Yanks fall to Texas in rare Mo meltdown

Montero & Sanchez go deep as Aceves rehabs
Burnett, Wilson both effective with different approaches

Coming off an unspectacular homestand in which they went 3-4 against a pair of division rivals, the Yankees rolled into Texas to take on the league’s best team outside of the East. A.J. Burnett returned to the mound after his little bout with back spams, and was surprisingly effective save for one bad pitch. The back-and-forth affair ended in an unfamiliar way, with the opposing team celebrating a walk-off hit against the great Mariano Rivera.

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Nickeled And Dimed

Most of us understand the concept of using your best reliever in a tie game on the road, after all there’s no point in saving your closer for a save situation that may never come. With the game tied at three in the 10th inning, out came the Sandman to hold it down against the Rangers’ four best hitters. We were all very happy to see him, but what followed wasn’t exactly expected.

Michael Young, the Rangers’ all-time hit leader, led the inning off with an infield single, a tapper deep into the 5.5 hole that he barely beat out at first. Josh Hamilton, arguably the best player in baseball this season, followed up with dinky little single of his own, scooting just beyond the reach of a diving Robbie Cano. The two runners moved over on a game-saving play by Alex Rodriguez, a diving play to his right to keep the ball in the infield. As a bonus, he was able to throw out Vlad Guerrero at first for the first out of the inning.

The bases were intentionally loaded to create the force at any base, but in what was an off-night for the game’s best reliever ever, David Murphy took three straight balls and was one pitch away from driving in the winning run without so much as lifting the bat off his shoulder. Mo worked it back full, but in the end Murphy ripped a solid single to right and ended the game. Two hits on weak contact set up the winning rally, which is usually what happens when Mo blows a game.

Like I said, it was an uncharacteristic night for Rivera, who didn’t exactly get smacked around. At least the Yanks went down with their best on the mound. I can sleep a little easier knowing that.

The Big Hit That Never Came

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

That little title is misleading, because the Yanks certainly came through with some big hits in this one. Nick Swisher doubled Jeter home in the 5th, Frankie Cervelli singled in the tying run in the 6th, and A-Rod blasted a game tying homer in the 8th, but once again we’re left wondering about what could have been.

Right off the bat, the Yanks threatened by putting men on first and second against C.J. Wilson in the 1st inning, but Austin Kearns (more on him later) bounced into a fielder’s choice to end the threat. Fast forward to the 4th, and you’ve got A-Rod on third and Kearns at second following an error, single, and another error (on a double steal) with one out. Lance Berkman, still trying to find his way as a Yank, went down swinging for the second out of the frame before Frankie Cervelli flied out harmlessly to center to end the inning.

Two innings later in the 6th, Kearns was standing on second with one out following a Cervelli run scoring single, but Brett Gardner and the pinch hitting Robbie Cano went down on a strikeout and ground out to end yet another threat. Two innings after that, Curtis Granderson stood on third with one out after he pinch ran for Kearns, but again Cervelli and Gardner could not bring him home.

Cano led off the 9th with a single, though he was erased when Jeter managed to ground into a double play on a hit and run. He’s really finding new ways to hit into those twin killings. At that point you felt like it just wasn’t going to be the Yankees’ night, and sure enough it wasn’t. Perhaps things would have been better with Jorge Posada and Mark Teixeira in the starting lineup, but sometimes guys need rest or (gasp!) have something more important than baseball to take care of. Take solace in the fact that the Yanks were pretty close to winning this one with the lineup they trotted out there.

Men Of Steel

Prior to Mo’s meltdown, the Yanks got two innings of simply (ugh, I hate this word, but I guess it applies) clutch relief work out of Boone Logan and David Robertson, the new setup tag team. Logan struck out Hamilton to start the 8th, then handed the ball off to D-Rob, who struck out Vlad and got Nellie Cruz to bounce out harmlessly to first. Robertson came out for another inning of work and immediately walked the leadoff hitter, who was sacrificed over and into scoring position.

At this point a base hit wins the game, but Robertson coaxed a fly out from Bengie Molina before intentionally walking pinch hitter Mitch Moreland to create the force at any base. Elvis Andrus, who caught basically everything hit within 30 ft of him on the night, worked the count well and was on the cusp of drawing a walk, but he ended up flying out to Nick Swisher in right to end the threat.

I don’t know about you, but it was probably the most stressful inning of the 2010 season so far, which means we’re getting down to crunch time. That’s not a bad thing though, I’ll take meaningful baseball over the alternative every day of the week. Great job by Logan and D-Rob in this one, but it’s too bad they probably won’t be available tomorrow.

