Bullpen grabs defeat from jaws of victory in series finale against Orioles

Tampa Yankees end their season with a win
Fan Confidence Poll: September 2nd, 2013

This was exactly the kind of game the Yankees can’t afford to lose. Three-run lead with nine outs to go against one of your direct wildcard competitors? That’s one you have to nail down at all costs. Instead, the lead vanished before another out was recorded and the Yankees were down four runs before another two outs were recorded. New York dropped the series finale to the Orioles 7-3.


Bullpen Apocalypse
In hindsight, the decision to send Andy Pettitte out to start the seventh inning with no left-handed hitters in sight was a poor one. Mike Morse and Danny Valencia had both picked up hits off Pettitte earlier in the game, and sure enough they led off the seventh with back-to-back singles. Andy has been running out of gas around the 85-90 pitch mark lately and Joe Girardi wisely responded by having a quick hook the last few times out. Pettitte started the inning at 86 pitches and ended it at 93. He was cruising, but in hindsight letting a reliever start the inning fresh would have been the better move. Hindsight is cool like that.

Anyway, the usually excellent bullpen had its first real disaster game inning in a long time at the worst possible time. Shawn Kelley took over for Pettitte and, in the span of four pitches, allowed a run-scoring single to the punchless Matt Wieters and a three-run homer to J.J. Hardy. It was a total Yankee Stadium cheapie that literally rolled across the top of the right field wall before a fan picked it up, but they all count the same. Just like that, Pettitte’s strong outing was erased and the Yankees were down a run.

But wait! There’s more. After Hardy killed Baltimore’s rally, Girardi went to Boone Logan, who started another fire. The switch-hitting Brian Roberts bunted his way on before the left-handed hitting Nick Markakis worked a nine-pitch walk. Here’s the situation the Yankees were facing after that:

  1. Four runs already in, turning a three-run lead into a one-run deficit.
  2. Runners on first and second with no outs.
  3. The middle of Baltimore’s order — the 2-3-4 spots — were due up.

That’s the ballgame right there, right? Instead of going to his best reliever (David Robertson), Girardi went to his very worst (Joba Chamberlain). I’m not sure when Joba re-entered the Circle of Trust™, but I guess it was after he threw 4.2 hitless and scoreless innings in his previous four outings. Ignore the 4.5 pitchers per plate appearance and equal number of walks and strikeouts (three apiece). Sigh. At least Robertson will be well-rested to protect the lead Phil Hughes doesn’t give them on Monday.

So what happened next? Pretty much what everyone expected. Adam Jones crushed the third of three straight hanging sliders for a three-run homer to dead center that essentially put the game to bed. Things looked promising for a second when Manny Machado popped up a bunt in foul territory for the first out, but lol no. Joba made sure the deficit was insurmountable. I know the Eighth Inning Guy™ has to pitch the eighth inning, but geez. If there was ever a spot for a team trying to climb back into the wildcard race to use its best reliever sometime other his designated inning, that was it. The Yankees got what they deserved for using Chamberlain in that spot considering their position in the standings. Bad process, bad results.

Off The Hook
Considering how terribly he pitched, Wei-Yin Chen was lucky to allow just three runs in his four innings of work. He walked five and allowed four hits (two singles and two doubles) in those four innings, and 54 of his 82 pitches (66%) were thrown with men on base. Vernon Wells bailed Chen out by looking at strike three — at least he didn’t do this, I guess — with the bases loaded to end the first. The left-hander was on ropes at the very start of the game and they let him off the hook. After Chen left the game, just four of the 19 men the Yankees sent to the plate reached base. Unlike New York’s bullpen, Baltimore’s took care of business.


Silver lining: Pettitte pitched well for the fourth straight start. He was charged with two runs in that seventh inning and once again showed an inability to pitch effectively beyond 85 pitches or so, but 85 pitches of this Pettitte is better than three of the five other guys in the rotation right now. Andy escaped a first and second, no outs jam in the third by getting three infield pop-ups from the first three hitters in the O’s lineup. That was easily his biggest mess aside from that seventh inning.

Although he did drive in the team’s second run with a sacrifice fly, Derek Jeter took another 0-for-4 (with three strikeouts) and has just one hit in his last 18 at-bats. That includes six strikeouts and nine ground balls. So, in those 18 at-bats, three balls left the infield. I know Jeter hasn’t played much this year and is coming off a major ankle injury, but he’s killing them right now. He’s hitting like most people expected Alex Rodriguez to hit when he came off the DL, to be frank.

