Game 63: DET vs. NYY — A Grand Old Time, but a disappointing loss

In Motor City, they have a small reason to celebrate. Today’s win for the Tigers made it the first time since the Tigers have won a series at the new Yankee Stadium (built for the 2009 season). This, of course, means the Yankees have slipped back under par in the standings. This weekend hasn’t exactly been the strongest showing for the Yankees in some aspects, but they’ve been pretty good in minor areas that unfortunately collectively don’t add up to wins.

For example, Michael Pineda started this afternoon’s finale against the Tigers, throwing 114 pitches in his 6 innings, giving up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs, and solidly striking out 8 batters. In what amounted to a weird summary of the game, the 4th inning was a bit of an issue. Pineda quickly loaded the bases with singles from the strongest hitters on the Detroit roster. A sacrifice fly scored one and a single quickly loaded up the bases again. But then things started working for the Yankees as a great line out to Gregorius and nice strike out closed the door on what could’ve been a messy outing. In the 5th, with 1 out and runners on the corners, a ground out scored the runner from 3rd to double the Tigers’ lead at that point.

But that was all Pineda allowed in the scheme of things. Anthony Swarzak picked up the ball in the 7th inning. A single and a 2-run home run kicked things off roughly for him, but then between his strikeout and a couple of fly outs for the defense, that would be it for the Tigers. Goody and Green closed things out with an inning a piece without allowing any further Tigers’ runs.

So we turn to the quieted offense once again for a sign of something off. They Yankees even faced two former teammates now with the Tigers’ bullpen, but with a single exception, it didn’t seem to make much of an impact. It wasn’t until the 8th inning that the Yankees poked through the Tigers’ pitching. Ellsbury led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Beltran’s 1-out walk, and then scored on Chase Headley’s 2-out single.

Yankee pitchers managed to strike out 12 Detroit batters, yet gave up 9 total hits. Meanwhile, the Yankees offense managed 4 hits and 4 walks and struck out 9 times, and only managed a single run.

Final score: 4-1 Tigers, Tigers win series 2-1.

Roster moves: After the game, the Yankees optioned reliever Chad Green to AAA to make room for their other big move today. The Yankees signed 1st baseman Ike Davis. After all the recent blows their string of 1st basemen and their replacements have taken, the Yankees were looking for a strong, tested (albeit somewhat ideally temporary) veteran presence at 1st. Davis is mostly known for his time with the Mets (2010-2014), but after a short stint with the Pirates and the Athletics, Davis spent most of this year with the Rangers’ AAA team before being released and then signed by the Yankees today.

Also, today, the Yankees celebrated the 70th Annual Old Timers’ Day. On the roster for the game between the “Bombers” and the “Clippers” included Hall of Famers like Whitey Ford, Goose Gossage, Rickey Henderson, Reggie Jackson, and Joe Torre and other Yankee greats like Don Larsen, Stick Michael, Lou Pinella, Willie Randolph, John Wetteland, and Bernie Williams. But the talk of the day was 2009 World Series MVP Hideki Matsui celebrating his 42nd birthday today with a monster 2-run homer into the 2nd deck in right field off another great Yankee David Cone.

But the greatest presence this afternoon was the greatest absence. Yogi Berra was a fixture at this day nearly every year, and today’s OTD game was played in his honor, complete with special plaques on the bases and patches on the uniforms. Berra continues to be honored and celebrated this year, deservedly so.

{Media note: you can watch the entire Old Timers’ Day pre-game ceremony, including all the introductions of the former Yankee greats here. Or watch the shorter version and game highlights here.}

Go Yankees!

Also, I want to send my thoughts and prayers for the victims and their families of today’s terrible tragedy in Orlando. My heart goes out to the city in light of this and the other tragic loss of just a few days ago. May we learn how to bind together as a community to make smart, active decisions on how to prevent such terrible things from happening ever again and become a community that prove our differences are really our greatest strength as they become such an amazing unique pattern that is humanity at its strongest and most beautiful.

