Game 163: Tampa plays in Texas to see who gets eliminated from the playoffs first!

I figured we could have a game thread for the Tampa/Texas showdown in Arlington tonight.

I remember watching last year’s “play in” games and being at the edge of my seat even though I had no rooting interest. Tonight, I’m hoping for the Rangers to prevail just because the Rays annoy me so much. From Joe Maddon‘s hipster glasses to the entire team acting like they’re too cool for school, I find them so off putting. And who wants to see someone like Josh Lueke get a World Series? Not me.

Plus, it would be absolutely hilarious if the newly activated, just coming back from a PED suspension, Nelson Cruz plays a big role in the game. It will be nice to see people’s heads exploding over it.

Here are the lineups:

Kinsler 2B
Andrus SS
Rios RF
Beltre 3B
Pierzynski C
Cruz DH
Moreland 1B
Gentry LF
Martin CF

Perez P

Jennings CF
Myers RF
Zobrist 2B
Longoria 3B
Young DH
Rodriguez LF
Loney 1B
Escobar SS
Molina C

Price P

Your favorite moments of 2013

Good afternoon IIATMS readers,

I realize this season wasn’t a typical New York Yankees season. There were injuries galore, bad hitting, and bad pitching but even with all of the negative stuff, the team still managed to win 85 games and in those 85 victories, there were some cool moments sprinkled in. So what I wanted to know was what was your favorite moment (or moments) from the 2013 season?

I know it’s hard to believe but we do have a lot to choose from. And having been there to witness the event(s) in person is not a requirement of this post. Personally, my favorite moment happened in Boston and I wasn’t there. I just watched it on TV.

If you read this blog regularly, you probably know what moment I’m going to choose as one of my favorites but instead of just writing about it, I’ll also show it to you.


Come on, you have to admit that was hilarious at the time. Alex Rodriguez is plunked by Ryan Dempster and then comes back to not only hit a home run but to clap his hands and point to the sky, clearly imitating David Ortiz and angering Boston fans who were already vociferously booing him. It was obviously his version of a heel turn and it was spectacular.

Another favorite moment of mine was Brett Gardner‘s walk off home run against Detroit in August. After seeing Mariano Rivera give up two home runs in one inning to blow the save, we all were sitting in the Stadium in complete shock. Thankfully, Gardner took us from shock to elation with one swing of the bat. We also witnessed A-Rod’s first home of the season which was great for me because I was wearing my Rodriguez #13 t-shirt that day.

So, what was your favorite moment(s) of 2013? Leave them in the comments.

Welcome to the early offseason

It’s here. The first day of the offseason, at least for us folks who root for the boys in pinstripes, and I have to say, so far, it’s an odd feeling.

I’m so used to gearing up for the postseason and preparing myself emotionally for the games – because I tend to get a little too into playoff baseball – and now, I’m not sure what to do. I used to get myself so worked up that by the time everything was over, I’d be exhausted. This year, I am looking forward to having an October filled with watching games that don’t actually mean anything to me. Aside from rooting against the Red Sox and Rays (because really, who wants to see them win anything?) I’m just going to sit here and watch baseball from the perspective of a neutral fan of the sport.

During the past few seasons, I didn’t have to do that until at least mid-October.

And to be honest, I’m pretty excited about Game 163 tonight in Arlington because play-in games are a lot more enjoyable when your team isn’t involved. I was really rooting for total chaos yesterday and was hoping that the Twins could somehow help force two tiebreak games but alas, they didn’t. Nevertheless, Texas vs. Tampa should be a good game.

As for the Yankees, what do we have to look forward to?

Well, Alex Rodriguez‘s arbitration hearing started this morning. The news surrounding that particular hullabaloo wasn’t the hearing itself but the fact that the Daily News I-Team couldn’t believe Alex had supporters there. You know, I hate to break it to some people but I saw a number of people wearing #13 jerseys at the Stadium this season, especially in August and September and I even spotted children wearing them. (The horror!!!!) So while it may seem like the whole world hates A-Rod, it’s not true.

We also have free agency with guys like Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan and Hiroki Kuroda (among others) whose contracts are up. That should be an interesting turn of events, especially where Cano’s contract is concerned. Part of me is a little fearful that Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira will be the only big names we have left in the infield next season.

And while I’m writing this post, I wanted to thank the readers of IIATMS for sticking with us this season. I know it has been a weird season of baseball for all of us and I’m glad you guys stuck around to read our pieces, hang out in the game threads and to spark interesting conversations in the comments. I really hope you stick around during the offseason as well because as I said, there will be a lot to talk about.

Anyway, here are some links for you to peruse on this lovely Monday afternoon:

Monday Morning End Of Season Musings

Andy vs HOU

Well at least they ended the season on a winning streak.  That’s something to build on for 2014, right?  In all seriousness, I can’t tell you how glad I am that this season is over.  It was absolutely exhausting.  I started writing AB4AR in August of 2009, and jumped right into the drama of a World Series run, staying up late to take notes on each game, write, drink, scream, and stomp around my apartment like a child.  Covering this year’s team, who won’t play a single postseason game, was a way more arduous task than that.  Between the injuries, the re-injuries, the bad starting pitching, the even worse situational hitting, and the front office’s decision to basically stand pat and not address any of it, the 2013 season was a meat grinder of disappointment.  I’m actually looking forward to covering the offseason and hot stove topics for a few months just to break up the monotony of writing about Derek Jeter‘s rehab, Phil Hughes‘ HR allowed, CC Sabathia‘s command, and the lineup’s inability to get a hit when they really need it.

