Yanks can’t shut the door, lose winnable game


Last night’s game started out so well. After Joba Chamberlain escaped a shaky first, the Yanks put the screws to Kevin Millwood, tattooing him for four runs, capped by a Jorge Posada blast onto the short porch. After a weekend series win over the Red Sox, it looked like the Yanks would continue rolling.

Even in the second inning, when a couple of Alex Rodriguez misplays led to the Rangers halving the Yanks’ lead, things looked good. Kevin Millwood was laboring. The Yankee bats looked hot. Surely they could tack on a few more runs to put this one out of reach. Only that never happened.

Joba Chamberlain worked a 13-pitch third inning to help compensate for two 20-pitch frames, but the Yankees offense did not help him out in the bottom, coaxing just four pitches out of Millwood. That hurt doubly. First, it meant Joba had to run right back out there. Second, it got Millwood off the hook for his ridiculously long first and second innings.

Thankfully, Joba looked fine to start the fourth. Two quick outs, including a strikeout of Nelson Cruz, his second of the night, put Joba in position to keep his pitch count low and hopefully persevere through six innings. But then he committed the second-most-annoying sin in baseball: he issued a walk with two outs. This was all the more frustrating because he had already committed the most annoying sin: walking the leadoff guy, which he did to open the game.

What followed was five straight singles, allowing the Rangers to plate five runs. How that happened I’ll never know. On the last four singles Joba jumped out ahead in the count. In three of them he had two strikes. In all of them he had to record just one more out to erase all the baserunners. Yes, at this point the Rangers had scored seven runs, and all of them came with two outs in the inning. Worse, they all came in innings where there were bases empty and two outs.

It’s easy enough to hang this one on Joba, and I see no person more appropriate. Throwing 55 of 96 pitches for strikes is not going to cut it. Throwing a slider in every single 3-2 count you ever encounter is not a recipe for success — it’s probably why Josh Hamilton was able to lace one to right in his first at bat. Joba has become very predictable with his pitches. Combine that with a lack of command, and you have the makings for an outing like this.

I don’t think, however, that this is totally attributable to his long layoff. Yes, he certainly showed signs of rust in the first, but by all accounts he should have gotten through the second and third innings with relative ease. The second, in fact, should have been just nine pitches long, and it would have been if the Yankees weren’t fielding a third baseman with hip issues. Even Cody Ransom fields that Pudge grounder. As to the fourth inning, to try to pin any explanation on that is a fool’s game.

Robinson Cano tried to revive the team with a leadoff homer in the fourth to cut the lead to two, but two strikeouts — including Johnny Damon staring at a pitch down the middle — and a weak groundout by Melky ended that one pretty quick. Nelson Cruz then recovered the run with a homer of his own, a shot right off the barrel and into the right field stands. That was off Chad Gaudin; to send out Joba for the fifth would have been insanity.

The Yanks had a few more chances before Michael Young further extended the lead with a two-out, two-run homer in the seventh. They had runners on first and second with two outs in the fifth, but Robinson Cano grounded out weakly to end the threat. I thought he put a good swing on the ball, but apparently he didn’t square it up at all. Then in the sixth Derek Jeter doubled with two out, but Neftali Feliz came in and got Johnny Damon to fly out.

Then, of course, came the ninth. It looked to be a miraculous Yankees rally. They had plated four runs without recording an out, bringing the game to within one. All the sudden, Joba was in the back of my mind. The Yanks had a shot. They had the tying run in scoring position, and with no outs had a real shot to not only tie, but win the game. But then Nick Swisher popped up a sac bunt. The only logic in bunting there is to take off the DP. Even then, with no outs in the inning, it’s a pretty stupid move.

Yet Swisher bunted anyway, and because he’s not a guy who bunts with any frequency, he’s not very good at it. That led to a quick pop out. Then up came Melky, who has been horrible in August. Coming into the game he was hitting .198/.241/.333, and that includes his 4 for 6 night when everyone was hitting on Friday. Even his hit in last night’s game was a little dinker. He continued his futility, softly lining out to Elvis Andrus, who beat Jerry Hairston in a foot race back to second to end the game.

