Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Pedro's Tweet About Tanaka's Tendonitis Shows He's Just A Creep, Not An Expert

By Barry Millman

I'm not a doctor, but I know the wrist and forearm aren't parts of the elbow and that neither is connected in any way to the ulnar collateral ligament. 

Pedro Martinez --   famous pitcher, baseball analyst and psychic doctor who predicted Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka would require Tommy John surgery before the season is over --  surely knows this.

So when it was announced Tuesday night that an MRI of  Tanaka's right arm revealed a slight strain of the forearm and tendinitis on the outside of the wrist but no change to the ligament, it was surprising to say the least when Martinez sent out a tweet that read: "Sorry for #Tanaka but I saw it coming. Too bad he had this setback. I wish him the best and a quick recovery."

Since it's obviously not a UCL injury, could he possibly have meant that he predicted  the forearm strain and tendinitis, which would certainly be evidence of world-class psychic powers in addition to his divinely endowed medical degree?

Alas, upon a careful re-listen to the recording of the Sirius/XM radio appearance in which he predicted Tanaka's season would end prematurely and require TJ, I can find no mention of wrists or forearms. 

After Pedro's extended rant - which he bizarrely described as "brave" on his part -- it's not hard to imagine how silly he must have felt watching Tanaka win his last two starts in commanding fashion; surrendering a combined one run, two walks and five hits while striking out 14. 

So in the absence of any credible connection between Tanaka's tendonitis and his UCL or any prior mention of tendonitis or strains, Pedro's tweet can only be logically explained as the work of a creepy attention whore who's desperate to take credit for predicting any misfortune at all that befalls the Yankee pitcher.

Since Pedro relishes predicting the worst for people so much, I've got one for him. 

I predict Pedro will be sitting at home watching an entire season of baseball from his couch before Tanaka.

You can trust me.  I'm not a doctor. 

Just like Pedro.

Monday, April 27, 2015

10 Cool Things You Should Know Before Watching Tonight's Yankees-Rays Game

By Barry Millman

* Alex Rodriguez and Stephen Drew are 1-for-2 and 1-for-1 lifetime, respectively, against Rays starter Nate Karns. 

(Both hits were home runs.)

*The Yankees are 8-2 since April 17th,  their best streak over a 10-game span since going 8-2 from July 12-25, 2014.

*If the Yankees win tonight, the 9-2 stretch would be their best since August 11-22, 2013.

*They've started each one of their last four seasons with an 11-8 record.

*Tonight marks the Yankees’ eighth straight game against a team with at least a share of first place in their respective division. and they're 5-2 so far over that span. Elias Sports Bureau says the last time the team faced such an eight-game stretch was June 9-16, 2011 and the team went  6-2.

*The Yankees went 7-3 on their recent 10-game road trip, making it their best such trip since going 7-3 from August 13-23, 2009.

*With Teixeira (8HR),  Rodriguez (5HR), Drew. (4HR) and Young (4HR), the Yankees have joined the Blue Jays as the only other team in MLB  to have four players who have hit at least four home runs.

*The Yankees are 10-3 when scoring four-or-more runs and 10-2 when allowing four-or-fewer runs. 

*The Yankees are 8-1 when scoring first and 3-7 when their opponent scores first.

*Yankees pitchers have an MLB-best 3.4 Wins Above Replacement this season, according to FanGraphs.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Boom! One-Time Workhorse CC Sabathia Now A Pack Mule Loaded With Dynamite

By Barry Millman

The Yankees' struggling backend rotation innings-eater CC Sabathia facing the MLB-best Mets' ace Matt Harvey?

Yeah, this game had danger stamped on it when the matchup was announced, no matter how hopeful you might've been after CC's eight-inning start against Detroit last Monday.

But even the biggest homers among us weren't fooled by that game. That outing was jam-packed  with hard-hit balls and laser shots, and only defensive gems aplenty and some luck kept that CC start from resembling this one.

About the best thing you could say about his Detroit start was that -- with more than a little help from his friends behind him in the field -- he managed to perform  his primary job description this season for the first time, which is to go deep into a game, save the pen  and give the team a chance to win. 

