Usually, when we talk about team efforts, we talk about winning games and seeing contributions from everyone. Tonight, let’s flip that over. The Yanks’ 7-6 loss at the hands of the Orioles was a true team effort.
Tonight, I’d like to spread the blame around. I’m going to blame Mariano Rivera, Damaso Marte, Wilson Betemit, Robinson Cano, Xavier Nady and Melky Cabrera for this one. Had just one of those players come through, the Yanks would have at least tied the game in the ninth. Instead, at various points over the last three innings of the game, none of those players did what was asked of the, and the Yanks lost another chance to gain ground on Boston and hold steady with the Red Sox.
Before launching into this one, I’d like to avoid blaming Darrell Rasner. While John Sterling, at least three times, called Rasner’s outing tonight “great,” it was far from it. After putting two runners on base in the 7th without recording an out, his WHIP for the game stood at a Ponsonian 2.00. That he had allowed only two earned runs prior to turning the ball over to Damaso Marte speaks more for luck than his pitching ability. It won’t hold up.
That said, he did what a fifth starter is supposed to do: He held the Orioles to four runs over six innings and kept the game close enough for the offense to win it. Everyone else dropped that ball.
Let’s start in the ninth to cover half of the list. In a 6-3 game, the Yanks called on Mariano Rivera to nail down three outs in the Orioles’ half of the inning. After nearly surrendering a home run to Aubrey Huff, Rivera came back with the exact same pitch, and Huff blasted what would be a very, very big run. I know Rivera’s having a season for the ages, and while this game won’t go down as a blown save, it cost the Yankees big.
In non-save situations, Rivera has now given up three home runs and 16 hits in 20 innings. His ERA is a still incredible 2.70, but his ERA in save situations is 0.33. He is truly a different pitcher, albeit in a limited sample size when the game is seemingly not on the line.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Yanks had two cracks to drive in the tying run with Robinson Cano and Wilson Betemit up. Cano struck out on three pitches, and Betemit followed suit. Wilson is, for the record, much worse as a righty against southpaws than he is hitting lefty against a righty. Justin Christian never had a chance to score.
But those were just the most glaring examples of failure, magnified in the ninth by one bad pitch by the Sandman. Let’s go back to the eighth. Here, with two runs in and two runners on, Wilson Betemit struck out. I sense a trend. Melky Cabrera had a chance to pick him up, and he swung at the very first pitch. He was out. Surprise. Then Xavier Nady struck out too. A solitary hit out of those three — or ABC baseball by Betemit and Cabrera — would have netted the Yanks another run. When the opportunity arose tonight to score runs through outs, the Yanks missed the call.
Finally, we reach the seventh. Damaso Marte, called on to pitch out of a two-on, no-out situation when Darrell Rasner was inexplicably left in to face the top of the Baltimore order, utterly failed. He allowed both inherited runners and two other Orioles to score. Had Marte done the job, the Yanks would have been in a better position to come back. If the Yanks miss the playoffs by a game, this is as good a culprit as any to earn that “coulda, shoulda, woulda” label. It truly was a team effort.