Both New York baseball teams were in a fog last night. Each navigating in opposite directions. The Yankees found a way to win, while the Mets got lost, losing again.
For the Mets, who have stumbled in the opening month of a season that carried great expectations, the hazy conditions in Flushing could have been perceived as an ominous sign of troubles to come. The ailing Mets got Yoenis Cespedes and Travis d'Arnaud back in the lineup but still dropped their 9th in 10 games.
The visiting Braves handed the Mets their fifth straight loss, 8-2. They only managed five hits and are averaging 2.8 runs over their last 10 games. The Braves tagged Robert Gsellman for 5 runs in the first inning, and the fog thickened.
Meanwhile up in New England, where the fog was thicker than in New York, Luis Severino pitched 7 innings of three-hit, shutout ball and Aaron Judge celebrated his 25th birthday with a two-run homer and spectacular Jeter like catch, carrying the surging Bombers to a 3-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox in the longtime rivals' first meeting this season.
The fog got thicker in the middle innings, yet the Yankees continued to play winning baseball, injuries and all. The only drama was in the 9th when Aroldis Chapman labored a bit giving up a run. It was the 11th win in 14 games for the Yankees after they opened the season 1-4. Talk about coming out of a fog.
So last night was a foggy night of baseball. Problem is the Mets have been in it all of April.
With their fourth straight loss and eighth in nine games, the banged up Mets fell 5 ½ games behind the Nationals in the NL East, putting them in early danger of a premature exit from the division race for a second straight year. Since last year’s All-Star game, the Mets are 13 games under .500. This is the same team most predicted will win the division. I know, I know, it’s still April.
There is another Mike and the Mad Dog rumor going around. And I was just getting used to the idea of the windbag riding off into the sunset.
You wouldn’t be wrong naming Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid and Erik Karlsson as the three best players in the NHL. The Rangers’ coaching staff will be challenged to create a game plan to deal with Karlsson, the defenseman who does it all, and all at top speed across the entire 200×85. The Senators may not be as physical as the Canadians were, but the Senators are a very good hockey team. No easy task for the Blueshirts.
One thing won’t change with Phil Simms, now that he’s become a pre-game and halftime and postgame guy: He will continue to be as smart and honest a football analyst as anybody in the business.
So the NFL schedule gets released and as usual, ESPN over analyzed it… well, like they do with every NFL and NBA subject. Again the Giants open the season with the Cowboys, who by the way have 5 primetime games but they also have an ungodly 9 late afternoon kickoffs (13 of 16 games slated for national television) . It’s only a matter of time before Goodell and the NFL turn the Cowboys into Notre Dame and sell off their games as their own national television package, right?
The Yankees took a series loss against the Pirates and fall to 11-7 on the season. Should have been 12-6 if they didn’t leave the bases leaded in the 9th of yesterday’s game.
I’m trying not to laugh, but once again the injuries are piling up. Quickly- for the New York Mets. While Im not laughing at the injuries, I am laughing at the incompetence. What is it with the training staff of the Mets?
Lucas Duda and Wilmer Flores already were unavailable for the Mets on Thursday, while Travis d'Arnaud was limited. But the Mets added one more name to the list as Yoenis Cespedes left after five innings because of a left hamstring injury. The training room is starting to fill up again, like it seems to every season.
By the way, they fell to the Phillies, 6-4, in front of 24,656 at Citi Field, as Noah Syndergaard allowed five runs (three earned), with the help of some poor defense. The Mets have lost five of six and are now a .500 club at 8-8.
Neil Walker's three-run home run in the third was all the damage the Mets could get against Aaron Nola and the “dreaded” Phillies' bullpen.
Again this season,(like last night) news breaks that someone on the team is ailing from a strained quad, hamstring or some other muscle. Have you ever seen a team with so many injuries that seem to come from lack of conditioning? The numbers are more telling than the rhetoric. Only the Rangers lost more games on the disabled list than the Mets last year. And they rank in the top-five in days on the disabled list over the last three-year (fourth), five-year (fifth) and 15-year spans (second).So is this just a long period of bad luck or is this systemic?
Only the Mets executives know best. They are the ones with access to the medical procedures their training staff and medical staff uses.
So, yeah the training room is filling up fast, and they badly need a guy like Cespedes to stay out of it.
Henrik Lundqvist is the bedrock of the New York Rangers. Lundqvist has been superb in this first-round clash with the Montreal Canadiens. Still, there was only so much a goalie could do on Tuesday night, only so many saves he could make in a pivotal Game 4 to prevent the Rangers from sliding to a 7th straight home postseason loss and a three games-to-one series deficit. He is not their only star, not the only player in red, white and blue capable of turning the tide of a game or a playoff series. Last night we got to watch the “other star” of the Blueshirts. He wears number 61.His name is Rick Nash.
