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April 10, 2012

Mom, that's 2.

Two what?


We officially have our first winning streak of 2012!

It wasn't a pretty one, though.

It brought me back to football season, when me and my buddies would be sitting around Table 3 at Dorrians every Sunday, white-knuckled, teeth-grinding, lips pursed, expletive shouting. No game was easy until the Falcons win. An entire season of being all, "Really, Gmen? Really? You can't just do it the easy way, can you."

Of course, no Giants fan--including myself--is complaining at all right now.

Nor is any Yankee fan. Actually, that's not true. Baseball fans are a different ilk. You'd think that with so many games in the season, we'd relax a little more, but no, there are scores of NYY supporters peppering twitter- and RSS-feeds with all sorts of arm flapping about the RUNNERS IN SCORING POSITION!!! SO MANY LEFT ON BASE!!! AHHH!!

For the record, the Yanks were 2 for 18 with RISP. They stranded 12 runners. (The O's were 0 for 8, stranding 8.)

Also for the record, my very staunch philosophies on 2 relevant issues here:
1.) I hate HATE the RISP stat. It means nothing to me because I think it doesn't tell a complete story. Therefore, its accuracy and utility as a reliable measure is, by design, flawed. When there are runners in scoring position, this can mean that the pitcher is getting tired, for example. Which means that there's a good chance said pitcher was removed in favor of a reliever. Which introduces a whole new crop of variables that aren't accounted for. Making the inability to plate a runner not a true reflection of the team's true capacity.
2.) I don't care what the line score of the game is as long as the 3rd to last column is greater in the Yanks' row than it is in their opponents. I don't need want the Yanks playing at 100%. I want them playing at just enough percent that's better than their opponents.

See, my role model Mr. Monk agrees with me. Sort of.

So it was a strange game, indeed. But I think if it were just a garden variety 12 inning game where both teams were playing like they were auditioning for "Beer League," then I wouldn't be so struck by the weirdness of the night.

If you look at how the runs were scored, it seems just like your standard hybrid of sac flies, manufactured runs, a long ball or 2. Spurts of scoring early on. Drought innings. Runs tacked on, runs to come from behind.

Like a Family Feud answer board to "Name something that plates a runner." (Turkey!)
Mirror image scoring?

But the pitching tipped the game into "strange" status.

Chen, who I wanna say is like a poor man's Wang but if I'm being honest with myself, I'm only saying that because they're both Taiwanese and not because of any real pitching parallels, had an up and down night.

Which started by giving up a bomb to Jeter in the 1st. Look at you, Jeter. I'm almost tempted to tell you to cool your jets, since over time I've really convinced myself of this 100% theory to the point where hot streaks make me just as nervous as they make me excited.

(If there was a booth in my apartment that Kay was sitting in, he'd cheerfully lean over and say something about the little known fact that baseball season is actually a MARATHON and not a sprint. Yep. All this time..I've been so misinformed!)

Chen holds the Yanks to 1, pitching a nice (from a Baltimore perspective) even-keeled game up until the 6th when, I don't care what he says through a translator, he was getting tired. What the hell was Showalter thinking, keeping the Taiwanese Native* in for over 100 pitches in his FIRST MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL GAME?

Okay, even if you wanna pull the wahh-he-played-baseball-before-just-not-in-America card, then explain why he's kept in when even my tracing-paper-thin knowledge about scouting reports knows that his low nineties "fireball" is neutered the second he starts getting tired.

(Also, I'm pretty sure I could have made that conclusion without reading any scouting on the guy. Because, you know, it generally stands to reason that people get tired after they exert themselves. Maybe Michael Kay should be doing his Baseball Observation of the Obvious bit in Buck's room, not mine.)

Yeah, so in the 6th, the Yanks "poured it on." Sort of. 3 hits, a walk, and an error from Reynolds who Sterling kind of ripped on. I love when Sterling and Waldman wander from their whimsical world and into bluntness. Basically Sterling was just marveling at how Reynolds doesn't seem to have any redeeming qualities as a batter OR a fielder. Tough crowd.

Every time I see a 3B error, I think of that NY Lotto commerical. That certainly would be a redeeming quality for Reynolds.

