Category: baseball

Starting Pitching Could Block Yanks From Canyon of Heros

Robbins Nest

08/03/19 boston red sox vs ny yankees at yankee stadium bronx ny yanks win 9-2. #26 dj lemahieu hits a 3 run homer in the 4th innning Neil Miller / the New York Extra

By Lenn Robbins

This isn’t what Yankees fans want to hear and, quite frankly, we hope it doesn’t come to be. Because there is no city in the world that does a hero’s parade better than the Big Apple.

Who else has a ‘Canyon of Heroes?”

When the U.S. women’s national soccer team won the World Cup (again!), they came here for a parade on Broadway. Their locks were littered with ticker tape, just as Brian Leetch and Derek Jeter and Eli Manning and Neil Armstrong and Nelson Mandela and the Mets, who got a parade in 1962 just for entering the National League!

So believe us when we say we want an October parade.

But if it doesn’t happen, if the Yankees don’t fulfill their 2019 destiny and come up short in their quest for a 28th World Series title, this still has been a ridiculously amazing season.

That fact came into clarity this weekend when the Yankees became the first team to reach the 90-win total. They did it in the most riveting of fashions.

Trailing the Oakland A’s 4-0 going into the bottom of the eighth on Sunday, the Yankees rallied for a 5-4 triumph when Mike Ford became the first rookie in franchise history to smack a pinch-hit, walk-off home run.

08/15/19 Cleveland Indians vs New York Yankees at yankee stadium bronx ny #36 Mike Ford ,who started the game as the DH, pitches in the 8th innning, smiles after he gives up a homer Neil Miller / the New York Extra

We are talking about the Yankees, who have more remarkable history than any team in baseball. Ford, the former Princeton hurler and career minor leaguer, has added to that history.

“I didn’t hear anything, which is crazy,” Ford told reporters about his historic homer. “Just a whole rush of emotion.”

That’s what has made this Yankees season special. The emotion. Because the men in that clubhouse know how hard they’ve had to grind, how many obstacles they’ve had to overcome.

The day before Ford got lost in emotion, DJ LeMahieu hit a walk-off homer in a 4-3, 11-inning victory over Oakland.

These heroics came the day after the Yankees set a more dubious record. They placed Gio Urshela on the injured list with a groin injury. Urshela became the 29th Yankee make it onto that list, which is a Major League record.

Despite this staggering procession of injuries, the Yankees own a 90-49 record and have all but mathematically won their 19th AL East title, the first since 2012.

Urshela is one of the most fantastic stories in baseball with a slash line of .331/.370/.555 with 32 doubles and 18 home runs in 414 plate appearances.

LeMahieu’s numbers make him the second most fantastic story on the Yankees (Domingo German, noted). David John has a slash line of .335./.382/.920 with 24 home runs and 90 RBI.

If the season ended today, LeMahieu and Urshela would be 1-2 choices for team MVP, which is flat out mind-boggling when you consider this is a team with guys named Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius, Aroldis Chapman, et al.

The Yankees have epitomized the “next man up,” mantra.

“Our guys have been great at it all year,’’ manager Aaron Boone told reporters. “Whoever we brought up has controlled situations and moments really well and beyond, maybe, their experience. Ford has been one of those guys, but the list is long.’’

It has been a long and astonishing list, but here’s the rub. We’re still not sold on the starting pitching. Hold the paper shredding.

If one needed a reminder of the importance of starting pitching, it came yesterday like the downpour that marked the day. The Yankees were shutout for the first time this season, losing 7-0 to the Rangers.

05/10/16 Kansas City Royals Vs N.Y.Yankees at Yankee Stadium Bronx N.Y. New York Yankees lead 1-0 after 1 innning New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka #19 pitches in the 1st innning photos by Neil Miller / the ny extra

Masahiro Tanaka (10-8; 4.42 ERA) was solid, surrendering two runs on seven hits over six innings. Mike Minor (12-8; 3.12) was better, allowing just five hits through seven and one-third innings.