Before we jump into that offseason talk, here are some final thoughts on 2013.

– I hope there wasn’t anybody out there who was upset that Mariano Rivera didn’t play or pitch this past weekend.  The guy was run into the ground from about mid-August on and let’s not forget that he is 43 years old.  He said his body wasn’t up to it and there was no reason to run him out there one last time and take the risk of him performing poorly or suffering a serious injury.  That would have put a bit of a damper on his send-off and nobody wants to remember something like that as Mo’s final appearance.  The moment with him, Jeter, and Andy on Thursday night was the right way to end it.  Mo didn’t owe the people of Houston anything.

– As for Andy, he got his moment on Saturday night with that throwback complete game performance.  Yes the awful opposing lineup aided in that outcome, but Pettitte was dealing and kudos to Joe and his staff for letting him go for it in the 9th.  Like Mo, he left it all on the field in his final few appearances and ended his career on a high note.  Not many guys who can say they went out that way.

– Speaking of which, why is Andy retiring again?  He gave up 13 ER over his final 10 starts and threw 2 of his longest outings of the season in his final 2 starts.  This time he sounded like his mind was made up and his decision wasn’t going to change, but Cash needs to put in at least 1 call to him sometime around November-December, no?

– Nice to see Joe dust off Travis Hafner for a game yesterday.  That 0-4 in 6 plate appearances should really send him into free agency with a lot of buzz.

– For all the people who wanted the kids in the final games, you got ’em.  What’d you think?  Zoilo Almonte went 2-17 in the final 4 games with 4 strikeouts, David Adams went 2-10 in his last 2 games with 7 strikeouts (and 2 XBH), and J.R. Murphy hit .154/.185/.192 in his 27 PA September audition with a 33.3% K rate.  Not saying all these guys are garbage, but it’s hard to think any of them could step into a full time role in 2014 and be better than what the veterans produced.

– On that same topic, what to do about Mark Reynolds?  While he’s not as obvious a choice for next year as Brendan Ryan, there is some value there.  He hit .236/.300/.455 in 120 PA as a Yankee, with a 25.8% K rate down from his career average.  Everybody knows about the power and he’s been known to draw walks.  Some more time to work with Kevin Long could smooth some things out in his swing and he won’t command much on the FA market after being cut from the team that originally signed him mid-season.  If I’m Cash, I don’t think I build my offseason plan around having Reynolds as my first 3rd base option behind A-Rod, but he’s not a bad Plan B or C.

– 2 applause-worthy spot starting performances by Adam Warren and David Huff this weekend.  Warren figures to play a prominent role in next year’s rotation competition, as least for the time being, and Huff could be an interesting option as a ST invite.  Again, not Option A for a bullpen role if I’m Cash, but a name worth keeping on the bulletin board if he can stash him away in Triple-A again.

– Whatever the plan ends up being for this offseason, and I assume it will be very similar to last year’s, Cash needs to do something to try to shake things up.  He needs to be much more aggressive on the trade front.  He can’t just sit there with his hands tied on the FA market while the team penny pinches their way down below the luxury tax threshold.  Pick up the phone and make a push for Giancarlo Stanton; call the Brewers and see if they’re willing to talk about Jonathan Lucroy.  There aren’t any prospects in the Yankee system who can help the Major League club in the next year.  Might as well see if some of them can be useful on the trade market to help improve the team.

– Lastly, on Joe’s contract situation, I don’t think there’s much concern about him going elsewhere.  He knows New York, he’s comfortable in New York, and the front office likes him and wants him back.  The best new offer he’s going to get is going to be from the Yankees and there aren’t any other teams out there who he could go to that are in a better position for 2014 than the Yankees.  That said, would I blame him if he left?  Absolutely not.  That’s what happens when your front office hands you chicken sh*t and doesn’t even give the impression that they’re interested in having chicken salad.

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Yankees 5, Astros 1 (F/14): Goodbye, 2013

It’s finally over.

It took 14 innings for it happen but the Yankees ended the 2013 season on a high note with a 5-1, extra inning win over of the Houston Astros.

The game was tied going into the 14th inning when the Yankees scored four runs to bust the game open. Mark Reynolds got things started with a solo shot to left field to put the Yankees ahead 2-1 and the Yankees offense piled on after that.

Starter David Huff allowed one run through five innings but had to settle for the no decision because it took so long for the offense to get going. The Yankees ended up using six relievers in this game and they all pitched scoreless innings with five out of the six recording at least one strikeout. The Yankee pitchers combined for 19 strikeouts today: Huff finished with seven, Brett Marshall went two innings and had three, Dellin Betances went 2.1 innings and had four strikeouts, Preston Claiborne pitched 2/3 of an inning and had one, David Phelps pitched one inning and had two strikeouts and Matt Daley went two innings and also had two strikeouts. David Robertson, who came in to pitch the bottom of the fourteenth, induced two groundouts and a fly out to end the game.

