This was, without a doubt, the most pathetically well-earned loss of the season. This one should have been in the bag by about the third inning, but instead it’s the second miserable loss of the road trip. Going 3-3 in six games against the Twins (66-92) and Blue Jays (70-88) is a great way to make sure the division race goes down to the wire. Let’s recap this disaster…
- Early Runs: Believe it or not, the Yankees actually had a lead and things looked pretty positive early on. Ricky Romero and his near-6.00 ERA loaded the bases (single, single, walk) in the first inning with no outs, and the Yankees converted that into two runs thanks to sacrifice flies from Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson. Andruw Jones struck out to end the inning with a man on second, but things were certainly looking up.
- Stretched Out: Andy Pettitte stretched his pitch count up to 94 in his third start off the DL, giving the team 5.2 innings of three-run ball. The immortal Rajai Davis took him deep in the first and plated another run with an infield single in the fifth. The third run was an inherited runner that Joba Chamberlain allowed to scored in the sixth. Pettitte allowed five hits (one double, one homer), a number of hard hit balls that found gloves, and three walks against four strikeouts. He wasn’t great, but the loss was hardly on him.
- Blown Chances: Ten runners left on-base and 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Those two hits didn’t score runs either — both were Nick Swisher singles hit too hard and right at defenders, preventing the runners from taking the extra-base. Eight of the first 13 Yankees reached base overall, the leadoff man got on-base in six of the first seven innings, and yet only two runs scored. They had the bases loaded with no outs in the first (two runs, hooray!), a man on second with no outs in the second, bases loaded with no outs in the third, a man on first and no outs in the fourth, first and second with no outs in the fifth, a man on first and no outs in the seventh, a man on first with one out in the eighth, and a man on first with one out in the ninth. Just a hilariously inept offensive showing.
- Umps & Girardi: The umpires had a terrible game but that’s no surprise. The strike zone was ridiculous and Brett Gardner was called out stealing second in the eighth even though he was clearly safe. That’s just par for the course, I suppose. Joe Girardi ran through his usual bag of odd managerial tricks, including pulling Eduardo Nunez for defense in a tie game (and losing the DH) and using Cody Eppley and Boone Logan (against the middle of the order) in the eighth inning of a one-run game before going to David Robertson to clean up the mess (against the bottom of the order). These are the five most important games of the season and he’s still trying to rest the regulars by stealing innings from inferior players. Didn’t they go to great lengths to rest these guys all summer so they wouldn’t have to rest them in precisely these games?
- Leftovers: Swisher and Alex Rodriguez teamed up for a nice play to nab Yan Gomes too far off third base on Adeiny Hechavarria’s go-ahead double in the sixth … Granderson made two great catches to save runs, first coming in on a shallow Brett Lawrie fly ball in the fifth before running down a Jeff Mathis line drive on the warning track in the sixth. Both runs eventually came around to score, but not because of Curtis … Ichiro Suzuki (three), Swisher (two), and Robinson Cano (two) all had multiple hits while A-Rod drew a pair of walks … Ichiro got picked off first in the seventh, which is pretty terrible.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights while ESPN has the updated standings. The Orioles predictably beat the Red Sox, so the magic number remains five and there is a tie atop the AL East. The Yankees played themselves into a position where they need some serious help from the Rays early next week. Bravo. Good job. The Angels and Rangers were rained out, so the magic number to clinch a postseason berth remains two. Those two clubs will play a doubleheader on Sunday. Anyway, Phil Hughes gets the ball against Henderson Alvarez in the final road game of the regular season on Sunday afternoon.