Of the Rangers 10 runs, nine of them scored after the Rangers had two outs and the bases empty in the inning. How in the world does that happen? Apparently, the Yankees know. Of their last 61 runs allowed, 50 of them have come with two outs. Yes, two-out runs will happen, but they shouldn’t be happening with this kind of frequency. Even worse for Joba, in the two innings he allowed runs all he had to do was retire the No. 9 hitter and he would have escaped unscathed.

The best way to deal with this game is to forget it. It’s a loss, yes, and Joba certainly didn’t look good, but it was just so strange, with all those none-on, two out rallies the Rangers mounted. Hopefully Andy Pettitte doesn’t have the itis. He’ll try to right the ship tonight. Considering this abomination, I’m really looking forward to tonight.

Categories : Game Stories


  1. Danny says:

    ughh, im still so freaking mad.

    well…. at least we had Rangers fans shitting in their pants ;)

  2. Little Bill says:

    Some will say the Yankees’ biggest weakness going into the stretch run and the playoffs is the #4 starter. Others will say it’s middle relief. But I say it’s the manager, Joe Retardi Girardi. Girardi is going to run the best team in baseball into the ground with his small ball fetish. Hopefully the team will be able to overcome the ineptness of their idiotic manager.

  3. Salty Buggah says:

    This stung really bad. Thank Mo we are 6 games up or else this would have been even more awful.

    This is going to keep me up for a bit.

  4. Salty Buggah says:

    That bunt was absolutely stupid. While Swish should have gotten a good bunt down, it’s still a stupid stupid decision to give away an out when the guy had a hard time throwing strikes and we hitting line drive after line drive (save for Posada’s soft grounder). Also, they were getting all the luck with their dumb little seeing eye single and we didn’t at the end.

  5. Frank says:

    Strategically, bunting wasn’t a bad call. If he lays it down, no one is saying a word. On the other hand, just as good an argument can be made for swinging away. But had Swisher hit into a DP, then people would have been screaming why he didn’t bunt. The bottom line is poor pitching cost them this game. Joba was plain disappointing, bu I can’t say I’m surprised. Hopefully, he learned something from Millwood who, despite over 30 pitches and 4 runs in the first, got his act together to almost pitch 6.

    • Strategically, bunting wasn’t a bad call.

      Yes it is. Nick Swisher is a bad bunter and there was a crappy hitter on deck.

      If he lays it down, no one is saying a word

      Not necessarily. Nick Swisher should not be bunting and I think most people would be pretty peeved with giving up an out to a dude who was having lots of trouble getting one.

    • Danny says:

      as soon as he squared i was pissed off, even if he got it down i still would have disagreed with the call. i would have been happy with a win, however we got it but i still would have disagreed with the call.

  6. Rich says:

    I am getting tired of Joba and want to send him down. He needs someone to take him out and set him straight. We are really working with 3 pitchers. I want Towers or anyone that can give us a 4th starter with some consistentcy. To me 6 games up is not going to cut it without a 4th starter. I also do not want to hear about Hughes, cause it is not going to happen.

    A message to Brian Cashman (here is hoping he reads your site)
    Brian Cashman, we cannot hope that Joba is going to get it done on his own. I challenge you to get it done. Remember you built this team to win…this year.

  7. Dela G says:

    We will win tomorrow!

    i guarantee it

  8. Danny says:

    first of all the runner was already in scoring position!! why the hell would you bunt swisher? hes a slow runner and could have just as easily bunted into a double play as he could have hit into one if you let him swing.

    it was stupid, just stupid.

  9. AJ says:

    Listen, he should know how to bunt, blame him not Girardi. Second, it stops the double play. Third, a fly ball off of Melky would have tied the game! And one base hit would have won the game. That way, Jeter has a chance to get an at-bat. What if Swisher got into a double play? and then you have Hairston at 3rd and Melky up with 2 outs. Not the greatest idea but u know what, if it worked out everyone would be saying Girardi’s a genius.

    • “Not the greatest idea but u know what, if it worked out everyone would be saying Girardi’s a genius.”

      This line gets a lot of airplay, but it couldn’t be more false. You must not come around these parts often. No one would have thought Girardi a genius if Swisher successfully bunted. That was not a good situation to bunt in, therefore we, as smart people, wouldn’t have liked it regardless of result. Sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes you get what’s coming to you, as the Yanks did tonight.

