Roenis Elias is so freaking cool.
Sorry, just had to get that out of the way before proceeding with the rest of the recap. More on him later, but the Mariners did a great job striking early in this game against Hiroki Kuroda and were able to put well-located pitches in play to get themselves plenty of baserunners to work with.
The scoring started out with an excuse-me swing by Stefen Romero on an outside breaking pitch that he had no business swinging at that ended up lacing into center field for a hit. Then, just as the boos were beginning to subside, Robinson Cano smacked a double down the first base line on a pitch that damn near hit him. Cano would be stranded but Jeff Sullivan's prophecy from December 5th finally came to pass:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Cano returns to Yankee Stadium, a Mariner. announced by PA; fans boo, throw fake cash, call him a selfish traitor. Ellsbury homers</p>— Jeff Sullivan (@based_ball) <a href="https://twitter.com/based_ball/statuses/408779364336029697">December 6, 2013</a></blockquote>
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And I'm sure you can guess by now what happened in the bottom of the first. That's right, good ol' Jacoby Ellsbury crushed one into the right field bleachers for his first round-tripper of the year, tying the game at 1-1.
The second inning would bring no runs for either team but Cano would get an RBI in on a ground out in the third to give the M's a 2-1 lead. The Mariners would score again the fourth thanks to Brad Miller, who swung at a pitch that was way outside the zone but dropped in for a single just over Derek Jeter's head. I the very next at-bat, Michael Saunders rocketed a ball into the gap that hopped over the fence for a ground-rule double, one of his three hits on the night. After that, the score sat at 4-1 and was only touched by an RBI single off the bat of Brian McCann in the sixth.
The real story tonight was Roenis Elias, the Cuban lefty who continues to dominate despite making the hop straight from Double-A (because who needs Triple-A anyway?). Elias went seven innings of two-run ball in which he walked just two and struck out ten Yankees. Elias was pitching excellently and seemed to get virtually every hitter to at least two strikes. The command was there, the stuff was there, everything was there. This sure is getting impressive for the rookie. It's not easy playing in New York and pitching perhaps the best game of your young career. He sure is fun to watch and as others have alluded to, he will likely be the M's No. 5 starter once everyone returns from the DL. Can you imagine tuning into games and having one of Felix/Kuma/Paxton/Walker/Elias pitch every night? Gives me the chills just thinking about it.
Yoervis Medina would come in to relieve Roenis and pitched a perfect eighth before Fernando Rodney came out and slammed the door, hurting the Yankees' metaphorical ears in the process. In a game that featured a man named Roenis, a man named Yoervis, and another named Yangervis, you might wonder what is up with the names of these Cuban players. Turns out there's a trend going on in Cuba when it comes to names. Here's a short quote if you don't want to read the whole article from BBC (which is actually pretty interesting):
But in the 1970s, imaginations really began to fly. That's when the letter Y, rarely used in Spanish names, became a hit with parents competing for ever more exotic sounding creations - Yulieski, Yumilis, Yaraleidis. Even so-called normal names were hijacked. Daniel became Yaniel.
This would help to explain the various unique "Y" names found throughout Major League Baseball (Yasiel Puig, Yoenis Cespedes, Yuniesky Betancourt, etc.)
Anyway, here are some various other observations from the game tonight:
- Saunders did a great job with the playing time he was given tonight, and he might have earned himself another start in the near future with his work on both offense and defense. He had some great hits today from the leadoff spot and it might tempt LLoyd to change things up a bit. On defense, he certainly didn't look any worse than Almonte out there in center (even though LLoyd decided to bring Almonte in as a defensive replacement late in the game). He had a couple of bad jumps on balls that didn't end up costing the team any outs, but that's not something we as fans are unaccustomed to seeing this year.
- Stefen Romero still looks pretty much lost at the plate. Despite his solid hit early in the game (and it's pretty easy to see how he could have missed that one too), he struck out twice and really doesn't deserve to be batting second in the order especially when you remember that Kuroda is a right-handed pitcher.
- This lack of playing time might be really getting to Brad Miller, who messed up pretty badly on a defensive play in the sixth that allowed an unnecessary base-runner (which later led to an unearned run being scored). The error was given to Cano, but what happened was Miller wasn't covering second base while he should have been and started walking off towards the dugout mid-play while Cano assumed Miller was going to be covering second. Cano threw to Miller who to his credit had good enough reflexes to launch the ball to first base, nearly taking Cano's head off in the process. This isn't the first of weird defensive miscues we've seen from Miller lately though, and I'm beginning to become a little concerned about what might be up with him.