Robinson Cano has been very hot of late but had his worst game in a long time, going 0-for-5 with three strikeouts and two ground outs to the right side. He struck out with a man on second and one out in both the first and third innings, as well as with two on and two outs in the fourth. Rough. Brett Gardner (two doubles and a walk) and Eduardo Nunez (single and a double) did a fair amount of damage, but the starting two through seven hitters went a combined 1-for-20 with three walks. The one was Alfonso Soriano‘s two-out single to plate the game’s first run in the third. Jeter’s sac fly and Gardner’s bases loaded walk accounted for the other two runs.


Joba managed to throw a scoreless eighth inning after throwing gas on the fire in the seventh. David Huff and Dellin Betances tag-teamed the ninth inning. After allowing five runs and two homers total in their previous 42.2 innings, the bullpen was charged with five runs and two homers in three innings in this game. Bullpen meltdowns happen, I get that. But that doesn’t make them any easier to swallow, especially at this point of the season.

Last, but certainly not least, A-Rod helped turn an inning-ending double play in the sixth. That’s notable because the Yankees had the shift on for the left-handed hitting Chris Davis, so Rodriguez made the turn at the second base bag like he was a shortstop. It was pretty neat. Been a long time since he turned a double play like that. A garden variety 4-6-3 double play that goes down as 6-5-3 because of where everyone was positioned.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, go to MLB.com. For some other stats, go to FanGraphs. For the updated standings, go to ESPN. I hope you enjoyed seeing the Yankees in third place with only the two wildcard teams ahead of them while it lasted. The Orioles jumped back over New York and into third place, plus the Indians beat the Tigers, moving them into a tie with the Yankees. The Bombers are four back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column and Cool Standings has their playoff odds at 10.1%.

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The ten-game homestand continues on Labor Day with the first of three games against the White Sox. Hughes and former Yankees farmhand Jose Quintana get the ball on Monday afternoon. RAB Tickets can get you in the door on the cheap if you want to spend the holiday at the ballpark.

Tampa Yankees end their season with a win
Fan Confidence Poll: September 2nd, 2013
  • Kramerica Industries

    After Hardy killed Baltimore’s rally,

    I hope somebody takes the bait. This is what makes Mike such a great writer – the snark embedded within the text with deft touch.

    • vicki

      i laughed literally out loud. mike is the king.

      but seriously, did you see that george brett whipped out that old chestnut after he was named the royals’ hitting coach?

  • A Teal Leg

    The loss was Andy Pettite’s fault.

    It’s technically a FACT that the bullpen will blow up now and then. It happens. It’s a FACT.

    It is also a FACT that the offense was bad today. They scored 3 runs, but that was only because the pitching was terrible. They should have scored more runs but they didn’t because of the FACT that the offense is bad. So it’s just a FACT, the offense is only going to deliver 3 runs because it is bad, so the pitchers have to step up.

    And what did Andy Pettite do to step up? He threw 6 innings of 0 run ball and then let two runners on base.

    It is a FACT that Andy needed to step up in the 7th and not let those runners on because he knew the bullpen would be bad and the offense useless and that Girardi would put in Joba when the game was still within reach because it is a FACT that he had NO OTHER CHOICE and that it was a FACT that Joba would make the lead out of reach because it is a FACT that he sucks.

    But Andy failed to step up in the 7th so the loss is his fault.

    Also Andy should have known that lots of runs would be let in by the bullpen. That was a FACT, technically. So he should have found a way to make the other team score negative runs. He failed to do this. That is a FACT.

    Andy should also have found a way to make himself younger so that he could have thrown more pitches so the 7th inning wouldn’t have happened. Once Andy got tired, the 7th inning had to happen the way it did because Joseph Girardi had no other choices and that is a FACT, a FACT technically. If the bullpen wasn’t needed in the 7th inning it wouldn’t have happened, not that way, it is a FACT, and Andy Pettite is the only one who could have made that FACT technically true.

    So the loss is Andy Pettite’s fault, and that is a FACT.

    • Betty Lizard


      I bet the game thread was . . . Interesting.

      • Improbable Island’s Dirty Midget Whores (formerly RRR)

        If Greg doesn’t show up here, it’s probably because the motion passed to ritually execute him.

    • Kramerica Industries

      Saying “FACT” and “Pettite” a lot will not help your argument.

      • Betty Lizard

        Kramerica, your snarkometer needs a reboot.

        • Kramerica Industries

          I would hope so. I’ve been running on it ever since the game imploded today. That thing does eventually run out of gas.

          • Betty Lizard

            Soak it in alchohol?

            • A Teal Leg

              Then light it on fire.