    • Mike Axisa says:

      We know Swisher isn’t a good bunter, and that’s his fault. It’s really inexcusable that a Major Leaguer can’t get a decent bunt down. You learn how to do it in little league.

      That said, Girardi’s a moron for asking him to bunt when he knows he isn’t a good bunter. There’s also no reason to just give an out away. You got three shots to get the tying run in from scoring position, and the pitcher was clearly struggling. You’re doing him a favor by giving him an out, which we saw.

      • That said, Girardi’s a moron for asking him to bunt when he knows he isn’t a good bunter.

        The “not a good bunter” part is moot. Swisher could have been the best bunter in the history of the major leagues, I still want him swinging away there.

        There’s also no reason to just give an out away. You got three shots to get the tying run in from scoring position, and the pitcher was clearly struggling. You’re doing him a favor by giving him an out, which we saw.

        Exactly. Side note: Both of the two pitches Swisher saw in that bunt attempt were high. Had Swish not had a bunt sign on, he likely would have been ahead 2-0 in the count without blinking an eye.

        Swisher with a 2-0 count and Frank Francisco being Frank Francisco will result in a Swisher walk like 99 times out of 100. So, Swisher is eminently capable of moving the runners over to 2nd and 3rd WITHOUT CAUSING AN OUT.

        And then, if you’ve got a bunt fetish, you can squeeze bunt Melky (who unlike Swish is a BAD hitter at the moment who is VERY prone to the DP, as we saw) and trade an out for something actually of REAL tangible value, namely the tying run.

        1) Let Swish walk
        2) Suicide squeeze Melky to get the tie
        3) Let the top of the order come up with multiple chances to win the game with one out and runners on 2nd and 3rd

    • Yeah, he should know how to bunt. Every one should know how to bunt. That doesn’t mean they should bunt. The pitcher couldn’t get an out! Why give him one? Melky’s been crap for the last 30 games–why should we put the game in his hands? And, again, I don’t think everyone would be saying Girardi was a genius. If he got the bunt down, they still would’ve given up an out* to a guy who couldn’t get one at that point.

      *And an at bat by a guy who a) works deep counts b) walks. a lot (4th in the AL) c) hits for power d) had successfully sac-bunted SEVEN TIMES in his entire career before tonight

    • K.B.D. says:

      “Should know how to bunt,” doesn’t make it all right for Girardi to ignore the plain fact that he’s NOT good at it. If anything, that should’ve reinforced the idea that it was a poor strategic decision at that point in the game.

  10. Mike Axisa says:

    Fallacy of the predetermined outcome: Swisher gets the bunt down, so there’s runners on second and third with one out, and Melky lines into the double play anyway.

    • Danny says:


      and for the people who say bunting was a good idea bc it keeps him from grounding into a dp, he could have easily just bunted into a dp bc he is a bad bunter and a slow runner! gah, so stupid.

      • Peter Lacock says:

        Texas may have played the infield in. The SS may have been positioned differently with 2nd & 3rd. They may have walked Melky or called different pitches. Hinske may have PH. There is no way to know what Melky would have done under diffrent circumstances.
        This ‘bunting is stupid’ complaint all the time gets old. It is not stupid. It may be a difference of opinion but it is not stupid, it’s a viable strategy and every viable strategy is worthy of employment. I think calling it stupid is stupid.

        • leokitty says:

          If first base was open Ron Washington probably walk Melky. Not because pitching to Jeter is smart but because then they get the force at any base, with a very heavy groundball hitter at the plate and a good infield defense behind the pitcher.

          In any case, here is why it was stupid to call for Nick Swisher to bunt beyond “he sucks at bunting”: Nick Swisher’s best baseball skill his getting on base. He gets on base, a lot. Francisco was looking pretty wild. By having Swisher bunt, you are asking him to forgo his best baseball skill (walking) in favor of one he’s horrible at (bunting).

  11. As for Joba, this is the worst I think I’ve ever seen him. The five strikeouts were nice but everything else was just terrible. He’s obviously still young so maybe he needs to go write this on the board 1,000 times or something: “I will not fall in love with my slider before establishing my fastball.”

