In case you’re sitting at your computers wondering what the heck the title of this recap means, I will explain. Way back in 1979, just before I turned five years-old, disco queen Donna Summer had a hit song called “Bad Girls” which hit number one that summer. In it, Donna and her background singers enthusiastically sing, “Toot toot, hey, beep beep!” Well, tonight, in honor of the Yankees base runners were TOOTBLANing all over the place like little leaguers, that title seemed perfect. And just in case you don’t know what TOOTBLAN actually stands for, it’s Thrown Out On The Basepaths Like A Nincompoop and it was invented back in 2008.
Ivan Nova, who was passed over for the fifth starter job at the beginning of the season, had another strong, albeit short outing tonight. We’ll get to the short part of it, in a bit.
Nova pitched his tail off and nearly got a no decision because the Yankees’ inept offense decided to show up once again. Oh, and when the batters did happen to make it on base, they made awful mistakes. Mistakes that tee ball players just learning the game would make. First, Carlos Beltran forgot how many outs there were in the third inning and should’ve scored, but didn’t. Then Chase Headley was picked off at first base in the sixth inning because he thought that A’s starter Kendell Graveman threw a balk. He didn’t and Headley was out. Two batters later, after Dustin Ackley hit a single, Didi Gregorius also made a base running blunder trying to stretch a single into a double. The Yankees opened the sixth inning with four hits and only scored one run because of their ineptitude on the bases. Thank goodness for Aaron Hicks who hit a double that scored Ackley. Both Headley and Gregorius owe him a steak dinner, but only if he likes that sort of thing, of course.
Now to the short part of Nova’s outing. He had thrown 62 pitches when he finished the sixth inning. He was very economical all night, and other than giving up a game-tying home run to Josh Reddick in the fourth inning, he was keeping the ball down and inducing a lot of grounders. But Joe Girardi went to Dellin Betances to start the seventh inning and Nova’s night was done.
Luckily for Girardi and the fans who stayed up to watch this game, the move worked because Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman all pitched scoreless innings and the Yankees won, but the decision to take out Nova and go to the “big three” created quite the reaction from fans and beat writers alike.
By the way, Beltran made up for his TOOTBLAN in the top of the ninth when he hit a two-run home run which put the game out of reach at 4-1 and insured the Yankees’ 18th win of the season.
The Play: Aaron Hicks hits a go-ahead double (.173 WPA)
After the inept base running by his teammates, Hicks said, “I got this,” and hit the double that put the Yankees ahead for good in the sixth inning. And it was a big hit. The Yankees weren’t getting anything done against Graveman and when they actually were hitting the ball, they’d either hit into double plays, strike out or run themselves off the bases.
Yankees: Ivan Nova (6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 3 Ks)
Athletics: Josh Reddick (2-3 with a HR and an RBI)
The Highlight: Brett Gardner’s catch in the second
Josh Reddick exited the game after stealing second base in the bottom of the seventh inning and it’s being reported that he has a fractured left thumb. That is a big blow for the A’s. Reddick is hitting .322 with five home runs so far this season.
After the game, Joe Girardi explained why he took Nova out when he did. He told reporters that it was because the big three were ready to go and it was also because of the four guys who had the four hits against him. They were coming up to bat in the seventh and Girardi didn’t want to take any chances. One of those four, the aforementioned Reddick, hit a single off Betances to start the inning.
So the Yankees rebounded from their series in Arizona to start this one off with a victory and it was much needed in more ways than one. The Yankees came into the game with a 2-12 record at O.co Coliseum since 2012. Those are pretty ugly numbers.
The Yanks will look to take game number two when CC Sabathia returns from the disabled list to take the mound. He will be facing off against Oakland’s Sonny Gray who is not having a good season. As our own Evan Halpine-Berger said in his series preview, “Just one season removed from making his first All Star Game and finishing third in the AL Cy Young voting, Oakland’s ace has suffered a mystifying collapse. His home run rate has more than doubled to 1.6 per nine, he leads the league with six wild pitches, and is walking batters at the highest rate of his career. A slight dip in velocity is an incomplete explanation at best.” Of course with the way the Yankees offense played in this game, they may help Gray revert back to his Cy Young vote getting ways.
Photo Credit: Kenny Karst / USA TODAY Sports