I get piling on old Bobby Valentine all winter. The bad season still lingers. You have to assess what happened until at least the Winter Meetings, and then you have to talk about all the new moves with reference to why they were necessary in the first place. But you’d think that when the new spring training began that the blame game from 2012 would be over. For it not to be is a special kind of madness.
Madness? THIS IS BOSTON:
David Ortiz never mentioned him by name, but on Tuesday blamed former manager Bobby Valentine for many of the problems plaguing the last-place Boston Red Sox last season.
“A lot of players had a lot of issues with our manager last year,’’ said Ortiz, responding to a question whether the club, which finished 69-93 last season, needed to improve its character. “We have a new manager this year, a guy who is familiar with the organization, a guy we pretty much grew up around him. That’s John [Farrell].
Ortiz goes into more specifics, but there’s really nothing we haven’t heard before. Tone. Incidents from last year’s spring training. Ortiz has a legit beef about Valentine questioning whether he was able to come back after his injury last year, but for the most part this seems like warmed over oatmeal.
It’s a new year. Valentine is gone. Look forward, right?
The Yankees and Astros are set for Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, and neither team will hold back as they seek a World Series berth. The Astros are prepared to back starter Charlie Morton with any able-bodied pitcher in their ranks — including Justin Verlander, though A.J. Hinch said it would be a “dream scenario” to get anything more from his ace — while the Yankees are prepared to utilize all but a few of their arms. One pitcher you won’t see? Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who last took the hill for the Yankees during their Game 5 shutout on Wednesday.
Tanaka expended 103 pitches over seven scoreless innings in his last start, fending off the Astros with three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts. He hasn’t pitched on fewer than three days of rest all year, and even with a do-or-die scenario facing the Yankees on Saturday night, manager Joe Girardi doesn’t want to compromise his starter’s ability to stay rested and ready for the World Series.
Girardi will also play it safe with fellow right-hander Sonny Gray, who dominated in a five-inning performance in Game 4. All other pitchers should be available and ready to go, though the club is hoping for a lengthy outing from veteran starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia is no stranger to the postseason: over eight separate playoff runs, he touts one championship title and a collective 4.24 ERA in 123 innings. He held the Astros scoreless in his Game 3 start, blanking them over six innings on three hits, four walks and five strikeouts for an eventual 8-1 win.
Even without Tanaka or Gray likely to take the mound for Game 7, the Yankees will enter the series finale with history on their side. Per MLB.com, they have a 4-3 road record in Game 7s and are 6-7 in all 13 Game 7 finales to date. The Astros, on the other hand, dropped their first and only Game 7 clincher back in 2004, when the Cardinals capped the NLCS with a 5-2 win in St. Louis. The teams are scheduled to face off for the first-ever Game 7 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday at 8:00 PM ET.