This eleven-game stretch against the Red Sox and Orioles (and Red Sox again) is the most important stretch of the season, and the Yankees have responded by going 1-4 in the first five games. Somehow that 1-4 record makes them look better than they’ve actually played too. Monday’s loss pushes New York to four back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column with just 18 games to play. It doesn’t get much closer to being done, folks.
Two Dingers, Nothing Else
I thought it was an excellent decision on Joe Girardi’s part to stick Alex Rodriguez in the second spot of the lineup with Derek Jeter’s sore ankle forcing him to the sidelines. Too many top of the lineup at-bats were being wasted on low-OBP guys like Ichiro Suzuki and Vernon Wells. A-Rod went into Monday’s game at .286/.380/.448 (130 wRC+) and left it at .294/.384/.477 (138 wRC+) after going 2-for-4 with a first inning solo homer to the opposite field. I think his at-bats — laying off pitches out of the zone, working the count, etc. — are the best on the team. Perfect choice for the two-hole.
Unfortunately, the Yankees managed nothing off Chris Tillman after A-Rod’s dinger. Well, nothing until Lyle Overbay led off the eighth with a solo homer to right. In between dingers, Tillman retired 20 of 22 batters faced — 14 in a row at one point — and completely befuddled New York with a big-breaking curveball and a fading changeup that made his low-90s fastball look like the low-100s. At least that’s what I assume based on the swings the Yankees were taking against him. The Bombers did close to zilch at the plate on Monday but give credit where it’s due: Tillman was pretty great.
Quantity But Not Quality
It’s kinda sad that on September 9th, CC Sabathia allowed four runs in 7.1 innings and his ERA went down. Of course only three of those four runs were earned, but still. Sabathia’s crash-and-burn act will be a huge reason why the Yankees miss the postseason, assuming they actually do miss the postseason. I hope they don’t.
The Orioles had seven hits against the New York southpaw, including three leadoff doubles. Two of the three came around the score while the third featured a vintage Sabathia-esque strike out the side performance to escape the jam. He walked two and struck out six, getting six outs on the ground compared to ten in the air. Seventy-one of his 117 pitches were strikes. The Yankees desperately needed length from their starter on Monday and that’s exactly what they got. Unfortunately, like most of Sabathia’s starts this season, the overall performance wasn’t good enough.
Joe Girardi and Buck Showalter got into a Showalter-initiated shouting match after the first inning because the Yankees thought Orioles third base coach Bobby Dickerson was stealing signs and/or location. Maybe he was, I don’t know. Either way, Girardi was chirping at him during the inning before Showalter came out of the dugout. The two had to be separated by their coaches and the umpires. Kinda silly but whatever.
A-Rod, Brett Gardner, and Eduardo Nunez had singles in addition to the two homers and that was it. Five hits total. Zero walks and a dozen strikeouts, tying their fourth highest strikeout total in a nine-inning game this season. The 3-4-5 hitters went a combined 0-for-12 with three strikeouts. The 8-9 hitters went 0-for-6 with five strikeouts. Woof.
Adam Warren was the only pitcher used in relief of Sabathia, and he managed to record two outs while throwing just two strikes out of five total pitches. The rest of the bullpen got a much needed night off.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, go to MLB.com. FanGraphs has some other stats while ESPN has the update standings. Cool Standings gives the Yankees a 6.6% chance to make the postseason.
Same two teams on Tuesday night, in the second game of this four-game set. Ivan Nova and Miguel Gonzalez is your pitching matchup. Hopefully the offense shows up.