Claiborne to get out of the inning. Unfortunately, the first two runners went on to score on a force out and a sacrifice fly.

In the mean time, the Yankees racked up their own 3 runs against the Cardinals, against one of their better pitchers too. In the 1st inning, Gardner led off with a walk and went on to score on Jacoby Ellsbury’s single. Then in the 5th, Ichiro also led off with a walk and scored on Kelly Johnson’s single, and then Roberts on base with his own single would score on Brett Gardner’s sacrifice fly.

The Yankees and Cardinals sat at that 3-3 tie into the 12th inning. Claiborne came back in the 7th for an out, Thornton grabbed those last 2 in the 7th, and it was Dellin Betances again to grab the 8th and 9th innings. As the game rolled over into extra innings, the Yankees called on Alfredo Aceves for the 10th and 11th innings.

So when the Yankees suddenly decided to attack offensively in the 12th, Aceves was on tap for the win today. Ellsbury led off with yet another walk, McCann was hit by a pitch, and Ichiro Suzuki was intentionally walked to load the bases. The Cardinals would soon realize their mistake as Brian Roberts’ single scored Ellsbury and kept the bases loaded. Alfonso Soriano’s sacrifice fly scored McCann, and Brendan Ryan’s single scored Ichiro easily. And the Yankees were up 6-3. (As the mass horde of Cardinals fans started giving up on what was turning out to be a long day at Busch Stadium and began heading to the exits in anticipation of the loss.)

They would miss David Robertson’s 12th save opportunity (and 11th save), and they would miss an RBI double planting the score at 6-4 Yankees, despite a decent rally attempt by the Cards.

Prior to today’s ceremony (and before the hour-long rain delay), the Cardinals celebrated the 50th anniversary of their 1964 World Series championship team, including inviting those on that team honored for their contribution to Cardinals’ history to take the field. (If you can’t figure it out, the Yankees were their opponent for the ’64 Series, when the Cards won it in 7 very close games.) As part of that opening, members of the ’64 team threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Then Cardinal legend, shortstop, and Hall-of-Famer Ozzie Smith, on behalf of the Cardinals organization, presented Derek Jeter with Stan Musial cuff links and a $10,000 check to Turn 2 Foundation. The Musial comparisons to Jeter are quite appropriate — the great player who stayed with one team for his entire career and played the game the right way.

And again, I want to thank all the veterans and current military personnel for your sacrifice and service. And a special thank you to the friends and family of veterans, who support and love those who do so much for people they may never meet for the sake of God and country. Take a moment this week to show your support, thank a vet, or donate your time or money to an organization for veterans.

Go Yankees!