Credit: Adam Hunger/Getty Images
Despite CC Sabathia pitching like this is truly his final year in Pinstripes, the Yankees staged a very improbable and dramatic comeback to beat the Baltimore Orioles on Friday night.
Mark Trumbo’s grand slam in the sixth inning off reliever Bryan Mitchell had me switching channels to check out what was happening with the NFL Draft. At 9-1, I was fairly confident the Yankees would be falling to two games behind the O’s in the AL East standings when the night was done. Fortunately for me, none of the current 25 men on the Yankees roster shared my opinion.
Yesterday before the game, I read this observation about CC Sabathia on a Yankees blog site:
“It’s hard to judge CC Sabathia, seeing as how he’s a different pitcher than he was just a couple of years ago. However, I believe his final ERA this season will be closer to 5.00 than it will be to 3.00 (he’s currently at 2.70).”
While I agreed with the comments, I just didn’t expect it to come true on a single night. By the time CC was pulled last night in the sixth inning, his season ERA had ballooned from the aforementioned 2.70 to 4.34. CC’s line was very ugly…5 2/3 innings, 9 hits, 7 runs, 2 home runs. It doesn’t matter that he managed to strike out 6 batters. It was an awful night for CC and most nights, it would have been one for the “L” column.
Although the Yankees scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth, which included a two-run homer from Aaron Judge, to close the gap to 9-4, it looked like the Orioles were going to have a monster inning in the seventh. They scored a couple more runs off Mitchell to push their lead to 11-4 and had the bases loaded with one out. In perhaps the best pitching performance of the night, Jonathan Holder came on to thwart the O’s and the end the inning without further damage by retiring the always dangerous Manny Machado and slugger Mark Trumbo.
When Jacoby Ellsbury hit his first career grand slam in the bottom of the seventh to bring the score to 11-8, it still felt like it was too little too late but the door was cracked. It was a game again. Coming into the bottom of the ninth, it still felt like the 11-8 score was too much to overcome. With elite closer Zach Britton on the Disabled List, the O’s had to go to Brad Brach for the attempted save. After picking up a run on a force-out, Starlin Castro launched an improbable game-tying two-run home run from his knees.
The game moved into extra innings and Aroldis Chapman held the O’s in check in the top of the 10th despite allowing a single to Mark Trumbo. He racked up his second strike-out of the frame by ending the O’s threat on a called third strike to Chris Davis.
Enter bottom of the tenth. Orioles reliever Jayson Aquino came on to replace Brach, and proceeded to walk the first two batters (Aaron Hicks and Kyle Higashioka). Chase Headley had an opportunity to be the hero but struck out swinging as he chased a few high pitches. Next up, Matt Holliday, a member of the New York Yankees for a grand total of 21 games. Aquino opted to throw a soft change-up to Holliday with his first pitch. Big mistake. Game over. Yankees win, 14-11. Wow, games don’t get much more exciting than this. For new players to the Bronx, there is often a long adjustment period. For Holliday, he decided that patience is not a virtue and decided to go ahead and carve his own piece of history into the hallowed grounds of Yankee Stadium three weeks into his new Pinstriped career. It was an incredible game.
The Yankees and Orioles are tied for the AL East Lead with 14-7 records entering today’s action. I know, it’s still early and it is a long season, but this Yankees team is very fun. It’s been fun since the trading deadline last year and has continued. Aaron Judge ended up hitting two home runs on the night which I didn’t really address in this post. He is rapidly becoming ‘must-watch’ with every at-bat. Matt Holliday’s accolades for Judge were overflowing in his post-game comments. We are clearly watching the blossoming of a Yankees superstar before our eyes. Had Judge homered in the bottom of the ninth instead of walking, this game would have been on continual replay on the YES Network.
Have a great Saturday! It will be tough to top Friday night, but let’s take this series today. Go Yankees!
How come there are no players available through Groupon?…
It’s a new year but the new fiscally-responsible Yankees are still in late-2012’s penny-pinching mode and all remains quiet at River and 161st.
