Rivera falters in 9th as Tampa tops Yanks 9-7

2009 Draft: Gibson has a stress fracture
Brackman struggles, but Charleston walks off with a win

We begin and end the recap today with the 9th inning. Outside of a Mark Teixeira blast that nearly reached the upper deck in right field, the other eight innings were mostly forgettable, and the controversy, if we can even call it that, focused around the Yanks’ moves in the final frame.

As the Yankees and those reporters, writers and fans who follow them digested the disappointing 9-7 loss in what was supposed to be a pitcher’s duel between David Price and CC Sabathia, a few themes have emerged. We start first with a critique by Peter Abraham leveled at Joe Girardi on his blog and aired during the post-game interview. CC Sabathia had been averaging 111 pitches per start and threw just 101 today. He hadn’t thrown fewer than 105 since a complete-game 99-pitch effort in Detroit on April 27.

After the Yanks tied the game during a lengthy 8th inning, Joe Girardi opted to take Sabathia out of the game and turned the ball over to Rivera. Generally, that’s a sound decision, but today, it backfired. Rivera was charged with three earned runs and could not escape the ninth. He was tagged with the loss, and his ERA is now an unsightly-for-him 3.47.

This turn of events led Michael Kay to second-guess Girardi in the post-game wrap-up as well. “He’s never been great when it’s not a save situation,” Kay said of Rivera.

Great is, of course, relative. In non-save situations in his career as a reliever, Rivera has thrown 334.2 innings and has an ERA of 2.47. In save situations, that number drops to 1.92. Michael Kay demands only perfection from his great relievers.

So in that sense, sure, we could second-guess Girardi for taking out Sabathia. But he didn’t take out Sabathia for Phil Coke or Jose Veras. He put in one of the game’s greatest pitchers of all time, and Rivera faltered. It happens, and I refuse to second-guess that decision.

More interesting was the one to intentionally walk Evan Longoria. In his illustrious career, Rivera had issued 30 intentional passes before today, and the last two came in the same inning on August 24. In that game, the Yanks were in Detroit and tied at 6 in the bottom of the 10th. With a runner on third and one out, Rivera intentionally walked Pudge and Ryan Raburn before retiring the next two Tigers.

Today, with two outs and a runner on third, Joe Girardi called upon Rivera to intentionally walk pinch hitter Evan Longoria. B.J. Upton, the next batter, singled home the Rays’ seventh run, and that hit would push Rivera out of the game. While Phil Coke didn’t do the job yet again, the decision to walk Longoria came back to haunt the Yanks.

After the game, Rivera seemingly threw Girardi under the bus. “That’s the manager’s decision. If it was me, I would have pitched to him,” he said. The IBB had just a -0.6 percent impact on the Yanks’ win expectancy, but it put in motion a series of plays that led to a larger deficit. Maybe I wouldn’t choose to walk Longoria, but of all the second-guessing we do, today’s game hardly deserves the scrutiny.

In the end, the Yankees couldn’t make it happen. They had three shots to tie the game in the 9th and couldn’t do it. They enjoyed four Tampa errors and made two of their own. They went just 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position and could not take advantage of seven walks. Today just wasn’t the Yanks’ day. We’ll get ’em tomorrow.

2009 Draft: Gibson has a stress fracture
Brackman struggles, but Charleston walks off with a win
  • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime

    On my way home today someone yelled at me to “take that shirt off, they lost today.” I’m wearing Rivera.

    I’d wear it again tomorrow, except I’d probably smell, and anyway I have a Joba shirt for tomorrow.

    • Some call me…tim

      He probably meant ‘you’re smokin hot-show us your boobs!’

      I assume he was also really a Metropolitans fan.

      • Anonymous

        >‘you’re smokin hot-show us your boobs!’

        >Metropolitans fan

        does not compute

  • Rich I.

    Hopefully the O’Neill theory holds up tomorrow.

    Off-topic: Where would I be able to get name and number t-shirts for retired players? I’ve tried the custom t-shirt option on shop.mlb.com but it doesn’t allow you to enter retired players. I’ve searched on Google, eBay, and Amazon.com, but can’t find them. Any ideas/suggestions?

    • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime

      yankees clubhouse store on 5th ave or the shops outside the Stadium.

