Wednesday, September 11, 2013

From the Eye of the Hawk

               Despite the official loss of Derek Jeter for 2013, a new set of aches and pains for other players, and a most humbling trashing at home by the Boston Red Sox last weekend that seemed to crush any postseason hopes for the Yankees, there's now only 1 game that separates the Bombers from that final Wild Card spot. Every time the Yankees are left for dead, they pull the fans right back into it!!


               After the Yankees gained some momentum by having a great start to their homestand which included 2 out of 3 against the pesky Orioles and a revenge clean 3-game sweep against the Chicago White Sox, the other Sox, from Boston, came into town and thoroughly pounded Yankee pitching and left the team busted up and down for the count. Had it not been for a wild pitch to end the 4th game between the Yankees and Red Sox, the Yanks would've been swept themselves. The frustrating part for the Yankees was that their bats also put the hurting on Boston's pitching, but the main strength of the Yankees all season long that's kept them float, their bullpen, picked the worst week to stink and feel soreness. Robertson, Kelley, and Boone Logan complained of pain afterwards and needed to be shut down for a few days, and even the great Mariano Rivera blew two of the save opportunities to Boston. Luckily for Rivera, the wild pitch to end the last game in the Yankees' favor gave him the win. Instead of only having Tampa ahead of them in the Wild Card standings, the painful losses to Boston also allowed Cleveland, Kansas City, and Baltimore to get in their way. The only good news was the Yankees headed to Camden Yards to play one of the teams blocking their Wild Card view, the Baltimore Orioles.


              The opening night of the 4-game set had a bizarre start between the early innings when Yankee Manager Joe Girardi used his hawk skills to spot the Orioles third base coach stealing signs from the catcher and starting yelling at him from the dugout. Snivelling Orioles Manager Buck Showalter took exception to Giardi yelling at his coach and the two managers had a heated exchange as tobacco juice flowed from Buck's mouth. The Yanks would go on to lose the first game, but not without showing some of the 'comeback' ability they displayed in the disastrous Red Sox series. The game ended 4-2, but with the tying run on base and Curtis Granderson sending a deep fly that Adam Jones caught on the warning track. The next night the Yanks found themselves in a 4-1 hole later in the game, and with any-any-any hopes of a postseason run just about gone, then the Yanks struck back with 2 homers from Soriano and Reynolds to make it 4-3 O's. Then in the 8th, Alex Rodriguez began a rally with a lead-off double, followed by a Cano hit, another Soriano homer, and later a Reynolds RBI double to make it 7-4 Yankees, and the Yanks would win 7-5. Then the following game, same story, Andy Pettitte grinding through his start and losing 3-1, but homers from Granderson and A-Rod make it 3-3. Then in the top of the 9th Cano homers and Overbay adds and RBI single and the Yanks go on to win that game 5-4. The beauty of it all was that during the two victories, Tampa, Cleveland, and of course Baltimore had losses that put the Yankees above them and amazingly only 1 game out of a postseason spot with 16 more games to go (including 3 verses Tampa).


              Amongst that joy there was the official announcement that Derek Jeter wasn't getting healthy and needed to go back on the 15-Day DL, which ends his 2013 campaign.....that never really started in to begin with. Jeter commented that perhaps in his rush to get back onto the field he hurt himself in the long run. A day before the news broke, GM Brian Cashman traded for Seattle shortstop Brendan Ryan - who's not known for his bat, but can sure play the position. The pickup is also a sign the Yankee front office isn't too happy with Nunez's defense lately, one fielding miscue of which opened the door to the big rally the Red Sox put on Phil Hughes to comeback to win that game from the Yanks. Overall Nunez's defense is much improved from last season and he has played the position well beyond expectations, but at this point of the season with 16 games left there's no room for defensive miscues - no matter what potential Nunez has in his bat and legs.

Brendan Ryan (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images)

78-68 (3rd Place AL East - 10.5 games back of 1st Place Boston Red Sox and 1 game back of Second AL Wild Card spot holder Tampa Bay Rays with 2.5 games behind First AL Wild Card spot holder Texas Rangers).

- Alfonso Soriano continues to tear the cover off the ball and has to be considered the best Yankee one-sided trade ever.
- Alex Rodriguez isn't hitting as many homers as Soriano, but he's swinging the bat great and has been a huge part of the Yankees' late August into September resurgence.
- Robinson Cano reached 100 RBIs with not having much offensive talent around him for most of the season.

Foul Tips:
- Ivan Nova has been struggling with a tight tricep muscle and he was the Yanks best starter since early August when Kuroda showed signs of dead arm.
- Key pieces to the bullpen; David Robertson, Shawn Kelley, and Boone Logan has soreness and tendinitis issues. Although Kelley and Robertson eventually returned, its a scary thought if those two can't be relied upon and Joba has to come into important games.
- With no return of Mariano Rivera for 2014, Girardi has been calling upon Mo for more than 3-out saves and the increased workload on the 43 year-old pitcher might prove costly.
- Girardi admitted that Andy Pettitte is a 85-95 pitch pitcher at this point of his career, and if somehow the Yankees do make the postseason, how are they going to get more than 5 innings against top-level lineups?
- David Huff showed promise as a long reliver, but in his first start for the Yankees he got punished by the Red Sox and he flip-flopped back into the pen with Phil Hughes.

- Derek Jeter was shutdown for 2013. At this point he can only serve the Yankees as a cheerleader.
- Both Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain use whatever mound time they get to irk Yankee fans even further with their 0-2 counts that end up being walks.


              The last Boston beating certainly took away any hope the Yanks had with getting the AL East crown, but with their beating the Rays they've been the Yankees' best friend this week. The Yanks get another crack at Boston in Fenway and they'll be looking to avenge those brutal losses in New York, the Yanks just have to hope Boston decides to start resting some guys for the postseason.


              Whether it takes a 4-out save from Mariano or Alex Rodriguez homering with a tweaked hammy, the Yanks are going at these final 16 games hard on fumes -which gives great credence for Girardi being voted Manager of the Year.


              It's all in the Yankees hands to win it.....