But his margin for error is tiny and when he can't locate or keep the ball down, his stuff arrives at the plate like the Hindenburg docking at Lakehurst.

I have no desire or stomach today to relive either CC's Detroit game or his Mets game here with blow-by-blow descriptions. The changeup he appeared to show glimmers of commanding in Detroit was nowhere to be seen in the Mets game -- except flying through the air in the opposite direction from which it was thrown.

Instead I'll just make two observations.

The first is that his final line yesterday against the Mets of 5 IP 7 ER 9H 2K 3 HR was remarkably similar to that of  Jacob deGrom, the Met's reigning NL Rookie of the Year and losing pitcher the night before, who left a line of  5IP 6ER 8H 2K 3HR.

The difference is deGrom's game was an aberration. He came into it riding a streak of 18 scoreless innings and an ERA of 0.93 after three starts, and even after such a shelling his ERA is still an impressive 2.96. 

CC's meltdown put his ERA at 5.96 -- not far off at all from his pre-Detroit 5.68 ERA.

In other words, to put it bluntly, last night's 7-run CC is the real CC. The eight-inning 2-run Detroit CC  is a mirage.

My second observation is that when I looked at some quick glance numbers comparing MLB starting pitchers, it confirmed my suspicions that the real CC isn't going to last long in this rotation if he doesn't become a different CC quickly.

Among 78 starting pitchers in MLB with at least 20 innings through last night, CC ranks:

* 76th in hits allowed: 31

* 74th in batting average against: .313

* 72nd in ERA: 5.96

* 66th in OPS: against: .814

* 61st in groundball to flyball ratio: 1.23

* 55th  in WHIP: 1.36

If he was any other pitcher at any other salary -- on this team or any other --  how long do you think he'd last?

I've always loved CC. When he had his fastball he was dominant, and even as he gradually lost it he remained a workhorse who would battle and fight to keep the team in games.

But  now he's neither dominant nor a workhorse,  and if manager Joe Girardi keeps leaving him in to be shelled when he's clearly lost his command instead of pulling him like he does when it happens to the likes of Adam Warren, then he's just a $23 million pack mule loaded with dynamite likely to detonate every game he starts. 

There's hope on the horizon though. Ivan Nova's coming back soon and there's some hot young arms tearing it up down on the farm, which means CC won't be absolutely essential to the rotation before very long. 

If pitching coach  Larry Rothschild can't help him turn it around by then, the front office can conjure up some  mysterious post-operative complication that will send him to the disabled list followed by some extended rehab time in the minors.

Maybe there,  CC can finally find the workhorse he rode in on.

You can email Barry Millman at nyyankeefanforever@ymail.com and follow him on Twitter @nyyankeefanforever.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Meet The Mets! Beat The Mets!
Tex, Big Mike And The Yankees
Treat The Mets To A Bronx Beatdown!

By Barry Millman

Playing the best teams in baseball sure brings out the best in the Bronx Bombers lately.

One day after topping off  a successful road trip by taking three of four games from a Detroit Tigers team brandishing the best record in baseball, the Yankees opened a three-game home series Friday against the NY Mets, who came rolling across the East River on an 11-game winning streak accompanied by a small but vocal fan contigent and a won-loss record indicating they were the new best team in the game.

Then the game started.

At the end of the first inning, Yankees starter Michael Pineda, who brings more swag and tude to the mound with every start,  already had two strikeouts and the Yankees were up 2-0 on Mark Teixeira's sixth home run of the season with Brett Gardner aboard.

Chants of "Let's Go Mets" that had been echoing down from the pumpkin patch of orange shirts occupying several sections of the upper deck in left field evaporated into the chilly night air.

At the end of  three,  Pineda had four strikeouts and the Yankees were up 6-0 on Jacoby Ellsbury's first home run of the season; Tex's seventh home run with ARod aboard; and a sacrifice fly by Stephen Drew that scored Brian McCann. 

By the end of the sixth when the Mets finally scored their only run on a sac fly,  the patch was bare and the pumpkins were rolling toward the exits. 

