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Father of young fan struck by foul ball at Yankee Stadium speaks out

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Last month, a young girl was struck in the face by a Todd Frazier foul ball at Yankee Stadium. Play was halted as the girl received medical attention and was later carried out. Players on the field were clearly shaken up by the incident and several players spoke up after the game about the need to extend protective netting.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi told the media after the game that the girl “is doing OK,” but otherwise, very few details about her ordeal were made public. Her father, Geoffrey Jacobson, talked to Billy Witz of the New York Times, explaining the ordeal his daughter went through and urging teams to take fan safety into account.

According to the Times, the girl suffered multiple facial fractures — including her orbital bone and nose — and doctors were monitoring the bleeding in her brain for the potential of a seizure. When Jacobson walked in, he saw her hooked up to tubes and machines with her eyes swollen shut. She had an imprint of the baseball on her forehead.

Jacobson said part of his decision to talk to the Times was the Yankees’ silence. His only contact with executives was through the public relations office. Until recently, the club hadn’t said much about the incident or announced the extending of protective netting. The Yankees finally announced on Sunday that netting would be extended this offseason. Jacobson said, “It’s what they should have said from Day 1, but I’m happy to hear this. I hope the remaining teams follow suit, because it’s not just about the Yankees.”

Jacobson continued, “You just don’t want it to happen again. No one should have to go through that. It’s a game. It’s like taking to your kids to the mall or the amusement park to the zoo — it’s an activity. It shouldn’t be a place where you could die, and it doesn’t have to be. I get the reasoning and the pressure, but it’s senseless.”

Some have criticized Jacobson’s father, who was letting his granddaughter sit on his lap when Frazier’s foul ball came towards them at 105 MPH. He brought his hand up to shield her, but it grazed off of his hand and it hit her. Jacobson doesn’t blame his father for that, unlike some other people. He said, “There is nothing they could have done in a split second with a ball traveling 105 m.p.h. It’s unfortunate some have targeted them, but we hope they do not carry that burden, because it is not theirs to bear.”

The Astros gave the Yankees an opening. Keuchel and Verlander will try to close the door.

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If Game 4 of the ALCS had been even remotely conventional, it’d stand at 3-1 in favor of Houston right now. The Yankees’ starter pitched well but got no run support. A mighty Astros team with an ordinarily good closer in Ken Giles had a 4-0 lead in the late innings. As the Yankees set out to mount a comeback, a base runner fell down in between first and second and should’ve been dead to rights. This is playoff baseball, however, so stuff, as they say, happens. The runner was safe, the closer struggled, the Yankees rallied and now we’re tied 2-2.

But are we even at 2-2?

On paper, no, because the Astros now will send Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander out in Games 5 and 6, and that gives them a clear advantage. Keuchel dominated the Yankees in Game 1, tossing seven scoreless innings and striking out ten batters. Verlander struck out 13 batters in a 124-pitch complete game in which he allowed only a single run. Beyond the mere facts of the box scores, however, the Yankees have looked profoundly overmatched by both of the Astros’ aces, in this postseason and on other occasions on which they’ve faced off against them. Most notably in the 2015 wild-card game at Yankee Stadium when Keuchel pitched six scoreless innings in the 3-0 victory.

But remember: stuff happens.

Stuff like Aaron Judge‘s and Gary Sanchez‘s bats waking up. The two most important sluggers in the Bombers lineup combined to go 3-for-6 with two doubles, a homer, a walk and five RBI in last night’s victory. Each of them had been silent for the first three games of the series but if they’re heating up, the Yankees will be a lot harder to pitch to.

Stuff like Masahiro Tanaka showing that he can tame the Astros’ lineup. Which he did pretty well in Game 1, giving up only two runs on four hits in six innings. He was overshadowed by Keuchel in that game, but it was a good performance against a strong lineup in a hostile environment. Tanaka pitches much better at Yankee Stadium than he does on the road, so don’t for a second think that the Astros bats will have an easy time of it today.

Stuff like the Yankees bullpen still being the Yankees bullpen. Yes, the Astros got to David Robertson yesterday, but it’s still a strong, strong group that gives the Yankees a clear advantage if the game is close late or if they hold a lead.

All of which is to say that we have ourselves a series, friends. While, 48 hours ago, it seemed like we were on our way to an Astros coronation, the Yankees have shown up in a major way in Games 3 and 4. If you’re an Astros fan you should feel pretty confident with Keuchel and Verlander heading into action over the next two games, but we have learned that absolutely nothing is guaranteed in the postseason.