Nash was the best player on ice last night. On a night when the Rangers desperately wanted to tell the Canadiens “not in our house,” Nash said it with one forceful first-period move. He received a Kevin Hayes pass on the left wing in stride on the power play, with the Rangers up 1-0 on an early Jesper Fast goal. He blew past the Habs defense and bounded directly into Carey Price’s hallowed crease, bowling over the Montreal goalie, whose embellishment drew a penalty on Nash and disallowed what could have been a Kevin Hayes tap-in rebound goal. He sent a message. Once back on the ice he was an absolute monster leading the offensive charge for the Rangers. He scored what was the game winner early in the second period to put the Rangers up 2-1, and if not for the crossbar, would have buried another in the third period. Kevin Nash played on of his best playoff games as a Ranger. He’s been criticized for past playoff play, but last night he was the reason they won last night.
Ok, maybe not the only reason…The defense woke up, and finally realized they can’t hang Hank out to dry nightly. Now the big thing for the Rangers will be consistency. If they can do this again in Game 5, they will win. Speed through the neutral zone. Forechecking. Smart dumps. Getting in passing lanes. Preventing quality chances. Fundamental hockey. The Rangers are more skilled and deeper than the Habs. If they play like they did last night, they will win this thing.
As mentioned in yesterday’s post, just two weeks into the season, and we have the Yankees winning 8 in a row with unexpected great pitching and the Met’s Jose, struggling enough where the Mets were jokingly thinking about asking the FBI for help in locating their third baseman. (I'm not making this up).
Anyways, around the rest of baseball… Everyone out there had the Miami Marlins, Cincinnati Reds and Colorado Rockies as the three National League divisions' leaders after two weeks, right? Or the Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers as the three cellar-dwellers on the American League side of things? What we have seen, is the Chicago Cubs struggle to find their dominant form from last year, and seen the flu do its best to take out the Boston Red Sox, and I’ll mention it again- the Blue Jays sit in last place, and the Cardinals do the same. Who would have thunk.
What about a few interesting performances from players as well. Marcus Thames has hit as though he was still in Korea, showing that the Brewers were justified in their three year contract, and what about some mid-40s voodoo from Bartolo Colon, who allowed just one hit over seven innings of work in his home debut with the Atlanta Braves. Tyler Chatwood and Ervin Santana both twirled shutouts, Ender Inciarte hit four home runs in four games after tallying just three in 578 plate appearances a year ago and the Mariner’s James Paxton running his scoreless-inning streak to 21 to start the year, that’s a 0.00 ERA.. Then on the other side, Colorado’s Trevor Story is just hitting .114, and Jose Bautista hitting just 1.36, striking out 15 times with zero home runs.
Although it is still early, it may not be time to push the panic button just yet (or celebrate) , but it has been interesting so far.. As such, the events of the past couple of weeks have had an impact upon my MLB Power Ranking which you can find to your right. What do you think?
It’s only 2 weeks in and already the Baseball season has some surprises, especially locally.
Seven in a row and a sweep for the Yankees. Yes, the Yankees are the hottest team in baseball right now. Yeah I know, sweeping the Rays and Cardinals is nothing to brag about, but good teams are supposed to beat up on bad teams and the Bombers have done just that. The contributors have been plenty – Hedley, Pineda, Hicks, Romine and Toreyes have all surprised with their play. All this against the backdrop of a lot of angst: Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius are missing significant time, and until yesterday we got nothing from Greg Bird. It was good to see him find his stroke last night.
The rotation has been on a roll of late. Tanaka was a bit better last time on the hill, while Pineda has been great the last two starts and what can you say about CC. He has been outstanding. The bullpen has been pretty good. They do have the best ERA in baseball.
A 8-4 start is nothing drastic, but it is definitely something to be happy about. Better players are returning, so the talent level will actually rise. Maybe just maybe they can play at this level the rest of the way. Too early to say, but Ill take it.
On the other side of the city, the Mets, who many picked to win the division (I didn’t) are at 7-6, after a disappointing weekend. The starting rotation for the “Kings of Queens” (hey that’s what their fans call them), has been as expected, The performances of Syndergaard, DeGrom, Harvey, and Wheeler ranges from awesome to very encouraging, but the bullpen has been a failure so far. The two biggest cogs in the team’s bullpen in Jeurys Familia‘s absence, Addison Reed and Fernando Salas both faltered in big spots, especially this past weekend.
