It’s been a whirlwind 48 hours for the Yankees, who played deep into the night/morning on Tuesday, lost an extra innings day game in Wednesday, then traveled to Baltimore for a day game on Thursday. Although they started the season 9-1 against the Orioles, they finished the last eight games of the season series at 4-4. That’s pretty frustrating, especially against a terrible team.
One Foot In The Batter’s Box, The Other On The Plane
The game started out pretty well for the offense. The Yankees loaded the bases with no outs in the first, pushing three runs across thanks to an Eric Chavez infield single and a Derek Jeter two-run single back up the middle. Alfredo Simon was very wild, walking six guys in just four innings, and the Yankees scored another run in the third when Chavez singled in Mark Teixeira. With a 4-1 lead in the third inning, the offense got a head start on the flight to Southern California and went right to sleep.
After the Simon left the game, the Yankees put exactly two runners on base. Curtis Granderson got hit by a 3-2 pitch to lead off the seventh, and Alex Rodriguez drew a two-out walk in the tenth. That’s it, no hits and no runners past first base. Between this game and Wednesday’s extra innings loss, the Yankees picked up just four hits, three walks, and the one hit-by-pitch in a dozen innings against the Baltimore bullpen, striking out 14 times. This is the same bullpen that came into the game with a 7.42 K/9 (24th in MLB), 1.27 HR/9 (29th), 4.20 ERA (27th), and a 4.36 FIP (28th). You can’t win if you don’t score, and the Yankees didn’t score after the starter left the game two days in a row.
Eighth Inning Guy
Despite their offensive ineptitude and Ivan Nova’s struggles (more on that a bit), the Yankees still maintained a 4-3 lead into the eighth inning. David Robertson had made two appearances in the span of about 13 hours the day before, so he was understandably unavailable. No big deal, big money setup guy Rafael Soriano was available and he came into to bridge the gap to Mariano Rivera. No problem, right? Wrong.
Mark Reynolds opened the inning with a single that turned into a double because Brett Gardner had a rare defensive miscue for the second day in a row. The ball bounced in front of him and he just missed it on the hop. Nolan Reimold flew out to right, but then Chris Davis singled to center. Granderson came up throwing and gunned Reynolds down at the plate, Frankie Cervelli’s second home plate collision in as many innings (more on that in a bit). Davis advanced to second on the throw, but the lead was safe. At least until Robert Andino singled one batter later, allowing Davis to score.
The game was tied, and the inning ended when Andino stupidly got thrown out trying to steal third. Soriano faced five batters in the frame and retired just one on his own, Reimold on the fly ball. The second out came on the play at the plate, the third on Andino’s caught stealing. Rafi’s allowed at least one baserunner in his last eight outings and in ten of his last eleven, and there’s been a number of loud outs lately.
The Great Wall of Cervelli
The Orioles did eventually win the game, but they would have won it a whole lot sooner if it wasn’t for a pair of plays at the plate. The first came in the seventh inning, after Aaron Laffey walked leadoff man Nick Markakis and Cory Wade retired Adam Jones. Wade left a pitch up to Vlad Guerrero (who was raking all game) and he crushed it to dead center. Granderson made a nice play to cut the ball off before it hit the wall, and he fired to the infield. Robinson Cano fielded the ball as the cutoff man and made a perfect relay throw to the pltey. Markakis came in hard and laid Cervelli right out, but the Yankees backstop held onto the ball for the out. It was a pretty rough collision, Cervelli took a shoulder right to face, but he stayed in the rest of the game.
Because one collision wasn’t enough, there was the second play at the plate in the eighth inning thanks to Davis’ single off Soriano. The second collision with Reynolds wasn’t as hard as the first one, not even even close really, but it was still a great play by all involved, not just Cervelli. Neither Markakis or Reynolds even touched the plate, and after the game Frankie said he was a dizzy, but “that’s my house, man.”
Death By Bullpen
Nova was off pretty much all game, showing little ability to command his fastball and get it down in the zone. That’s why nine of the 14 non-strikeout outs he recorded were in the air. He just wasn’t right, and Vlad tagged him for a solo homer in the second and a double off the right-center field wall in the fourth. Nova did wiggle out of some jams and pitched into the sixth, but he was clearly not at his best. Once the bullpen got involved, things got really messy.
Boone Logan came in to face Davis with a runner on second in the sixth, and for some reason he threw the whiff machine just one slider in a seven-pitch at-bat. Davis turned a 3-2 fastball right around for a run-scoring double, ending Logan’s day. He’s now faced 102 lefty batters this season and has given up eleven extra base hits (six doubles, a triple, and four homers). Last year he gave up just one extra base hit (a triple) to the 91 same-side hitters he faced. Logan’s overall strikeout (10.2 K/9) and walk (2.4 uIBB/9) numbers are fantastic, but his job is to get lefties out and he’s been pretty bad at it this year (.261/.314/.478 (.478!!!) against).
Luis Ayala replaced Logan and did his job, getting the two men he faced to end the sixth without anymore runs scoring. The Laffey/Wade stuff happened in the seventh, Soriano happened in the eighth, and then Scott Proctor escaped certain doom in the ninth before coughing things up in the tenth. An infield single (Reimold), a walk (Davis), and a single (really a double under normal circumstances) past a diving Chavez down the left field line (Andino) ended the game. Pretty terrible effort by the pitching staff in this one.
There’s really nothing else left to recap, which I guess is good. It is worth mentioning that Nick Swisher was seen flexing his left (throwing) arm/hand basically all game after making a throw in the fourth, but he stayed in the game. Ken Singleton mentioned during that sometimes your arm will cramp up after a big throw, so hopefully that’s all it is.
The Rays were idle on Thursday, so the lead on the wildcard dropped half-a-game to nine games. The magic number for a playoff berth remained at 12 games. The Red Sox lost to the Blue Jays again, so the lead in the AL East remained at 2.5 (three in the loss column) with 20 games left for the Yankees and 19 for the Boston.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Box Score
The Yankees are going going, back back, to Cali Cali. A three-game series against the Angels in Anaheim starts at 10pm ET on Friday night, when former Halos ace Bartolo Colon takes on current Halos ace Jered Weaver.