Pineda left to a standing ovation after 7.2 innings and his 100th pitch -- 78 of them strikes, 21 of them knee-buckling changeups he used to devastating effect in concert with his exquisitely located fastball   -- having struck out seven Mets, walking none and scattering five hits.

Reliever Chasen Shreve, who took the ball from Pineda,  left without allowing a baserunner for the remaining 1.1 innings.

Mets starter Jacob DeGrom, last year's NL Rookie of the Year who came into the game with a scoreless streak of 18.1 innings and an ERA of 0.93, left after just five innings with all six runs on his distinguished young resume along with a far more human ERA of 2.96.

The best team in baseball left the field with their winning streak in shreds but still clinging to the title with a 13-4 record.

And the Yankees -- who started the season 3-6 and were not expected to be the best at anything by anybody but a few homers like yours truly -- left the field sitting at 10-7 and tied for first place  with the second most productive offense in MLB and a pitching staff that hasn't allowed more than four runs in eight straight games.

Don't look now,  but the best team in baseball might actually be the one beating the best teams in baseball.

You can email Barry Millman at nyyankeefanforever@ymail.com and follow him on Twitter @nyyankeefanforever.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Tanaka Silences Tiger Bats And TJ Quacks While Ellsbury Steals The Win And Series

By Barry Millman

Masahiro Tanaka confounded critics of his decision to forego surgery on his torn UCL with another commanding performance and Jacoby Ellsbury stole two runs using his feet and guile to snatch a  series-clinching 2-1 comeback win from the Tigers on Thursday.

Tanaka allowed a run in the first on a sacrifice fly, but it would be the last. He retired 18 of the next 19 batters: scattering three hits, two walks and punching out six over 6.1 innings before handing the game to the bullpen. Justin Wilson, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller didn't allow a baserunner.

The Yankees own offensive futility -- 3-for-29; 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position; seven left on base -- kept Tanaka from earning the decision.   

Ellsbury scored the tying run in the sixth with two outs. Standing on third base, he watched Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez go into a full windup and feinted several steps toward home, flustering Sanchez who hesitated and stepped off the rubber before throwing to the plate.  A few moments later, third base ump Gerry Davis called the balk and waved Ellsbury in to score. 

He scored the eventual winning run by busting it out of the box in the eighth and turned what should've been a long single into a hustle double, putting him in a position for Brett Gardner to bunt him over to third and Brian McCann to drive him in with the go-ahead run.

Coming on the heels of Tanaka's scoreless seven-inning start against the Rays, Tanaka is now sitting pretty with a 3.22 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 24/7 K/BB ration over 22.1 innings.  

After two rusty starts to begin the season, amateur doctors disguised as national baseball writers and TV analysts -- and in at least two instances,  former Red Sox pitchers -- were giving lectures on the many reasons Tanaka can't possibly ever pitch effectively again without Tommy John surgery. 

No such lectures after this game.  Hopefully, they've filed them away with their lectures on how ARod can't possibly ever hit effectively again.

You can email Barry Millman at nyyankeefanforever@ymail.com and follow him on Twitter @nyyankeefanfore.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Run Support And A Winning Record?
Yankee Universe Is An Alternative Dimension To Ex-Marlin Nate Eovaldi

By Barry Millman

In the afterglow of the Yankees' 5-2 win over the Tigers, some might feel the need to temper the giddiness by mentioning the lineup's  woeful 1-for-11 with RISP.

Just don't do it around  winning pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, who followed CC Sanathia's gritty eight-inning two-run complete-game loss Monday  with an even grittier seven-inning one-run performance of his own.

To the 25-year-old fireballing former Miami Marlin, five runs are almost an embarrassment of riches. The last time he got that many in support of one of his starts was back on June 28, 2014 with the Marlins; an outing broke a streak of eighteen consecutive starts with two or fewer runs of support.

Heading into last night's game he had received zero runs in 10 of his last 19 starts. That comes out to 1.05 runs/9IP over that span. His career run support average of 2.77 since 2011 is the second worst among pitchers with at least 75 starts,  topped (bottomed?) only by Ryan Vogelsong's 2.70.