The latest move is the waiver pickup of utility man Russ Canzler who can play the corners and some outfield. By all accounts, he is less talented than the guy he replaced on the 40-man roster (outfielder Chris Dickerson) but a better fit overall. I only hope the Yankees are able to flip Dickerson, who was DFA’d, for a decent prospect. There’s no doubt the Yankees need good depth behind third baseman Kevin Youkilis who has not exactly been the pillar of health in recent years.
At this point, I would be really surprised to see the Yankees make any bold moves. It appears they are willing to go to spring training to see what shakes out. A few years ago, when Mark Teixeira left the Los Angeles Angels via free agency, the Angels’ farm system produced Kendrys Morales as a very capable replacement. When Morales went down to a season-ending injury a year or so later, Mark Trumbo stepped up. Of course, the Yankees do not have that type of depth in the farm system, particularly at first base, but there’s always the possibility that someone somewhere unexpectedly takes it to the next level.
Clearly, the Yankees would benefit greatly by having a few more cost-controlled young players on the roster. But as far as major league ready prospects go, the Yankees need another year or two as the best talent is still in the lower levels. I guess that means we’ll see more Russ Canzler type moves as GM Brian Cashman tries to capture lightning in a bottle.
If the Yankees underperform in 2013, are manager Joe Girardi and/or Cashman at risk for losing their jobs? Or does the team’s current reduced spending posture mean ownership will be more tolerant of losses? It remains to be seen but this is clearly putting Girardi and Cashman in the proverbial hot seats.
Scott Hairston, if your choices are the Mets or the Yankees, what are you waiting for? Your brother looked great in pinstripes and you can too! With Curtis Granderson, Brett Gardner, and Ichiro Suzuki as the starters, you are assured of receiving numerous quality at-bat’s in the Bronx and you are wanted by the team. I might be biased but who wouldn’t want to put on the same jersey as Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and so many other legends?…
Maybe we should just flip a coin to see who makes the play-offs…
I am glad to see the NHL has finally resolved its differences with the players and have agreed upon a new collective bargaining agreement. However, it will be tough, admittedly, to be energized about a 48- or 50-game season. If your favorite team struggles at the start of the season, it could possibly cost them play-off contention. An entire season would have looked radically different than the upcoming shortened season. Every year, new stars and heroes emerge and I wonder about the guys who could have been that star but now may never get the opportunity. I guess pure talent perseveres, but still, there were far too many sacrifices made for the lockout.
Play-off loss, but a very successful season…
I was not optimistic about the Minnesota Vikings’ chances against the Green Bay Packers last weekend, particularly given the game was being held at Lambeau Field. I did not realize that Christian Ponder’s elbow injury threatened his ability to play so Sunday’s announcement that he had been ruled inactive came as a shock. The designated starter, Joe Webb, had not started a NFL game in two years. Say what you will about quality practices and reps, but there’s nothing better than playing the games. So, I did not expect Webb to provide a championship performance. He didn’t, and the 24-10 loss was pretty much as expected.
Nevertheless, what a terrific season by the Vikings! At the beginning of the year, the talk was the team would be drafting high in April 2013, perhaps as high as second or third. Yet, the team won 10 games and made the play-offs over the Chicago Bears. Adrian Peterson’s 2,097 rushing yards was an incredible accomplishment. I remember being envious of the Bears when Walter Payton was playing as it was clear he was head and shoulders above everyone else. But the Vikings have that guy in Peterson. It was a special season to build upon and hopefully it will propel the Vikings to legitimate contender status in 2013.
Happy New Year to All!
After more than a year of speculation and news about the Albert Pujols contract negotiations, he shocks the world and accepts Arte Moreno’s $250 million to go to Anaheim. I guess you can blame the Yankees for this one. Don’t they always get the blame? If the Yanks hadn’t gone on a spending binge several years to secure the services of then-Angels first baseman Mark Texeira, the Los Angeles Angels would not have been in the market for a top shelf first baseman. Albert, of course, is more than top shelf, he is THE top shelf. Still, I was surprised by the move. The Angels have Mark Trumbo returning, a player they control, and a healthy Kendrys Morales. I am sure that there are other areas of the team that could have used upgrades.
