Yankees Ruined My “Tales of Two Alex’s” Saga
You knew somehow it was going to happen. You knew the tale of the two Alex’s would Somehow somewhere rear its mysterious wonder sometime during this New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays series. I was praying the moment I saw the second Alex warming up in the Bullpen that the proverbial Joker would not ruin this storybook ending.
Most of us in the Rays Republic have grown accustom to the odd and sometimes mystic ways of Rays Manager Joe Maddon. We no longer question in advance the madness or insanity because of his overall check mark firmly entrench on the Winning side of the odds ledger. But during this Nationally televised contest his pair of mirror image Aces were beaten by a Jack of all trades (Nick Swisher). I could see Rick Sutcliffe doing his voodoo trance of death from my Rightfield seat.
It was the story of one Alex (Cobb) who fought through a flaw of tipping off his pitches during his M L B debut in a spot start against the Los Angels Angels at Tropicana Field to posting a 2-0 record on 5 starts this season for the home club. Cobb performed superbly in the contest putting his own spin on thew game, keeping the New York Yankees basically in check with his pitch selection leaving the ballgame in line for a “W” after posting a 4-2 cushion for his Bullpen.
t looks almost like a certain thing Cobb would post to an impressive 3-0 record. Some how the usually solid and aggressive Rays Bullpen issued 5 walks and saw their usual rock of Gibraltar, closer Kyle Farnsworth crumble. Farnsy has now surrendered 5 free passes in his last 5 appearances, which included his 3rd blown save on Monday night.
Then suddenly the second bookend Alex (Torres) who was making his M L B debut got a chance to leave a impression not only on Maddon, but on the assembled Rays crowd. Scouts had been more than vocal that Torres might not be ready for his shot, but the Rays took the gamble on their pair of Alexs’ on this night.
When Torres took the hill during the top of the 9th inning, he looked confident, polished, possibly having something to prove not only to himself and his team, but to his new pinstriped adversaries. Torres threw 44 pitches on the night, the first 7 to lead-off hitter Curtis Granderson, a hitter who is not an easy task even for a veteran. Torres did get Granderson to a 3-2 count before Granderson fouled off the next 2 offering. Then Granderson delivered with a single to Center.
Next up power hitter Mark Teixera. Another guy who with one swing could change the outcome of the game and send the Rays Republic home wondering “What if”. Torres seemed more poised, controlled as he got Teixera to strikeout swinging on 5 offerings. Suddenly maybe Alex #2 had some M L B moxy.
Torres never worried about Granderson, and he quickly stole second, moving himself 90 feet from scoring to put the pressure on the Rays. Mariano Rivera was now up and throwing over Torres right shoulder, he glanced down the foul line then threw a nice breaking pitch to Robinson Cano that he grounded to second for an easy second out. Suddenly it looked like Torres had a reliever’s mindset.
Maddon then sent in the signal to Intentionally walk Nick Swisher with Granderson 60 feet from home plate. Runners on the corners with 2 outs. Andrew Jones then saw only 5 pitches before he walked to first loading the bases with pinstripes, hyping the pressure and room for error into the red.
Martin came to the plate with the intention of ruining Torres debut. It was nothing personal, it was the way the game is played. He took the first offering from Torres and heard the deep bellow of Home Plate Umpire Ed Hickox as the ball nipped the corner. Then Martin saw 2 straight balls in the same area, but this time outside the zone, but always hoping not to hear another called strike from Hickox.
Torres gained some ground on Martin getting him to a 2-2 strike count before the momentum quickly turned in Martin’s favor. 2 of Torre’s next 3 pitches missed their mark. Bringing in Granderson from Third, posting a 5-4 lead for the Yankees.
Immediately a lot of heads went down in the assembled crowd. Somehow we all knew the result. We all collectively knew that the gamble by Maddon had been called, dealt with and the cards were in the Visitor’s favor.
Even Torres seemed to give in a little as the next hitter Brent Gardner got off to a quick 3-0 count before Torres reached down and fought back to a 3-2 count before Gardner hit a roller to Longoria for the final out of the inning.
Almost instantly the second guessing in the stands began as people questioned the Intentional walk to Swisher, but even as people bickered and threw their arms up in wonder, the Rays never seemed to get over that half of an inning, getting contact on all three at bats in their half of the inning, but going down 1-2-3 to end the night.
Suddenly Torres was being labeled in the stands as the “second coming of Jorge Sosa”. Or that he reminded some of former Rays RP/SP victor Zambrano who had a World of potential and velocity, but his control was all over the place. Both of these resemblances were unfair, but had a hint of merit.
That night Torres was informed he was going back to Triple-A Durham, but even with a perfect night his stay up with the Rays might have been short lived. You know the Rays sent Torres back to Durham with a “To Do” list of things to work on, things to get right, and progression might have us see him again in September.
Both of the Alex’s were total opposites on this night. Beside Cobb being a right-hander and Torres a leftie, that is were their similarities ended, even on Monday night. When the 9th inning began and Torres was popping the mitt with his warm-up pitches.
I wanted the storyline, the “Tale of the Two Alex’s” to have a glorious ending. A way to celebrate this rookie invasion that has been so successful for the Rays, but Swisher, a Jack of all trades had his own fairy tale ending in the works.