Orioles come back after rare Mo meltdown

Open Thread: Manning Bowl
Fan Confidence Poll: September 20th, 2010
(AP Photo/Gail Burton)

There’s nothing like two straight wins and three in four games to help us forget how ugly things were in the last week-and-a-half, but the same problems that doomed the Yankees during their slump reared their ugly heads again on Sunday. Opportunities to tack on runs early weren’t taken advantage of, and another strong pitching performance went to waste.

Scott Ties It Up

Mariano Rivera always has one or two stretches in a season when he suddenly looks human, when he blows a save or two and gives up some homers and can’t seem to hit his spots with his usual precision. That’s what he’s going through right now, and today it manifested itself in the form of a cutter that didn’t cut all the way in on Luke Scott, who did was he was supposed to do and crushed the ball out of the park. The solo homer to lead off the ninth tied the game at three, continuing this recent stretch of unfortunate pitching and tough losses.

Mo now has four blown saves on the season, two of them coming on the road trip. He’ll be fine though, he always is.

Insurance Runs? Like The Yankees Need Those!

Orioles starter Chris Tillman was asking for it. He allowed three hits and walked six batters in just three-and-two-thirds innings of work, but the Yanks just wouldn’t give it to him. They pushed across a first inning run, then two more in the fourth, but that was it. They left a man on first in the first, a man on first in the second, the bases loaded in the fourth, a man on first in the fifth, runners at the corners in the sixth and then again in the ninth, yet none of that represented their biggest blown opportunity.

(AP Photo/Gail Burton)

After Scott tied the game up, Alex Rodriguez pinch hit for Greg Golson (who replaced Austin Kearns earlier in the game) and drew a walk to lead off the 11th. Eduardo Nunez came in to pinch run, and before Ramiro Pena could bunt him into scoring position reliever Mike Gonzalez threw a pickoff attempt into the stands, putting Nunez on third automatically. Joe Girardi then subbed in Marcus Thames for Pena in the middle of the at-bat with a 1-1 count, though Thames couldn’t get Nunez home when he swung and missed at a pitch in the dirt for strike three.

Girardi then sent Mark Teixeira in to pinch hit for Brett Gardner (more on that later), but Buck Showalter got all manager-like and intentionally walked not just Tex, but Derek Jeter after to him to load the bases with one out. The Yanks couldn’t possible screw this up, right? Wrong. Lance Berkman, hitting from his weaker side, bounced into a double play that killed the inning, his second GIDP of the game. At -.361 WPA, it was the most costly play of the game for New York.

Andy Was Dandy

(AP Photo/Gail Burton)

Even though the Yanks dropped this game, it was undeniably positive in the big picture. Andy Pettitte made his first start since July 18th due to a groin injury, and it was like he didn’t miss any time at all. Girardi said he would be thrilled to get six innings out of his starter, but Andy cruised right through those six innings with ease. If he wasn’t limited to 80-85 pitches (he threw 79), he would have been out there for the seventh inning as well, no doubt about it.

Pettitte battled his command early, running three ball counts to four of the first eight men he faced. The O’s tied the game at one on an Adam Jones bunt single with two outs in the first, a play that tested Andy’s groin on the fielding attempt, but after that they had little chance against the southpaw. Pettitte sat down 15 of the final 17 men he faced, including the last 11 consecutively. He was throwing his breaking ball for strikes, his cutter into to righties, and his changeup down and out of the zone for weak grounders. It was vintage Andy, and the Yanks have to be extremely encouraged by what they saw out of him.

Leftovers

Girardi burned through eight players in the span of four plate appearances in that 11th inning, but the only move worth second guessing was pinch hitting Tex for Gardner. Yes, it’s Mark freaking Teixeira, but Gardner had already reached base twice in the game and hasn’t shown enough of a platoon split to worry about the left-on-left matchup. Given Tex’s injured hand (and toe), it’s not hard to make a case that Gardy was a better bet to get the run in right there, especially since Showalter went right to the four-fingers once the first baseman was announced.

