Sep
18

Not Dead Yet: Yankees come from behind for much-needed win over Blue Jays

By

For the first seven innings on Wednesday, it looked like the Yankees were on their way to losing their fifth straight game without putting up much of a fight. A big eighth inning rally and some splendid escape work by Mariano Rivera resulted in a desperately needed 4-3 win over the Blue Jays.

(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Mark Blinch)

(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Mark Blinch)

Runs Are Like Air: You Don’t Appreciate ‘Em Until You Stop Getting ‘Em
Prior to this game, J.A. Happ had thrown a total of 24 pitches in the seventh inning in his 15 starts this season. He came into Wednesday averaging just 4.8 innings per start and only three times in those 15 starts did he complete six full innings of work. So, naturally, Happ threw a season-high seven innings (plus one batter) and only needed just 101 pitches to do it. It was the first time he threw a pitch in the eighth inning as a starter since April 10th, 2011. He allowed three singles, three walks, and one double.

Fortunately, that double came from Brendan Ryan to lead off the eighth inning. Manager John Gibbons lifted his starter — the “send the starter back out, then lift him after he allows the leadoff man to reach base” move, a personal fave — in favor of matchups galore. Lefty Aaron Loup allowed a single to Curtis Granderson in an 0-2 count, the only man he faced. Righty Steve Delabar struck out Alex Rodriguez on six pitches before Robinson Cano (one-run single), Alfonso Soriano (one-run double), and Vernon Wells (two-run double) followed with three straight hits. In the span of five pitches, the Yankees went from being down three with men on the corners and one out to being up one with a man on second and one out. Five pitches!

That four-run inning could have been a few more had the Bombers not shot themselves in the foot with a double steal — Mark Reynolds was thrown out at second easily — and by letting Lyle Overbay bat against a lefty. Joe Girardi had to know Gibbons would bring a lefty out of the ‘pen when he pinch-hit Overbay, right? I guess he preferred Overbay against the fresh lefty to Eduardo Nunez against a laboring righty. Weird. The four runs did the trick though.

(Presswire)

(Presswire)

Escape Job
Once the Yankees had the lead, Girardi went to his two most trusted relievers for the final six outs. David Robertson recorded two quick outs in the eighth before Rajai Davis singled, and as soon as he (predictably) stole second, Girardi went to Rivera. Lifted Robertson right in the middle of the at-bat. Mo got Brett Lawrie grounded out harmlessly to second to end the threat.

Rivera came back out for bottom of the ninth after the offense failed to plate an insurance run in the top half — shout out to Ichiro Suzuki for stayed glued to first base after his leadoff single — and the Blue Jays immediately put something together. Adam Lind and Colby Rasmus opened the frame with back-to-back singles, and pinch-bunter Munenori Kawasaki was sent up to, well, bunt. He did bunt, but it was right to the charging Overbay, who threw over to third for the force out. A routine ground out by Ryan Goins and a three-pitch strikeout of the dreadful J.P. Arencibia later, the Yankees were winners. Rivera had two one with no outs in a one-run game and didn’t allow a run. Pretty awesome. Vintage Mo, even.

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

When Two Bad Pitchers Equals One Decent Pitcher
When Girardi first employed the tandem starter thing last week in Baltimore, Phil Hughes and David Huff combined to allow two runs in six innings. They were again effective on Wednesday night, putting together seven innings of three-run ball. That’s a quality start! It’s probably quite a bit better than what either guy could do on their own as a starter as well. They combined to strike out five (three by Huff) and zero walks.

I do think the whole tandem starter thing would work better if the pitching change was planned a bit better than what Girardi has shown in these first two games. It seems like he’s simply replacing Hughes at the first real sign of trouble. A super short leash, basically. Phil allowed a two-run homer to Rasmus in the fourth and was lifted immediately, with Huff coming in to face the right-handed Moises Sierra. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to bring in Huff earlier in the inning to face the lefty hitting Lind and Rasmus? I get that there’s some “feel” to this whole thing, but still. Not allowing Hughes to face the other team’s two best lefty threats a second time seems like the whole point of this tandem system.

