Mancuso: Clippard Can Get A Pass With Tanaka Gem That Was a Loss

Tyler Clippard was frustrated and more so because he came out of the pen and it spoiled a gem by Masahiro Tanaka. This one was in the balance after Tanaka left the mound with one out in the eighth inning Friday night  at Yankee Stadium and a scoreless tie. It was a rebound night for Tanaka who  struck out 13 Oakland A’s, a career high.

Then, Clippard ,who has been efficient in the late innings allowed two run scoring hits. It happens in the game of baseball and you can’t be perfect all the time. And the Yankees bullpen with an ERA that is third in the American League has not had many late inning failures, though Clippard will be the first to admit that it ruined a gem by Tanaka.

“I felt good about the batter that was up,” he said about a single that followed. But Jed Lowrie got it through the hole at second base. “It’s frustrating. And even more so because Masa did such a good job,” he said.

However, Saturday is another game for Clippard and the Yankees. And for their bullpen, including Jonathan Holder. He gave up a two-run homer in the ninth to Stephen Vogt and that led to a 4-1 Yankees loss and a tough one for Tanaka. So it is obvious why Clippard, the veteran, felt frustrated and feeling for his teammate.

And manager Joe Girardi had no complaints. Clippard had given up nine hits and three earned runs in 21 relief appearances. But this one was hard to take because Tanaka had command of the slider, and after his last two outings that were off, this put an end to the questions.

“He’s been really good,” said Girardi about Clippard. And the manager said those balls that went through were not hit hard. But he said, “They count. I didn’t see them hit the ball all over the ballpark. But they found some hits.”

The hits came at the right time for the Athletics and the Yankees did have their normal ninth inning rally but it fell short, and if they succeeded, well Clippard would be feeling a little better. As it was the Yankees got another loss and Tanaka was back in form.

Before those hits that led to runs, Chase Headley made sure the score stayed scoreless in the eighth when he threw out Adam Rosales at the plate on a fielder’s choice, this after a Clippard  two-base throwing error. That was a key moment and Clippard was feeling sorry, and more for Tanaka than for his blunders.

“This is baseball, it happens,” said Clippard. That is easy to understand and Tanaka was not concerned that he got the loss. This was a positive for the Yankees, and because Tanaka was able to rebound and do it with authority. After an ugly three innings at Tampa Bay last Saturday,  that blunder on the field and subsequent base hits off of Clippard was not a concern for Tanaka.

This Yankees bullpen has gone beyond expectations ,and for the most part managing well without Aroldis Chapman who began some light throwing and is on the comeback trail from a bad left shoulder.

But Clippard would love to get those pitches back.  They all do in a losing situation and look at being the one responsible for spoiling a pitching gem. Tanaka will overcome his third straight loss because this was a gem.

And so will  Tyler Clippard and the Yankees when they take the field Saturday afternoon.

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About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and BoxingInsider.com, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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