Late rally not enough to overcome Marlins

Trenton offense leads way to DH sweep
Fan Confidence Poll: June 22nd, 2009

Any time a bullpen has to pitch eight innings, there’s going to be trouble. On days CC Sabathia takes the hill, this is rarely a concern. However, Joe Girardi and trainer Gene Monahan saw something they didn’t like while Sabathia took his warmups in the second inning. They let him stay out there, but after the second hitter smacked a double they’d seen enough. CC tried to talk his way into staying, but Girardi had his mind made up before he even got out there. His pleas of “I’m fine” fell on deaf ears, and the Yankees would have to finish the game with the bullpen.

The good news: The Yanks bullpen has been pitching tons better lately. The bad news: Even a good bullpen is going to surrender runs when called upon for eight innings. While Al Aceves pitched his 2.2 innings as well as we could have expected, he couldn’t go much further. His new hybrid setup/long man role means he’s not going to give the team five innings in relief if a starter goes out early. Maybe he could have gone one more. Maybe he couldn’t have. That’s Girardi’s call, and he decided that Aceves was done. Onto Option No. 2: Brett Tomko.

This normally isn’t an attractive proposition, but outside of his shelling at the hands of the Mets last week he’s been an okay option. Not good, not decent, not even serviceable. In fact, the best way to describe Brett Tomko is, “Better than Jose Veras.” Yesterday he was not, though. He started with a freebie, as pitcher Chris Volstad led off the inning. It takes three outs to kill an inning, and with only two Tomko faced Hanley Ramirez with a man on. Talking to good old Dad earlier in the day, he commented that Hanley hadn’t hurt the Yanks too much in the series. He’d make up for lost time in this AB, parking a pitch way back in left, which tied the game. Tomko gave up another longball in the sixth, this time to Cody Ross, giving the Marlins the lead.

The seventh is where things came really undone. Phil Coke recorded an out and allowed a hit in his brief appearance, leaving the ball to David Robertson. He struck out Wes Helms for the second out, but again to the plate stepped Ramirez. Robertson was careful, and ended up walking the Marlins’ best hitter. No harm no foul, right? Just get the next guy. Jorge Cantu had other plans, though singling to left. With Melky Cabrera‘s fine arm out there, they had a real chance to nail Coghlan at home. Unfortunately, for every bullet Melky throws he uncorks one, and that’s what happened this time. He pulled the throw and it went way too far up the third base line. Jorge seemingly lost it behind a charging Coghlan, and it caromed around the backstop, away from Robertson, who was backing up the play. That allowed Ramirez to score, giving the Marlins a 6-3 lead.

The Melky throw can’t be overstated. The difference in possible results is just too weighty. The best result was an out at the plate, which would have ended the inning and kept the score at 4-3. The worst result was that the throw went all the way around, past Teixeira and back into the outfield, allowing all three runs to score. The Yanks realized the second-worst result (runner on third, two runs in). Even a middling result ? one run scores, Ramirez goes to third and Cantu is at first or second ? would have been okay. That errant throw, and the extra run to the Marlins’ benefit, was one of the major differences in this game.

It wasn’t the biggest difference, of course. That was losing CC in the second. The initial report was biceps tendonitis, which he says is an issue he’s faced before. The story, for now, is that he’ll start on Friday at Citi Field. I’m not sure about you guys, but I’m just going to believe that until we hear otherwise. Losing CC is not a possibility I’m willing to ponder at this very moment. Ring me again Tuesday, or when we hear something further.

Like the bullpen, there was good news and bad news with the Yanks’ offense. Good news: they were 3 for 6 with runners in scoring position. Bad news: they only put six men in scoring position, and managed just six baserunners total until the ninth. They couldn’t capitalize early on Nick Swisher‘s double in the first, but did strike in the third. With none on and two outs, Derek Jeter reached on a high bouncer over the head of Volstad. Swisher walked, and then Jeter stole third. Mark Teixeira plated the first Yanks run with a double down the first base line, which brought to the plate Alex Rodriguez.

There’s obviously been some concern about A-Rod‘s hip lately. He is, after all, mired in quite a slump. Heading to the plate in the third, he was 0 for his last 16. Be it fatigue, his hip, or a combination of the two, A-Rod just wasn’t going too well. He seemed like the A-Rod of old in this at bat, though, turning on an inside pitch and smacking it to left for a two-run single. That had the Yanks flying high with a 3-1 lead, but again, with the bullpen pitching the majority of the game they had to have known they’d need more.

