Yanks let one slip in Texas as season hangs in the balance

Charleston's offense keeps on rollin'
Chili on Pedro

After tonight’s 8-6 defeat in Texas, the Yankees are 6.5 games behind the first-place Rays. In the Wild Card, they’re in third place, 3.5 games behind the Red Sox. Numerically, they’re not quite out of it.

But watching the team and looking ahead to last two months of the season, I get the sense that they’re on the cusp right now. This team — with Joba Chamberlain out indefinitely and the rest of the rotation falling apart — needs to put it together this week. They need to beat Texas in Texas; they need to beat Anaheim in Anaheim; and they need to beat Minnesota in Minnesota. If they don’t, it’s going to be a long, slow march to that final game in Yankee Stadium and the last road trip of 2008.

Tonight’s loss was a frustrating one. The Yanks could have won this game a few times over, but while the team lost a few nights ago, tonight’s effort really comes down to four individuals. We start in the ninth with Alex Rodriguez. This ought to make the A-Rod Haters happy.

With one on and one out in the ninth, the game was in A-Rod’s hand. Standing in there against Eddie Guardado, A-Rod could have tied the game with a long ball. Instead, he hit a game-ending double play that seemingly defines A-Rod’s 2008 effort just like his walk-off grand slam in April of 2007 defined last year. This year, A-Rod hasn’t been the best in close and late situations, and while there are definite sample size issues, it’s hard to ignore the fact that he hasn’t been coming through late in the games.

Of course, runs count early on too, and I hate to criticize him. Instead, I’ll leave that up to my mom. As were sitting at the Smoke Jazz Club tonight when the game ended, she to me: “He only hits home runs with no one on base.” While that’s not 100 percent accurate, he failed tonight in a key situation.

But while many of A-Rod’s detractors will be happy to finger him for the loss, the truth is that three other people had a chance to impact the game before it came down to A-Rod, and had any of those three come through, A-Rod wouldn’t have needed to get that game-tying hit in the ninth that never came. So let’s alight on Andy Pettitte.

Fresh off of a 5.1-inning, nine-earned run outing against the Angels, Andy Pettitte did not deliver. Pettitte allowed five runs on six hits in five innings of work. Over his last 10.1 innings against solid offensive teams, Pettitte has thrown to an ERA of 12.48. With Joba out, Pettitte has to pitch better than he did if the Yanks are to catch a whiff of October baseball this year.

But the Yanks nearly survived the Pettitte outing if not for Brian Bruney and Dave Robertson. These two pitchers gave up three earned runs in two combined innings of work, and had they done the job, Richie Sexson’s grand slam would have given the Yanks the lead. Instead, it simply teased us, giving fans hope that the Yanks could come back.

But the bullpen had faltered. Again though, maybe someone else is to blame. David Robertson threw 44 pitches tonight. He had reached that mark just once on July 1 against Texas. Perhaps, Joe Girardi left him in for too long tonight as he did with Damaso Marte tonight.

That decision would be overshadowed by the one concerning Melky Cabrera and Ivan Rodriguez. In the span of two batters with the bases loaded and the Yanks threatening, Girardi used Pudge as a pinch runner and Melky Cabrera as a pinch hitter. Why any manager would use a hitter with a sub-.600 OPS over his last 300 plate appearances as a pinch hitter while using the guy hitting nearly .300 as a pinch runner is well beyond me. It just doesn’t make sense.

In the end, tonight’s loss was the product of four distinct decisions and at-bats, none of which went the Yankees’ way. It’s been one of those seasons.

Charleston's offense keeps on rollin'
Chili on Pedro
  • Seth C.

    What about Jeter lining out on a 3-1 count with the bases loaded and 2 outs? There was no reason to swing. He should be letting the pitch go and allowing the runners to get a running start with the full count.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      And the strike he swung at was out of the zone earlier in the count. But Jeter’s been a disappointment all season.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=594331910 Jamal G.

        That was the pitch that you can lament Derek Jeter for, not the 3-1 pitch. I understand why he started the bat (1-0 count, pitcher having control issues so you are geared up for a Fastball over the plate, instead he throws a Slider at you which resembles a Fastball at first) but you can’t be that aggressive when Josh Rupe just walked in a run.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=594331910 Jamal G.

