Game 63: NYY vs. LAA — Not quite a good night in the City of Angels

Angels Stadium is often called “Yankee Stadium West” because there is a rather large contingent of Yankee fans in the LA area who come out in droves for Angels-Yankees games every year. And that’s apparent by how much blue and white fill the cherry red seats and that the games are sold out in the middle of the week.

But I’m thinking it felt a little less like a second (or third?) home for the Yankees after this series. Despite the strength the Yankees showed this week, even coming from behind, it seemed to fall short in the end in these last two games. Pretty much faulting the less-than-ideal pitching show from both teams in the last 48 hours.

It’s really no surprise that the Yankees broke through right in the top of the game. Gardner led-off with a single and moved to 3rd on Judge’s 1-out single. After Judge stole 2nd (and has just 1 less stolen base than Gardner this year), Matt Holliday’s sacrifice fly scored Gardner to get the Yankees on the board. Castro was then hit by a pitch to set-up a big breakthrough by Gary Sanchez, who hit a great 3-run home run into the left field seats.

Michael Pineda certainly had an off-night tonight. He threw 102 pitches in his 6 innings, giving up 10 hits, a walk, and 5 runs overall, and striking out just 2 Angels batters. After the Yankees gave him a nice lead, Pineda struggled right from the start, giving up 3 singles to load the bases with 1 out. A sacrifice fly got the Angels on the board. It was only a sacrifice fly because of the amazing defensive skills of Aaron Hicks actually reached over the center field wall and caught it, robbing that batter of a grand slam that would’ve quickly tied up the game. But Pineda got out of the inning without further damage.

It didn’t last long. After a lead-off single in the 2nd, a 2-run home run edged the Angels closer to the Yankees’ lead. And in the 3rd, the lead-off single moved to 2nd and then 3rd on 2 ground outs. After a walk, Pineda threw a really messy wild pitch, which easily scored the runner from 3rd (the runner who is not fast at all, a veteran with a persistent injury and better known for some towering home runs) to tie up the game. Another single scored another run and put the Angels in the lead.

The Yankees came back to tie it all up again in the 6th. Sanchez led-off with a single and ended up at 2nd on a throwing error. After 1 out, Chase Headley hit a single which scored Sanchez, and then Headley got caught in a rundown between 1st and 2nd. The game was tied again, but it was only the 6th inning.

Pineda was able to fend off the Angels for the second half of his outing, but he handed over the game to recent call-up (see below) Ronald Herrera. Despite getting ahead in the 7th with 2 quick outs, Herrera gave up a walk and then a big 2-run home run to give the Angels back the lead. Herrera had trouble getting that 3rd out of the inning. The next batter was hit by a pitch and then stole 2nd, ending up at 3rd due to a throwing error (Sanchez having a bad defense day, but a great offense day). But then Herrera got the strikeout he needed to stop the Angels’ advance.

Like I said, neither pitching staff was really at their best tonight. The Angels’ starter only made it into the 4th inning due to a potential injury, and both teams gave up 26 collective hits and got just 9 total strikeouts.

Final score: 7-5 Angels, Angels win series 2-1

Injury news: after last night’s unexpected injury and exit, CC Sabathia was tested and examined for what caused the tightening of his hamstring. An MRI revealed a grade 2 hamstring strain, which makes a stint on the disabled list unavoidable. As of yet, the Yankees haven’t set a timetable or announced a rotation replacement (for Sunday’s start) or a corresponding roster move.

Roster moves: The Yankees have been busy moving people around. Chapman is working with the Tampa Yankees on his rehab assignment. After designating Tommy Layne for assignment, they ended up outrighting him to AAA Scranton (like I said, they still want him around). Before the game today, they optioned Ben Heller to AAA Scranton, recalling tonight’s newest addition to the bullpen Ronald Herrera from AA Trenton. And in completion of a trade made earlier (Johnny Barbato) with the Pirates, the Yankees picked up pitching prospect Matt Frawley.

And the final day of the MLB Draft was earlier today, and the Yankees filled out their draft choices with 19 pitchers, 4 outfielders, 5 infielders, and 2 catchers.

