Sunday, September 22, 2013

Game 156 Wrap-Up: SF 2 NYY 1

(Highlight of the day.  Courtesy of Getty Images)

Happy Mariano Rivera Day, everybody!  What a bittersweet day.  There's no modern baseball player more worthy of being honored like this in his final season and final home series than Mo, but the price of him having to retire after this season to make it possible is one many Yankee fans still aren't willing to pay.  It's still a bit strange to think that Mo isn't going to be back next year.  He's been such a fixture as a part of the Yankees for the past 19 years that it's almost as if the Yankees aren't the Yankees if he's not out in that bullpen.  The pregame ceremony was as outstanding as you'd expect it to be.  Events like this are things the Yankees always get right and if it didn't get a little dusty in your place while you were watching, well then you just aren't as big a Yankee fan as you think you are.  Once the game got going and Andy Pettitte took the mound for his final Yankee Stadium start, it looked like things would finish in storybook fashion.  Some bad late plays changed that feeling in a hurry.

Game Notes:

- The delayed start for the ceremony didn't affect Andy in the least, at least not that showed on the field.  He sat the San Fran lineup down in order through 3 with 3 swinging strikeouts and a handful of groundball outs.  He was on.

- A lot of Yankee hitters got good wood on flyballs in the first 2 innings that died before they got to the wall, and for once YS3 didn't look conducive to home run hitting.  Mark Reynolds finally got enough of one to hit it out into the SF bullpen for a leadoff HR and the Yanks grabbed the early lead.

- Andy started to lose the sharpness of his offspeed stuff as his pitch count rose, but he still made a lot of great 2-strike pitches and held the Giants hitless through 5.

- That lost sharpness came back to haunt Pettitte in the 6th on a 2-strike hanger to Ehire Adrianza.  Adrianza lined it into the left field seats for a game-tying home run that also broke up the no-hitter at 5.1 innings.

- Part lame lineup, part solid performance by Yusmiero Petit, the Yankees never put another run on the board into the 7th inning.  A pair of singles by Eduardo Nunez and Brendan Ryan gave them a scoring chance with 1 out, but they were stranded on a pair of strikeouts by Vernon Wells and Ichiro.

- Andy got his well deserved ovation after a Pablo Sandoval double to start the 8th and it went to the 'pen.  David Robertson came in and promptly gave up the go-ahead run on a couple of hanging curveballs to make it 2-1 Giants.

- The Yankees look like they'd finally get the dramatic run(s) they needed in the 8th after an A-Rod leadoff single and Robinson Cano's second double of the day put runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs.  Some terrible baserunning by Zoilo Almonte, terrible hitting by Curtis Granderson, and a great defensive play conspired to somehow keep anybody from scoring and break Yankee Stadium's heart in the process.

- Mo threw a scoreless 9th, but Sergio Romo shut down the bottom of the order (surprise) in the bottom of the 9th to turn what could have been a great day into a much crappier one.

Concussion Shutdown Adds To Mounting Health Concerns For Romine

It's been over a week since Austin Romine suffered a concussion against the Baltimore Orioles, and despite being cleared by team doctors to return to catching bullpen sessions, Romine is going to be shut down for the rest of the season due to lingering concussion symptoms.  Romine talked about still feeling the effects of the concussion to Andy McCullough of The Star-Ledger on Thursday, saying he felt "off" and "I know my body. I know what I can do. So when I do stuff I’m not used to doing, I’m like ‘What the heck?’ I don’t want that to happen in a game.”

Romine referring to his knowledge of his body and how he is feeling may refer to the last concussion he suffered in 2011, one that cost him a lot of time in the Minors.  He followed that up with a back injury that sapped almost his entire 2012 season away before he finally got back to full health this year, so concussions and injury problems in general are nothing new for Romine.  That he is still feeling symptoms of this latest concussion almost 2 weeks after the fact is very concerning.  Catcher is a grueling position to play, and Romine is already racking up the job-related injuries that can cripple a guy's ability to be a good catcher at a young age.

With brain injuries and concussions being such a hot button topic in sports today, the Yankees are doing the right thing in shutting Romine down for the season.  You can't be too careful and this is already his second documented concussion in 3 years.  His long term health is the most important thing right now, and at 24 he's got plenty of time to work on improving his baseball skills.  But keep this in mind next year when the catching competition starts heating up in spring camp.  Romine could be the favorite to win the job if the team isn't active on the FA market, and it will be interesting to see if they take any extra precautions to limit his exposure to another potential head injury.

Say It Ain't Mo (And Andy)

(Courtesy of the NY Post)

They have 72 win/save games together, the most in MLB history and a testatement to their greatness and longevity.  They have the most postseason wins (Andy) and the most postseason saves (Mo) in MLB history, a testament to the greatness of their teams and their knack for pitching the best when the lights are the brightest.  Between the 2 of them, they have a complete set of World Series rings for a pair of hands, something very few living players in baseball history can claim.

And this afternoon they'll both take the field in what could be their final time pitching together in Yankee Stadium.  Even if the game turns into a blowout, there's little chance Joe won't use Mo today on Mariano Rivera Day at The Stadium, and Andy isn't scheduled to pitch again until the final series of the season next week in Houston.  After all the history they've made together in Yankee Stadium, this afternoon's game could, and in all likelihood will be their last chance to add to that history.

I've been watching these guys pitch since I was 10 years old.  They're just as responsible for turning me into the Yankee fan I am today as Jeter is, and even though they've had long, illustrious, HOF-worthy careers, I'm still not quite ready to see them go.  If they have to, what better way than with a vintage tag team performance today to add to their records.