  • This sums up this game
  • Betty Lizard

    Pema Chodron, a Buddhist teacher, says:

    “We should not have expectations of other people. We should just be kind.”

    This is the attitude I am trying to cultivate regarding the Yankees.

    • dkidd

      even the buddha is pissed at girardi tonight

    • dkidd

      this season has sent me running more than once to the Four Noble Truths

    • Kosmo

      Pema Chodron. Good god. The buddhist queen of platitudes.

  • forensic

    Derek Jeter took another 0-for-4 (with three strikeouts) and has just one hit in his last 18 at-bats.

    He better pick it up to make good on Darren’s guarantee of passing Rose in 7 years. Maybe he should play another 8 years just to be safe.

    • vicki

      okay, i’ve got to quote lisanti’s jeter yet again: in response to the news that cano signed with jay-Z in april, “Great decision by Robbie. I hope to be turning double plays with him for another three to nine years.”

  • Get Phelps Up

    After skimming through the game thread and the open thread I must ask, are people really bored enough on Labor Day weekend to argue for 4+ hours over who is to blame for a loss?

    • Rolling Doughnut

      I think it had more to do with Girardi’s obvious mismanagement of the pen. I was horrified when he brought in Kelley in a no out two on HL situation, and then Joba after that. Just awful managing.

      • Get Phelps Up

        I personally had no problem at all with bringing in Kelly in that spot. Joba coming in after that was a real head-scratcher though.

        • Rolling Doughnut

          Kelley had been horrible in his last 4 outings. Why not bring in DRob for 6 outs? The Kelley for the 8th in a LL situation, makes more sense.

          • Kramerica Industries

            I think where I differ on a lot of this is that I only advocate Kelley as leading off an inning. I never really discussed who to bring in for that spot.

            But I can’t help but agree. There was a CG yesterday, so everyone was fresh to go. Hell, DRob had only pitched once in the last week anyway. What are you saving him for? He used to be the fireman in the bullpen until he progressed to the point of now having a relatively “fixed” role, which actually backfires on days like today when it’s deemed “not his time” to pitch.

            I sure as hell would rather get out of the 7th with the lead and figure out how to bridge the gap from there, than bring in the B and C-calibre relievers and letting them shit all over themselves.

            • Rolling Doughnut

              I don’t usually bash Girardi, but it is maddening that he doesn’t seem to be able to think even a little outside the box. And this one is kind of obvious. For all the reasons you point out.

              • Kramerica Industries

                Likewise. I generally have a pretty long leash with Joe. There are plenty of moves that can be justified in some form or another.

                Today, it was just too easy to see those moves (leaving Andy in, bringing in homer-prone Kelley with two men on) backfiring. It would be one thing if Nova had only given 5-6 innings yesterday and some arms were a bit short today. That really wasn’t the case, and Joe ended up not using either of his two best relievers because the game imploded the inning before they became “available”.

                I know Phil is a disaster waiting to happen, even against the punchless White Sox, but you manage for tomorrow when tomorrow happens. Besides, in a way, losing games to the White Sox is the most “acceptable” team to drop games against, just because those aren’t divisional games or wild card games.

                A 3-0 7th inning lead against the Orioles, especially at home, can never EVER go by the wayside. It’s amazing – the last time the Orioles left New York, they had lost 2/3 but won an inspiring final game of the series and, instead of leaving 1.5 behind the Yankees, they leave .5 ahead. Carbon freakin’ copy this time around.

              • Improbable Island’s Dirty Midget Whores (formerly RRR)

                Yeah, I actually like Joe. I appareciate having a manager who, unlike Torre, seems to know how to put together a good bullpen and spread the work around and who bases his opinions on things like solid factual evidence, hence the whole binder thing.

                Of course, his biggest flaw is inflexibility, and Kramerica nailed it.

                Of course, Pettitte shouldn’t have been out there to begin with but that just seems to be more like a one time mistake rather than a fundamental flaw.

            • toad

              Exactly right.

              An amazingly bad decision by Girardi. It’s a critical situation. Use Robertson, for Pete’s sake.

  • forensic

    So, the Red Sox DFA’d Daniel Bard (with several years of control left), and yet here we are still stuck watching Joba suck over and over because he still has 4 weeks of control left.

    I know Bard reached an impressive level of suck this year (seriously, if you haven’t looked at his MiLB numbers this year, grab some popcorn and go enjoy), but still…

    And hey, Bard was only hurt their MiLB teams, Joba is helping to kill the MLB team.

    • Kramerica Industries

      So, who ruined him, then?