Nothing came, unfortunately, until the ninth. Again it started with none on and two outs. Jorge single to right on what is termed a nice piece of hitting. Melky followed with a single under the glove of Dan Uggla. An unlikely hero emerged in the next batter, Brett Gardner. Not know for his power, he launched a pitch deep into the right-center field gap, plating both Melky and Posada and putting himself at third base in the process. It was then 6-5 Marlins, with Johnny Damon set to pinch-hit for the pitcher.

During the entire sequence between Lindstrom and Damon, I kept envisioning Damon smacking one through the hole into right field. But the wild Lindtrom kept the ball away from Damon’s bat, putting him on first base. Before the game I wondered if Damon’s calf issue was really just a case of “he needs a day off,” but after Ramiro Pena came in to pinch-run it was evident that Damon really is hurting.

That left the game in the hands of Captain Clutch, Derek Jeter. Yet even the clutchiest hitter in the history of clutch does not bat 1.000 when the game is on the line. Jeter swung at the first pitch and grounded it to short, which Ramirez flipped to Uggla for the game’s final out. There are two schools of thought regarding Jeter’s swing there. First is that after a relatively quick walk of Damon, Lindstrom would be looking to get over a first-pitch strike. That was actually the case. After pumping 97- and 98-mph fastballs for most of the inning, Lindstrom laid a 94-mph pitch on the inside half. Jeter jumped, but just didn’t lay his best swing on it. The other case is that he should have taken the pitch after the walk to Damon. That, however, would have given Lindstrom a free BP (for him) fastball. Debate away on that issue; I don’t think there’s one set answer. I personally happen to be fine with him swinging there, but I can easily see the other side.

As it stands, the Yankees are not doing too well. They dropped two straight series to teams they should have certainly beaten. After the Red Sox sweep they’ve gone 4-5, which is unacceptable given the opponents. Obviously, the season isn’t over. There’s a long, long way to go. But what the Yankees have done here is to put immense pressure on the July and August teams to win, win, and win more. It’s almost like what happened in 2007. They were 35-35 at this point, 10.5 games back of the Red Sox. While it’s not as pronounced this year, their 38-31 record is far below where they should be.

That said, the team certainly can go on the type of run they hit in 2007. In fact, the 2007 team was playing quite like the 2009 team is playing right now: losing to teams they should beat and falling further behind the first-place Red Sox. It was much worse that year, and it turned out all right for the Yanks. Theoretically it could happen again — in fact, I have more confidence in this team turning it around than I did in ’07. However, that’s a tall order for any team.

Protest: Technically, the Yanks could get another shot at this. Joe Girardi filed a protest in the eighth inning, after Marlins’ manager Fredi Gonzalez made an illegal substitution. The situation, as I understand it: Fredi Gonzalez pinch-hit Alejandro De Aza for the pitcher in the seventh. Instead of just inserting Leo Nunez, the new pitcher, into the ninth spot, which would have meant he’d be due up fourth, Gonzalez inserted him in the No. 1 spot. This is pretty common in the NL.

The problem started when Gonzalez sent out Coghlan to start the eighth in left. When Nunez delivered a pitch, Girardi pounced. Clearly something was amiss here. Girardi wanted Nunez removed. Fredi wanted to simply insert De Aza for Coghlan. Neither got their way. While Fredi’s move was clearly, clearly out of bounds, Girardi’s protest remains. I doubt he’ll win it. It really depends on how Gonzalez announced the substitutions to the umpires.

First, for those unfamiliar with protests, let’s spell this out. A manager can file a protest over a rule violation. If he believes that the umpires made an incorrect ruling — not a safe or out call, or an ejection, or anything other than a misinterpretation of the rules — he can play the remainder of the game under protest. The league will then review the case and determine whether the umps made the correct call. If they did, nothing happens. If they made a mistake — a clear, rulebook mistake — then the two teams will resume play from the point of protest.

I’m not sure of the exact rule on this one. It seems like Fredi pinch-hit with De Aza straight up. Then, after the order got around to Uggla, he reported subbing Nunez for Coghlan, putting De Aza in Coghlan’s spot in left field while, obviously, remaining in the nine spot. Nunez then moves to the No. 1 spot. But, if the original leadoff hitter was out there for one pitch, what happens? I have no clue on the strict ruling of this. The bottom line is that if, by the book, Nunez was in there illegally, the Yankees and Marlins will pick up the game in the top of the 8th. If he was a legal sub, then the game stands as-is. I don’t think the Yanks will win it, but it is neat to witness something you don’t see every day.

