Winter Meetings and roster shifting

I am ashamed it’s taken me almost 3 weeks to publish, but I do have completely legitimate reasons that really none of you care about (geography, health, holidays, stress, source issues, writer’s block, etc.). So I apologize for my procrastination, and here we go because there’s a lot to cover.

Okay, Winter Meetings in sunny San Diego are underway and providing interesting fodder for rumors and then confirmation of a few of them. This unfortunately includes David Robertson departing the pinstripes for… well, pinstripes. Robertson is on his way to play for the pinstriped men of the Second City, known to the world as the Chicago White Sox. The Sox deal locks him in for 4 years and $46 million, which leaves the Yankees with a bonus draft pick because Robertson declined the option last month and then opted to sign elsewhere. We wish Robertson and his family well on his new endeavors, except (of course) when the Yankees play them towards the end of next season.

In his stead, the Yankees are left looking to their current bullpen like Betances, Warren, Whitley, and Phelps leap to mind, but as we all know, the Spring will certainly shake things up in that (and every other) area. But I know they are looking to reinforce the pen, as they did with the signing of Andrew Miller, a free agent most recently with the Orioles and Red Sox. The left-handed reliever threw 103 strikeouts in 62.1 innings over 73 games just last year and is very comfortable in the set-up role, but (on par with many recent signees) he is willing to fill whatever role they ask of him. Another reason Spring is crucial is to play around with the bullpen and see where all the pieces fall into a comfortable rhythm.

In another recent move, the Yankees, the Tigers, and the Diamondbacks negotiated a 3-team trade deal. The Yankees sent Shane Greene to the Tigers, the Tigers sent a pitcher and minor leaguer to the Diamondbacks, and the Diamondbacks sent shortstop Didi Gregorius to the Yankees. In other words, everyone was wondering who was going to fill that monster hole in the middle infield, and this is the answer — Didi Gregorius. Well, it will probably be split between him and Brendan Ryan.

Also if you’re keeping track of anything in the Baby Bomber world, the Yankees denied arbitration with outfielder Slade Heathcott and pitchers Jose Campos and David Huff; all three elected free agency.

And because no Yankee post seems to be complete without news from a recently retired Captain, here’s the update…

There are postseason awards given by MLB Network affectionately called “GIBBYS“, short for “Greatness in Baseball Yearly” Awards. Basically, it’s a collection of moments in the season that fans, viewers, and network people vote for the best of those moments in specially decided categories. Jeter’s final Yankee Stadium game was the winner in two categories — what became known as the “2 Good to Be True” highlight became the Moment of the Year and the Walk-Off of the Year. If you can’t remember that moment (and apparently were in hibernation somewhere in September), this link is to jog your memory.

And Jeter hosted his annual Turn 2 Foundation Holiday Express for local kids, gifting them with packs filled by his “Jeter’s Leaders” a few weeks ago, hanging out with Santa, and then treating them to an early release of the upcoming kids’ movie Annie, a redone, updated version to be released nationwide on Christmas Day. I know it’s always a highlight and a treat for the kids of New York.

Well, with Winter Meetings still in progress, I can imagine there is a handful of other announcements to be made in the near future before everyone hunkers down for the holidays.

Go Yankees!

Game 158: BAL vs. NYY — Eliminated from October baseball

It’s official. With today’s loss against the visiting Orioles, the AL East Division Champions, the Yankees are officially eliminated from the Wild Card race, which means there is no chance at October baseball. As if the looming clouds and progressively darkening skies over the Bronx weren’t enough of a sign of such things to come for the pinstriped players today.

Before I recap, be aware that the Yankees’ game tomorrow evening (and its national broadcast) is currently under threat of being delayed because of the storm system that is making its way into the Tri-State area as I write this post. (Hence the looming clouds and darkening skies.) So if you’ll be watching Jeter’s last game in the Bronx, just know you may have to stay up rather late. They won’t call a make-up game because we’re down to wire, and there are no extra days to make anything up. There will be a game tomorrow night, with MLB HQ itself monitoring the skies. Perhaps there is a slight advantage to those weather watchers as the HQ is just a few miles south of Yankee Stadium in Midtown Manhattan.

