Rays 5 Yankees 2: Kennedy, Bats Poor

I had the misfortune of listening to a good deal of the game while calculating and submitting final grades for my students this semester, and there just wasn’t much to hear as the Yankees dropped the series finale, 5-2, losing the series 3 games to 1. The Yankees scored six measly runs in the four games. I know the Rays’ pitching has improved, but six stinking runs in four games?!? Horrible. Ian Kennedy wasn’t good, but wasn’t shelled nearly as badly as Igawa. But he sure still has a lot of learning to do. Where that will be is a good question if he continues to struggle, for although Kennedy needs experience to grow, the Yankees need to stay in and win games. Quite a conundrum the Yankees face, the Catch-22 of inexperienced youth combined with a languishing offense.

The Yankees got behind early and, as is usually their wont, stayed right there, threatened later yet still lost. Iwamura led off the first with a homer and, after a 1-2-3 second from Kennedy, the Rays added another in the third when Riggans singled, Kennedy hit weak hitting Zobrist, Iwamura worked an eight-pitch walk, and Crawford hit a sac fly to left, 2-0 Rays. But Kennedy held it there, briefly enticing Yankees fans that they could stay in the game and that he could be quite effective. Kennedy got Upton on a 4-3, and fanned Pena after being behind 2-0 in the count. As I made my final calculations, I felt this wasn’t insurmountable despite their recent offensive woes. Two runs is two runs.

Except when it’s four. In the fourth, Kennedy surrendered a two-out double to Hinske, and Riggans walloped the first pitch from Kennedy deep to left, 4-0. But wait, there’s more. I’m not sure if it was at that moment, when I tabulated and recorded grades on Excel, when Suzyn Waldman said that the Yankees really have to consider David Wells. Suzyn, please! The guy is going to be 45 May 20, struggled badly his last few years, never stayed in shape, refused to listen to Stottlemyre of all people about having a regular throwing routine between starts, loved the sauce, and got into some off-field trouble. Yes, bring in Wells, the role model. Why, so he too can have a high ERA but for a bloated salary? Forget it. I’d rather see Kennedy struggle but learn from the experiences and possibly grow than watch a puffed-out has-been whose best days with the Yankees were ten years ago. The Rays added another in the fifth when Iwamura doubled, moved to third on Crawford’s F8, and scored on Upton’s sac fly.

Meanwhile back in Snoozeville, the offense mustered little off Kazmir despite working the count fairly well. I was briefly hopeful when it was 4-0 in the top of the fifth that the Yankees could chip away, but that didn’t happen. I know, I too was shocked. Ensberg and Gonzo reached via walk, but Molina flew out to move Ensberg to third, and Damon’s 4-3 ended the fifth-inning threat. In the sixth, Jeter singled with one out and Shelley with two outs, but Ensberg’s F8 stranded two more. They scored two in the seventh when Cano led off with a single, Abreu “hit” for Gonzo and popped to third-base foul territory, Molina at long last singled, JD flew out to left, Melky the Clutch singled to center to score Cano, 5-1. Jeter did the same to score Molina, 5-2 with Giambi stepping up as the tying run. But his liner to center ended the rally and in effect the game. The Yankees limped into the clubhouse with 1-2-3 eighth and ninth innings, giving the Rays the series win.

Melky and Jeter were each 2-4 with an RBI, the 19th for each. Melky is up to .268, Jeter .302. Shelley was 1-3, Molina 1-4 with a walk, and Cano is still in the territory where going 1-4 will raise his average, moving him up to .207 as he slowly but surely improves. But JD was a big 0-5 at the top, and is now 2 for his last 23 and 5 for his last 37, plummeting his average to .255. Giambi was 0-4, hitting .181. Abreu was 0-2 after hitting for Gonzo. The Yankees left eight on, four in scoring position, though their two runs did come with two outs. Still, too little too late, yet again. Welcome to last place, Yankees.