      A 3-1 pitch with the bases juiced is not an automatic take situation, especially with the tying run on-base.

      • Seth C.

        Not automatic, but certainly smart. Especially when the pitcher doesn’t have overpowering stuff.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=594331910 Jamal G.

          If a pitcher doesn’t have overpowering stuff then I would think it makes more sense to be aggressive on 3-1. It is a moot point because Josh Rupe does have overpowering stuff, he was 95-MPH the majority of that AB with Derek Jeter with up to 5″ break. That is a nasty Sinker.

          • Bo

            He hit the ball on the screws. What guy takes a good pitch 3-1?

            Especially Jeter.

    • cult of basebaal

      i’m more irritated by the GIDP that jeter had to kill an earlier rally with 2 on and only 1 out, especially since he tried to pull an outside sinker (he wasn’t the only one … infuriating) though in his defense, joey joe joe jr should have ordered a double steal with JC and JD on base and the right handed hitting jeter at the plate. girardi’s failure to enact the obvious set the cap’n up for the inevitable twin killing (#19 for the year, nice to see jetes challenging for the league lead in something)

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=594331910 Jamal G.

        A double steal is never an “obvious play” because a steal of third base is never an “obvious play”. I wanted a double steal in that spot as well, but to say it was obvious is a bit much.

        • bklynJT

          The obvious play is to always start the runners when Jeter is at bat. I don’t understand why that concept always escapes Girardi. Start the runner, no double play. Dont start the runner, Derek 4-6-3 Jeter earns his nickname.

          • steve (different one)

            he does start the runner quite a bit with Jeter.

            you can’t do it every single time or you will get picked off.

            you see what you want to see.

            Girardi has been fine with starting the runners.

  • Yankees=warriors

    It’s a shame Yankee Stadium has to go out in a awful year like this…

  • GoYankees

    Cano had 3 walks in this game!

    Looks like the baseball moguls have declared HBP war against the Yankees. It’s OK to hit ARod a couple of times a game, but if the Yanks try to retaliate, they’ll be slammed.

  • Mark B

    Say what you want about A Rod, but Dandy Andy is not earning the $16 million the Yanks are paying him

    • bklynJT

      Andy is pissing me off. Let’s try not to divert the blame from all of the “true” yankees please.

      • Setty

        Oh wow, someone send Andy a memo that he’s pissing off bklynJT after a 2-2 post AS break record. Clearly bklynJT deserves much better than that and it’s completely unacceptable for Andy to perform like this, especially given his pathetic career and track record.

  • Jon W.

    If I have to watch Melky Cabrera anymore, I think I’m going to hurl. The man has devolved into an absolutely awful offensive player. Why Girardi would not pinch hit Pudge for Molina and save Giambi to hit for Christian is beyond me. Just a terrible game all around.

  • Bo

    The season is pretty much dead. No team with an average offense can survive a rotation without Joba and Wang.

    And the bullpen has come back to life.

    Weird you don’t hear anyone brag about Girardi’s bullpen management lately.

  • const

    the Chewbacca Defense. Classic. Great usage of wikipedia.

  • Old Ranger

    The last 1/3 of last year and all of this year, Jeter has not played well at all. DPs started last year and continued into this year, maybe even worse. Someone will come up with stats to prove me wrong, but I count the times DPs come at critical times.
    Must agree with some of you dumping on Joe G., his moves are not very creative…to say the least. Joe missused Ohly, now he is doing the same with Marty and Dave. These guys are good for 30 to 40 pitches, after that…the wheels fall off. 27/08?

  • LiveFromNewYork

    I am baffled at the Melky move. I don’t know if Joe is trying to bury him or what but it was a stupid move. Jeter continues to frustrate and annoy.

    The offense has let down good pitching consistently this year. With a starting rotation down to um, Moose, and an offense that refuses to play with RISP, there’s nothing left to hope for. I had faith in Joe Girardi as of late but the Melky move and the bullpen overuse is baffling and upsetting.

