Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Curious Case of Run-Scoring Aversion...

Credit:  Julie Jacobson-AP
Tigers 2, Yankees 0...


Wouldn’t you know it…Getaway Day with a plane waiting on the tarmac for a flight to Ohio and a lengthy rain delay to extend the wait to depart the Stadium.  I guess on the bright side, the Cleveland Indians had to wait for night game to be called because of rain in Boston before they could head home so both teams should be equally sleep-derived today when Sonny Gray makes his much anticipated debut for the Yankees.  

Credit:  Julie Jacobson-AP
With rain delays of over 4 1/2 hours, the end of the day was painful as the Yankees, behind a very lackluster offensive-performance (yes, it was very offensive), fell to the Tigers.  It was only their second shut out of the season.  

The game, originally scheduled to start at 2:30 pm Eastern, was delayed by rain.  

Fresh off the 14-strikeout performance, Masahiro Tanaka did not have quite the same pitches on Wednesday.  It was yet another game where the Yankees started off with a first inning deficit.  Ian Kinsler led off with a single to left, and advanced to second when Jim Adduci singled to center.  Before most fans could even get a sip of their first beer, Justin Upton doubled down the left field line, scoring Kinsler with the game’s first run.  From there, Tanaka settled down retiring the next three batters (two by strikeout).


Credit:  Elsa-Getty Images
Like Tuesday, the Yankees continued to struggle with runners in scoring position.  They had their first scoring opportunity in the bottom of the 2nd when Gary Sanchez was hit by a pitch to reach first base. Chase Headley lined a double to right to move Sanchez to third.  Todd Frazier was the suspect this time, with a fly out to end the inning.

A second great scoring opportunity presented itself in the bottom of the 3rd.  Both Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury hit one-out singles, with Gardner moving to third.  Aaron Judge had first crack at bringing one or both runners home but he struck out.  Ellsbury stole second during the at-bat to move into scoring position, representing the potential tying run.  Unfortunately, Gary Sanchez grounded out to end the threat.

The Tigers picked up their second run in the top of the 4th.  With two outs, Mikie Mahtook walked.  James McCann followed with a single to center which Jacoby Ellsbury mishandled (twice) for an error, allowing Mahtook to score from first.  McCann ended up on second but was left stranded when Andrew Romine (man, I wanted to type Austin) flied out to left.

Credit:  Julie Jacobson-AP
The bottom of the 6th brought another failed scoring opportunity for the home team.  Aaron Judge opened with a single to left.  Gary Sanchez doubled to left as Judge moved to third.  Runners in scoring position with no outs.  Didi Gregorius popped out to the shortstop.  Matt Holliday hit a fly ball to center but it wasn’t deep enough for Judge to tag and score.  One more opportunity with Chase Headley, but he went down swinging.  More men left 90 feet away, suffering severe cases of "home" sickness.


Six innings and Masahiro Tanaka was done.  After the wobbly start, his final line was decent.  6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO.  Also, he was successful in bringing his season ERA below five to 4.93.  Tommy Kahnle pitched a three-up, three-down 7th, however, the Yankees hit into three consecutive ground outs in the bottom of the inning.  Then, the second rain delay…


Credit:  Michael Noble Jr-AP
After the game resumed in the top of the 8th, Dellin Betances pitched an immaculate inning.  He struck out three Tigers on 9 pitches.  


Credit:  Elsa-Getty Images
In the bottom of the inning, Jacoby Ellsbury tried.  On a pitch that would have been Ball 4, Ellsbury hit a grounder to short but was able to beat it out.  A wild pitch from reliever Bruce Rondon that catcher James McCann was unable to handle allowed Ells to move to second.  Like the previous Yankees in scoring position for this game, he was left stranded when Rondon retired the next 3 batters.

Shane Greene, the newly appointed Tigers closer following the trading deadline deal that sent Justin Wilson to the Chicago Cubs, took the mound in the 9th and easily retired the Yankees for the 2-0 win.  A disappointing way to leave the Stadium for the road trip to Cleveland.

The Yankees (57-49) fell a game behind the Red Sox with the loss.  Boston's game with the Cleveland Indians was rained out and will be made up on Monday, August 14th (after the Red Sox complete a three-game series at Yankee Stadium).  The Tampa Bay Rays moved 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees with their 3-0 victory over the Houston Astros.  The Baltimore Orioles keep winning.  They won their fifth in a row, a 6-0 shutout of Kansas City Royals, and have moved 4 1/2 games behind the Yankees.  The Rays and Orioles defeat two of the best teams in the AL while the Yankees lose a series to one of its worst.  

Masahiro Tanaka (8-10) took the tough luck loss.  I am very concerned about Matt Holliday.  He has been a shell of his former self since returning from his viral infection.  His bat is hurting this offense.  Same with Todd Frazier.  Both hitters were hitless in four at-bats.  As a team, the Yankees left 20 men on base.  It's very hard to win this game when you can't push runs across the plate.


Credit:  Elsa-Getty Images
Next Up:  Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field, Cleveland, OH...

The Yankees are set to play a four-game series in Cleveland against the defending American League Champions.  The Tribe are returning from a road trip that just ended in Boston against the hated Red Sox.  

The scheduled pitching match-ups are:

TODAY
Yankees:  Sonny Gray (6-5, 3.43 ERA)
Indians:  Corey Kluber (8-3, 2.90 ERA)

FRIDAY
Yankees:  Jaime Garcia (5-7, 4.29 ERA)
Indians:  Trevor Bauer (9-8, 5.25 ERA)

SATURDAY
Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (7-6, 4.15 ERA)
Indians:  Danny Salazar (4-5, 4.63 ERA)

SUNDAY
Yankees:  Luis Severino (8-4, 2.98 ERA)
Indians:  Mike Clevinger (5-4, 3.68 ERA)

Today's game starts off with a marquee pairing.  Luis Severino may be the staff ace, but Sonny Gray is the shiny new toy going against one of the AL's best in Corey Kluber.  It should be a fantastic game.  I just wish the Yankee bats were swinging a little better.


Credit:  Kathy Willens-AP
It's reunion time for Clint Frazier who makes his first trip to Cleveland as a Yankee.  Although he never played at the Major League level, it's still the organization he began his professional career.  He was Cleveland's top prospect along with outfielder Bradley Zimmer and the two are close friends.  Zimmer was called up earlier this season by the Indians and is hitting .282 with 8 home runs and 37 RBI's in 67 games.  I hope Frazier plays as well against the Indians as former Yankee Ben Gamel did against the Yankees a couple of weeks ago.


Credit:  Mark Podolski-The Times-Herald
Odds & Ends...

The Yankees will miss old friend Andrew Miller on their trip to Cleveland.  The Indians placed the versatile lefty on the 10-Day DL yesterday with right knee patella tendinitis. Another former Yankee, Boone Logan, is also on the DL for the Tribe.  Logan is most likely good buddies with Tommy Kahnle since they spent a few years together in the Colorado Rockies bullpen.  Good that we won't have to face Miller, but bad for the player.  All things considered, I'd prefer to see a happy and healthy Andrew Miller regardless of what uniform he currently wears.


Credit:  Getty Images
Have a great Thursday!  Let's hope for better things in C-Town as Sonny Gray takes the field for the first time as a friend...not a foe.  Go Yankees!

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