    • Most frustrating? Sure. Worst? I wouldn’t say that at all. They singled him to death. He wasn’t giving up bombs or anything. And, as I said, if he has a third baseman with decent range, he might have been in a different position come the fourth inning.

      • Fair enough; A-Rod looked awful out there tonight. Regardless, Chamberlain’s gotta learn to trust his FB before going to the breaking stuff on every two strike count. He should’ve pounded Andrus with a fastball in the fourth instead of throwing three sliders in a row.

      • Bo says:

        Singled to death? Who cares where the hits n runs come from? He puts way too many hitters on base and is pitching in trouble the whole 4 innings he goes every start. Watching him nibble is worse than watching him get lit.

        • Singled to death? Who cares where the hits n runs come from?

          Certainly not Bo, who doesn’t give a shit about things like complexity, accuracy, or perspective.

          Only binary division. Things are either right or wrong, good or bad, light or dark, on or off.

        • If you don’t think about the game in more abstract terms, why do you even come here? Do you gain pleasure from annoying us? Because that’s the only reason I can think of.

        • Dwnflfan says:

          3 dribblers through the infield an two excuse me bloops. Girardi would take that every time. This time all five went through for hits but sometimes that’s the way it goes.

          It’s called the luck of the draw.

          BTW – Few times have I been as embarrassed to be a Yankee fan as I was when Joba came of the mound to a chorus of boos after being winning 5 straight battles with the hitters only to see the weak GB’s and bloops find holes.

    • Jamal G. says:

      Chad Gaudin gave up more hard-hit balls in his first inning of work than Joba Chamberlain did the entire night. Joba was royally fucked by the God of BABIP, and there were just a bunch of unfortunate, seeing-eye hits in that fourth inning. Outside of the Michael Young single right up the middle, every run-scoring hit in that fourth inning was a bleeder or a bloop.

      Yes, Joba Chamberlain did struggle with his command and control; and yes, Joba should be blamed for a good portion of tonight’s results; however, you can’t disregard the fact that Joba was extremely unlucky with the amount of softly-hit ground-balls that found holes.

    • Evan says:

      I think the most frustrating part of that start was who he walked in the 2nd and 4th inning, i.e. Davis and Pudge.

  12. Danny says:

    Girardi is not a horrible manager by any means but he loves to play “textbook basball”. And sometimes you have to throw the textbook out the fucking window and just go with the game thats happening. the guy couldnt get a damn out!! so you give him one!?! you already have a runner in scoring position, and have 3 outs to get him in. the call was stupid.

  13. Tom Zig says:

    Can we all agree that if there was to be any bunting at all, it should have been done by Melky?

  14. BigBlueAL says:

    The worst part is Girardi apparently said after the game that Swisher has been a good bunter this season. What fucking team has he been watching all season????

    • Jamal G. says:

      Nick Swisher has successfully executed three sacrifice bunts this year; he’s had four in his career, prior. Taking that into account, you can see why Joe Girardi would say that.

      • Mike Axisa says:

        I just don’t agree with the logic at all. Swisher if far, far more likely to get on base in that spot than he is to get the bunt down successfully.

        Whatever, it’s water under the bridge now. Go get them tomorrow.

        • Jamal G. says:

          I don’t either. My point was that if you armed with that information, you can see why Girardi would say that Swisher has been a successful sacrifice bunter “this season.”

          I see why Girardi did what he did, and said what he said; I understand why Girardid did what he did, and said what he said; however, I still think it was a bad decision.

          • Bo says:

            Got to give Jamal G some credit. No one defends the indefensibile like he does.

            Swishers a great bunter. Girardi made the right call. Joba is fine and had good stuff. Etc etc

            • Got to give Jamal G Bo/Lanny some credit. No one defends the indefensibile repeats the same tired monotonous complaints and dances on imaginary graves only to shut the fuck up like a deaf-mute when things are going well like he does.

              Swishers a great bunter. Girardi made the right call. Joba is fine and had good stuff Joba sucks. Girardi is a moron. Cashman is dumb. The team is horrible. Etc etc

      • BigBlueAL says:

        3 sac bunts this season is proof he is a good bunter?? How many times have we seen Swisher try to bunt and not get it down and be forced to hit with 2 strikes or pop-up like he did tonight?? At least as many times as 3 sac bunts.

