Sep
03

Down to one: Lead shrinks further as Yanks fall to Rays

By

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Yankees were outplayed by a team chasing them in the standings and it led to another loss on Monday afternoon. It was their ninth loss in the last 14 games.

(J. Meric/Getty)

Shaky Sabathia

It certainly wasn’t pretty, but CC Sabathia gave the Yankees seven innings of three-run ball with only one of the runs coming on a real hard-hit ball — B.J. Upton’s solo homer in the third. That was crushed. CC got dinked to death in the second, as two broken-bat bloops and a ground ball pastadiving Derek Jeter resulted in a run. The third run scored following a leadoff walk (very bad), a single, a double steal, and a ground out. Sabathia retired nine of the last ten Rays he faced and threw 116 really hard-fought pitches.

Once again, it was his command that was the problem. Sabathia threw first pitch strikes to just 14 of 31 batters and generated only eight swings and misses out of those 116 pitches. Those rates are way, way too low for any pitcher, nevermind someone of CC’s caliber. The Yankees needed a little more out of their ace than what they got, but it wasn’t exactly a disaster start by any means. Three runs in seven innings used to be an insta-win for a starter on this club.

(J. Meric/Getty)

One Good Inning

The Yankees have scored more than three runs just four times in their last dozen games, which is unfathomably bad. Injuries or not, a replacement level AL lineup probably scores 4+ runs four or five times during that stretch. All three runs on Monday came in the fourth inning, which started with a Robinson Cano double and ended with a Russell Martin infield hit. In between, Alex Rodriguez singled on a ten-hopper with eyes, Eric Chavez lined a sacrifice fly to left, and Raul Ibanez tripled (!) past a diving Ben Francisco. Ichiro Suzuki (swinging) and Chris Dickerson (looking) struck out to end the inning with Martin on first.

I thought Ibanez’s base-running on the infield single was excellent and deserves to be highlighted. Martin’s infield hit ricocheted off starter Jamie Shields and right to first baseman Jeff Keppinger who was probably 20-feet away from the bag. He looked Ibanez back to third before breaking for the first base bag. That’s when Ibanez took off for home and Martin slide in safely just before Keppinger got there. Most guys — especially old and slow guys — just stay at third on that play with one out. Real heads up job by Raul to score that run.

(J. Meric/Getty)

Lost

Middle relief has been a real big problem lately, but you have to feel pretty good when the starter is able to hand the ball right off to David Robertson. The setup man started the eighth inning with an unconventional out — single then the runner was thrown out trying to steal second on a pitch-out — before retiring the next batter on a fly ball to right-center (more on that in a second). With two outs, Ryan Roberts singled through the 5.5 hole before stealing second uncontested. In a 3-1 count, third catcher Chris Gimenez grounded a single through the hole on the right side to score Roberts for the winning run.

The ball was just beyond the reach of Robinson Cano and I thought he absolutely had to dive for it in that situation. Man on second, two outs … gotta knock that sucker down and keep the man at third. After the game we found out that Cano suffered a hip injury on the play, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt I guess. Instead, I’ll wonder why Robertson threw just one curveball out of 17 pitches, a curve that Francisco took for a ball before flying out. David’s curve has been missing for a while and I have no idea why, but I do know that his strikeouts are way down — just 12 strikeouts in his last 17 appearances (6.48 K/9 and 18.5 K%) — and it’s reducing his effectiveness. Unless his elbow is barking (please no), Robertson really needs to get back on the curveball horse and start missing some bats again. That’s why he was so great a year ago, Gimenez wouldn’t even have put the ball in play in that situation last summer.

Leftovers

(AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

Outside of that three-run fourth inning, the Yankees went a combined 1-for-26 with three walks and five strikeouts. They got four hits in the span of five batters that inning — Chavez’s sac fly could have easily been a hit as well, he smoked that thing — and just one in the other eight innings. Brutal. The Yankees haven’t picked up more than six hits in any of their last four games and in five of their last six. Their last double-digit hits game was the series finale in Cleveland, when they had eleven. They haven’t had more than a dozen hits in a game (a completely arbitrary criteria on my part) since the third game in Detroit a few weeks ago.

