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The four game series against the Rays was an important early matchup for the Yankees. They won big on Thursday night behind CC and the bats, got slapped around the next two nights and then managed to win the finale this afternoon in 12 innings. It’s never easy to go to Tampa to play in that dome, and the Yankees seem to always struggle, so it was good to get out of there with two wins and first place intact. Let’s talk about some things that happened along the way.

There are two big negative takeaways from this series. On Friday and Saturday, the bullpen, which had been oh so good over the last couple of weeks, completely imploded. Friday went like this: David Phelps, Matt Thornton, Adam Warren and Cesar Cabral all gave up runs. Warren and Cabral gave up 3 each, but Cabral was way worse. He faced six batters. Three of them got hits, and the other three got hit… with the baseball. It got so bad that Cabral was kicked out of the game, even though everyone knew he wasn’t throwing at anyone on purpose. After the game, he was designated for assignment. Goodbye Cesar.

On Saturday, things got even worse. First, Iván Nova got shelled, giving up 8 runs in 4+ innings, before leaving with an injury (more on him in a bit). The bullpen proceeded to give up 8 more runs over the next 4 innings. Matt Daley, making his season debut after being called up that day, gave up 6 runs on 4 hits in 1.1 innings. Dellin Betances came in and actually restored some order with 1.2 scoreless innings, and then the ridiculous thing that always happens when a team is down 14-1, happened again. Dean Anna had to come in to pitch. He topped out at 62 mph, and his offspeed offerings dipped to as low as 55 mph. He almost pitched a scoreless inning, but a two out single plated 2 more runs. The Yankees lost 16-1.

Back to Nova for a second. He left the game with a sore elbow, and x-rays showed that he has a partially torn UCL (ulnar collateral ligament), which means he’s most likely headed for Tommy John surgery. That means we’ll see him in 2015, everybody. It’s a shame, because this was supposed to be the year that Nova finally turned the corner. Not only has he not shown signs of stepping up to his talent level, now he’s hurt and out for the year. Tough.

Dean Anna
It’s never a good thing when a position player has to pitch, but it was funny. (

Sunday’s game was almost very frustrating. First of all, Vidal Nuño got the start, which could have been terrible. The last time Nuño pitched, he got shelled in relief of Nova (after he got shelled too), so expectations were low. Instead, Nuño wowed us all, including the Rays, with five scoreless innings. The kid was on a 75 pitch limit heading into the game, and he ended up only using 69 to get through the five, only allowing 3 hits and 2 walks while striking out 6 Rays. It was a very impressive performance at a time when the Yankees are looking for someone to pitch in (ah?) to fill the hole Nova has left in the rotation. He might have earned himself a shot at that spot, assuming the Yankees don’t give it to Phelps.

The rest of Sunday’s game was very up-lifting. First of all, the bullpen redeemed itself. Adam Warren technically blew a save, but it was only because he allowed a sacrifice fly to score a runner that Matt Thornton had put on base, thanks to an error by Brian Roberts (everybody got that?). Overall, the bullpen guys (Phelps, Warren, Thornton, Shawn Kelley and Preston Claiborne) pitched seven innings and didn’t allow an earned run today. Much better!

Eventually, the Yankees offense got back on the board. Dean Anna’s two-out bases loaded walk (on a great at bat) in the top of the 12th gave the Yankees the lead. The next batter, Carlos Beltran, singled in two runs, and Alfonso Soriano added a bloop RBI knock. That gave the Yankees a 5-1 lead and the series split. Glad they could come together to salvage that! Up next, the Yankees head to Boston to take on the Red Sox in a three game set starting on Tuesday.

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Martin Stezano

About Martin Stezano

Uruguayan born and American raised with a unique perspective on the domestic and international sports scenes. It will both tickle your funny bone and enlighten your mind. Love it or hate it...just read it.