Double plays, errors, Josh Johnson doom Yankees

Rain, rain, go away
Revving the mill: Xavier Nady, Nick Swisher

When the dust settled in Miami last night – when Robinson Cano hit into his second game-ending double play in four games – the Yanks ended up on the wrong side of a very well-pitched game determined by mistakes. A.J. Burnett made one mistake to Dan Uggla. Josh Johnson, as good as advertised, made one to Nick Swisher. But it was Johnny Damon who made the costliest mistake of them all.

In the 7th and with the Yanks down 1-0, Jorge Cantu hit a line drive to left. Damon drew a bead on it, and he had a glove on it too. But he tripped. The ball fell, and Hanley Ramirez raced home from first with what would be the winning run. Damon was visibly upset with himself.

The Yankees could not overcome that error or their new-found propensity for double plays. They hit into three of them, two by Derek Jeter in some key situations. Let us look at the last one.

Generally, I can’t get too down on the Yanks when they lose a 2-1 pitchers duel on an unearned run. It happens. A.J. Burnett had another stellar start that included a nine-pitch, nine-strike, three-strike out immaculate inning, but Johnson was just slightly better.

There was one moment though when the Yanks had this one in reach. With no one out in the 8th and Brett Gardner and Alex Rodriguez on first and second, Derek Jeter was up. The Captain currently leads the team with a .317 average with runners in scoring position. Before tonight, he had hit just two double plays with runners in scoring position and had one sacrifice bunt in 71 plate appearances. So what did the Jeter do? Infuriatingly, he tried to bunt. As that unfolded, I tried to slam my head into the nearest wall.

Jeter squared around to bunt but took the first pitch. Ball one. Then, he swung away and bounced the pitch foul. Inexplicably, on the next pitch, Jeter tried to bunt but hit it foul. With a 1-2 count, Jeter had to protect the plate, and the foul bunt forced him to swing at bad pitches. He hit another foul and then bounced right to second. One out, two out. Rally snuffed.

By trying to bunt, Jeter forced himself into a bad count, and it is simply an inexcusable play. Derek Jeter is a Hall of Fame hitter, and while he hits into a high number of double plays, he did so tonight because he pushed himself into a bad count. There’s absolutely no good reason for that. I don’t know if that was on Jeter or on Joe Girardi. Either way, it really needs to stop.

In the end, the Marlins won because they out-fielded the Yanks. A.J. Burnett dominated that lineup, but Josh Johnson returned the favor. Cano swung at the first pitch he saw from Matt Lindstrom, and that was that.

Rain, rain, go away
Revving the mill: Xavier Nady, Nick Swisher
  • Dela G

    the yankees will get em tomorrow with cc pitching

  • Moshe Mandel

    I bet Jeter did that on his own. Generally, Joe lets him make that call.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      If that’s the case, then I hope Joe tells him to stop. I didn’t get to see the post-game tonight. That’s why I didn’t want to put this on either. It’s still infuriating.

      • Moshe Mandel

        Although I agree Jeter should never bunt, if Joe is of the belief that there are some situations where a bunt is proper, I doubt he tells him to stop. One of the situations where a bunt is not inexcusable is where it puts a runner on third with less than two outs late in a one run game. I dont like the bunting, but it isn’t an awful decision.

        • Benjamin Kabak

          What makes it an awful decision is that it’s Derek Jeter. If Angel Berroa or Ramiro Pena or even Melky are up, then fine; bunt. But not with Derek Jeter.

          • Moshe Mandel

            Agree. I’m just saying that the reason to hate the bunt is that it is a play for one run. However, late in a game, when you desperately need one run, it may make sense to sacrifice your chance at a big inning to get that run. As you said, with Jeter up, it is probably still the wrong play, but I do not think it is an egregious call.

            • JeffG

              I don’t hate the move – it would have kept us out of the double play scenario with the speedy Gardner on third. All Johnny would have had to do at that point is hit a slow grounder and we tie on the road – that is what you want to do.

              • JeffG

                Plus normally Jeter is a pretty good bunter and with Uggla playing way toward second base it might have been a pretty good foot race for him to get a hit out of it.

                • Charlie2

                  Ben, you are REALLY against the bunt. Just the other day in Mike’s chat, he said if you are late in the game and it calls for a bunt to get the tying run over, you bunt. I get that Jeter has played well, but I think that this is getting a bit overblown. When the team doesn’t even bunt, people complain that they rely on the home run too much. When they bunt, people complain that they bunt. If it worked, and they tied the game and turned it over to Hughes, we are in a great position. I don’t know man, I think you are way off on this one, regardless of who made the call.

                • BklynJT


              • BklynJT

                I agree with you Moshe. But your fighting a losing battle. You can’t justify the bunt here at RAB. A majority of the crowd here seems to loathe it.