Pitchers: Shawn Semple, Harold Cortijo, Aaron McGarity, Garrett Whitlock, Ron Marinaccio, Bryan Blanton, Janson Junk, Colby Davis, Riley Thompson, Austin Crowson (L), Alex Mauricio, Shane Roberts, Tristan Beck, Jacob Stevens, Jordan Butler (L), Andrew Abbott (L), Tanner Burns, Brent Burgess, and Andrew Nardi (L)
Outfielders: Steven Sensley, Pat DeMarco, Jake Mangum, and Jimmy Herron
Infielders: Eric Wagaman (1B), Ricky Surum (SS), Chris Hess (2B), Alika Williams (SS), and Hayden Cantrelle (SS)
Catchers: Ryan Lidge and Steven Williams

Overall in the draft, the Yankees clearly sent a message as they sought 28 total pitchers, 5 outfielders, 5 infielders, and 2 catchers. In thinking back to these last few seasons, the biggest weakness is the pitching and the Yankees are clearly setting themselves up for a future of stronger pitching options. And prospective pitchers made good trade bait if the Yankees need to fill an offensive hole along the way. It was a good move for the organization.

Go Yankees!

Spring Game 33: NYY vs. TOR — The “youth movement” continues

So, apparently, today is the day when everyone submits their prediction for the 2017 season. Like making lists as to where everyone will end up in the standing all the way up to picking the postseason awards (like Rookie of the Year and MVP) to a postseason bracket prediction. I’ve read seven today alone, and they couldn’t be any further apart. The only thing everyone seemed to agree on was that the Yankees weren’t going to do much this year. While I am cautiously optimistic about the Yankees chances in the postseason, I just got to wonder if these people have seen the Yankees play at all this Spring.

I mean, the Yankees are closing out the Spring on the very top of the standings, and I am aware that sometimes that’s not a great foundation for how the season will turn out. But to completely write them off seems rather dismal and unrealistic. Not that I expect much from the talking heads. With some very few exceptions, the Yankees tend to be the team every non-Yankee fan seems to love to beat up on or spew negative thoughts upon. They didn’t call Yankee Universe the “Evil Empire” for nothing, right?

Anyway, today, the Yankees traveled to Dunedin to play the Blue Jays, and it was Jordan Montgomery’s last chance to show off his stuff this Spring. And show off, he did. The young pitcher went 5 innings, giving up 6 hits and a walk, and striking out 4 Toronto batters. And his lone allowed run came in the 4th inning. A lead-off ground-rule double moved to 3rd on a single, and then scored on a 1-out single. But between his defense and some good pitching, he got out another threat, something he did nearly every inning.

Ben Heller sailed through the 6th and 7th with minimal threats, and Chasen Shreve’s 8th inning allowed only a single baserunner. After Shreve gave up a single in the 9th, Graham quickly shut things down in 2 batters, thanks to a snazzy double play to end the game.

The Yankees’ offense was limited by the Blue Jays’ pitching staff, but they got in enough to make a difference. In the 2nd, Starlin Castro hit a beautiful 1-out triple and then scored on Aaron Judge’s big single to start the scoring and give the Yankees the early lead.

And in the 5th, Hicks and Judge worked a walk and a single and then pulled off a double steal to put themselves in scoring position just to make things interesting for the new reliever. Romine’s single scored Hicks and put runners in the corners. After a pop-out, Brett Gardner singled and scored Judge, but then Gardner and Romine ended up in scoring position thanks to a throwing error. After Headley’s walk, the bases were loaded, but this opportunity to further their lead ended after a quick infield pop-up and strike out.

Honestly, the pitching staffs today were fairly even matched, getting nearly the same statistics for their overall day. So the difference was the minute opportunities taken at the most opportune times. And you know, scoring runs.

Final score: 3-1 Yankees

Roster moves and news: It looks like some decisions have been made as to who’s going to make the team this year. Infield hopeful Tyler Wade and catcher Kyle Higashioka were sent back to minor league camp before today’s game. Which means that the battle for infielder seems set on Ronald Torreyes making the team as Gregorius’ replacement, and the extra infielder is down to Pete Kozma and Rob Refsnyder.

And in an unexpected turn of events, the Battle of the Aarons might go to Aaron Hicks, who’s had a fantastic Spring. Girardi mentioned that he’s considering sending Aaron Judge to start the season in Scranton just so the young outfielder could play every day.

Finally, the Yankees still haven’t named a 4th or 5th starter. But they won’t do the latter until they need one on April 16 (thanks to a scheduled filled with off-days). This means they’ll be carrying 8 relievers until then. And recent conversations have indicated that Luis Severino would be a starter, but he might be doing so in Scranton to start the season. In other words, they like his stuff, but they want him to get more starts than he might get as part of the major league team.

