ALDS Game 1: BOS vs. HOU & NYY vs. CLE — Space City Shoots for the Moon, Mistake on the Lake K-zone theft & shutout

Neither team in the playoffs from the AL East is going to be easy tonight back in their respective hotel rooms. But both home teams are riding high on their show in front of their respective home town crowds. And we’ve really just gotten started with October baseball.

Game 1: Red Sox at Astros
Honestly, I really thought this game was going to be quite the pitching duel between the two ace starters, both recent acquisitions of both teams with the intentions of being right where they were tonight. But one thing that nobody counted on was the outstanding offense from the Astros, except maybe the electric crowd in Houston tonight.

Both starters did pitch into the 6th inning, but the Astros certainly had the edge on them in one area — 4 home runs tonight. Starting in the bottom of the 1st, with 1 out, 2 batters hit back-to-back home runs to get the home team on the board first.

The Red Sox answered back in the 2nd by working 2 walks to threaten. With 2 outs, the next batter singled and scored the Red Sox’s first run as the out was being made by tagging the runner at 3rd. Originally, the umpires ruled that the runner did not cross the plate before the out was made, so the Red Sox challenged the timing. It was overturned, the score counted and the inning was over. Boston got another chance to catch up to the Astros’ early lead in the 4th. A lead-off double moved to 3rd on a single and then scored on a sacrifice fly to tie up the game.

But that certainly didn’t last long. In the bottom of the 4th, the Astros answered back. With 1 out, a batter doubled, and then the next one singled. Well, originally, they thought it was a fly ball out on a diving catch, but Houston’s challenged proved that the outfielder caught it on a slight bounce and trapped it into his glove. Even as an outfielder, most of these plays are so close that you’re going to think you caught it on the fly. Replay proved it was trapped and not caught, so it was overturned for a single. With another out, a solid double scored both runners to give the Astros back their lead.

And they didn’t stop there, they added another run in the 5th with a 2-out solo shot (by one of the same guys from the 1st inning. And in the 6th, a double and walk ended the Boston ace’s night, and a reliever promptly loaded up the bases with a short single. Then a 1-out single scored 2 more runs. Then the same multi-home run hitter from before did it again with a lead-off solo homer in the 7th inning.

Final score: 8-2 Astros, Astros lead series 1-0

Game 2: Yankees at Indians
Before the game, one reporter commented that the home plate umpire has one of the most inconsistent strike zones in the league. Turns out he was very right. Almost all the called strikes, especially those who were called on a strike 3, were very much not strikes. This was notably harsh for the Yankees as it may not have changed the outcome of the game (yes, I do think the Indians would have won, but I’ll explain this in a moment), but it certainly changed the outcome of these at-bats. And being called out when one is clearly not was noticeably frustrating for even the calmer batters (like Headley and Judge).

Sonny Gray got the start and certainly struggled through his outing. He threw 73 pitches into the 4th inning, gave up 3 hits, 4 walks, and 3 runs, and struck out 2 Cleveland batters. In the 2nd, he loaded up the bases with a double, single, and hit-by-pitch before a double play scored the Indians’ first run. But he was able to stave them off again before the 4th inning really closed the night for him. A lead-off walk scored as part of a 2-run home run, and then with 1 out and 2 more runners on base with walks, the Yankees went to their bullpen.

Adam Warren, just coming off the DL recently, gave up single to load up the bases, but then immediately got out of trouble with a strikeout and fly out. In the 5th, Warren gave up a single and moved to 2nd on a wild pitch. One out later, the Yankee went back to their bullpen to pull out an unlikely long-term option — Jaime Garcia. A wild pitch from him moved the runner to 3rd, and that runner scored on a sacrifice fly.

But Garcia was a great option for the Yankees from the bullpen. He gave a strong 8 outs, even getting 3 strikeouts (which with a floating strike zone was a lot harder to do than you think). Dellin Betances then breezed his was through the 8th inning in just 11 pitches. Yankee Universe, this is good news. Betances was sharp again, after struggling for most these last few weeks, and even he felt like he was back to being Betances-like again.

