In a few ways, the Yankees and White Sox played similar games last night. Both had starters who pitched poorly. Both racked up a ton of hits, including two doubles and a homer each. Both drew five walks. Yet one number separated them: hitting with runners in scoring position, and especially with two outs. The Yankees were just 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position, and the White Sox were 6 for 13. The Sox also drove in four runs with two outs, while the Yankees drove in none. Those were the differences in the 10-5 loss.
Last night we saw the worst of Sergio Mitre. It was bound to happen. We know Mitre isn’t a world beater. Clunkers are expected from time to time. To borrow a term, he’s Ponsnerian. Thankfully this year it’s only one rotation spot. It still stings, though, especially on nights like this. Despite the 2 for 10 with RISP mark, the Yanks did put up five runs. You’d like to see them win those games.
Thing started off so well, too. The Yanks put up three runs for Mitre in the first, taking advantage of fill-in starter D.J. Carrasco. Mitre then proceeded to record the first two outs of the first seemingly with ease. The wheels then came off, and it was a shaky ride the rest of the way. Mitre limited the damage to just one in the first, though he left the bases loaded. He wouldn’t be so lucky in the second.
The inning started off with a walk, never a good sign for a pitcher like Mitre. After another play in which the Yankees pitcher slipped on the infield grass, the White Sox had the bases loaded with none out. That netted them three runs, a sac fly and a two-run single. The Sox capped their scoring off Mitre on a Carlos Quentin homer to lead off the third. Mitre did induce three straight ground outs to follow, but even that was not enough to salvage his night. Joe Girardi had seen enough.
David Robertson, Alfredo Aceves, and Mark Melancon all pitched in relief and faced varying degrees of highs and lows. Robertson pitched a quick scoreless fourth, but got into trouble by allowing the first three batters of the fifth reach, the last on an RBI double. He figured it out, though, getting the next three in order. Aceves pitched a 1-2-3 sixth, but like Robertson got into trouble in his second inning of work. Both walked the leadoff batter.
Mark Melancon didn’t experience those lows. He came in and got Gordon Beckham to finish off the seventh for Aceves, and then handily finished off the Sox in the eighth. Prior to Tuesday night, Melancon hadn’t pitched since July 10. In his two recent appearances he’s pitched 3.2 innings and has allowed just two hits. They haven’t been particularly high-leverage situations, but considering his potential perhaps it’s time to start moving him up in the pecking order. It’s worth a try, at least.
On the offensive side, the only runs the Yanks scored after the first came on an Eric Hinske two-run homer, his fourth as a Yankee. The whole offense didn’t do poorly — they did rack up 12 hits, after all, and had at least one baserunner in all nine innings. It all comes back to their hitting with runners in scoring position. And the pitching. It always comes down to those two.
The Yanks will send their best two at the Sox in an attempt to salvage a split. A.J. Burnett vs. John Danks. Both have been pitching well lately, and we should get a bit better matchup than we did last night.