Yankees blow one, but don't blame this one on Rivera

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Marcus Thames drops one.jpgYes, Mariano Rivera allowed two runs on a pair of hits in the ninth inning of
a tie game
, but no, this one wasn’t his fault. I mean, sure, on some level he has some blame because if bats don’t hit balls none of this happens, but you can’t strike everyone out — that’s fascist, you know — and you gotta have a little help out there. Rivera didn’t get any.

Rivera entered a 5-5 contest — a score largely attributable to Joba Chamberlain’s ineffectiveness in the eighth — and got Mike Lowell to ground out. Darnell McDonald then hit a single, bringing Marco Scutaro
to the plate. He popped it up to shallow right, where Marcus Thames muffed it, first taking his eye off the ball and then trying to make a basket catch with his eyes closed. Yeah, good luck with that, Marcus. Rivera
then got Dustin Pedroia to ground out, putting McDonald on third and Scutaro on second.

At that point the Yankees brought their
outfielders in to play extremely shallow. I’m not sure I get this. Yes, I understand that you want to set things up for a play at the plate, but isn’t a ball going over your head the last thing you want? The Yankees are the home team here, so it’s not like a single run scoring on a sacrifice meant the end of the ballgame. As it turned out, the ball hit by Jeremy Hermida went over Randy Winn’s head, allowing both McDonald and Scutaro to score.  The Yankees scored one in the ninth which would have sent the game to extra innings had Winn caught Hermida’s ball — which he would have if he was playing straight up — Scutaro would not have scored.

But that’s Monday morning quarterbacking, I suppose. More critical in this game was Joba Chamberlain’s ineffectiveness. Chamberlain has now allowed six earned runs in his last two appearances, and last night’s effort wasted what I’m contractually-obligated to call a “gutsy” performance by CC Sabathia. The bullpen is basically in shambles lately, Chamberlain has a lot to do with it and the Yankees need to do something about it.

So put this one on Chamberlain. Put it on Thames. Put it on Girardi. But don’t put it on Mariano Rivera.

Bud Norris exits outing with right knee soreness

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Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.

While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.

 

When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.

Video: Max Scherzer sets record with 13-strikeout outing

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Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.

More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.

Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)

It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.