Last season with Miami --  where he has said the only coaching he ever got was being told to just grip it, rip it and throw strikes --  he went 3-8 with a 4.06 ERA (95.1IP, 43ER) in 16 road starts while shackled to an agonizing 1.98/9IP run support average; the lowest for any pitcher in baseball. 

Yet, after three starts in pinstripes, he's sporting a 1-0 record with a 5.00 run/9IP run support average coming off  a road win for a team that has worked closely with him to hone his delivery and develop his secondary pitches.

Surely, Eovaldi must feel like he woke up this morning in an alternative dimension. But no, it's just Yankee Universe where every time he pitches he makes more fans forgive and forget he was traded for Martin Prado last winter.

Congratulations on your first win in pinstripes, Big Nate.  May the runs always be with you.

You can email Barry Millman at nyyankeefanforever@ymail.com and follow him on Twitter @nyyankeefanfore.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

All The Yankees Played The Tigers Tough, So Quit Crying For CC And Tip Your Caps

By Barry Millman

If you're looking for another "Poor CC Deserved Better" sob story about last night's 2-1 loss against the Tigers, move along and take your pick from the dozens that were posted within minutes of that game's conclusion.

A last place team still struggling to find itself and making a game of it against the best team in baseball is a good enough narrative for me. There was much to like in this game to celebrate. So let's not get sidetracked by a phony soap opera script, shall we?

First, the reality check: Alfredo Simon outpitched CC and, with the exception of his one mistake pitch to Tex, wasn't hit anywhere near as hard as CC.  So if anyone deserved to win it was Simon. And if it hadn't been for the Flying Wallenda Brothers, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner, the Tigers likely would've scored something closer to the 5.68 ERA CC carried into the game.

The Yankees offense did manage to get just as many hits off Simon -- who came into the game carrying a 2.03 ERA -- and if not for some web gems by his defenders the game could've easily gone the other way, so it's tough to make a case against the offense in this one. Bottom line: CC was getting hit hard all night and the singles the two runs scored on were hard hit. If those ball weren't hit hard, those runs wouldn't have scored. Also, let it not be forgotten the big man's given back his share of fat leads in recent years and he bloody well can pull on his big boy pants and wear a one-run loss without losing any face. So stow the kleenex and let's talk about what really mattered in the game.

The best news of the night was if you wanted a legitimate yardstick to measure how far the team has come since that horrific first week when they looked like a bunch of strangers pulled from the bleachers to play together for the first time and you weren't sure the Rays sweep qualified, this was your game. And they've come come quite a distance,

CC Sabathia threw the first complete game by a Yankee pitcher this year in the loss, which means when he says he's throwing pain free he might actually mean it now. He commanded his changeup and was able to induce three double play groundballs with it; two by Miguel Cabrera. Brian McCann said the key was he was finally duplicating the same arm slot and release he uses for his fastball and was able to locate it. (Good thing.)

The defense once again didn't commit an error after leading the league with 11 in the first 10 days of the season and played so well at times they were coming out of their shoes; defying gravity and laws of physics in the outfield, turning three double plays in the infield and showing range this team hasn't seen in some time. (Very good thing.)

Didi Gregorious cracked the Mendoza line, If you think that doesn't matter, fully one third of the starting lineup is still hitting below it: Tex (.190), Beltran (.171) and Drew (.158). (Very very good.)

A pitching duel that saw both lineups get 7 hits ended with the more potent Tigers scoring just twice on two RBI singles. (CC keeping it in the yard is a very, very, very good thing.) 

The Yankees scored once on Mark Teixeira's fourth homer of the year, tying him with Alex Rodriguez for the team lead. (Not enough space here for all the verys required to describe how good it is for a healthy Tex to be hitting homers this early.)

A tough loss? Sure it was. But discovering the defense may finally be getting as good as advertised, and that the rotation's most inconsistent pitcher the last two seasons and designated innings-eater for this season may actually be getting the hang of the pitch that will allow him to eat innings? I'll take that swap.

