Yankees drop series opener to Red Sox thanks to predictable bullpen meltdown

Game 148: Win it for Brett
Update: Yankees activate David Phelps

Source: FanGraphs

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.

Game 148: Win it for Brett
Update: Yankees activate David Phelps
  • Robinson Tilapia

    I think Presto needs a nice little Carribean vacation, under a tree with a nice drink somewhere, with a return ticket for Spring Training. Actually, 3/4 of the bullpen does right now.

    (But, hey, Ortiz got plunked, so it’s supposedly all worth it, or so I hear….)

    Tragic that what’s supposed to be the strength and constant of this team this season is falling short when so many other things are coming together.

    We live to fight another day.

    • Kosmo

      Excuse me? Excuse me, senor? May I speak to you please? I asked for a mai tai, and they brought me a pina colada, and I said no salt, NO salt for the margarita, but it had salt on it, big grains of salt, floating in the glass…

  • Eddard

    BGDP BGDP! He’ll be back tomorrow to save the series and the season. Unfortunately, by the time he gets into the game CC will have done all the damage. I think Sunday is their only shot to win a game in this series. Nova is the only pitcher they have that can beat the Sox. If they wait him out like they did last time just bring in BGDP.

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

    You know, Eduardo Nunez, the Yankees that fields like me, is a lot less funny when its happening every single day in a pennant race.

  • Steinbrenner’s Ghost

    I was think the bullpen is more like a “Gigli” like disaster.

  • Dikhail

    What do you mean Robertson and Rivera were ‘unavailable’? Everybody would be unavailable using your logic! This is the playoffs! Read some statistics!

    It’s all Joe Girardi’s fault. Read some statistics. Joe Girardi’s ‘Joe Girardi’s fault’ rating (JGFR) is .993 after tonight, up from .947. Preston Claiborne grand slams alone have added .103 to Joe’s JGFR rating over the last week. Chris Stewart passed balls and Nunez errors have added .23.

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

      Okay, I kind of love this.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        No. Haven’t you heard? You enjoy nothing, NOTHING, anymore, RRR.

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

          Meh, I partially created the monster myself. I’ll deal with it.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I see great potential here. Between this and a “Cashman Failed Meter,” Fangraphs can go fuck itself.

  • Elton Cod

    Sad to see this lineup without Gardner. Looks like July again. This is the worst thing to happen to a Hit Man named Bret since the Montreal Screwjob.

  • https://twitter.com/KramerIndustry Kramerica Industries

    Texas damn near came back from a 9-2 deficit. That was still the kind of rally that can lift the spirits of a slumping team.

    Yankees better make sure not to waste more chances like that one tonight.

  • Steinbrenner’s Ghost

    Saturday is the last time we’ll ever have to listen to McCarver call a red sox-Yankee game.

    I’m setting the over/under on 2004 references at the 6th inning and the over/under on Gibson references at the 7th inning.

    • vicki

      what about the alds?

      • RBC

        The yanks aren’t going that far.

      • https://twitter.com/KramerIndustry Kramerica Industries

        FOX doesn’t air any LDS games.

  • jim p

    Joe seems to think “better who I know than who I don’t know” more than I’d like. Cabral: one batter? All the new guys in the pen: don’t use them when all the standard arms are clearly in need of rest?

    Take a chance Joe. Maybe that ‘never seen that pitcher before’ factor could work. Throwing in shot arms has less of a chance.

  • HateMclouth (formerly I’mVernon)

    2 more games and we never have to play this team again this season.

    • https://twitter.com/KramerIndustry Kramerica Industries

      In a cosmic sort of we, we do want the Yankees to play the Red Sox again.

      If the Yankees were to get into the wild card game and win, look who they would face in the ALDS?

      • HateMclouth (formerly I’mVernon)

        Crap, you’re right. That doesn’t bode well given our track record this season.

        • https://twitter.com/KramerIndustry Kramerica Industries

          Once the playoffs start, the regular season matters none anymore. The fact that the Yankees aren’t a complete joke at Fenway could give them a chance at a split.

          Lets just hope they give themselves the chance to do that.

  • Jonathan

    Man, just for a second there when Romine started getting more playing time and ARod was healthy where we could run out Romine/Reynolds or Overbay/Cano/Jeter/ARod/Granderson/Soriano/Gardnery/Ichiro or Wells..and that was without Hafner/Youkilis/Teixeira. It actually looked like a legitimate MLB lineup and you weren’t praying 3 or 4 guys got HBP since it was their best chance to not make an out. Also, I’d love to see what Betances can do considering Claiborne has been HORRIBLE for quite some time now. He may be worse than Joba or Claiborne but I think at this point we need to find out since we already know what we have with the other two. Oh well. Hopefully CC can give us 7 IP 3 ER.

