Over their last 20 games heading into today, the Kansas City Royals were 3-17. Over his last four starts prior to today, Luke Hochevar was 0-3 with a 6.65 ERA and an 11:18 K:BB ratio over 23 innings.
So clearly the Yankees had this game in their pocket. They assumed they had won it and simply didn’t show up ready to play. That clearly must be what accounted for their pathetic 3-2 loss at the hands of a Royals team that is now 4-17 over their 21 games.
Now, in reality, we know that a pitcher — especially one with Luke Hochevar’s pedigree — can emerge to shut down the Yankees. We know that Mariano Rivera is human and threw an unnecessary inning in during yesterday’s 96-degree game only to lose today. We know that this one loss is not the end of the world. But it is a maddening sign of an increasingly frustrating Yankee team.
Over that four-start span, Hochevar had managed to throw just 241 of 420 pitches for strikes. Today, the Yanks managed to draw no walks against the young righthander, and the only blemish on his record was an A-rod home run. It was one of those days.
Meanwhile, Mike Mussina was masterful again with nothing to show for it. He went eight strong and allowed two runs on a Miguel Olivo home run. The pitch — a hanging breaking ball — was the only mistake Moose made all day. He was denied his tenth win when Mariano Rivera gave up a home run to Jose Guillen.
And that brings me to a question: At what point do the Yankees stop pitching to Jose Guillen this weekend? At what point do they stop throwing a fastball hitter fastballs? Guillen went 9 for 16 against the Yankees this weekend with 4 home runs and 10 RBIs. Rivera threw him too good a pitch on 0-2, and Guillen smacked it over the wall for a game-winning home run. That was a poor pitch.
Finally, before I go throw my Yankee frustration with this game away, let’s talk about Melky. With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the 9th, Melky Cabrera took a ball and then pulled a Robinson Cano. He swung at a pitch, grounded out and slid into first base, out by about six feet. It was one pathetic display of hitting.
First, Cabrera shouldn’t be swinging in that situation. Joakim Soria had already walked and hit a batter. Melky must make him throw a strike and perhaps two before swinging. Second, the next time Melky slides into first base, Tony Pena should just bop him on the head. Enough.
At some point, the Yanks have to figure out what they have in Melky. Since hitting his last home run on May 4, Melky is hitting .250 with an OPS well below .500. Those are not the numbers of a Major League outfielder, but we’ll have more on the Melky debate at 7:30 p.m. tonight. Stay tuned.
Here’s to .500, once again.