Kudos to the bullpen for throwing three perfect innings, with Hawkins striking out the side in the sixth, and Veras and Edwar helping hold it at 5. But Kennedy again struggled. He only allowed five hits and a walk, but made a mess in the third that he narrowly escaped, and his two-out struggles cost him dearly in the fourth. He absolutely grooved that pitch to Riggans, leaving a hanging slider belly-high and over the plate and Riggans creamed it ten rows deep in left, no doubt about that shot.

Thankfully the Yankees sent Igawa back to the minors. Hopefully his next move is being shipped out in a crate to the NL. But the problems in the fifth starting spot remain. Sterling was probably right in suspecting that Kennedy will get another shot, since there was some improvement in efficiency if not runs allowed. I imagine they don’t want to smash his confidence. Yet the Yankees have gotten nothing from Kennedy and Igawa. While the latter’s gone, the former can’t be on a very long leash. Don’t be surprised to see Kennedy get one more start and, if the results don’t change, watch the Yankees try someone else such as Dan Giese from SWB or Daniel McCutchen from Trenton. I feel for Kennedy and want to see him develop, but losing is losing and the Yanks have had more than their fair share of that this year. They need to win ball games.

It’s made all the worse that the offense simply cannot score. I know A-Rod and Posada are out, but I’ll say it again–the team still has loads of talent in the lineup. JD, Jeter, Abreu, Matsui (who sat today against the lefty Kazmir, and is only 4-20 off Kazmir in his career), Giambi, Cano, Melky the Clutch–those seven should be enough to score seven a game. A-Rod is due back Tuesday after three extended Spring Training rehab games, and none too soon. But this team has more than enough to get it done and hasn’t for beans in his and Posada’s absence. This team completely lacks the ability to come back in games. Once they’re down a few, they’re dead. They have not won a single game when trailing entering the eighth and ninth innings–not one late-inning comeback regardless of the score. Not one big swing, not one manufactured rally, not one late-game charge to put a long-awaited charge into fans. Nothing. Disgraceful.

The Yankees stagger home to face the Mets for three, with Santana (4-2, 3.10 ERA) facing Rasner (2-0, 3.00 ERA) tomorrow night as the Yankees hope to climb out of the cellar. Great. Facing Santana is never a picnic, but the Yanks are hitting .229 against lefties. Rasner might need to allow nothing. I’ll be en route to the beach tomorrow and Saturday, so I’ll probably not be in touch between Noon tomorrow and Saturday night. Don’t forget about the beach-front HDLR Sunday and Wednesday nights. Keep smiling, people. Let’s Go, Yankees!

Published in: on May 15, 2008 at 10:10 pm  Comments (5)  

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. My sentiments exactly, as you know. Even w/out Jorge and A-Rod, there is enough in this lineup to make the record (19 of 42 games scoring less than four runs) inexcusable.

    Next time Suzyn mentions Wells, gag her. But then this is the shrieking groupie of Clemens’ fame last year. Guess she has a thing for those mid-40s once Yankees, now has-beens.

  2. “The Yankees were in last place and I didn’t give a shit” Colegero

  3. I have been trying to post for a while. The movie set is great never got to thank you. I have mixed feelings facing Johan today I wouldn’t mind either way. If they get blanked then at least we can expect some entertainment from Hank. Did anybody catch ole’ Dougie doing a fine job in Pitsburg?

  4. Hip, hip, Jorge! Let’s postpone this whole month untill Alex and Jorge get back.

  5. Hey Mike. Sorry I didn’t get to your comments earlier, but I was in transit for a stretch and working out some other things. This is a loaded team even without A-Rod and Posada, key losses for sure. Their not scoring runs is really abysmal. As I was calculating and submitting grades, I was thinking of you and Mike, and figuring that we were all frustrated with such as puke stain of a game Thursday. Waldman absolutely drives me nuts. When I heard her falling back on Wells Thursday, I was actually yelling at the computer as the game played. Horrible. I miss Sterling and Kay as a radio team, to be honest. They kept each other honest and in check, and you had two play-by-play guys who could also offer salient commentary. 2004 onward has been terrible from WCBS.

    Leo/red, good to have you commenting here. Sorry for the comment delay, but it’s a security feature against trolls here at WordPress. Mientkiewicz is doing fine in Pittsburgh, and I miss his glove.

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