I knew the Yanks were in trouble tonight when, in the top of the third inning, Ivan Rodriguez struck out swinging on one of the nastiest pitches I’ve ever seen.
The fastball from Roy Halladay started over heading toward the middle of the plate. A few feet short of home plate, the bottom literally dropped out of this pitch, and it bounced in the dirt in front of home plate as Pudge swung over the top of it. I couldn’t fault Rodriguez for swinging there. By any account, that pitch should have been right over the heart of the plate. But Halladay’s sinker was just that good tonight, and by the time he tired enough to leave one up to Hideki Matsui, it was far too late for the Yankees.
While tonight’s game belonged, from start to finish, to Roy Halladay, it was also the day when Sidney Ponson’s chickens came home to roost. I’ve long harped on Ponson’s inability to keep runners off base, and while he had shown some improvement over his last few outings, his Yankee WHIP prior to tonight stood at 1.50. Pitchers who allow that many baserunners per inning simply cannot sustain success, and it all came crashing down tonight.
Ponson allowed eight hits and a walk as he pitched into the third but couldn’t record an out that inning. He gave up seven of the Blue Jays’ 14 runs before giving way to the equally ineffective tandem of David Robertson and Billy Traber. Games like this one really make me miss Chien-Ming Wang.
Meanwhile, the Yanks continue to lose their grip on any sort of October hope. They’re 10.5 games behind Tampa and six behind Boston. With 35 games left, the Yankees will have to game for every five they play just to tie Boston in the Wild Card. With six games left against their archrivals, it’s not impossible, but they’re going to have to make this run trotting out Ponson, Darrell Rasner and perhaps Carl Pavano for three out of every five days. Don’t hold your breath.
Game Notes: Why is Billy Traber still a member of this organization? He’s been terrible all year…Since acquiring Ivan Rodriguez, the Yankees are 8-11, and Pudge is hitting .229/.270/.343. That trade sure seemed better at the time…Derek Jeter has 2499 hits. With his next base knock, he’ll become just the 88th player in baseball history to amass at least 2500 hits.