All of this stuff makes me glad it’s not my job to make those decisions. All those people I hear chattering away in the stands about how they think Cashman (or usually Girardi) should play this guy or get rid of this other guy make me just shake my head. It’s easy to be an armchair coach or message board manager when no one’s job or career is really on the line. There’s also all sorts of contract details and specific reasons as to why every decision is made. Do I always agree with it? No. Do they always agree with it? No. But you learn from your bad decisions and your good, and you grow and make better decisions in the future.

Go Yankees!

{Media note: limited video availability today. Hope you enjoy the 2 I included. Just hold on until the season, and they’ll be many more to view.}

Spring Game 31: TB vs. NYY — A couple of home runs help a shaky start

It was another warm sunny day in Tampa as the Yankees took on the hometown boys, the Tampa Bay Rays. One week from today, these two teams will meet again at the Trop, just across Tampa Bay for the season opener (and the Rays’ home opener), officially kicking off the 2017 season.

And it was up to Bryan Mitchell to start today’s game. He got off to a bit of a shaky start though, fending off the Rays’ batters mostly until the 3rd inning. With 1 out, a batter was hit by a pitch and then stole 2nd. After another out (which moved the runner to 3rd), the next batter walked and then stole 2nd, moving both runners to scoring position. Another walk loaded up the bases, so that a single scored 2 runs for the Rays to get them on the board before Mitchell finally found that 3rd out, a line drive to Hicks in left field.

After putting runners in the corners with singles in the 4th, the Yankees went to Chapman to close things out. But after a nice strikeout, the next batter hit into what should’ve been a double play, but the ball was bobbled in transit, so the runner scored and 2 runners were safely on base. A ground out that could’ve been another double play but was bobbled a bit (by the same player), only made 1 out at 1st, moved the runners to scoring position. Chapman’s day was done, and in came Ben Heller who struck out the next batter.

Heller actually had a pretty dramatic day of his own. Despite loading up the bases in the 5th, he got out of it in the end. Shreve did better in the 6th and 7th innings, adding 2 strikeouts of his own. Despite a pretty good 2 outs, a single and RBI double added one more run for the Rays under Frieri. JR Graham, however, clearly had the cleanest inning, 3 consecutive ground outs to close out the game in the 9th inning.

The Yankees’ offense was able to support the shaky start and often dramatic innings of the pitching staff. They actually scored first in the 2nd. Carter walked, Judge singled, and Romine walked to load the bases. Then Ronald Torreyes hit a long ball out to center field to score Carter, but then the sharp arm of the center fielder gunned down Judge at 3rd for a double play.

In the 3rd, Kozma led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Ellsbury’s walk, and then scored on Aaron Hicks’ single. Ellsbury then scored on Greg Bird’s single. And 2 outs later, Hicks scored on Austin Romine’s single to give the Yankees a nice lead. And in the 4th, Tejada led-off with a walk and then scored as part of Aaron Hicks’ 2-out, 2-run home run. Ruben Tejada himself add to the score with a big lead-off solo home run in the 6th.

Final score: 7-4 Yankees

Player of the Game: I debated on this one a bit, and I was pretty much set on one player coming out of the game. But I thought about it and changed my mind, as I’m entitled to do. So, today, I’m going to give this honor to Ruben Tejada. Not only did he score 2 of the 7 runs today, but he also got that big home run in the 6th. And while he did make those 2 glaring bobble in the 4th, he really does play 2nd base really well and consistently. It would be silly to ignore all he’s contributed to the game this Spring with just that lone inning’s problems.

Roster moves: before today’s game, the Yankees released reliever Jonathon Niese, narrowing the candidates down for the bullpen. There is still quite the competition for many of those pitching spots on the 25-man roster. With 3 starters guaranteed (Tanaka, Sabathia, and Pineda), Green, Mitchell, Montgomery, Severino, and Warren are all looking to fill those last 2 spots. The remaining 7 spots on the pitching roster go to the set bullpen (Betances, Chapman, Clippard, and Layne) and whoever doesn’t make the starter and the remaining guys in camp (Frieri, Graham, Heller, Holder, and Shreve). I have my preferences, but they don’t ask me my opinion.

Go Yankees!

