Last weekend I saw my alma mater University of Maryland lose two in a row to University of Virginia in the NCAA Super Regionals – both losses came in heartbreaking bullpen blown saves. All I could really tell myself was “that’s baseball.” The game can make you happy and it can make you incredibly disappointed. A lot of us have learned to deal with it, hopefully.
And that was what I uttered myself in top of 11th when Nationals took a 5-4 lead on Wednesday. Yankees had a 4-2 lead going into the top of the 8th. It seemed like another victory for New York, but alas, things don’t always work out ideally. Washington tied it in that inning, the game went to extras and New York fell on the short side of the stick. The seven-game winning streak has been snapped and the fans can now look forward to the Yankee starting another one. On the plus side, Eovaldi pitched one of the better starts of the season and, well, A-Rod had a hit so that’s eight away from number 3,000.
It’s pretty fun looking at the radar gun reading while Nathan Eovaldi is pitching on a warm day. 96! 97! 98! Velocity isn’t everything in pitching but it certainly helps.
In the third inning, after getting two outs, Eovaldi surrendered two consecutive doubles to allow a run. The second double to Denard Span was annoying – it was down the third base line and just inside the bad, but because Chase Headley was situated a little close to shortstop, the grounder went towards the left field corner and the Nationals took a 1-0 lead.
In the fifth, Danny Espinosa jumped on a first-pitch hanging curveball to drive it out of the park. Boy, that was crushed. Looks like Eovaldi threw it to get ahead of the count and setup other pitches – but it didn’t fool the Nats infielder. 2-0 Nationals.
Besides from that, Eovaldi was pretty solid. He pitched seven innings, allowed eight hits and three earned runs, a walk and struck out four. His ERA shaved down just a bit to 4.13 and FIP is at 4.07 – pretty nice no. 4 starter numbers.
Bottom of seventh, again
As Drake would rap, things went from 0 to 100 real quick this inning. Yankees looked hapless against Gio Gonzalez for the first six innings. In the bottom of sixth, New York had two runners on but failed to score.
In the next inning however, Yankees were luckier. Chris Young led off with single. Gonzalez retired Jose Pirela on a flyout to Bryce Harper. Up came Brendan Ryan. On his third plate appearance of the season, Ryan hit a big fly to center field that just got out of Denard Span’s reach for an RBI triple. 2-1 Yankees. How’s that for a comeback game?
Nationals went to the bullpen and brought up LHP Felipe Rivero. Brett Gardner hit a double just out first baseman’s reach to tie the game at 2-2. Two batters later, with RHP Aaron Barrett on mound, A-Rod hit his 2,992nd career hit for an RBI double to center to give the Yanks lead. Barrett then hit Mark Teixeira and allowed an RBI single to Brian McCann. 4-2 Yankees. New York has been quite deadly with a lead going into the late innings but today’s storyline turned … a bit darker.
Baby’s first blown save
In the eighth inning, Jacob Lindgren came in relief of Eovaldi and faced Harper. That, by the way, was the first time ever Harper faced a pitcher younger than him. Lindgren, who was drafted just last year, was born 8 months after the Nats outfielder. Lindgren won the matchup by getting Harper to fly out to left, so that’s that.
Now, Lindgren is a young guy and he’s gonna see some growing pains being in ML roster- that’s pretty much what happened today. With two outs, a runner on and with a 1-2 count, Lindgren left a fastball up high the zone and Michael Taylor didn’t miss it – he drove it over the right field fence for a two-run homer. 4-4 game.
Giving up the lead and the game
A lot of us collectively held our breath when Chris Capuano came in for relief in the tenth and faced Harper as the first batter. The lefty somehow got Harper out on a grounder to first and two other batters – Ian Desmond and Taylor – grounded out as well. Not bad.
In the 11th, Capuano allowed a single to Tyler Moore to begin the inning. It was not a horribly-placed pitch – a changeup that was veering towards the outside the strike zone. Moore did a good job reaching and lining it to left field. Jose Lobaton hit a sac bunt to advance Moore to second and Espinosa grounded out to Capuano to move the runner to third.
Next batter, Denard Span, is always a threat with bat. He’s got a pretty good contact skills with leadoff hitter speed. With two outs and runner on third, Span hit a breaking ball for a chopper up the middle that Stephen Drew fielded and could not get the runner at first. Moore scored from third. 5-4 Nats. It was a really tough play for Drew to execute and as soon as it bounced over Capuano’s head, I didn’t think Yanks would have a chance to go to the next inning all tied up.
In the bottom 10th, with one out, Didi Gregorius took off from first on a 3-2 count on a hit-and-run move. Carlos Beltran struck out and it seemed like Lobaton threw Didi out at second … but maybe not? Didi signaled the dugout immediately for replay. The broadcast replay (and the broadcasters) made us pretty sure that Didi was safe – it seemed like he got around the initial tag attempt towards his shoulder and his hand got on the bag. But, for whatever reason, the umpires did not change the call. I guess it wasn’t conclusive enough for them to overturn it.
How about Brendan Ryan? Not a lot of people were fans of sending down Ramon Flores for the shortstop but boy, he did what he could do today. He hit the first Yankee hit of the afternoon, he got the offense going in the bottom seventh with an RBI triple and he made some really, really slick plays. Didi’s been showing off defensive prowess lately but Ryan’s glove is still there.
I was going to write a little section about today’s bullpen usage but turns out that Andrew Miller was placed in the disabled list for strained forearm muscle. Ugh. Also, it would have been pretty nice to get Dellin Betances to guarantee a non-loss but then again, he leads the American League in appearances (29) and pitched in three of the past five games. I really don’t want to defend not using him but Capuano was a better-placed chopper in the 11th inning away from getting out of the trouble. Sometimes a skipper’s gotta show faith in other arms in bullpen and that’s what he did – sometimes, it just doesn’t work out.
Box score, highlights, standings, WPA
Yankees get a day off tomorrow. They will face another team in the mid-Atlantic region – the Baltimore Orioles. On Friday night, Michael Pineda will take a mound in the Camden Yards against Ubaldo Jimenez. Here’s to starting another lengthy winning streak.