Meanwhile, the Yankees’ offense was serious stifled by that strike zone issue. They only got 3 hits all night. Which is why they would have lost tonight’s game even with a more clear and consistent strike zone. They just weren’t hitting. And once the Indians got into their bullpen, they called on a certain former Yankee closer and the Indians’ ace closer for the final 7 outs of the game. The Indians’ pitchers are really good, but even they have to feel cheated by a bad strike zone. They didn’t need help.

Final score: 4-0 Indians, Indians lead series 1-0

Look, the Indians and Astros were easily the best teams in the AL this season, so it doesn’t surprise me that either of them will take early leads or even dominate in the postseason. It just leaves a sour taste when one can’t compete fairly. And it’s not a team’s fault, but rather the consideration once again about the necessity of a fallible home plate umpire in a technologically advanced age.

Even my mom (who, if you remember, grew up an Indians fan and is really torn this series) complained about the strike zone issues. All the more, if it fell in favor of the Yankees, I would have issues with it. Unfortunately, the Yankees weren’t really at the place tonight where that mattered.

Go Yankees!

Game 155: NYY vs. TOR — Ending the road with a whimper… and a sliver of hope

Wow, that’s not what you want. Especially when there’s still a postseason up for grabs. But it is what it is. So there you go.

Enough clichés.

The Yankees closed out their final road game sputtering a bit. Jaime Garcia still really hasn’t found his footing as a Yankee, and today’s finale in Toronto was no exception. He threw 60 pitches into the 3rd inning, gave up 4 hits, 3 walks, and 5 runs, and struck out 4 batters. Trouble began when his 2nd pitch became a lead-off solo home run (the 3rd time this particular player has done so this series, by the way).

In the 2nd, a lead-off double stole 3rd and then scored on a sacrifice fly. And then he got into some real trouble in the 3rd. With 1 out, he loaded up the bases with a double and 2 consecutive walks. That would be it for Garcia. The Yankees weren’t about to take any chances. And things looked good for Holder, immediately get a pop out. But then a solid bases-clearing double (runs charged to Garcia) solidified the Blue Jays growing lead. And then Heller got a strikeout to get out of the inning.

Bryan Mitchell certainly didn’t help in the 4th inning. He gave up a single and a walk to get things started. Then a single scored one run, a wild pitch moved runner to scoring position, and another walk loaded the bases. Another single scored another run. And then things got interesting as a single scored 2 runners, but then another runner got greedy and was thrown out at home. The Blue Jays challenged the play as a violation of the home plate collusion rule, but the call was upheld. Out at home.

Heller came in to close out the inning with a double play and then had a pretty good 5th inning. Sadly, the first good inning of the game today. But the pattern of struggles was broken. Gallegos’ 6th and 7th innings kept the Jays from adding to their big lead. Betances continued that through his scoreless 8th inning.

But it’s not like the Yankees were exactly quiet on their end. They didn’t get a big opportunity until the 4th inning. Headley and Judge worked walks to lead off the inning. Didi Gregorius’ single scored Headley to get the Yankees on the board. Castro hit into a fielder’s choice that was originally called a double play. The Yankees’ challenged, and Castro was safe a 1st. But 2 outs later, the runners were stranded on the corners.

Aaron Judge led off the 6th inning with a solo home run, his 47th of the season. Two outs later, Ellsbury hit a ground-rule double up the middle, and after walking Frazier, the Blue Jays pulled their starter. The first reliever promptly gave up a double to Greg Bird, which scored Ellsbury. That’s all he got, and the Blue Jays went back to their bullpen.

He got out of the 6th and started the 7th. With 1 out, Headley singled. And then Aaron Judge did it again — another homer, his 48th, his 2nd of the game — a 2-run home run over the left field wall. Suddenly, the Yankees were within striking distance. But then the Jays went to their bullpen again.

And that’s all they’d write in Toronto.

Final score: 9-5 Blue Jays, Blue Jays win series 2-1.