{Media note: no video today. Sorry! Another thing for which they don’t ask my opinion. Just imagine a hot, sunny day and some runs scored by both teams.}

Spring Game 21: NYY vs. TOR — Shaky start, catch-up and excel

Another lovely Spring day for baseball. Sunny, clear blue skies. A second day of cool weather, even a bit chilly in the shade. Rowdy Canadians in their Spring home stands, and quite the game on the field.

Luis Cessa got the start for the Yankees today in Dunedin (about 20 miles or 30 minutes west of Steinbrenner Field, across Tampa Bay) against the Blue Jays, and had quite the shaky start. In the 1st, after 2 quick outs, Cessa gave up a single and double to put runners in scoring position, something they did on another single. After a walk, another single scored a third run that inning to give the Blue Jays an early lead. In the 2nd, a nice 1-out triple scored on another single, so after a stolen base and strikeout, the Yankees decided Cessa needed to call it a day.

Ben Heller came on in relief for the Yankees, closing out the 2nd and keeping the Blue Jays from adding to their lead in the 3rd. Then, the ball went to Bryan Mitchell, who’s been having a pretty good Spring so far. Mitchell threw 3 innings and kept things pretty tight for the most part. In the 6 (his final inning), he gave up a lead-off walk that scored on a 1-out triple. But then the Yankees teamed up and got the out in the next play making the out at home in a beautiful, sharp fielder’s choice.

Okay, in the mean time, the Yankees played a bit of catch-up as the Blue Jays’ offense kept itself alive. In the 1st, Torreyes and Castro each singled and moved up to scoring position on a wild pitch, before Torreyes then scored on Chris Carter’s ground out to kick of the scoring today. Then in the 3rd, Aaron Hicks and Starlin Castro hit a pair of solo home runs over the right field fence to close in on the Jays’ lead. It would be Rob Refsnyder’s 4th inning lead-off solo home run to tie things up at that point in the game.

Down a run going into the 7th, Clint Frazier took care of that with a monster lead-off solo home run. In the 8th, McKinney kicked things off with a walk, moved to 3rd on Castillo’s single, and then scored on Ji-Man Choi’s ground out to give the Yankees the lead. Castillo then scored on Mason Williams’ single.

But it would be the 9th inning that the Yankees came into full force. Solano led things off with a single, moved to 2nd on a ground out, ended at 3rd on Wade’s single, and then scored on a fielding error Billy McKinney hit into. Then a walk loaded up the bases. Choi’s single scored Wade, and Williams’ sacrifice fly scored McKinney. After Tejada’s hit-by-pitch loaded the bases again, Frazier’s single capped off the scoring as Castillo crossed the plate. A new pitcher for the Blue Jays left the bases loaded, but it was enough to keep the Yankees’ lead hefty and secure.

Yankees fans seemed to anticipate watching the young prospect James Kaprielian, but he’s been limited this Spring until today’s game. He threw a near-flawless 2 innings, including 3 stellar strikeouts. And JR Graham was just outstanding in his 9th inning, with all 3 of his outs being great strikeouts.

We should note that the Yankees’ pitchers certainly had their issues today, giving up 8 hits and 4 walks, but their 15 strikeouts was just a phenomenal statistic to celebrate today. In contrast, the Yankees’ batters hit 14 hits and worked 4 walks off 9 Toronto pitchers. Though, to give them credit, they still got the Yankees to swing at 10 strikeouts today.

Final score: 11-5 Yankees

Some roster moves today after some outstanding contributions from some key players. After the game, the Yankees optioned outfielder Mason Williams to AAA Scranton and reassigned him to minor league camp. And James Kaprielian was reassigned to minor league camp. The Yankees also signed reliever Ernesto Frieri to a minor league contract and an invitation to Spring Training. His last MLB appearance was with the Rays in 2015, but he seemed to catch scouts’ interest during his stint with the Colombian team in this year’s World Baseball Classic.

And speaking of the World Baseball Classic, last night, in one of those great games, the teams representing Venezuela and USA faced off and made it a close game. After a surprising 3-run 8th inning, Team USA came out on top 4-2. Tonight, Venezuela will battle the team from the Dominican Republic at 10 pm EST.