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Misc.

I’d write more about it if it wasn’t so late, but you gotta hand it to Burnett. Seven innings and just three runs against a team as good as Texas is no small feat. He made that one terrible pitch to Murphy for a two-run homer, but otherwise he was very strong and more than kept the team in the game. You can blame plenty of people for this loss, but A.J. isn’t one of them. We’ll take this kind of outing from him every five days, no questions asked.

We were all clamoring for Jorge Posada to pinch hit for Cervelli in that8th inning, but it turns out Georgie’s surgically repaired right shoulder was barking and he was unavailable for anything but an emergency. Hopefully this latest ailment goes away rather quickly, the less Frankie the better.

Can we start to get on Brett Gardner yet? He’s now two for his last 30 (.067) and ten for his last 66 (.152), and is hitting .233/.347/.315 over the last two months plus a day. It’s been a tale of two seasons for him; 55 games of awesomeness followed by 49 games of utter crap.

On the bright side, give it up to Kearns in this one. He went 2-for-3 with a double, a walk, and a run scored. Big time job as the day’s number five hitter.

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Swish got thrown out at the plate (by a mile) after Marcus Thames singled in the 5th, but I have no problem with the send there. Murphy made a strong, accurate throw and Molina made a great scoop at the plate and held on. Force them to make the perfect play, and they did. That early in the game, I have no problem being aggressive.

Joe Girardi and various other folks on the bench were barking at home plate ump Mike Estabrook all night, and with good reason. He and first base ump Paul Emmel got together and changed a call at first after conferencing it out early in the game. Can’t say I’ve ever seen that before.

Both the Rays and Red Sox won tonight, so the Yanks’ lead over each fell to half-a-game and five games, respectively.

WPA Graph & Box Score

A little too jumpy for my liking. MLB.com has the traditional box, FanGraphs the other stuff.

Up Next

Same two clubs manana, when Yankee Javy Vazquez takes on almost-a-Yankee (and hopefully, future Yankee) Cliff Lee. That should be a quick one.

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Montero & Sanchez go deep as Aceves rehabs
Burnett, Wilson both effective with different approaches
  • http://www.thesubwayconnection.com/ Newbie

    That was an annoying meltdown. 3 soft groundballs and a single.

  • MikeD

    Replay “Mo’s meltdown” 100 times and 95 times he’ll walk off without giving up a run. Just one of those situations where a few balls were just out of the reach of the fielders. It happens. He wasn’t at his best, but he was good enough to get out of that inning…most nights.

  • http://matthewjbaum.com Matthew

    Short handed and one hit short (Again!) What a pitiful lineup tonight. Too much payroll to see Thames up top like that. Congrats Mark! Hurry Back as the Hottest stick in the league.

    All about this shallow slump in early August. Pivot over the next two weeks and push hard.
    If ever a team understood how to play the calendar.

    Mo Note – The greatest closer of all times no longer holds. Why are we seeing logan throw to one batter there? I’m not saying Robertson hasn’t been fantastic, but at some point we were going to need three more outs later this evening. Who was that gonna be? Wood? Are we that confident in him yet?\

    28 is still imminent.

    • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

      The greatest closer of all times no longer holds.

      Are you saying Mo’s not the greatest closer of all time just because of this one game, where he didn’t even get hit that hard? That’s crazy.

      • Apollo22237

        That’s what I thought too, but I think he is trying to say Rivera should not come in with a tie game on the road. I think he means hold as in the stat.

        • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

          Ahhhh. Well it’s not a hold in a tie game, is it? Technicality, though. I hope that’s what he meant.

          • Apollo22237

            Me too. Hah, you are right you can’t hold a tie game, I guess it just slipped my mind. I was probably just trying to come up with an explanation because no one is that crazy to say Rivera isn’t God anymore.

  • http://matthewjbaum.com Matthew

    Oh and Estabrook was as inconsistent as we’ve seen since the AS break. Just pick a strike zone and stick with it. 1-1 pitch to Gardner (who needs a week off BTW) a strike as it cross his shoulders. Felt like beer league softball.

    • Tim

      Yes, Estabrook was hideous, and that strike two call to Gardner was terrible. But it was no excuse for him to take the next pitch right down the middle for the third strike.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    Take solace in the fact that the Yanks were pretty close to winning this one with the lineup they trotted out there.

    Repeated for emphasis.

