Note: Tonight I am joined in the recap by Nick Stellini, writer at BP Bronx and Beyond the Box Score and overall Nice Guy, despite his affiliation with the Yankees. You can follow him at @StelliniTweets.
K: Okay, so the game has started now and despite the fact that it’s Friday night and Jackie Robinson day, I can’t help but notice that stadium is crazy empty. What’s up with that?
N: A number of factors there. First and foremost, there’s still lots of people on the concession lines. All of those food areas move very slowly. The security lines at the gates also stifle things. So the seats should fill up a bit more. However, the seats directly behind home plate will always be a little empty because those folks are inside eating at the shnazzy buffet that’s available to the folks who purchase those tickets. As the viewers may have noticed, there’s actually a freaking moat that separates the best seats from the regular box seats that the plebeians sit in. Also, it was very nice of Robby to shave like a good Yankee before he came home.
K: But not so nice of him to ground out like that. So we just watched the Mariners get sat down 1-2-3 by Severino; what can you tell me about him?
N: Severino is the real deal. He was a top-50 prospect before he came up last year. Dude throws a gnarly fastball, a rapidly improving slider and a great change. There’s some concern that he’s a bit undersized to be a starter and that his delivery is too arm-heavy but I’m pretty sold on him. I’m also not a scout, so grain of salt and all that.
*Conversation derailed by Brett Gardner homerun, during which Nick fistpumps, and I angrily drain the rest of my beer; Yankees up, 1-0*
So. Here’s the thing about Brett Gardner. You do NOT throw him a fastball middle-in at medium height. Or that happens.
K: I'm still up in the air about Karns as a pitcher. Last week I feel he struggled because he really wanted the low strike and it just wasn’t being called. This ump seems to have a more...reasonable strike zone. But then he does something like leave that meatball right over the plate for Gardner and I’m all porch-and-titchforky. What do you see?
N: Karns gave the Yankees headaches last year when he pitched for the Rays. He’s not going to overwhelm anybody but he’s got pretty decent secondary stuff. I really liked that trade for the M’s when it went down. He can be a swingman, he can pitch out of the rotation, and he’s got options. Plus, da Boog.
K: Das Boog! So now thee Dustin Ackley is coming up to bat, looking weirdly naked mole rat-ish to my eye without his trademark facial hair. So how is he being enfolded by the arms of the Yankee faithful? Is it a close embrace now that they know they won't get scratched by his beard?
N: I don’t know what the average fan’s Take on Ackley is. He’s kind of been a non-factor for the most part. He did a few hitting things towards the very end of the last season but overall he’s just kind of there. I appreciate his particular brand of defensive positioning (1B/2B/corner OF) but I’m not exactly holding my breath for anything more than his weird swing depositing ground balls into the second baseman’s mitt whenever he comes to bat. Gotta say, though, the whole Ackley at DH/Beltran in the field thing that Girardi has going tonight is pretty damn weird. I mean if you’re gonna have those two guys in the lineup, why wouldn’t you DH Beltran? He’s probably coming out for defense later on anyway and they’ll put Hicks in. So… why not just have Ackley play OF? *Ackley pops out to end the inning* Gah. *drinks beer*
K: Kyle Seager has just grounded into a double play for what feels like the 456th time this season, erasing a Nelson Cruz base hit, so *joins you in beer drinking.* Oh and now Adam Lind is up against Severino’s 97 mph fastball so do I have time to get another beer before he grounds out to end the inning? I do not.
*Bottom of the second: Chase Headley singles, then promptly steals second* Oh hey, another base stolen on us, yay.
N: I was just about to ask about Ianetta’s arm because Headley doesn’t steal very often. No bueno?
K: Supposedly he’s improved his defense since last year, but I wonder if he’s got a rep as someone you can steal on? Luckily Ellsbury grounds out here to end the inning--they just said something on the radio about the Yankees hitting especially well with runners in scoring position. What’s that like? I can only imagine.
N: That’s gotta be one of those small sample size things because it’s been a major issue for the last few years. It’s mostly a product of Castro and Didi coming out of the gate red hot. Ellsbury has also been pretty decent.
K: The Mariners have been awful the past few years with RISP, so I definitely feel that. We’ve got Iannetta on base right now thanks to a single and *EXPLODING SOUNDS*
N: Castro is Very Good. Dat behind the back grab.