You can email Barry Millman at nyyankeefanforever@ymail.com or follow him on Twitter @nyyankeefanfore.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

ARod's ABombs Detonate The Rays
And Plenty Of Predictions ... But Not Mine

Originally published 4/18/15

By Barry Millman
On a night when eight Yankee starters managed just two hits in 26 at-bats, Yankee fans counted their blessings and Rays fans cursed their luck #13 was the ninth.

Alex Rodriguez went 3-for-4, smashed two long home runs and drove in four runs including the game-winner on a clutch single with two outs in in the eighth inning to singlehandedly lead the Yankees to a 5-4 comeback win at Tropicana Field. 

The first home run, a 477-foot blast to left-centerfield, was the longest hit in MLB this season and the longest at the Trop since 2006 when a a 488-foot home run was hit there by -- drum roll please -- Alex Rodriguez.

The second home run gave Alex 658 career home runs and just two away from tying Willie Mays for fourth place on the all-time home run list.

He leads the Yankees with a .344 BA, four home runs, 11 RBI and 1.113 OPS.

As the Yankees slugger continues to confound all the so-called pundits who predicted he would embarrass himself or worse this season as a full-time designated hitter, it behooves me and Field Generals  to point out that,  per my article published March 26th prior to Opening Day, Alex is right on track to fulfill OUR expectations of matching the stellar numbers posted by Hideki "Godzilla" Matsui, the Yankees' last full-time DH, in 2009.

Alex's close proximity to Mays on the home run list has triggered major discussions in the media (finally!)  over the Yankees'  threats this winter to refuse to pay Alex a $6 million bonus they owe him for reaching the milestone  as part of a marketing deal they signed with him.  

Because most, if not all mainstream sports journalists thought Alex would not even make the club let alone reach the milestone, little thought or discussion was given this spring to the harsh stance taken by the club.

However, anticipating Alex's strong season in the article mentioned above, I analyzed the basis for the team's threat and found a huge hole in their argument, leading to another bit of deductive reason that was the subject of an article published by Field Generals prior to the season on March 14th predicting the Yankees will have no choice but to pay Alex his bonus. 

Do a google search of the usual pundits writing about baseball nationally and you won't find one who even suggested Alex might have a home run at this juncture in the season or that the team would even consider paying him his bonus if or when he managed to reach the magic number.

Punditry must be a nice gig. 

 In the latter article mentioned above, I also helpfully suggested a nice pre-game check-presentation the team should hold to patch things up with Alex when he ties Willie.  Key elements include Hal Steinbrenner doing the honors; congratulatory remarks from Willie (who supports both Alex's drive to surpass his place on the list and his rightful place in the Hall of Fame) and commemorative bobbleheads marking the occasion for everyone in the crowd depicting Willie and Alex shaking hands. 

If the team winds up making that suggestion come true too, I'm heading to Vegas.

That's two homers Alex hit out of the park for the Yankees and two he's hitting out of the park for me and Field Generals. 

Man, do I love that ARod.

Bullpen Blows Up Winning Effort
By Eovaldi, Arod and Beltran


Originally published 4/17/15

By Barry Millman
Another rubber game, another flat tire.  

But at least this time the leak that let the air out of a potential win didn't come from any of the usual suspects, and hopeful signs abounded the team was leaving its disastrously inept first week behind as the Yankees lost to the Orioles 7-5.

The Yankees were ahead 3-2 after five strong innings from starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi who struck out nine, walked three and allowed just two runs while scattering eight hits. 

Alex  Rodriguez belted a tape measure home run for his second of the season, leaving him just four shy of tying Willie Mays' career 660 and a $6 million bonus the Yankees won't have any choice but to pay him.

Carlos Beltran smashed a two-run double that just missed going over the wall,  and after five innings with a stout bullpen carrying 1.73 ERA into the game, the game looked winnable. 

But middle  relievers David Carpenter and Justin Wilson, the bridge  to the back of the pen, blew up the bridge instead for five runs in the sixth inning. leaving the visitors down 7-3 with three innings to try and get it back.

