Following that all-night affair on Tuesday, Joe Girardi opted to rest his regulars on Wednesday afternoon and started six position players who played with Triple-A Scranton this season. Can’t say I blame him, he’s got bigger things to worry about than this game, but the lineup created this whole “oh who cares” atmosphere, at least for me.
New Mechanics, Same Results
In his second start with his new mechanics, A.J. Burnett pitched a whole lot like he did with his old mechanics. He was pitching out of the stretch all afternoon because the leadoff man reached base in six of the seven innings he started (the second runner reached in the one inning he did get the leadoff guy out), and he also hurt himself with some lackadaisical defense (more on that in a bit). The first scored right in the first inning on a single, stolen base, ground out, ground out, and the second came on a walk, stolen base, wild pitch, error. Burnett also allowed a two-run homer to Nolan Reimold, so there’s the four runs.
Six innings and four runs isn’t the worst outcome in the world, but A.J. walked four and allowed seven hits, hurting himself further with three (!!!) wild pitches. Interestingly enough, PitchFX says he threw 26 changeups and 41 curveballs out of 108 total pitches, getting nine swings and misses on the former and eight on the latter. Burnett was definitely offspeed heavy today, but I didn’t realize he was that offspeed heavy. It wasn’t a disaster start by any means, just more typical A.J., I guess.
The A-Rod & Montero Show
The Yankees answered right back after Burnett put them in a 1-0 hole in the first inning, and the game had all the look of a slugfest. The three everyday players that were actually in the lineup fashioned a rally out of a double (Russell Martin), a walk (Nick Swisher), and another double (Alex Rodriguez) to drive in two. The Yankees took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first, but A.J. gave it right back in the second before letting the O’s take a two-run lead on Reimold’s homer.
The score remained 4-2 until the fourth inning, when A-Rod started another rally with a leadoff walk. Andruw Jones followed that up with a double to left, and Jesus Montero tied the game with a long single off the wall, to the opposite field of course. That’s the four runs right there, two thanks to A-Rod in the first, and another two thanks to Montero in the fourth. Some of the regulars, namely Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, and Curtis Granderson made pinch-hitting appearances later on, but the offense went pretty silent after the fourth.
Not A Banner Day For The UZR
It’s one thing to trot out a Triple-A-ish lineup a day game after a long night game, but Triple-A-ish defense is a little tougher to swallow. Where do I start with this? I guess I’ll go chronologically. It all started when Brandon Laird literally booted a Kyle Hudson ground ball into foul territory in the second, allowing a run to score, and it seemed to set the tone for the entire defense for the afternoon.
Robert Andino reached on a pop-up single to lead off the third, a ball that dropped on the infield after neither A-Rod nor Eduardo Nunez bothered to catch it. One batter later, Nick Markakis hit a ground ball to first, and after Laird got the force out at second, Burnett failed to step on first on the return throw to complete the double play. One inning later, Burnett hesitated off the mound and got beat to first by Hudson on a rather routine ground ball. Laird took his sweet time getting the ball to A.J., which didn’t help matters. A-Rod and Nunez both misplayed grounders in the fifth, and in a rarely display of defensive futility, Brett Gardner misplayed a fly ball into a two-base error in the top of the ninth.
After stranding leadoff runners in the ninth and tenth, the Yankees let the Orioles take the lead in the eleventh inning. Hector Noesi pitched Tuesday night but was sent back out for a second inning of work on Wednesday afternoon (why?), and the go-ahead rally started with (guess what!) an error. Nunez played a Matt Angle ground ball like he was that guy who dropped his keys in There’s Something About Mary, letting it scoot past him and into the outfield. Angle stole second and Markakis was intentionally walked for the second time (he’s not Barry Bonds, sheesh), setting up Mark Reynolds for the run scoring single.
The Yankees put together a rally in the bottom of the eleventh, but they couldn’t push the tying run across. Montero drew a leadoff walk and pinch-runner Chris Dickerson got as far as third base on Granderson’s single, but alas, it was not meant to be. Pinch-hitter Eric Chavez’s line drive was knocked down by Andino at short, who shuffled it to second for the game-ending force out. For whatever reason, the offense just went into hibernation after Montero’s game-tying single. Perhaps all the regulars that entered the game late after playing on Tuesday were just pooped. Oh well.
Hey look, another sacrifice bunt that didn’t work. This one came in the seventh inning and was my most favoritest kind of sacrifice bunt. The Yankees already had one of their fastest runners in scoring position (Granderson doubled to start the inning), but they gave up an out to move him to third. Martin struck out, Swisher grounded out, no run. Granderson’s going to score on any single from second (except for an infield single), trading an out for 90 feet isn’t the way to go there, not in the seventh freaking inning. But whatever, they’ll keep bunting until they turn blue in the face because it’s the right way to play the game or something.
Meanwhile, home plate ump Gary Darling warned Orioles reliever Clay Rapada about pitching with his foot off the rubber in the ninth, which should be a balk. Not only are they not supposed to warn a player about something like they (they’re supposed to just call the balk), but Rapada kept doing it and they never bothered to call him on it. Why have rules if the umpires a) aren’t going enforce them, and b) just change them as they go?
Despite losing the game (on an unearned run thanks to Eduardo Scissorhands), the bullpen was pretty awesome. Aaron Laffey, Luis Ayala, David Robertson, and Rafael Soriano combined for three hitless innings with one walk (Soriano) and five strikeouts (Robertson whiffed the side). Yankees pitchers struck out 15 (seven by Burnett) and walked eight (three intentionally).
The six-game winning streak is kaput, but that’s okay. Winning streaks don’t last forever. Desmond Jennings and the Rays walked off against the Rangers, so the lead for the wildcard shrunk to 9.5 games. The Blue Jays came back against Daniel Bard and the Red Sox, so the division lead remains at 2.5 games and three in the loss column. The magic number to clinch a postseason berth remained at 12.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
It’s off to Baltimore for one last game against these Orioles, a makeup of one of the games postponed by Hurricane Irene. That’s another 1:05pm ET start, and it’ll feature Ivan Nova and Alfredo Simon on the mound.