Aaron Judge is just 1 home run shy of the rookie record. In 1987, a young power-hitting Oakland player named Mark McGwire hit 49 home runs in his rookie season. Now, the only AL team Judge hasn’t homered off this season is the Royals, which they play a make-up game tomorrow afternoon back in the Bronx. And wouldn’t that make a really cool story — homering off the Royals (and thus all the AL teams) and tying the rookie record doing so. And if we’re being honest, there’s still 6 more games beyond that for Judge to make that rookie record his.

The Yankees slipped to 5 games behind the Red Sox, reducing the magic number for the Red Sox to clinch the AL East to 3. Yeah, that means the Red Sox need to win just 3 more games or the Yankees need to lose 3 more to hand over the division to the Red Sox. In other words, they need to not play like they did today.

But I believe it can happen. Because… why not? Weirder things have happened. The Yankees were supposed to win in 2004. I mean, they were up 3 games over the Red Sox, and they just needed 1 more game to clinch. And then the Red Sox just took over. Ah, memories all of Yankee Universe would prefer to forget…

But it can happen. I mean, it’s not like they’re not already going to the postseason…

Go Yankees!

Game 150: MIN vs. NYY — A solid start makes all the difference

There’s a lot of talk about this particular series as if the standings remain as they are, the Yankees will face the Twins in the Wild Card game in just a couple of weeks. So, beginning tonight, we could be looking at a preview of things to come. I mean, I get why the Twins are something this season, but there are still quite a few games left of the season that could certainly change everything.

Jaime Garcia had a really stellar outing in pinstripes. After struggling so much in the beginning of his Yankee career, it’s nice to see him settling into the pitcher they knew he could be, the one they traded for. He threw 85 pitches into the 6th inning, giving up just 4 hits and one unearned run, while striking out a solid 9 batters. That unearned run came in the 5th inning. A lead-off single ended up at 3rd on a single and a fielding error and then scored on a fielder’s choice out. The error, of course, made it unearned.

David Robertson came on to finish off the 6th inning and then pitch through the 7th to keep the score fairly clean. Dellin Betances came on for the 8th and really struggled his way through — hitting the first batter with a pitch, a sacrifice bunt, a walk, a wild pitch, and a walk to load up the bases.

Not willing to take any chances, the Yankees called on Aroldis Chapman for what became a 5-out save. And boy, did he deliver, starting with a well-placed strikeout to keep the bases loaded in the 8th and then a fly out to get out of the jam. And then breezing through the 9th inning to seal it all up for them.

Meanwhile, the Yankees didn’t really do that much damage against the Twins’ pitching staff. Aaron Judge hit a 1-out solo home run into the right field seats, his 44th of the season, to kick off the scoring for the Yankees. The Yankees were able to get on base often (8 hits and a walk), but they weren’t able to capitalize much on that.

In the 6th, with 1 out, Headley and Castro singled and then moved into scoring position with a wild pitch. The Twins intentionally walked Ellsbury to load up the bases, and then gave up a sacrifice fly to Todd Frazier to score Headley to double the Yankees’ low score. That would be the end of the Twins’ starter, and their bullpen had pretty good luck against the Yankee offense, keeping them at their low score.

Both teams spent most of the game waiting for their offense to pick up and do something. But neither team really did.

Final score: 2-1 Yankees

David Robertson is one of this year’s finalists for the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award, an annual honor given to the player “whose on-field performance and contributions to his community inspire others to higher levels of achievement.” It is part of the players’ choice awards, awarded in the postseason and voted on by secret ballot to honor fellow players who have made an outstanding impact in this past season. Mariano Rivera is the only Yankee to win the MMMotY award, back in 2013.

Robertson is recognized for his outstanding on-field performance, but he dedicates much of his off-field time to the foundation he runs with his wife Erin — High Socks for Hope. In the past, they have helped with relief efforts following natural disasters like tornadoes and Hurricane Sandy, and they are already involved in current efforts to clean up following the two recent disasters in Texas and Florida. They also have a few special branches of the foundation including one that helps with homeless veterans and a fund set-up in honor of Erin’s dad who lost his battle with cancer last year.

