LADY AT THE BAT: Digging For Positives On A Struggling Yankees Team

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Digging For Positives On A Struggling Yankees Team

West Coast games can be brutal on an East Coast fan, particularly when watching the maddeningly inconsistent Michael Pineda pitch. When he gave up a 2-out triple, then a game tying single to the Arizona Diamondbacks lineup, it was all I could do to not put my head down.

To be clear, I did not give up on the game, or on the Yankees, in the 2nd inning. I steadfastly believe that the Yankees can come back and win a game at any point until there are three outs in the 9th inning. (I’ve seen them do it, so it what’s to prevent them from doing it again?)

No, I wanted to put my head down because it was the 2nd inning and it was Pineda, he of the 15.43 1st inning ERA and 10.29 2nd inning ERA (going into Tuesday’s game.)  If he stayed true to form, he would continue to unravel by giving up a go-ahead HR to Zack Greinke.

He didn’t though. Instead he went to work on increasing his 3rd inning ERA, which was a sparkling 1.29, by giving up 2 runs and 4 hits. He even threw in 2 stolen bases for good measure.

Desperate to stay awake through this game, if just to witness the epic Yankees comeback that I was so sure was on the horizon, I did a little stat searching. Despite how poorly the Yankees have played this season, I just knew there had to be some positive stat in which the Yankees lead the American League. I knew it, I just had to find it.

I figured it wouldn’t be pitching and, despite the improvement over the past few weeks, I knew it wouldn’t be offense. Fielding then! With Aaron Hicks (whose reputation kept Pineda’s 3rd inning from being worse by stopping Goldschmidt from tagging up on a fly ball to right), Didi Gregorious, Brett Gardner and Mark Teixeira in the same lineup, this is a decent fielding team.

Scanning the MLB stats page frantically, I finally found it. Passed Balls. The Yankees have zero passed balls on the season. Sure, they were tied with the Tampa Bay Rays for the honor but, nonetheless, there it was.

Given the Yankees erratic pitching and how often the pitchers seem to have no idea where the ball is going, I was a little surprised that at least one of the Yankees 10 wild pitches wasn’t somehow called a passed ball. It was a credit to Brian McCann and backup Austin Romine, who are apparently doing very well with the unpredictability that confronts them each night.

There it was. The silver lining.

Fast forward to the sixth inning. With Pineda out of the game, Chasen Shreve on the mound and Diamondbacks SS Nick Ahmed on 1B, it happened. A pitch from Shreve, a passed ball by Brian McCann and Ahmed was standing on 3B.

So much for that.

I sighed, glanced over at my pillow, then opened the MLB stats page again. It was time, not to give up on the Yankees, but instead to find another silver lining.

Yes, they dropped this series and are at risk of a sweep after looking so good during the home stand. But they aren’t as bad as they’ve looked these past two games. They just aren’t. It’s just a matter of finding the good in this team. Even if you have to dig for it.

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