The Yankees continue to be plagued by the same ol’ problems — underwhelming starting pitching and a lack of hitting with men on base — but they had the tying run on third and the winning run on second in the bottom of the ninth against the Reds on Saturday. They were thisclose. Let’s recap…
- Nova’s Dozen: The good news is that Ivan Nova struck out a career-high 12. The bad news is that he allowed five runs in six innings, including a three-run bomb by Joey Votto that essentially put the game away. Nova’s right ankle/foot seemed to be fine but he’s still not right. He again made several mistakes up in the zone but did a good job burying his breaking balls for swinging strikes — he had 23 swings and misses on the afternoon. Ivan still needs to find a balance between all these strikeouts (good!) and extra-base hits allowed (bad!).
- Chip Away: The Yankees were playing from behind all afternoon, but they slowly chipped away at Cincinnati’s lead with a solo homer from Russell Martin, a run-scoring double from Raul Ibanez, and a solo homer from Jayson Nix before putting together an almost game-tying rally in the ninth. They went hitless with runners in scoring position until that ninth inning.
- Almost: After getting blown away by Aroldis Chapman in the eighth — he went to a 3-1 count on all three batters, but they all made outs — the Yankees put something together against Sean Marshall. Ibanez (double off a lefty!) and Swisher started the inning with hits then Andruw Jones and Nix did the same after Martin’s strikeout. Derek Jeter came to the plate with the Yankees down a run and he tried his hardest to ground into a double play on the first pitch, but he beat the relay at first. Curtis Granderson managed to turn a 3-0 count into a 3-2 count before grounding out to end the game. I’ll never understand why they turned him loose on 3-0, but whatever. Take the walk and let Robbie Cano bat with the bases juiced. They had a chance to tie but couldn’t get that last run in.
- Leftovers: David Phelps allowed what ultimately proved to be the winning run when he made a great diving catch and immediately threw the ball away trying to double the runner off first … Ibanez (two), Swisher (two), and Nix (three!) had multiple hits while the 2-3-4 hitters went 0-for-12 with a walk.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the nerd score, and ESPN the updated standings. Call me crazy, but I feel like the Yankees are on the verge of something big. I feel an offensive explosion coming on, and I hope it happens when I’m in attendance tomorrow. Aces CC Sabathia and Johnny Cueto square off in Sunday’s rubber game.