Considering this marked the first time in 220 games that the Yankees had been blanked, one can safely label this an anomaly. Or a warning. Regardless, the Yankees starting pitching remains an abstract picture.

J.A. Happ was brilliant against Oakland, tossing one-hit ball over six innings. But that was the first time he’d gone six since July 30th. Tanaka has been a workhorse. German has been terrific. But Happ and CC Sabathia, who’s lost five straight, have not.

08/03/19 boston red sox vs ny yankees at yankee stadium bronx ny New York Yankees starting pitcher Domingo German #55 pitches in the 1st inning today
09/13/16 Los Angeles Dodgers vs New York Yankees at yankee stadium bronx ny New York Yankees win 3-0 New York Yankees catcher Brian McCann #34 right celebrates with New York Yankees relief pitcher Dellin Betances #68 after the game photos by Neil Miller/ the New York Extra

James Paxton has won six straight since losing five in a row so that jury is out. He’s been streaky all season, which is not comforting entering the playoffs.

When one considers the pitching in Cleveland, Houston, Oakland and Tampa, the Yankees are going to be tested – big time – which is the way it should be.

They already have been tested more than any team in baseball history. Without Luis Severino, Dellin Betances and the other members of the injured list, it’s astonishing what the Bombers have done.

04/21/16 Oakland Athletics vs N.Y.Yankees at Yankee Stadium Bronx N.Y.New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino #40 pitches in the 2nd innning photos by Neil Miller/ the ny extra

A 21st 100-win season would be sensational. A ticker tape parade would be better.

The Mets dig themselves a big hole by Neil Miller /The New York Extra

08/29/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny #48 Jacob DeGrom reacts after giving p a 3 run homer in the 7th inning to #7 Vitor Caratini as the Cubs lead the Mets 4-1 Neil Miller/The New York Extra/Neil Miller copyright 2019

With the loss tonight to the Cubs,the Mets find themselves 5 games behind for the 2nd wild card spot.The sweep by the Braves and now the Cubs has put them in an almost impossible situation facing the upcoming schedule.

Once again, the starting pitcher for the Mets did them in.Surprisingly, this time it was Jake DeGrom.The 3 run homer he gave up took all the fight out of the team after that point.And yet once again, for the most part, the bats were ineffective.

08/29/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny #28 J.D.Davis hits a solo homer in the 1st inning Neil Miller /The New York Extra/copyright 2019
08/29/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny #48 Jacon Degrom pitches in the 1st inning Neil Miller /The New York Extra/copyright 2019

There’s still time to fix the situation, but it would require the Mets running the table, and getting some help from the Nats,Phillies,and St Louis. It doesnt look good for them at this moment.

08/29/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny Mets players on the dugout rail stare in dejection in the 9th inning Neil Miller/The New York Extra/ copyright 2019

The Mets melt down again,as Jake implodes in the 7th inning

The Cubs are leading the Mets 4-1 after 7 innings after #7 Victor caratini blasted a 3 run homer in the &th inning off of #48 Jake DeGrom, who did not return to the mound for the 8th inning.

08/29/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny #48 Jacob DeGrom reacts after giving p a 3 run homer in the 7th inning to #7 Vitor Caratini as the Cubs lead the Mets 4-1 Neil Miller/The New York Extra /copyright 2019

Mets and Cubs in a must win by Neil Miller The New York Extra

The Mets face going 5 under the second wild card spot if they lose tonite. Jake DeGrom faces Jon Lester in a great pitching matchup

Before Tuesday game ESPN Keith Olbermann and Cubs manager Joe Maddon chatted in the dugout

08/29/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny Keith Olbermann and Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon talk before this Tuesdays game

A glimmer of joy fades in defeat as the Mets fall to the Cubs by Neil Miller /nysportsextra

08/27/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny ny met #7 Marcus Stroman reacts after giving up a 2 run homer in the 5th inning Neil Miller /nysportsextra

There wasnt much to cheer about tonight about the Mets tonite.Marcus Stroman gave up 2 run homers in back to back innings, and it was all the Cubs needed to sink the Mets tonight.

