For the fifth time in seven games, and for the fourth straight game, the Yankees took a lead with a two-run homer in the first. For the fourth of those five, the Yankees lost the lead and eventually lost the game. It seems backward. With two runs in the first it feels like the Yanks should score more later on. But in those five games they’ve scored just seven runs after the first-inning homer.
Biggest Hit: Kalish extends the lead
While some ridiculous antics in the second inning provided the emotional low point of the evening, it was Ryan Kalish’s home run four innings later that really put away the Yankees. It started when Vazquez threw Mike Lowell an 0-1 slider that hung, allowing Lowell to pull it into left for a one-out base hit. That brought up Ryan Kalish, a 22-year-old rookie outfielder from Red Bank, NJ.
Vazquez had struck out Kalish twice to that point, both on three pitches. The first time he set him up with two high, mediocre at best breaking pitches before finishing him with a letters-high fastball. Then in the third he dropped a curveball over the plate for a called strike and then went with two changeups, the second low and out of the zone, inducing yet another swing and miss. To open the third at-bat Vazquez again went to the changeup, and while this was low it was still in the zone. Kalish hit it on a line and it carried all the way to the Yankees’ bullpen, his first big league homer, giving the Sox a 6-3 lead.
The Yankees had just closed the gap the previous inning, and a 4-3 game seemed manageable at the time. But with one swing of the bat the Red Sox created a much tougher comeback situation.
Despite a David Ortiz solo home run in the first, it looked like Javy was pitching reasonably well. He did allow a leadoff double to open the second, but he quickly got two pop ups — only Francisco Cervelli dropped the second one. That turned a runner on second, two outs situation into a runners on the corners, one out one. Vazquez then recorded his first strikeout of Kalish, though again the pitches didn’t look sharp. A walk to the No. 9 hitter loaded the bases, and another walk tied the game. Marco Scutaro’s double put the Sox ahead for good.
On the pop-up, it was absolutely Cervelli’s ball. Infielders are taught that the pitcher never comes off the mound to field a pop up. Why pitchers don’t abide, I guess, is purely instinctual, but they nevertheless sometimes get in the way. It was clear — made transparent by their grimaces seen on YES-Mo — that neither was comfortable as the ball fell towards the infield. Vazquez has to get out of the way there, just like Cervelli still has to catch it. It wouldn’t have been the easiest catch, as the spin of a pop-up makes it more difficult to catch when facing the outfield. (I once got a baseball in the mouth trying to do this, though in my defense it wasn’t a high pop up and I had to bound out of my squat to get under it.)
Please, pitchers: if there’s a pop-up in the infield and another fielder can get the ball (and this is almost always the case), let him.
Granderson brings the heartache
The Red Sox had the lead, but the Yankees had time. In the fourth it looked like they might strike. Robinson Cano started the inning with a shot through the hole and into right field for a base hit. Lance Berkman then sent one towards the middle, and while Scutaro fielded it he couldn’t make the flip to Jed Lowrie, allowing both runners to reach safely with none out. But time was running out, as Curtis Granderson was followed by Francisco Cervelli.
Granderson, of course, produced the worst possible outcome, a grounder to first that resulted in a 3-5 non-force double play. It was the worst because 1) Granderson’s speed makes a triple play awfully difficult, and 2) his speed also makes a double-force play a bit tougher. Hitting it right to Lowell, who was standing near the bag, allowed for the quickest way of retiring two on one play. It let Cano move to third, but with Cervelli coming up that didn’t matter much. His strikeout was tragically predictable.
The Yanks did score in the fifth, but with runners on the corners and one out they could only manage one run, an RBI single for A-Rod. The Red Sox widened their lead a half-inning later, and the Yanks managed just two hits the rest of the way. Jeter did work a tenacious at-bat in the ninth, but with two outs it wasn’t quite enough to jolt the Yanks.
This was the seventh game in which Vazquez has allowed multiple home runs. He has only seven homerless starts this season.
As Alex Speier of WEEI tweeted, “Clay Buchholz is the first pitcher this year to go more than 7 innings in fewer than 100 pitches this year against the Yankees.” Alex will be at tomorrow’s event, so we’ll temporarily forgive his affiliation.
With his 1 for 3 night, Jeter is now 25 for 75 since July 18, with a line of .333/.390/.440.
Since June 22 Gardner is hitting .208/.341/.305. He hasn’t drawn a walk in his last six games.
Box and graph
Sad, sad green line. Perk up tomorrow.
Up next: RAB/FanGraphs Live Discussion. But for the Yanks, they’ll meet the Red Sox again tomorrow at 4 on Fox (sigh). CC Sabathia tries to put the Yanks back in the win column. John Lackey gives it a try for the Sox.