In the 7th inning, Michael Kay and Al Leiter do what they do every night at that time: They read the choices for Chevy Player of the Game. As Darrell Rasner’s name garnered the top slot on their slate of candidates, my thoughts flashed, albeit briefly, on the word “jinx.” With the way the Yanks have been playing lately, how could the YES Network be so presumptuous with three innings left in a 1-0 game to start offering up names for Player of the Game?
As luck — or fate — would have it, the Yanks would not win this game, and they didn’t win in spectacular fashion. When the dust settled — and it literally settled as A-Rod was called out at second for the first out of the ninth — the Yanks were emerge 2-1 losers in a game they desperately needed to win. With that loss, they’re one game out of fourth place, 11 games out of first and, more importantly, 6.5 games behind Boston in the Wild Card with 37 games left to play. No wonder Yahoo! Sports ran this image earlier tonight.
Before we really delve into the negatives from tonight, let’s stop and tip our collective caps to Darrell Rasner. The Yanks’ righty had one of his better starts of the year. He went 6.1 innings and allowed a walk and three hits. He struck out three and kept the Blue Jays off base. His only mistake came on a 3-2 pitch that Adam Lind deposited beyond a leaping Bobby Abreu over the right field wall to tie the game at one.
With that out of the way, it’s really hard to say anything nice about the rest of this game. Again, the Yanks didn’t hit with runners in scoring position. Bobby Abreu lead off the fourth with a double and ended up staying on second as the next three batters — A-Rod, Jason Giambi and Xavier Nady — went down with nary a peep. Jason Giambi had four strike outs; A-Rod three. While A.J. Burnett, in his audition, was masterful, the Yanks couldn’t put anything together at all.
Meanwhile, I hate to say this, but in a way, I was right when I questioned Hideki’s arrival last night. Matsui’s return to the lineup — a smashing 0-for-3 performance — pushed Johnny Damon into center field where he made one error early on and then cost the Yanks the game with one of the worst plays you’ll ever see a center fielder make in the 8th inning. Melky Cabrera would have caught that ball; Brett Gardner would have caught that ball; it’s quite possible I would have caught that ball. But Damon didn’t; the Blue Jays scored a second run, and that was that.
Or, that was that until the ninth inning when Alex Rodriguez led off with a bloop base hit over the first baseman’s head and managed to get himself thrown out at second base for the first out of the inning. On the surface, I have no problem with A-Rod’s play. He was trying to make something — anything — happen for a lackluster team and got himself thrown out.
But after watching the replay, I have a problem with A-Rod’s not really running hard to first. He didn’t have second base in his mind out of the box. Only after he saw Lyle Overbay chasing the ball did he turn it on as he rounded first, and by then, it was too late. Much like this Yankee season so far, A-Rod just fell a little short. He was out; the Yanks lost. And that’s that.