Trenton offense leads way to DH sweep
Fan Confidence Poll: June 22nd, 2009
  • John

    We’re just going through a bad stretch with bad luck. The Sox on the other hand are having some luck (i.e. the wind assisted HR around the pesky pole by Nick Green). It’ll even out and we’ll be good.

    Now, let’s go on a prolonged winning streak again!!!!!!!!!!

    • Bo

      It’s not luck. They’re a good team in Boston. Or the 8-0 record vs the Yanks not clue you in to that fact?

      • V

        Yes, it’s a good team that happens to get breaks like Nick f-ing Green getting a homerun right around the Pesky Pole.

        • mark

          Yeah, it’s too bad the Yankees don’t get similar breaks, like a second baseman dropping a sure out to give NY victory in certain defeat.

          Blaming it on luck. Briliiant.

  • Richard Iurilli

    Does the O’Neill theory work if the game was finished under protest?

  • BigBlueAL

    I dont even concern myself too much with the Red Sox. They are now 4 ahead and with Dice-K now on the DL they will probably actually improve the rotation now.

    My concern is with all the other teams. Even with all the injuries the Blue Jays and Rays have had, they are still right there behind the Yanks. Ditto the Angels who now are tied in the loss column with the Rangers in the West and the Yankees. Now I assume Texas will fall off to the side like the Blue Jays eventually and even the Rays because of their injuries along with nobody in the Central besides the Tigers (who have an equal record to the Yanks) being over .500 that the Yankees should be a lock to win the WC at worst even if they “only” win 90 games or so.

    I just see this as a missed opportunity to really start putting distance between themselves and everybody else in the AL minus Boston. Kinda like they did in 1997 when even though the Orioles were way ahead in the East the Yankees after a slow start basically had the WC locked up early on (heck they won the WC by 12 games) and made it an easy last couple of months of the season. It may be too much to ask, but is it really????

    P.S. If you wouldve told me before the week started that the Yankees would give up 19 runs in the 6 games this week I wouldve assumed a record of 6-0, 5-1 at worst. To go 2-4 against the Nationals at home and at the Marlins which was basically 3 more home games for the Yankees with the crowds all cheering for them was pretty pathetic.

    • Ivan

      I disagree with some of the things u wrote.

      The yanks are 4 down with with 3 months to go, and certainly can win the division. The Yanks haven’t played their best ball yet, and the yanks also will no go 0-18 against the sox. So the division is certainly can be reached.

      As for the WC, I really don’t see much of challenge. To me, AL West is weak, the same can be said with the central, and the Rays are not the same team pitching wise especially in the BP. The Jays are solid but the yanks have a better team period.

      • BigBlueAL

        Im not saying the division is over, Im just saying Id rather pay attention to the teams battling for the WC because as long as the Yankees are ahead of them they’ll be in the playoffs no matter what. To me both Boston and the Yankees should be a few games ahead of the rest of the AL and come the All-Star break start putting real distance between themselves and the rest of the AL.

        Boston is beginning to do it and there is no reason the Yankees havent begun to do so themselves. Like you I believe the rest of the AL this season really is weak therefore there is no reason the Yankees should all of a sudden start coming back down to the rest of the pack when it seemed they were poised to start to runaway until the sweep in Boston and the subsequent 4-5 stretch against the NL East.

        It would be nice to dominate in the regular season for a change and not have to battle down to the wire just to win the WC….

    • Ed

      and at the Marlins which was basically 3 more home games for the Yankees with the crowds all cheering for them was pretty pathetic.

      How does the crowd affect anything? Yeah, the Jeff Maier thing was cool, but a really rare event. But for every Jeff Maier there’s a Steve Bartman.

      • Charlie

        I think that he is saying that the game was played in a very comfortable environment. Playing at home, the crowd cheers for you. It doesn’t affect anything, but its still not going into hostile territory. It’s also possibly the only place ARod will go that he doesn’t get booed. Again, none of this affects anything, but seems that you are just trying to argue something for the sake of arguing.

        • Ed

          The original post felt like a typical “omg they didn’t win every game the season is over!” post, and that seemed like an exceptionally stupid line. It just strikes a nerve with me when people say something as if it’s an obvious truth when it actually doesn’t make any sense at all.

          If you’re any good at all, you learned to completely tune out the crowd while you were still in Little League. I could understand if we were talking about a situation where fans were throwing things on the field, but some boos or cheers aren’t going to phase a pro athlete.

          • Charlie

            To an extent you are right. I do think psychologically it bothers Alex when he is booed at home. I admit that I read Selena’s book, but I was more interested the father aspect (I am a therapist.) In my opinion, his constant yearning for acceptance is a result from his childhood, and I believe it.