  • Kosmo

    despite Ryan´s HR the bottom 4 in the lineup are pathetic. Is Granderson the type of player NY should give a QO to ? I wouldn´t.
    Nunez has O business playing SS or 3B at this point in the season. If Arods hammy is sore then play Reynolds at 3B.
    B-e-t-a-n-c-e-s is his namo. Girardi is witless.
    Stewart 10 PBs on the season. Can´t hit. A travesty. For Stewart MLB should enact the 2-strike rule because delaying the inevitable outmaking is just plain cruel.

  • Meeks54

    The Yankees bullpen has an outstanding 6.33 era in it’s last 14 games, and an equally impressive -0.3 WAR, which I actually anticipated to be worse.

  • WhittakerWalt

    “We need to do whatever we can to get Nuney’s bat into the lineup!!!! We can live with his defense because of all the other things he can do!!”

    – Said no one in the world not named Eddard

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

      The sad thing is that seemed to be the Yankees’ mindset for a long time.

  • 461deep

    Big game by Cano for naught. He was on target tonight as Lackey had no answer for him. Sox looking powerful these days. Looks like Pedroia and Papi starting to break out of cool offs as they love Fenway. CC not too bad lately but may need a vintage game tomorrow VS Lester. Losing Gardner hurts more than one might think as he beats you with base hits, speed and defensely and on offense. Stewart and Ryan hit in clutch.
    Funny how 1 game win or lose changes teams in WC hunt enntire outlook now. Orioles feeling much better about things today.

    • Meeks54

      Baltimore won’t be feeleing better when they look at their upcoming schedule.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Not “funny,” necessarily. One game matters a bit more because there are so few left. It’s still not a complete gamechanger, though.

  • FLYER7

    Every game raises new questions:

    1) Why Noonie over Reynolds at third? Unimaginable than Noonie ooolays the ball to start the seventh! Ugh

    2) Again why no Betances? He uses Matt Daley over the best AAA relief pitcher in organization.

    3) Who gets DFAd for Phelpsie?

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Daley’s extreme SSS looks better than Betances’s. not fair, of course, but you have to make the most of every opportunity right now.

  • Rolling Doughnut

    Girardi lacks managerial creativiity, ok everybody knows that. But then tere are the obvious blunders that have no explanation at all: OK. The pen is shot, and unless Kuroda pitched a CG gem they were going to get into trouble late. But Clairborne? Oh FF*sake Joe. In his two games–which were against Boston–of the 8 he faced, got touched up for 7 hits, 3 of which were dingers and 6 ER. What are you doing Joe? How about Betances? Or one of the other kids. My Lord. You even had Joba warming up. Get a clue.

  • Rolling Doughnut

    And what is Stonehands (the error) Nuñez doing in pinstripes? With his 85 wrc+ and -.2 UZR/150 over 4 years, you don’t have to be a baseball sage to figure out he, uh sucks. Sabermetrically speaking.

    • Sweet Dick Willie

      Tell that to Eddard.

  • lee

    actually Claiborne’s pitch to Saltalamacchia was not “left up”, but was on the low inside corner. problem was the he’s a fastball hitter, and up in the count 0-1 he probably should have stuck with an off-speed pitch. hindsight being 20-20 and all that.

  • RetroRob

    Who would have thunk it. Boone Logan. Needed man. He’s actually been much more important to the Yankees the last few years than most fans realized. Overall, though, it’s the pieces that fit together that make the bullpen, and it’s been a strength of the Yankees for the past season seasons. It’s a mess right now.

    They need these next two games, and that’s going to be very difficult. If they can do it, of their final twelve games, nine are against sub .500 teams, including two NL teams. The other three are the head-to-heads against the Rays. It’s still not impossible, but these next two games may determine if the next twelve will have much meaning.

  • Joe

    You can tell the Yankees bullpen is tired and I think it’s attributed to the offense stinking bad for the majority of the year. This year the Yanks have lost so far 17 games where they allowed 3 runs or less so we know about the injuries. But when you play so many close low scoring games like they did in the early to latter parts of the season it wares down a bullpen because they constantly have to be used. Even Robertson is starting to look tired.