K: Everyone seems to have their best games against us. Is that an insular, losing mindset? Or are we crazy unlucky? Or just actually that bad? I have no perspective.
N: Sometimes you eat the barr, and sometimes, well, he eat you. The Mariners have the potential to be a good team and one has to imagine that they’ll start hitting for more average at some point very soon. Seattle also seems to have drawn some rough pitching matchups and the BABIP dragons are very fickle, as Castro just showed us.
Top of the 4th: Seth Smith hits a DAD DOUBLE and is singled home by Cano to tie the score at 1-1.
N: Doncha know? I ain’t even mad.
K: Robi always seems to knock the stuffing out of the ball when he’s in Yankee stadium. I can’t believe he doesn’t have a little extra motivation. Are you sure you aren’t mad Nick? Not even a teeny little bit? Ohhhh hey and now Didi just booted a Cruz hit that should have been an easy out. What happened there?
N: Looked like his spikes got caught in the dirt somehow. He just doubled up Robby on a stolen liner off the bat of Seager anyways. He was just setting up that, play, obviously. Yeah. Totally. That’s what happened there.
K: I have flown too close to the sun in attempting to burn you, I can see. Oof, that is Kyle's fourth double play in two games. Unrelated, do you know any good witch doctors there in NYC?
K: So now we’re in the fourth inning, no outs and one on after Karns gave up a walk (still trying to get that low strike), and even though it’s a 1-1 tie it feels like the Mariners are behind.
N: Castro is so much dang fun. Screamer down the 3B line, for those of you keeping score at home.
K: Now you're just being smug.
N: Is Starlin Castro An Elite QB?
K: I’m not sure what’s worse, that joke or Iannetta losing track of the ball to put runners on second and third with still no one out. Oh but then Didi strikes out on a super-nasty moving change-up. I’m not familiar with the "nastiness" rating Brooks uses but that had to be somewhere between Leona Helmsley and Idi Amin.
N: Karns's circle change is very good. There’s so much late movement on it and it’s hard to not chase. *Nick is a prophet; Karns proceeds to strike out Headley and Ellsbury.*
K: HOLY MOSES. Let it be known that the bottom of the 4th inning on 4/15/16 was when I fell in love with Nathan Karns, junkball pitcher. Seriously though, one thing I love about Karns is he’s incredibly cerebral as a pitcher. He reminds me of Jamie Moyer in that way. He doesn’t have the best raw talent, but he will out-think and out-work you.
N: Love to leave runners at second and third. Cool stuff. Great stuff.
K: I know that feel. Hey look, Adam Lind, noted electronica music fan, had a base hit!
N: Is he the Techno Viking? That would explain a lot.
K: OOOOH LOVE TO HAVE A HITTING CATCHER, as Iannetta slams a two-run HR to give the Mariners a 3-1 lead in the top of the 5th.
[REDACTED: Nick sends me Crying Jordan on the Yankees logo]
[Probably related: Nate Karns wiggles out of trouble in the bottom of the fifth; Yankees are now 0-for-8 with RISP for the night; Kate chuckles; Nick drinks]
6th inning: After the Mariners plate another run thanks to an Adam Lind RBI single, Severino is lifted for Kirby Yates.
N: Kirby Yates: not a boy band member, but a baseball player, despite what his name sounds like.
K: What’s Yates’s stuff like? (Also I would have gone with "child lord of British Manor in a gothic novel," but to each his own.)
N: Well, he throws hard. The command comes and goes though. He was up and down with the Rays last year.
K: So is it fair to say the Yankees place a premium on pitchers who are fireballers? Severino, Betances, Yates...
N: They’re certainly fans of big velocity, yes. But they also like there to be something backing up the heat. There’s way too many relievers in the game that only have a fastball. Yates, as you see, has a good slider.
K: As Martin strikes out on a called strike three with the bases loaded. Which has to be one of my least favorite things in baseball.
N: *Extremely John Sterling voice* Well, that’s baseball, Suzyn.
K: So here comes Tony Zych to pitch the bottom of the sixth. Karns's final line: 5 IP, 1 ER with 7 Ks and 4 BBs. Not too shabby, although you'd like to see the walks decreased, but at least he avoids the big first inning. Wow, Zych does not have his great stuff tonight, as he gets two outs but then proceeds to load up the bases, leading Servais to lift him for Nuno.