Not that this is all that surprising, but Cano didn’t bust it out of the box on his hard-hit eighth inning ground out. Elliot Johnson booted the ball at third and Robbie didn’t take off until the ball hopped away, otherwise he likely would have been safe. He almost beat it out anyway. Cano said he didn’t hurt his hip until that play in the bottom of the eighth, so that’s no excuse. I suppose he may have thought Johnson caught the ball on a fly, but still man, your team is playing like crap. Show some urgency.

A-Rod‘s return to the lineup featured a 1-for-4 with a strikeout. The hit was that funny looking ten-hopper with eyes, but the other two balls in play where a soft line drive to short and ground ball to third. He was crushing the ball in batting practice — hit two balls on top of the restaurant in center field — so there’s still some strength in that left hand after missing six weeks with a broken bone. Of course doing that in game situations is another matter entirely, but I took it as a good sign. Certainly better than the alternative.

Dickerson and Ichiro collided in right-center field for the second out of that eighth inning, but Dickerson managed to hold onto the ball for the out. Unfortunately for him, Dickerson is the hardest thing Ichiro’s hit in two weeks. Zing! (h/t Andy Hamilton)

This was my seventh credentialed game at Tropicana Field, and they Yankees have won just one of those games. If I believed in jinxes and other stuff like that, maybe I’d stop coming. But I won’t. I’ll try to bring you some neat stuff these next few days.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights while ESPN has the updated standings. The Orioles won again as you know by now, so they’re just one game back in the division. One game. One. The Rays are three back in the loss column and the magic number remains 28.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next

Same two teams on Tuesday night, when Freddy Garcia squares off against Alex Cobb. That’s not exactly a pitching matchup you pay to see, but it’s a monumentally important game for the Yankees.

Categories : Game Stories

79 Comments»

  1. IPK for Tim Reddings (formerly Brian S.) says:

    #Notenoughhomeruns

    :(

    • DT says:

      It would be nice if they start hitting those again.

    • forensic says:

      They’re even finding a way to make those the least productive they can be.

      18 of their last 21 homers, going back about 3 weeks, have been solo shots. The other three have been 2-run shots and only one of those was with a guy on 2nd.

  2. dkidd says:

    we’re not going to win the division, are we?

  3. bobtaco says:

    Forget neat stuff, just bring wins.

  4. forensic says:

    I’ll try to bring you some neat stuff these next few days.

    Want to be the first media member with the guts to ask Girardi why he constantly slaves to the platooning with his pitchers yet nearly ignores it with his hitters after the starter?

    • rogue says:

      He has to work with what he’s been given.

    • mt says:

      I agree – one of the more maddening things about Girardi. He will mix and match relievers (him worrying about making sure there would be a righty for Manny Machado as one of the reasons he left in Hughes on Sunday was funny – not all opposing hitters have to be mixed and matched) but then nturning around and being more blase about sending up pinch hitters for Ibanez, Ichiro and Chavez.

      Also I really wonder whether he realizes platoon effects are not always left versus righty and right versus lefty (i.e., there can be reverse platoon splits). He was so desperate to leave Hughes in to face the righty Reynolds when I think I saw a statistic that the average righty has an OPS like Miguel Cabrera against Hughes (Hughes, on other hand, kills lefties this year)- Hughes one weakness is the home run ball and Reynolds’ sole function is hitting homers like the one he had just hit against Hughes.

      As for this game, it seeems that asking Ichiro to bunt cannot be done for some reason. I also really fear Jeter and especially Swisher has cooled off (now a likely strikeout.)

      I still hold ou hope they win one of these two games and hopefully Toronto can win one of two against O’s.

  5. Rich in NJ says:

    I still think they will win the division, even if they fall a few games out of first before climbing back, but right now, this team is tough to watch.

  6. BigBlueAL says:

    I find myself getting frustrated with CC alot yet in the end there is no way we can be mad at him for giving up 3 runs in 7 innings. Sure he isnt Verlander or King Felix and his contract extension might soon start looking as bad as Tex and Arod’s contracts but CC so far has been worth every penny he has made as a Yankee.

    The fact is this offense needs to wake the hell up period.