  • steve (different one)

    A-Rod is in a slump.

    has anyone noticed that in the last 3 games, all he has done is hit grounders to 3B? even the hit that skipped through in the Anaheim series was the same ball as those DP balls.

    he’s out of whack and he sucked last night.

    that said, this game is on Andy Pettitte. the offense scored 6 runs. Pettitte was awful. we shouldn’t be sitting here lamenting the fact that A-Rod couldn’t hit a HR in the 9th inning to score the 7th and 8th runs. it’s HARD to hit HRs. you can’t just hit a HR whenever you want to. the offense shouldn’t have to score 9 runs to win. it’s too much to ask.

    what you can do is put up some zeroes. Pettitte didn’t do that.

    also, i think the Girardi criticism (of the bullpen, not the pinch runners/hitters) is a stretch.

    he pulled Robertson at a time where it was perfectly reasonable for Bruney to get out of it. it’s not like he left Robertson in and HE gave up the double.

    Bruiney walked a VERY mediocre hitter. it was inexcusable and had nothing to do with Girardi. Bruney needs to get that guy out.

    • LiveFromNewYork

      Characterizing pinch hitting Melky as a bad move is a stretch? About 99.9 percent of the bench could have/would have done better. A catcher as a pinch runner? My grandmother can fun faster than most catchers.

      • steve (different one)

        uh, re-read what i said. i specifically made a point to say the pinch running deserved criticism.

        i said i didn’t think the bullpen management was that bad: sometimes it’s simply the pitchers fault. last night was one of those times.

        Bruney walking Boggs: inexcusable. not Girardi’s fault. Bruney’s fault.

        i apologize if i was unclear.

        • LiveFromNewYork

          no I read it fast…

    • Setty

      Steve, I agree Pettitte shoulders some of the blame, but I don’t think you can put the whole game on his shoulders. First of all, that park is a bandbox, and while Andy did not pitch well, no question about it, Texas scored 5 runs off him through 5 innings. That’s highly an insurmountable deficit, especially in Arlington. If Bruney doesn’t give up the bases clearing double, we’re still very much in the game. And if our genius, so-called Baseball Prospectus subscribing manager didn’t pinch hit the statistically worst everyday player since April while pinch running a slow, .300 hitting catcher, then who knows what happens with this game? There is blame to be spread all around.

      • Setty

        *hardly an insurmountable deficit, my bad

      • ceciguante

        agreed. we made matt freaking harrison look good last night, which was a tough thing to do. in that ballpark, against those ham n eggers they had throwing (everyday eddie was probably the BEST of their 5 pitchers), we managed six hits. i’m afraid to know what we hit with RISP, but i’m sure it sucked as usual. jeter alone left 5 guys on base. so yeah…i don’t let pettitte off the hook, but there’s enough blame to go around this time.

    • Count Zero

      Agreed…completely. What happened to Pettitte the “second-half pitcher?” He ain’t earnin’ his $16MM at this point that’s for sure.

      • Setty

        His first 2 starts this year after the break were very good, and the last 2 were bad. You’re ready to discount his reputation as a second half pitcher which he’s earned over his entire career over 2 starts?

        • Count Zero

          I’m not ready to discount anything — four starts is definitely a small sample. But he certainly hasn’t been a $16MM second-half pitcher so far. He needs to pitch a lot better for us to have any kind of a shot with the injury-riddled staff we have.

          Small sample but since the break…

          24.1IP, 26H, 9BB, 4HR, 5.92ERA, 1.44WHIP

          His last two starts have been positively Ponsonian. The only shining light has been his 25Ks over those 24.1

          In short — it’s time for Andy to step up.

          • Setty

            That’s fair. I also think Andy’s brief post-ASB struggles are magnified since the rest of the rotation is so weak. We almost are expecting him to win every time out in fear of what the other 3 starters will do.

  • steve (different one)

    These two pitchers gave up three earned runs in two combined innings of work, and had they done the job, Richie Sexson’s grand slam would have given the Yanks the lead. Instead, it simply teased us, giving fans hope that the Yanks could come back.

    one point about this:

    CJ Wilson would not have been allowed to load the bases and give up a grand slam if the score was 5-2 instead of 8-2.

    they would have gone to Francisco.

    as Michael Kay would say, you are subscribing to the fallacy of the predet….oh forget it.