      • Rich I.

        Thanks. I have tickets for Monday night’s game, so I’ll take a look at the shops outside the Stadium.

        Do you know how extensive the list of available names is? In particular, I’m looking for a Tino Martinez t-shirt and a Mike Mussina t-shirt.

        • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime

          My joba shirt cost me I think $25

          • Some call me…tim

            Extensive: I think that means not what you think that means.

        • steve (different one)

          you should be able to get Moose and Tino shirts outside the stadium.

    • BigBlueAL

      MLB.com does have a Cooperstown Collection section that has retired players t-shirts like the ones you described for every team. I ordered a Mattingly T-shirt from there. Dont remember all the other Yankees they had available, I do remember Reggie Jackson and Yogi Berra.

      • Rich I.

        I thought I remembered something like that, but I couldn’t find it on shop.mlb.com. Do you have a link by any chance?

  • http://www.giantstalk.com Jason

    GO YANKEES!

  • jake s

    First loss I’ve attended this year. That 9th inning (both halves) about killed me.

  • Frank

    I can’t get past the fact Girardi lifted CC aftr 8 with only 101 pitches. That said, there has to be some concern about Rivera. This wasn’t just a blip on the screen. He’s had several non-Rivera like outings now. Hopefully, this will pass and he’ll be his old self. If not, this BP is in a world of hurt.

    • Arod, all the time

      You know any 40 year old pitchers who came back successfully from shoulder surgery?

      I don’t

      And with Joba as starter, I guess Coke will be closing games once Mo really breaks down.

      Damn, so much for that nickel I bet on the Yanks winning the East. Lost money, fo sho.

      • steve (different one)

        can we ban this jerkoff already?

        • RichYF

          +1

    • Chris

      He had an ERA of less than 3.5. It’s not like he’s gone Brad Lidge on us…

      • Some call me…tim

        +1

        Sincerely,

        The guy who blew another one today in LA

  • Rich I.

    “Damn……”
    -Nick Swisher, via Twitter (http://twitter.com/NickSwisher)

    That about sums it up.

    Oh well, there’s always tomorrow.

  • Doug

    personally, didn’t like walking longoria since he hasn’t played in a week. pitch to the cold guy

  • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime

    It’s one game. tomorrow’s another day.

    • http://www.retire21.org Mike R. – Retire 21

      C’est la vie.

  • Andy In Sunny Daytona

    I had to watch the Rays telecast, so I don’t know, but how much time did Mo get to warm up? Is he taking longer to warm up? It would be understandable considering his age, but then again, it could have just been a bad day for him.

    • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime

      Not a lot. The Yanks tied the game with two out.

      • steve (different one)

        no, he had plenty of time.

  • sean

    For all the talk in the past and the hurrays for Coke throwing strikes and going after hitters(which is big problem for NYY bullpen)has the time finally come to say that Phil does not get it done?? i don’t trust a soul in this bullpen minus Mo…no one. I fear Coke will forever be a middling lefty. Throwing strikes aside he seems very hittable and i don’t like him coming in mid inning

    • steve (different one)

      wasn’t Coke throwing 95 last year when he came up?

      he’s 91-92 now, and it ain’t getting by anyone.

  • steve (different one)

    Sabathia didn’t exactly pitch his best game.

    it’s not like he pulled Sabathia during a dominating performance.

    what a dumb criticism.

    99% of the time, Mariano shuts the door and the yankees win the game.

    and i love Mo, but complaining about Joe for not letting him pitch to Longoria is a little weak. no one was stopping him from getting Upton. Mo gave up 4 hard hit balls out of the 5 hitters he pitched to. that’s on you, Mo. it’s ok, it happens, and i still love him, but don’t blame Joe. the reason he didn’t let Mo pitch to Longoria is b/c the last time he saw Mo, he crushed a HR off him. again, not the manager’s fault.

    • Zack

      I agree. If this was a 100 pitch, 8 inning, 2 run, 8k performance then sure leave him in, but it wasnt- and yeah I know Kay and others will say ‘but he just threw one pitch that lead to a 3run homer’ 2 guys were already on base so it wasnt just one pitch.

      Mo gave up runs, oh well, it happens.