I don’t know why, but this WBC is really one of the more exciting, edge-of-your-seat tournament. Not that I’m complaining. Actually, I’d love to see more of that kind of game. If you want to “fix baseball” (though I’m not sure why you would or how that’s even possible), this is how. It’s why people love real rivalry game and those walk-off moments. A close game is almost always better than a blowout or rout. That nail-biting nervousness and adrenaline rush right up to the very end… those are the stuff of dreams and legends.

Go Yankees!

{Media note: No cameras or video links today, unfortunately. Not that there’s much to say about the stadium in Dunedin, but the play today, especially in the latter half of the game, was pretty good. I guess you’ll have to use your imagination. Or, you know, plan to see a game in the future.}

Spring Game 18: ATL vs. NYY — Rough start + error-filled defense + overcast skies = Sunday Sorrows

I sat next to a Tigers’ fan at the game today. Not that they were playing in the same stadium we happened to be seated in (though they were playing at their Spring home just about 30 minutes east of us). But just because he wanted to see a ball game today. I listened to him chat with the man on his other side for most of the game, and they pretty much reminisced about the “good old days” (read: the late 1990s). Towards the end of the game, I just had to explain to them that if they’re judging this year’s Yankees by what they saw today, they’re sorely mistaken. They’re much better than whatever happened on the field, and the visiting Braves certainly aren’t that good.

A loss always allows observers (and participants) to become introspective. You start analyzing every angle, trying to figure out what went wrong and how a single alteration might have improved the outcome. And honestly, I’m not sure if I can pinpoint a single problem with today. It’s just a whole mess of problems that collaborated against the Yankees this muggy, overcast Sunday afternoon.

But I’m left with one question: can I get away with blaming Daylight Savings?

CC Sabathia probably had the worst day (though a few others weren’t that far behind him), getting his second start of the Spring. And after a show of “vintage-CC” last time, I think we were all excited about his outing. Until the 1st inning. The first batter hit into a single (though it was a close call at 1st) and then it all just fell apart. The next player reached on a force attempt thanks to a fielding error (#1). Then 2 consecutive singles scored the first 2 runs for the Braves, and a double scored 2 more. Another single and messy throw put runners in scoring position, and a sacrifice fly scored another run.

And that was Sabathia’s first out of the inning, which he followed up with a great strikeout. But then he struggled to get that 3rd out. A double scored yet another runner, and after giving up a walk, Sabathia’s day was done. I should note here that most of the allowed hits were because the fielders weren’t able to respond quickly and handle the plays that would normally be easy outs for the players on the field (most of them were starters or veterans). But Sabathia, in a post-game interview, took the bulk of the blame himself, as a veteran pitcher usually does. Sabathia, the perfectionist, had a rough day, but, like one reporter mentioned, he could have blamed the defense but chose to shoulder it himself.

Coming on in replacement with 2 runners already on base, Ben Heller closed out the 1st inning by getting a ground out at 2nd thanks to the quick reaction of shortstop Jorge Mateo. Heller went on through the 2nd inning and kept the Braves from adding to their big lead. Chapman and Shreve continued that momentum in the 3rd and 4th, and the defense was starting to really work together, getting 2 double plays (one in each inning), save another fielding error in the 4th (#2).

In the 5th, young reliever Camarena came in and got through that inning quickly, after a lead-off double, but then the defense struggled and under Camarena in the 6th. Two consecutive fielding errors (#3 & #4) and a single loaded the bases (and you could hear the collective groan in nearly 2/3 of the fans in the stadium). But while a sacrifice fly scored one unearned run, Camarena (and the defense) collaborated for a fly out and ground out to get out of the inning.

German pitched his way through the 7th and 8th inning, stopping the Braves from adding to their ever-increasing lead and getting 3 great strikeouts. But in the 9th, Ramirez found some trouble after 2 switch line outs. Two outs and two runners on base with singles, yet another fielding error (#5) allowed another runner to score, putting the remaining two runners on the corners. A big triple (almost an inside-the-park homer thanks to the speed of this player) scored 2 more runners. Even after a hit-by-pitch threatened another base runner, Ramirez dug deep and got a great strikeout to get out of the inning.

The Yankees weren’t exactly blessed in the offense department today. In fact, the Braves pitching staff and defense kept them hitless through 4 innings. It was like the Yankees hit balls directly to the infielders for either line drives or easy out plays. Today’s starting catcher Austin Romine was having a hard time watching the team struggle with what are usually easy plays in the field and getting the ball to him for the outs to make at home. Romine got his own form of revenge, in a way, by getting the Yankees’ first hit in the 5th inning, a 1-out solo home run into the right field seats.

