Yikes, where to even begin?
I was able to catch this game with a fine group of people last night, including Ben Kabak, Rebecca Glass, Jay Jaffe, Andy Katz, my buddy Sean and others, and so despite the loss I still had a great evening.
But oh boy, what a loss. The theme of this game was missed opportunities, as in 18(!) men left on base for the Yankees in their 13-inning 6-5 loss to the Rangers. If I told you the Yankees would knock C.J. Wilson out after three innings, you'd have thought the team's chances of winning the game were pretty good, right? Especially if I told you that Home Run Javier Vazquez would make it through 5+ innings while giving up only four earned runs. Of course, whether Javy should've even come out for the sixth is another can of worms, but regardless of the decision-making process, Javy was able to escape the game with a lead intact.
Of course, two innings later Joba Chamberlain would have none of that, serving up a first-pitch meatball to Nelson Cruz for a game-tying solo home run.
Frustrating as Joba's complete inability to protect the lead was, perhaps even more frustrating was Texas manager Ron Washington using 11(!!!!!!) pitchers to nail down this victory. Between Wash completely abusing his expanded bullpen due to September callups and the Yankees getting abused by the umpires on an absolutely and utterly horrendous botched call in the bottom of the second -- Ian Kinsler was incredibly called safe on a stolen base despite replays showing he was CLEARLY out by about 800 feet -- it's amazing they were even in position to win this game for a good portion of the contest.
The Yanks were able to plate four in the third inning, as Alex Rodriguez connected on a two-run double and Marcus Thames and Francisco Cervelli plated RBI singles. Mark Teixeira would force in a run with a bases loaded walk in the sixth, but that would be all she wrote.
I suppose credit is due to the 300 men currently serving in the Texas Rangers bullpen corps, as after Wilson was lifted in the third and Matt Harrison gave up the Tex walk, Pedro Strop, Alexi Ogando, Michael Kirkman, Dustin Nippert, Clay Rapada, Neftali Feliz, Darren O'Day, Darren Oliver and Scott Feldman combined for 7 1/3(more exclamation points!) scoreless innings.
The Yankee bullpen outside of Joba and Chad Gaudin -- who served up the game-winning home run to Cruz in the bottom of the 13th, also on the first pitch -- got their job done as well. Phil Hughes came in on his throw day to pitch a 1-2-3 ninth, and Mariano Rivera was unfortunately wasted for two innings in the loss.
One other important note before I forget: As bad as Ron Washington was in this game, Joe Girardi was right up there with him, inexplicably lifting every good hitter he had for a pinch-runner every time someone reached base in the later innings. This might be a reasonable strategy if Joe was actually going to send his pinch runners, but no, every single pinch-runner Joe sent in stood sentry at first base only to watch the inning end and thereby he lost the bats of Nick Swisher, Marcus Thames and Lance Berkman for the remainder of the game while ensuring offensive beasts such as Colin Curtis and Chad Moeller came up to the plate with opportunities to fail at winning the game.
I'll grant that this wasn't the most important game ever played -- though it would've been nice to win -- but Joe better not manage extra inning games on the road like this in the postseason. Has any pinch-runner Joe has inserted from the 8th-inning on in any game EVER come around to score? C'mon Joe, the Yankees are built on patience and power and you've got a slew of guys capable of hitting walk-off home runs. Removing the big bats late in the game in the hope that your pinch-runner will miraculously score from first makes ZERO tactical sense. At least have the runner TRY and steal.
Oh, and Derek Jeter, he of the presumed $20 million/year contract this offseason, went 1-7.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
by Larry Koestler