Karpin’s Korner: 3 and OH!!! Dom Good, A Rays-ing Club

I have one word for the outrage against Fernando Tatis Jr. after his controversial swing the other night. Nonsense.

With a 7-run lead, Tatis Jr. swung at a 3-0 pitch with the bases loaded and hit a grand slam to make it 14-3. Oh, the humanity!!!! He violated baseball’s “unwritten rules.” I’d have more of a problem with a player stealing second and his team has a 10-run lead. That’s a purposeful attempt to humiliate and embarrass the opponent.

Here’s something else. Do you think there would’ve been as much outrage if Tatis Jr. did that against the Astros?

Unfortunately, it was bound to happen, and as far on-the-field affairs, it happened at a very inopportune time.

The Subway Series was postponed after a Mets player and staff member tested positive for Covid. (Wishing the best for those two and hope they are going to be okay) So what does it mean for the locals’ chances, going forward.

The Mets were riding a three game winning streak and were looking a lot better of late but right now, that streak is on hold. Over the past few years, it seems that every time the Mets seem to get things going, something gets in the way.

You know who isn’t getting in the way? A really good guy who’s showing he’s a really good player. Dom Smith has come a long way and is finally realizing the potential that made him the team’s first round pick (11th overall) in the 2013 Amateur Draft. Smith has overcome problems related to immaturity and has taken advantage of Yoenis Cespedes opt out and the addition of the DH to the National League, to establish himself as an everyday major league player.

It hasn’t come easy for the 25-year old, who’s “grown up” and is bustin’ out all over the stat sheet. Coming into Friday night’s play, Smith is hitting .324 (tied for 8th in the NL) with 6 HRS and 21 runs batted in. He’s leading the league in slugging pct. (.754) second in OPS (1.156) tied for the league lead in doubles with ten and finds himself in a four-way tie for third in RBI’s.

There were a lot of fans who were totally down on Smith. When he came up in 2017, I thought he had the hands and the swing to be a solid, major league hitter. The question on him was his power but he’s answering all those questions this season.

The Yankees came into the series looking for answers after they suffered a stunning, three game sweep at Yankee Stadium at the hands of their prime competitors in the East.

Some are saying getting swept is not that big a deal because of the expanded playoff format for 2020. After all, the Yankees only need to finish in second place to make the playoffs. It’s not as urgent to finish first because it’s not as big an advantage over the second place finisher, but there are two underlying factors here. One, it’s looking more and more like the Rays will be the Yankees’ main competitor for the pennant, much less the division. Two, the Rays are in the Yankees’ heads right now. Tampa Bay has won six of the seven games played and there are only three remaining head to head match ups in the regular season. (All games remaining are tentatively scheduled)

Tampa Bay has “dominated” the Yankees at the Trop before but they have never had a whole lot of sustained success in the Bronx. It seemed like having no fans in the stands to distract the visiting players was a blessing for the Rays. Some guys feed off that negativity but not every player can maintain their focus as the vitriol is being hurled at them from the stands.

Rays ace Blake Snell was one of those who feeds off the fans. After he beat the Yankees this past Tuesday night, Snell admitted that he missed the fans’ venom and had to psyche himself up to get the “authentic” experience of pitching at Yankee Stadium. What did he do? While warming up, he trash talked, telling himself that he “sucked since no fans were there to yell it at him.”

The Rays are fundamentally sound, and they make very few mistakes, if any. Tampa has a versatile and deep bullpen (that can match the Yanks pen even when it’s healthy) that they can use to stymie the Yankee lineup that doesn’t feature a whole lot of dangerous left handed hitters. Even with the injured players, the Yankees lack consistent punch from the left side, which plays to Tampa Bay’s right handed relievers. Consider who the Yankees’ left handed hitters were in the three games. Aaron Hicks, Brett Gardner, Mike Tauchman and Mike Ford. Nice players but do they scare the opponent? Tampa’s Brandon Lowe was the best left handed hitter on the field.

One more thing happened in the final game of the series that should be concerning. The Yankees were down five runs entering their final at-bat. Hicks led off and grounded out to third while Luke Voit (who is hot but no excuse for this poor at-bat) lined out to second on one pitch. Those two outs came on a total of three pitches. Tauchman saw five pitches and grounded out to end the game. Rays reliever Aaron Loup did not break a sweat, throwing an 8-pitch inning. Unlike the Tatis Jr. 3-0 swing, going three up and three down on 8 pitches when you’re down five in your last at-bat, is unacceptable.

The Red Sox are in the midst of an all-time bad season. They’re fortunate it’s only 60 games. You pay a price for winning. Remember this however, the Red Sox have won two World Series since the Yankees last won in 2009.

Just sayin’

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