The Angels did follow up immediately with the signing of top free agent pitcher C.J. Wilson. I had a feeling that Wilson would be headed to the West Coast despite the Miami Marlins pursuit of the former Texas Ranger. He leaves the top of the rotation for perhaps the #3 or #4 slot with the Angels. The Philadelphia Phillies have been recognized for the best rotation, but the Angels cannot be too far behind with Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana and now Wilson leading the rotation. I don’t know who the #5 starter is for the Angels off the top of my head, but does it really matter? You could probably go grab Mark Langston out of retirement and throw him in the rotation…it wouldn’t matter.
This has to be a reactionary move by owner Arte Moreno. The Los Angeles Dodgers are primed to re-capture the LA market once a reputable, financially-sound owner or ownership group takes control of the team. After being considered the class of the AL West for years, the Angels have become an understudy for the Texas Rangers. Today’s moves clearly re-establish the Angels as the class of the AL West, and perhaps of the American League.
I do feel bad for the St Louis Cardinals and their fans. As an iconic player, the fans deserved to see Albert play his entire career in St Louis. Stan “The Man” Musial is beloved to this day, and Albert is the first Cardinals player that could have rivaled Musial after his playing days are over. Now, Albert will never be automatically thought of as a Cardinal. He’ll carve out a legacy as an Angel, and will give us reasons to remember him in Anaheim. A very disappointing day for the Cardinals. No offense to Lance Berkman, but that’s a big drop-off from Albert.
The Miami Marlins had looked like the crown prince of the Winter Meetings with their acquisitions of Heath Bell, Jose Reyes, and Mark Buehrle, but they were torched on the last day by the Angels. It’s been a good off-season for the Angels, who earlier picked up a new backstop in Chris Iannetta.
Meanwhile, I can hear crickets at Yankee Stadium…
A little bit of nothing…
The Yankees did win the posting for Japanese infielder Hiroyuki Nakajima, but based on the reports I’ve read, the Yankees will have difficulty signing him. The leading speculation is that he’ll return to Japan for another season and then sign with the Boston Red Sox next winter. That would really stink if the Yankees lost a prospect to their bitter rival. But from Nakajima’s perspective, Boston could offer him a starting role at shortstop (something the Yankees could not do) and their manager has tremendous experience with Japanese players. The posting I want the Yankees to win is for pitcher Yu Darvish, but reports indicate the Yankees interest is lukewarm. Of course, that could always be a ploy to help keep posting bids down, but the lukewarm comments certainly proved to be accurate for the Yankees interest in C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle.
I remain hopeful that the Yankees have started the groundwork for a successful acquisition of a pitcher like Gio Gonzalez, John Danks, or Kyle Drabek. Brian Cashman may feel that he doesn’t need to do anything with a 97-win team, but I heard a GM on MLB Radio say that if you’re standing pat, you are getting worse. I agree that you need to consistently seek upgrades and for the most part, the Yankees stood pat last season. Catcher Russell Martin was huge, but at the time of the signing, it was very low key. Same with the signings of Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon. It’s been a very long time since Yankees fans have had a reason to feel great excitement and joy for a player acquisition like the Angels experienced today. Meanwhile, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter are getting older and certainly not better…
I know, we’re Yankees fans, we want it all…
Go New York!…
Now that the NBA is back, I am at the crossroads. I’ve been a Los Angeles Lakers fan in recent years, primarily because of my appreciation for Kobe Bryant as a player. But as funny as this sounds as a Yankees fan, I am tired of backing a team that is always expected to win and often does. I want a team that has suffered so that when the team does win, there is greater satisfaction. As a result, I am switching my allegiance to a team that has my favorite player, Amare Stoudemire as well as my second favorite player, Carmelo Anthony…the New York Knicks.
First year in Minnesota, worst year in the history of the franchise…
Despite my relocation to Minnesota, I remain committed in my support of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. And despite their 2-10 record, I am still a Vikings fan. On the bright side as a Vikings fan, I won’t have to wait long to find out who the Vikings select in the NFL Draft in April 2012. At this point in the season, you’re pulling for losses, hoping the team can overtake the Indianapolis Colts for the worst record. But of course, that’s a moot issue if the Colts can’t win a game. This is probably one of the first years ever that I’ve accepted and embraced that the Green Bay Packers will win the Super Bowl. It’s easier to say that when your team was left for dead long ago.
I need one of my teams to step forward and win a championship. It’s been a drought since 2009, and I need something to cheer about!