    • mt says:

      I know wins are overrrated but not as much someone like CC who is going to pitch seven inning every time. After going 7-1 in 11 starts starts against Rays (who were bad back then) when he was with Cleveland, he is 3-7 in 17 starts against Rays as a Yankee. ERA is 3.57 which is good but I think he has been matched up a lot with Price and Shields so not as many wins. The problem is that our offense is supposed to be better than theirs so he should be winning more of those games.

    • forensic says:

      in the end there is no way we can be mad at him for giving up 3 runs in 7 innings

      Why not? A nearly 4 ERA for the game against a below average offense when your team is struggling and needs you to step up to help stop the bleeding, while also giving away a lead your offense actually gave you in the middle/late part of the game.

      That’s not exactly ace or $20+ million per year stuff. And dare I say, it’s pretty close to his typical not quite good enough stuff from the playoffs too.

      • Rich in NJ says:

        I suspect that CC isn’t 100% physically.

        • forensic says:

          Whether true or not, that really only adds to the disappointment. After getting the huge extension, he’s missed a month of the season with injuries. It’s one year, but it’s far from absurd to think this could be the start of his body wearing down from the workload and size. Missing a month and potentially still not being healthy doesn’t make any of this better.

          • Rich in NJ says:

            That’s why I think it’s a mistake to construct a team by overleveraging on pitching. It’s expensive (both in terms of contracts and the cost to acquire it) and fragile. I think it’s much smarter (and safer) to build a team around a monster offense, and then rely on the draft (and sound development) and lower cost veteran options to assemble a pitching staff.

      • BigBlueAL says:

        If you give up 3 runs in 7 innings and leave the game w/o a lead sorry its entirely on the offense. As I mentioned I have been frustrated with CC in the past for not dominating games that I feel he should have. But again if the starting pitcher gives up 3 runs in 7 innings (1 of them being cheap as shit in the 2nd inning) and we are mad at him for not pitching well enough to win the game to me its misplaced anger.

        • WhittakerWalt says:

          I have been frustrated with CC in the past for not dominating games that I feel he should have

          Like the game against Toronto.

        • Rocky Road Redemption says:

          I agree 100%. Stop blaming CC on this one. He did his job. The offense shit the fucking bed. That’s the story here, not CC.

      • DT says:

        CC in 2009: 3.37 ERA 3.39 FIP 3.77 xFIP = ACE

        CC in 2012: 3.40 ERA 3.30 FIP 3.13 xFIP = NOT AN ACE

        • jim p says:

          True. Still he hasn’t seemed to dominate, or dominate for at least a long stretch, this season. That sense goes into the term “Ace” when we speak about a King Felix, say.

          I’d still take him over most other starters in baseball.

          • DT says:

            CC had a slow April as usual. He was pretty damn good in May and June. He was pretty human in July in only 19 innings, which is understandable due to injuries. In August he pitched to a 2.7 ERA. I don’t understand why people are questioning him. Injuries might be part of it, but his numbers so far has been ace like outside of one and a half month.

            • forensic says:

              Arguably ace-like outside of two and a half months counting injuries, not one and a half month. And durability is a factor if you’re considering someone an ace. He’s certainly had that every year of his career. But not this year and that is concerning.

              • forensic says:

                Last I checked, they’re not paying him $20+ million to perform for half a season.

                • DT says:

                  Last time i check they aren’t paying him by month. His overall body of work has been good. Every pitcher had one or two off months. Felix had a shitty May and off to a bad start in September. Weaver had a terrible August and missed June due to injuries. I guess they shouldn’t be payed for their bad months/injuries too hurr durr.

                  Jesus all your arguments is basically have been ignoring the time when people are good and just focusing on the bad, and saying “SEE HE’S NOT GOOD BECAUSE HE HAD ONE/TWO BAD MONTHS.” while ignoring the larger frame of work. Gee i guess Josh Hamilton must not be a good hitter because he had 2 shitty months of hitting between his 3 dominant months. I mean the Rangers aren’t paying him to simply hit for 3 out of 5 months right?

              • DT says:

                What are you smoking. he had a bad April that’s one month and a bad July where he pitched half a month. From May to June he had an ERA under 3. In August he had a 2.7 ERA. That’s 3 month of good pitching one bad month in April and then injuries derailed his July. That’s two months.