    We played with 4 backups in the lineup (and a 5th player who’s been slumping for two weeks) and a wholly unreliable, homerprone pitcher on the hill against one of the best teams in baseball’s second ace and “A” lineup in their home park where they mash the baseball, and it took a fluky unpredictable quasi-implosion from the greatest closer in baseball history to kill us in extra innings.

    Instead of saying “ZOMG this team is so flawed we can’t win the big game”, consider that our C-lineup almost beat our playoff competitor at their best on their turf and we figure to be much better when we get everyone back in the lineup and Mo pitches like Mo normally does.

    • http://twitter.com/dpatrickg Dirty Pena

      our playoff competitor at their best on their turf

      I disagree. I’ve heard Cliff Lee is going to throw all nine innings of every game Texas plays in the playoffs.

    • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

      I swear to goodness, tsjc, you’re like the exact opposite of every other comment I’m reading everywhere else. And I love you for it, you awesome person you.

      • http://twitter.com/dpatrickg Dirty Pena

        When you spend so much time on NYYFans, you aren’t going to see much rationality.

        • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

          Sometimes I search the #yankees tag on Twitter out of morbid curiosity. Someone actually declared the season over.

          Fun fact: if the season was over today, we’d win the division and have HFA for the playoffs.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        It’s just a shame that I’m not as funny as the witty comic geniuses over at Nomaas.

        /PoopyPants’d

    • http://www.twitter.com/jordan_smed JGS

      All kinds of this.

      One issue though–this was far from the C-lineup.

      The B-lineup has Cervelli in it. The C-lineup has Cervelli and Pena. This had those two, plus Berkman against a lefty, plus a slumping Gardner, and no Cano or Tex. This was close to the F-lineup.

    • Kit

      All of this.

    • Tim

      I agree with what you are saying, but it did hurt a bit more to lose last night, since I had basically written the game off as a loss once the line-up was posted, not knowing what Burnett would offer, etc. And they really could have won that game last night, with a bounce here or there. I am, sadly, also writing tonight off as a loss, given the pitching match-up and the fact that Teixeira is likely not rejoining the team until tomorrow in KC. Hoping for the ole reverse lock.

    • rek4gehrig

      Totally agree except I would go with Z lineup :-) I was pleasantly surprised that we kept the game that close

  • http://twitter.com/j_yankees j_Yankees

    Agree with you on sending Swisher, mike. agree 100%.

  • wow

    the only consistent thing lately has been the horrible ABs. Pitching will only go so far.

    Meanwhile, it seems like the Rays are only playing Baltimore for the rest of the season.

    • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

      Yeah but Baltimore is on a hot streak >:D

      I think they have a Rangers series coming up, actually… the Rangers play the Rays and Red Sox quite shortly following this series IIRC.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Yeah, that cakewalk schedule the Rays thought they had seems to be getting a lot tougher. The Orioles are playing great baseball, the A’s are improved as well, and Toronto is also a tough out.

        I think the 6 games they have against Seattle and Kansas City in September/October are the only real walkovers they have anymore.

      • wow

        true. hopefully Baltimore has some more in the tank. Yea they do play the Rangers while we play the Tiger, I think.

      • http://twitter.com/dpatrickg Dirty Pena

        The only differences between our schedule and Tampa’s:

        Yanks play 3 extra vs. TOR, TB plays those 3 vs. BAL
        Yankes play 3 extra vs. DET, 3 against the White Sox, and 1 extra vs. TEX, TB plays 6 against the Angels.

        Not really a huge difference. Not to mention Tampa has to play seven vs. the Yankees which is worse than the Yankees playing seven vs. Tampa.

        • http://twitter.com/dpatrickg Dirty Pena

          No idea why I put “Yankes.”

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    We were all clamoring for Jorge Posada to pinch hit for Cervelli in that 8th inning, but it turns out Georgie’s surgically repaired right shoulder was barking and he was unavailable for anything but an emergency.

    Meh, we shouldn’t have clamored. Jorge needed the rest. Let him rest.

    Nobody wants to win those games more than Girardi and his players, so if a guy doesn’t play in a particular game, it’s because he needs to not play. I’ve noticed a lot of complaining recently about players getting days off or not getting pinch hit opportunities, and I think most of it is misguided. Rest is serious business.

    You’ve got to just cede this one to Girardi. He’s not a moron who doesn’t care about winning games as much as we do as fans, he’s just giving players the rest they need and keeping in mind that getting everyone to the finish line intact and fresh is just as important of a goal as winning any individual game.

