Tonight was Chase Whitley’s fifth start since being called up, and every other time he’s been dealt a no-decision, either by a blown save or a later inning decision. But tonight, Whitley earned his first win, and rightly so. He was certainly on point in what could be described as his best outing so far. He threw 87 pitches over 7 innings, the longest Girardi has left him in a game. He gave up 5 hits, 2 runs, no walks, and struck out 3 Royals’ batters. Those runs came as an RBI single in the 2nd and an RBI double in the 5th.
But the Yankees had a leg up, getting an early start in the 2nd inning. Bases loaded and 2 outs, it’s Brian Roberts who singled home Teixeira from 3rd for the first run. And then in the 3rd inning, with bases loaded again, a Brian McCann double scored both Ellsbury and Gardner easily and then Teixeira scores on a bad throw. Suddenly, the Yankees were up and end up at 4-2 by the end of the 5th inning. And they coast there through the rest of the game.
Both teams threatened to do some more damage. In the 8th and 9th innings, Dellin Betances and David Robertson (respectively) each gave up a double to threaten the Yankees lead. Robertson even walked a batter as a threatened Royals rally was brewing. But they both did what they do best and got that final out. Robertson got his 14th save, handing Whitley that long-awaited first win as the Yankees take the win 4-2.
The crowd at Kauffman was rather electric tonight, especially in the late-inning rally attempts by their hometown team. Honestly, I was impressed how many people stayed through the game, but I’m guessing the post-game fireworks show had a little something to do with that.
Tonight was the first of an oddly placed 4-game series in Kansas City, something the industry calls a “wraparound series”, meaning it wraps around a weekend. So the games are Friday-Monday, rather than the more common Thursday-Sunday. I don’t think I’ll ever understand most of the schedule logic, but it’s one of those jobs I never want to have — having to organize all 30 teams, based on a specific policy of how many opposing teams in each division, each league, each area of the country one team must face and balancing out the 81-81 home-away split. For every team. Like they try to make sure that an East coast team plays two or three West Coast teams in one week (or like this away trip, it includes a Midwest stopover team) and vice versa.
I don’t think most fans realize what must go into this kind of planning from all angles, not just the scheduling, but the transportation, lodging, catering, security, and thousands of logistical details to be organized at every level. Nope, your average fan is just wondering when their favorite team will be playing in a stadium near them and how they can eek out the best price for the best tickets for that particular game.
The more I dive deeper into this game (I blame this blog and my mom and my grandfather, in that order), the more I really like the unseen side of baseball. I think of the thousands of man-hours that go into a single 3-hour game to make it happen at all. And for some reason, it makes me smile to know the thousands of people who have jobs because of those man-hours. Now, while enraged fan at the game makes his disparaging remarks about what he doesn’t agree with, his seat price just put people to work and his third beer just paid for that vendor’s electric bill and his angry rants just paid for that security guard to haul him away and his fine paid for the janitor’s gas. So I just shake my head (though after I usually grit my teeth) and remember that our luxury of enjoying a small moment of time watching a ball game is because of all the unseen people who made it possible.
And for that, I send my hearty thanks to all the unseen, unknown people from stadium vendors to executive suites and everyone in between.