Well, that was… interesting. The Yankees are usually easily the best team when it comes to defense, and lately, it’s been their struggling offense that’s been the major cause of their recent skid. (Or as Yogi once said, “I ain’t in no slump. I just ain’t hittin’.”) Well, they may not be hittin’, but they certainly didn’t help matters tonight with some rather messy defense. (Except for one super stellar moment, but we’ll get to that.)
So, the day started off a bit better. I saw this fun fact this morning on my Twitter feed:
— MLB Stat of the Day (@MLBStatoftheDay) April 20, 2016
The Yankees’ pitchers added another 8 tonight from the visiting Athletics, 7 alone by tonight’s starter Nathan Eovaldi. But Nasty Nate is known for his fireball performances, so that’s standard fare when he’s on the mound. What’s not standard is the 8 hits, a walk, and 3 runs he gave up during his 6 innings tonight.
Actually, to be fair, he and the rest of the defense held the fort down until the 4th inning when it just seemed to fall apart in little bits and pieces. Back-to-back doubles scored the first run for Oakland, and a single tagged on another run. Another single put runners on the corners, and a sacrifice fly scored their third run of the inning (and the first out). Then it started to crumble on the defense.
The next batter reached on what they called a force attempt and missed catch error, but really the ball was booted by one fielder and then tossed to another one who promptly dropped it; it should have been an easy double play to end the inning, but it wasn’t anything but Little League.
A single loaded the bases, but then came the sole play that saved the entire inning from becoming a nightmare. The ball popped out to Aaron Hicks out in left field (out #2), who fired it into home plate to get the runner there out (#3) for an inning-ending double play. StatCast had the speed of that throw at 105.5 mph, which is insane on lots of levels.
To be noted, the Oakland batter left the game following this play due to a hamstring strain on the run home, which caused a bit of a weird roster move. He was the 3rd baseman, and they opted to move their DH to play 2nd, their 2nd baseman to 3rd, and thus had to have their pitchers (or a special DH for the relievers) bat. First, that is the first time a starting pitcher has ever batted in this incarnation of Yankee Stadium. The last opposing pitcher to bat in any incarnation of Yankee Stadium was August 16, 1997. (Weird trivia bits that magically appear on my new feed when some oddity happens in the Bronx.) Also, it leaves me wondering where the extra utility fielders on the Oakland bench are.
Kirby Yates’ 7th inning kept the A’s from adding to their score, but Branden Pinder struggled his way through his 8th inning. He loaded up the bases rather quickly with 2 singles and a walk, which meant that a single scored 2 more A’s runs before the first out of the inning was recorded (a nice routine double play, by the way). And Pinder was the reliever that added an additional strikeout to tonight’s total for his final out.
And it was Ivan Nova to finish off tonight’s game, something he did with almost SuperNova panache — just 6 pitches to wipe out the Oakland batters in order. The Yankees needed a little more of this tonight than some of the other stuff that happened.
The Yankees scored a grand total of 2 runs — both solo home runs into the right field seats too — Didi Gregorius in the 2nd and Carlos Beltran in the 8th. But to be fair, they weren’t hitting much outside of that (so that continues to be an issue), with just 6 total hits.
To be fair, there was an odd double play call in the 7th that could have scored a Yankees’ run, but some people seem to think it wasn’t a double play, with either the tag not being made or weird base running. It was a little confusing, and I don’t think it would’ve made that much of a difference in light of the following inning. But your guess is as good as mine on this one. I can see the arguments for all the sides, and I’m not exactly sold on any of them. (Another one of those weird grey areas of baseball, I guess!)
Final score: 5-2 Athletics.
Some other bits from tonight: Jacoby Ellsbury hit his 200th career double tonight. And Brett Gardner was scratched from the lineup tonight with a stiff neck, which roots back to the game in Toronto where he flipped over into the left field stands.
Minor rant for a moment here: Will someone please explain to me why not a single person even reached out to help the man as he fell onto hard cement? Or is this a Toronto thing to be uncompassionate towards someone just because they play for the other guys? I’m not impressed with the lack of empathy from the Blue Jays fans, a carry-over from far too many Spring Training games as well, I assure you.
Things like compassion and kindness and good sportsmanship are basic human qualities regardless of what uniform is worn, and the lack of such things lead others to question the motivation and heart of those who refuse to acknowledge such basic instincts (for most people) simply because someone is wearing a different jersey or perhaps even a different skin color or specific gender or looks a certain way.
Like I’ve said several times now, baseball is a metaphor for life. Be kind to one another people. Because we’re all just people at the end of the day. And that similarity alone deserves your respect and compassion and kindness.
And mic drop…