            Regardless, I agree with you. Road boos should be tuned out. Home on the other hand…

  • Wolf Williams

    Don’t worry, because on Tuesday we’ll have first base, Bugs Bunny; second base, Bugs Bunny; third base, Bugs Bunny; shortstop, Bugs Bu….

  • Will (the other one)

    I’m not sure if they showed Fredi Gonzalez’s postgame comments on YES (I’m down in Florida, so I watched the Marlins broadcast), but when he was asked by the field reporter about the substitution, he basically admitted that he’d made a mistake and made an illegal substitution. It’ll be interesting to see if MLB takes that into consideration if and when they review the protest…but whatever ends up happening, like Joe said, it was kinda cool to see something like that in the first place, as I’d never really seen anything like it before.

  • Andrew

    Posted this in the last thread… just bringing it over for some more input:

    Interesting article on Rotoworld speculating about the availability of Josh Johnson. What would it take to get him? Hughes, Jackson, McCallister? I’d actually do that in a heartbeat. Would like to avoid giving up Montero, anyone else I’d be thrilled.

    • BigBlueAL

      Why the hell would the Marlins want to trade Josh Johnson when he is still 2 to 3 years away from becoming a FA???? Plus with their new stadium opening in 2012 they will actually start keeping their younger players. Remember the day they first announced concrete plans on the new stadium they signed Hanley Ramirez to a pretty big contract.

      They wont be keeping all their players, but they are smart enough to know which ones to trade (Willingham, Olsen, Gregg and Jacobs whom they got for Nunez who has been very good for them out of the pen this season) and which ones to keep. Im assuming Josh Johnson is in the ones to keep category.

      • Andrew

        Well, start by reading the article. It’s not like they’d be trading him for no one. They’d be getting a group of prospects from a team like the Red Sox (Bard and Buchholz) or the Yankees (aforementioned). It’s a sell high opportunity. He has a history of arm issues, and if they don’t think he can stay healthy, they should consider trading him sooner rather than later.

        • Charlie

          I think they are less likely to keep pitchers then positional players. Also, it depends on what the player wants to take; the closer he gets to FA, the more he will ask for. If they came to him today, sure they could probably buy a couple of his FA years. If they wait till closer to the stadium opening, it might get a bit tougher. If they could get more starting pitchers, which is what they always seem to look for in their trades, I could see them moving him, but not if they are in the wild card chase.

  • Greg F.

    Jeter’s career numbers with the count 0-0: .385/.404/.578. Can’t argue with him swinging there if he thought it was his pitch to hit.

    Also, can anyone explain to me how Jeter’s OBP can be higher than his AVG on a 0-0 count?

    • BklynJT

      Hit By Pitch is my only guess

      • Greg F.

        Yeah, that’s what I figured at first, but Yahoo has him with 13 BBs in a 0-0 count…

        • NC Saint

          I really don’t understand how everyone can be so frustrated and even despondent. There are only three teams in all of baseball with a better record than ours. Our differential is the fourth best in our division, but there’s only one team outside our division with a better one. We were missing one of the greatest hitters of all time for a significant portion of the season, our once (and future?) #2 starter has a record-shatteringly shitty ERA, we’ve had more than our share of other injuries to key players, and yet we’re in a pretty good spot. I know it’s tempting to start creating doomsday narratives when we drop a few games in a row, but the reality is that if the season ended today, we’d be in the playoffs, and there’s no reason to think we won’t be better going forward than we’ve been thus far.

          • NC Saint

            whoops, that’s not a reply, supposed to be a fresh comment…

    • Bill

      HBP’s on the first pitch?

  • NC Saint

    It’s almost like what happened in 2007. They were 35-35 at this point, 10.5 games back of the Red Sox. While it’s not as pronounced this year, their 38-31 record is far below where they should be.

    C’mon, Joe, take a deep breath. It’s been a frustrating few weeks, but our situation is almost like 2007’s in much the same way that I am almost as fast as Brett Gardner. It would be nice to see a winning streak, but we’re still comfortably over .500.

  • Greg

    Meh. We lost our ace pitcher in the 2nd inning and were still right there in the end. The comeback wins were bound to turn around after all those in May. Pitching has been much better and if CC is ok, everything will be fine. Hitters were hot in May, cold so far in June. It won’t be like this the whole month.