And of course, there was a matinée game today in the Bronx, though there was some chatter online regarding an afternoon midweek game so late in the season. The consensus seemed to be to honor the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah), which begins at sundown tonight. (A “Happy New Year” to my Jewish readers!)

Actually, the Yankees jumped out first offensively, getting successive runs in the first 3 innings. With 2 outs in the 1st, Chase Headley singled and then scored on Mark Teixeira’s double. In the 2nd, Stephen Drew led off with a solo home run. And then in the 3rd, with 2 outs, Headley got his own solo home run. The Yankees led 3-0 going into the 4th inning. And that’s where the trouble started.

Shane Greene got the start for today’s game, and despite the final line score, he actually did a really good job for the majority of his outing. He threw 73 pitches over his 3.2 innings, giving up 7 hits, 3 walks, and 6 runs, striking out 5 Baltimore batters. A good portion of those allowed stats happened in his 4th inning. It wasn’t pretty. He loaded the bases with 1 out before a double scored 2 of those runners. He got another out (a strikeout). Then Greene crumbled: a single that scored 2 runs, a triple that scored 1 more, and another single to score the 6th run of the inning for the Orioles.

David Huff was brought on in relief as Greene wasn’t coming back from this. He got the final out of the inning on the 11th batter the Orioles sent up in that inning alone. Huff stayed on through the 5th and into the 6th inning before Chase Whitley was brought on for the final out of the 6th inning.

Whitley’s 7th inning continued keeping the Orioles at just those 6 runs, but he ran into troubles of his own coming out for the 8th inning when he gave up 2 back-t0-back singles to lead off the inning. The Yankees opted for David Phelps to work his way out of this jam, but even Phelps struggled to keep the Orioles from doing damage. With 1 out, he loaded the bases with an intentional walk, allowed 1 runner to score on a sacrifice fly and then 2 more on back-to-back RBI singles. Damage done. 9-3 Orioles going into the bottom of the 8th.

So the Yankees did what they always do when they’re deep in a hole — they try their hardest to claw their way out of said hole as much as possible. Because if they’re going down, they’re going down swinging with everything they got. And since the Yankees love their history, they opted to repeat something that worked so well in the 1st inning of the game — down two outs, Headley singled and then scored on Teixeira’s hit, though this time he decided to shake things up and hit a home run (that bounced off the yellow foul pole, an automatic home run).

This made the score 9-5. And despite Claiborne’s great 11-pitch 9th inning, the Yankees were too deep in the hole due to that regrettable 4th inning mess. It wasn’t going to happen today. And their magic number of 1 to make it to postseason dwindled to zero. Eliminated for the second consecutive year from October baseball (the first time since the 1992-1993 seasons). Of course, if history is bent on repeating itself, that means we’re in for a 20 year march of a new dynasty and 5 World Series Championships. I’m okay with that.

Four games left — one in New York and three in Boston. And then it’s a long winter of staring out the window until Spring Training, to paraphrase Rogers Hornsby. People keep talking about what it will be like without Derek Jeter on the Yankees. My response? A lot like watching the Yankees without someone wearing a #2 jersey on the field and at shortstop. I like Jeter’s response to similar questions (and I’m paraphrasing here): baseball and the Yankees existed long before he started playing (or was even born) and they’ll continue long after he hangs up his cleats. It’s how it has to be, I suppose, but it’s also how it should be. Baseball is a sport of champions (and championship teams), and Jeter (and thus the Yankees) are just one of many.

And I guess that gives me hope for what is potentially around the corner. I mean, who knows what new kid will be shocking everyone with his work ethic and determination and stellar athletic ability? Maybe that kid is on a roster in one of the 30 clubs or maybe he’s not even born yet. But that’s the fun of the game… you just never know…

As always…

Go Yankees!