    • Apollo22237

      But teh Playoff Preview!!!?!1!!

    • http://twitter.com/dpatrickg Dirty Pena

      I agree, but Posada is going to get tomorrow off as well.

    • wow

      I’d say that most of the clamoring is mostly due to the immense drop off in performance from most of the players coming off the bench. No one wants to see Cervelli over Posada or Ramiro Pena over any infielder.

      But rest is needed.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        No one wants to see Cervelli over Posada or Ramiro Pena over any infielder.

        And no one wants to clean up an explosion of poop that squirts all out of your newborn’s diaper and goes halfway up his back, but you do it, because you love him and he needs someone to clean him up.

        So if you love Posada and Jeter and ARod, you’ve got to deal with some Cervelli and Peña in your life.

        • Apollo22237

          I guess that is one way of putting it.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            I made my defense of Cervelli and Peña, but also blatantly called them baby poop.

            Both sides of the debate win in that characterization.

            • Apollo22237

              I honestly don’t think there is any other way of explaining this idea. You might have just created the perfect analogy.

              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                I am to analogies what Bono is to U2.

                Wait, no, I screwed that up, lemme try again.

        • http://twitter.com/dpatrickg Dirty Pena

          So if you love Posada and Jeter and ARod, you’ve got to deal with some Cervelli and Peña in your life.

          I want to see you repeat this line when Cervelli starts games 3 and 4 of the ALCS.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            You got it, buddy.

          • http://twitter.com/dpatrickg Dirty Pena

            Or 2 and 4. Same difference.

        • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

          So if you love Posada and Jeter and ARod, you’ve got to deal with some Cervelli and Peña in your life.

          The other way of putting it is that Brian Cashman (a) failed to recognize that 38 year old Posada would be unable to catch often enough and (b) went cheap when it came to a back-up middle infielder. Cervelli has caught 55 percent of the Yanks’ innings, and that’s just wrong.

          • kosmo

            Totally agree.Given the fact that Cervelli is an OK handler of pitchers but his overall game is seriously lacking .
            I wondered why Cashman didn´t go after Synder at the TDeadline.A very good D catcher with some pop.
            Next season the Yanks might have to consider the likes of John Buck because another year of a hobbled brittle Posada and the anemic hitting Cervelli won´t cut it.
            Granted Jesus is around the bend.

          • candyforstalin

            brian cashman doesn’t do ‘failed to recognize’. you must be mistaken.

          • Tim

            I think (b) was explained very well during the broadcast last night – if you are a veteran utility player, why on earth would you sign with the Yankees? Do you think you are going to get a lot of playing time, with an infield of 4 sure-fire or potential Hall of Famers? Cashman has no choice but to look from within for those type of role guys, because he has little to no hope of adding a veteran who wants to play more than once every 10 days.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

              Pretty much. Would I have liked Brian Cashman to sign a better backup catcher and utility infielder? Yes.

              Can I think of some he actually would have been able to sign and still stay under budget? No, not really.

    • http://twitter.com/j_yankees j_Yankees

      completely agree…but i think it runs a little deeper then that with posada.

      He does need those days off. He is old and injured. His body has taken a beating for years and years as a catcher. its more the reason to have a capable back up for him. One who can either helping the team with a strong bat or great glove. Either one is fine. Cervelli really isn’t doing that right now for as much as he is playing.

      if i’m going to be in the ‘resting my players’ business i need to make sure my backups are strong and capable. Of course my backups aren’t going to be as good as the guys they are playing for, thats why they’re backups in the first place, but i can’t just have a blackhole for a backup either.

  • Apollo22237

    Hey, let’s be happy we aren’t reading this post of a game like this during the playoffs.

  • Zack

    Maybe catching Posada a day game after a night game wasn’t the smartest idea.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Meh, he’s getting the rest regardless of which game you play him in. Whether he played tonight or yesterday, he’s still sitting for Cervelli twice this week, minimum.

      • abbie

        It is amazing how everyone has something bad to say about Frankie CErvelli, literally every day. He had one of only a few hits yesterday. Exactly one to put the game 2 to 1.
        Caught impeccably and still just about everyone has something unkind to say about him.
        The less Frankie we see the better is just mean and uncalled for.
        I think Posada is great and the primary catcher for the team, but he is not at 100% or near.
        Some opportunities wasted yesterday involved other players, however only Cervelli is talked about.
        Enough!!

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          The less Frankie we see the better is just mean and uncalled for.

          Frankie Cervelli has a lower wOBA and WAR than Yuniesky Betancourt.

