In each game of the past series, the Yankees have had an early lead. In each one they’ve squandered it. They’ve fought back to varying degrees, but in all three cases it was not enough. For most of the series the pitching took the brunt of the blame, but yesterday’s 5-4 loss was a team effort.
Once again, the Angels did it mostly with one big inning. Today it was the fourth, and it came against a bunch of guys CC Sabatia should have sat down handily. It started with a single by Maicer Izturis and a double by Bobby Abreu. Forgivable, especially when he got Napoli to ground out on the second pitch. Abreu was still on third with one out, but it wasn’t a bad situation, especially with Gary Matthews at the dish.
Then Sabathia walked Matthews — Matthews of the .281 OBP. Matthews of the .224 BA. Matthews of the .322 SLG. Walked him. Didn’t even make him take his bat off his shoulders. Then, after going ahead 0-2 on Howie Kendrick — Kendrick of the .228/.274/.342 — he allowed a double over the head of Erik Hinske. The subsequent run-scoring groundout was of little solace.
Yet there was an end in sight — Anaheim’s parade of shitty hitters had not yet ended. Still awaiting a turn at the plate was Robb Quinlan. Quinlan, whom CC had punched out with nifty changeup the inning prior. This time he singled in Kendrick. The baseball gods must have had a hearty chuckle at CC’s expense. They showed their clemency by telling Quinlan to steal on Molina. That didn’t work out too well.
After failing to score in the fifth or sixth, the Yanks put John Lackey on the ropes in the seventh. The Yanks got a run on a double by Melky and a single by Posada, pinch-hitting for Molina. The baseball gods, still feeling bad about their fourth-inning prank, let Brett Gardner reach on an error. Jeter did what Jeter does, and the Yanks were set up: bases loaded, none out.
If this were the Royals, there would be questions about whether they could plate some of those ducks. Seattle fans might fear their team would squander the situation. The Yankees? With Teixeira and Rodriguez up next? Perish the thought. With the score already closed to 4-2, the Yankees looked to take the lead with their two best hitters at the plate.
Again the baseball gods had a little fun. Teixeira struck out. A-Rod bounced to third, which resulted in an unlikely 5-3 double play. To twist the knife just a bit deeper, the Angels scored another run in the seventh. With two outs and two strikes on Chone Figgins, CC gave up a triple. (Could Melky have played that one better? I think so.) Next hitter, Izturis, with two strikes hit a flare over second base.
The Yankees again loaded the bases in the eighth, and were again done in by a double play. This time they scored, but not enough. Clutchy Cabrera hit an RBI single with the bases jacked, but the Yanks couldn’t plate two. Jorge delivered with a sac fly. Then Nick Swisher, pinch-hitting for Brett Gardner, got two questionable strike calls. He hit what looked like a bouncer towards the middle, but it never actually bounced. It landed in Darren Oliver’s glove, and the runners were too far off base. Double play. Rally over.
It wasn’t a pretty series. The Yanks had leads early, and threatened late. Nothing came of it. They’ll head into the All-Star Break losers of three straight — to the same team which has plagued them year after year. It’s disheartening to fans, and it’s surely disheartening to the players. They’ll move on, though. Second half starts up on Thursday.
See? The baseball gods have smiled on us in the end. They have given us four days off after that debacle. Also, Phil Hughes is awesome. Just wanted to get that in there somewhere.