Thursday, September 12, 2013

Patchwork Pitching and Jim Johnson

I'm not kidding; Joe Girardi put this game together with his pitching staff. Phil Hughes was the starter and he only lasted three innings as Girardi was keeping him on even less of a leash than I have ever seen before. Eduardo Nunez committed an error at third base to open the inning and that was it for Hughes, who may have made his final start as a Yankee if Girardi goes back to Huff five days from now. Speaking of David Huff, he came into the game after Hughes departed and delivered the same exact performance as Hughes -- three innings of one run baseball. Girardi then went into his big bag of tricks again and called on Adam Warren who was able to get the first two outs in the seventh inning with a three run lead. Then it was Cesar Cabral's turn who appeared in the third Major League game of his very young career. Cabral faced pinch-hitter Michael Morse who grounded out to shortstop Brendan Ryan and the inning was over. The eighth inning would turn into a circus as Robertson stepped in. Manny Machado opened the frame with a fly ball to let field that looked gone off the bat. However, hero of the game Alfonso Soriano timed his leap beautifully and went into the stands to rob Machado of his home run that would make the game 5-3 Yankees. Soriano came up with the ball and initially made a face as if to say "damn, I should have had that". He then flipped the ball out of his glove and everyone, but even more so Robertson, took a huge sigh of relief. Even though Robertson was helped out by his defense, he would not thank them in any way when Danny Valencia took him deep with two runners on base to tie the game and seemingly flush the entire night down the drain. The Orioles were teeing off on Robertson but he was able to keep the game tied thanks to a Matt Wieters strikeout to send the game into the ninth.

The offense came early but seemed late after a one hour and eighteen minute rain delay. Mark Reynolds opened the scoring with his 200th career home run that gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead. Vernon Wells would come through in the following inning with a two-run single that extended the Yankee lead. Finally, Granderson would homer in the seventh to give the Yankees a run they would come to need given Robertson's blown hold. Thanks to a wild pitch in the ninth by erratic Jim Johnson, the Yankees would score the go-ahead run and send in Mariano Rivera to pitch in his third straight game and fourth game in five days. The official scorer awarded Mariano Rivera with the win, very strangely, instead of Robertson, citing that Robertson was brief and ineffective. I don't think it matters to the players, but give Mariano Rivera the save that he deserves.

The win came at a price when Gardner left the game in the first inning after experiencing pain in his left side which turned out to be an oblique strain. With fifteen games left this may be all we see from Gardner in 2013. However, Gardner is tough and I can see him making a comeback at less than 100%. The Yankees will now rely more heavily on the Ichiro/Wells platoon with Granderson spending the rest of the season in center field. This injury is a huge blow for the Yankees as Gardner led the team in doubles and stolen bases.

Tampa Bay and Cleveland are both coming away as winners tonight, so the Yankees don't gain anymore ground on the Rays. With the win against the Orioles, the Yankees do set Baltimore back in the standings which is not a bad thing. The upcoming three game series in Boston will be huge for the Yankees. I believe that with one win in three games they should not lose anymore ground in the standings. With two wins I believe that the Yankees can have a share or even take the second wildcard from the Rays. With Mariano Rivera definitely unavailable in tomorrow's game it is pivotal for Kuroda to pitch a gem against the peskiest lineup in the American League.

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