LADY AT THE BAT: Yankees Rout Orioles and Remember Stick

Friday, September 8, 2017

Yankees Rout Orioles and Remember Stick

Thanks to Mother Nature, the Yankees' stay in Baltimore lasted a day longer than planned. The two teams  met on Thursday afternoon, when the Yankees had expected to already be in Texas ahead of their three game weekend series with the Rangers.

They finally left Baltimore with a 9-1 victory giving the Yankees two wins out of three in the series and lessening the impact of that dreadful loss Tuesday, a game where the Yankees had an early 6-1 lead they couldn't hold. Thursday afternoon was much better, as the Yankees built a 7-0 lead through four innings which they did hold. Sonny Gray was solid on the mound into the sixth inning and Aaron Judge notched his 39th home run, one of four Yankee dingers on the day.

According to Sung-Ming Kim of River Avenue Blues, this is the first time the Yankees have won a series at Camden Yards since September 2013. I seem to recall Camden Yards as being a second home for the Yankees in terms of wins and crowd support. So it has been awhile since the Yankees handled that winning part in Baltimore.

What's Next?
 1. The Yankees are in Arlington Texas to begin a three game series tonight with the Rangers. The next stop is St Petersburg for another three game set with the Rays, assuming the conditions on Florida's Gulf coast are not drastically hampered by what will next week be the aftermath of  the approaching hurricane.

2. When the Yankees return home in a week, except for a quick three game series in Toronto, it's home cooking  the rest of the way. Baltimore, Minnesota, Tampa Bay and Toronto will all come to the Bronx before the end of the season. There is also a makeup game at Yankee Stadium with Kansas City on September 25th.

3. The Yankees are 75-64 and trail the Red Sox by 3 1/2 games in the division. They still hold a 2 1/2 game lead for  the wild card. Minnesota, the current leader for the second wild card slot will be in the Bronx September 18-20.

4. What to do with the bullpen now that Dellin Betances is struggling again? The Yankees can ill afford a loss like Tuesday's game in Baltimore. Lots of questions. Has Aroldis Chapman put his struggles behind him? No better time than now to find a groove for the bullpen ace. Is Adam Warren finished for the season and who replaces his innings? Is Tommy Kahnle reliable again? On the plus side Chad Green seems to have found his niche. And David Robertson appears ready for any situation and any inning he is assigned.

Gene Michael, 1938-2017
The Yankees will wear black arm bands the remainder of the season to honor former player, coach, manager, general manager and special adviser, Gene Michael who died of a heart attack Thursday. Michael who hit .229 for his career, most of it in Pinstripes, and became famous for his hidden ball tricks, something he pulled off five times in his career. After Tony Kubek's neck injury forced him to retire following the 1965 season, the Yankees struggled to find a replacement at shortstop.

They thought they had their shortstop in Ruben Amaro in 1966, but Amaro tore up his knee the first weekend of the season. In 1966, the Yankees used several players, like Clete Boyer, Horace Clarke, Tom Tresh and youngster Bobby Murcer at the position before purchasing the contract of Gene Michael from the Dodgers prior to the  1968 season. Amaro did recover from the injury to play a full season in 1967, but was no longer the Yankees long term solution at shortstop, and Stick got his chance.

I first saw Gene Michael play in person August 17, 1969 at Comiskey Park against the White Sox, a 5-2 Yankees win. Batting second behind Horace Clarke, Michael went 0 for 3 with a walk, a caught stealing and an RBI ground out. In the years Gene Michael played he was not much of a hitter, but he was a steady glove at shortstop. The Yankees staff had several ground ball pitchers, most notably Mel Stottlemyre and Fritz Peterson, who benefited from the slick glove of Stick Michael.

I mentioned Gene Michael just one week ago in my post referencing his statement around 1992, that the Yankees were "too right handed." He then did something about it.  Gene Michael's greatest accomplishment might have been developing players such as Derek Jeter and the rest of the Core Four. Actually, his best accomplishment might have been KEEPING all those players from being traded by the Yankees' wheeler dealer owner, George Steinbrenner. Let's not forget it was Stick Michael who engineered trades that brought the likes of Paul O'Neill and David Cone. And in those trades Stick didn't surrender players named Bernie Williams or any member of the Core Four, keeping all the better prospects on track for their destiny in the Bronx.

Hats off to a great career in baseball, Stick. The Yankees should honor him with a plaque in Monument Park.

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