I have to say, I was pretty surprised by the outcome of Monday’s game. I totally thought Shawn Kelley was going to blow it when the Rays had the bases loaded with one out in the 11th inning. Instead, he escaped the jam and Jose Ramirez did the honors in the 12th inning. The Yankees lost the series opener 4-3 in excruciatingly familiar fashion.
A Tale Of Two Bullpens
He said he feels fine after the game, but it looks to me that Dellin Betances is starting to feel the effects of his workload. He came into Monday’s game having thrown 47.1 innings in the team’s first 80 games, and his stuff has generally not looked as crisp over the last week or so. Joe Girardi called on him in the eighth inning and he walked two of four batters faced, throwing 21 pitches in the process. It was his third appearance in four days (64 pitches).
The heavy workload isn’t just limited to Betances either. Adam Warren threw 42 innings in the team’s first 80 games and recently went through a little rough stretch himself. He threw 29 pitches on Monday and loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh before escaping the jam. David Robertson, the one reliever who hasn’t been worked especially hard (because he’s married to a specific inning as the closer), allowed the go-ahead single to Ryan Hanigan in the eighth, a run that was charged to Betances.
All told, Girardi’s trusted late-game trio of Betances, Warren, and Robertson combined to put six men on base in 3.1 innings, including four via walks. Kelley, who has been shaky since coming off the disabled list, loaded the bases with one out on two singles and a hit by pitch in the 11th inning, but he escaped with two strikeouts. He threw 23 pitches. Ramirez finally allowed the game-losing run on a two-out walk, a stolen base, and a single by Logan Forsythe. Girardi’s bullpen allowed two runs and put ten men on base in 6.1 innings.
The Rays relievers, meanwhile, shut the Yankees down. Yes, Joel Peralta did allow the game-tying solo homer to Brian Roberts with one out in the bottom of the ninth — it was a total golf shot, the pitch couldn’t have been more than about nine inches off the ground — but otherwise four relievers held the Yankees to four base-runners in five innings. New York stranded a runner at third in the eighth and a runner at second in the tenth. One bullpen executed, one labored.
Two Runs Two Times
David Phelps had a pretty representative David Phelps start — two runs on four hits (two solo homers) and three walks in 5.2 innings with four strikeouts. I feel like if you took all of his career starts, the average pitching line would look something like that. Matt Joyce (first inning) and Kevin Kiermaier (third) hit the homers. Phelps threw 101 pitches and left runners on first and second for Warren with two outs in the sixth. He pitched out of the mess.
The Yankees scored their first two runs in the third inning thanks to an Ichiro Suzuki hit-by-pitch, a Brett Gardner triple, and a Derek Jeter ground ball to second. Jacoby Ellsbury followed that with a walk and a stolen base, but that was it. He didn’t move any further. The Yankees went a combined 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position, though to be fair, Gardner lined into a tough luck double play in the seventh inning. He scorched the ball right at James Loney at first, who threw to second to double up Roberts before he could get back to the bag. What can you do?
The Yankees walked eight batters for the second straight game. It’s the first time they’ve walked 8+ batters in back-t0-back games since August 2009, in that four-game series against the Red Sox with the 15th inning Alex Rodriguez walk-off homer and the Johnny Damon/Mark Teixeira back-to-back homers off Daniel Bard. You know what I’m talking about. I know you do. Good times.
On the other hand, the Yankees drew two walks and have drawn two or fewer walks in four straight and six of their last seven games. Don’t get me wrong, this offense is terrible, but the run scoring will increase as soon as they start taking some more walks. Pitchers aren’t pounding the zone aggressively, they’re swinging at stuff off the plate. Not enough discipline. Everyone’s squeezing sap out of the bat.
Ellsbury held up on Brian McCann’s bloop single with two outs in the eighth, when it appeared Brandon Guyer had a chance to make the catch. If he puts his head down and runs hard the whole way, Ellsbury probably scores. But he had to hold up to make sure Guyer didn’t trap the ball cleanly and make a play at third base. Nothing you can really do there. Unfortunate play.
The Yankees sacrifice bunted for the fourth time in the last five games — Ichiro bunted Roberts to second in the seventh. Do you know how many runs those four bunts created? One. That’s it. Considering how much they are struggling to score runs, I’m all for swinging away. Give the offense as many opportunities as possible. This team is in no position to give away free outs.
And finally, the 2014 season is officially halfway over. The Yankees are 41-40 at the halfway point of the season and 84-78 in their last 162 games. They’ve lost seven of their last nine games overall. They stink.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, MLB.com is the place to go. FanGraphs has some more stats and the updated standings are at ESPN. The Blue Jays had a scheduled off-day but the Orioles won, so the Yankees are 2.5 games of Toronto and one game back of Baltimore in the AL East. They’re three games back of the Mariners for the second wildcard spot with both the O’s and Royals ahead of them.
Same two teams on Tuesday night, when Hiroki Kuroda and David Price square off. Might be Price’s last ever start for the Rays. That game and Wednesday’s series finale are the final two home games before the All-Star break, so head over to RAB Tickets if you want to catch either.