  • steve (different one)

    Bem this was an excellent write-up.

    it astounds me that in a game where:

    1. the offense scores 7 runs
    2. Sabathia hands the ball right to Mariano
    3. the Yankees lose

    that people still find a way to blame the manager. it’s absolutely insane.

    sometimes the players are to blame, even our favorite ones.

    • Jake K.

      I agree. Bad loss like this and people inevitably look for someone to pin it on. Today they just didn’t get it done. It sucks, but it happens.

  • Frank

    Meanwhile, Lester is perfect through 6 (and he looks filthy).

  • Rich I.

    In other news: Jon Lester perfect through six; David Ortiz hits second home run of season; Fire rains down from heaven as apocalypse draws nigh.

    • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime

      But the good news is that Wales beat Azerbaijan!

      • Rich I.

        A double by Michael Young with one out in the top of the seventh inning ends both the perfect game and the no-hitter.

    • Chris

      Ortiz and Gardner are now tied for home runs.

      • Ellis

        Ortiz’ homer hit the Pesky Pole. That’s the best he can do at this point.

    • Joe D.

      On the bright side, Big Sloppy’s dinger was weak sauce. A flare that nicked the foul side of the Pesky Pole. Have no fear, fellow Yankee fans, the fork is still firmly in place.

  • Rich I.

    Yankees to stream games in New York:
    http://baseballmusings.com/?p=35311

  • mick

    off topic….any news on Montero…he didn’t play at Trenton tonight.

  • Simon B.

    Man, I guess it’s just inevitable that whenever a game is lost late, the manager is going to get second guessed.

    Leave Sabathia in? He only threw 101 pitches? Give the guy a break, he’s averaging more pitches per start this year than last and that’s despite the Brewers basically riding him for all they could to the postseason. We shouldn’t need to ride Sabathia that hard, and it’s better to conserve him over the other 7 years of the contract.

    CC may be durable, but there’s no reason to take it to the extreme.

    Pitch to Longoria? I don’t necessary agree with walking Longoria, but it’s of such minute importance. Is this really worth getting on Girardi about? If Longoria hit a homerun, people would be getting up to arms about why you should pitch to the AL MVP of the first third of the season with two bases open.

    What happened today was Mo was shit. It happens. Pitchers give up runs sometimes.

  • Charlie

    Great post, there is no reason to criticize Girardi here. It hurts to see Mo give up that many runs though. He looked kinda vulnerable out there. We gotta win tommorow, hopefully we have our A lineup and we jump on em early.

  • robert skollar

    Finally some intelligent commentary on a Yankee blog.

    I do not second guess Girardi’s moves (today).

    I think bringing Mo into the game in the 9th inning is always a good move.

    We’re 1/2 game behind…tied in loss column and it’s 6/6.
    As a lifelong Yankee fan…I have to be happy where we sit today.

    Thanks you for your level headed comments.

    • JackC

      I am absolutely no fan of Girardi’s managing moves on many occasions, but I can’t see how you can pin the loss on him .

  • LiveFromNewYork

    I wondered why he didn’t bring CC out for the 9th but had CC blown it, that would have been criticized. Bringing Mo in isn’t a bad idea and it says “We have faith we can win this in the bottom of the 9th” which is good.

    I wasn’t nuts about seeing MO IBB someone because he likes to go after hitters but it’s understandable.

    Girardi might have overthought the situation but he’s still a young manager and I’m glad he’s thinking instead of sleeping.

    I was shocked to read the game thread when I came home and read people calling it the “worst” game so far this year. Really? Anyone remember the Boston series? (plural).

    A bit of hysteria went around today.

    I put it in the ‘oh well’ column. And move on.

  • rsam

    mo sucks

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=15305165&ref=profile Doug

      Try harder.

      • Peter Lacock (anyone that boos a Yankee is the enemy)

        That’s close.

        Yogi knows why we lost this one.

        • Arod, all the time

          Boooooooo!

          I wear the badge with honor

  • YankeeJosh

    The Yankees bullpen outside of Mo is admittedly a weak spot. I’d have preferred CC stay in to pitch the 9th. That would leave Rivera available to pitch the tenth if it got that far. In my mind, one more inning off CC plus one inning of Mo in the 10th is better than Mo in the 9th and then who knows what reliever in the 10th.