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

Leftovers
The 3-4-5 hitters did pretty much all the damage. Cano, Soriano, and Wells went a combined 5-for-11 with one walk while the other six hitters went 4-for-23 with three walks. Rookie backstop J.R. Murphy went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and was the only starter who failed to reach base. Only two hitters — Granderson and A-Rod — saw more than 15 pitches on the night. This lineup … they’re up there hacking. No doubt about it.

You can tell A-Rod’s hamstring/calf injury is bothering him because his swing is almost all arms, kinda like late last year but not as extreme. He hit three balls right on the screws on Wednesday but all three were moderately deep yet routine fly ball outs. His timing is fine, but he’s not getting anything from his legs to help drive the ball. That’s no way to hit.

Prior to that four-run eighth inning, the Yankees had scored a total of three runs in their previous 37 innings. That went back to Cano’s two-run game-tying double in the seventh inning of the series opener against the Red Sox.

Rivera has four appearances of four outs or more this month, one more than he had the last two years combined. Obviously he missed most of last summer with the knee injury. He’s leaving it all out on the field this month.

At 28-15, the Yankees have baseball’s very best record in one-run games this season. That means they have heart and know how to win, or something.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees are three games back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column with ten games to play. Time’s a runnin’ out.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
At long last, this ten-game road trip is coming to an end. The Yankees are sending Hiroki Kuroda to the mound against right-hander Todd Redmond in the rubber game on Thursday.

Categories : Game Stories

73 Comments»

  1. The Real Greg says:

    Royals have tacked on 3 runs in the 8th so barring a major bullpen collapse by the Royals, the Indians will lose.

    Red Sox have the winning run on second. But Drew hits into the DP.

  2. The Real Greg says:

    And surprise surprise, Joe Nathan blows a save in a big time game.

  3. dkidd says:

    i hate joe nathan

  4. The Real Greg says:

    Orioles have two men on, one out in the 12th.

  5. Runs Are Like Air: You Don’t Appreciate ‘Em Until You Stop Getting ‘Em

    Outstanding.

  6. The Real Greg says:

    It’s time for another episode of the Jim Johnson story.

  7. Eddard says:

    Boy that game was something else. Down to their last 6 outs on the season they say we’re not ready to quit just yet. You have to think that Joe’s inspired speech a couple days ago pushed this ballclub back from the brink of defeat.

  8. Robinson Tilapia says:

    Remember those 80′s wrestling matches in which, instead of tapping out, the ref lifted the wrestler’s arm three times to see if it would drop. What always happened? Arm went down twice and ALMOST went down the third time before the face wrestler magically pulled their arm up to save the day.

    That’s what this felt like.

    Of course, sometimes, the match would sometimes end with the face being piledriven within an inch of their life a few minutes later, but let’s not go there.

    Not dead yet.

    • forensic says:

      Heh, I actually remember that stuff. The hand would always go into a fist, start going up, then the leg would start rhythmically hitting the mat, then they suddenly get up with no problem while their opponent starts freaking out wondering what’s happening.

      Of course, as you said, sometimes the opponent will instead just knock them right back down to end it.

    • Pat D says:

      Hulk Hogan perfected that move. I’m pretty sure it was a requirement in all of his matches.

      I like how it eventually evolved to the point where the heel would release the submission hold thinking he’d won, while behind his back Hogan would be laying on the mat but holding his index finger aloft and wagging it back and forth. Then the ref would tell the heel he hadn’t won, so the heel would go for the pin, and then would come the oh so predictable kick out-Hulk up-impervious to pain-finger wagging-3 punches-big boot-atomic legdrop finish.

      Good times.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        Ricky Steamboat was master of this as well, as was Dusty Rhodes.

        MMA changes all of that, though.

        Watch Steamboat/Flair from the early 90s. Matches flowed so different back then.

