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  • Mike Whiteman

About Yesterday: Marlins 3, Yankees 1

By Mike Whiteman 8/13/2023 *** Twenty-eight years ago, Mickey Mantle passed away at the age 63. I have a special affinity for The Mick as he was my dad’s favorite player. He was a lot of dads’ favorite player. Here is the ESPN SportsCenter coverage of Mantle’s death. It carries a bit of tone of the passing of a president, or another distinguished public servant. “To this day, my greatest thrill in sports remains the simple fact that I got to see Mickey Mantle play” – Keith Olbermann Perhaps the most compelling of Mantle’s legacy would be the courage he showed at the end of his life, as expressed in the cartoon below from The Dallas Morning News.

He was brutally open, honest, and vulnerable about his years of alcoholism and the effects on his family. He was also an advocate for organ donation in response to his own liver transplant.

QUICK STATS With yesterday’s loss the Yankees are 60-57 on the season. They are in fifth (last) place in the American League East, eleven and a half games out of first place, four out of the Wild Card. Their .513 winning percentage would amount to 83 wins over the course of a whole season. This would be the fewest wins in a full season since 1992, when they won 76. BIG STORY The Yankees’ rotation chaos gave us a new starting/opening pitcher – Mike King. I didn’t think it was a bad idea and King, who has vocalized his desire to start, thought it a fine idea. Unfortunately, he wasn’t sharp and allowed a two-run home run to Luis Arraez in the first frame. After King threw a scoreless second inning, Jhony Brito came on and pitched well, allowing only one run over the next five innings.

The Yankee offense ran into Sandy Alcantara on the mound for the Marlins. The 2022 National League Cy Young winner has endured a difficult season, but can spin off a beauty at any time, and he did yesterday. The only blemish was when he walked Billy McKinney, balked him to second, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa singled him home. Alcantara went all the way, scattering only five Yankee singles, striking out ten. Marlins win, 3-1. PLAYER OF THE GAME Alcantara, of course. I’m pretty old school, and love to see complete games, just not against the Yankees. NOTABLE PERFORMANCES Brito looked pretty good. Of course, Miami may be even worse than the Yankees at the plate this year...One Marlin who can hit is Arraez, who leads all of MLB with a .365 batting average, which is especially impressive to those of us old school fans who still get excited about batting averages...Kenyon Middleton threw a scoreless eighth inning for the Yanks and has a 1.50 ERA in four appearances since being acquired from the White Sox. BETTER TO FORGET Five singles as a team kinda sums it up. THEY SAID IT “We got held down by a pitcher at the top of his game today.” – Aaron Boone. MY TAKE I’m still officially “in it to win it”, but it has clearly been another tough week. Since my last post a week ago the Yankees lost both Carlos Rodon and Nestor Cortes to injury, and Nestor looks lost for the season. Very disappointing! I know it’s popular to consider all Yankee injuries a result of poor management by the front office, but this is baseball, and pitchers get injured. Hopefully rest and rehab will be enough for Cortes, and surgery can be avoided. I have heard some advocates for shutting Rodon down, but I must think if he can come back and have a successful stretch – even a short one – it will do him good going into the offseason. One thing the Yankees should note in this situation is that Cortes had a significant workload increase in 2022, throwing the most innings in his career. The team has another young pitcher, Clarke Schmidt, who is approaching a similar workload increase, and a strategy to wind him down to protect one of the few positive developments of 2023 is crucial. It's a long way from early Spring Training, when the Yankees looked to line up a rotation of Gerrit Cole and Luis Severino along with Rodon and Cortes. This quartet had a 3.01 ERA in 2022 with 769 strikeouts in 639 innings. Their cumulative ERA this year is 4.73. Take away Cole and his Cy Young caliber season and it jumps to 6.66. On another note, we all know Anthony Volpe has had his struggles at the bat this season, and his valleys have sometimes have been low enough for fans to call for his demotion. A story that seems to be missed is his solid defense. There is an assumption that Volpe’s an acceptable fielder, clearly not as good as Oswald Peraza. The stats create a different picture. Volpe is eighth among all American League players in the SABR Defensive Index, second only to Wander Franco in shortstops. He’s also second to Franco in Rtot (Total Zone Total Fielding Runs Above Avg) and Rdrs/yr (BIS Defensive Runs Saved Above Avg per 1,200 Inn). Defensive stats are tricky, and there few absolutes when measuring fielding prowess, but I feel it’s safe to say this has been a good year defensively for the rookie shortstop.

Finally, my daughter married a Red Sox fan back in the spring (we really do love him) and we have some good-natured back and forth about the Yankees and the Bosox. He egged me on a bit when we got together recently, but it’s a bit of a downer at this point this season, as bragging rights may end up for the team that just stays out of the cellar.

NEXT UP Gerrit Cole (10-3, 2.75) takes the mound against Miami phenom Eury Perez (5-4, 2.79) in a fun matchup. Game time is 1:40.

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