As Joe Girardi sat in his office talking to reporters about the 10-3 Yankee loss, he summed up everyone’s feelings best. With a 7.5-game lead, that loss didn’t hurt that much. “It’s going to happen sometimes,” Girardi said, “and it hasn’t happened to us in a long time.”
For two innings today, it seemed as though the Yanks would sweep. Joba Chamberlain needed just six pitches to get through the first inning and 15 for the second. After that, though, the wheels fell off. Joba walked Ryan Langerhans, the Mariners’ number eight hitter. Josh Wilson sliced a bad slider into left field. After an Ichiro line out, Russell Branyan walked, and Jose Lopez sliced a bad slider into left field for two two-out runs. Notice a trend?
In the fourth, the Yankees regained the lead. Nick Swisher teed off on a 3-0 pitch and spanked his 20th home run of the season over Safeco Field’s deep center field wall. It was his 17th road bomb of the year. The Yanks’ lead would be short-lived.
After pitching out of a jam in the fourth, Joba would not be so lucky in the fifth. To start the fifth, Ichiro grounded out, Russell Branyan walked again, Jose Lopez singled on a bad slider to left and Ken Griffey popped out. Back-to-back singles with two outs plated another two runs, and although Joba would retire the last batter in the fifth, he wouldn’t come out for the sixth.
For the Yanks’ young right-hander, it was just his third loss of the season, but this afternoon’s start was part of a trend. After three stellar starts to kick off the second half of the season, Joba has been mediocre at best. Over his last three starts, Joba has thrown 16 innings and has given up 12 earned runs on 12 walks and 18 hits. Despite the 12 strike outs, Joba is sporting a WHIP of 1.875 and an ERA of 6.75 this month. He won’t start again for over a week. Hopefully, he’ll rediscover that touch he enjoyed after the All Star Break.
Meanwhile, the Yanks couldn’t overcome Doug Fister once Joba left the game. With two outs and two on in the seventh, Johnny Damon hit a slow roller up the middle. Josh Wilson ranged far to his left and nabbed Damon at first by less than half a step. Had Damon been safe, the game would have been tied, and Joe Girardi probably would have managed the final three innings slightly differently. But Damon was out.
With the Yanks down by a run, the bullpen couldn’t hold the game. Al Aceves had a terrible 7th inning and left after hitting Josh Wilson with a pitch to force in a run. Chad Gaudin allowed all three inherited runners to score as well as one of his own. In the 8th, he allowed a solo shot to Kenji Johjima also with two outs. (In fact, all ten of the Mariners’ run scored with two outs.) Gaudin will start Wednesday in Oakland, but the four hits and two runs he allowed in 1.1 innings today aren’t especially comforting.
In the end, though, the Yankees still have that 7.5-game lead. They’ve won 11 of their last 13 and face Brett Tomko on Monday night in Oakland. They got the bad game out of their system, and now they can look to get right back on the winning track as the march toward October continues.
Derek Jeter Notes: While the rest of the Yanks’ offense had an anemic showing today, Derek Jeter went 3 for 4. With his hits today, Derek set a new record for most hits by a short stop. The plaque keeps growing.
Hideki Matsui Notes: According to various reports after the game, Hideki Matsui had his knee drained of fluid during the game and is day-to-day. He won’t play in Monday’s game. This is not good news for one of the Yanks’ hottest hitters.