      I mean, they tried that whole “make him a starter again” thing in 2012, and that basically ended his career. He was legit outstanding as a relief pitcher before that. Never again.

    • Get Phelps Up

      It would be cool if the Yankees took a flyer on him.

      • forensic

        Boy, I don’t know, he’s very concerning right now.

        (SSS warning)

        Even last year as a reliever, he had a 3 WHIP, an opp. OPS of 1.318, and more walks than strikeouts and innings.

        Then this year, in AA and lower levels, he had similar numbers again (15.8 BB/9 and 5.3 K/9???).

        • Get Phelps Up

          Yeah it probably won’t work out, but if he can regain his pre September 2011 form somehow, that would be incredibly valuable and worth the effort IMO.

          • A Teal Leg

            There’s a lot of things that I wish could regain pre September ’11 form.

            • I’m a looser baby so why don’t you kill me?

              I’m more of a pre-Sept. ’01 guy myself…

  • http://www.twitter.com/mattpat11 Matt DiBari

    I sure am glad we kept Joba around for “depth.”

    Quantity over quality I say! Who needs competence when you can have a warm body?

  • JJT

    That WPA graph makes me want to throw up.

    • JGYank

      Literally looks like a cliff.

  • 461deep

    Chen was bad walking 5 with 3 in the inning the Yankees scored 2.Nunez double only hit. Pettite was terrific for 6. Alex very good defensive game but needs to hit a couple bombs. Jeter should start to hit better but looks his age now. White Sox just got swept in Beantown so maybe they do it again in the Bronx this week. 90 wins 18-8 can still happen but long long shot. Rays 0-3 to start 10 game road swing.

  • Get Phelps Up

    The ESPN sunday night broadcast mentioned that the Tigers in 2011 were like 29-5 in Verlander’s starts. The Yankees were responsible for 2 of those 5

    • Kramerica Industries

      Verlander has only started 34 games since 2011?

      • Kramerica Industries

        Oh, damn, sorry. Misread that.

  • Wheels

    Hopefully, Joba threw his last pitch as a Yankee today.

    • Betty Lizard

      Look for the silver lining
      When e’er a cloud appears in the blue.
      Remember somewhere, the sun is shining
      And so the right thing to do is make it shine for you.

  • JGYank

    Unlikely we second guess Girardi if Kelley gets through that inning. The pen just shit the bed. Happens.

    • David N

      I don’t have a problem bringing Kelley in. But Joba? What’s the point of Nova giving the whole bullpen a day off if you’re not going to use your guys in big spots the day after?

      • David N

        Sorry, that should read “…big guys in big spots”.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      No. Someone must be blamed, and we should argue about it for hours. That’s what baseball fans do all the time in real life WHUT.

      Seriously, this. We’ve seen this shit happen when the relievers entering the game are named Robertson and Rivera.

      • forensic

        Well, given the state of the game, no matter who you place it on, there is blame given to someone. With a 3-0 lead, which suddenly turns to a 7-3 deficit, some failed miserably. Blame Girardi, blame Kelley, blame Logan, blame Joba, blame the offense…

        With every blow up (and realistically, every loss) there is blame. It’s just a matter of who you choose to assign it to.

        Sarcastically replying that no one deserves blame (so to speak) is just side-stepping the whole 2nd half of the game, and almost ignoring any bad things that players may do.

        I don’t necessarily agree with the long comment nests that have come from this, but there is most certainly blame deserved somewhere.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          I’m sort of not being sarcastic, though. It’s a team sport.

          Hypothetically speaking (or, lately, not), CC Sabathia gives up seven runs. Teams scores eight. Few blame Sabathia. The offense bails out their teammate. Team scores five and Sabathia is the goat.

          It’s always too interrelated to me to get into this sort of stuff and, like I think you’re implying here, too subjective. It’s a team sport. Your teammate fucked up? Get out there and pick him up. You didn’t? Then that’s on all of you.

          That’s just what I think, though.

    • toad

      Yes, relievers sometimes fail.

      But Girardi didn’t give the team the best shot. He made a poor percentage move and it worked out badly.

      Good bets can lose just like bad ones, but that doesn’t excuse the bad ones.

  • FLYER7

    Come on…game was lost days ago when Claiborne was sent down instead of Warren

    • adeel

      Plus 1 million. Completely agree with that.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        A game 20 years from now is now lost because I gave a three year-old the gas face yesterday.

  • jim p

    “Leverage.” Remember when (I think it was Mike) had a few pieces on the wisdom of bringing in the relief pitcher at critical moments of the game?

