The Baltimore Orioles play for something as September concludes and with a win over the Yankees in the Bronx Friday night, they took a one game lead over Toronto for one of two AL wild card spots. Two more games to play in the Bronx and the Yankees go home and begin the planning for next year.
Clearly the Orioles can lock their spot if they pitch and hit. They got six scoreless innings from righthander Yovani Gallardo and hit three home runs in a 8-1 win, and Yankees righthander Michael Pineda can’t blame the heavy mist and blowing wind for his latest loss.
That opportunity for Pineda to shine in the mist did not occur. Instead, after shutting out the swinging Orioles for three innings,once again there was that capacity to lose his composure on the mound. Baltimore would tag on six runs in the fifth inning, five charged to Pineda.
The home run ball was the culprit and Pineda may have lost more confidence with his manager and Yankees brass, who are looking to focus on their starting rotation next season. Of more concern, in Pineda’s 100th career start, was his inability to locate the slider. Adam Jones made it look easy on the first pitch in the fifth with a long blast that disappeared in the left field seats.
“His stuff was not as crisp,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. And on a night not fit for baseball that was played, only because Major League Baseball needs to avoid the double header, with a tight race to the wire, Pineda was as nasty as the weather.
And this was not nasty, as in let’s say having good stuff. You don’t throw a fastball to Mark Trumbo and make it look easy. Had the Yankees not been eliminated the night before, Pineda would have been lifted earlier. Trumbo is why the Orioles are very much looking like one of the wild card teams, and his major league leading 47th home run with two outs in the fifth inning contributed to Baltimore leading baseball in home runs as a team
The Yankees,with two games remaining in a season of disappointment, and the unexpected youngsters coming up big, that kept them in a race until late September, have decisions to make regarding a role for Pineda.
This last start of an up- and- down season may have determined more as to where Pineda stands next season, though too early to obviously make that determination.
Through an interpreter, Pineda said the inclement weather was no reason he was not crisp. He finished with a career high 207 strikeouts, but that strikeout to giving up runs ratio, that is something that becomes a minus in the corner for Michael Pineda in 2017..
“ I feel fine right now because I’m pitching the whole year healthy, giving everything I got,” said Pineda. He said, it’s time to go home and get ready for next season and, true the Michael Pineda the Yankees want has that ability. It is that tendency again of losing focus and giving up the significant amount of runs when things suddenly go bad on the mound
Saturday afternoon, another plan for next season will be under the watch. Righthander Luis Severino, the once and protected young arm will get his last start. It was a decision to start Severino on Friday night.
And like Pineda, Severino is supposed to be in the plan next year. But, this righthander has also struggled, adding to thoughts that the Yankees will be on the market and looking to get some added depth in the rotation this offseason.
Baltimore has those last two meaningful games that begin Saturday afternoon. And for the Yankees before they go home, there is another pitcher that will get a final look. Perhaps that brings more meaning to a team that is just playing out the string in the Bronx.
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