Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Despite A-Rod Circus Yankees seem like a Playoff Team

A-Bum Strikes Out 5 Times, Grounds into Double Play,
Yanks Still Win

By Rich Mancuso

BRONX, NEW YORK, AUGUST 21- Maybe it took the return of Alex Rodriguez in order for the New York Yankees to make their season more interesting. With or without the A-Rod controversy, manager Joe Giaradi had said it would take 35 wins after the all-star break for his team to be eligible for October baseball.

No matter how one feels about the player known as A-Fraud, Rodriguez enhances the Yankees lineup. Robinson Cano can vouch for that. In the first game of the Tuesday day-night twin-bill sweep over the Blue Jays, Cano went 4-for4 and hit his 200th career home run.

In the night game, another win in walk-off fashion, the Yankees sixth of the season, Cano went 2-for-4 and has hit safely in 14 of his last 15 games. In that span, he is hitting .456 with eight runs, five doubles, two home runs and 11 runs batted in.

Yes, like him or not, A-Rod does make a difference despite striking out five times and hitting into a double-play in the second game Tuesday night.

“You can see it’s a different lineup when you have Alfonso, Curtis, you have Alex,” commented Cano about the return of A-Rod, Curtis Granderson and the addition of Alfonso Soriano.

Despite all the controversy with A-Rod, and the fireworks from Friday night up in Boston, Girardi never gave up. He always said when his team came back to full strength they would get back in it.

Again, Alex Rodriguez has not been a distraction. Despite the lawsuits, an appeal process of a 211-game suspension, and the hierarchy not talking to their troubled player, the Yankees say A-Rod has been a vital addition and now every game is a run to keep playing in October.

“We’re a different team offensively,” Girardi said after the Yankees won their eighth game in their last 10 overall. Two more with Toronto on this brief home stand and then the battle continues with three down in Tampa Bay, a team in a battle with the Red Sox for the AL east division lead.

With Robinson Cano hitting his 200th career home run and right hander Ivan Nova allowing four runs in 6.1 innings, New York came home to the Bronx and defeated Toronto 8-4, in the first game of a day-night doubleheader.

Not like they were in April, May, June, and some of July, they overcame a four-run deficit for the first time this season. Right hander Phil Hughes (4-12) took the mound for the second game. He had better command with the changeup, the fastball had location, and he did not allow a home run at Yankee Stadium since June 19th.

And, Hughes also said, the offense helped. Alex Rodriguez is not a distraction. “He makes us a better team,” said Hughes about his controversial teammate.

Earlier as Nova (7-4) and the Yankees took the field for the first game, Major League Baseball announced Joe Girardi had been fined an undisclosed amount for his actions Friday night at Fenway Park. Later it was reported the fine was $5,000.

Girardi was ejected from that game in the second inning after arguing with plate umpire Brian O’Nora after Boston pitcher Ryan Dempster threw three pitches at Rodriguez, the last of the three that hit him and made things appear worse for A-Rod and the Yankees.

Dempster was also fined and suspended five games for his actions. Girardi wants this to end, and the frustration is unfolding. Because Girardi is only concerned about one thing, that is winning ballgames and the Yankees seem to be doing that more the past few weeks.

“I don’t really have any comment,” said Girardi about the suspension of Dempster. “Think I made my feelings pretty clear then,” he said. Girardi seemed annoyed about the questions being asked about Dempster, feeling he offered enough about the situation that happened Friday night.

Though Girardi said, a suspension for intentionally throwing at a position player does not always make sense as it related to five games, because Dempster will probably not miss a turn in the rotation.

As for winning another game, he said, “Win the game that is at hand. The guys went out and did that today and came from behind and got some big hits and that’s what we have to concentrate on.”

Ichiro Suzuki went 2-for-5 with a double in the third inning and a single in the seventh. He is one hit shy of career ht 4,000, 1,278 of those hits came as a player in Japan. That was supposed to be another storyline, but A-Rod was the center of attention.

Suzuki did not start the second game. He pinch ran in the ninth for Mark Reynolds who walked. He advanced on a bunt, stole third and came home with the winning run on the first walk-off RBI hit from Jayson Nix.

In the end, winning ballgames is what it all about. A-Rod was not available for the media all day. He never is when not contributing, but has to have his forum when the timing is right.

With 37 games remaining, the Yankees are getting the timely hit, and overall, good starting pitching. The bullpen has been better and the home run trot is getting better for more than one.

“It’s fun in here again,” commented catcher Austin Romine who tied his career high, 3-for-3 in the second game. He too, has been a part of this resurgence that has the Yankees back in the wild card hunt and closing in for that second spot.

But they have to keep winning, and taking series in this stretch run for October. “That’s baseball, anything can happen. It’s not over till it’s over,” said Romine.

We heard that before, of course from the Yankees of years past and there was no A-Rod controversy then.

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