The only way the Yankees were going to win Friday night’s series opener against the Red Sox was if Hiroki Kuroda threw a masterpiece and/or the offense scored like, 12 runs. The bullpen is a total disaster right now, so much so that even the good relievers are worn down and less effective than usual. With Mariano Rivera and David Robertson unavailable, the Bombers had little chance to win a close game. Boston took the opener 8-4. Let’s recap:
- Bad, Then Good: The chances of a Kuroda masterpiece went right out the window in the first inning, when the Red Sox scored four runs thanks to four hits (three in two-strike counts) and a walk. It looked like this one would be over early, but to Kuroda’s credit, he rebounded and did not allow another run while pitching into the seventh. He threw 101 pitches overall and only generated four swings and misses. Kuroda has struggled big time these last few weeks, particularly early in starts. This was just another example. The Yankees were playing catch-up right from the get-go.
- All For Naught: New York has shown a knack for digging out of multi-run holes of late, and they managed to erase that four-run deficit thanks mostly to Robinson Cano, who had four hits including the game-tying two-run double. It would have been a three-run go-ahead double if Alex Rodriguez had more than one good hamstring. Brendan Ryan (!) hit a solo homer in the third and Lyle Overbay had a sacrifice fly in the sixth that would have been a two-run double had Shane Victorino not been so damn good defensively. The Yankees did squander some opportunities in the middle innings though, mostly because the bottom half of the lineup was a joke.
- Blownpen: Like I said, the bullpen is a Three Mile Island-level disaster right now. Joe Girardi had to send Kuroda back out to start the seventh because a) he was cruising, and b) there was no reliever he could trust. Victorino’s leadoff single promptly ended Kuroda’s night. Cesar Cabral plunked David Ortiz before Preston Claiborne walked Jonny Gomes to load the bases with no one out. Claiborne managed to strike out Daniel Nava by doubling up on his changeup, which was a rather gutsy move. Unfortunately he left a fastball up to Jarrod Saltalamacchia that turned into the game-losing grand slam. Predictable.
- Leftovers: The Yankees had eight hits total, including four by Cano and two by Ryan. Not sure relying on Brendan Ryan to provide offense is a sustainable strategy … the 5-6-7 hitters (Overbay, Eduardo Nunez, Ichiro Suzuki) needed 34 pitches to go 0-for-11 with a sac fly … Matt Daley chucked a scoreless eighth, but not without allowing an extra-base hit … and finally, it has to be pointed out that Boston’s four-run rally in the eighth was started by Nunez muffing a ground ball at third base. It was hard hit, no doubt about it, but it was hit right at him and a play a big league third baseman should make. This guy just can not play anymore. These games are too important and he doesn’t do enough (anything?) to help. Start Mark Reynolds at third and Ryan at short. End of story.
MLB.com has the score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Rays, Indians, and Orioles all won, so the Yankees are now three back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column and one back of Cleveland. They’re tied with Baltimore and one up on the Royals. Cool Standings gives them a 14.7% chance to make the postseason. CC Sabathia and Jon Lester will be the pitching matchup on Saturday afternoon.