90 Feet: So Close Yet So Far Away…

Credit:  Kathy Willens-AP
Tigers 4, Yankees 3…
On a night when the Boston Red Sox refused to lose, the Yankees meekly fell to the Detroit Tigers and a collection of underwhelming pitchers.  It was a very disappointing loss as the Yankees fell out of first place.  The Yankees had the tying run at third and the winning run at second in the bottom of the 9th but Clint Frazier failed to deliver in the clutch against former Yankee Shane Greene.

For CC Sabathia, it really came down to one bad pitch.  With runners at first and second with two outs in the top of the 2nd inning, CC got into an extended battle with Tigers first baseman John Hicks, throwing everything but the kitchen sink at him.  On the 10th pitch of the at-bat, Hicks deposited a poorly thrown backdoor slider into the right field stands (just beyond the glove of a leaping Aaron Judge), giving the Tigers a lead they would not relinquish.  

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-New York Post

Justin Upton homered off Sabathia in the 3rd inning, also with two outs, to give the Tigers the necessary insurance run they would need to win.  The Yankees wasted an opportunity to chip away in the bottom of the 3rd when Tyler Wade led off with a double to center.  A wild pitch by Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez moved Wade to third with no outs.  But Brett Gardner, Clint Frazier and Aaron Judge all failed to bring Wade home.

In the bottom of the 4th, the Yankees finally got on the board when Gary Sanchez opened with a double to left.  Didi Gregorius homered to right to bring the Yankees within two runs, 4-2.  But those were the only runs the Yankees would be able to get off Anibal Sanchez.

The Yankees picked up their final run in the bottom of the 8th against the Tigers bullpen.  With Alex Wilson pitching, Gary Sanchez singled to left and advanced to second on a throwing error by left fielder Justin Upton.  The Tigers replaced Wilson with Daniel Stumpf and he was greeted by a run-scoring single from Didi Gregorius to make it a one-run game. Matt Holliday grounded into a double play to end the inning.  

The Tigers almost added to their lead in the top of the 9th.  David Robertson had been brought in to start the inning, in relief of Adam Warren.  Thanks to two singles, the Tigers had runners at first and second with two outs.  Austin Romine’s brother Andrew singled to center but Brett Gardner gunned down the lead runner (James McCann) at the plate.  

Credit:  Jim McIsaac-Getty Images

In the bottom of the 9th, Jacoby Ellsbury walked with two outs.  A throwing error by Tigers reliever Shane Greene on a pick-off attempt allowed Ellsbury to race to third.  The Tigers chose to intentionally walk Brett Gardner to face Clint Frazier.  Gardner stole second to put the winning run in scoring position.  The stage was set for Frazier to be the hero.  Unfortunately, he took two called strikes without moving his bat and then popped out on the third pitch from Greene to end the game.  It was a disappointing loss and another game of missed opportunities.  

The Yankees (57-48) dropped a half game behind the Boston Red Sox with the loss.  Boston battled the Cleveland Indians all night long, with the lead constantly changing hands.  The Indians scored 7 runs off Red Sox ace Chris Sale in the game.  They also scored two runs in the top of the 9th against Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel, including a solo homer by Francisco Lindor which tied the game.  The Indians took a 10-9 lead into the bottom of the 9th with closer Cody Allen on the mound, but Boston’s Christian Vasquez hit a three-run homer for the 12-10 walk-off win.  The Tampa Bay Rays also won.  They beat the Houston Astros, 6-4, behind Chris Archer.  They are 3 1/2 games behind the Yankees.  The Baltimore Orioles won their fourth consecutive game (7-2 over the Kansas City Royals) so they moved within 5 1/2 games of the Yankees.  

Credit:  John Wilcox-Boston Herald
Matt Holliday was 2-for-4 with a double so there’s hope he is finally coming around, but he continues to be a disappointment in clutch situations.  Getting his bat right is a key for the Yankees as long as Manager Joe Girardi keeps penciling his name into the lineup.  Clint Frazier and Aaron Judge were a combined 0-for-9.  CC Sabathia (9-4) took the loss. He did rebound to give the Yankees six innings.  He allowed 6 hits, 4 runs, and 1 walk while striking out 3.  The Yankees could have taken him off the hook but offense from Didi Gregorius alone was not enough.
Credit:  Kathy Willens-AP
Brett Gardner stole two bases during the game and moved into fifth place tie with Roy White on the Yankees all-time list with 233 steals.  Next on the list is Hal Chase with 248 steals and Willie Randolph at 251.  The top leaders are Derek Jeter (358) and Rickey Henderson (326).
The Yankees can take the series this afternoon with a win on getaway day. Hopefully, the cold bats from yesterday have thawed overnight.
The Great Thurman Munson…
I always think of Thurman Munson on this day.  I can still remember where I was when I heard the news that my favorite player had died in a plane crash in Akron, Ohio on August 2, 1979.  It ripped the heart and soul out of the 1979 team.  The late Bobby Murcer, who had been reacquired by the Yankees a little more than a month before the plane crash, was the spiritual leader through this very difficult time.  “The life of a soul on earth lasts longer than his departure. He lives on in your life and the life of all others who knew him.” 

Odds & Ends…
The newcomers have chosen their new numbers.  Sonny Gray will take #55, most recently occupied by Bryan Mitchell, and Jaime Garcia will don #34, worn the last few years by Houston Astros catcher Brian McCann.  When it was obvious that neither player would be able to get their same preferred number (54), I thought the selections of 34 and 55 were the most obvious.
Credit:  Robert Sabo-New York Post
The history of 55, in recent years, has resided with Hideki Matsui and Ramiro Mendoza, but lately it’s been available for Mitchell whenever he’s been called up.  I guess he’ll finally have to choose a new number when he gets his next Bronx phone call.  I think 55 is a great number for Gray.  I’ve long associated the number, pitching-wise, to the “Bulldog”…former Los Angeles Dodgers hurler Orel Hershiser.  I am sure there are plenty of other prominent players that have worn the number, but for some reason, I’ve always just thought of the Bulldog.

Credit:  Getty Images

Jaime Garcia, in a pre-game interview, told the story how his late grandfather had told him as a boy he would play for the Yankees.  The Yankees are his family’s favorite team, and they were Jaime’s favorite team as a kid.  Great story.  I am looking forward to watching Jaime pitch in pinstripes.  Based on Joe Girardi’s comments, it appears that Sonny Gray will start in Cleveland on Thursday and Garcia will take the mound the next day.  I hate to be guilty of looking ahead, but I can’t wait for Thursday and Friday.  They should be fun and exciting games.

Credit:  Kathy Willens-AP

It has been said that the Gray trade has the potential to be a steal for the Yankees.  While I am glad Gray is a Yankee, the potential also exists for the trade to be a steal for the A’s.  I still believe that James Kaprielian can be a top of the rotation starter.  Jorge Mateo and Dustin Fowler can be very dangerous players for a future A’s squad.  Best case, the trade is a win/win for both organizations.  

It was another win for Chance Adams (7-3, 2.32 ERA).  The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders defeated the Buffalo Bisons, 5-1, on Tuesday behind Adams but the usual problem surfaced with too many walks (four).  He went 6 innings (101 pitches), giving up 8 hits and 3 runs to the Bisons.  He struck out 3.  Billy McKinney, one of the players that will need to be placed on the 40-man roster before December’s Rule 5 Draft, hit a three-run homer to back Adams.

Have a great Wednesday!  Let’s grab a win before the guys hop a plane to Cleveland.  Go Yankees!
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