The Yankees lost to the San Francisco Giants 2-1 Sunday afternoon effectively ending the slim hopes they had of getting a wild-card spot. They are now four games back with six games left to play.
They got vintage performances from Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, who both did all they could to get a win for the team during Pettitte’s last start at Yankee Stadium and the day where there was an hour-long ceremony for Rivera before the game, but the offense was not able to come through in clutch situations.
Andy Pettitte, who will likely fall just below qualifying for the Hall of Fame based on his 3.86 career ERA and admitted PED usage, is one of the best pitchers in Yankees history. Pettitte’s 19 wins are the most in playoff history and has been able to come with clutch performances repeatedly throughout his great career. He has pitched in three All-Star Games in his career but has never won a Cy Young award. Pettitte had eight seasons where he won 15 or more games on his way to 255 career wins (as of now). He has won 102 more games than he has lost. During yesterday’s game, he pitched seven excellent innings while only allowing two runs.
Mariano Rivera, who was honored before the game with a live singing of “Enter Sandman” by Metallica will obviously be inducted into the Hall of Fame as a result of being the best closer in baseball history. The Yankees retired his number 42 (he will be the last player to wear the number) before the game with his wife and three sons right next to him. Also in attendance were Jackie Robinson’s widow Rachel Robinson and his daughter, as well as some of his former teammates including Hideki Matsui, David Cone, Bernie Williams, Paul O’Neil, Jorge Posada and Jeff Nelson. Some of the gifts from the Yankees to Rivera included a custom-designed Watorford Crystal of his glove from 2013 that even included his signature and “Phil:13” that he has written on it, a $100,000 check to the Mariano RIvera foundation, a baseball-bat rocking chair and a watercolor artwork by a San Francisco artist depicting Rivera’s appearance at AT&T Park on June 22, 2007. Rivera pitched 1.2 scoreless innings while only allowing one hit.
The game would have been even more special if Pettitte would have been able to have been awarded a win and Rivera a save but at least they did their part. Pettitte took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and the first hit that he allowed was Ehire Adrianza’s first career homer. In the top of the eighth, Pettitte allowed a lead off double to Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval, which prompted Joe Girardi to bring in David Robertson. Tony Abreu hit a double off of Abreu, which accounted for Pettitte’s second earned run. With one start left, in Houston, Pettitte is in danger of finishing under .500 for the season for the first time in his career.
Holding the Giants to only two runs should have been enough to win the game on Mariano Rivera Day, but the Yankees did not convert with runners in scoring position in four different innings. In the seventh inning, the Yankees had an opportunity to put multiple runs on the board after having runners on second and third with one out, Ichiro Suzuki and Vernon Wells both struck out swinging. In the eighth inning, after Robinson Cano’s double put runners on second and third with no outs, Alfonso Soriano grounded into a fielder’s choice and Curtis Granderson struck out.
In the eighth inning, adding to the team’s bad luck was that Zoilo Almonte and Cano were both thrown out at home. Almonte was not even close. The only run that the Yankees scored was Mark Reynolds’s 20th homer of the season. In the past week, the Yankees have two losses to the Blue Jays and their loss yesterday to the Giants. They would still have a chance if they would have won those games against sub .500 teams.
It is unfortunate that Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte will not be able to play in the playoffs in their final season. Pettitte and Rivera have both won five World Series championships with the Yankees and Rivera has pitched in the playoffs with the Yankees every season from 1996 until 2011, except for 2008 when they missed the playoffs.
The Yankees finished their west coast road trip against the Seattle Mariners, Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim with a disappointing 4-6 record. They will now start a nine game homestand. The Yankees will play the first of two games tonight against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Los Angeles will play a regular season series in New York City for the first time since they were known as the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956. The Yankees have played the Dodgers 11 times in the World Series, including the classic three homer run game by Reggie Jackson, and the game in which Jackie Robinson sole home against Yogi Berra.