(AP Photo/Gail Burton)

Robbie Cano had two hits and walk, and finished the year with a .444/.487/.694 batting line against the O’s. Unfortunately he was the only Yankee with more than one hit, and was on deck when Berkman hit into that rally killing double play in the 11th.

Not the best day for the bullpen, with Boone Logan and Kerry Wood combining to surrender a run in the eight before Mo blew the save. David Robertson pitched a scoreless tenth before taking the loss in the next inning thanks to a bloop double by Scott and legit gap double by Ty Wigginton. It happens, what can you do.

The Rays lost, so the lead in the division remains at half-a-game. The Red Sox won however, so the lead on the Wild Card shrinks to just seven with 13 to play. I thought the Sox were supposed to back in this thing, what happened? Seem kinda foolish looking back on it, no? I told you not to worry about them.

WPA Graph & Box Score

Gross. MLB.com has the box score and video, FanGraphs the nerd score.

Up Next

The Yankees will dedicate a new monument in Monument Park to George Steinbrenner tomorrow evening, then they’ll take on the Rays in their first game in the Bronx in what feels like an eternity. The final homestand of the season (!!!) will start with Ivan Nova and Matt Garza.

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Open Thread: Manning Bowl
Fan Confidence Poll: September 20th, 2010
  • Nice

    Fire Girardi!

    /preempting the blame-girardi-first crowd.

  • http://www.twitter.com/tomzig Tom Zig

    Well if you don’t hit with RISP, you won’t win many ballgames. Yanks were in position to win this one, but they just couldn’t get that one hit to break it open. Story of the past 2 weeks. But they return home tomorrow so hopefully they can bust out. 115 LOB over a 2 week span is quite a lot.

  • http://kierstenschmidt.com Kiersten

    On the bright side, the Yankees are still the best team in baseball.

    • Nice

      that’s not good enough!

      Yanks should be 173 games above .500

  • stuart

    imagine how bad berkman is righty they walked jeter to pitch to berkman………..

    hopefully that did not affend the jeter fandom.

    no way jeter would have hit a ground ball to short, no way………

    berkman is slugging like wayne tolleson, he has zero power.

    batting with RISP a multi week issue…………..

    • http://kierstenschmidt.com Kiersten

      i dont understand the point you’re trying to make………

      like…….

      at all………..

      • All Star Carl

        lol………

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

        I…..
        E……
        T………
        C…….

    • Sean C

      I…… wasn’t…… “affended”……….

    • steve (different one)

      He…walked….Jeter….to…set…up….a….force…at….every….base.

      Welcome….to….baseball!!

  • cano is the bro

    berkman’s GIDP’s really hurt us in this one, in fact it seems like the GIDPs have been hurting us alot lately…

    • Andy In Sunny Daytona

      It’s almost like Berkman could have used more than 3 AB’s as a righty in the last 2 months.

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

        It’s almost like Berkman could have used more than 3 AB’s as a righty in the last 2 months can’t hit as a righty anymore and any AB’s from that side in the last two months would be a sunk cost.

        Fixed.

        • Tank Foster

          I don’t know, tsjc. There’s a difference between expecting him to hit line drives and homers from the right side, versus being able to cope with the situation and not implode when you’re faced with it and the game is on the line. That particular situation – where the Yankees are stuck with Berkman having to high righty – may come up again. Opposing managers will try to get that matchup. It’s absolutely sensible thinking that more ABs for Berkman might allow him to at least be able to accomplish something in those situations. Get a fly ball…fight off pitches and get a walk. But when you NEVER get any game ABs righty, you’re pretty much dead meat when the situation comes up.

