Game 24: LAA vs. NYY — 2 Balks and 2 career firsts

Today’s game was markedly better than whatever mess happened yesterday. The Angels were treated to a proper game against the Yankees, and the whole game was a great well-earned competition, matching pitching and batting, combining for an interesting game to watch.

Vidal Nuno got the start, now that he seems to be Nova’s replacement. He went just 72 pitches in 4.1 innings, allowing 5 hits, 3 runs, and 2 walks, striking out 4 batters. Those runs kind of book-ended Nuno’s outing. First in the 1st inning, he allowed a solo home run from Trout (the New Jersey native who grew up idolizing Jeter). Then in the 4th, with two runners on base, another run scores on a ground out and another on a double. And the Angels put 3 runs on the board under Nuno.

The Yankees turned to current bullpen golden boy Dellin Betances to start the bullpen shutout of the Angels, who have some very powerful hitters on their roster. Betances did not disappoint, finishing out the 5th and continuing into the 7th inning, allowing just one hit and one walk, striking out 3 Angels. Kelley, Thornton, and Robertson (who earned his 3rd save of the season) finished the game and delivered the Yankees the win.

The Yankees offense started in the 2nd inning. With two outs, they loaded the bases with a hit by pitch, single, and a walk. And then the Angels’ starter balked and Teixeira trotted on home, as Gardner and Roberts also advanced along the base path. Not the greatest way to score a run, but it tied up the game at that point. And it was John Ryan Murphy’s single that scored both Gardner and Roberts and pushed the Yankees up 3-1.

Then in the 5th, with the score tied at 3-3, Murphy’s first career solo home run pushed the Yankees ahead 4-3, and it was a very strong shot into the left-center field seats. It also ended up giving Betances his first career win. Apparently, to have a rookie batter hit his first career home run and a rookie pitcher get his first career win was back in 1947.

So the Yankees won today’s game 4-3.

And there were 2 balks in the game today — one by the Angels to score a run, and another by Betances. Honestly, I didn’t notice either balk, even on replays, as they were apparently subtle and only obvious to umpires on the lookout for such slight movement. Fortunately, Betances’ balk didn’t actually affect much, but it was an amusing addition to today’s game. Again, having 2 called balks in a game is also something that’s rare.

Brett Gardner took a nasty pitch off his left foot, and though x-rays are negative, he may be out a game or two to rest the swelling and obvious pain one can get from a 94 mph fast ball to the foot.

Pitching roster moves: The Yankees optioned Shane Greene to AAA, signed Chris Leroux up from AAA, and unconditionally released Nik Turley. And prospect Jose Campos underwent Tommy John surgery yesterday in New York.

Now, about competition… if you’ve followed my blog for a while (or know me personally), I think you’ll know that I really don’t like games that aren’t competitive. This includes blowout games (like yesterday), walked-in runs (or even balk-forced runs), tied game, sloppy defense or pitching that hands over plays or games to the opposing teams, and the like. Sports, at least in my mind, are meant to be competitive, meant to be played until there is one winner, meant to be a tight back-and-forth outing, meant to be edgy and edge-of-your-seat, meant to be gritty and messy. I get bored watching uncompetitive sports or games that turn into uncompetitive sports by losing that edge.

Sports evolved from war games, training, and preparation for an army to develop, hone, and maintain their battle skills. The push and drive to succeed and win would flood warriors with adrenaline, something that only grew with intensity as audiences began gathering to watch them. (Okay, so I watched Gladiator again last night.) Keeping that in mind, sports then should evoke adrenaline from both its players and its audience. No competition, no adrenaline, and what’s the point of calling it a sport?

Competition leads to great games and wins and excellence. All of which define the Yankee standards as we know them.

Go Yankees!

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