Eduardo Nunez finished with three hits. Curtis Granderson, Zoilo Almonte and Brendan Ryan had two hits apiece. Vernon Wells, Travis Hafner and Lyle Overbay all finished hitless for the game.

And while it’s disappointing that the Yankees won’t be playing in October, I’m glad they were able to at least finish the season with a sweep over the lowly Astros.

Game 162: The party’s over

I kept telling people that I was okay with the Yankees not making it into October. I kept telling them I was tired and that I wanted a stress-free month but now that the end of the season is here, I’m really sad to see it go.

Anyway, here are the lineups for the last game of the 2013 season:

Nunez 5
Murphy 2
Granderson 8
Wells 7
Reynolds 3
Hafner DH
Adams 4
Ryan 6
Almonte 9

Huff P

Villar 6
Altuve 4
Dominguez 5
Carter 3
Martinez 9
Laird 0
Crowe 8
Corporan 2
Elmore 7

Bedard P

You’ll notice that Robinson Cano is missing from the lineup so it is quite possible that last night’s game was the last time we’ll see Cano in a Yankee uniform.

Enjoy the last Yankee game thread of the year, folks.

About last night: Andy Pettitte completes his career

David Phillip/AP
David Phillip/AP

If you were a Hollywood scriptwriter, the outcome of last night’s Yankees/Astros game is pretty close to how you choose to have your gritty veteran pitcher character’s career come to an end. Though, if it were a true Hollywood ending, the complete game victory would have come in the seventh game of a World Series, and in front of Yankee fans in Yankee Stadium. Unfortunately, the Yankees’ 2013 season will be ending in the regular season so that scenario wasn’t an option this time. In any case, last night was close to perfect and it was the ending Yankee fans wanted to see for Andy Pettitte.

The scene was set earlier this week when the Yankees were officially eliminated from postseason contention so instead of gearing up from one last playoff run, Pettitte’s last start would be in front of his hometown crowd in Houston, taking place in the only other Stadium he called home in his career. Again, it was close to perfect.

Most Yankee fans were hoping and expecting a good game because Pettitte was facing the 51-109 Houston Astros but they probably weren’t expecting to witness his first complete game in seven years.

Pettitte kept the Astros off the board until the fourth inning. With Jose Altuve on second base, Pettitte got Chris Carter to ground to shortstop but Altuve was already running on the play, Brendan Ryan couldn’t get him at third and opted to get the sure out at first. Lyle Overbay tried to get Altuve at the plate but the diminutive Astro was too fast and scored easily to give Houston the 1-0 lead.

The Yankees were held at bay by Astros’ starter Paul Clemens – no relation to Roger – and weren’t able to score until the sixth inning. They tied the game on a Robinson Cano RBI single that scored Eduardo Nunez. Their second run came after a goofy play by Matt Pagnozzi. With Chia-Jen Lo pitching in relief of Clemens, he delivered a pitch to Zoilo Almonte and Pagnozzi was trying to throw to second to catch Cano sleeping but instead, he spiked the ball and as it flew toward the backstop, Nunez run home and was able to get just under the tag of Lo who covered home on the play. The Yankees took the 2-1 lead and it’s all the needed to win thanks to Pettitte.

When the bottom of the ninth was about to begin and Pettitte grabbed his mitt and put his cap on, I could feel the tears building up in my eyes because it didn’t seem real to me. How could Andy Pettitte‘s career be coming an end? How did Mariano Rivera‘s career end a few days ago? How did we all get so old?

Pettitte got Altuve and Matt Dominguez to fly out for the first two outs of the inning but both of those balls were struck pretty hard and it was clear that Andy was starting to lose a little bit of zip on his pitches. Chris Carter came up and instead of being polite and being the third out, he decided to hit a single to left field on pitch 113 from Pettitte.

Joe Girardi ambled toward the mound and the crowd started booing. Before the eighth inning, Pettitte had told Girardi that if he ran into trouble that he should bring the kid in. He meant David Robertson who is in line to be the heir apparent to Mariano Rivera. When Girardi reached the mound, he told Pettitte it was his call saying, “Tell me what you want to do.” Pettitte answered with, “I want to try and finish this thing.” Girardi then turned on his heel and headed back to the dugout as quickly as he walked out of it. This was Pettitte’s last game, of course he was going to try for the complete game because the Hollywood ending had to happen.

J.D. Martinez stepped in to face Pettitte and after two pitches, Martinez became a footnote in history: Who was the last batter of Andy Pettitte’s career? Martinez grounded to third, Nunez threw to first and it was game over, career over, Yankees win.

Pettitte smiled and yelled with glee, his teammates congratulated him and after a polite shove by Girardi, Pettitte went back out to the mound as the crowd at Minute Maid Park, both Astros fans and Yankees fans and the Houston Astros team gave him an ovation.

Pettitte said after the game, “It was almost a fairy tale, man.”

And with that, Andy Pettitte’s career is now over, man.