This one didn’t surprise me a bit. Going into the series, I was concerned about this game, hopeful that if (Good) Sidney Ponson showed up, he could continue to avoid the potholes he had often made and avoided in his previous starts. However, if (Bad) Sidney Ponson showed up, as he usually did against Boston, and got into trouble, the Yankees just might struggle with increasingly tough lefty Jon Lester.
The latter scenario occurred, and how, with Sidney the Bad allowing runs in each of the four innings he pitched, getting whacked for seven runs and ten hits and making me (and possibly Cashman) slightly reconsider the trade for Jarrod Washburn. Ponson has gotten by thus far as a Yankees by pitching out of trouble but trouble he had nonetheless gotten into. Boston’s lineup is just too good to let that happen and they jumped all over Ponson. Here are the numbers with the Yankees–4 2-1 W-L but in 26 2/3 IP, 38 hits, 18 ER, 12 BB, 12 K, 6.08 ERA. That won’t cut it, and it’s not hard to envision–with Washburn having started last night as well–that the Yankees trade for Washburn and DFA Ponson. Personally, I’d prefer to see Kennedy or Aceves get a shot but, with the trade deadline looming before that, expect that the Yankees would want someone more experienced. Either way, Ponson probably won’t be long for the Yankees. Granted, Ponson has had one awful start with the Yanks but, as Pete Abraham has shown, Ponson’s last eight starts (going back to his finish with Texas) show an ERA over six. That’s not good and certainly not good enough for a team in contention.
The thing is, the Yankees had chances against Lester who, though he was very good last night, wasn’t unhittable. For the most part, though, Lester avoided the worst of any trouble. The big chance the Yankees had was in the top of the fifth, when they loaded the bases with no outs. Jeter hit a perfect roller down the third base line for an RBI, still bases loaded, and Abreu earned a walk to make it 7-2 with A-Rod coming up. But he hit a hump-back liner for the first out, Nady chased a high fastball, probably a ball, to shallow center that was a bit risky for a sac fly. However, given Ellsbury’s poor arm and poor throw, I would have chanced it. Yet given the shallow hit, it’s hard to blame Meacham for not sending the runner–one of the few times one can say that about his decisions lately. Cano’s out ended what could have been an inning to get the Yankees right back into it. Boston scored two more in the bottom of the sixth against Dan Giese, who was pretty good in relief and certainly better than (Back to Stinking) Ponson, to salt it. But Giese kept it from becoming a worse blowout while also sparing the rest of the pen in yeoman’s work.
In all, the Yanks stranded seven, five in scoring position, and did not drive in a run with two outs. The Yankees had some bad at-bats, but it’s impossible to overlook that Lester is a tough #2 or 3 starter–throwing 94-96 with a sharp slider and good curve. This one looked bad on paper to me and was worse actually on the field, ending the Yankees’ eight-game winning streak and keeping the Yankees three behind Tampa, who lost to KC yesterday afternoon.
Thanks to everyone who stopped by the HDLR last night, including newcomer EJ. It was fun, but would have been much more fun with a sweep. Oh well, no shame in taking 2 of 3 in Boston, and the Yanks still gained ground this weekend. Despite last night’s blowout, there are still positives to take from the series and the team’s play after the All-Star game as a whole. The Yanks take on Baltimore tonight, with Guthrie (6-8, 3.58 ERA) taking on Mussina (13-6, 3.26 ERA) for the first of three before a stern test in a four-game series against the LA Angels of Superfluous Acronyms.