N: Former Yankees Great Vidal Nuno! Nuno came up with New York and went to Arizona in the Brandon McCarthy trade in 2014...And he just came up big against his old team, getting Teixeira to ground out.
K: Tei-sure-can't bring those runners home.
N: You know I don't have to do this, right?
Top of the seventh: Marte singles and steals second base, Aoki sacrifices him to third. In comes former Mariner Tyler Olson to pitch to pinch-hitter Franklin Gutierrez, who hits a sacrifice fly into RF to score Marte. Mariners take a 5-1 lead.
N: Damn you, Guti. Damn you.
K: Don't you take his name in vain like that. Wow, the boo birds? Oh, that was for Cano coming out of the dugout.
N: The first time Robby came back, the Bleacher Creatures included him in the roll call. They do that for lots of beloved former players like Swisher and Matsui and Damon. When he turned to wave they started chanting "YOU SOLD OUT. YOU SOLD OUT." That was… yeah. Not good.
K: So Nicolas, you are a Nice Young Man. How can you ally yourself with this fanbase of evil?
N: Habit, mostly. I grew up in a Yankees household and my dad grew up in a Yankees household. It was just a fact of like that you rooted for the Yankees. I still care about the team but I’m not as viscerally connected to them as some fans are to their favorite team.
K: So you possess the objectivity to recognize the parts of the franchise that are awful, is what you’re saying.
N: Absolutely. There are many components of the team that I am not fond of. That being said, I don’t see myself ever latching on with another team. It’s just too deeply ingrained.
K: Nick I have to notice it’s the bottom of the 7th and still pretty empty to my eye. What’s the attendance there tonight?
N: Not sure they announced. During the middle innings it was pretty full. However, Yankees fans have a habit of leaving pretty early if the team’s down by more than a few runs. It’s like the opposite of Dodgers fans. That, and… the M’s aren’t exactly the biggest draw in the world either.
K: Well, that’s fair (as Ketel tries to show off with a behind-the-back flip to Aoki but Aoki is busy thinking about a starship made of gumdrops flying through a dragon-filled sky). So is Tyler Olson an innings-eater? What is his role?
N: He just came up today, actually. They optioned Luis Cessa (who was serving as the longman since Bryan Mitchell got hurt) and brought up Olson. The only lefties in the pen were Miller and Shreve, who are both late inning arms. Cessa was up wayyy too early, and they wanted a lefty to pitch to Cano/Seager/Lind/Aoki in the middle innings.
8th inning: Cruz doubles, and Iannetta is able to bring him home on a single after Seager sacrifices him over to third. Mariners lead, 6-1.
K: Did I mention that I love to have a hitting catcher? Servais decided to leave Lind in, which is not my favorite decision he’s made. Stop trying to make Adam Lind hitting lefty pitching a thing.
N: I am very mad that I was robbed of Dae Ho Lee. Smh. Also I was under the impression that Joel Peralta is now bad.
K: I think you misread; it's "bald."
9th Inning: Aoki walks, Gutierrez doubles to bring him home, to make the score 7-1, Mariners, before Montgomery comes in to close out the game.
K: So what went right for the Mariners/wrong for the Yankees in this tilt?
N: Remember how you asked about runners in scoring position? The Yankees went 0-4975786 with runners in scoring position tonight. That is not a good way to try to win a ballgame. Some good defense, bad contact and bad BABIP luck torpedoed the Yankees real quick. For the M’s, dingers are good and should be used by teams to score runs. In all honesty, the Mariners won this one 3-1. The other four runs were just gravy against the underbelly of the bullpen once the Yankees failed to actually score runs.
K: I think that’s a fair way to put that. Which is unfortunate, because take away the dinger--I really want to see the Mariners score some non-dinger runs--and we’re still tied 1-1, back where we were three hours ago.
N: I don’t like the idea of begrudging a proclivity for dingers. They’re runs. Runs are good. Power is good. The hitting for average will happen sooner rather than later too. Patience, grasshopper.
K: Chirp shot, man.
Thanks again to Nick for sitting through this whole game with me and providing his insider knowledge! You can thank him by telling him how wrong he is about dingers in the comments.