They made a good try at it. In the eighth, Brian McCann drove in Chase Headley on a sacrifice fly  and moved Mark Teixeira to third base, who then scored on a wild pitch, making it 7-5. In the final frame, they managed to put two runners on despite strikeouts by Stephen Drew and Gregorio Petit,  on a Chris Young double and an Ellsbury walk. But the threat was snuffed out when Headley hit into a fielder's choice.

3-6. 156 to go.

What's next: Friday, 7:10pm @ Tropicana Field vs. Tampa Bay Rays

The Bronx Was Burning:
ARod Leads 14-Run Barrage Over Boston

Originally published 4/15/15

By Barry Millman
It took six games for the Bombers to live up to their nickname. But when they finally dropped their load, it made a hell of a bang.

Closing out a dismal opening week that saw them score just 17 runs in their first five games and playing before a national audience on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball, the Yankees rocked Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz with a seven-run first-inning barrage and never looked back on their way to a 14-4 win.

The decisive blow was a three-run double by Alex Rodriguez that made it 4-0.  He later walked with the bases loaded to finish with four RBI to lead all hitters on the night.

His .300 batting average, six RBI and .417 OBP are tops among the team's starters. 

Chase Headley, Brian McCann and Stephen Drew homered, and every Yankee starter had at least one hit and crossed home plate to score at least one run. Jacoby Ellsbury and Didi Gregorius, the only two starters who didn't drive in a run, scored three times between them.

Overall, the lineup hit 6-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

Masahiro Tanaka looked  better in his second start, throwing a lot more fastballs and raising his velocity a couple of ticks, sitting 91-92 mph and hitting 93 on several of the 25 four-seamers he threw. 

He briefly lost command of his offspeed pitches in the fourth inning, throwing two wild pitches and walking two, and was victimized by a Stephen Drew throwing error, leading to a 38-pitch inning that dampened any hope for a deep start. But his final line of 5 IP, 3 ER, 4K 3BB was a step forward from his Opening Day meltdown and dropped his ERA by two runs.

After Tanaka's exit, relievers David Carpenter and Scranton callup Kyle Davies burnished the bullpen's stellar reputation with four combined scoreless innings of work to slam the door on any Boston hopes of a comeback. 

You can see the official box score here.

For a team that started the night with a single win and is about to hit the road for eleven days, it was about as good a getaway game as one could hope for.
And for a couple of hours, at least, it raised hope there could be more of the same to come.

2-4. 156 to go.

What's next: Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards  Monday, April 13  7:05 pm

Help! I've Fallen Into A 7-Hour
Yankee Game And I Can't Get Up!

Originally published 4/11/15

By Barry Millman
A funny thing happened last night after I turned on my flat screen and settled in to watch the season series opener between the Yankees and Red Sox.  

Without any warning whatsoever, I suddenly became immobilized. For seven hours. Against my will. Without a Life Alert to save me.

It happened in the bottom of the 9th inning with just one out remaining in the game. 

Up to that point, it had been a typical Yankee game and I was still a volunteer, and not yet a victim. 

I watched from the first pitch through the 5th inning, as unimpressed by Boston's offense as by my own team's. Then the Red Sox broke through with three runs in the top of the 6th and the Yankees managed to answer by loading the bases with none out in the bottom half.  But they could only bring home two runs on an Alex Rodriguez single and a Brian McCann sac fly.  

And there the score remained, 3-2, until the 9th with two outs when Chase Headley walked toward the batter's box holding the team's last hope in the barrel of his bat.

It appeared yet another gritty pitching performance by a flawed but serviceable starting pitcher and a sterling bullpen was about to be wasted by an anemic offense, shoddy defense and embarrassing baserunning mistakes. It was all but over. 

I was rising from my chair. I had plans for the evening. I had a bright future ahead of me.  A better life was waiting for me just beyond this 2-1 pitch. 

Then Headley hit the ball into the upper deck of Yankee Stadium and everything became a blur. The crowd there exploded. My twitter game-watching feed on my computer screen exploded. My brain exploded. And down I went. 