Game 152: TOR vs. NYY — A walk-off error after flawless Greene outing

They say beggars can’t be choosers. And when you’re still clinging to whatever shred of hope in the Wild Card race with only 10 games left in the season, you’ll take any win, whenever, however, wherever, whatever.

Let me start with Shane Greene, who gave the Yankees one of his best outings this year tonight against the visiting Blue Jays. Honestly, his opposing starter was a former Cy Young award winner, who still at almost 40 is a dynamic pitcher known for his nasty knuckle ball. But it was all Greene tonight, who threw 105 pitches in his 6.2 innings, giving up 3 hits, 2 walks, and no runs, and striking out 6 Toronto batters. The only reason Greene’s pitch count was so high was because the Blue Jay batters insisted on fouling off so many balls, but they certainly had trouble making them fair without grounding or flying out.

After Greene put two runners on in the 7th with 2 outs, Dellin Betances came on in relief, threw 4 pitches, and got that last batter out.

But before this, the Yankees’ decided to hand-wrap a win for the rookie starter. In the 5th, Chase Headley on base with a walk and 2 outs, it was Stephen Drew’s double that scored Headley and put the Yankees on the board. And then in the 6th inning, it would be Derek Jeter to hit his 4th home run of the season into the left field seats, his first home run in Yankee Stadium this year.

The Yankees were nicely up 2-0 over the Blue Jays after 7 innings of play — Greene on the hook for the win, and the Yankees clinging to the possibilities of another victory.

That didn’t last long… Shawn Kelley’s 8th inning kind of blew that out of the water. With 2 outs and a runner on base with a single, a Toronto batter smacked a big 2-run home run to tie up the game. It was like the air got sucked out of the Bronx.

David Robertson kept things status quo in the 9th, allowing the chance for the Yankees to redeem themselves in the bottom of the 9th — that last-minute rally and dream. Leading off the inning, Richardson, in to pinch-run for Young after his single, stole 2nd, and ended up at 3rd on Gardner’s sacrifice bunt. And then it all just came together. Headley reached 1st on a fielding error (it went through the 1st baseman’s legs into right field), which allowed Richardson to jog the 90 feet home and score the winning walk-off run.

It would be 3-2 Yankees, with Headley showered in Gatorade. (Speaking of Gatorade, there is a very touching ad to add to the “not-a-farewell-tour” events of Jeter by his long-standing endorser; I’m sorry if the song gets stuck in your head like it’s been in mine all day. (Article 1 on the adArticle 2 on the ad.)

I was talking with someone today about all the chatter I keep hearing about the “low-scoring” team that is the 2014 Yankees. And really, I’m kind of tired of this. Yes, they haven’t scored a lot of runs this year; that is reality. But reality also says that they are still in the Wild Card race and sitting nicely above .500, in 2nd place in the AL East. So what’s the chatter all about?

Now if “low-scoring” equated to being last in the league, then I might see the point in chatting about it or at least giving it some consideration. But it clearly doesn’t. Yes, the Yankees are “low-scoring”, yet they’re still in the Wild Card race. Why? Because it’s never about how many runs you score in a season that ultimate dictates if you are the best. It’s always about how many wins you have. Most wins equal postseason, not the most runs. So you can score a million runs in a season, but it won’t guarantee you a playoff spot unless you win most of your games.

If I’m being honest, it does help to score a lot of runs because the team with the most runs at the end of a game wins that game. But so what if you hit 13 home runs if the other guys hit 14 and win the game… it just means their pitching was as lousy as yours. But they still won, and you still lost. It seems like wasted chatter to talk about overall statistics that ultimately don’t equate postseason guarantees.

So if we’re going to waste our time chatting about statistics, let’s talk about statistics that actually matter. Like the fact that the Yankees won tonight.

Go Yankees!

Game 147: NYY vs. BAL — Steal home, seal a win on a soggy Saturday

After yesterday’s disappointments, the Yankees came into today’s matinee in need of something… well, less disappointing. Once ordered, so given in front of the sell-out crowd in Baltimore today. Though on what can only be described as a very soggy day at Camden Yards, the game was delayed 35 minutes to start due to rain in the area, and it actually continued to rain through much of the game.

