Let’s get this part of the recap out of the way right now: Had Andy Pettitte not blown three leads tonight, Kyle Farnsworth would not have been pitching in a tie game in the eighth inning. Michael Kay can bloviate about Joba Chamberlain all he wants, but starting pitching — good starting pitching — is what wins games. The Yankees didn’t get good starting pitching tonight, and it cost them later on.
That said, the only person surprised by Kyle Farnsworth’s eighth inning meltdown tonight seems to be Joe Girardi who continues to go to Farnsworth in high-leverage situations. Anyone else could see this one coming from a mile way, and when the dust settled and Farnsworth ended with a strong K, Yankee fans just weren’t surprised by the outcome.
This result — another bad performance by the consistently bad Farnsworth — brings me to a conclusion that a few RAB commenters voiced tonight as well: Joe Girardi and Dave Eiland did not handle Joba Chamberlain’s transition out of the bullpen as well as they should have. When Chamberlain moved out of the setup role, we knew that the Yankees would have a little bit of trouble finding someone to fill that role. We knew what we were getting with Kyle Farnsworth, and the idea, I thought, was to try various combinations of pitchers in the eighth innings. It’s not like the Yanks don’t have choice.
First, the Yankees have Edwar Ramirez. The rail-thin righty has thrown exceptionally well this season. In 16 innings spanning 14 Big League performances, Edwar has allowed just one run on 11 hits and six walks while striking out 15. While Ramirez has pitched mostly in low leverage situations — 11 of his 14 appearances have come with the Yanks either up by four or more or down by three or more — his numbers warrant a look in the eighth inning.
Then, we have the inexplicably underused Chris Britton. Of all the Yankee relievers outside of Farnsworth and Hawkins, Britton actually has a track record of MLB success. In 2006, he kept runners off-base and threw to a 3.35 ERA in 53.2 innings. This year, he’s allowed one hit over six innings in three appearances while, oddly enough, walking four and striking out none. He too deserves more high-leverage appearances.
It wouldn’t be too hard to make the case for Jose Veras or Ross Ohlendorf either. But the point remains: The Yankees have to recognize that this is a team in progress right now, and they have to be willing to break the mold. We’ve seen Kyle Farnsworth fail at this job for parts of three seasons now. At what point with Joe Girardi realize that and try some of the other pieces in his pen?
- Not the best day for Derek Jeter again, eh? He made a costly non-error that lead to a few Twins runs and then got thrown out at second late in the game.
- When A-Rod reached first to lead off the ninth, the obvious move was to have him steal as soon as possible. Hideki Matsui hasn’t struck out since May 21; a hit-and-run would have been ideal, and a straight steal would have been fine. I know Kenny Singleton and Michael Kay were talking about how, on the road, you play for the win, but you can’t win until you tie.
- Robinson Cano last walked on May 25. Since then, he’s had 32 plate appearances, and he’s seen 88 pitches. That’s 2.75 pitches per plate appearance, and that is utterly terrible. He’s five for 31 (.161) with a sac fly over that stretch, and I think perhaps a day off — or an order to take a pitch — would not be the worst thing for Cano.
- In Red Sox news, David Ortiz is out at least a month and could need season-ending wrist surgery after damaging some ligaments. As Nick Johnson can tell you, that’s not a good injury. I wonder if the Red Sox would consider this guy to fill in Ortiz’s big shoes. The fit, as Buster Olney would say, is perfect.