Fans selected the nominees from each division, and now players will vote for the player they believe is worthy of the honor this year. Robertson is up against other very philanthropic players from all over the league, and I wish them all the best in their endeavors to give back to their communities through so many different charities.

Postseason Prep: I don’t know what it is but the Red Sox are really working these extra inning games lately. As of this posting, they’re holding strong against the Orioles in the 11th inning. And I think you can guess that I’m pretty much “Go, Baltimore!” for that series. They’re still flirting that 3-game gap between the Red Sox and the Yankees for the AL East — meaning the Yankees have to keep winning and the Red Sox need to lose some of these games to stop the status quo and actually make some headway in the standings.

That reminds me… I got a text from my brother earlier today, asking for help. No, it wasn’t about his love life or something life shattering. He felt a little flustered because this guy he works with always wants to talk about baseball, and my brother is really not that into sports. Sure, he’ll go to a game, and he definitely has his favorite teams (almost anyone except Boston, smart man that he is). But he doesn’t really follow the season. At all. So I ended up sending him 21 texts about the current status of the season and league within about 10 minutes. He talks to the guy for like a minute every day, but now, he’s good for the next week or so. (You’re welcome!)

Or, you know, he could just read my blog…

Go Yankees!

Game 145: NYY vs. TB — Tight win against the “Queens Rays”

We say farewell to Citi Field today, the Rays’ displaced home this week thanks to the invasion of Hurricane Irma this past weekend. While the entire state is in the midst of clean-up, restoring power, searching for open gas stations, and getting their lives back to a semblance of normal, baseball continues with the lingering thoughts of the fans “back home”.

During the games, and all over the City this past week really, it was interesting to see that the primary thought on most people’s minds were those in the path of the hurricane, including Florida, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and the entire Caribbean. (Also, if you haven’t donated and still want to get involved, MLB has a fundraising site you donate to that will help hurricane victims of both Harvey and Irma to get back on their feet.)

Today, the Yankees and Rays played their last game in Citi Field for this quirky misplaced series this afternoon. Jaime Garcia got the start and threw a decent, albeit abbreviated game. He threw 78 pitches into the 5th inning, gave up 5 hits, a walk, and a run, and struck out 4 Rays batters. His lone allowed run was a lead-off solo home run in the 3rd. But the Yankees’ defense certainly backed him (and the rest of the pitchers) today.

Chad Green was brought on in the 5th to close out that inning for Garcia, and breezed his way through 4 outs, including 3 strong strikeouts, setting himself up for the eventual win. Kahnle’s 7th inning was a mixed bag, as he gave up 2 hits, but then got out of the inning without adding to the score.

But Dellin Betances’s shaky 8th inning was a bit too close of shave. The Yankees weren’t about to allow much of a leash on their pitchers. Betances got a fly out, gave up a single, and then struck out a batter. So after 18 pitches, that was it for him, much to his dismay as he wanted that 3rd out. Aroldis Chapman came on and had his own issues — giving up a walk and an RBI single (charged to Betances) before getting that 3rd out, a strikeout. Chapman then walked the lead-off batter in the 9th, but then breezed his way through the next 3 outs, all 3 strikeouts, and earned the save.

The Yankees’ offense did it once again in a single inning. This time in the 2nd, they hit into the Rays’ ace starter pretty hard. Castro and Ellsbury hit consecutive singles to lead off the inning and put runners in the corners. Todd Frazier’s single easily scored Castro. Then Romine’s 1-out walk loaded up the bases, so that Brett Gardner’s single scored both Ellsbury and Frazier to give the Yankees an early lead. One they spent the rest of the game defending.

It was almost not enough, but they clung to that 1-run lead all the way through to the end.

Final score: 3-2 Yankees, Yankees win series 2-1.

Yes, that does make it their 4th consecutive series won, which is great news for their push for the postseason. And there are a lot of numbers and charts and graphs to negotiate through to assess the postseason before the regular season has ended. Yes, there are already teams that have been eliminated entirely, and there are those who are clinging to a single-digit chance of postseason dreams. But the Yankees are basically a shoo-in for October baseball, at least as the first Wild Card spot.