Shane Greene started today’s game and seemed to return to the Shane Greene form we’ve been used to this year. Over his 5.1 innings, he threw 112 pitches, allowed 7 hits and 2 runs, and struck out 9 Orioles’ batters. None of those stats surprise me or lessen the strength of Greene’s outing because they were against the Orioles, a team that very much likes to hit and hit big. Those runs were an RBI single in the 3rd inning and a solo home run in the 6th.

In the meantime, the Yankees found an inning to make an impact. In the 2nd inning, Brian McCann started the offensive roll with a solo home run. Then Teixeira walked, Chris Young doubled, and Antoan Richardson’s single scored Teixeira (Richardson’s 1st career RBI). Now, with hot-streak Young sitting on 3rd and 2 outs on the board, Young stole home. Yes, that’s right, he stole home. Well, actually, the catcher made the mistake of going for the distraction — trying to throw out Richardson going to 2nd, while Young casually strolled his way across the plate. This gave the Yankees enough runs early on to defend with their bullpen, something they did with the same tenacity we expect from the Yankees.

And defend they did — Rogers finished the 6th inning for Greene and the first out of the 7th, then Outman finished that inning; Kelley’s 8th kept the ball rolling (so to speak); and Robertson earned his 36th save of the season in the 9th in 11 pitches.

So it wound up being a 3-2 Yankees win. And I’m always happy for a win.

Go Yankees!

Game 141: KC vs. NYY — It’s Derek Jeter Day in the Bronx

I guess you could say that the best part of this picture perfect day was the pre-game festivities because the game itself wasn’t much to talk about. Everyone went into today knowing it was going to be “Derek Jeter Day” at Yankee Stadium, but a proclamation from New York City mayor Bill de Blasio made it “Derek Jeter Day” all over the five boroughs — certainly an honor deserved from someone who has contributed much to the city for the better part of the last two decades.

The ceremony began with long-time Yankee broadcasters John Sterling (radio) and Michael Kay (TV) taking turns announcing the special guests and introducing the gifts, emceeing the entire “not-a-farewell-tour” stop in the Bronx. Representing the very large family of the retiring shortstop were his maternal grandmother (escorted by Girardi); his parents; and (escorted by Sabathia) his sister (and Turn 2’s president) and his adorable nephew (who once again stole the show with his own tip of the cap). Then came the familiar faces — Rob Manfred (baseball’s newly elected commissioner), Harold Reynolds, Reggie Jackson, former trainer Gene Monahan, Hideki Matsui, Joe Torre, David Cone, Bernie Williams, Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Tim Raines, and Gerald Williams. (And for those wondering, Andy Pettitte was away on a trip with his sons and regrettably couldn’t be in New York for the event.)

(Also, many of these guests were part of a pre-game press conference where they paid their tributes to Jeter. Here is some of what they said.)

Following all those introductions, the Yankees invited alumni and current Jeter’s Leaders onto the field, streaming in from center field to the infield to stand with the other guests. One person commented that this is truly where Jeter’s legacy is felt because of the active involvement of the Turn 2 Foundation in the lives of kids (and former kids) and their communities in Kalamazoo, New York, and Tampa. A video of Turn 2 was shown on the big board, showing that impact and how its Leaders are effectively changing their world.

After a “highlights” reel was shown, the man of the day himself jogged his way out to the infield to greet every one of the special guest and wave to the cheering crowd and to the opposing dugout where the Royals clambered over the barrier to give Jeter his due with their own standing ovation (complete with cell phone cameras).

Once the cheering died down (something that really never happened fully until the middle of the game a few hours later), it ramped back up again as Jeter was “surprised” by a handful of very special guests. First were Cal Ripken and Dave Winfield. Then as a tie in with the campaign from the All-Star Game (#RE2PECT), astronauts Steve Swanson, Reid Wiseman, and Alex Gerst tipped their caps from the International Space Station about 200 miles above Earth. This could only be topped by the founder of the #RE2PECT campaign himself — Michael Jordan.

