Twins 4 Yankees 2: Dreadful Road Trip Ends With Dreadful Effort

For anyone who had the misfortune of enduring today’s putrid game, I hope you had your Pepto-Bismol tablets handy. What a lousy game, what a lousy effort, rife with amateurish miscues and more offensive inefficiency as the Yankees dropped a 4-2 decision to Minnesota. The Yankees end this road trip out West 3-7, looking terrible from its beginning to its end. They will return home to play KC in a brief three-game home stand before another day off and hitting the road against Toronto and Baltimore.

New York scored a two-out run in the first when A-Rod doubled to center and Giambi plastered one into that ridiculous baggie in right, 1-0 Yankees. Had the baggie not been there, that laser might still be traveling and would surely have been a homer in most parks. In the bottom of the first, Giambi had a throw from Betemit break the webbing on his glove, indicative of the kind of game it would be. This wasn’t necessarily Giambi’s fault that it was an E3 unless he just allowed his glove to wither and rot, but the odd turned into the oddly ugly.

Rasner did fine but had one bad inning, and really made one costly mistake that the Yankees’ predictably dormant offense aggrandized. After the Yanks went 1-2-3 in the second, third, and fourth innings, Rasner avoided trouble in the third when Ruiz singled but Punto’s fly ball to center on a hit-and-run play caught Ruiz way past second, and Melky’s fine one-hop throw easily doubled him off first. But in the fourth, Mauer walked and an easy ground ball to A-Rod that should have been at least one out was botched by Cano being way off the bag at second, so far off that there was no way for the umpire to make a neighborhood call without being pelted with debris by fans. Horrible mental lapse by Cano, who looked apoplectic about what to do both before getting to the bag, and then with the ball once he had it. Shameful. Instead of one on and one out, There were two on and no out for Kubel, whose fly ball moved Mauer to third. Young then took a 2-1 fastball on the outer half and up–not unlike Mariano’s pitch but slower–to right center for a three-run homer, 3-1 Twins. Suddenly Young is taking the ball the other way and, after hitting five homers in the first 117 Twins games, hit two in consecutive games against New York. Like Frank the Sage said before, leave it to the Yankees to defibrillate someone. Rasner then got through the rest of the fourth and the fifth, but was done after 5 on 92 pitches/56 strikes, 4 hits, 3 runs 2 earned, a walk, and 4 K’s. On the whole, he was pretty good.

The Yanks’ offense was not, continuing to muster nothing off Twins starter Slowey. In the sixth, Abreu worked a one-out walk and, after A-Rod popped out, Abreu was caught stealing with Giambi up, the ninth time and the second caught stealing in consecutive games. In the bottom of the sixth, trouble struck yet again. Giese entered and, after Mauer’s lead-off single to right, Giese then walked Morneau on five pitches and Kubel on four before being removed for pain in his upper right arm. The Yanks have had no luck with injuries this year, particularly with the pitchers. Robertson entered and did very well to minimize the damage from the bases-loaded, no-out jam, fanning Young, allowing a sac fly to Buscher 4-1 Twins, and getting Ruiz on a deep F8. Good work from the kid and surely a boost to his confidence considering his recent struggles. However, the bad news continues to mount for the Yankees with the staff, and it’s unlikely that Giese will make his next start Tuesday.

The Yankees again went 1-2-3 in the seventh and, in the bottom of the seventh, Melky called off Cano on Punto’s high pop up, then couldn’t catch it. Ugly and dumb. In the eighth, the Yankees at long last mustered some semblance of a rally when Pudge and Betemit led off with singles, but with Sexson up for Melky against the lefty Reyes, he fanned and didn’t do his job, emblematic of the Yankees’ offense this year. JD’s swinging bunt made it second and third with two outs and, although Abreu struck out with what should have been the third out, he advanced to first on a passed ball that also scored Pudge, 4-2 Twins. A-Rod’s F8 ended the rally and continued his RISP woes. In the bottom of the eighth, although the Twins didn’t score, the Yanks continued to embarrass themselves when Mauer stole second and, although both Betemit and Cano went to the bag to cover, neither caught Pudge’s throw; stinking disgraceful. Nathan fanned Pudge after Cano’s two-out walk in the top of the ninth to mercifully end the game, the Yankees’ bone-head plays in the field, and that wretched road trip.

Hank Steinbrenner recently defended the Yankees this year, saying that the injuries have decimated the team. He’s right. They have. However, they don’t account for the Yanks’ utter inability to consistently mount rallies, hit with RISP, and score runs even with productive outs. While the Yankees have been without Posada and Matsui for some time, the addition of Nady certainly offset the loss of Matsui. Plus, the Yankees didn’t hit well as a team and especially not with RISP before Matsui’s knee flared up. A-Rod missed a stretch as well, but this team’s offense hasn’t been that unhealthy. The Yankees simply don’t score enough runs in the clutch. Entering today’s game the Yankees were still 11th in the AL in hitting with RISP at .259. The Twins? First at .313, which is why a team built largely around Mauer and Morneau has been successful even though the Yankees–on paper only–have the better offense. Also bad is that the Yankees are 10th in the AL in average with runners on, .269. The Twins? First at .299. The Twins have also scored 51 more runs with runners on base than the Yankees entering today’s game, even though the Yankees have a higher OBP before today (.344 to the Twins’ .335), have drawn 40 more walks and have 40 more homers than the Twins. Part of the answer lies in the Yankees’ grounding into 18 more DPs than the Twins entering today.