But that’s not really good enough. Not for a team like the Yankees this year. And especially not with the Red Sox being just a few games ahead of them with more than 2 weeks left of the season. This is the time of year when we’re watching the scoreboard and rooting for all the teams that could help boost the Yankee standings (read: any one playing against the Red Sox, which isn’t unusual for Yankee fans, but especially needed at this point in the season — so tonight, it’s “Go, Oakland!”)

Next up, the Yankees moved back to the Bronx to host a 4-game weekend series against the Orioles starting tomorrow. Then the Twins come to town in what could be a preview of the Wild Card game (if the Yankees don’t win the AL East), then it’s up to Toronto next weekend before closing out the season back home against the Royals (a make-up game from May), the Rays, and Blue Jays. Finger crossed, Yankee universe, this could be a rather interesting final 17 games.

Also, the reason no team is named the “Queens” anything is because it sounds like a British sports organization, as you can see from my blog title today. Though I’m still a little torn as to why certain other area teams are dubbed “New York {Sports Team}” when they play in New Jersey, as I would be if the Rays were called the Tampa Rays when they play in St. Petersburg. I know it’s about the area (with the other teams), but that’s the same reason as to why the Rays are the “Tampa Bay Rays”, so they don’t offend the city that holds their stadium’s contract hostage.

Go (Bronx Bombers/New York) Yankees! (See why that works…)

Games 131 & 132: CLE vs. NYY — Rain created a double-header steam roller

After yesterday’s rainy mess that was the entire tri-state area, the Yankees rescheduled their game to combine into a single-admission double-header — the make-up game starting a mere 30 minutes following the close of the first game. It was more than slightly disappointing.

Game 1: (The regularly scheduled Wednesday game)
Jaime Garcia got the start today and just had a rough start right out of the gate. He threw 87 pitches into the 6th inning, and despite not giving up many runs, every inning was just a struggle for the new-ish starter. He gave up 6 hits, 3 walks, and 2 runs (only 1 earned), striking out just 5 batters.

In the 1st, the lead-off batter singled, stole 2nd, moved to 3rd on a single, and then scored on a passed ball (the unearned run). Another single scored the other base runner to put the Indians up fast and first. But then they spent the rest of the game defending this super early lead.

Of course, the Yankees did their best to limit the Indians to those 2 runs as well. And they certainly succeeded. Despite Green’s struggles through each inning, he kept the Indians from cross the plate under the rest of his tenure. He passed the ball to the outstanding Chad Green, who just sailed through the end of the 6th, 7th, and most of the 8th inning, thanks to 7 stellar strikeouts (of his 8 outs). Tommy Kahnle closed out the 8th and threw a great 9th to keep the Indians from adding to their score through the end of the game.

In the mean time, the Yankees tried to ding into the Indians minor lead, and for the most part were unsuccessful. In the 3rd, with 1 out, Hicks worked a walk, moved to 2nd on a ground out, advanced to 3rd on a wild pitch, and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ double. Then despite getting Gregorius into scoring position with hopes to tie up the game, they left him stranded there. And that became the story of the game — leaving runners in scoring position without getting them home.

Final score: 2-1 Indians

Game 2: (the make-up game)
Thirty minutes later, the Yankees were ready to take the field, in all efforts to take one game of the series. Today’s 26th man Jordan Montgomery got the start for the make-up game today, and unfortunately, he didn’t have the greatest outing either.

Montgomery threw 92 pitches in just 4 innings, gave up 6 hits, 3 walks, and 4 runs, and struck out 5 Cleveland batters. His biggest weakness, following his predecessor today, was the 1st inning. A lead-off batter singled, moved to 2nd on a walk, and then scored on a 1-out single. A double then scored the next run, and a single scored 2 more to give the Indians another early lead. Then despite loading up the bases, Montgomery got out of the inning with a well-timed strikeout. (Actually, all 3 outs that inning were strikeouts.)

