After sitting through a 145-minute rain delay in anticipation of a Joba Chamberlain start, Yankee fans on the East Coast sat through another three hours of frustration as the Rangers topped the Yankees 7-3. It was only appropriate that the last out would come on a called strike three.
For the Yankees’ bats, the game doesn’t look bad on paper. The team went 12 for 37 (.324) off of the Rangers pitchers with four walks and a hit batter. They stole five bases, and Mark Teixeira hit his team-leading 14th home run.
But the Bombers couldn’t string anything together. The Yanks left 12 runners on and went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position. They hit into three rally-killing double plays and lost their red-hot center fielder to a shoulder injury. It was just one of those games that, during the course of a season, a team is going to lose.
Of course, the troubles weren’t isolated to clutch hitting. Joba Chamberlain, making his first start since taking a liner off his knee, was not sharp. He needed 28 pitches to get through the first and had no discernible or effective fastball tonight. In the end, Joba wasn’t terrible: He threw four innings and struck out five, but he gave up four hits, four walks and three runs in his no decision.
Based on how young pitchers progress, I can’t get too upset over Joba’s start. He mostly persevered through four tough innings and showed that he could still get a few outs without his best start. He hadn’t thrown more than 0.2 innings over the last nine days and probably could have gone out for at least a few batters in the fifth.
With Joba out of the game, though, the bullpen let down the Yanks. Al Aceves and Phil Coke combined for three innings and gave up three runs on five hits. With Joba out of the game after four and Chien-Ming Wang reportedly shadowing the Yanks’ young right-hander, Joe Girardi turned to Aceves for the second night in a row, and the move backfired on him. While I understand that Aceves probably gives the Yanks a better shot at winning the game, Wang needs to get his work now that the Yanks have activated him. It’s easy to say in hindsight based on Aceves’ ineffectiveness that Wang should have been pitching, and that is basically what I’m doing. Either way, that knee-jerk roster move looks worse and worse every day.
In the end, the Yanks just couldn’t do it, and it hurt. They lost Melky Cabrera to a strained shoulder on the first play of the bottom of the first. He will have an MRI tomorrow after his fluroscopy turned up negative and will be out for at least a few days. With Boston and Toronto both losing, the Yanks missed a chance to move into a first-place tie. Instead, the AL East holds steady for another day.
These two teams will do it again tonight at 8 p.m. as A.J. Burnett goes for his first win since April 14. Hopefully, the results will be better than this morning’s frustrating loss.
Nick Swisher Notes: Over his last 144 plate appearances dating back to April 17, Nick Swisher is hitting .170/.328/.339. For the month of May, Swisher is at .119/.287/.217. He’s making David Ortiz look good. Either we’re seeing why the White Sox were so willing to trade him and his contract or we’re seeing a very, very bad slump. With Xavier Nady on the way back, Swisher’s playing time could decrease soon.