08/27/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny ny met #7 Marcus Stroman pitches in the 2nd inning Neil Miller/nysportsextra

Once again, the starting pitching didnt do the job, and the hitting wasnt much better, except for a brief instant in time when Pete Alonso lauched his 42 homer of this year breaking the all time Mets record.

08/27/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny ny met #20 pete Alonso hits his 42 home run of the year breaking a mets record and putting the Mets ahead 1-0 in the 4th inning Neil Miller/nysportsextra
08/27/19 Chicago Cubs vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny ny met Mets hang on the dugout railing in dejection in the 9th inning tonite Neil Miller/nysportsextra

With the next four series, including the Cubs,the Mets have their destiny in their own hands.Win the next four series, and there’s a chance they make it into the 2nd wild card spot.Lose the greater portion of the near future games, and the outcome is almost certain

Why the Braves Sweep Was Such a Gut Punch

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

08/25/19 Atlanta Braves vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny Joe Panik grounds out to end the against the Braves today Neil miller/nysportsextra

It was the night of August 9th and the Mets had fallen into a 6-3 sinkhole in the bottom of the 9th against the Nationals when my drinking buddy said, “I’m going to head home. We know how this ends.”

 And then, bang-bang!

Todd Frazier crushed a three-run homer. Michael Conforto lined a singled to right driving in the winning run. And my buddy turned to me and said (cue the Godfather soundtrack), “They’ve pulled me back in.”

Which is what made Sunday’s 2-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field so deflating for the team from Queens and its fans.

The Mets pulled us back in. They had us believing. Shoot, they just bolstered their resume by sweeping the Cleveland Indians last week.

So when Joe Panik stepped to the plate with two outs and runners on first and second, fans rose because since that early-August the Amazins have pulled us back in.

Panik, who’s had a bit of a career resurgence since joining the Mets, hit a soft grounder to first. Freddie Freeman needed no help. He fielded the ball, waved off reliever Mark Melancon, and stepped on first.

No bang-bang! Nothing.

08/25/19 Atlanta Braves vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny Steven Matz pitches in the 1st inning today against the Braves Neil Miller /nysportsextra

The Mets had been swept in a three-game series for just the third time this season. They slipped two and one-half games out of the Wild Card. The Braves, who seemingly have had the Mets number since they arrived in Atlanta in 1966, had struck again.

They swept the Mets in a three-game tease.

The Braves struck out 26 times Friday night, tying a MLB record, yet won, 2-1. They blew a four-run lead Saturday night, yet won, 9-5. And they were on the verge of coughing up a Dallas Keuchel gem on Sunday when Melancon induced Panik into a ground out that sucked the soul out of Citi Field.

“They’re a really tough team,” Mets starter Steven Matz told reporters. “We’ve played them tough and they’ve come out on top. They grind it out to the end. We play good baseball against them, they just got the upper hand.”

08/24/19 atlanta braves vs ny mets at citi field queens ny #45 zach wheeler reacts after giving up a homer in the 2nd inning

The next 16 games are against teams the Mets are battling for that Wild Card berth. There are 32 games remaining. They can’t afford another sweep. The Mets have pulled us back in, which makes this late-season sweep such a gut punch.

#48 Jacob DeGrom file photo pitching against the Atlanta Braves this weekend Neil Miller/nysportsextra

“It was a tough series,” manager Mickey Calloway told reporters.

It sure was.

Pitching fails again as Mets fall to the Braves

Zach Wheeler spoted the Braves 4 runs tonite before the Mets came back on a Pete Alomso 3 run homer to go ahead 5-4. But the very next inning they gave up the lead and lost 9-5 on a combination of the bullpen and bad fielding.

08/24/19 atlanta braves vs ny mets at citifield queens ny #45 zach wheeler reacts after giving p a 2 run hit in the 1st innning
08/24/19 atlanta braves vs ny mets at citi field queens ny #45 zach wheeler reacts after giving up a homer in the 2nd inning

Pete Alonso 3 ru homer was the high point of tonites game for the Mets.