The Yankees offense answered back again rather softly. In the 2nd, Judge led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on a 1-out single, and then scored on Greg Bird’s single. Once again, they played the get runners on base without getting them home. Which didn’t help Montgomery’s short start.

And it certainly didn’t help ease the relievers, who had their own struggles today. Chasen Shreve came on in the 5th and promptly gave up a lead-off solo home run. Two doubles in the 6th added one more run. Caleb Smith closed out the 6th, but then a 1-out walk in the 7th scored on a 2-out 2-run home run. He also gave up a lead-off solo home run in the 8th, but sailed his way through the next 6 outs.

That was quite the deficit to face as the Yankees were hoping for an 8-run rally in the bottom of the 9th (to tie up the game), as evidenced by the lingering small crowd in the stadium. With 1 out, Todd Frazier worked a walk, and Aaron Hicks singled (his 4th hit of the game, by the way) with hopes for a rally. It would be Greg Bird to the rescue again with a big 3-run home run to reduce the Indians’ lead. But 2 outs later, the rally hopes were dashed, and the Yankees were swept.

Final score: 9-4 Indians, Indians sweep the series 3-0.

Some trivia thanks to the online people who know these things: The last time the Indians swept the Yankees in a 3-game series was April 1989, and the last time the Yankees lost both games of a double-header to the Indians was 1995. Also, the Yankees are the only team in the league that hasn’t lost a game by at least 8 runs thanks to Bird’s last-minute big home run.

Roster move: as I mentioned before, the Yankees chose Jordan Montgomery as their 26th man on the roster, as allowed for all double-headers. I imagine he will be on his way back to Scranton tonight, but no worries, the September calls up is just 2 days away. He’ll be back.

And in a fun story, the stadium had food delivered to each dugout so that the players and staff could munch on stuff during their long stint on the field. One rather brave employee balanced a rather large trays of food, including a rather precariously placed plate of cookies. Just as he was stepping down close to the dugout, the plate was tilting and slipping ever so slightly, but another employee reached up a hand to grab the plate before it fell and the tray was safely delivered. (Hope someone gave the “Cookie Hero” a nice tip!) A fun, positive spin on a rather disappointing day.

Next up: the Red Sox… which is the ultimate series to win this weekend.

Go Yankees!

Game 126: NYY vs. DET — Hitsville USA lives up to its name, in the worst way

Wow, that was a mess. Not exactly the way you want to close out a series, a lovely afternoon in Detroit. Basically, it was a rather complicated series of brawls in between playing a few innings of baseball.

So let’s talk about the baseball part first. Jaime Garcia got the start today, throwing 75 pitches into the 5th inning, giving up 5 hits, 3 walks, and 4 runs (just 2 earned runs), and striking out just 2 Detroit batters. In the 1st inning, Garcia gave up a 2-out solo home run to get the Tigers on the board.

In the 4th, a lead-off double moved to 3rd on a line out, and then scored on a single. The lead-off batter in the 5th reached on a fielding error and moved to 3rd on a double. That would be the end of Garcia’s outing, with both runners in scoring position.

And it was on to Adam Warren, who struck out his first batter and then got himself into trouble. After a sacrifice fly scored the lead run and moved the other guy to 3rd, he loaded up the bases with consecutive walks. A single scored yet another run, and a ground-rule double scored one more.

So it was on to Tommy Kahnle to find that elusive 3rd out of the 5th inning with a nice strikeout.

Backing up a moment, the Yankees weren’t exactly being bowled over by the Tigers today. In the 2nd, Judge led-off with a single, advanced to 2nd on a wild pitch, moved to 3rd on a ground out, and then scored on Chase Headley’s single to tie up the game. Gary Sanchez’s big lead-off home run in the 4th moved the Yankees into the lead.

In the 5th, Torreyes led-off the inning by reaching base on a fielding error. He then moved to 2nd on a ground out and ended up at 3rd on Gardner’s single, and then scored on Aaron Hicks’ sacrifice fly. The next batter was Gary Sanchez who was hit by a pitch quite inside, which was a tad scary for a moment, but he was okay in the end.

