You were saying?

In 2012, a certain NY beat writer arrogantly dismissed me when I mentioned that the Yanks should call up Steve Pearce, who that year in AAA hit .318-11-30 in 53 games for AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. At the time I advocated for his call up, the Yanks had some injuries/slumping players, I forget which. It was probably a combination of the two.

Now this reporter usually dismisses minor leaguers. I don’t know why he doesn’t like to give them chances. After all, he was a rookie in his job at one time. Someone had to give HIM a chance at one time. Often, he has no clue who is doing well in the minors or at what level. He’d rather bring in a washed up veteran than give a kid a chance.

I remember Suzyn Waldman once urging the Yanks to bring a 45-year-old David Wells out of retirement rather than bring up and see what a promising minor league prospect had. Really? You couldn’t give a youngster a chance to establish himself but want to bring a faded, retired veteran out of retirement? But then, we remember her going way over the top when the Yanks brought Roger Clemens out of retirement in 2007.

For all the praise heaped on the Core Five (and yes, I include Bernie Williams along with the “Core Four” of Jeter, Rivera, Pettitte and Posada), someone had to give them that first chance. Now, a quintet that that coming along at about the same time (Bernie came up four years before the others) doesn’t happen but once in a generation, and the Yanks’ minor league talent isn’t as deep as it was 20-25 years ago with those players, but people, especially youngsters, need chances.

But I digress. In 2012, Pearce played for three different major league teams at the age of 29. He wasn’t a prospect, but someone who bounced back and forth from the majors to the minors for Pittsburgh from 2007-2011. In that timeframe he hit .232-9-52 in 185 games. His OPS+ was 79. Nothing to write home about.

In 2012, for three teams (Balt/Hou/NYY) Pearce hit .239-4-26 in 61 games. OPS+ 92. He was 4 for 25, 1 HR, 4 RBI for the Yankees in 12 games. Nothing to write home about, and probably a good cause for the one reporter’s arrogant dismissal.

But sometimes all it takes is a player to get a chance and to be used right and managed correctly, which is what I hoped the Yanks could do with Pearce in 2012.

In 2013, Pearce only played in 44 games with Baltimore, but put up an OPS+ of 114. Solid. .261-4-13.

This year, the 1B/OF has an OPS+ of an excellent 146. .284-16-39 as a platoon player. Now, Pearce is a righty batter and LF at Camden Yards is as much of a short porch—-with a short wall—as RF is at Yankee Stadium. After all, it’s just 364 to LCF there (most places have it 370-390, and Yankee Stadium has a 399). That short LCF may have helped Pearce.

But look at those numbers. Pearce could have fit right into this Yankees team as a legitimate 1B backup to Teixeira (rather than using the players the Yanks HAVE used this year there). He also could have been a legitimate righty-hitting backup to Gardner and platoon partner for the power-challenged Ichiro in RF.

In 2013-2014 combined, Pearce has hit .278-20-52 in 136 games, 425 at bats. The OPS+ is a superb 136.

Take a look at those numbers. You think they wouldn’t fit in well with these offensively challenged Yankees?

Sometimes, all it takes is an opportunity, and a manager who gives you that opportunity. Someone who knows your strengths and weaknesses, and who maximizes those strengths and minimizes those weaknesses by platooning you —playing you and sitting you at the appropriate times. It appears Buck has done that with Pearce down in Baltimore.

We have no idea whether Pearce’s recent success will continue. After all, he is 31 now. But his 2013 and 2014 seasons have me doing a few things.

One is to shake my head and wonder what might have been. Could Girardi have utilized Pearce as Buck has? His numbers match anything any current Yankee has done this year. As I wrote above, he would have been a fine fit on this team as a backup 1B/sometimes DH/RF platoon/backup OF.

Besides shaking my head, there is also the satisfaction of having the last laugh.

Sometimes, all one needs is a chance.

Games 145/146. Yanks get swept.

The Yanks’ very remote playoff chances were basically killed off on Friday when they scored only one run in 20 innings of a DH and lost both games to the Baltimore Orioles, 2-1 in 11 innings, and 5-0.

