It’s hard to wrap up a 16-11 game that unfolded as Saturday’s Yankee game did. David Pinto wondered if it was the worst game ever, and I don’t think he’s too far off the mark. No team pitched too well; the umpires didn’t really call a good game; and despite scoring 11 runs, the Yanks didn’t come through when it mattered.
Of course, that outcome — a sloppy, heart attack-inducing game — seemed far from reality when the Yanks and A.J. Burnett arrived in the bottom of the 4th with a seemingly comfortable 6-0 lead. For the first four innings, the Yanks had Josh Beckett’s number, but in the fourth, it all fell apart.
A.J. Burnett didn’t get strike calls on two very close pitches to J.D. Drew, and a few batters later, Jason Varitek cheated fastball. The outcome? A grand slam. A pitch f/x review revealed that the home plate blew the calls on Drew, but what’s done was done.
Burnett would last long enough to give up the lead, and the Yankees and Red Sox engaged in a battle of the ineffective bullpens. The Sox jumped ahead 8-6, the Yanks tied it. Then, the Sox went ahead 9-8, and the Yanks took a 10-9 lead on a Dustin Pedroia error. The Sox went ahead 12-10; the Yanks clawed back to within one.
Then, in the bottom of the eighth, umpiring disaster struck again. On a 1-0 pitch-out, Jorge Posada threw out Jacoby Ellsbury, but the umpire blew the call. Replays showed Ellsbury out by about a foot, but the inning continued. The Sox scored four runs, and the Yanks couldn’t muster a five-spot off of Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth. If anything has laid bare the arbitrary nature of MLB’s use of instant replay, it was that play.
The truth though is that it’s impossible to blame the umpires. If the two umps make the right calls, the Yanks probably win, but if the Yankee bullpen doesn’t give up eight runs in three innings, the Yanks win. If the team goes better than 3 for 17 with runners in scoring position, the Yanks win. If A.J. Burnett doesn’t allow eight earned runs in five innings, the Yanks win.
On the season, the Yankees are 9-8, and it’s hard to believe the team is over .500 right now. They have a vacant offensive hole in center field, no third baseman and a Jekyll-and-Hyde bullpen that can’t get outs. Their erstwhile ace is in Tampa with a hip injury after throwing six innings of historically bad pitching, and outside of Robinson Cano, nothing has clicked. With just one-tenth of the season down, no one should be jumping off of any ledges quite yet.
The Yankees and the Red Sox will do it again tonight at 8 p.m. Andy Pettitte and Justin Masterson will square off on the ESPN special. It should be a crisper game than yesterday’s, but that’s not setting the bar too high.