Game 74: BAL vs. NYY — Old Timers, Goose, & a bad shut-out

One of my favorite days during the season is Old-Timers’ Day, and that was today at Yankee Stadium. The one day when all the greats from way past to recent past come together to celebrate the long Yankee legacy of greatness. Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui made their first appearances at the 68th Annual Old-Timers’ Day. They joined legends like Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Rickey Henderson, Reggie Jackson, Paul O’Neill, David Cone, Ron Guidry, Tino Martinez, Goose Gossage, Jeff Nelson, Willie Randolph, and Joe Torre (to name just a few). And the former pinstriped donned their numbers, got their own personal roll call from the Bleacher Creatures, and played a rather fun game for the fans in the sold-out stadium before the official game today.

And the Yankees continued the parade of honoring Yankees with a pre-game ceremony for Goose Gossage. A plaque (like Martinez yesterday) will now hang in Monument Park signifying the impact the former closer had on the Yankees during the late-70s. Gossage was a 9-time All-Star who racked up 151 saves and 512 strikeouts during his 319 games over 7 seasons as a Yankee. He helped the Yankees earn that 1978 Championship. Gossage was humbled by such an honor, but almost more so by being invited to share the field with some of the greatest Yankees on Old-Timers’ Day. Cherishing his time with the Yankees, Gossage is a fixture at such events like today and every year at Spring Training. He’s hard to miss with his bleached moustache, but his presence is part of the bridge that ties the dynasty with Berra to the dynasty with Jeter. And all three were present and having a great time on this Sunday in the Bronx. Gossage also got to throw out the first pitch before today’s regular game. {Long-version of Gossage’s pre-game ceremony here.}

And then there was the game with Masahiro Tanaka taking the start. And unlike most other Tanaka days, this wasn’t quite up there. But it’s complicated. Tanaka threw 106 pitches over 7 innings, allowing 6 hits, 3 runs, and 1 walk, and striking out 6 Baltimore batters. Now, just looking at that line, it doesn’t look that bad. And honestly, it really wasn’t terrible. Initially, Tanaka gave up a solo home run in the 2nd before he and the Baltimore starter kind of got into a bit of a pitching duel, both rather sharp and allowing just a handful of runners from hits and walks but nothing to threaten. In the 7th, Tanaka was pushing his limit, giving up a single and double, so that a ground out scored the first runner and a sacrifice fly scored the second.

So Baltimore was up 3-0, and the Yankees hadn’t managed to crack their pitcher. And here’s where trouble began for the Yankees. Adam Warren, normally pretty reliable out of the bullpen, certainly struggled today in his relief outing in the 8th inning. Two singles put runners on base with no outs, a force out turned messy with a throwing error and runners ended up on 2nd and 3rd. An intentional walk loaded the bases, which clear turned out to be a mistake because the next batter’s sweet double cleared the bases, scoring 3 more Baltimore runs. A single from the next batter scored one more run before a double play mercifully ended the 8th inning with Baltimore leading 7-0.

A scary moment in the bottom of the 8th had Mark Teixeira being hit by a pitch right on his foot. He was pulled from the game, sent straight to the trainer’s room for a full exam and x-rays. Teixeira was almost certain he was headed for the DL with something broken, and yet another set-back injury after the last few years being so injury-plagued. Fortunately, x-rays came back clean, no breaks, so it looks like a couple of days rest with some bruised feet is all that the doctor has ordered for the frustrated 1st baseman.

So into the 9th inning they went. David Huff, coming in for a struggling Warren, promptly gave up a solo home run, pushing the Orioles up to an 8-0 lead and eventual win for the AL East rivals.

Today’s loss tied the Yankees with Baltimore for 2nd place in their division, just 1.5 games behind Toronto. And this is going to be crucial info as the Yankees are headed north of the border for a series against those pesky Blue Jays for a brief 3-game trip away, a weird quirk in the scheduling.

Actually, these last two weeks in June seem to be division rivals week for the Yankees — just swept the Blue Jays and split the Orioles 1-2 at home, before 3 games at Toronto, then home for the Red Sox and Rays, before heading on the road to finish the first half of the season.

I’ve said it before, but I really don’t understand the scheduling of MLB games. But I’m not complaining too much. I’m certainly glad it’s not my job. I’d rather just watch games and tell people what I think. Oh wait…

Go Yankees!