I couldn't move. Chase frigging Headley.  He did this to me.  He forced me to stay where I was. Somehow, he knew I could never walk away from my team when they had come back from so far with so little against their longtime rivals. He knew somehow I could never walk away from such a display of heart in a young season that, so far, had displayed so little of that precious baseball commodity.

And so I stayed where I was -- trapped there by my loyalties to my team and my writing responsibilities to Field Generals -- with nobody but some fellow fans and blogging colleagues on Twitter for company.

I watched disgustedly in the top of the 16th inning as David Ortiz hit a home run and circled the bases in a slow, haughty shuffle.  

And I watched ecstatically in the bottom of the 16th when Mark Teixeira erased the stench of Papi's tater trot with one of his own.

I noticed my Twitter companions were growing noticeably thinner in number by then, and the ones who remained -- many of them cripples like myself who could not bring themselves to sleep or otherwise miss a moment of the game -- had begun to undergo certain personality changes. Patience for some was clearly wearing thin. In others, senses of humor grew darker or simply disappeared. 

When Pablo Sandoval singled in a run at the top of the 18th, some of my companions of the pinstripe persuasion seemed to voice relief, much to my horror. 

For me, this was no longer game, but a war of attrition.  As long as my Yankees were refusing to surrender, neither would I.

In the bottom of the inning, Carlos Beltran drove in a run of his own with a double to tie the score once again.

My organs were shifting. My brain was burning. My eyes were stinging. My fingers were stiff and sore from banging my keyboard, as I remained determined to stay connected to the fast-dwindling tweeters on my screen. They were dropping like flies.

The few remaining diehards were now, like me, tweeting their support for a just conclusion to the ordeal that, in hindsight, could more aptly be described as public pleas to be euthanized.

A little while after Boston's Mookie Betts drove in an unearned run with a sac fly in the top of the 19th and the Yankees had no answer in the bottom half,  I simply blacked out. 

I awoke this morning a bit dazed and glazed, but no longer a prisoner of a game -- only of a team that once again fell short due to an anemic offense, shoddy defense and embarrassing baserunning mistakes.

It's great to be up and around again. 

But I've got a major bone to pick with that frigging Headley.

Red Sox 6. Yankees 5.

1-2. 159 to go.

What's next: Game #4: Saturday, April 11, 1:05 pm at Yankee Stadium vs. Boston Red Sox

ARod And Tex Go Long But Offense Falls Short In CC's Promising Debut

Originally published 4/9/15

By Barry Millman 
It was a tale of two CC's. 

The one that faced down the stacked Blue Jays lineup for nearly six innings,  struck out eight batters, induced ground balls and kept it in the park on a night the wind was not a pitcher's ally. And the one that couldn't pull the trigger on the pitches he needed  to stop the bleeding when it started to flow in an endless 2nd inning.

When it was all over, four singles leading off that that inning became four runs on the scoreboard, and with the Yankees offense still in a state of slumber, that was enough to vulcanize this rubber game of  their first series of the season.

What I liked:
  • ·      The young players contributed. Backup catcher JR Murphy was the only Yankee with two hits, and  shortstop Didi Gregorius drove in Murphy with his for the team's first run of the game. 
  • ·     Alex and Tex hit their first home runs of the year. It was career number 655 for Alex and puts him five away from tying Willie Mays on the all-time list. Tex's scored his 1,000th  run and notched his 500th RBI as a Yankee. 
What I didn't like: 
  • ·      The lineup went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and they're 3-for-21 on the year. That's abysmal. This offense simply isn't going to win many games -- or any so far - scoring three runs.  
  • ·      The defense was shoddy again. Newly acquired second baseman Gregorio Petit let a slow roller to his right get through, allowing a baserunner to go from first to third.  When Beltran came up with it in the outfield and tried to gun him down at third, he hit the runner. The ball got past Chase Headley at third and the runner scored.  Nobody backed up Headley. It's academic  whether it was CC's job to do so or not. Looked like it though.
  • ·      Gregorius committed his second baserunning mistake in three games after driving in Murphy by overrunning the first base bag and getting thrown out to end the inning. Maybe Ellsbury or Gardner should have a talk with him.
1-2. 159 to go.