                • DT says:

                  If you want to get more technical:

                  April: 35.1 innings 4.58 ERA
                  May: 36.0 innings 2.78 ERA
                  June: 35.2 innings 3.03 ERA
                  July: 19.0 innings 4.26 ERA
                  August: 30.0 innings 2.70 ERA

        • Rocky Road Redemption says:

          Objectively this is completely true, but subjectively I have not felt that way about the big man all season.

          Also, what about IP? I’d imagine that with injuries there’s a pretty significant difference there.

          • DT says:

            Inning pitched will be a factor. But all things considered he’s still going to end the season at nearly 200 innings DESPITE his time on the DL.

        • Dean Winters says:

          You should have heard Tony Paige on WFAN last night. “I’m sorry but CC is not an ace…he doesn’t scare you” SMH wtf

  7. Jimmy McNulty says:

    Well this is quite the shit festival they’ve put on for the last few weeks. I don’t think I’m alone in saying that this wasn’t unexpected. The injuries and age had to catch up to them soon enough.

  8. Cano fan #1 says:

    The yanks will win the division by 5 games over Baltimore or Tampa….

    #Believeit

  9. BigBlueAL says:

    When was the last time the Yankees were involved in a true pennant race in September?? 2010 doesnt count because the division was up for grabs but a playoff spot was a lock due to the Wild Card. 2008 by the time September started it was pretty obvious the Yankees werent making the playoffs. 2007 I guess?? They were in a tight race for the Wild Card before pulling away with a couple of weeks left if I remember correctly.

    In my time as a Yankee fan the only true September pennant races the Yankees were involved in that went down to the final weekend that I remember was in 1995 and 2005. At least those races turned out good for the Yankees (until losing in the ALDS in 5 games both times).

    • Kramerica Industries says:

      The Mariners were right there in the wild card race and those two met around this time for a series in the Bronx, but between the Yankees excellent second half run (52-25) and the Mariners hitting the skids…yeah, that sort of fizzled. Yankees actually got to within 1.5 of the Red Sox, but then again, did we want to see the Yankees face the Angels, who always gave them fits, or the Indians, who the Yankees swept in the regular season?

      We all know how those turned out, but that’s hindsight.

      Problem is, this shouldn’t be a pennant race. The Yankees were +10 on everybody at one point this season. Not saying I expected the Yankees to finish +10 on everybody, but that should’ve been a big enough lead to protect down the stretch with even adequate play. But between the Rays and Orioles getting hot, and the Yankees not even being able to play adequate ball, well, this is where we’re at now.

    • forensic says:

      I’m all for exciting pennant races. But not like this. It’s more frustrating and aggravating than exciting as it had no business being a pennant race and the way the Yankees are playing it almost doesn’t even feel like a pennant race, more like a race to see how quickly they can fall into 2nd and then 3rd.

      The worst part is that with several of the guys they are stuck playing every day, it’s almost hard to see them suddenly turning it around as this just may be their level of playing.

  10. WhittakerWalt says:

    CC hasn’t felt like much of a dominant pitcher this year. I just don’t get that “slumpbuster” vibe from him. I guess it’s too much to expect 2007 CC to come back.

  11. Tim says:

    Wow, anyone notice how Girardi changed from Captain Queeg in his postgame interview Sunday night, was really short and abrupt to all of his questioners and then he transformed into Mr. Rogers, all rainbows and sunshine and Mr. Positivity last night in Tampa? Me thinks that Cashman had a talk with him maybe?

    Never liked Girardi even as a player for the Yanks, and I think his act is wearing thin he’s just so transparent in his moods. Hope for a win tomorrow, but wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the Yanks leave Tampa in 2nd place in the East and eventually don’t make the playoffs.

    Is this meltdown worse than the Red Sox last year or the Mets a few years ago or the Red Sox in 78? Just askin…

    • Knoxvillain says:

      This meltdown is pretty damn bad and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Yankees finish in 3rd and not in the playoffs. But the 2011 Red Sox have to be the worst of all time. Partially because of that NESN article comparing them to the 1927 Yankees.

      • forensic says:

        The Sox collapse is worse in terms of history since it happened so quickly, though any media articles have nothing to do with it other than for fan enjoyment.