Jorge Mateo followed up that with one of his own to lead-off the 6th inning, a great shot in nearly the same spot for the fans hanging out there. The Yankees would only cobble together 4 total hits (and 2 walks off the Braves’ starter), while the Braves collected 14 hits and 3 walks (and 5 errors and a hit-by-pitch). Yeah, not a good day for the Yankees.

Final score: 10-2 Braves (to be fair, only 4 of those Braves’ runs were “earned”)

Player of the Game: Jorge Mateo. Easy choice today. In the first half of the game, Mateo was easily the best, most consistent infielder. His instincts and sharpness easily stood out in this sloppy defensive game. (Though it should be noted that Romine also did a great job behind the plate.) But then you add Mateo’s big home run in the 6th, his first of the Spring, and you remember why he’s been one to watch for the last two Springs. He’s really something else.

Meanwhile, the first round of cuts were made today, sending 11 pitchers and catchers to minor league camp to finish their Spring — pitchers Camarena, Feyereisen, Lail, Mantiply, Reeves, Rumbelow, Rutckyj, and Sheffield; and catchers Deglan, Diaz, and Saez. This still leaves 56 players in camp, but that count includes currently injured Tyler Austin and the six players representing various teams in the World Baseball Classic.

And speaking of the World Baseball Classic: it’s been quite the last 24 hours for the teams in the WBC. Last night, Venezuela eked out a win over Italy in the 10th inning, 11-10, Puerto Rico beat Mexico 9-4, and the USA fell to the team from the Dominican Republic 5-7. Overnight in Tokyo, Team Israel kept their winning streak alive by defeating Cuba 4-1, and the Netherlands fell to Japan 6-8. Today, the Dominican Republic ended up trouncing the Columbia team 10-3, by racking up 7 runs in the 11th inning alone, and Italy fell to Puerto Rico 3-9.

As I write this, Canada faces off with Team USA. Later tonight, Mexico will face Venezuela (10 pm EST), and the Netherlands will face Israel early tomorrow morning (6 am EST). While there are 6 current Yankees on teams all over this tournament, it’s kind of fun to keep an eye out for former Yankees (like David Robertson, Andrew Miller, Francisco Cervelli, Yangervis Solarte, and Martin Prado) and watching their impact on their national teams. I mean, once a Yankee… and all.

Go Yankees!

{Media note: no video links today. Trust me, there’s not a lot about today’s game you really want to remember. Just savor in the beauty of Romine and Mateo’s great home runs in your imagination, forget the rest happened, and you’re good.}

Spring Game 15: NYY vs. ATL — The Big Apple edges out The Big Peach in the shadow of the Mouse

Another day, another game, another win… not that I’m taking that for granted. The Yankees traveled to Kissimmee to visit the Braves at their Spring home nestled in the heart of the Disney sports complex.

Michael Pineda got the start for the Yankees today, going 3 innings. His lone struggle was in the 1st, a lead-off single scored on a nice double, and then that runner scored on another double, for Pineda’s only allowed hits and runs of his outing. The rest of the pitching staff had about the same luck.

Ben Heller and Chasen Shreve eased their way through the middle third of the game. Shreve having a spot of his own trouble in the 6th, when 2 walks scored on a big 2-out 3-run home run increasing the Braves’ runs on the board. Mantiply and Gurka closed out the final third of the game. Gurka found that same guy who troubled Shreve was set-up once again for a 2-run home run to eke the Braves close to the Yankees’ lead. But 3 outs later, no such luck for the boys from “The Big Peach” (yeah, I hate that nickname too).

That’s thanks in part to the 15 total hits the Yankees’ offense racked up over the course of the game against the Braves’ pitching staff. Brett Gardner got things started with a solo home run over the right field fence to kick off the game and the scoring today.

The Yankees held firm behind the Braves, down 2-1 until the 6th inning when Aaron Hicks’ kicked off a messy inning for the Braves (and pretty good inning for the Yankees) with a solid triple. He then scored on Austin Romine’s single. Torreyes hit what was supposed to be a sacrifice bunt, but a throwing error allowed he and Romine to be safely on base.

With Wade then loading the bases with a single, a single by Ruben Tejada scored one run, and a walk worked by Dustin Fowler scored another. Francisco Diaz hit a solid single to scored Wade and Tejada, and then Fowler scored on Clint Frazier’s ground out.