    This failing to recognize turning-points because too busy thinking about “roles” has been the worst thing about Joe to my mind. Every player always says “all that matters is if the team wins.” Well, okay, then sacrifice the comfort of a steady role and instead come in and pitch to batters when it’s a moment when the game can turn. Leverage.

    That and Stewart over Romine gets me. When, even with the lineup boosts, we still don’t score enough runs in enough games.

    I can’t see how defensively Stewart is that much better than Romine, with all those passed balls and low caught-stealing percentages. Framing? Maybe, but then let Romine learn that now. It’s not bloody rocket science, it’s practice.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      They all do it.

      This argument has been put forth on here since the inception of this site. It’s a good point, but baseball convention always wins out, and it does so on every team.

      What I’ve read here is folks taking about Shawn Kelley’s last four outings or whatnot. Understood, but judging a season’s body of work versus the immediate last few innings is not a cut and dry decision. He’s gone to Kelley, Logan, and Claiborne in these spots. He did so here. It’s worked out before. It didn’t here.

      As for Joba, I have no idea who I’m sick of more, Joba, or the people who endlessly complain about him.

      They lost the game. There’s no pariah to blame, or any bullshit like that. The Yankees lost.

      • forensic

        and Claiborne in these spots

        Who is this Claiborne you speak of? I see no person with that name on their roster…

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Oh shtop it. :)

      • I’m a looser baby so why don’t you kill me?

        Prediction: an Oakland team under Billy Bean will start using their best relievers in the highest leverage situations regardless of inning.

        They will have success.

        No one will be able to figure out how they do it with such a low payroll.

        A book will be written explaining it all.

        A good movie will be made, though not many will see it.

        The next Yankees manager will wipe his ass with Girardi’s binder.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Wouldn’t Beane have done that already, if it was going to be done? He’s been around a couple of years now.

    • Pasqua

      You’re right, and it’s been argued by sensible fans for a long time.

      For whatever reason, in-game management is overly concerned with “what might happen” vs. “what is happening,” and it’s baffling.

      If Robertson pitches in the 7th yesterday, Girardi and other are probably wondering, “What do you do in the 8th?!” Well, I think the attitude should be, “We’ll worry about it when we get to the 8th,” but that is never the prevailing view.

  • Kosmo

    Yanks had opportunities early to unload on Chen but failed to do so. My hat is off to the O´s pen for shutting down NY for 5 innings. Showalter brought Gausman in for the 2nd day in a row and was still throwing 95+.
    Joba is too slider happy. He doesn´t go after hitters with his FB and he still has a good one. 3 straight sliders caused all the damage. Throwing a slider right down the middle of the plate. Just horrible.
    Yanks bullpen after D-rob and Mariano is a bit shaky IMO. Kelley looks to me like he´s lost a little off his FB these last 2 weeks.

    IMO Girardi has no business starting Wells over Granderson and yes I understand what Girardi thinks the advantage being in favor of a RH vs LHP is. How did Wells do ? he sucked as usual. Ichiro sits although his reverse split success vs. LHP is more than obvious.
    Jeter looks old and should sit in favor of Nunez. Never thought I´d ever say it. His lack of range at SS is sad to behold.
    Girardi is a textbook manager plain and simple. A fresh D-rob for the 7th and 8th or for 5 outs and Mo for 4 outs.
    The text is called “Managing from the Left Side of the Brain“

  • forensic

    Every time I see the Hardy homerun, I can’t help but think that if Ichiro was in RF he would’ve had a MUCH better chance at catching that ball. He has the experience in YSIII,he’s a better defender anywhere than Grandy (IMO), and we’ve already seen he has a penchant for climbing the wall out there to try to make a catch.

    • Kosmo

      well yes maybe.

    • Kramerica Industries

      Maybe his trolling capabilities would’ve willed the ball about three feet closer and, as such, left it short of the wall.

  • RetroRob

    Yes, hindsight is funny that way.

    If Joe yanked Pettitte after six and started the seventh with the pen, and then they imploded just as they did yesterday, the hindsight would be why take Pettitte out when he was cruising.

    The bullpen allowed seven runs to score. My hindsight now says leave Andy in after he lets the first two batters on! : -)

    • Kosmo

      I would have given Pettitte 1 more batter. I don´t think hindsight has anything to do with it. Yanks have to play to win, Girardi might have gone to the pen to start the 7th but IMO it should have been D-rob. Play to win today. If it were the playoffs you bet your ass Drob would have been the go to guy not Kelley either to start the inning or in relief of Pettitte.

  • dickm

    No way u turn Wieters around there.