It was a beautiful afternoon for baseball. A little warm after the morning showers sped through the City, but a clear blue sky and a bit windy at times. And the Yankees were looking to restart a winning streak after last night’s late, extra-inning win. But great circumstances and hopes can be nothing if you don’t deliver.
Luis Cessa got the start today against the visiting Rangers, and overall had a pretty good outing. He threw 86 pitches in 5 innings, gave up just 3 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs, striking out 8 batters. In the 1st, a lead-off walk stole 2nd and then scored on a 1-out single to get the Rangers on the board, eventually getting out of a jam and the inning. Then with a runner on base in the 4th and 1 out, a 2-run homer gave them a nice lead.
Jonathan Holder got through the 6th inning cleanly, but got into a bit of trouble in the 7th thanks to a lead-off home run. After 2 outs, the Yankees turned to Tyler Webb who breezed his way through the next 4 outs (through the 8th) in just 17 pitches, easily the cleanest outing of the Yankees tonight.
But the weak spot was easily Tyler Clippard’s 9th inning. Clippard continued his struggles today, though it didn’t matter as much in the scope of things (more on that later). It was still disappointing to watch a reliever that is normally much better have such recent troubles. Today, a lead-off walk stole 2nd, moved to 3rd on a fly out, and then scored on a wild pitch. After another walk and single (and another out), a double scored 2 more runs for the Rangers before Clippard got out of the inning with a strikeout.
The Yankees got a few hits, but nothing truly impactful in the long-run except Aaron Judge’s 1-out solo home run in the 6th. So the Yankees were stuck with a less-than-memorable game this afternoon.
Final score: 8-1 Rangers
Like I said, the amount of runs Clippard gave up in the 9th ultimately didn’t matter because the Yankees clearly weren’t going to win this one. And unlike some other sports, it doesn’t matter the run differential in the standings. You could win by one run or one hundred, and it still only counts as one win. In the same way, you can lose to a team that scores 7 more runs or just 1 more run, and it’s still going to be a loss. So as the Yankees were going to lose anyway, why not let Clippard work out his struggles, even if he does allow the Rangers’ lead to grow exponentially?
Roster moves: There were some changes made to the infield today. The Yankees decided to designate Chris Carter for assignment and recall Tyler Austin. Austin has been doing good in his rehab assignment and extended Spring Training with the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders recently, and with Carter just never finding his stride with the Yankees, the move makes sense. Austin will be the Yankees everyday first baseman now. (Especially as Bird’s injury still lingers and his return has yet to be determined with any kind of certainly beyond a few “hopes”.)
Also, Jacoby Ellsbury will play in tonight’s game with the RailRiders against the Red Sox’s AAA affiliate, beginning his rehab assignment there after passing all the required tests for a concussion recovery. I don’t foresee him lingering there for long.
And tomorrow is the Old Timers’ Day game at the stadium. The festivities start at 11:30 am, with the regular game (the rubber match now) against the Rangers starting at 2pm. According to the weather people, it’s supposed to be another beautiful day. Great circumstances sometimes don’t indicate outcome, but maybe tomorrow they could. Of course, that means more than just Judge climbing the home run charts as far as offense goes. (Though that’s a whole lot of fun in the middle of all this!)