And in the 7th, with 1 out, Kozma worked a walk and then sped home on Gleyber Torres’ double to give the Yankees that extra run that made the difference in the game.

Final score: 8-7 Yankees.

World Baseball Classic news: Well, the leaders in Pool A (playing in Seoul) played each other to see who would take the first seed. It would be Team Israel as they defeated the Netherlands 4-2. Both teams advance to the next round of playoffs, held in Tokyo against the winners of Pool B.

The two losing teams in Pool A also played each other, the home team of South Korea beat Chinese Taipei 11-8. Over in Pool B, Australia trounced China 11-0. The winners of Pool B (and those advancing to the next round) will be determined by tomorrow morning after the next two games determine the top 2. Meanwhile over here in the Western Hemisphere, the WBC begins tonight as Canada faces the Dominican Republic and Mexico faces Italy.

Go Yankees!

{Media note: as it happens sometimes in the Spring season, the game was not broadcast, so the video clips available were limited to a single link. Sorry!}

Game 160: BAL vs. NYY — “Well, it’s not what you want”

The day after the Yankees got the news that they were eliminated from the postseason, the Yankees turn to host their final series in the Bronx, against the Orioles. And it rained. One reporter commented that those who were at the game tonight, in the rain, without any hope for the postseason could legitimately called themselves “true Yankee fans”. Especially those who stuck it out to the very end of this game.

Michael Pineda got the start tonight and struggled his way into the 5th inning, throwing 85 pitches, giving up 6 hits, 3 walks, and 5 runs, striking out 5 Baltimore batters. He actually held them off for the first third of the game, but things started falling off for him in the 4th inning. With 2 outs, Pineda gave up 2 singles and then a 2-RBI double to get the Orioles on the board.

In the 5th, the Orioles added to their lead with a lead-off solo home run. A single and an out later, Pineda then gave up a 2-run home run to push them further into the lead. The Yankees went to their bullpen for relief, but it wasn’t immediately found in James Pazos. Pazos got a strikeout, but then gave up a double and a walk who easily scored on yet another home run this inning.

But then going to the bullpen again, the Yankees found the relief they needed. Anthony Swarzak threw a nice 2 clean innings, Chasen Shreve got himself into a bases-loaded, no-outs jam only to work his way out of it. And Ben Heller closed things out with a similar situation but kept the Orioles from adding to their huge lead.

The Yankees had limited opportunities to add to their offense tonight — just 3 allowed hits and 6 walks. Only the 4th inning did they cobble together a run. With 1 out and Sanchez on 1st, McCann singled moving Sanchez all the way to 3rd. This was helpful as he then scored on Mark Teixeira’s sacrifice fly. It would be the only time the Yankees could do anything all night.

Final score: 8-1 Orioles.

Girardi mentioned that while the Yankees aren’t in the postseason anymore, they are really embracing the idea of being a spoiler for the Orioles, who are fighting to keep their spot as a Wild Card candidate. And certainly, tonight’s game didn’t help. There’s a line Girardi uses a lot when the outcome is, well, less than ideal: “It’s not what you want.” And that seems to be how everyone kind of felt about tonight’s game, and really the overall outcome of the season. Disappointing, but once it’s done, there’s not much you can do about it except get up, dust yourself off, and try not to do it again.

Before the game tonight, Mark Teixeira was presented a specialized electric guitar by 1980s rock band Twisted Sister. Teixeira is a huge 80’s music fan, even guest appearing on the 80’s rock musical Rock of Ages a few years ago. This year, Teixeira’s walk-up music has been the band’s big hit “I Want to Rock”, but tonight’s gift was a complete surprise for the retiring infielder. The Yankees will do their own special ceremony before the final game on Sunday afternoon.

And if you’re wondering what’s been going on with recently retired Alex Rodriguez, well, he’s certainly been enjoying his retirement — speaking at business and college conferences and reporting for “daddy duty”, including driving his daughters to their first day of school earlier this month. But now, he’s reporting for a different duty — minor league instructor. He suited up to work at the Yankees minor league complex in Tampa to work with some of their young prospects, several who will participate in the instructional league this fall. Rodriguez has also agreed to be part of the FOX broadcast team for the postseason, so Yankee fans (and Rodriguez fans) will get to see him once again, suited up and talking baseball.

Go Yankees!