And that brings us to the 6th inning.

So, Kahnle is on the mound and throws behind the batter, a certain star from the Tigers, who promptly started chattering with catcher Austin Romine. Until suddenly, he shoved Romine and started swinging punches at the Yankees’ catcher. Benches cleared, people were literally pinned to the ground to keep them from fighting, it was just an absolute mess all over the field.

Now, leading up to this, manager Joe Girardi actually came up to argue with the home plate umpire that Sanchez could have been seriously hurt, and the umpires didn’t give a warning or anything, as per the usual procedure. Now, had a warning been issued after Sanchez was hit or even after Kahnle threw behind (though I’m not 100% sure it was intentional, and I will absolutely admit when a pitcher does something stupid like that). But no warnings, so it escalated and just got worse from there.

Anyway, so Girardi was the first to get tossed from the game for sticking up for his catcher (or DH today), but then after the melee at the plate, the Yankees also lost Kahnle and Romine. Romine’s ejection I thought was particularly stupid, as Romine didn’t do anything except get the brunt of the anger from the Tigers’ designated hitter, who also saw the exit at that point.

Aroldis Chapman came on to close out the 6th inning once tempers cooled a bit, and baseball was back on the program. Back to the top of the 7th, Torreyes and Ellsbury worked consecutive walks, and the Tigers’ starter was done for his outing. Brett Gardner’s single scored Torreyes and moved Ellsbury to 3rd. Ellsbury then scored on Hicks’ sacrifice fly, and the Tigers went back to their bullpen again. Gary Sanchez’s single scored Gardner to tie up the game again.

So, after a little 7th inning stretch, Dellin Betances came on. And promptly hit the batter with a wild pitch to the helmet. While that can certainly be jarring and scary, it was in no way intentional. Seriously, the game is tied, the last thing the Yankees want is a base runner to give the Tigers any chance to retake the lead.

And with tempers simmering just below the surface, brawl #2 was on. And that was followed by more ejections — Dellin Betances and bench coach (and acting manager) Rob Thomson, neither of whom agreed with the ejections. Seriously, Betances is sometimes just sloppy. He’s not that kind of pitcher to “get revenge” or whatever old-school belief that excuses hot-headed players when they “go after” or intentionally harm another player.

So it would be David Robertson to pitch for the Yankees. And despite hitting the first batter, the benches stayed filled. He loaded the bases with a walk and then gave up a 3-run double to give the Tigers the lead. Two strikeouts and an intentional walk later, Robertson got out of the inning with a ground out to 2nd.

In the top of the 8th, the Yankees were back up at bat, and the new Tigers’ reliever decided it would be fun to plunk Todd Frazier. So the reliever was ejected as was the Tigers’ manager who tried arguing his case against the ejection. (On a side note, that reliever ended up being on track for the win due to when all the Tigers’ winning runs were scored, which doesn’t seem right. If you get disciplined, you shouldn’t be rewarded in a statistic. Sometimes, the ethical side of the rules don’t line up with the technicalities of the game.)

In the bottom of the 8th, the Yankees called on Caleb Smith to close out their game. He gave up a 1-out solo home run to add an extra run to the Tigers’ lead at that point. And after another out, a single tried to stretch it into a double and got tagged out at 2nd because of the sharp arm of Gardner and quick reflexes of Torreyes at 2nd. A Tigers’ challenge was denied as the call was upheld on review.

A fairly quick 9th inning closed out the rather messy 4+hour game in Hitsville USA (or Detroit for the rest of America). And I can’t say many people were sad to see the game over and done and in the books. Not really one for the memory pages.

Final score: 10-6 Tigers, Yankees win series 2-1

Also, it was Brett Gardner’s birthday. Happy birthday, Gardner! Congrats on not being one of the eight people ejected from today’s game.

The Yankees head back to the Bronx to host the Mariners for Players’ Weekend. Yeah, I’m ready to move on from today.

Go Yankees!