  • ikl

    Tomko shouldn’t have been in there. Certainly not for two innings. We had Robertson, Coke, Bruney and Rivera. Put Robertson in for two innings and the rest in for one and that would have gotten us through the rest of the game. Off day on Monday, so everyone except maybe Hughes should have been available for at least one inning.

  • Lily

    my problem with this game was girardi taking out aceves when clearly he was rolling through the marlins and with a day off tomorrow he could have pitched another inning or two. out of all people he decides to bring in tomko, why not hughes? he gets to micy matchy with this whole thing and just over manages. and as for melky what was he thinking with that throw. two games in a row our outfield has killed us one can’t catch a ball and the other decides he wants to show he has an arm but its not going anywhere.

    and im just puzzled as to how the redsox get all this luck and we suffer. and i don’t want to hear they r a good team because so are we , just our team doesn’t have the gritt.

    this team is just so frustrating

    • John

      Ace had been pitching short innings for a long time now so he couldn’t go straight to 50+ pitches. He pitched 45, which was the max.

      • John

        And Hughes cannot pitch on consecutive days.

    • Pasqua

      When the Yanks were winning every game (9 game winning streak) the Sox were going through something similar to what we’re enduring now. That’s how the Yanks pulled all the way to the front of the pack. It all evens out. The Sox are a frightening team at home, but when the get back on the road I wouldn’t be surprised to see things even out again.

  • Anyone

    CC will still make the next start, at least he says. Giardi is not so sure. Is that a good thing? If this is a lingering issue, it’s not good. However, he has pitched through it. If it’s serious, he could have been just further hurting himself. No tests are scheduled as of now so that’s good news.

  • NC Saint

    I really don’t understand how everyone can be so frustrated and even despondent. There are only three teams in all of baseball with a better record than ours. Our differential is the fourth best in our division, but there’s only one team outside our division with a better one. We were missing one of the greatest hitters of all time for a significant portion of the season, our once (and future?) #2 starter has a record-shatteringly shitty ERA, we’ve had more than our share of other injuries to key players, and yet we’re in a pretty good spot. I know it’s tempting to start creating doomsday narratives when we drop a few games in a row, but the reality is that if the season ended today, we’d be in the playoffs, and there’s no reason to think we won’t be better going forward than we’ve been thus far.

    • Ed

      The team is not as good as the 1998 team, therefore, we should be better.

  • Joba-to-the-pen

    Notice how when we are betting teams by 9 runs a game or the team is going on a losing streak the pen is great.Of course there doing good no pressure.

    • V

      Do you realize that there’s supposed to be a space after a period, Mr. terriost?

      And I imagine the pressure of putting up good numbers (to further your career) is still there.

  • jonathan

    It was touched on in the article, but does anyone think that the red sox series was “just another series”? This is not the same team that marched into fenway, we have been playing like a team that is trying not to be swept instead of trying to win. That now 4 game lead the sox have in the standings is gonna be 40 if this team doesnt get their heads out of their asses soon.

    • V

      Yes, it was just another series.

      • Bo

        If you keep them calling just another series soon you are into August and 7 games out of it.

        • V

          They’re going to play worse because I, a midtown drone, call it just another series?

  • raysam

    Time for jeter and cano to step up too mny dps we need nother big bat bring up jackson see what he can do team needs to be shaked up.

    • V


    • NC Saint


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  • Jake H

    That melky throw just had too much on it. I almost thought he should have just held that throw. Sometimes you have to use judgement on those. It would have held Hanley to 2nd.

  • MattG

    I don’t understand any bullpen philosophy that has Tomko as the #2 option for anything. Tomko is the #1 option in games in which you are losing by a lot, or winning by even more. Otherwise, he is the last option.

    Winning, the plan should’ve Robertson, Coke & Bruney, and Rivera.

    Tomko pitched because it was the 5th inning. That’s stupid. The team was winning 3-1. You don’t use your 12th pitcher with a 2 run lead, I don’t care what inning it is.

    • Observer283

      Well, this is just about perfect analysis. I wonder bullpen management would like if managers paid just as much attention to the score of the game as they do the inning.

  • Bo

    If this game did anything to help the team in the long run it showed that Tomko shouldn’t be here. If we can’t do better than Tomko in the pen we don’t deserve to be in the playoff discussion. I’d rather see Melancon give up leads than Tomko.

    • V

      Tomko is supposed to be the last guy out of the bullpen (blowout wins and losses). You do need one of those guys, to keep your good reliever throwing high leverage innings.

      However, it’s never a good thing when your starter comes out in the 2nd, and Girardi tried to coax a couple higher leverage innings out of the meatball artist to conserve his better arms.

      It didn’t work.