  • steve (different one)

    also, i’ve been as critical of Jeter as anyone, but i think it’s silly to rip him for that AB in the 7th.

    that ball is 2 run single with a little luck. he hit it very well. that’s all you can do.

    • bklynJT

      Luck has defined Jeter’s career, and apparently he isn’t having any this year.

      YEAR 2005/2006/2007/2008
      BABIP .353/.394/.368/.310
      AVG .309/.343/.322/.279
      LD% na/21%/22%/17%
      GIDP 15/13/21/18(with 2 months left)

      • Setty

        Are you a Yankee fan? I mean, seriously, how do you have the balls to say luck has defined Derek Jeter’s whole career? Just an FYI, he also played 10 seasons before your 4 season sample size, but only a lucky player can have 2,500 hits, right?

        • Old Ranger

          No! You get 2500 hits by playing 13 years in the #2 slot and avg., 650 ABs and 207 hits a year.
          Let’s face it, he is getting older (34) as a SS…that is OLD. Don’t think he isn’t serviceable, he is. But one must wonder about his hand injury and if he isn’t pressing to much, he seems to swing at pitches he never has before now. 27/08??

        • bklynJT

          YOU GOT ME!!! I’m a troll with nothing better to do than criticize Jeter’s fading ability on a Yankee forum…

          Maybe Yankee fans need to stop giving Jeter a free pass because he was apart of the dynasty that returned to NY.

          If you couldn’t read the sarcasm, I am a Yankee fan. But I can’t stand the fact that some Yankee fans think that we shouldn’t be able to criticize Jeter, Petite, or Mo when they don’t perform..

          I only showed 4 years because thats as far back the statistics went on the site i searched.

          I took some privileges with my choice of words, so sue me. Of course I know his career isn’t based off luck, but obviously his luck has gone down, which can be directly attributed to his ld% going down which also goes hand in hand with his decreased power (lower hr/ops 3s).

          Face it, Jeter is on the decline, which maybe attributed to his injuries this year, but he will held responsible for it, whether you like it or not.

          • Setty

            Quite a difference between saying Jeter is on the decline and Jeter’s entire career was based on luck, don’t you think?

            • bklynJT

              I was being an irrational Yankee fan. I happens sometimes, I can’t really control it. I find it helps when you stop expecting good things from them. This roller coaster season has taken a couple months off my life expectancy.

              • Setty

                That is fine. Listen, I am just as frustrated as everyone else here, I just think this season has been a combination of so many things that I’m not willing to pin the blame strictly on one player’s shoulders. That’s all

      • Stephen

        well his LD% is down this year, which corresponds to a lower BABIP, so maybe his luck isn’t THAT bad this year. Anyway, it’s not like is BABIP is .250. It’s .310, which is not horrible.

      • steve (different one)

        Luck has defined Jeter’s career, and apparently he isn’t having any this year.

        wow, talk about when stats go bad.

        this is probably one of the single most laughable arguments i have ever read.

        holy shit, my mind is blown with the stupidity. i don’t even know where to begin.

        what’s next, you will post Rivera’s obscenely LOW BABIPs and argue that his career has been luck as well?

        • bklynJT

          You guys sound like M&MD. I took creative privileges with that statement. But the facts are there… Jeter is on the decline. If you want to harp on an exaggerated statement by an upset fan, go right ahead.

          It’s like you can’t make a statement now a days without every single word being dissected and broken down. Now let’s have 10 more posts about how stupid a statement that was, and ignore the fact that Jeter has been and most likely will continue to be a shell of the productive Jeter we once knew.

          • steve (different one)

            hey, if you were using hyperbole, then i apologize.

            it didn’t come across that you were anything but serious. if i missed it, i take it back.

            comparing me to M&MD is completely out of line, though. at least call me a pompous jackass. that’s still a step up from those 2 clowns.

            • bklynJT

              Sorry, no one deserves that insult.

              • Michael T

                JT is on the money with his overall point (if I read it correctly). Jeter has never really been as good as his reputation. And sicne he is declinging from a lower peak then most presume, the decline is going to appear very steep- steeper than it really is. If you combine this with even a modest reversal in luck which has favored him) we are in for a long 2 years left on his contract.