    • Drew

      I think that was all jetes, playing for the tying run, i can’t argue too much.

  • bobtaco

    This loss I can swallow much easier than either of the Nats losses.

    At least it was a pitching duel and great performances on both sides.

    The 8th and 9th were frustrating, but less so than the other night having Gardner on third with one out and not being able to hit a fly ball for him to tag up on.

  • Rebecca-Optimist Prime

    I hate when my team hits into a rally killing DP. Takes the life out of everything.

  • Bobby

    Then Joe should tell him to swing away like he did to Swish a while back. Giving away outs with Jeter at the plate is just stupid. If he executes the bunt and Damon does nothing, they walk Tex. You want Jeter and Damon to work the count and find anyway to get on base so they have to pitch to your best hitter with RISP. Another epic fail by Girardi.

  • Joe M.

    Johnson was great, this is easier to take than losing to a no name.

    Also can someone smack A-Rod please. He can’t be out clubbing in the wee hours when he’s getting days off for “fatigue.” I know ‘A-Rod’ and ‘good PR’ despise each other, but dude don’t invite trouble. Please.

    • dkidd

      i know he gets a lot of unfair crap from the fans, but come on: saying you’re fatigued and then getting yourself seen in a club at 2:30 in the morning? he’s like a bad pr supergenius

    • John

      I think that a was a conspiracy theory by Miami writers to why A-rod was “resting.” Don’t believe it.

      • dkidd

        the miami herald thinks sitting him was girardi sticking it to loria by hurting attendance

        people need to take a breath

        • John

          Yea, so here are all the dumb theories by Miami writers:

          – As you said, Girardi was sticking it to Loria by hurting attendance
          – Alex is fatigued because he spent too much time Thursday night partying in South Beach
          – He is actually injured
          – He doesn’t want to be booed by his hometown fans (we saw that was not the case when he pinch-hit) so he wants to “rest”
          – He’s fatigued because he no longer uses steroids

          Quite an imagination they’ve got, no?

          • Anyone

            I got one…He, fittingly, walked in his only AB last night because he was fatigued.

            • Lanny

              Playing baseball and hanging out with your gf are two different things.

              Who cares what he does with his free time? Hes a guy who comes to play everyday even after surgery and he should have received a day off way before this. This is on Girardi. He even needed his GM to step in and force it. Hes managing for his job here.

            • Esteban

              The NY Post said he “merely walked” in his one plate appearance.

  • Ivan

    Hey Josh Johnson pitched a heck of a ballgame. He was superb, and the same could be said for Burnett. Hey, it’s a loss but it was one of those losses you just say to urself, oh well.

    Tomorrow with CC pitching, I really like the chances of the yanks winning.

  • John

    Once again, batting Jeter leadoff was such a great move for everyone.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      It’s been a great move all season. Last night, it didn’t work out because Jeter took the bat out of his own hands.

      • John

        True, but overall, he’s reduced his chances of DP’s substantially so really, it was an awesome move.

  • Anyone

    Why was the recap so late tonight? 2 HRs late!!! Now I forgot what I wanted to say.

    • Anyone

      I’m just joking BTW

  • Mike HC

    I am one of the biggest Derek Jeter supporters out there, but i agree with you on this. I never liked when he tried to bunt, whether successful or not. He is one of the best hitters on our team and should not be intentionally giving himself up. It kills me too.

    • Peter Lacock

      If Jeter was the only good hitter available then I would agree but in this case (and others) Damon is a good hitter that becomes significantly better if the bunt is executed properly.

      • JeffG


  • Anyone

    From ESPN:

    Johnson changed speeds (fastball high/low – 97.9/88.6; slider high/low – 91.3/84.7).

    Damn!!! Those are a some serious differences in speeds! No wonder he kept us off balance.

  • ARX

    Bleh. Not much else to say about this one. Bleh.

    CC vs Volstad tomorrow. Whatever his potential, at the moment he’s sporting a ERA near 5 and has given up 14 hr’s already. Lets give him a nice introduction to pitching against AL hitters, add a few more to that hr total, hm?

  • Jay

    Kudos to Jeter for TRYING to bunt. It’s like Ortiz hitting to the vacated left side when teams play an exaggerated shift against him. It only makes sense to — as Wee Willie Keeler used to say — hit em where they ain’t. Also, the advantage of Jeter (and Ortiz) and everyone else doing so is that it forces fielders to play at depths that give the hitter an advantage — or at least less of a disadvantage.

    The only shame is that he failed to bunt successfully. And I can’t hold a single failure there against him. Now if it’s a pattern, that would be a different story. But again, other things being equal, kudos to Jeter for trying.