    • Jimmy the Anvil says:

      That happened in the 90s, too, when I was a boy.

      It usually happened with the sleeperhold or variations thereof (e.g., the Million Dollar Sleeper or whatever DiBiase’s move was). It’s a pretty crazy idea – the guy is so knocked out by the sleeperhold that his arm just flops out there once, twice, ALMOST three times but then he comes to and breaks his way out of the hold. Like he rallied his will to fight against natural laws like “cutting off the carotid artery flow will knock you out” – the Hulkster wants to win so bad that he can overcome nature.

      I think this ‘wanting to win’ in great wrestlers is the same thing that makes great baseball players great. Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Don Mattingly. They would never give in to a sleeper hold, they would always find a way to fight out of it at 2.7 counts. That’s what it means to be a Yankee. Do we have any players who are willing and able to rally against the sleeper hold of their current disadvantageous record and scads of injuries and shitty bullpen and shitty starters and shitty hitters? No. I do not think we do it. And I think we can blame that lack of Hogan-esque will on Hank Steinbrenner and Joe Girardi and Hal Steinbrenner, and Brian Cashman. Because of $189m or the lack of a farm or the binder or whatever, we don’t have players with will to win, the true Yankees. We just have Eduardo Nunez, Brendan Ryan, and Mark Reynolds platooning 3B-2B between them, when Reynolds isn’t busy platooning 1B with recycling from Red Sox training camp.

  9. The Real Greg says:

    O’s win 5-3.

  10. forensic says:

    the “send the starter back out, then lift him after he allows the leadoff man to reach base” move, a personal fave

    It made it especially good because they went and fist-bumped him too, to make him probably think he was done, then send him back out vs. the righty, then take him out vs. the lefty. Well done, Gibbons. Also thanks for the free out with the bunt. That helped a lot.

    Rivera had two one with no outs in a one-run game and didn’t allow the runners to advance another base. Pretty awesome. Vintage Mo, even.

    Well, they actually did both advance a base on the groundout.

    Wouldn’t it have made more sense to bring in Huff earlier in the inning to face the lefty hitting Lind and Rasmus?

    Completely agree. Didn’t seem to make much sense how he did it.

    • I'm One says:

      Vintage Mo, even

      And Vintage Mo wouldn’t have let 2 men on without recording an out in the first place. But yeah, it was still great.

  11. The Real Greg says:

    So as it stands:

    Cleveland- 82-70
    Baltimore- 81-70
    NY Yankees- 80-72
    Kansas City- 80-72

  12. Pat D says:

    Fucking piece of shit worthless scum-sucking motherfucking Red Sox!!!

  13. vicki says:

    i wonder who called for the 3-5 to foil the bunt in the ninth. thing of beauty.

    and why don’t teams excute it more often?

    • MB923 says:

      Not sure why everyone is pissed the Rays won. We play the Rays 3 more games. We have no control over what Texas does.

      Let’s say Texas and the Yankees win every game here on out (not happening, but I”m just saying it to explain my point). Texas is a WC team. Let’s say the Yankees win here on out, the Yankees are a WC and Tampa is not because that would mean Tampa lost at least 3 games to the Yankees.

      Surely there is still Balt, KC and Clev to look at, but the only contender we play is Tampa.

      • No disrespect (no, really), but I don’t need to read the rest of that to give you my reason for why I’m pissed.

        The Yankees are 3.5 behind the Rays. They only have three games with the Rays left.

        I’d rather be inside that three game boundary, from which the Yankees’ control their fate, than outside it at all costs. I want a split in this series, and I found that far more likely if Texas won tonight than if Tampa won tonight.

        I expect a Rays victory tomorrow, which means the Yankees would remain 3.5 behind the Rays. And, yes, I know there are two wild card spots. I also know (as do the rest of you) that the Yankees hold no control over how any of those other wild card chasers fare the rest of the way, so you’re hoping for W’s and other teams to do the Yankees’ dirty business; dirty business that wouldn’t be necessary if the Yankees hadn’t wasted so many chances as it is already.