                Of course, the Yankees will probably extend him past his expiration date by 3 years at $25 million per. That.s what they do with True Yankees(TM) and that is what ultimately has made the Red Sox a better franchise. The Red Sox not doing that is with Pedro, Manny, Trot, Nomar etc).

  • fwwank

    Melky’s days are numbered

  • mustang

    “I’ll leave that up to my mom. As were sitting at the Smoke Jazz Club tonight when the game ended, she to me: “He only hits home runs with no one on base.”

    You have a very smart mother.

    • mustang

      But A-Rod will be ok we can’t hold him to such high expectations.

    • mustang

      And when they are up by more then 5 runs or down by 5 runs at least that’s what it seems like.

    • steve (different one)

      You have a very smart mother.

      i am not debating that his mom is very smart, but she is wrong here.

      a quick look at A-Rod’s HR Log will quickly dispell these myths.

      bases empty – 278
      men on – 261

      this is roughly propotional to the number of ABs he has had in each case.

      now let’s compare him to the clutchiest clutch that ever clutched, David Ortiz:

      bases empty – 172
      men on – 107

      so A-Rod has hit 48% of his HRs with men on base. Ortiz has hit 38%.

      • mustang

        I don’t want get into another A-Rod debate because I’m still recovery from the last one. And you can range A-rod’s stats anyway you like the guy is a stats guy’s wet dream. The bottom-line if you poll baseball fans on which they rather have Ortiz or A-Rod in a game win situation most would say Ortiz.
        A-Rod is what A-Rod is to expect anymore out him is to leave yourself open to disappointment.

        • The Fallen Phoenix

          If you polled baseball fans at the end of last season, a disturbingly large number of them (perhaps even a majority) would have said that Joba Chamberlain should remain in the bullpen for all of 2008, rather than transitioning to the rotation.

          Just because a lot of fans claim something, doesn’t make it right.

          • mustang

            Take one look at his RISP stats this year. The guy is on the Yankees so I will always cheer for him, but I’m tried of trying to figure him out. I don’t hate the guy, but I need more then stats in the players that I like.

            • steve (different one)

              his RISP stats are good. they aren’t great. but they aren’t bad either.


              look at the OBP. what does that tell you?

              it tells me the opposing team is pitching around him in those spots.

              if some isn’t making outs in over 40% of his ABs, there is no objective way to qualify that as “bad”.

              sure, he could be doing better. it’s not as good as he is capable of.

              but if i had to list the 10 most important things that are wrong with this team, A-Rod would NOT be on that list.

  • A.D.

    Realistically even is Joba is shut down for the rest of the season, with IPK coming to take his place, Hughes & Pavano on the comeback trail, and Wright and Aceves doing alright in AAA (Wright has done better recently). There are still arms to get it done, we have 6 games with TB & 6 with the Sox, so we can control our own destiny to make the playoffs.

    Sure the odds are against them, but its very possible. This team seems to slump together and get hot together, which mean crappy stretches like this can be erased by great stretech like after the AS break

  • RustyJohn

    You Doubting Thomases…why do you not realize the power and glory that will be Carl Pavano? He will rise to save the day….do you, like Thomas, need to stick your fingers in his injuries to know HE HAS RISEN? That’s it- poke his bruised buttocks…Alyssa did…see how firm and ready they are to conquer the AL East….

    • ceciguante


      good one rusty john

  • Mike in AZ

    is it time we move the line-up around and switch Jeter and Damon? Jeter has always seemed to do well leading off, and Damon certainly has more XBH potential than does Jeter – at least this year. Its not as if Damon is taking walks like crazy ( his OBP was never tremendous, but very good), and since Melky is never on base, Jeter would be hard-pressed to hit into a double-play

  • stuart

    JETER gets his usual pass. how he gets a pass on the AB against RUPE is amazing.. DO you guys understand baseball? RUpe just walked Damon witth the bases loaded.. Jeter was up 3 and 1 in the count but RUPE actually threw 4 balls JETER swung on a ball in the dirt. ABreu on deck and RUPE losing it.. JETER NEEDS to take the 3 and 1 pitch.. He will theoretically still get a good pitch on 3 and 2.

    How can all you knowledgeable fans(sabermetrics) etc. not understand you let the other team lose the game, no need to be a hero, the chances of Rupe walking JETER are over 50%..