        It gets me thinking though. It’s like the old band-aid thing. Peel it quickly and it’ll hurt less. Red Sox fans had to deal with their collapse for a month and it was over. We’re here dealing with this for a month and a half already, with possibly another month on the way. I know the distance lost in September isn’t even close, but does the length of time overcome that in terms of fan misery?

        It’s hard to choose, but they both sure do suck in their own way.

  12. David K. says:

    Not at all surprised at this collapse. This club has been going in the wrong direction ever since winning the WS in 2009. I don’t think we’ll make the playoffs. Cashman and Girardi should have been gone after 2010, let alone after 2011. Sometimes it’s just time for a change. Ever since winning in 2009, Girardi’s managing has gotten worse and worse. Can’t blame all on him, though, Cashman’s performance also leaves much to be desired.

    • DT says:

      Wrong direction as in getting to the ALCS in 2010 and having the best record in baseball in 2011?

      • DT says:

        *in the AL.

      • Rocky Road Redemption says:

        Exactly.

        We’re having a bad…stretch, and POSSIBLY year. Compared to the tremendous success we’ve had since 09′ I hardly think this is the final straw of some spiraling downward trend since 09′.

        • DT says:

          If any of the teams from 2009, 2010 or 2011 have had the injury bug like this team had, they would be in a similar conundrum I believe.

          • Hummingbird S. says:

            That´s the problem. The 2012 team has much of the same players, only older. Older players get hurt more often, therefore it was fairly predictable that they would struggle with health.

            Knowing all this, Cashman did an awful job of constructing this team. He gambled on older players and lost.

      • Steve says:

        Well by definition, going from the World Series, to a loss in the ALCS, to a loss in the Division series is going in the wrong direction, isn’t it?

  13. Rocky Road Redemption says:

    Let’s just nip this in the bud right now: This year’s (potential) meltdown is (would be) nothing CLOSE to the meltdown the Red Sox had last year. It wouldn’t be in the same stratosphere.

    I don’t remember where or how this was calculated, but I believe they have the record for highest percentage chance of making the playoffs (over 99%)before blowing it. They had a NINE game lead going into September. We had, what, a three game lead?

    There are only three reasons the two are even being compared, which they shouldn’t be.

    One is that the Red Sox meltdown was only last year, so every meltdown this year will be compared to that in some way. Two is that it’s the Yankees. We root for them. And three it’s that last year was the Red Sox. Since last year was the Red Sox, in the back of our minds there’s always this nagging fear of some sort of poetic justice coming in the form of a collapse by their biggest rivals. So we watch in fair.

    But rest assured, Yankee fans. No matter how badly the rest of the season goes, for at least one more offseason we’ll still be able to gloat about the Red Sox collapse. That’s definitely a load off of my shoulders.

    • Rocky Road Redemption says:

      As for the 78′ Sox, even if the meltdown is completed they would still hold the record for most games ahead blown, at 14.5. Yankees would be blowing a ten game lead.

      • forensic says:

        That’s in division lead. I don’t even feel like going back to find it, but what was the Yankees largest lead on any playoff spot this year around the time of that 10 game lead? I know the Rays were right behind the O’s at that point, but I wonder how far back the first team out was, and if it’d be close to that 14.5 number.

        • Rocky Road Redemption says:

          Well, it wouldn’t be 14.5. Trust me, I’d know. I keep track of this shit. Plus, you really don’t think that would have been mentioned by now? The media would be foaming at the mouth for the 78′ comparisons.

        • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

          On the day the O’s were 10 back, the Rays and Red Sox were both 10.5 out. The Angels and Tigers were in the wild card lead on that date, with the Angels 7.5 behind the Yankees and the Tigers 9.5 behind the Yankees. The Yankees division lead was bigger than their lead over the wildcard teams.

  14. your mom says:

    Cano you lazy ass.