{Media note: had some internet issues that would not fully load the videos, thus allowing me to link them correctly. I will try again when I clear up the issues. Not that anyone should be in a rush to watch the mess that was today’s game… I’d certainly rather forget it.}

Game 119: NYY vs. NYM — #SubwaySeries victory tour continues in Queens

The Subway Series continued in Queens, before yet another sold-out crowd, their 5th one in 6 games (and the 6th one came within a few hundred seats of being another sell-out). And they decided to make things interesting before a New York hometown crowd.

Like the other newer starter yesterday, Jaime Garcia had a pretty good outing tonight. He threw 91 pitches into the 6th inning and gave up 5 hits, 3 walks, and 3 runs, striking out just 3 Mets batters. In the 1st, a lead-off double moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on a sacrifice fly to give the Mets a small early lead. Garcia held off the Mets for a time, later giving up a 2-out solo home run in the 5th. And in the 6th, with 2 runners on and just 1 out, Garcia’s night came to a close (with both those runners on his account).

Tommy Kahnle unfortunately promptly gave up a sacrifice fly that scored the lead runner (charged to Garcia), but then closed out the inning with a fly out, handing the game to Adam Warren. Warren sailed through 2 innings, adding 3 strikeouts of his own, in a rather strong showing for the now veteran bullpen staple. David Robertson’s 9th inning was everything we expect from tonight’s closer (see below), sewing up the game with 2 more strikeouts and his 14th save on the season.

Meanwhile, the Yankees played a bit of “tag” with the Mets for a good portion of the game. After the Mets scored in the 1st, the Yankees tied up the game in the 2nd when Chase Headley worked a walk, moved to 2nd on a wild pitch, then to 3rd on a passed ball, and scored on Garrett Cooper’s ground out. Aaron Judge’s monster home run (all 457 feet into the upper deck in left field) led-off the 4th to put the Yankees in the lead.

Then the Mets caught up with the Yankees and tied up the game, so the Yankees forged ahead in the 6th, loading up the bases with a single and 2 walks. After the Mets’ starter left the game, Headley’s sacrifice fly scored lead-runner Judge to put the Yankees back on top.

When the game got tied up again in the bottom of the 6th, the Yankees weren’t about to just sit on their laurels. So in the 7th, Torreyes led-off with a double, moved to 3rd on a sacrifice bunt, and then watched as the bases were loaded with Ellsbury and Hicks’ walks. After 1 out, Didi Gregorius hit a solid double into the corner of right field that scored 2 runs to give the Yankees the lead their strong bullpen wasn’t about to surrender.

Final score: 5-3 Yankees

Aroldis Chapman was unavailable to pitch today due to some tightness he felt in his hamstring during yesterday’s game. He’s hoping to avoid the disabled list, and the Yankees still consider him their primary closer. But with the likes of Betances and Robertson (who closed out the game tonight), the Yankees are not hurting for back-end of their bullpen.

In fact, their bullpen might be one of the strongest points of this season. Even when other parts weren’t clicking (like starting pitching or a lagging offense), the bullpen was able to often save the game from getting out of hand. I would even wager to say that the bullpen may be the primary reason the Yankees are still in contention for the postseason. Of course, it’s one of the few parts of the team that rarely gets a lot of attention, but those relievers are something else to watch, a crucial part of the team’s success story.

It’s so easy to overlook the players who don’t make the big splashy plays. Isn’t it like life though? It’s the little things, the under-the-radar moments, the ones that won’t make the headlines that matter the most. The so-called “small stuff” matters because it’s in that “small stuff” that we find consistency of character, the foundation for how to handle life’s “big stuff”, the moments that catch all the glory (or shame, as the case may be).

And in a team like the Yankees, we see things like persistence and perseverance and possibilities in the small stuff — the consistency of the middle relievers like Warren or Green, the strong but quiet defense of guys like Torreyes or Romine, or the flexibility and rally of Headley. So it’s no wonder the same stuff is then reflect in the big stuff — like a Judge or Sanchez homer, Gardner’s highlight reel outfield plays, or Chapman’s 103mph fastball.

Go Yankees!