A tale of two pitchers by Neil Miller Nysportsextra

08/23/19 Atlanta Braves vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens ny #48 Jacob DeGrom hits a solo homer in the 6th innning

What more could Jake do? Or for that matter , all of the Mets relievers, and Atlanta whole pitching staff? After a game filled with great starters and relief, is was Familia that failed again.

#48 Jacob DeGrom pitches in the 1st inning last nite Neil Miller /Nysportsextra

After De Grom let up a run, in the bottom frame of that inning, he redeem his mistake by launching a homer to tie the score. And so it continued that way, chances for both teams to win, but the pitchers shut them down.

J.Familia reacts after giving up the go ahead run in the 14th inning last nite neil Miller/Nysportsextra

Bring in Familia, and what do the Mets and their fans get? Another failure to add to his not so good year on his return to the Mets. The team , locked in s struggle for the 2nd wild card spot, can little afford what happened last nite.

Mets lead Indians thru 6 innings in a rain delayed game at Citifield

Noah Syndergaard pitched a strong game thru six inning only giving 2 hits thru 6 innnings before the rains came.The scoring in the game so far came from Wilson Ramos 2 run double.as of 11pm, the game was still delayed.

noah Syndergaard pitches in the 1st inning Neil Miller /nysportsextra
Wilson Ramos 2 rbi double is the only scoring so far tonite Neil Miller ? nysportsextra

All the Healing We Need is Taking Place in Williamsport

ROBBINS NEST

credit twitter

By Lenn Robbins

This is what unfettered, 12-year-old joy looks like. These are the jerseys that humanity wears. This is where a ball and a bat and a glove meld into a glorious amalgam of inclusion and respect and compassion.

The Little League World Series has come at the perfect time for a world wound tight in anxiety and fear and hate.

From mass shootings, to trade wars, to tensions on the Korean Peninsula and Kashmir, to protests in Hong Kong, to leaders that lead only themselves – every morning dawns in doubt.

Except in Williamsport.

In Williamsport, the world’s best 12-year-old baseball players from Mexico to Elizabeth, N.J., from Chungcheong, South Korea to Coon Rapids/Andover, Minn., from Venezuela to Australia remind us why nostalgia beats in the chambers of the heart.

In Williamsport, it doesn’t matter if you have the crazy batting stance of Venezuela’s Deivis Ordonez or the cool “Jersey Shake” celebration of the Elmora Youth Little League team.

In Williamsport, you have players nicknamed ‘Chicken Little,’ yet on these beautiful summer days and nights, no kid fears a gunman bursting into their classroom.

In Williamsport, Cubs slugger Anthony Rizzo blasts a two-run homer off the scoreboard and gives the ball to Japan’s shortstop because all of the Japanese players dapped him up.

In Williamsport, it doesn’t matter that Maddy Freking has long blond hair. It matters that she can throw strikes and make the force play at home.

In Williamsport, players on the Rhode Island team honor the memory of a Kentucky player they never met. Bowling Green coach Jef Goodnight lost his 10-year-old son Mason to a rare form of bacterial meningitis in 2017.

 Before Kentucky played Rhode Island, the New England champs touched Mason’s jersey which is displayed the Great Lakes champs’ dugout.

“We’re so fortunate to be here, and we went over to his jersey and I prayed and then I gave his dad a handshake,” Lucas Tanous, 11, told ESPN. “”It’s just so sad, but we all touched his jersey because I bet he was such a nice kid.”

In Williamsport, the Venezuelan players and coaches stop their walk-off celebration to console the Dominican Republic pitcher who gave up a two-run double in the bottom of the 6th.

In Williamsport, kids aren’t glued to their smartphones. They’re watching the next game or the previous game or sliding down the hill beyond the center field on cardboard boxes, like Cubs manager Joe Madden.

In Williamsport, the only fences are in the outfield. In Williamsport, 12-year-olds from around the world, open their arms to one another, not their mouths. In Williamsport, America’s pastime brings the world together.

In Williamsport.