And....the Yanks tied it after 4 scoreless innings. 4-4. Here come the Yankees! (Chen for some reason is terrified of people thinking he got tired. Like a new employee who won't leave his desk for lunch for fear of the boss thinking he's a slacker.)

"Physically, I'm not tired at all. Mentally, I got tired."

"Physically, I don't need lunch at all. Mentally, my stomach is growling."

"To be honest with you guys, this is my first major league outing. I was so nervous. But after the first inning everything was fine for me."

(Ha, "to be honest with you guys, this is my first major league outing." Thanks for letting us in on that little secret! Maybe his translator is a rookie too, because I find it hard to believe that Chen believes that everything was fine after the first inning.)

Ok, I'm sorry, enough talk about the Taiwanese Native. Our pitcher was far more ridiculous, anyway.

Ah, Sweaty Freddie. You...are special.

5 wild pitches in one game. Nay, not even half a game. 5 wild pitches in 4.2 innings.

98 pitches. Over 5% of your pitches were wild. (Only one hit batter though, which is less of an indication of his control, and more of an indication of the fact his pitches were so far from the strike zone that John Coffey could have at the plate and the ball wouldn't have even grazed him.)

Unlike Chen, though, Garcia wasn't really beating himself over it.

"To only give up four hits in almost five innings is pretty amazing considering you don't have one of your main pitches."

That's the spirit! You were AMAZING!

Which is like saying, "It's pretty amazing I only cheated on you 5 times, considering I've had a zit for the last week."

It is amazing that the bullpens on both sides managed to pick up the pieces of the starters so effectively. Some more effective than others, but when you consider that Garcia couldn't find the strike zone if it were wearing a sandwich board and ringing a bell, it's fascinating that the O's patched together 11 strikeouts after Sweatballs left the game. (14Ks in total)

The Yanks used about 58,000 relievers (6) to get the win. Phelps, D-Rob, Logan, Wade, Color Swatch, and Mo. Once again, I was waiting for some kind of a uh-oh, what if Mo blows ANOTHER save?? question posing. It was there. Even if not said.

Color Swatch gets the win, but all of the relievers were spectacular. Like siblings who act especially good when one kid is being especially bad. I don't know what the reasoning is behind this phenomenon, but I definitely know I subscribed to it when I was growing up. (Although I guess I was usually the bad one, so any time I was being good was probably just kind of "let's mix it up" experiment.)
"Benjamin Moore" sounds more like a real name than "Clay Rapada."
So after both teams threatened to score about 702 times throughout the last half of the game, finally Ibanez does something wonderful again and brings in what ends up being the winning run, on a double.

You know who REALLY wanted to do that? Andino. He was having a pretty good day at the plate, too. But in the bottom of the 11th, he struck out with a runner on, and you know he thought he was going to hit a walk off in some kind of poetic justice feat against R-Mart.

I think though that the poetic justice was time already served, when he dropped a catch at the plate to let a runner in. We're even Andino. (That rolls off your tongue if you say it out loud.)

So, yeah, it was a wacky one in Camden. (In other news, Sterling almost annoyed me when he noted that "Yankee fans are still here." Unlike Red Sox fans, we don't pat ourselves on the backs for not leaving games early. Also, unlike Red Sox fans†, when we watch our team go into extras in the opening week of the season, we get to celebrate at the end of the game. Also, who the hell leaves a game early when it goes into extras?)

Fatso takes the mound tomorrow against Jake Arrieta, who had a great first game against the Twinkies where he threw 7 shut out innings. He won't do that tomorrow though. He'll lose. And Fatso won't tire. Mentally or physically.

The Yankees are also not in last place anymore. So, everything's turning up Milhouse!

One final note before I retire for night:

I like to make hotel beds after I sleep in them, and I think the Yanks should follow this practice of cleaning up before heading home.


*They pointed this out QUITE a bit throughout the game, I'm not sure if it comes into play though. I'm pretty sure it doesn't. But I got a big kick out of how so many game recaps also kept referring to Chen as the "Taiwanese Native." Not like the "rookie left-hander."

†The O/U on the number of Sox fans who have said some iteration of "is it time for football yet?" is roughly 10 million. I don't know why they want football season to come so badly, anyway. It's not like that has proven to be any less painful.


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