Last night the Yanks played the first of six meaningless games to wrap up the season. I’ve heard fans gripe about this and that meaningless game in May, but that’s not truly meaningless. It’s just that the payoff is so far down the road that you can’t see it yet. These games, they’re meaningless. The organization meets tomorrow to hash out the ALDS roster; in other words, they’re not even going take these games into consideration when deciding the postseason roster.
For some players it means a tune-up for the postseason. For others, like most of the Yankees starting lineup last night, it’s an opportunity to get some big league at bats. All but one of the starters took advantage. Juan Miranda sat out the hit party, but each of the other Yankees starters, from Gardner down to Pena, collected at least one hit. The Yanks put 15 men on base, pummeling the Royals in an 8-2 win.
Chad Gaudin did his job and then some. He allowed just six baserunners through six and two-thirds, which resulted in just two runs. In the only real jam he faced in the evening, second and third with one out in the fifth, he escaped after allowing just one run, a sac fly. That was the last time a runner would reach scoring position for the Royals. Damaso Marte and Al Aceves got the final seven outs without allowing another hit.
The stories of the night were on the offensive side. WIth the game tied at one in the fifth, Ramiro Pena took a big hack and sent his first career home run just beyond the right field fence. It’s been quite the year for Ramiro. He came out of nowhere in camp to win the utility infield gig, has already recorded 113 major league plate appearances, and has an outside shot of making the playoff roster. Strangely, Pena’s 2 for 4 night brought his SLG up to .388, which is higher than he slugged in AAA this year (.327) and AA last year (.357). Hopefully some asshole won’t demand a ransom for the ball.
The other offensive moment came in the seventh. Luke Hochevar, having only thrown 73 pitches through six, came out to face the 8-9-1 hitters. Four batters later he had surrendered a run and loaded the bases for Robinson Cano. Why Trey Hillman left him in there I have no idea. But it wouldn’t take him long to regret it. Robinson Cano, who was 6 for 26 with runners in scoring position coming into the game, belted one out to right, putting the Yanks up 8-2.
It’s always nice to see the backups get their shakes. We’ll see Damon, Jeter, A-Rod, Swisher, and Teixeira will return tomorrow, but there will still be a few bench guys in there. A.J. Burnett, whose dad had successful triple-bypass surgery yesterday, will be back to take the hill against Anthony Lerew.
*Alternate title: Yanks actually maintain a six-run lead over Kansas City.