Then came the gifts. Joan Steinbrenner (George’s widow) presented the proclamation from the mayor. Current trainer Steve Donohue rolled out a new version of the massage therapy machine Jeter always joked about “stealing” when he retired; no “stealing” necessary now. Yankees’ CIO Felix Lopez walked out a framed art that had all 14 patches Jeter has won in his All-Star Games, with the patch of his retiring logo the Yankees are wearing this month in the center. Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal presented Jeter with the Yankees’ donation to Turn 2 in the amount of $222,222.22. And Hal Steinbrenner, his wife Christina, and a handful of Steinbrenner grandchildren gave Jeter a custom-made Waterford Crystal, etched with the retiring logo and an engraved message from the Yankees.

And then Jeter addressed the crowd, speaking mainly to the fans. It was rather reminiscent of the speech he gave on Closing Day of the Old Yankee Stadium just a few years ago. He has been a fan-favorite (even outside of New York) because he does remember that the fans are an integral part of baseball. In this era where it seems so easy for professional athletes to be so involved in their sport or their endorsements or their personal lives, it’s nice that someone remembers that without the fans, they don’t have a job. It’s the fans that buy the tickets, the concessions, the jerseys, the things they endorse; and it’s the fans that cheer or jeer from the seats.

(You can view the entire speech here or the transcript here. Also, this is a link to the entire 42 minutes of the pre-game ceremony.)

And then it was “play ball”…

I’m going to be as diplomatic and positive about this as I possibly can. It wasn’t a good game. And it’s not just on the Yankees’ side of thing. No, the Royals weren’t good either. And it’s only by some really sloppy defensive errors that anyone actually won today. The Royals just landed on the less fuzzy side of today’s lollipop. But let’s face it, the entire lollipop was awfully fuzzy.

Shane Greene got the start today and barely eked out 5 innings. For being so good in so many of his starts this year, it’s been rather disappointing to see his struggles have been more consistent than his success as of late. 90 pitches took him those 5 innings, but it was really the first few innings that tried and tired the young pitcher. He allowed 5 hits, 3 walks, and 2 runs (though none were technically earned), and struck out 4 Kansas City batters.

In the 2nd, back-to-back singles put runners on base, but 2 outs later, it was looking better for Greene. But a little dribbler back to the mound had Greene really miss the easy out at 1st and scored a runner. Then in the 3rd, the lead-off batter reached on a fielding error (Beltran couldn’t hold onto the ball), stole 2nd base, and scored on a single. That was 2 unearned runs. But runs, be it earned or unearned, always count toward a win, like they did for the Royals today.

Adam Warren took the 6th and 7th innings in relief of Greene, keeping the Royals planted there, while waiting for the offense to wake up. Shawn Kelley’s 8th followed Warren’s pattern, even getting himself out of a bit of a jam in anticipation of a rally sometime soon. Then Outman and Rogers split the 9th, but that offensive rally never came. The Yankees ended up with 9 baserunners via 4 hits, 4 walks, and an error, but nothing to show for it. The Royals took yet another “unearned win” today with their score of 2-0, taking the series 2-1 and the overall match-up between the teams this year 4-3 (the first time they’ve won a season series against the Yankees since 1999, or so I was told).

Yes, it was a shame that on “Derek Jeter Day” the Yankees couldn’t come up with a win. But it’s the way it is.

I mean, there’s still a nice chunk of the season left to play and a postseason race to catch-up in… so it’s still a lot of “play ball” without completely saying goodbye to the Captain just yet.

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 131: NYY vs. DET — 3rd inning heroics

I am not in Detroit tonight. No, I’m in another city, another state far away from where the Yankees and Tigers played their second game of the last regular season series in Detroit. I watched the first third of the game from an Asian buffet restaurant, enjoying dinner with my family. They happened to have the game on. It was while I was dining on cheap sushi and pepper chicken that I witnessed what can only be described as the Tigers’ pitching implosion. By the time the fortune cookies arrived, the damage was done, and the Yankees were on track to win this game.

