The Yankees make a Grand escape

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See what I did there with that headline? Clever, eh? You know, because Curtis GRANDerson hit the game-winning homer? Anyone?  OK, maybe not. But when 5,000 blog posts you have written, occasionally hacky too you will become.  Anyway:

The Yankees came close to blowing a great opportunity just like the Red Sox did, except rather than squandering a great outing against a great pitcher, the Yankees almost squandered a poor-even-for-Dontrelle-Willis performance.

Willis walked seven guys in his two and a third innings. It was a performance that will probably get him designated for assignment within the next 24 hours, but somehow the Yankees only scored two runs off him, thanks in part to some poor fundamental baseball: Nick Swisher was caught stealing and then a botched hit and run by Cano got Teixeira nailed in the first. Why Girardi decided to start playing small ball against a human pinball machine like Willis is beyond me, but the Yankees could have scored a gajillion runs against the guy if they just played some take and rake ball.

Because of that, the game remained close. Curtis Granderson’s 10th inning homer proved to be the game-winner, but unlike most situations in which Mariano Rivera is called on to lock it down he didn’t exactly lock it down. Rather, he got himself into a bases loaded, no-out jam in the bottom of the tenth. While I would say most pitchers who escape such a situation without any runs scoring got lucky, Rivera has more than earned the benefit of the doubt, so I’m gonna say he bore down or something: two pop-ups and a strikeout, game over.

A high wire act for the Yankees to be sure, but a win all the same. And with the Rays and Sox both losing, they picked up another game in the AL East.

Clayton Kershaw could return on September 1

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Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw has been out since July 24 with a lower back strain. He’s slated to throw a three-inning simulated game in Pittsburgh on Monday, per Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. Plunkett adds that if all goes well, the earliest Kershaw could return is August 31 against the Diamondbacks, but September 1 is more likely against the Padres.

Kershaw, 29, hit the disabled list on a pace to win his fourth Cy Young Award. He’s 15-2 with a 2.04 ERA and a 168/24 K/BB ratio in 141 1/3 innings.

The Dodgers have managed just fine without Kershaw. The club is 19-4 since July 24. At 87-35, the Dodgers own baseball’s best record, well ahead of the second-best Astros at 76-48.

Ian Kinsler was fined for ripping umpires publicly. Brad Ausmus says it’s the largest fine he’s seen in 25 years.

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Last week, Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler was ejected from a game against the Rangers after giving home plate umpire Angel Hernandez a look after a pitch was thrown outside for a ball. Kinsler was apparently unhappy with calls Hernandez had made earlier. Manager Brad Ausmus, too, was ejected.

After the game, Kinsler said that Hernandez “needs to find another job.” He added, “…he needs to stop ruining baseball games.”

Kinsler was fined by Major League Baseball for his remarks, Mlive’s Evan Woodbery reports. According to Ausmus, the fine levied on Kinsler was the largest one he’s seen in nearly 25 years in baseball. Kinsler said, “I said what I felt and what I thought. If they take offense to that, then that’s their problem.” Ausmus said, “To single out one player as a union is completely uncalled for.”

As Ashley noted on Saturday, the umpires wore white wristbands to protest “escalating attacks on umpires.” The umpires agreed to drop their protest on Sunday after commissioner Rob Manfred agreed to meet with the umpire union’s governing board, Gabe Lacques of USA TODAY Sports reports.