          I have no qualms with anyone saying that less Frankie Cervelli is a good thing. Frankie Cervelli sucks. This is not a topic of real debate. I know you really like Cervelli, abbie, but you have absolutely no leg to stand on here.

          Frankie Cervelli sucks. The time for mincing words is over.

          • abbie

            You may have your opinion re: Cervelli, I think that as a very young catcher( only 24 years old)he is a very good back up for Jorge.
            What I find odd, is the unusual amount of adverse commentary leveled against him on almost a daily basis, as if no one else is responsible for the team’s problems.

  • Carlosologist

    AJ pitched a hell of a game. He kept us in it, and unfortunately the offense couldn’t pick him up. Mo has these little hiccups once in a while, big deal. They never happen in the playoffs. We should be grateful he doesn’t blow up in the playoffs. Cliff Lee may be the most dominant pitcher in baseball, but perhaps he’s off slightly tomorrow. One can always hope.

    • http://twitter.com/dpatrickg Dirty Pena

      Yep. If tonight’s game really was the infamous “playoff preview,” (it’s not) I’d feel pretty good about the playoffs, all things considered.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Brett Gardner v. Cliff Lee, career: .400/.400/.400
      Lance Berkman v. Cliff Lee, career: .400/.400/.600

      /JammyJammersBait’d

    • frank

      Vazquez is going tonight. Should be BP for the Rangers.

      • kosmo

        The Yanks are floating the “deadarm” theory around.Vasquez has lost velocity but it´s been ongoing throughout the season.
        Let us pray !

  • http://www.twitter.com/jordan_smed JGS

    The last time Mo gave up a run in Arlington, Clay Bellinger hit a game winner in the tenth. That was more than ten years ago.

    The last time the Rangers walked off against Mo? Never.

    Neither of those things will happen again tomorrow. Now go kick Cliff Lee’s ass.

  • frank

    What about Gardner? It seems this guy has fallen off a cliff.

  • Chris

    Can we start to get on Brett Gardner yet? He’s now two for his last 30 (.067) and ten for his last 66 (.152),

    In his last 10 games (29ABs), Gardner’s line is: .069/.069/.103/.172
    In the 10 games before that (34ABs), Gardner’s line is: .235/.409/.324/.733

    and is hitting .233/.347/.315 over the last two months plus a day.

    I mentioned this in the game thread, but I think it bears repeating.

    In his last 10 games, Gardner’s line is: .069/.069/.103/.172
    From June 10 through July 30 (before those 10 games) Gardner was hitting: .274/.406/.368/.773

    It’s been a tale of two seasons for him; 55 games of awesomeness followed by 49 games of utter crap.

    Actually, it was 94 games of great play, followed by 10 games of utter crap.

    This isn’t Gardner struggling for 2 months. This is Gardner playing well (I’ll take an OBP over .400 even with no power) for 7 weeks and then playing absolutely horribly for 10 days. He needs to get turned around, but right now this looks like nothing more than a normal slump.

    • Tim

      Um…Since June 21 (when he went 4-4 against AZ), Gardner is rocking a triple slash line of .202/.321/.289 – that is hideous play for the better part of two months. If you want to count the 11-28 he had from June 10 to June 21 in order to make the numbers look better, be my guest. But this is not a “normal slump”, unless your name is Mark Teixeira and it is April. This is terrible play for > 100 AB, with the nadir of said terrible play coming in the past 10 days.

      • Zack

        What’s the difference between a normal slump and terrible play?

        Track record?

  • The209

    you’ve been on Gardner for a lot of the season, so why not know that he’s in a slump?

  • GermanYankee

    I was pretty surprised that we played that well. I’m not kidding. I expected a big win by Texas because AJ was horrible lately and without Tex, who carried the offense in the last weeks, I really didn’t think we had any chance. Plus Cano and Posada didn’t start. After all I think it was a good game, especially the pitching staff did a good job.

    I guess anything but a loss to Cliff Lee will be a surprise. Javy + Arlington Ballpark = disaster, I promise you that.

    Gardner’s slump is annoying, it seems like he isn’t swinging the bat at all and is always struck out looking without ever taking his bat of the shoulder. I guess he just needs to swing more.

    Anyway let’s pray for a miracle tonight ;)

  • Mushy Carl

    William Teixeira!!!!! Put him on the bench!

  • mos

    Can someone point me to a site that explains the zone plot image? I just don’t know what I’m looking at, and Brooks Baseball doesn’t seem to have any help.