    JETER screwed up, he shows no plate discipline, and offensively he has been horrible this year… JETERS AB was way more important then Melky’s..Texas had CJ WIlson warming up for ABreu if Jeter gets on base, CJ wilson is as wild as RUpe was..

    JETER deserves criticsim, but you lemmings give him a lifetime pass….

    • Clayton

      Taking a 3-1 pitch is a horrible idea, especially with the bases loaded. The pitcher and batter know that the pitcher cannot throw a ball, he has to throw a strike. It is a great time to take a swing; what they like to call a “hitter’s count.” He hit a line drive that was right at a player. It was a good swing.

      And using the stats this season (sample size be damned)
      Count 3-1 (13ABs) .308/.591/.385/.976
      Count 3-2 (43ABs) .186/.470/.209/.679

      Jeter is not a very good 3-2 hitter

      • Clayton

        Three year average
        Count 3-1 (68ABs) .500/.736/.735/1.471
        Count 3-2 (207ABs) .266/.524/.440/.964

    • Setty

      Again, I will ask this question – how old are you? Do you even remember the beginning part of Jeter’s career? He has won 4 rings, one WS MVP, and has 2500 hits in his career so far. Has he had a down year? Absolutely. Should he have taken the pitch on that 3-1 count? Possibly. BUT, it’s one freekin game in August in which several other teammates did not perform well. If he doesn’t deserve a lifetime pass, who the hell does? Are you at all grateful for what he’s done for and meant to our organization? Or are you one of the spoiled whiny fans who thinks if we don’t win the World Series every year then we are a complete failure? You’re the type of fan who gives NY’ers a bad name and the whole “what have you done for me lately?” reputation.

      • Old Ranger

        Now that one I like! Good show. 27/08??

  • stuart

    When discussing the Jeter AB all you forget to mention the circumstances. Rupe who you say has overpowering stuff could not find home plate. WHY the hell do you help him?

    Tell me about the speed of his pitches and movement the guy loaded the bases…He was in big trouble and Jeter let him off the hook.

    You guys never look at the sitaution.. That is why they call it situational hitting.. JETER needs to take a pitch, just like Damon allowed the great RUpe to walk him before Jeter was thrown 4 straight balls..

    You guys are hilarious, you cannot see that Jeter had to take the 3 and 1 pitch. Yeah he may have struck out 3 and 2 and my answer is so what, that was the right thing to do.

    Brain frriggin Rupe with CJ wilson in the pen warming up for Abreu and you guys cannot comprehend that Jeter was wrong…..

    • ceciguante

      who exactly are you replying to? i was not the only one who criticized jeter in this thread. he was awful last night, you are absolutely right on the rupe at bat, and i’ll go one step further and say he shouldn’t have let it even get to 3 and 1, because if i recall he swung at a ball to keep rupe in the at bat. jeter has been terrible this year, not playing like a captain, really hurting this team with his light .279 and GIDP obsession.

      but who is giving him this lifetime pass you speak of? and where can i get one?

    • Old Ranger

      Damm…I like that! Almost every week someone is ripping Jeter, maybe some just didn’t want to point out the obvious (although some did). I know one thing, I was a little pissed off seeing that at bat…no, I take that back, I was really pissed, just as most of the rest. 27/08??

  • Kyle D.

    Did R-Sex re-earn the name Dick Lock Sexy with his 2-4 performance with a grand salami?

  • Axl

    The Yankees are cursed I tell you! Nothing goes our way anymore! Everytime we think we’re making progress…the curse claims another high profile victim and injures them.

    We must get rid of this curse or we’ll wind up like the Red Sox for 86 years.

    • A.D.

      This will turn into one bitter blog

  • http://deleted Randy

    i agree completely about the decision to pinch hit with melky. a terrible decision. i would argue is the worse everyday player in the majors and if he isn’t that he is certainly the worse everyday outfielder in the majors. why would you use him in a critical situation? why would you use him in any situation? you have the bases loaded and all you can do is hit a pop up to short? AGAIN, girardi makes a decision that makes you scratch your head. but we still have to have faith. i think we can still pull it out. two months of baseball left. we can do it and i think we will.

    • A.D.

      Tek is by far a worse major league regular than Melk