Remember when the Yankees won five straight games a week ago? They’ve followed that up by losing two of three to a wildcard competitor in the Tigers and two of three to a struggling Blue Jays team that played themselves out of the race this month. The Yankees have had a knack for following up winning streaks with a bunch of losses this year, and they did it again this week. Let’s recap Sunday’s 4-3 loss:
- Three Runs: Four pitches into the game, the Yankees had more hits (two) and runs (one) than they did Saturday. Brett Gardner lined J.A. Happ’s second pitch over the right field wall for a leadoff homer — his fifth leadoff homer this year, sixth of his career — and Derek Jeter grounded his fourth pitch back up the middle for a single. A leadoff single (Martin Prado) and two two-out singles (Chase Headley and Frankie Cervelli) created the team’s second run in the fourth inning, then Gardner created the third run with a triple. The errant throw from the outfield sailed into the dugout, allowing him to score. The Yankees had was appeared to be a comfortable-ish 3-0 lead.
- Four Batters: Brandon McCarthy was cruising along for the first five innings of the game, then it all fell apart in the span of four batters from the sixth through seventh innings. McCarthy held the Blue Jays to two singles and walk before Melky Cabrera, Jose Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion all launched no-doubt solo homers to tie the game at three. An Adam Lind fly out was sandwiched between the Bautista and Encarnacion homers. It’s very easy to second guess the decision to let McCarthy start the seventh, but he made basically two bad pitches — the Melky homer wasn’t even a bad pitch, he figuratively hit the glove — all afternoon and his pitch count was at like 80. Going to Dellin Betances for multiple innings was obvious only in hindsight.
- Game Over: McCarthy walked the next batter after the Encarnacion homer, ending his afternoon. Pinch-runner Steve Tolleson then stole second and scored on Munenori Kawasaki’s (really?!) single to right off Betances, giving Toronto the 4-3 lead. The Yankees actually had runners in scoring position in the sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth innings, but went a combined 0-for-5 with a strikeout and did not hit a ball out of the infield in those situations. The game ended on Jeter’s soft line drive to second with pinch-runner Ichiro Suzuki — Jacoby Ellsbury pinch-doubled with one out — standing at third.
- Leftovers: Gardner was a single shy of the cycle when he grounded out to first in the ninth. A single likely would have tied the game with Ichiro at second … McCarthy allowed three homers in the span of four batters after allowing three homers in his first 64 innings as a Yankee … Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran went a combined 0-for-8 with five strikeouts as the four-five hitters … Gardner (three), Prado, Headley, and Cervelli (two each) all had multiple hits … Betances struck out four in his two innings, giving him 120 on the year. Only 1996 Mariano Rivera (130) and 1978 Goose Gossage (122) have more among full-time relievers in franchise history, and both of those guys threw more than 100 innings. Dellin’s at 80.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Orioles are beating the snot out of the Twins, so the Yankees will be nine games back in the division in short order. Depending on the outcome of the day’s other games, the Yankees will be either 3.5 (Tigers and Royals lose) or 4.5 (Tigers and/or Royals win) games back of the second wildcard spot. FanGraphs has New York’s postseason odds at a generous 9.6%. The Yankees are off on Monday and will open a three-game series against the Red Sox on Tuesday. Shane Greene and Joe Kelly is the scheduled pitching matchup for the opener. Head over to RAB Tickets if you want to catch the game. There are only 17 regular season home games left in the season.