  • Kiko Jones

    I’m never happy to see the Yankees lose but after yet another instance of stranded RISP in a tight game—and Showalter schooling Girardi in the 11th—I was hoping they’d lose and maybe learn from it somehow. Stranded RISP has bitten them so hard on the posterior I wonder if they have any ass cheeks left. And you can’t blame Girardi for them not hitting in the clutch, so…

    Btw, this is just my perception, but it seems like this year’s team is not as clutch as last year’s. (Somebody here will probably bring up stats that show my perception is off, and that would be great, but meanwhile…) Yeah, the ’09 team did leave strand a lot of RISP but they seemed to have more timely hitting. (The 15 walk-offs tend to come to mind.) I dunno…maybe the flip-flopping w/the Rays and that dreadful roadtrip is getting to me…Regardless, Good AJ has shown up lately, Andy’s return was stellar, I have big hopes for Nova on Monday, and hopefully this homestand will show the Yankees rising to the occasion and maybe even clinching the division against the Sux at home, like last year.

    • theghostofgeorge

      yes, managers don’t hit, but it’s their job to ensure that the best players are put in the position to hit in key situations, especially in extra-inning games. why did gerardi allow berkman to even hit in the 11th? the guy hasn’t hit lefties all year… in either league. it’s one of the reasons buck decided to walk two guys to load the bases. gerardi had already decided to use texiera to play first in the bottom of the inning. so was berkman, with his .177 BA against lefties,the best hitter gerardi had in that situation? his managing decisions in those last couple of innings seemed random at best. maybe larussa would like to end his career with a couple of rings.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Walk-offs tell you more about luck than anything. The Orioles have 12 walk-off wins this year, and look where it got them.

  • Jerome S

    So did we see a glimpse of the postseason rotation in Baltimore (CC/AJ/Andy)? Cause if we did, I kinda liked it.

    Fucking offense…

    Go A-Rod.

  • larryf

    I still can’t believe Adam Jones bunts with a man on third and TWO outs and they score in the first inning and we can’t score with ALL of our much better opportunities. I guess we need a new strategy that defies logic and baseball smarts.

    This game drives you insane sometimes!

  • larryf

    And what about the O’s carrying on as if they won a meaningful game? I guess when you’re 30+ games out in late September, it doesn’t matter. Enjoy! The Yanks are gracious guests.

    • steve (different one)

      every team celebrates every walkoff win like that.

  • http://www.yfsf.org AndrewYF

    The playoffs will be clinched on this homestand.

  • JerZGuy

    Congrats Joe, Buck walked you around back of the tool shed and schooled you real good. Instead of resting the regs let’s just cancel the rest of the season and claim the wild card.

    Cashman great job in bringing in Berkman and Kearns. I didn’t think anyone could look worse than Jeter but these guys have proved me wrong.

    • theyankeewarrior

      Lance Berkman has been great for us, you fool.

      • JerZGuy

        Uh yeah, my bad, forgot all of the game winning hits he’s gotten since he’s here.

        • theyankeewarrior

          You’re right! Game winning hits are all that matters when figuring out how good a player is!!!

          • JerZGuy

            You can ride Berkman all the way to the shitter cause that’s exactly where he will take you!!!

            • theyankeewarrior

              Hahaha I think commenting with JerZGuy is going to be like watching Jersey Shore. Pure, dumb, entertainment value.

              • JerZGuy

                What, you watch Jersey Shore??? Jerkoff

                • theyankeewarrior

                  **Jerhk-oUffe**

        • http://twitter.com/cephster Ross in Jersey

          Here’s Berkman’s stats since coming off the DL on Sept 1st:

          .364/.451/.409

          Yeah, that’s downright awful. I wish we had more Ramiro Penas on this team who get hits once a month. This is furthermore why RBIs are stupid – he’s 16/44 but has 1 rbi in that stretch. Is it his fault there’s no one on base when he hits? Or are you going to say he just sucks in the clutch?

          Either way, you’re wrong and a typical “what have you done for me lately” fan.

          • JerZGuy

            Blow it out your arse tool boy you have no clue what type of fan I am.

            • http://twitter.com/cephster Ross in Jersey

              Well at least you use facts to back up your silly narrative. Bravo.

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

                You see what I keep saying about New Jersey, Ross? Do you see now?