What's next:  Game #4  Friday 4/10/15 vs. Boston Red Sox  7:05 pm

That's More Like It! Big Mike, Miller Impressive In Crazy Comeback Win

Originally published 4/19/15

By Barry Millman

What I saw: Call it ugly. Call it a gift. But call it the end of what felt like the longest one-game losing streak in recent memory for Yankee Universe. 

Two days after a dismal Opening Day loss that sent the fan base spiraling into a funk and pundits with imaginary medical degrees declaring both Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka and the team dead on arrival, Michael Pineda provided a shot of  adrenalin to the corpse with six innings of gritty two-run pitching and the Yankees scored three runs in the 8th inning for a 4-3 comeback win.

Jays starter R.A. Dickey's knuckleball largely iced the Bomber bats for 6.1 innings and the home team trailed 3-1 heading into the bottom of the 8th.  

Then it got crazy. Manager Joe Girardi pulled out his binder and sent in righty Chris Young to pinch hit for DiDi Gregorius to face LHP Aaron Loup. Young lofted a bloop toward right field that looked like a can of corn off the bat, but then caught the wind, drifted toward the line and dropped in. Young, running full bore out of the box and not even pausing as he rounded first, turned it into a double. Jacoby Ellsbury followed with sharp single to centerfield that advanced Young to third base. Then Loup drilled Brett Gardner on the wrist and was replaced by Brett Cecil, who promptly three a wild pitch to score Young to make it 3-2.  He struck out Carlos Beltran and intentionally walked Mark Teixeira to load the bases (how crazy was that?) and then drilled Brian McCann to make it 3-3. Chase Headley singled in the go-ahead run and newly acquired co-closer Andrew Miller sealed the win with a 1-2-3 9th. 

What I liked: 

  • ·      Big Mike recorded six strikeouts, scattered six hits and surrendered one walk on a chilly evening that saw his fastball sitting between 92 and 93 mph and his change at 90 mph. He wasn't at his best and he struggled at times behind the count. But he kept the mistakes to a minimum; spun the ball to great effect and flashed filth at times; and when he needed big pitches and outs, he got them. His confidence and swagger grew with each out and inning, and his command of batters and situations had the look and feel of a young gun looking to add notches to his belt. His swagger was a reassuring sight on a night when so many questions remain about this team. When the weather gets warmer, his stuff should be electrifying. If he can add one more inning of length  to his outings, he'll make a formidable #2 in the in the rotation this season.
  • ·      Whodini? Andrew Miller struck out one, didn't come close to allowing a baserunner and made quick work of the Jays for the second save of his career and first as a Yankee. Formerly one of the league's best setup men, the Jays didn't come close to squaring up his stuff. On a night when Dellin Betances rediscovered most of his velocity but still searched for his control, Miller made GM Brian Cashman look brilliant for acquiring him.
  • ·      Jacoby Ellsbury and Chase Headley each had two hits, including the essential ones during the 8th inning comeback rally.

What I didn't like:  

  • ·      The defense and baserunning was still an enemy instead of an ally. Ellsbury got picked in his first time on base, misreading Dickey's move to the plate and heading to second base early. To his credit, he stole second successfully later in his second attempt. The aggressive approach is a welcome change from last season, but the technique still needs work. 
  •        In the 5th inning, with the Blue Jays' Devon Travis on second base, Stephen Drew fielded a single by Jose Reyes and short-armed an easy throw to Chase Headley at third that Headley had to field on a hop, allowing Jose Reyes to take second base. Russell Martin Travis brought Travis home with a sacrifice fly and Reyes moved to third. Pineda bailed out Drew by striking out the next batter, but putting the speedy Reyes in scoring position needlessly could have been a backbreaker.
  • ·   The lineup went 2-11 with runners in scoring position, with Beltran, Drew and Rodriguez each going 0-2.

1-1. 160 to go.

What's next: Game #3: Thursday, April 9, 7:05 pm at Yankee Stadium vs. Toronto Blue Jays