    • Peter Lacock

      Bunting was the best strategy and Jeter did not execute what is (should be) one of the simplest things a batter can do. He did not execute the last time he attempted it a week or two ago. Because he’s Jeter does not change the strategy. I was slamming my head into the nearest wall because he was not competent enough to perform this simplest of maneuvers that would have opened the door to a multitude of hypothetical possibilities to score a run with a (fast) runner at 3rd and less than 2 outs.

      • The Artist

        Agreed, but its easier said than done. Against a hard thrower like Nunez it isn’t easy.

  • ballboy

    jeter is always in bad counts.

  • Peter Lacock

    Jeter is a good leadoff hitter, but not great. He’s a hacker which is why Torre didn’t want him there. Jeter’s exceptional talent and skill swinging the bat makes up for most of it but ideally a leadoff guy will do all that Jeter does while also seeing more pitches and working the count. No one is ever forced to swing at bad pitches but doing so gets one into bad counts.

    • Moshe Mandel

      If the choice was between Jeter and someone who is currently not in the lineup, your points would be a reason why Jeter should not be in the leadoff spot. However, the choice is between him and Damon- one will bat 1st and one 2nd. In that case, it really makes no difference how many pitches he sees to anyone but Johnny Damon, not a big deal.

      • JeffG

        Agree – plus Johnny seems to have more power now so if Jeter is on base potentially that could lead to greater run production.

  • waswhining

    the expression is “draw a bead on” or “have a bead on” not “beat”

  • james

    “But he tripped.”

    No, he didn’t. He missed the ball, then fell.

    “Damon was visibly upset with himself.”

    Yeah, he’s good at that isn’t he? The whole ‘i take this to heart more than anyone else’ bit?

  • The Artist

    “So what did the Jeter do? Infuriatingly, he tried to bunt. As that unfolded, I tried to slam my head into the nearest wall.”

    Sorry Ben, but you’re just wrong about the Jeter bunt. If you noticed Uggla, he was standing about 5 feet away from 2nd, looking for the DP. Derek was trying to bunt to the 1B side, there’s no way on Earth Uggla would have been able to get over to cover 1B in time. A well executed bunt would pull the pitcher and 1B in, and then its a foot race to the bag.

    The reason Uggla stayed so far over is the way the Yanks sold it. Jeter showed bunt on the first pitch and pulled back (Ball 1), then swung at the next pitch, then attempted to bunt again. So the Marlin infielders couldn’t commit one way or the other, leaving the better opportunity for the bunt to be successful.

    Good play, just wasn’t executed. You guys needs to get over your reflexive reaction to the bunt play. That was an excellent use of it, given the positioning of the infielders.

    • Todd

      I totally agree. At the very least the decision can be described as debateable (spelling?). I was actually calling for the bunt the moment he stepped into the box. I see nothing wrong with 2nd & 3rd, one out, with Damon and Tex up next.

  • southernyankeefan

    I have no problem with the bunt. Jeter would not have put himself in a bad count had he gotten the bunt down. Then you have second and third one out with Damon and Teixiera coming up next. There is nothing wrong with that play.

    • Doug

      totally agree. that is the play in that situation

  • YankeeScribe

    I blame A-Rod

  • rsam

    I hope when jeters contract is up the yankees dont give him a long term contract at 20mil per year he clearly has slipped and certainly is not worth 20mil per year he hits into too many double plays

  • rsam

    Baseball is a business we cant get too sentimental with these players who are getting close to the twilight of their career.and cant produce in important situations.

  • rsam

    Robinson cano just keeps hitting into dps with risp hitting coach needs to straighten him out

  • rsam

    yankees just have to get younger and more athletic

  • Doug

    I’m sorry, but I think the problem with the Jeter AB is not that he bunted, but that he didn’t try to bunt TWICE. He really should be able to lay one down there and that is the play, down 2 and the heart of the order coming up.

    • Doug

      meant down 1 of course.

      and besides just the situation, another reason why bunting was the play is jeter’s 1.47 G/F ratio (3rd highest in the AL). he’s such an extreme ground ball hitter at this point of his career, that you almost expect a double play there.

  • Mike Pop

    Ya, man. Tough f’n loss. I didn’t like the look of things after 4 innings. Johnson was so good last night, he’s a fun pitcher to watch. For A.J., hopefully he keeps this up because he has that type of talent, would be awesome for the team, and most importantly makes me look good about my boy. ;)

    I can’t believe Damon missed that ball, but I guess that’s baseball.

    Like you, I can’t get too upset about this L. Johnson was dealin’.

  • Lanny

    Damons defense in LF has become an issue. Forget the terrible arm. Now he can’t even catch fly balls.

    Forget Johnson. You can scratch out 1 run on that bullpen when you get the lead off hitter on in both innings? Thats a problem.