But there’s much more to it than that. During this road trip from hell, the Yankees hit 17-80 (.213) with RISP, according to Pete Abraham. I counted that they grounded into 16 DPs. Worse, to me, is that the Yankees failed to score runs in no less than 41 situations when they had runners on–15 times against Texas, 12 against the Angels, and 14 more against the Twins. Forty-one [Edit: Initially I counted 40 total/14 vs. Texas]. This includes all situations starting with the bases empty, be it to start an inning or after a scoring play such as a homer cleared the bases. The Yankees continually get runners on base, and continually strand them. They not only don’t hit with RISP, they don’t hit well enough with runners on. The injuries only explain so much and, for the offense, not that much to me.

The staff has undoubtedly been devastated and the Yankees are really reaping the hard harvest of being without Wang and Joba. This may only get worse if Giese misses more time. The plan was to give Hughes another start in the minors before possibly calling him up, to strengthen his arm. Who knows who goes if Giese cannot pitch–if Hughes is rushed, if they give cast-offs such as Igawa or Kennedy a shot. I don’t know and, at this point, am unconvinced that it will matter too much without consistent offensive support.

Awful way to end an awful road trip, back to 8 1/2 behind Tampa in the East and 5 1/2 behind Boston in the Wild Card, back to only seven games above .500. Today’s disgraceful loss screamed run for the bus.

Published in: on August 13, 2008 at 4:52 pm  Comments (12)  

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12 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. You used the right word: lousy. I have a really strong immune system… but if I hadn’t turned off the game I’m sure I would’ve gotten sick. True Yankee fans pride themselves on sticking with their team through good and bad… but this isn’t just bad… it’s just beyond awful. I don’t know if it can get more aggravating.

  2. It is hard for me to decide what I hate more. The Metrodome or Tropicana Field.

  3. watching Cano the last couple of weeks has been very frustrating. We wondered how he would perform w/o Bowa. It’s worse than we could have anticipated.
    I’m going to Atlanta tomorrow to see the Cubs. Should be fun

  4. my vote goes to “the trop”

  5. I hear ya’ Vanessa. The Yankees have been atrocious lately and the games have been tolerable at best. It’s in good part why I haven’t done an HDLR. I don’t anticipate people coming by and having fun because the team has just been a predictable train wreck.

    I agree about Cano, Mike. Pete Abraham made a funny crack today about trading Melky and Betemit for Bowa. I’d consider it, honestly, for both his third-base coaching and his adamant refusal to tolerate slack-ass play. Today was nothing if not slack-ass play. It was disgraceful, rock stupid play.

    I don’t have any doubt that Tropicana Field is the worst sports venue I’ve ever seen a game played in, Mike and Mike. Catwalks in play, old bad turf, clap board walls. And to think that they actually played hockey in that joint. What a dump. It’s a gigantic, rinky-dink putt-putt park. Only a gigantic windmill in center field, or gigantic bumpers along the foul lines, could make it more of a joke.

  6. and don’t forget the cowbells….

  7. And the stinking-ass cowbells. Mike, many thanks. How could I have forgotten those? It must have been because I associate those with the twin towers of broadcasting turpitude–DeWayne Staats and Joe “The Human Migraine” Magrane–and therefore blocked it out. Thanks for the prescient reminder, my friend.

  8. i didnt see that trade idea for the mighty abe–i think he’s on to something there. i really hope this team and coaches are really over-hauled during the off-season-

    this 2004-2008 lineup of hitters has run it’s course. i really feel their best chance after the 04 collapse was 2006-

    last year would have won the award for the “feel-good –comeback story” if they had made it–and looking back on it, if not for the midges i really think we would have won that series–and then i would have liked our chances against the sox–well i dont need to go there. my point is that the team needs wholesale changes and a new and better energy. i can’t put my finger on why i don’t like girardi, but i don’t–i know he has a free pass this year, but he has not been getting performances out of the players that are actually on the active roster.

    i feel that moose has entered a new and productive phase of his career and should be brought back without question. i would under no circumstances bring back andy- as much as i love him.

    i’d like to see

    i’d like to see melky gone. i’d like to trade cano for a great CF -kemp? sign mark ellis to play 2nd–he’s a gamer. nady in right and damon in left. i’d like to bid big G a fond farewell- i love him, but lets move on. matsui as full time DH.

    and i want tex.