                /shitstarting’d

                • http://twitter.com/cephster Ross in Jersey

                  Judging from this guy’s use of words such as “shitter” and “arse”, I believe he may actually be from England lol

              • JerZGuy

                Maybe you could join the “warrior” in the boys room for a sword fight. How’s that for silly narrative??

                • theyankeewarrior

                  Hahaha

                  Pure. Entertainment. Value.

            • steve (different one)

              ban hammer!!

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

          Uh yeah, my bad, forgot all of the game winning hits he’s gotten since he’s here.

          Yeah, and I forgot all the game winning hits that Juan Miranda, Colin Curtis, Kevin Russo, Greg Golson, and Chad Huffman — the players that Berkman and Kearns replaced — had hit before Berkman and Kearns got here.

          Your complaints are asinine.

          No matter how few “game winning hits” Berkman and Kearns may or may not have hit (and yes, that is the fucking stupidest possible way to evaluate a player, thank you for asking,) they’re both massive upgrades over the AAAA fodder they moved to the periphery of the roster.

          • Andrew

            Hey come on, Russo had that game-winning RBI double against the Mets, Golson made that randomly amazing throw from RF last week, Curtis hit a HR when he inherited an 0-2 count and Huffman got a hit against Broxton in that big rally (so did li’l white CC, as well)! Obviously they are all True Yankees who have the Winning DNA of Champions, and Berkman is just a fat slow base-clogging wimp who can’t handle the pressure of NY and should go back to the NL/Texas.

            That about sum it up?

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

              Yup, that works.

      • Neil

        From the left side ONLY!

  • Carcillo

    Berkman deserves his fair share of blame for the GIDP, but he wasn’t exactly put into a position to succeed there.

    It’s clear to everyone with knowledge of baseball that he can’t keep his front side closed from the right side. As such, he’s at quite a disadvantage hitting there. Couple his slow legs, and it’s no surprise at all what happened there. Really just an awful job of managing that inning, and an incredible (and congratulatory) job by the Yankees to ensure their RISP failures lasted from the first game of the roadtrip, to the last game.

    They’ll clinch a playoff spot against the Red Sox, which is ALWAYS nice to see. Alas, it certainly won’t compare in grandeur to last year’s clinchathon against the Sox, when they won the division, best record in AL and MLB, home field, 100 wins, and a split season series (after 0-8) ALL on the same day. That was tremendous.

    • http://twitter.com/cephster Ross in Jersey

      You’re right that he wasn’t put in a position to succeed there, but then again, him bouncing into a DP was pretty much the worst possible outcome in that situation and if you replayed the game 100 times that would maybe happen twice.

      Berkman is bad from the right side, yes. He also has a great eye and was facing a pitcher who was struggling with his control. If Berkman does literally anything else there – a slow roller, a pop up, a strike out, whatever – the Yankees at least score a run and at worst extend the inning so Cano gets a chance to hit with multiple runners on.

      Buck was playing with fire there and had to have everything go right to get out of that inning. Was it a decent strategy? Sure, but it doesn’t mean he ran circles around Joe or anything. If Berkman lines a single there or draws a walk, somehow I don’t think you’d be writing this narrative today.

  • theyankeewarrior

    Was anyone else hoping they would walk Wigginton in the 11th? After him, it was Patterson, Bell and Tatum. Why let a decent hitter beat you when you have three terrible hitters lined up after him?

    It was a walk-off situation, why pitch to the better hitter there?

    Oh, and as Buck showed us about 10 minutes earlier, double plays are deadly.

    • Carcillo

      I thought the same thing. Wigginton’s run meant nothing, and he’s actually had some success as a hitter this year. Set up the forces at all three bags.

      • theyankeewarrior

        What a thought!!!

      • larryf

        but it’s a righty/righty matchup! So they walk Wiggy, Patterson bunts them over, they walk another guy and then, voila-double play.

        /Girardi genius’d

  • kosmo

    Managing,hitting with RISP,pitching enough blame to go all around.

