Tomko, A’s pen blank Yankee batsBy
Well, at least that was a quick one, eh? Just two hours and fifteen minutes after Brett Tomko uncorked the first pitch of the game, the Yanks found themselves on the wrong end of a 3-0 score. It was the Yanks’ shortest game of the season and a rather unimpressive one for the Yankees.
Instead of recapping this loss and instead of harping over the question of whether or not Brett Tomko might actually be a better option than Sergio Mitre, let’s look at a few key happenings that defined the game.
We start in the top of the third inning. At that point, the Yanks had been hitting Tomko hard but with nothing to show for it. Ramiro Peña singled to start the inning, and Derek Jeter followed suit. Johnny Damon hit a Yankee Stadium home run that went for a long out in Oakland, and then Mark Teixeira walked.
With the bases loaded and Tomko on the ropes, Alex Rodriguez did the former Yankee a huge favor. He swung weakly at a first-pitch breaking ball and tapped it back to the mound. Tomko and Kurt Suzuki easily completed the old 1-2-3 double play, and the Yanks lost their best chance to break open the game. For A-Rod, it was just a bad at-bat. After a five-pitch walk, he swung at the first offering, and it wasn’t even a good one.
Now, let’s fast forward to the fourth. With one out, Rajai Davis hit a sinker liner into right-center field. Nick Swisher dove for and missed the ball. Had he caught it, the point would have been moot, but had he not dove, Swisher could have kept the ball in front of him. Davis would have been on first and not second.
Eventually, Davis stole third, and the Yankees inexplicably drew the infield in. Scott Hairston hit a bouncer up the middle, and had the infield been at normal depth, Ramiro Peña would have fielded it for the second out. It would have been 1-0 Oakland, but the Yanks would have recorded the second out. As they were on Sunday in Seattle, the Yanks were victimized by two two-out runs that should never have scored because it just doesn’t make sense to play the infield in with one out in the fourth inning of a scoreless game.
Finally, we look at the 8th inning. Derek Jeter singled, and then Johnny Damon just missed a double off the wall. Instead, the Yanks’ left fielder hit a rocket but right at Mark Ellis. With two on and two out, Jorge Posada took two straight called strikes to end the Yankee threat. Posada looked perturbed, and while Mike Winters had a terrible strike zone, he had been calling those strikes for seven innings.
In the end, the Yankees were simply out-pitched by a ex-Yankee out for revenge. A.J. Burnett needed just 99 pitches to throw a complete game loss. He gave up four of his six hits and all three runs in one frame, and for once, the Yankee bats couldn’t overcome a tiny deficit. We’ll get ‘em next time.