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Recap and Perspectives – Yankees Win 5-4 Over Mariners

After being swept in Oakland, the Yankees have now won three out of their last four games. The winning streak might even be four games if the home plate umpire on Saturday was aware enough to look at the field of play before calling time as a run was scoring and a pitcher imploding (but we talked enough about that over the weekend).

Top To Bottom: After battling the first place Dodgers, the Yankees were given a reprieve and flew to Seattle to begin a three game series with the last place Mariners. They began that series with a 5-4 victory.

Best in Baseball Again: With the Yankees winning and the Dodgers losing, the Yankees and the Dodgers now share identical records (86-47) are are tied for the best record in all of Major League Baseball.

11 – 8: I wrote something similar the other day when discussing James Paxton’s win/loss record – the win is a flawed statistic, but it is what it is. While the stat is flawed, it does tell at least part of the story, and, amazingly, J.A. Happ is 11-8 on the season. That actually doesn’t look and sound terrible. I would think that most fans, if asked, would have assumed Happ’s record to be more like 5-12. It seems that he’s pitched that poorly, but, due to the fact that the offense has been so strong, he actually owns a somewhat respectable record. As John Sterling would say, “Isn’t that amazing?”

It Happened Last Night: Last night the Yankees saw the good and the bad J.A. Happ. Let’s start with the bad. He threw 95 pitches in just five innings. He also allowed three runs in that span. Ouch and ouch. To make matters worse, all three of the runs scored on a homerun by Dylan Moore, a guy batting just .204 on the season. Now that we shared the bad, let’s look to the good – Happ allowed just two hits over five innings and he struck out seven. The talent and ability is there. If he could just get a little better command throughout the game…

A Happy Future: I have this feeling about J.A. Happ that I can almost guarantee will come true. J.A. Happ will soon be a dominant pitcher, a guy who goes out there and wins more than his fair share of games. He will soon be a guy a team feels good about pitching every fifth day. I think J.A. Happ is transitioning into the type of pitcher that Jamie Moyer became late in his career – a crafty veteran who knows how to get batters out through guile, wit, and skill. But, becoming this type of pitcher takes time. It’s a long process. Someday history will show that the biggest years of his transition happened when Happ was a Yankee. The Yankees (and their fans), I think, will bear the brunt of this, but I think J.A. Happ actually has the ability and smarts to becomes a good pitcher in the years to come.

Jamie Moyer?: After going 13-10, 5.49 as a 37-year-old pitcher for the Mariners in 2000, Jamie Moyer went 20-6, 3.43 in 2001. Two years later, Moyer was 21-7, 3.27 as a 40-year-old pitcher. Moyer pitched in the big leagues until he was 47 years old. He sported a 16-7, 3.71 record when he was 45 years-old. This, I believe, is J.A. Happ’s future. (I just don’t see him doing any of this in the Bronx.)

Book Recommendation: I highly recommend reading Jamie Moyer’s autobiography –Just Tell Me I Can’t: How Jamie Moyer Defied the Radar Gun and Defeated Time.” It’s a great baseball book and also a great motivational book. Think you can’t do something? This book might help give you the skills to prove to yourself that you can. (I thought about this book, a lot, as I tried my hand at pitching as a 50 and 51 year-old this past summer). In many ways, it’s more than a baseball book.

Getting Back To The Game: The Yankees initiated the scoring with a four run second inning. Boom! That quickly, it was 4-0. It should have been an easy night after that (but it wasn’t). The three-run homer allowed by Happ came in the bottom of the second inning. Uggg.

The Yankees’ scoring in the top of the frame came in the following manner:

Boom! Gleyber Torres homered. That was his 33rd of the year. Thirty three! Wow! He almost has as many homers this year as Aaron Judge (16) and Giancarlo Stanton (1) combined.

Gary Sanchez grounded out

Mike Tauchman walked

Gio Urshela grounded into a fielder’s choice (that advanced Tauchman to second)

Austin Romine delivered an RBI single

Mike Ford hit a two-run homer

All of that gave the Yankees the 4-0 lead.

Only The Lonely: The Yankees scored only one other time. (It should be easier than this when they play the Mariners.) In the top of the fourth inning, Mike Ford blasted his second homer of the night to give the Yankees a 5-3 Edge. (Did you see what I did there?)

First Babe and Then Ford – Remember how many were talking about mercy rules and allowing position players to pitch in blowout games and such? Remember that? Since appearing as a pitcher, Mike Ford is batting .416 (10 for 24) with four homers.

Bullpen – The Yankees had to use four relievers (Cory Gearrin, Nestor Cortes, Jr., Tommy Kahnle, and Aroldis Chapman) to cover the final four innings. Cortes, Jr. allowed a homer, otherwise they combined to allow no runs. The bullpen struck out seven batters of their own in just four innings. Chapman earned his 36th save of the year.

Umpires – What would a Yankees game be without some sort of questioning and confusion from the umpires? Cory Gearrin has a toe-tap in his delivery that has caused confusion with umpires before. (See here: Gearrin, Servais mystified by umpire rules check.) Last night he was called on this again which led to more confusion. I’ll admit, I was long asleep by then, so I’m just getting all of this info early this morning, but, the bottom line is this – shouldn’t the umpires and the pitcher have known already what was legal or not legal? Also, the guy pitched for Seattle before coming to the Yankees. None of this should be new to anyone. Why the confusion?

The Seattle broadcast new what all that was about right away and got a kick out of it pic.twitter.com/dkc35L1sSm — Jomboy (@Jomboy_) August 27, 2019

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The following is from ESPN:

“The sixth inning was briefly delayed as umpires questioned the delivery of New York reliever Cory Gearrin. Umpires said Gearrin’s toe-tap delivery was illegal. Gearrin, who pitched for Seattle until being claimed off waivers last week by the Yankees, had a similar issue earlier in the season with the Mariners. He was told after that game his delivery was legal.”

My point, again, is that the umpires need to just get this right. After the confusion earlier this year with this pitcher doing this exact thing, and him being told it was legal, why is there more questioning on it? Make a decision and stand by it. None of this is a good look for baseball. At all. It makes rules seem arbitrary. It makes it seem like one umpiring crew has a different interpretation of the rules than another. It’s just a bad look. This further erodes any confidence I have in the umpires or their awareness of the game and such.

Last Late Game Tonight – Mercifully, the Yankees play their last 10:00 p.m. game tonight. Masahiro Tanaka takes on Yusei Kikuchi in a battle of Japanese pitchers. (The Yankees play at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday before an off-day that precedes opening up at home against the A’s on Friday night.)

Let’s Go Yankees!

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