Sunday, August 7, 2016

Recap: What A Historical Week In Yankee Baseball

This definitely has to be one of the most memorable weeks in the history of the New York Yankees storied franchise. A week that saw the trades of Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran, Ivan Nova and the shocking announcement that Mark Teixeira would retire at season's end was capped off by the 11:00 AM announcement that Alex Rodriguez's last game in pinstripes will be this Friday against the Tampa Bay Rays, at which point the controversial superstar will be released from his player contract and continue as a special adviser to principal owner Hal Steinbrenner through December 31st of 2017. Friday will mark the end of a 22 year major league career for A-Rod. A career filled with unbelievable personal achievements, cheating scandals, a record suspension and a 2009 world championship that would not have been possible without his many contributions. I just can't believe that starting next year, we will have a Yankees/Red Sox rivalry that will not include Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz or Mark Teixeira for the first time in 14 seasons. Absolutely crazy when you say it out loud.

But as Ken Singleton said in the broadcast this afternoon, "baseball moves on", and it did today as the Yankees defeated the Cleveland Indians in the rubber game of the three-game set to lock down there second series victory over the Tribe this season. Masahiro Tanaka took the ball for New York and was very strong today, improving to 8-4 while lowering his ERA to 3.32 as he shut down a very talented Indians offense. Carlos Carasco was tasked with the start this afternoon, hoping to win the game in the series for Cleveland, but did not receive enough run support and a losing effort that saw his season record fall to 7-6.

One of A-Rod's few remaining '09 Championship teammates Brett Gardner made a statement by ripping Carasco's first pitch of the game for a triple, scoring on a Jacoby Ellsbury sac fly to give New York a first inning one run advantage.

The A-Rod announcement continued to be on the minds of Yankee players, especially Jacoby  Ellsbury. In the bottom of the third after leading off the frame with a single, Ellsbury was inexplicably doubled off at first on a Mark Teixeira pop out to third. Yankee fans, commentators and teammates alike were universally dumbfounded at the typically heady baserunner's absolutely blunderous mental error. I thought, "Where the hell was he going? He HAD to be thinking about the A-Rod decision." At least, that's all I could muster after seeing something I have never ever seen happen in a Major League Baseball game.

Didi Gregorius extended the Yanks lead to two when he launched his career best 13th homer of the season over the wall in right in the bottom of the fourth inning. Of course, every longball the shortstop hits from here on out will be a new career high, as he had never hit more than 11 in any other season.

Another Yankee that has helped to make this one of the most memorable weeks in team history Mark Teixeira padded the Yankee lead in the bottom of the fifth. With two outs, Ellsbury walked and scored from first when Teixeira ripped a double to left that opened it up to a 3-0 Bomber ballgame.

The Indians didn't manage to put up a run on Tanaka until the top of the seventh, as the Yankee ace had one of his best outings of the season. Rajai Davis lead off the seventh with a double that prompted manager Joe Girardi to take Tanaka out for Adam Warren. After getting Tyler Naquin to fly out to left, Warren served up a single to catch her Carlos Perez that scored Davis and pulled the Indians to within two. Tanaka was charged for the Davis run and finished out the day with a fantastic final line of six innings pitched, allowing one run on six hits while striking out eight with no walks.

More Yankee miscues, this time of the throwing variety, led to the Indians scoring another run as they tried to claw their way back into the game. After Mike Napoli struck out to start the eighth, and was consequently ejected for arguing balls and strikes, Yankee reliever Tyler Clippard walked Jose Ramirez, who took third on a steal of second and a throwing error by catcher Austin Romine after Lonnie Chisenhall struck out. Clippard was then lifted for the closer Delin Betances, who immediately walked Rajai Davis. As Davis attempted to steal second, Betances threw a wild pitch to Tyler Naquin that made it to the backstop and scored Ramirez as a result, pulling the tribe back to within one.

Fortunately, however, the closer would settle down and get Naquin to strike out to end the eighth, and then shut the door on the Indians in the ninth to preserve the Yankee series victory. The win caps off a week that saw the Pinstripers go 4-3, a microcosmic example of what the entire 2016 season has been, which ultimately led to all of the historic events that took place this past week.

New York has the day off tomorrow as they travel to Boston as they prepare for their three-game series at Fenway Park with the rival Red Sox. Tuesday nights first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM/EST.

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