Joe Buck got so excited when Reed Johnson hit that solo homer off Mariano Rivera to lead off the ninth that he declared the game tied. Of course the homer made it just a one-run game, and Rivera went on to navigate the rest of the inning to secure the win. It wasn’t easy nor pretty, but they all count the same. Let’s quickly recap…
- If my Play Index skills are as sharp as I think they are, the Yankees are the first team since 1997 and just the 15th in history to score four or fewer runs in a nine inning game in which they had at least ten hits and ten walks. They left the bases loaded in the first, a man on second in the second, men on second and third in the third, men on first and second in the fifth, a man on first in the seventh, and the bases loaded in the eighth. Yuck.
- Play of the game was easily Brett Gardner’s double play in the sixth (video). The Cubbies had the bases loaded with one out, and Geovany Soto lined a pitch into left. Gardner caught it on the run and uncorked a perfect throw home to get Carlos Pena. The throw beat him by five or six feet, and Russell Martin held on after the collision for the inning ending out (gif!). At .252 WPA, it was far and away the biggest play of the game.
- Everyone in the starting lineup reached base at least twice except for Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett. Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez, and Martin each reached base three times. Nick Swisher and Grandy sacrifice flies were bookended by Eduardo Nunez and Robinson Cano run-scoring doubles, which accounted for the four runs.
- Burnett had his best curveball in quite some time in this game, certainly his best of the season. Batters swung and missed at nine of his 44 curves (20.5%) and three others went for called strike threes. His one mistake was a meatball fastball to Pena, which he hit for a game-tying two-run homer. Burnett struck out eight of the 24 men he faced in 5.1 IP. Aside from Johnson’s homer and the Soto single that following, the Yankees’ bullpen was flawless. The only batter to reach base against Cory Wade, Hector Noesi, and David Robertson did so on an error. Based on the extremely small sample size of this one game, Wade’s the new fireman and Noesi’s the new seventh inning guy. I like it.
- Speaking of errors, how bad has the defense been? Nunez flubbed a routine double play grounder and then Cano dropped a routine relay throw from A-Rod in that hectic sixth inning. That doesn’t include two bad throws by Nunez that Tex managed to turn into outs (one by tagging the runner, the other with a great scoop) because he’s awesome. I don’t expect the Yankees to be a brilliant defensive club, but the routine plays have to made, period.
- Four outs on the bases, topping their season high of three last week (and at least one other time as well). Granderson got thrown out trying to steal second, A-Rod got his Jorge Posada on (tried to stretch a single into a double, was out by a mile), Gardner got picked off first, and Swisher got thrown out at the plate. Seriously, get these guys a baserunning coach. If they have one already, get someone better.
- Here’s the box score and here’s the WPA graph. This game was an ordeal.
The rubber game of the series will be played Sunday night on ESPN, which means an 8pm ET start. CC Sabathia gets the ball against Randy Wells.
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