  9. Very good comment Mike, and I agree. I’ve complained about this type of team time and time again–too much reliance on power, which by the way has utterly failed them this year, and not enough moving people around the bases with hits and productive outs. I’ll reiterate a point above that seemed not to raise an eyebrow from anyone yet. During this last, ten-game road trip, the Yankees had men on base 41 times who did not score. FORTY-ONE TIMES. That’s practically every other inning throughout the road trip. 16 GIDPs in those ten games is another amazing statistic. This team quite simply does not do the right things with runners on base, and is piss-poor in advancing and scoring runners with any kind of versatility. The Yankees of the late 1990s were flat-out masters of scoring runs any which way, and had different kinds of players who had power but were also unselfish enough–and to me that’s the key–to do what was right to win, not what was potentially good for the stat sheet. This team smacks of stat-sheet readers, in my opinion. I’m inferring a lot, I know, but my gut tells me that and I don’t think I’m the least bit wrong. The proof is in the pudding we’ve seen day in and day out.

    Let’s face it, this team is not a good offensive team. Giambi has to go. He’s a one-trick pony and has drastically devolved as a player. He’s important to the team because he walks a lot and has power but, really, what else does he add? He stinks in the field and hasn’t hit for average in years. We’ve known this for a long time and it’s time for it to end. I wouldn’t keep him as a DH, either.

    I’m less certain about letting Abreu go. He’s got a better arm than Nady from what I can tell, and still fits in well with this team. He might be a guy to replace Giambi/JD at DH for the next couple years on days off in the outfield, but I wouldn’t sign him for more than 2 years, 3 with a club option. He still hits for average and his productivity is good–leading the team in RBIs–and his patience is irreplaceable. But the Yankees should not re-sign him for 3 guaranteed years–2 plus a club option would be my firm stance. Give him money for that time, but make it brief because, if he declines, the Yankees can replace him without too much difficulty or time.

    That said, I like Nady a lot. He needs to keep his swing in order by keeping his front leg down a bit and not stepping too high. But the guy makes solid contact a lot and the ball jumps off his bat. I’d prefer to see him play left and JD center, unless they’re able to get a good, all-around center fielder. I’m done with Melky. He’s a mess at the plate. The Yanks should package him and ship him off this off-season.

    I agree about Pettite/Mussina. I think Mussina has the potential to be a version of Maddux, changing speeds, using his well-honed control and location and, if the Yankees get Sabathia/Sheets as another hard-throwing pitcher, would nicely offset them with his stuff. He’ll make the harder-throwing pitchers even more intimidating in addition to throwing them off with his own. Mussina has become a latter-day Eddie Lopat of sorts.

    I miss CMW. A lot.

    I also think the coaching staff will see some changes regardless of whether or not the Yankees mount a miraculous comeback this last quarter-season. Kevin Long has presided over an offensive team that has dramatically declined in key situations. I don’t think it’s all his fault; it has much to do with the type of players the Yankees have acquired. But I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see him go after 2008. Meacham is a colossal joke. Whose ass did he kiss to get and keep his job after all his incredibly stupid decisions? He’s the anti-Bowa and should be fired. He’s the worst third base coach I can remember for the Yankees.

  10. Mussina could pitch forever because he doesn’t rely on a 96 mile per hour heater to be successful. I don’t think Tex will help and I realized that neither will CC. Want to know why? Haven’t the Yankee bought the most expensive players since 2000? Didn’t they go out and got the best player at each position? What has all this talent got them? Nothing. It’s the Jimmy Johnson factor where you buy players but they don’t do things, “your” way. They have their own way of doing things and it never works out.

  11. I see what you’re saying Sean, but I’m not sure that Teixeira and Sabathia fit into that trope of not doing things a certain way. Giambi never had Teixeira’s glove but was well-rounded enough offensively, hitting for average for example, to convince the Yankees that they could make up for his defensive limitations with a long-term productive bat at either first or DH. To a degree that’s happened offensively, but his regressions in hitting for average, and also the aging and limitations of the rest of the team adding to DH options at the expense of actual two-way players, has been very costly. Teixeira would circumvent that because he’s very good defensively, but I’m not convinced the Yankees will sign him away from the Angels unless they offer him way more money than I’d like to see them spend.

    Sabathia concerns me mainly because he’s big and out of shape, and throws against his body with a good but odd delivery. Basically I’d love to have Sabathia as a very good, younger lefty at Yankee Stadium, but wonder if he’s due for a bad injury with the combination of his being too heavy and having that kind of delivery. I’d still take him, and expect the Yankees to make a big push for him.

    I do think the Yankees need players like Nady more, solid players who produce runs and not necessarily 40 HR guys. I’m not sure that Teixeira would be a problem for the Yankees, though.

  12. “I don’t think Tex will help and I realized that neither will CC. Want to know why? Haven’t the Yankee bought the most expensive players since 2000? Didn’t they go out and got the best player at each position? What has all this talent got them? Nothing. ”

    so even if you are opposed to getting tex and CC to say that they “won’t help” is patently absurd. so are you advocating mediocre players at each position? what in fact are you advocating?

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