    That’s why I’d have left CC in, because I thought it was the best chance to extend the game.

  • Mike HC

    I saw the Mo interview after the game. Mo is considered the greatest relief pitcher of all time. Of course he would never want to concede a walk to somebody. I think he said something like, “I’m a pitcher; I’m out there to pitch, not intentionally walk guys.” (not an exact quote). Most pitchers have this mentality. I don’t have a problem with Girardi deciding to walk arguably the best hitter in the AL. I also don’t have a problem with Mo wanting to have pitched to the guy. That is baseball.

  • John C.

    Talk about hypocrite. As Ben said, Kay said this of Girardi’s move in the post-game: “He’s never been great when it’s not a save situation.” Yet Kay is constantly criticizing Girardi for not bringing Rivera in for “high leverage situations” like a 3,4,5 to the home team during an away game. Can’t win no matter what he does.

  • Pingback: If you’re going to blame someone, blame Mo « iYankees

  • Lawrence

    I was the game, my first at the new stadium since I live out of NYC and was visiting home.

    1. The new stadium is pretty awesome. Obviously, no new building is going to have “character” the way something built a long time ago will. The new building is very “corporate” and feels a little uneasy in that way, I do agree. But 20-30 years down the road, I really feel everyone will love the place. It is well designed, and improves the old one in innumerable ways. Once it gets worn in a little, we will all love it.

    2. I was actually offended by how many fans in the stands were booing and heckling Rivera after he had a bad day. I am not naive, I know the average fan is going to react irrationally to a bad day, but I was shocked by the reaction in the stands. After a few yells about Rivera sucking or losing us the game, I turned around and chewed someone out, basically along the lines of “Have some goddamn respect. One bad day is a drop in the bucket for a majestic career”. The section gave me applause, and the detractors shut their mouth after that.

    3. That play CC made diving to 1st on Crawford was exceptional. The guy is definitely a big dude, but he is insanely athletic, and that was a great example. Also, Damon’s arm is beyond pathetic. He is having a career year at the plate, I like him a lot, but this should be the last year on the time. I have a feeling that Cashman agrees, I don’t seem him signing him for the 2nd half of his 30s- regardless of how well he plays this year.

    • Joe D.

      After Damon’s big speech about the importance of loyalty…I’m fully expecting he’ll put his money where his mouth is, and accept a one year / $2.5 mil deal to play 2010 for the Yanks.

      • Arod, all the time

        He sure will, unless a $2.51 mil deal can be had elsewhere.

  • Mac

    The real disappointment for me is Coke – he couldn’t get a lefty out – and unfortunately that’s the real concern – the entire pen up to Mo. Coke holds it at 7-5, it would have been real interesting to see how the Rays pen copes with the bottom of the 9th.

    Mo’s 39, coming off surgery and with all that, he’s still close to what he was and I think he’ll get back to what he was last year – its all the other guys in the pen that just seem to be middling talents. Almost all the teams in the bigs have a similar pen issues – just wonder what the Yanks do to try and strengthen what may be the teams only weakness.

    Bruney probably helps, but its not like he’s had a long track record of success.

  • Rob S.

    All of the secong guessing and theorizing is meaningless. The bottom line is that any day that you score 7 runs over 9 innings with Sabathia and Rivera pitching has to be a win. It’s easy to dump on Mo and he deserves it but C.C. cannot be surrendering five runs either. Who in the blue hell is Joe Dillon anyway. Isn’t like half of the Rays team on the DL? Embarrasing loss Sarurday but the offense did their job, pitching and defense not so much. It’s funny how after their errorless streak ended they’ve started a streak where they make errors every game.

  • Raymond

    Rivera was not charged with 4 earned runs as Mr. Kabak states, but 3 (according to MLB gameday). The Longoria move was huge. The point is Joe Maddon baited Girardi by bringing Longoria in–he was injured, could not run, and everyone knew it. Girardi took the bait, made a huge drama by walking out to the mound, then by ordering an IBB. Whom to blame for the loss is secondary to getting the chain of events correct. Rivera threw no one under the bus, was just asked if he would’ve IBB the guy–what pitcher would say yes? This blog post chose to present Rivera’s outing in the most negative and even statistically incorrect manner possible.