  14. MB923 says:

    Rays win!

  15. By the way, let that be a reminder once again why sacrifice bunts suck.

    Rangers torpedoed their inning with a sac bunt. Craig Gentry was actually showing bunt in a 3-1 count.

    NEWSFLASH: Bunts suck. Bunts are no good. Bunts help pitchers out. STOP BUNTING!

  16. HateMclouth (formerly I'mVernon) says:

    That first paragraph…haha. I knew you’d say something along those lines, Mike. Probably would have done the same. Nice win, lets keep it going.

  17. jjyank says:

    Nice win! I was sadly at work for all of it, but it sure was nice to come home and watch highlights of a 4-3 victory when the last chance I had to check my phone for the score was when they were losing 3-0 in the 7th. Hopefully they can build on this. We ain’t dead yet.

  18. Stratman9652 says:

    I’m torn. I want the Yankees to make the playoffs. On the other hand, I want them to be mathematically eliminated from making it to the playoffs a few games before the end of the season just so Mo can convince Girardi to let him play CF.

  19. Cool Lester Smooth says:

    About damn time.

  20. Greedy Bastards says:

    The optimism here is really cute. “Not dead yet:.” Heh. This team has been the Walking Dead all season. Hell, it started last year. The Zombie Yankees.

  21. your mom says:

    Troll much? heh heh

  22. Mick taylor says:

    Why would you complaign about overbay pinch hitting for no defense/ offense Nunez? If overbay is not in game in 9 th, the bunt is problably sucessful

  23. Long-Past-His-Day-Rod says:

    I supported re-signing Ichiro in the offseason (although I didn’t see why the 2nd year was necessary) thinking he would still hit acceptably and I have obviously been wrong about that. But it bothers me to no end when he does reach base and, no matter how many outs or who is at the plate, infallibly stays glued to first base. If he’s not going to use his legs, he really is almost completely useless (although still below Stewart on my shit list).

    • Kenny Faust says:

      As Ichiro remained ‘glued’ to first base, the thought ran through my mind that something might be wrong with him. He has dropped off so dramatically in recent weeks, and just seemed very unlike him to not try and get to second. It does seem we are stuck with another dead salary for 2014.

  24. JLC 776 says:

    It worries me a bit that DRob wasn’t trusted with a man on. I’m not by any means saying Girardi made the wrong move, and maybe DRob is the guy who comes in to fix things like this next year, I’m just saying it gave me a small pang of worry.

    • Frank says:

      I hope D-Rob is not the closer next season. Yanks and fans will be freatly disappointed.

      • JLC 776 says:

        I get the feeling that we’ll either a) rent a closer for a year, or b) decide 2014 really is the start of the great rebuild and throw him out there as the closer for better or worse.

        He’s John Wettelend-esque in the propensity to create jams to work out of, but you can do much, much worse.

  25. mt says:

    This game is a microcosm of the season – yanks just do enought to tease you and do come through but margin of error is so thin.

    The ninth inning would be so different if that Kawasaki bunt did not go to Overbay – he was almost in batter’s box by the time he bunted.

    Also had no idea what was happening with that double stael by Wells and Reynolds. Ichiro not running was also crazy – I guess they preferred bunting him over (which Ryan could not do – another perosn who needs to execute things like bunts since he has limited offensive value.)

    Just a side note – Mark Reynolds is amazing in the sense that he can look so bad with his first couple of swings and still work out a walk during an AB. I do think we should consider him for next year as a back-up or Arod fill-in at a reasonable price – he has a lot of warts (strikeouts, below average 3B defense) but he does offer some things (power, patience, plate patience, plays a good 1B – are we sure Teix will be completely healthy?). We have so many holes to fill on team and need to trade players or spend major free agency dollars I hope we could fill one spot t a reasonable cost to fill a role that could expand (given we do not know final length of Arod suspension).

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