The infield has been a problem too. Finding a solution to the 3rd base situation is going to be a problem this season. Everyone thought Reyes had a solid season in him and maybe he would fill in nicely, but to expect 130-135 games from him in a productive sense may have been a mistake. In 46 ab’s hes batting .087. Wilmer Flores who has been platooning with him is currently hitting .188. Neil Walker hasn’t hit a HR yet with only 3 RBI’s.
Starting Pitching and Yoenis Cespedes ( 6 Hr’s and 10 RBI’s) have been the positives. I still think the Mets are a playoff team. No need to panic Met fans, they are above .500 and 140 to go. Get off the ledge.
Tomorrow, I’ll look at other surprises in MLB, untill then…
I know it’s only 9 games into the season and I know it’s the Rays but…SWEEP! The Yankees picked up their fourth straight win Thursday night, this one a 3-2 victory, completing a 3 game sweep of Tampa. The Yankees have won their first three home games for the first time since 2006. And for that we can thank Aaron Hicks and Lois Severino.
Hicks has been a Yankee for one season and two weeks, and has been terrible for much of his time in pinstripes.A disappointment to say the least. Last night he did not disappoint. In 4 at-bats in which he saw a total of only 13 pitches, including a walk, Hicks belted 2 home runs, the second of which occurred in the Yankees half of the seventh inning that drove in the tying and go-ahead runs. It was nice to see a guy who has all the tools contribute in a big way.
Another guy who contributed in a big way was Severino who took the ball to give the team 7 firm and decisive innings in which he struck out 11 batters, walked only one, and threw 70% of his pitches for strikes. His best start since 2015, and the first time a starter has gotten into the 7th inning.
It was a nice win for the “retooling” Yanks but there were some negatives. Greg Bird returned to the lineup but clearly is not himself as he registered three strikeouts while seeing only 18 pitches in four at-bats. He looked lost in his first game back from his illness. Right now the Bombers aren’t getting anything from the first base position.
Dellin Betances struggled at the end of the 2016 season. Mostly due to walks. He hasn’t been the same lights out reliever he once was. Again last night he. made a mess of things in the eighth inning walking the first batter he faces and then allows a single to Corey Dickerson to put runners on the corners with no outs. I’m thinking, oh no , not again. But then, he kicked it into overdrive. Strikeout of Kevin Kiermaier, strikeout of Evan Longoria, weak tapper up the line by Brad Miller. Inning over, runners stranded. Hopefully we start to see the old Betances without the stress, that we endure whenever he comes in a game of late.
Ok, so overall were seeing positive things from the Yankees. The Cardinals arrive for a three-game weekend set beginning tonight, the first Inter-League matchup for the Yankees. The Cardinals have been struggling of late with a porous defense and a lack of hitting, although they did break out of it Wednesday with a victory over the Nationals just in time to face the Pinstripes.
The job of keeping the line moving now falls on Masahiro Tanaka, who no one believes will have three consecutive clunkers as the team’s ace. No one has ventured any guesses as to what might be wrong with Tanaka, except for the obvious fact that he’s had little or no command of his pitches. Time for him to turn it around and help keep this happy little win streak alive.
The Yankees planned to wait until April 16th to use their fifth starter, but with Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia having to work harder than usual over the weekend, they decided to give them extra rest and go with rookie Jordan Montgomery. He pitched well in his MLB debut. Not great, not awful. Three runs allowed (2 earned) on 5 hits and two walks in 4.2 innings before hitting his pitch count. The Yankees are looking for pitching help both now and for the future, and while acknowledging one start is just one start, I saw some encouraging signs from Montgomery during his debut yesterday. Oh yeah, and the Yanks have won 3 in a row.
The Rangers who haven’t played well in the last 6 weeks, and have had their troubles with the Candians, started the playoffs in Montreal last night. A place they struggle to win. Henrik Lundqvist got over his troubles with the Montreal in a hurry. He bounced back from a shaky first period to make 31 saves in the Rangers’ 2-0 victory on Wednesday night in the series opener. Another road win in a place they never seem to win. I’ll take it!
Good for Chris Christie calling on sports leagues to help save St. Anthony’s in Jersey City.
Mark Cuban really wanted to have Tony Romo play for the Mavericks Tuesday. Cuban was so committed to having the former Cowboys quarterback suit up for the Mavs, he told NBA commissioner Adam Silver to fine him if Silver disapproved. The plan was for Romo, who had basketball scholarship offers coming out of high school, to sign a one-day contract with the Mavs. But Silver told Cuban Romo's one-day contract would not be honored. Who said The NFL was the only No Fun League?
