Joe Girardi decided to rest both Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez for this one, and I can't say I had a problem with the move. Having already won the series in Baltimore, getting some extra rest for Tex -- who has remained in the lineup despite a big toe that has pretty much completely sapped his production (.211/.343/.246 in September) -- and Alex seemed pretty defensible. It was also basically the equivalent of Girardi saying "While I'd like to win, I can deal with a loss here."
Unfortunately for Girardi and the Yankees, they actually held a lead for much of this game and were poised to win, bringing Mariano Rivera in to protect a 3-2 lead in the ninth. Mo proceeded to blow a save for the second time in his last four appearances, giving up a game-tying leadoff home run to Luke Scott. Mariano was able to escape the inning without further damage and send the game to extras, but the Yankees couldn't come through in this one.
The top of the 11th was basically a microcosm of the entire last two weeks for the Yankees. After a pinch-hitting A-Rod walked to lead the inning off, pinch-runner Eduardo Nunez made it to third on a throwing error and balk by Mike Gonzalez. With a runner on third an no out, all the Yankees needed to do was lift a ball to the outfield to take the lead. That's it. Joe Girardi actually took Ramiro Pena out mid at-bat -- something I'm not sure I've ever seen him do before -- for Marcus Thames, who inherited a 1-1 count. Thames worked the count full before swinging over a nasty breaking ball that would've been ball four for the first out of the inning.
Then Buck Showalter proceeded to do something I'm pretty sure I've never seen before. With Mark Teixeira pinch-hitting for Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter due up as the next two batters, Showalter intentionally walked both of them to load the bases and set up the force at any base. Sadly, Lance Berkman -- batting from the right side against the lefty -- made Showalter look like a genius by banging into a tailor-made 5-4-3 double play to end the threat. Not that I would've pinch-hit for Berkman or anything, but at this point maybe Berk should try batting lefthanded against lefties -- it almost certainly couldn't be any worse than his batting righty. Does he have even one base hit batting from the right side as a Yankee?
David Robertson, who pitched a scoreless 10th, came back out for the bottom of the 11th and promptly gave up a leadoff double to Scott, who came around to score on a game-winning single by Ty Wigginton, sending the Orioles to a 4-3 win.
This loss obviously would have felt quite a bit worse had the Yankees not won the first two games of this series. That being said, they seem to be finding even newer ways to not cash in on their run-scoring opportunities, and left another 12 men on in this one.
The worst part was that Andy Pettitte was fantastic in his return to the mound, hurling six innings of three-hit, one-run ball and only needing 79 pitches to do it. So if nothing else, I'm sure Pettitte's outing went a long way in beginning to ease up some postseason rotation concerns. Tampa Bay lost, so the Yanks are still in first by 1/2 a game, although the Red Sox won, so the Magic Number remains at 7.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
New York Stranded Baserunners return with a vengeance; thwart fantastic return outing by Pettitte in 4-3 extra-inning loss
by Larry Koestler