  • I am not the droids you’re looking for

    I was only kinda sorta watching this game but it felt like Jeter killed something on the order of 15 rallies and left 64 men on base. In the first 4 innings.

    • larryf

      not a Jeterian loss this time…

  • Tank Foster

    Lots of blame to spread around. Bottom 8, they should have pushed a run across. That was one of Robbie’s bad ABs – first pitch swinging, his old pattern. And there were other opportunities.

    Still….man on 3rd, none out, they should have scored. Girardi blew it, I think.

    I thought bringing up Thames was the right move. Another option was to try a safety squeeze with Pena, who is supposed to be a good bunter, but I have no problem with getting the platoon advantage there on Gonzalez, just needing a fly ball to get the run in.

    But pinch hitting for Gardner? No freaking way. Gardner has been striking out more of late, but he’s probably the best of the Yankees in being able to put the ball in play, and with his speed, it would have put alot of pressure on Baltimore. I think you had to think ahead in that situation and plan for the possibility that you’d have Berkman up batting righty, and you needed to save either Thames or Teixeira for that situation. Girardi didn’t, and he got burned.

    • Neil

      I think there’s a regulation somewhere (in Girardi’s contract or MLB rules) that does not allow the Yankees to ever use the squeeze play!

      • Tank Foster

        Exactly. He’ll bunt Curtis Granderson with a 2-0 count, but won’t try a very high leverage type bunt – a bunt for the WIN – with the guy who might be his best bunter, and zero outs. He could have tried it once, and STILL potentially sent Thames up there if Pena had fouled it off.

        I’m not advocating “small ball” or anything. But it seems Girardi chooses to bunt or play small ball at the worst possible times.

  • don draper

    These Mo meltdowns are coming with more frequency and bad timing than ever before.Ihope that Cashman looks into signing Soriano,or,dare I say it, Papelbon.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      So you’re worried about Mo melting down more often, and one of your solutions is to sign Papelbon? Who’s not a free agent?

      • Tank Foster

        He got the details wrong, but I think everyone can see what he’s talking about: the slow decay of Mo. The ball doesn’t move like it used to, at least not as often, not as sharply. He relies more and more on his pinpoint control. It used to be that only the very best hitters would try to put really hard swings on his pitches. Used to be that the harder you tried to hit it, the less chance you had of making solid contact. So that’s why Mark Grace was choking up on the bat (!!) in game 7, 2001….When Luke Scott – who is a good hitter, but he ain’t Manny – is up there taking his hacks, you know something has changed.

        Mo can continue to go year to year, and will still be among the top in the league, but at some point, you have to accept what’s happening. Probably heresy to say this, but going into this year’s postseason, if I had to choose between having say, Soria, or Soriano, versus Mo, I’d take either of the other two.

        • Guest

          I’d like to think Mo’s still nursing the same injury that forced him to miss the All-Star game. But who knows? I’m no expert, to be sure, but concerning, yes.

        • theyankeewarrior

          Old version of Mo = best reliever in baseball

          New, declining of Mo = best reliever in baseball

          • Tank Foster

            I don’t think so. Not anymore. One of the top 5? Mo, Soria, Soriano, Bard…..there are others.

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

      You are concerned with meltdowns and want Papelbon? That’s just idiocy.

  • Tank Foster

    Probably. But that’s exactly what getting old is, among other things. Injuries don’t heal, etc.

    Look, the guy is practically a G*d, I recognize that. His level of effectiveness, so consistently, for so many years, is amazing. He’s still one of the best in the league.

    But nothing lasts forever.

  • http://winball godfather

    your pronouncement about smallball/pennants to the side, making contact in certain situations is an enhancement to winning; with a runner at third and none or one out, i’m not sure i want a free swinger at the dish; it feeds into the chucker’s strikeout chances; casey stengel used to romantically call it the “butcher boy play”: a batter playing pepper, virtually, with the runner attuned to the situation; it was the thing to do yesterday