        • Jamal G. says:

          You can’t just look at the “3″ in a vacuum. We need to know the percentage of his successful bunts, and relate that to the league average to get a better grasp on whether Girardi correctly surmised that Swisher has been a good sacrifice bunter “this season.” It in no way makes the choice to sac bunt correct, but, in the case of Swisher being a decent-enough bunter, that’s not really the point.

  15. Alex says:

    Silver lining: Marte looked good and the team mounted a nice comeback.

  16. BigBlueAL says:

    Girardi doesnt even get the boner of the night award. Did you guys see what Jim Tracy did tonight????

    In the 9th inning with the score 4-3 and 1 out with the tying run on 3rd he brings in Joe Beimel to face Ethier and he K’s him. Manny is up and Loney is on deck so does he walk Manny to face Loney?? No, he takes out Beimel and replaces him with a RHP (not Street or Betancourt since one had pitched and the other was unavailable) and of course Manny gets a hit to tie the game.

    I understand not wanting to put the winning run on base, but with 2 outs and that batter being Manny how the hell do you pitch to him no matter how cold he has been?? Anyway unlike Girardi tonight Tracy got bailed out by his team and the Rockies did win in 10 innings but still some head-scratching managing tonight to say the least.

  17. DreDog says:

    The Angels are losing. That’s good.

  18. Tom Zig says:

    I understand people saying, well a bunt would have moved the runners over. But do you know what’s a more productive way of moving the runners over?


    It is something that Nick Swisher is ranked in the top 5 in the AL for.

  19. JGS says:

    Moneyball says don’t bunt because it is a waste of outs

    Nick Swisher was the centerpiece of Moneyball

    ergo, Nick Swisher probably doesn’t know how to bunt


  20. JM says:

    I know I shouldn’t be, but I’m kinda uneasy about a 6-game lead.

    • JGS says:

      seconded–after Sunday night’s game, I felt like I felt following Game 3 of the 2004 ALCS

      • PinstripesForeverDouglas says:

        Really? Cause it felt to me that we reached a milestone of this already tremendous successful season. Please, JGS you have to have more faith that this year’s team overcame a 0-8 defict to become the best team in baseball. No one ever tought the red sox would just go away, so cheer up! Every team in baseball wishes that have as comfortable of a lead as we STILL have right now at 6.

        • JGS says:

          don’t get me wrong, I was happy then–very happy. But that was so crushing I resolved to not celebrate until the magic number is 0

    • Drew says:

      They won with Lester, we lost with Jober. No big deal. That lead will probably teeter b/w 5-7 games for a while. Be easy JM. We got this shit.

      • PinstripesForeverDouglas says:

        I second that logical and righteous motion, Drew!! Have some faith Universe in your Pinstripers!

    • I know I shouldn’t be, but I’m kinda uneasy about a 6-game lead.

      I find your lack of faith disturbing.

      • JM says:

        It’s not a lack of faith at all. I’m just saying a 6-game lead on the Red Sox doesn’t feel like what it is. A 6-game lead on Boston isn’t like a 6-game lead on Florida. Do I still think we will run away with the division? Yeah. Just that you can’t count the Red Sox out.

  21. BigBlueAL says:

    The more I think about it, I wish Matsui hadnt scored on Cano’s hit. It wouldve been 10-8 with the bases loaded and 0 outs and definitely no Swisher bunt..

    • Drew says:

      I wish Swish would’ve gotten the bunt down. Then at least Girardi’s plan would’ve worked out as he envisioned it; man on 3rd and 2nd with one out.

      • Short Porch says:

        Me, I was thinking of all that whipped cream on Swisher’s face after he hit the game ending bomb.

        That was what the inning seemed to be heading for.

        There I was, down in the den after wife and kids asleep, beer cracked. 10-6 bases loaded when I peeked at the score on by blackberry while getting out of bed to take a leak.

        10-9 by the time I got beer, chips and was in front of the large screen.



        I hate sac bunts. No use for them esp on this team. The team has only 24 SH, good for 10th in the league, but I swear they fail at it a whole lot.

        My (least) favorite was when Girardi was bunting with Gardner on first base. Saw that one too many times.

  22. bicycle boy says:

    Joba is so predictable.

