Poor loss last night, with the Yankees dropping a 7-6 game that got belatedly tight. Rasner took the loss but was pretty good on the whole, though left in too long it seems. Marte struggled in relief, allowing the game to be blown open, and again, Mariano allowed a run in a non-save situation that ended up being crucial, for it made the three-run, ninth-inning Yankee rally a run short instead of a tie game. Daniel Cabrera was again tough on the Yankees before getting ejected for beaning A-Rod. After winning eight straight, the Yanks have now lost three straight, showing signs of the same troubles that mired the Yankees in pre-break mediocrity–poor hitting especially in the clutch, struggling against weak teams, and (a rare) lapse in pitching.
Rasner’s line–6+ IP, 8 hits, 4 runs earned, 3 BBs, and a K on 106 pitches/69 strikes–looks worse than what it was, for although allowing a run in the first and fourth, he successfully worked out of trouble and kept the Yanks in what should have been a two-run game. He also surrendered a couple bloop hits, including one to Markakis with two outs in the first that led directly to the first Orioles run. He did his job, and really deserves to get another start instead of Ponson. Even though Rasner was at 96 pitches after six, it was somewhat understandable that Girardi had Rasner pitch the seventh since the bullpen had been fairly taxed the last couple days with Giese going four Sunday night and several relievers used Monday night. Plus, Rasner had only thrown 20 pitches in the two previous innings–including a four-pitch sixth–probably leading Girardi to think he could work-batter-to-batter with Rasner. After a walk to Roberts and hitting Jones, though, that backfired. Marte then surrender another bloop single to Markakis to load the bases with no outs, and Yankee killer Aubrey Huff cleared the bases with a double, 5-1 O’s, and Mora’s double the next at-bat made it 6-1 O’s. Tough inning for Marte, and tough break for Rasner, who again was pretty good.
The Yanks were mostly shut down by Cabrera, no surprise since he only seems to pitch well against the Yankees (and the Rays, according to Waldman). But A-Rod creamed a Cabrera fastball to dead center in the sixth to make it 2-1. They then rallied in the eighth. Abreu led off with a double, and Cabrera was ejected for hitting A-Rod, which might have been in retaliation for Rasner hitting Jones–although that surely wasn’t intentional. Also, A-Rod didn’t exactly preen over his homer. So the ejection was odd, especially with no umpire warning. Giambi then singled to left to load the bases with no outs, and Cano’s single made it 6-3. But the Yanks got nothing more, perfectly emblematic of why they lost this game. Betemit struck out yet again, Melky lined out, and Nady was caught looking for the third out, disgraceful.
Mariano entered, not having worked since Friday night in Boston, and surrendered an upper-deck blast to lead off the ninth to Huff, leaving a cutter up and over the plate, 7-3 Orioles. In his 26 saves, Mariano has allowed all of one run, but 6 runs in his other 15 appearances. Ugh. But again the Yankees rallied, but again fell short because of their inability to drive in runs with RISP, especially with two outs. JD singled, Jeter worked an 8-pitch walk, Abreu’s double to left made it second and third and 7-4 Yanks. A-Rod fanned for the first out, Giambi’s single made it 7-6 and Christian pinch-running immediately stole second, putting the tying run in scoring position. But Cano and Betemit fanned to end the game, 7-6.
Giambi had his best game in quite some time, going 3-5 with 2 RBIs (61 on the year) to raise his average to .255. Abreu was 3-5 with 2 doubles (28 on the year) and his 68th RBI, batting .283. A-Rod was 2-3 with his team-leading 22nd homer, the 540th of his illustrious career, and his 63rd RBI, batting a blistering .326 now. Cano was 1-5 but drove in 2, with 50 RBIs now and is batting a respectable .266. Jeter was 1-3 with 2 walks, batting .286 and stealing his sixth base.
But the Yanks lost with the bats even though they gave up seven runs, and Mariano again struggled in a non-save situation. They stranded 10, 6 in scoring position. They hit 4-15 with RISP and did not have a two-out RBI, and nearly all the RISP hits came in the last two innings when they were well behind and desperate for runs. Marte and Mariano’s (rare) struggles certainly didn’t help, and Girardi left Rasner in too long. But the Yanks were behind and struggling from the get-go, and their failure to score runs early put the pressure on late, minimizing their already thin margin for error. Additionally, the #1-5 hitters were 11-21 with all 6 runs and 4 RBIs, while the #6-9 spots were a dreadful 2-18, with only Cano driving in runs. Betemit was a grotesque 0-5 with 2 K’s, and Melky was 0-4. Nady’s called third strike to end the 8th–as well as Abreu’s called third strike to end the fifth with Jeter on third–were killers. Terrible.
Joba needs to be the stopper and salvage something from this failed, lost series, and hopefully gain some momentum before the reinforced Superfluous Acronyms (with Teixeira now) come to town for a huge four-game series. Again, the Yankees leave me shaking my head, having dropped a game in the standings to Tampa, now four behind in third place in the East. Suck it up, Yanks.