  15. stuart a says:

    canos should have dove to keep the ball in the infield he didn’t not because of his hip he didn’t because he almost never dives.

    thsi team cannot get a big hit… aj ellis on the dodgers has 3 walkoffs on the season the yanks have zero as a team..

    they have not gotten a big hit late in a game to comeback the whole season. That is hard to imagine. CC has been good but not good enough for theseason.. The offense is sginificantly underperforming…

    overachievers are; chavez, ibanez, and jeter. the first 2 because expectations were so low. jeter because of his age. no 1 else has overachieved or even reached expectations, maybe swisher also but as a 6th or 7th place hitter not as a key cog in the lineup..

    tex, cano, grandy, arod, martin, all underachieve some significant drop in production.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

      they’ve won 8 games when trailing after 7 innings this season…..no playoff contender has won more games this season when trailing after 7…..only Baltimore and Washington are tied with the yankees at 8……is the 8th inning not late…..or did those runs not involve hits….ibanez hasn’t overachieved…..he’s about as bad as he was last season….

      • DT says:

        Also Cano with his .900+ OPS (even with his recent slump) is underachieving…i wish every hitter can under achieve like that. Oh right, Teh RBIs.

  16. Mick taylor says:

    This team is a continuation of last year ‘s Detroit playoff series, not enough clutch hitting. Cano is having a crap season. Swisher is doing whathe does when the games are pressure playoff type games, he chokes. Swisher willsuck the restof the way because hecannot hit in these type of games. A rod is old. Jones is total garbage.ibanezand Suzuki are old. Martin is playing beneath his ability.granderson has reverted back to hitting like he didbefore long supposedly helped his swing last year.allyou need toknow about Tex is his refusal to do anything but pull the ball. This team contrary to brian crashman’s statements never had enough hitting to wins championship.

  17. Wayne says:

    If they don’ T make playoffs are there major changes made . Is girardi gone? I don’ t think he should be fired necessarily. Hate to say it but it might be time to rebuild! Let sabathia teach these young pitchers they have coming up how it’s done for the rest of his contract!

  18. Bartolo's Colon says:

    i don’t think the yankees will make the playoffs this year. if they play like they have since the all star break, i don’t think they have a chance. since then, they are just not a good baseball team. if they play .500 ball for the rest of the season, as they have since the all star break (actually a little bit lower than .500), and BAL, TB, and OAK, just play 2 or 3 games above, no playoffs. i hope they can turn it around, but the last two months don’t show much promise. with the exception of jeter, chavez, and the back end of the bp, everyone is underachieving in the second half. would be nice if the first half team could come back to play.

  19. pat says:

    Has Cano or someone come out and said he hurt his hip specifically on that play? I wouldn’t be surprised if it had been hurting for a while and he re-aggravated it on that play.

  20. Hummingbird S. says:

    At least we can hope that if they collapse and miss the playoffs, the rich owners will scrap that 189M budget plan.

  21. Hall and Nokes says:

    Depressing hitting stat of the day: Team AVG (.262) and OBP (.333) have now slipped to the lowest levels since 1992. The AVG might pick up but it would take a massive turnaround for OBP.

    Both those figures have dropped leaguewide in the last 3 years, but that obviously doesn’t explain everything.

    • Hall and Nokes says:

      quick edit: OBP could end up better than 2001 (.334). But it’s a good 20-30 points lower than what we’ve become accustomed to.

  22. Better off Eddard says:

    I’m sick of people saying the Rays got lucky. Rays got slop hits. How do you think we scored our runs? Did A-Rod hit a bullet up the middle or a ground ball that found the right hole? Did Russell Martin blast a 400 foot HR or hit an infield single and hustle down to 1st to beat the 1st baseman? Watch the game, people.

  23. Kingslayer says:

    Guys, stop looking for excuses for CC’s unacceptable pitching! The bottom line is he is paid $20 million to be our ace, and he isn’t living up to his side of the bargain – plain and simple. He needs to be an ACE like Shields, Hernandez, Verlander, etc. He doesn’t have it in him! Unfortunately for us Yankees fans we are about to experience the ultimate letdown. There’s always next year, but with Hals insistence on cutting payroll to $189 we may not see another Yankees championship until his Dad comes back from the grave!

  24. JB says:

    Its been a while since CC has pitched like an ace and shut a team down when we needed it. especially in the playoffs the last two years.

  25. rogue says:

    By my standards, the Yankees are the 8th best team in the AL.

    In no order, the A’s Angels, ChiSox, Rangers, Tigers, O’s, and Rays are better teams. Heading into the Baltimore series, last week, I mentioned to a co-worker that it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Yankees in 3rd place by the end of next week.

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