What we're watching – Wang & Greinke

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– Chien-Ming Wang bids to stay in the Yankee rotation when he and 14.34
ERA take the mound against the Nationals. In two starts since replacing
Phil Hughes, Wang has allowed nine runs over 7 1/3 innings, though
that’s actually lowered his ERA. The league is hitting an impossible
.446 off him this year. The Nats will throw ace John Lannan, who is 3-5
with a 3.51 ERA.

– Ivan Rodriguez is set to overtake Carlton Fisk by catching a major
league-record 2,227th game Wednesday against his former team, the
Rangers. Rodriguez will be breaking the record at age 37. Fisk played
until he was 45.

– Three players are going after career RBI No. 1,000. Paul Konerko
and Lance Berkman are both at 998, while David Ortiz stands at 997
after homering Tuesday.

– If the Dodgers can beat the A’s tonight, Joe Torre will pass
Sparky Anderson for fifth on the managerial victory list at 2,195.
That’s probably as high as he’s going to get, as Tony La Russa has 300
wins on him in third and Bobby Cox has 160 more as the fourth-place
manager all-time.

Game of the Night

Arizona vs. Kansas City – It’s not exactly a banner night for
matchups, so let’s go with the most intriguing pitchers, even if the
teams behind them are less than stellar. Starting for Arizona will be
Max Scherzer, who has pitched 12 2/3 scoreless innings in his last two
starts. He’s 3-4 with a 3.63 ERA for the year. Zack Greinke will try
again for his elusive ninth victory for the Royals. He’s allowed 11
earned runs in his last three starts, taking his ERA from 0.84 to 1.72.
Still, he pitched well enough to win two of those outings. Both
Scherzer and Greinke are among the 12 starters in baseball currently
striking out at least a batter an inning.

There’s no one to blame in Yankees’ loss

Joe Girardi

You’re going to boo All-Star Brett Gardner for striking out against a Cy Young contender?

You’re going to bash Alex Rodriguez for going hitless in another postseason game, three years after his last one?

Maybe you’d prefer to put it all on Masahiro Tanaka for giving up two solo homers to a lineup full of 20-homer guys?

The truth is that the Yankees were supposed to lose tonight. They were facing an outstanding left-hander with their forever-lefty-heavy lineup, and they simply didn’t have anyone pitching like an ace to set themselves up nicely for a one-game, winner-take-all showdown. The 3-0 result… well, that’s how this was supposed to go down.

It didn’t necessarily mean it would; what fun would it be if the better team always won? And the Astros might not even be a better team than the Yankees. However, the Astros with Dallas Keuchel on the mound were certainly a better team than the Yankees with whoever they picked to throw.

I just don’t see where it’s worth putting any blame tonight. Joe Girardi? He could have started John Ryan Murphy over Brian McCann against the tough lefty, but he wasn’t willing to risk Tanaka losing his comfort zone by using a backup catcher.

The front office could have added more talent, perhaps outbidding the Blue Jays for David Price or the Royals for Johnny Cueto, and set themselves up better for the postseason. However, that would have cost them Luis Severino and/or Greg Bird, both of whom went on to play key roles as the Yankees secured the wild card. Would it really have been worth it? I don’t think so.

Tanaka gave the Yankees what they should have expected. Had Keuchel’s stuff been a little off on short rest, Tanaka’s performance would have kept the Yankees in the game.

Keuchel, though, was on his game from the first pitch. The Astros bullpen might have been a bit more vulnerable, and late at-bats from Gardner, Carlos Beltran, Rodriguez and McCann definitely left something to be desired. Still, on the whole, the lack of offense was quite a team effort.

The Yankees got beat by a better team tonight.  I’m not sure the Astros would have been better in Games 2-7 in a longer series, but they had everything in their favor in this one.

Keuchel, Astros cruise past Yankees in AL Wild Card Game

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Dallas Keuchel faced the Yankees two times during the regular season and was fantastic in each outing, striking out 12 in a complete-game shutout on June 25 and whiffing nine batters over seven scoreless frames on August 25.

The 2015 Cy  Young Award candidate continued that trend in Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card Game, limiting the Yankees to three hits and one walk over six innings of scoreless ball as the Astros earned a 3-0 win and advanced to a best-of-five ALDS with the top-seeded Royals.

Keuchel was working on three days of rest but didn’t show very many signs of fatigue, whiffing seven and needing only 87 pitches to get through six. He sure looked like he could have gone an inning longer, but Astros manager A.J. Hinch decided to turn the game over to his bullpen and they added three more big zeroes to the scoreboard at a very loud then very boo-heavy Yankee Stadium. Tony Sipp worked around some early jitters to throw a scoreless seventh, Will Harris kept the Yankees off the bases entirely in a scoreless eighth, and closer Luke Gregerson went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth.

Impending free agent outfielder Colby Rasmus provided the first burst of offense for the Astros in the top of the second inning with a leadoff homer against Masahiro Tanaka. And then deadline acquisition Carlos Gomez, who missed a bunch of time down the stretch with an intercostal strain, got to Tanaka for another solo shot in the top of the fourth. Houston scored its third run on a Jose Altuve RBI single in the top of the seventh.

This is a young, talented Astros team with an ace at the head of its rotation.

Kansas City could have a problem.