I’ve spent a considerable portion of the last 7 years unemployed. Because of this I’ve had to attend a lot more job interviews than I ever did as a baseball broadcaster. Anybody who has been in that boat knows what is required: You put your best foot forward, no matter how the shoe on that foot pinches. You put on the most uncomfortable suit available. You answer questions, take tests and do paperwork all the while smiling wider than a mile and hoping your denture doesn’t fall out. By the end you feel like one of Christian Grey’s submissives when he was on a particularly bad night. But you do it because the stakes are life itself-your working future, your way to feed your family.
Last night, the Yankees went into a highly important game, the first of this weekend’s Subway Series with the Mets, with the stakes as high as they can be short of the postseason, and they put their worst possible foot forward. With the Yankees desperate to catch the Bluejays, so many players were “resting” that the lineup was unrecognizable.
The only move made by Joe Girardi that made sense was leaving Alex Rodriguez on the bench. With no DH at Citi Field, a national league park there was no place to put A.Rod that would not have endangered their chances any more than they already were. The second hitter in the lineup should have been Jacoby Ellsbury. The Yanks thought they had claimed a prize scalp off the Red Sox when they signed Ellsbury, one of 3 native Americans in major league baseball today. But the man they control for five more seasons, the man who cost them $153 million to get him out of Boston, was on the bench. Yes, his average is down 30 points since August 1. But he had two hits Wednesday, and everybody got a day off Thursday. So, if no Jung-ho Kang type of injury was present, Ellsbury should have been there, allowing Chase Headley to hit further down in the order. Ellsbury is 32, and another member of the nonstarters in Friday night’s lineup, catcher Brian McCann is 31. Unlike A.Rod and Mark Teixeira, who is already out for the year, these guys aren’t ready for Social Security.
With his big bats on the shelf, Girardi was left scrambling. Headley had to hit second. Chris Young was hitting fourth, the cleanup spot. The spot of Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Jackson. Chris Young in that spot says all you need to know about the Yankees’ chances last night. Their job interview suit was a pair of bib overalls, swamp boots, a flannel shirt and a straw hat. Greg Bird hit fifth. His presence has been mentioned in this forum as a testament to the shortsightedness of present Yankee ownership not to get a backup first baseman for the oft-injured Teixeira. McCann might have hit there if better judgment had prevailed. In the sixth slot was John Ryan Murphy, who isn’t a bad backup catcher but shouldn’t hit sixth this side of AA ball. He was hit for late in the game by Dustin Ackley, whose presence in pinstripes is an enigma. The Mariners took him in 2009, second overall in the draft after a stellar college career.He hit over .400 twice and .399 once at University of North Carolina. But like Johnny Football and Ryan Leaf, Ackley hasn’t amounted to much in the bigs and would have been jobless in Seattle had the Yankees not stepped forward to claim him. The tail of the order were Didi Gregorius (who normally hits 9th,) Brendan Ryan who seldom plays and starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. While the former Japanese star went 6 innings, too many Yankee starters earlier this season have gone too few innings which left the bull pen a burnt out mess. The score was 2-1 when Tanaka left. His only two mistakes, if you can call them that, were home runs by Lucas Duda and Daniel Murphy, two hitters who can light up the best of pitchers. Jason Shreve came in to work the 7th. While a fine pitcher early on, he hasn’t worked effectively in some time. Rock bottom for him came a week ago today when five Bluejays walked in the 11th inning as they beat the Yanks 9-5. While no record breaker, (11 walks is the most in any single inning,) it was the worst inning of a series the Yanks lost 3 games out of 4. Last night, with Wilmer Flores aboard, Juan Uribe unleashed a mighty home run off Shreve to make it 4-1. An inning later, facing new pitcher Brandon Pinder, Murphy drove a tremendous wallop to center for a tripple, followed by a walk to David Wright. The Mets put in Eric Young JR. at third running for Murphy. This proved needless, as new pitcher James Pazos airmailed the first pitch he threw for a wild pitch. It went so wild, my brother-in-law said he or I could have scored on it. And just believe me, neither of us will be in the next Penn Relays or Melrose Games.
So last night’s game went into the books as a Yankee loss. The Bluejays won, which is all they’ve done recently, leaving the Yankees 4 and a half games back with the season winding down. Michael Pineda faces Noah Syndergaard today, C. C. Sabathia pitches against matt Harvey tomorrow night in a battle of pitchers who should have done better than they have this season. But Harvey is on the morning side of the mountain, while Sabathia is on the twilight side of the hill, with apologies to Donnie and Marie Osmond. That leaves today’s game as the Yankees’ best chance to salvage anything from a series that could not have had a worse beginning. But that’s just baseball as I see it.0