With the losses, the Yanks fell to 75-71, and are in 3rd place, 12 1/2 behind division leader Baltimore, and are five games out of the final wild card spot with just 16 to play.

In the first game, the game was scoreless until Thursday night’s hero, Chris Young homered in the top of the 11th. Unfortunately, the Yanks weren’t playing at home like they were on Thursday night, so the HR wasn’t a GW walk-off. Instead, Adam Warren came in, hit one batter, walked two, then gave up a two-out, two-run single to blow the game, 2-1.

Antoan Richardson went 3 for 4 in the DH. (I correct myself from a previous version of this post. I thought it was his first MLB hit, but he went 2-4 for Atlanta in 2011. )

The Game 1 pitching line:

McCarthy 7 Ip, 0 R, 4 H, 0 walks and 6 K. Overall ERA  3.98 (as NYY, 2.54)
Betances 1 1/3, 0 R, 0 H, 2 walks and 2 K. 1.37
Robertson 1 2/3, 0 R, 0 H, 2 walks and 2 K. 2.68.
Warren (L, 3-6, 3.30) 2/3 IP, 2 R, 1 H, 2 walks, 1 HBP, 1 K.

The Yanks’ offense continued to struggle in Game 2 of the DH, since they lost that one 5-0, getting just four hits.

Rookie Bryan Mitchell made his first MLB start (second MLB game), and did well the first time through the order before the Orioles caught up to him.

David Phelps struggled in his return from the DL (rusty).

Mitchell 5 IP, 2 R, 6 H, 2 walks and 2 K. (L, 0-1, 2.57).
Outman 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks and 1 K. Overall ERA 3.00
Phelps 2/3 IP, 2 R, 1 H, 3 walks and 1 K. 4.38.
Hill 1/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks and 0 K. 1.93.
Roe 1 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 0 walks and 2 K. 9.00.

Derek Jeter didn’t play in the first game of the DH and went 0 for 4 in the nightcap. He stays at 3450 career hits as his career is winding down (just over two weeks to go). He is down to .253, and is hitting .181 since August 2nd, when his average was .278. Jeter, of course, missed most of last year (hitting just .190 in 17 games) recovering from the breaks in his ankle, and at the age of 40, you wonder if it is age, fatigue (after all, he missed most of last year) or a combination of age, deterioration of skills, fatigue, all the ceremonies and the realization this is the end, etc.

Whatever, the last five weeks or so have been tough to watch. Seeing him lose 25 points off his batting average, and getting to the point where we really have to wonder if he’ll stay above .250 for this season has been difficult. It’s sad to watch lately.

Game 144. No-Hit for 7 1/3, Yanks come back to win 5-4.

Newly acquired OF Chris Young broke up a no-hit bid with one out in the 8th, and then hit a 3-run GW HR in the 9th as the Yanks came back from 4-0 down to win 5-4 over Tampa Bay Thursday night.

Michael Pineda had given up two HR to Yunel Escobar—a 3-run shot in the 4th and a solo HR in the 7th—to put the Yanks into a 4-0 hole. Worse yet, Alex Cobb was pitching a no-no for the Rays.

But in the 8th, Cobb lost the no-no when Young doubled with one out. After a pitching change, PH Martin Prado made the score 4-2 when he homered (11th overall). Later in that inning the Yanks caught a break when Jeter, after being HBP, wasn’t severely hurt. X-rays on his forearm proved negative.

Jeter went 0-3 and is down to .255. He’s stuck on 3450 career hits.

In the 9th, Chase Headley was HBP on the chin. He will get x-rays on his jaw (and in another game, Miami OF Giancarlo Stanton was HBP in the face as well). After a double by Ichiro and a Wheeler strikeout, Young hit his game-winning blast, his 10th overall HR of the season.

Pineda went 7 1/3 IP, 4 R, 10 H, 0 walks and 2 K. 2.20.

Rich Hill 2/3, 0 R, 0 H, 1 walk and 2 K. Overall ERA 2.08.

Chaz Roe 1 batter, a walk, 9.00.

Josh Outman 1/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks and 0 K. Overall ERA 3.12.

