The end of perfection
We knew it had to happen some time, right? Andrew Miller finally succumbed to the regression gods and gave up his first runs of the season – and unfortunately it came at a very ill-timed moment for the Yankees.
Tied 6-6 in the bottom of the 10th inning, Ryan Zimmerman smoked a 96-mph fastball from Miller off the right field foul pole to cap a Nationals’ comeback after trailing 6-2 in the fifth inning. Not only was it the Yankees largest blown lead of the season, it was also the Yankees first walk-off loss of the season and the first time Miller had surrendered an extra-inning homer in his career.
However, these dramatics were nothing new for Zimmerman. It was the second time he had hit a walk-off homer against the Yankees, with other coming on June 18, 2006 at RFK Stadium. Strange-but-true fact: since his debut in 2005, Zimmerman is the only player with two walk-off shots vs. the Yankees … and this is a guy, remember, that has played his entire career in the National League.
Zimmerman also joined a rare club with that decisive swing of the bat, as one of just three first baseman to hit a two-out, walk-off homer in extra innings against the Yankees over the last 75 seasons. The others were Bob Allison in 1960 and Mike Napoli in 2013. Go figure.
Before Miller’s streak came to an end, Dellin Betances pitched two scoreless innings to ensure that we’d get free baseball on Tuesday night. It was his 20th appearance of the season and the 20th time he gave up zero earned runs, establishing a new franchise record for consecutive games to begin a season without allowing an earned run. The previous record of 19 was set by Lee Guetterman in 1989.
As bad as last year’s team was, it never lost seven times in an eight-game span. With the Yankees 3-2 loss to the Nationals on Wednesday, the 2015 team has now already done that, and it’s not even the end of May.
Justin Wilson allowed the game-winning run when Denard Span hit an RBI single in the seventh inning, scoring Wilson Ramos. How unlikely was that hit? Before that at-bat, Span was 0-for-7 against left-handed relievers this season (and 2-for-21 vs. all lefties); Wilson had faced 21 left-handed batters this season prior to Span, and had given up a hit to only two of them.
A-Rod pinch-hit in the top of the ninth inning and struck out looking for the final out with Didi Gregorius on first base. If that sounds familiar … well, not really. The last Yankee pinch-hitter to take a called strike three to end the game with a man on base and the team trailing by a run was Chili Davis against the White Sox on May 22, 1999. Brutal.
Let’s end on a positive note, and celebrate the debut of Slade Heathcott, who pinch ran for Mark Teixeira in the eight inning. Another (maybe not) hard-to-believe fact: he is the first player position player picked in the first round by the Yankees to play for the team in a non-September game since Derek Jeter made his debut in May 1995.