Game 55: BOS vs. NYY — A chilly rivalry slows Yankee advance

The calendar says June 6, but the weather certainly wasn’t keeping up in the Bronx tonight. No, it was cold (54° at first pitch and dropping) and drizzling rain through most of the game. And yet, the packed crowd in the Bronx bundled up to watch the first game of this week’s rivalry series. Because there’s nothing like the rivalry series.

I mean, over the years, it’s certainly toned down from the vitriolic fervor that you probably wouldn’t want to take your kids to. And then the Red Sox won the Series (3 times), and suddenly, it’s all good. It’s like having a good debate about really opposing politics, and then still being able to go out for drinks with that person with no hard feelings. It’s the good kind of rivalry — where you don’t hate the people or the city, and you want good things for them everywhere except within the ball park. No, in the ball park, you do not wish good things for them, and a loss stings a bit harder than most other losses.

Of course, if there was a better start, they Yankees actually might have had this game. But Masahiro Tanaka continued in his struggles on the mound in tonight’s game. He threw just 62 pitches in his 5 innings, giving up 5 hits, a walk, and 5 runs, and striking out just 2 Boston batters, setting himself (and the Yankees) up for the loss.

In the 1st, the lead-off batter singled, made it to 3rd on a single, and then scored on a fielder’s choice to give the Red Sox a small early lead. But Tanaka was able to hold them off until control slipped again in the 4th, giving up his lone walk to lead-off the inning. Then he gave up consecutive home runs, all before recording an out. A 2-out solo shot in the 5th capped off the Red Sox’s runs for the night.

So, with Tanaka coming off a rough start, the rest of the team had some work to do. The bullpen had to keep the Red Sox from adding to their score. Which they actually did quite well. Layne allowed a lead-off walk in the 6th, but then Chad Green came in for some long-term relief and just breezed through the Red Sox lineup, including getting 5 stellar strikeouts for his 10 outs (pitching just over 3 innings). Shreve closed things out for the last 2 outs of the 9th inning in just 9 pitches.

The Yankees offense had some catching up to do as well. Down early, the Yankees took their first available opportunity in the 2nd inning. After Hicks worked a 1-out walk, Didi Gregorius singled and thanks to a throwing error by the outfielder, Hicks scored and Gregorius ended up all the way at 3rd. But 2 outs later, the game was still tied.

Down even further in the 5th, Chris Carter led-off with a big, solid solo home run. After the starter exhausted himself in just 5 innings (throwing a whopping 123 pitches, by the way), a new reliever gave the Yankees a bit more chances. Starlin Castro led-off with a single, moved to 3rd on Hicks’ single, and then scored while Gregorius hit into a double play.

The Yankees took the final shot in the 8th under yet another new reliever. Matt Holliday led-off with a double and then on a ground out camped at 3rd for a bit. With a new pitcher, Gregorius actually struck out on a wild pitch, but the catcher was unable to handle it and Gregorius took off for 1st base as Holliday came running home. Everyone’s safe, and the Yankees were within a single run of the Red Sox lead. Despite Headley’s walk, the Yankees ended up stranding 2 runners on base and then never had a chance in the 9th for a final rally.

Final score: 5-4 Red Sox

MLB released its latest AL All-Star Game voting information. And as it turns out, the whole world is an Aaron Judge fan. Yes, Judge is now #1 overall in voting, plus #1 in the outfield category. Basically, everyone seems to recognize that there’s something pretty awesome about this kid. He does something kind of spectacular at nearly every game, and he’s getting noticed, rightly so. However, I think MLB beat reporter Bryan Hoch put it best during a moment tonight’s Judge show:

And there’s still quite a bit of Yankee representation: Castro dropped to 2nd for 2nd basemen; Holliday is up to 2nd for designated hitters; Gregorius is 3rd for short stops; Sanchez is 4th for catchers; and Gardner is 9th and Ellsbury 15th for outfielders. Have you voted your 35 times yet?

Now, on this day, in 1944, 73 years ago, the Allies embarked on a huge invasion of northern France in what became known to the world as D-Day. It was the ultimate turning point for the Allied forces, leading to the liberation of France from Nazi occupation and eventually to their victory over the Axis Powers. Baseball in America was cancelled that day as Americans clung to their radios to hear about the storming of the beaches of Normandy.

But one particular person you may have heard of played a key role in that operation. A young naval officer named Larry spend the invasion running messages between Omaha Beach and Utah Beach, two of the specific points of attack on the western side of the English Channel. At one point, he and five crewmates provided cover fire on Omaha Beach to soften the German defenses to get US troops to advance on land.

No one knew that the scrawny kid from St. Louis, who helped keep the Allies in communication at the risk of his own life at times that day, would be the same one they’d be cheering on to help the Yankees win multiple World Series championships in the next coming decades. Even today, folks proudly wear #8 in his honor, but 73 years ago, he did more than just hit a ball around. Yogi Berra showed what it really meant to be a hero, and he served his country well.

And then he came back to play a little baseball…

A big thank you once again to all our nation’s veterans and their families. Your service and sacrifice are never forgotten.

Go Yankees!

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