  23. LiveFromNewYork says:

    The Yankees have the winningest record in baseball, therefore Joe Girardi sucks. God, it’s so clear now.

    I don’t agree with the bunt call, but I don’t agree with strining up Girardi either. From listening to post-games and the JG Show, I get that he’s trying to tinker and think outside the box sometimes. It doesn’t always work but his wonkiness works for the most part.

    I really like Girardi and think he’s doing a great job most of the time.

  24. mryankee says:

    I think that was a disgarce and all of the yankee fans that thought this was sewn up better think again. What a joke of a performance that was-I hate being right but you could see joba getting lit up a mile away. We all better send a thank you card to tito francona for not switching penny and lester last friday and then we better hope pettite turns it around and aj finds some consistency-because if we have detroit in first round(IF WE GET THERE) Verlander-Jackson-Washburn) against our guys could mean sayonara-especially if you get verlnder twice-Thank you Joba for playing sergio mitre tonight-o and he pitches friday

  25. Makavelli says:

    I think this is much bigger than just Nick Swisher’s botched bunt call, bad base running, etc.

    Like I’ve stated many times…before this proposed method started. Joba has terrible numbers with 6+ days rest…yet they keep throwing him out there with 8 days rest, then 7 days rest, then 5 days rest, then 8 days rest again.

    The whole idea of this is to keep Joba healthy while getting some decent starts out of him. I don’t believe EITHER is happening.

    Arbitrary days of rest in between starts causing you to pitch horribly doesn’t seem healthy in the least bit. Usually you’re not pitching well because something is wrong. And usually when you keep pitching when something is wrong. You get hurt.

    This seems like a terrible idea. I said it all along. But what else can we do??? I guess we’ll just have to expect this from now on. Which unfortunately could mean we’ll either have to score 10+ runs…or be giving the other team a 1 game handicap in the post season..

  26. Makavelli says:

    Joba Chamberlain has a 10.35 ERA since they started this nonsense with arbitrary days off.

    23 earned runs in 20 innings pitched. 15 walks, 17 strike outs, while giving up 27 hits.

    The Yankees are 1-3 in these starts. The only win coming during the Red Sox sweep at Yankee Stadium on August 6th when Boston had literally no offense (33 innings without a run), yet still scored 4 runs off Joba.

    This doesn’t look good. A 10.35 ERA is nothing to throw out there every 5 then 7 then 8 days. It’s not working.

    They need to think of something else. This isn’t really any way to ride strongly into the post season night…

    • Bo says:

      They have a plan. How is that arbitrary?

      Cant blame the plan for him being inconsistent. He doesnt listen to instruction. His focus isnt major league caliber.

      Thats why hes better out of the pen. Hes focused everyday.

    • Please, for the love of Mo, read this:

      It could be because he’s tiring, too. But no, your ego is more important than reality, so it’s definitely the extra rest.

      • Makavelli says:

        My ego? Everything is one big coincidence with you apparently. It just so happens that out of the gate in the 2nd half he was absolutely filthy…then just as they invoke this bad “plan”…he immediately does terrible.

        Then I provide factual information explaining how horrible he’s been with 6+ days rest…but that’s all a coincidence too.

        I don’t care about my ego on a baseball blog. I ask for answers. You apparently can’t provide them logically some of the time.

        • No. You are completely missing the point.


          I don’t know how much more emphatically I can say it. You have found a correlation. It does not mean that this is the reason Joba is pitching poorly. It might be the reason, sure. But it just as well might not be the reason.

          There are many, many reasons why Joba could be pitching poorly. You’ve zeroed in on one because you’ve found a correlation. I’m telling you that you’re not necessarily right, because you keep saying that you are right.

          So yes, Joba has not pitched well on 6+ days of rest. That is 100% true. What’s misleading is you necessarily connecting it to his bad performances.

  27. [...] Confidence Poll « Yanks can’t shut the door, lose winnable game Aug [...]

  28. JM says:

    No one seems to notice how Hairston was back at the bag before Andrus touched it. They even highlighted it on ESPN. So instead of having Jeter up in a 1st and 2nd 2 out situation, the game was over. That call was potentially a game-changer. BTW, Swisher bunting was a pathetic call and pathetic outcome.

  29. JMK says:

    Well said, Joe.

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