The Braves are pulling out all the stops for when they play their first game in SunTrust Park on Friday, including serving a beer specially brewed with baseball bats.Terrapin Brewing Company, based out of Athens, Ga., has brewed a beer with leftover wood chips from Mizuno baseball bats. For clarification, the wood chips are from discarded wood from the bat-making process, meaning there will be no sticky pine tar in your beer.
The Knicks have now lost 50 games or more for all three years that Phil Jackson has been in charge. And we thought Isiah Thomas was bad??
The rap on Michael Pineda has been his lack of focus when trying to finish off a batter or end an inning with two outs. There was nothing wrong with Michael Pineda’s focus with two outs yesterday. Nothing much wrong with the big guy period. Pineda flirted with perfection and gave the home crowd a spectacle during the 2017 home opener at the stadium.
I’m not sure we could have asked for a better home opener. The weather was perfect and the house was full. I guess Pineda could have finished off the perfect game, but that’s asking a lot. Give me a great pitching performance and eight runs from the offense every day of the week. And home runs from Aaron Judge. Damn do I love watching that man hit bombs.
I have often wondered why the Yankees have stood with him for so long. Up until yesterday he has been the most inconsistent pitcher to wear pinstrips in years. Yesterday I saw all the “stuff” we’ve been hearing about. Yesterday was the best I’ve even seen the big guy.
Through six innings and two outs the Rays had nothing particularly close to a hit — Brett Gardner made a nice running catch near the foul line for the second out of the seventh, which was the closest thing to a hit at the time — and only one of the first 20 batters they sent to the plate saw a three-ball count. Heck, Tampa didn’t see a hitter friendly 2-0 or 3-1 count until the sixth inning, when Tim Beckham got a 2-0 count with two outs. Pineda bounced back to strike him out. He lost the perfect game with two outs in the on a legitimate double by (who else?) Yankee killer Evan Longoria.
All told, Pineda faced 25 batters Monday and threw a first pitch strike to 20 of them. Of those 25 batters, only six hit the ball out of the infield. Meanwhile the Yankee hitters did get the ball out of the infield. The Yankees scored 8 runs and seven different players drove 1 in. Six different players scored runs too. Austin Romine and Torreyes were the only starters without a hit, though Romine reached base on an error in that five-run eighth inning and Torreyes plated a run with a fielder’s choice. A total team effort by the offense. Roughly 26 hours ago it looked like this team couldn’t buy a hit. Go figure.
It’s only 7 games into the season so I’m not going to make any proclamations either way, but it was fun to see the offense score runs, the defense make some nice plays and Pineda pitch as good as he ever has in front of a wild crowd. Thanks Big Mike, now how about we make it 3 in a row.
Isn’t it funny how one thing can happen in Spring Training, then the exact opposite happens once the regular season begins? Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird tore the cover off the ball this spring, so of course they’re off to a combined 2-for-26 (.077) start during the regular season. Masahiro Tanaka was lights out in camp, then he couldn’t get out of the third inning on Opening Day. Chase Headley was invisible in March, and he’s been a one-man wrecking crew in April.
Through three games this season (1-2) the offense has been at best inconsistent and at worst flat-out bad. Sanchez and Bird (and Matt Holliday) doing nothing in particular is the biggest culprit. No doubt about that. The rotation has been mostly poor too. Even in Tuesday’s win, CC Sabathia could only go five innings. None of this is surprising, of course. Young hitters have their ups and down, and the rotation looked questionable all offseason.
The only constant for the Yankees so far this season has been the bullpen. They’re carrying eight relievers and all eight have appeared in a game already, and they’re all tossing up zeroes which is great but we know how Joe can’t resist going to his bullpen early and often. At this pace that could mean trouble as in bullpen burn out by June.
It’s way too early to panic. But we do see a pattern here - lousy starting pitching, a quick call to the bullpen and the lack of a hit with runners in scoring position. Seem familiar?
With this said, I still believe the baby bombers will have an impact on this team. And I still believe they will be a better than .500 team. They will need Louis Severino (who didn’t have a great spring) and a yet unnamed 5th starter to step up and give them innings.
Hey, we knew the Yankee’s Achilles heel was pitching, let’s hope the hitting emerges as we think it will and how about a surprise starter that can give them half a season of average performance, then the Yankees might have a wild card they can put into play sooner than later.
WHAT IS THIS?
It's a somewhat tongue in cheek OPINIONATED sports blog that promises to cover baseball, football, hockey, basketball, and any other INTERESTING, stupid, and absurd STORY related to sports.