The Dodgers are managed by Don Mattingly who played for the Yankees his whole career. Don Mattingly had his number 23 retired by the Yankees after hitting 222 homers, driving in 1,099 runs, slugging 442 doubles, recording 2,153 hits and ending his career with a .307 average. Mattingly, along with Joe Girardi, were the two candidates who were in consideration to replace Joe Torre after the 2007 season. This is the first time that they will go head-to-head since then.
The Yankees come into the series struggling on offense, as mentioned in the previous post, but hopefully their game against the Angels on Sunday, where they scored six runs, is a sign that their bats are coming alive. The Dodgers have lost three out of their last four games, and are in last place in the National League West.
Their pitcher in the opening game of the series, Hyun-Jin Riu, will be a challenge for the Yankees offense, but it is possible that pitching in Yankee Stadium for the first time will throw him off his game. In his last six starts the rookie Riu has a 3-0 record with a 1.94 ERA. However, he pitches much better against righties than lefties, which could be a good sign for Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki.
Brett Gardner has a .294 average and two homers against lefties and Ichiro has a .358 average and four RBI against southpaw’s this season.
Phil Hughes will be the starting pitcher who will oppose the National League Rookie of the Year candidate. Hughes has been the definition of inconsistent this season as he has a 4.89 ERA. He had an awful start in his last outing, but in his first start of the road trip, against Seattle, he threw seven shutout innings with seven strikeouts.
If the Yankees are lucky he will throw a quality start tonight given the pattern of his last two starts. On the other hand, Hughes has a 6.52 ERA at Yankee Stadium this season. But, the Yankees are facing an NL team, and Hughes has a 1.93 ERA in two starts this season against NL opponents.
Another factor that will make this series intriguing is that the Yankees will get a look as Puigmania. Yasiel Puig, the rookie outfielder from Cuba, who was called up as a result of injuries to Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp, has hit an astounding .479 in 13 games, with four homers and 10 RBI. Based on the 13 games that he has played so far he deserves a spot in the All-Star game at Citi Field.
Both teams are struggling coming into the game, but the Yankees need to show signs of offensive ability back in the Bronx against the inter-city rivals from back in the day.
It is fitting that on the day that the Yankees celebrated Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball, the last remaining MLB player wearing the number 42, Mariano Rivera, picked up another save for the team. Every Yankee wore the number 42 during the 4-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, which was in honor of Jackie Robinson. Rivera recorded his third save of the season and 611th of his Hall of Fame career.
Rachel Robinson, Jackie’s widow, who started the influential Jackie Robinson Foundation, said that she is a “little sad” that Rivera will be retiring and taking the esteemed number 42 with him. She has always said that Rivera plays the game the right way and is the right person to wear Jackie’s number. (Rivera was grandfathered in as he was wearing the number before it was retired across baseball in 1997.) In the Daily News story, Rachel Robinson said that Rivera is carries himself with class and is determined just like Jackie Robinson was.
It is also noteworthy that Robinson Cano, who is named after Jackie Robinson and wears the uniform number 24 since it is the reversal of 42, hit a home run to deep right center in the fourth that drove in Lyle Overbay and Chris Stewart. That homer essentially won the game for the Yanks because it made the score 3-2. After getting off to a slow start, Cano now has four homers and 11 RBI in his last six games. His average is a solid .327. Based on his last six games, Cano is on his way to being named an All-Star for the fifth time.
It was also a positive game from the pitching standpoint as Ivan Nova was able to rebound from his first start by allowing two runs instead of four. He was not dominant as he only lasted five innings, but Nova gave the Yankees a chance to win the game.
Also, it can’t be forgotten that the Yankees organization handled themselves with class once again as they had a moment of silence before the game and played “Sweet Caroline” after the third inning to honor the victims from the tragic Boston Marathon bombing.
C.C. Sabathia (2-1, 2.25 ERA) will get the start tonight against the Diamondbacks.