Shawn Kelley (W, 3-5, 4.15) 2/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks and 0 K.

The win puts the Yanks at 75-69. They are in 3rd in the AL East, 10 1/2 behind Baltimore (who they play in a DH today). They are four out of the final WC spot with 18 games to play.

Game 143. Yanks come back to win 8-5.

Chris Capuano was terrible, getting just one out, but the Yanks came back from a 4-0 first inning deficit to win 8-5.

Capuano got just one out, a strikeout, but gave up 4 R on 4 H and 2 walks. His overall ERA went to 4.90.

The Yanks got one run back in the bottom of the first on a HR by McCann (18).

They got two more in the third on a two-run single by McCann to cut it to 4-3.

Chris Young hit his 9th HR of the year, and first as a Yankee, in the fourth to tie it up.

An Rbi triple (it should have been a double and error) by Teixeira (triple? by Teix?) and rbi single by Headley gave the Yanks two in the fifth to put them up 6-4.

Doubles by Ichiro and Young drove in two in the eighth. McCann had 3 RBI in the game, and Young had 3 hits and 2 RBI.

On the down side, Derek Jeter was 0 for 4 and his average slid to .256. The last five weeks have been tough to watch. It’s proof that yes, it’s time.

After Capuano was knocked out in the first, the pitching line went like this:

Whitley 2 2/3, 0 R, 1 H, 1 walk and 2 K. ERA 5.13.

Claiborne (W, 3-0, 3.20) 2 Ip, 0 R, 2 H. 0 walks and 1 K.

Warren 1 2/3, 0 R, 2 h, 0 walks and 0 K.  3.07.

Betances 1 1/3, 0 R, 1 H, 0 walks and 1 K. 1.39.

Rogers 1 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 0 walks and 0 K. Overall ERA 4.83.

The win puts the Yanks record at 74-69. They remain in 3rd place in the AL East (forget the division, they are 11 back and Baltimore’s magic # for clinching is down to 8). As far as the last wild card spot is concerned, they are 4 1/2 back with 19 to play.

Even if a miracle occurred and the Yanks did make the playoffs, the news isn’t good. While Masahiro Tanaka continued to progress in pitching a simulated game and there is a chance he may pitch in one or two games before the season is out, it is looking more and more like Brett Gardner will be shut down for rest of the year with an abdominal strain. Carlos Beltran’s elbow is acting up again. It looks like he’ll need offseason surgery, but can it hold up for 19 more games? It’s looking like the answer may be no and he may be shut down for the year. Martin Prado’s hamstring is preventing him from playing.

 

Game 142. Yanks fall, 4-3.

Hiroki Kuroda struck out the side in the first inning, but then the roof fell in as the Yanks lost to Tampa Bay 4-3 Tuesday night.

The loss drops the Yanks into 3rd place in the AL East, 11 behind Baltimore and one behind Toronto. They are 73-69 and 5 1/2 out of the last wild card spot with just 20 games to play.

Kuroda gave up a HR to James Loney in the second, then two runs in the third and another in the fourth. Seven relievers combined to keep the Rays’ tally at four, but the Yanks couldn’t come all the way back for a victory.

Kuroda (L, 10-9, 3.91) went 3 1/3, 4 R, 9 H, 0 walks and 5 K.

After him, there was a parade of relievers.

Huff 1 2/3, 0 R, 2 H, 0 walks,  K. Overall ERA 3.60. (NYY 2.o6)
Whitley 1 1/3, 0 R, 0 H, 1 walk, 2 K.   5.32.
Hill 1/3, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks, 1 K. 2.45
Rogers 2/3, 0 R, 0 H, 1 walk, 2 K. Overall ERA 4.73 (NYY 2.33)
Outman 1/3, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks, 0 K. Overall ERA 3.16 (NYY 0.00)
Kelley 1/3, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks, 0 K. 4.21
Robertson 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks and 2 K. 2.77.

The Yanks got a run in the bottom of the fourth on a HR by Ellsbury (15). Chris Young drove in two in the fifth to make it 4-3, then the Yanks got a bad break. Stephen Drew was thrown out at home on Ellsbury’s single, and Derek Jeter’s line drive was caught and turned into a DP.

