If the fat lady hasn’t started singing yet, it might be time to get her warmed up. The Yankees were blown out 7-2 by the last place Blue Jays on Wednesday, dropping two of three in the series and four of six on the road trip.
Fatigue or regression or whatever can be cruel. Hiroki Kuroda, the usually ultra-reliable and crazy effective Hiroki Kuroda, got smacked around the park for the third consecutive start. Eight of the first dozen batters he faced on Wednesday reached base and six came around to score. There were softly hit singles, well-struck doubles, a monster homer, a two-run strikeout (more on that in a second) … a little bit of everything. The only common thread was Kuroda’s general inability to fool the Blue Jays hitters. They hit him hard.
The end result for Kuroda was seven runs (five earned) on five singles, three doubles, one walk, one homer, and one hit batsman on 99 pitches in five innings. With a) two long men in the bullpen, b) an off-day on Thursday, and c) September call-ups right around the corner, I thought Kuroda should have been out of game after the second inning. He was obviously laboring and I didn’t see the point to sparing the bullpen. Hiroki has clearly run into a wall and this was a good opportunity to give him a bit or a rest. No need to make him throw all those stressful pitches. Alas, Joe Girardi felt differently.
“You’re still a cheater A-ROID!!!” guy yells below the press box. “A cheater on first base!” Rodriguez yells back.
— Brendan Kennedy (@BKennedyStar) August 29, 2013
I’ve watched a lot of baseball in my life and I can now say I’ve seen a two-run strikeout. That one wasn’t on the bucket list, believe it or not. Chris Stewart muffed a fastball right down the middle in the first inning, then compounded the problem when he hit the runner with the throw on his way to first. The ball ricocheted into foul territory and two runs scored. Two runs scored after a called strike three. Two*.
The Yankees had a small chance to get back into the game in the fourth, after Todd Redmond walked the first two batters of the inning. They scored one run on Alex Rodriguez’s single and another on Mark Reynolds’ booming double to left, but A-Rod was thrown out at the plate by a mile on the play. Replays confirmed third base coach Robbie Thomson waved Alex in. Maybe don’t send the 38-year-old with two bad hips down five runs? Instead of having runners on second and third with one out, they had a runner on second with two outs. Sucks.
Aside from that fourth inning, the Robinson Cano-less lineup did a whole bunch of nothing. Redmond struck out seven in 5.2 innings and the Yankees were held to five hits and four walks. Reynolds had three of those five hits while Derek Jeter and Rodriguez had one apiece. Brett Gardner drew two of the walks, Curtis Granderson and Alfonso Soriano the others. Only three of the final 19 men they sent to the plate reached base.
Joba Chamberlain (two innings), Shawn Kelley (one out), and Boone Logan (two outs) wrapped things up in relief of Kuroda. I wasn’t paying attention in that eighth inning — did Girardi actually mix and match his relievers with a five-run deficit? Or was Kelley hurt? That would be the icing on the cake.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, go to MLB.com. For some much nerdier stats, go to FanGraphs. For the updated standings, go to ESPN. The Athletics destroyed the Tigers again, so the Yankees are now six games back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column. Cool Standings gives them a 6.2% chance of making the postseason with 29 games to play.
The Yankees are off on Thursday and will open a hugely important three-game series against the Orioles in the Bronx on Friday night. That is legitimately the biggest series of the year, at least until the next series after that. CC Sabathia and Miguel Gonzalez will be your pitching matchup for the opener. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch the game live.