Shane Greene, on the mound to start tonight’s game, was really outstanding, going 101 pitches over his 7 innings, giving up 5 hits and 2 runs, and striking out 8 Detroit batters. And honestly, what makes this the most impressive is that the Tigers have a really great offense, one of the best in the league, and the rookie pitcher managed to out-pitch the best of them. He should be very proud of his outing tonight.

Now, when I found out who was pitching tonight for the Tigers, I had the initial dread moment like I did on Monday night. The Yankees were up against a former Rays’ pitcher (like Monday), a former Cy Young Award winner, and honestly, a really sharp pitcher. (Trivia points here: the Tiger’s pitcher Price was the same pitcher who gave up Jeter’s 3000th hit in 2011, when Price was still with the Rays.) But maybe the Yankees have Price’s number. Or maybe it was just a really bad night for him.

The 1st inning was rough for the Tigers, Price throwing 28 pitches to the Yankees, but keeping them scoreless. He lucked out in the 2nd inning, getting a lucky ground out and a double play after giving up 2 singles, still scoreless. But that wicked 3rd inning… (wicked good if you’re a Yankee fan, wicked bad if you’re not, I guess). Buckle up, here we go…

Ellsbury singled and stole 2nd; Jeter doubled and scored Ellsbury; Prado singled; Teixeira doubled and scored Jeter; Beltran singled and scored Prado; McCann singled and scored Teixeira; Headley singled to load the bases; Gardner singled and scored Beltran, keeping the bases loaded; Cervelli singled and scored McCann, bases still loaded. And that was 6 runs, one full rotation through the entire lineup, 9 straight hits, bases loaded, and absolutely no outs. The Tigers finally gave up and pulled Price (final line: 68 pitches, 2 inning, 12 hits, 8 runs, 1 walk, and 3 strike outs), opting for an early bullpen relief. The new pitcher got a quick 3 outs, but 2 of Price’s runs would score on sacrifice flies. Middle of the 3rd inning and it was 8-0 Yankees.

As a quick note here, the Tigers bullpen only gave up 2 hits to the Yankees after Price was pulled, and no more runs would score. Of course, they had to use a total of 5 pitchers over 7 innings.

Now, back to the Yankee defense… Greene’s excellent pitching was certainly aided by the Yankee defense. He had a couple of weak moments — an RBI double in the 4th and a 2-out solo home run in the 6th. And that’s it. (8-2 Yankees) Outstanding.

Adam Warren took the 8th, giving up a 2-out RBI triple (8-3 Yankees), and Dellin Betances’ 9th inning allowed an RBI single to make it 8-4 Yankees. It wasn’t going to be enough. Sure, I knew the Tigers would be able to chip away at that lead, but an 8-run deficit so early in the game was going to be monstrous for the Tigers. It just wasn’t going to happen. And I can’t say I’m not happy about that.

[And if you’re wondering about the Shawn Kelley horse head mask, here’s a video clip to explain. It’s not really relevant to the game, but it certainly made me (and many of Kelley’s teammates) laugh, so enjoy!]

Before the game, the Tigers honored fellow Michigander Derek Jeter, inviting his parents, sister, and nephew to join him in the celebration. The Tigers gifted Turn 2 with a $5,000 donation. They also presented Jeter with twin stadium seats from the old Tiger Stadium and a piece of art that replicated Jeter playing ball as a high school student in Kalamazoo (about 2 hours west of Detroit), as a young player in Tiger Stadium, and recently at Comerica Park. I imagine this was one of those places that meant the most to Jeter. The back of his baseball card may say “New Jersey”, but Jeter grew up in Michigan. It’s home. It’s where Turn 2 started 18 years ago. It’s where he was scouted and signed to the Yankees 22 years ago. It’s home.

Go Yankees!