Jeter isn’t going out the way we hoped. He is down to .258 and is hitting just .197 since August 2nd. (25 for 127, 22 singles, just 3 doubles).

Game 141. Jeter Day marred by 2-0 loss.

I was up for Derek Jeter Day yesterday at the Stadium (I was hoping they’d retire #2 right away, but that didn’t happen. Why waste another sold-out crowd?) and while the ceremony was great, the day wasn’t, because the Yanks lost 2-0 on two unearned runs. This shutout loss—on unearned runs, no less—not even 48 hours after the Yanks lost on Friday night 1-0 on an unearned run.

Getting in was a pain in the butt. Security could have done a better job letting people in, and they should have opened the gates earlier.

The Yanks have flags with Jeter’s #2 flying all around Yankee Stadium for the end of the year. Joel Sherman of the NY Post remarked that considering the Yanks’ playoff chances (and their offense, I might add), they should be flying at half-staff.

The Yanks are also wearing a commerative patch on their uniform and cap honoring Derek for the rest of the year.

Before the game, Derek made a nice speech and got some nice gifts. Among the dignitaries to honor him were Torre, Rivera, Bernie, Cone, O’Neill, Tino, Matsui (who always gets a huge hand—he is beloved), Posada, Michael Jordan, Harold Reynolds, Cal Ripken, Jr., Dave Winfield, Reggie, … Pettitte was missing due to a family commitment. Jeter even got hit #3450 during the game—one of only four hits the Yanks got. There were video tributes by various people as well, including former teammates and coaches on other teams such as Cano, Swisher, Granderson and Hughes, as well as by his own teammates and coaches.

But the Yanks couldn’t score and errors by starter Shane Greene and RF Carlos Beltran gave KC all they would need.

KC got a run in the second, unearned because of an error by Greene. They got another unearned run in the third due to Beltran’s error, and that was all she wrote.

Greene went 5 (L, 4-3, 3.57). 2 R, both unearned, 5 H, 3 walks and 4 K. He did struggle and his pitch count after five innings was 90.

Adam Warren went 2 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks and 2 K. 3.15.

Shawn Kelley 1 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 1 walk and 2 K. 4.24.

Josh Outman 1/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks, 1 K. Overall ERA 3.20.

Esmiel Rogers finished. 2/3 IP, 1 hit, 0 walks and 0 K. Overall ERA 4.81.

The loss puts the Yanks at 73-68. They have 21 games left and are off today. They are 9 1/2 back of Baltimore, in 2nd place in the AL East but just 1/2 game ahead of third-place Toronto. As for the final wild-card spot, they are 4 1/2 out but must jump over three teams (Seattle, Detroit and Cleveland) to grab it.

 

Game 140. Yanks KO KC 6-2.

Brandon McCarthy went 6 2/3 strong innings and Martin Prado had 3 hits as the Yanks beat KC 6-2 on Saturday.

McCarthy improved to 6-4 as a Yankee, and 9-14, 4.13 overall on the season. He gave up 2 r, 6 H, 1 walk and 4 K.

A double by Prado and single by Teixeira gave the Yanks a run in the first. After KC tied it with a run in the third, the Yanks got two in the bottom of the third to go up 3-1. John Ryan Murphy doubled, Elsbury tripled and Jeter had a SF.

Singles by Headley and Murphy and a throwing error gave the Yanks another run in the fourth.

In the fifth, Prado doubled again, and scored on a Beltran double. After a walk to Headley, Ichiro singled to put the Yanks up 6-1.

KC got a run in the seventh but the Yanks held on to win 6-2.

Kelley 1/3 IP, 0 r,  0 h, 0 walks, 0 k. 4.34.

Betances the 8th. 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks, 1 K, 1.41.

Robertson the 9th. 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks and 1 K. 2.82.

I’ll be up Sunday for Derek Jeter Day.

The win put the Yanks at  73-67, 8 1/2 back of the Orioles and second place in the AL East. They are 4 out of the last playoff spot with 22 games to go.