It was my intention to write the post last night but, having been up very late the night before and having a full day of running the kids to and from different activities, I conked out about 10:30 ET. We also got a new dog, a beautiful six-year-old cocker spaniel whose previous owner couldn’t (and didn’t from what I can tell) take adequate care of her, so when she hunkered down next to me in bed, I was even less inclined to get up. She’s a terrific dog, very sweet and gentle, and fetches a ball like it ain’t nobody’s business. She’s also extremely smart and quick to learn, a real joy.
I got back from picking up GLG from soccer practice just as the Yankees fell behind 3-2. JD led off the bottom of the first with his 10th homer, a blast to right, but Boston responded with a run in the top of the second with three straight two-out singles–Pettite’s bane all night. The Yanks used the same method–three straight two-out singles–to retake the lead 2-1 in the bottom of the second, but Boston took the lead for good in the top of the third with back-to-back doubles from Ortiz and Youkilis and an RBI single from Bay, 3-2 Boston. Abreu’s third-inning single was erased on A-Rod’s first of two DP balls, earning him boos by the late innings.
Pettite struggled with two-out situations all night, and wasn’t helped by a floating strike zone from home plate ump Jim Reynolds, who certainly squeezed Pettite with a fourth-inning walk to weak-hitting caddie catcher Cash. That and more squeezing to Ellsbury prompted a conference at the mound with Girardi that seemed to last half an hour. It seemed to help on Ellsbury’s being called out on strikes, but that’s about it, for Pettite was chased from the fifth with yet another two-out rally. Bay, Lowrie, and Crisp used the consecutive-singles method to make it 4-2, Crisp stole second, and Bailey’s (first baseman who, with Lowell out–more about that later, moves Youkilis to third) hard-hit ball caromed off third. A-Rod made a great play to field it cleanly and in stride, stopped and threw to first but couldn’t beat Bailey. Giambi then either thought that the call was out and had a total brain fart or, with his sad rag arm, didn’t trust his ability to throw home for, as the apoplectic Giambi stood and wandered off first, Crisp barely paused in rounding third and scampered home, 6-2 Boston. Perfect metaphor for the Yankees season right there, head up the ass baseball.
JD homered again to right, his 11th of the year, in the bottom of the fifth to cut it to 6-3 but, after Jeter and Abreu singled to mount a rally and potentially big inning, A-Rod and Giambi flew out to end that. Three walks in the top of the sixth from the generous Bruney allowed a sac fly from Bay to make it 7-3. Yet again the Yanks mounted a rally that was left unrequited in the bottom of the seventh. Pudge fanned–he’s done precious little since the pox-on-both-houses trade with Detroit–JD walked, Jeter singled, and Abreu walked to load the bases. But A-Rod as the tying run killed it with an easy 6-6-3 DP, with Cora well positioned up the middle, precipitating the aforementioned boos. A throwing error from A-Rod in the top of the eighth only worsened the booing, which I understand but don’t agree with.
Another Yankee rally in the eighth died from seemingly natural causes when Giambi reached on an E4, Nady singled, but Okajima fanned Matsui looking on a borderline curve and got Cano to pop weakly to second. Papelbon then entered and got Pudge to ground out. Nothing came of Jeter’s reaching on an E5 in the ninth, and the Yankees lost.
The top of the Yankees order went 6-13 with 2 runs and 2 RBI–both scoring stats from JD’s two solo shots. Jeter is up to .294 and Abreu .298, while JD continues to have an excellent year at the plate, hitting .313 with 11 homers and 57 RBIs. But A-Rod and Giambi were a combined 0-9, with A-Rod fanning twice and hitting into two DPs. In his last 19 games, A-Rod has grounded into 9 DPs. With his error, A-Rod couldn’t have had a worse game. He was horrible. The team left 10 on base, 3 in scoring position, and had one two-out RBI. Boston left 13 on, 6 in scoring position, but had 4 two-out RBIs–similar stats but with the one big difference. The Yankees were 1-8 with RISP, the same-old same old and the same-old culprits. A-Rod is now batting .246 with RISP with 6 GIDPs, and Giambi is an atrocious .203 with RISP.
Pettite was poor, going 4 2/3 and surrendering 10 hits, 6 runs earned, 3 walks, and 3 K’s in 101 pitches/60 strikes. He contributed to his own inefficiency with pitches by allowing so many two-out hits. Sure, he got squeezed at times, but Pettite was his own worst enemy.
One final note–I’m really a bit tired of hearing so much about the Yankees’ injuries being so responsible for their woes. It’s certainly true but only to a degree. Why? Look at Boston. Schilling is probably done and hasn’t pitched a lick this year–though how good he’d have been is another question. Beckett has been injured, Ortiz spent considerable time on the DL with a bad wrist, Lowell has been hurt, Drew has a bad back and is laid up, Boston traded away one of the greatest hitters of all time in Ramirez, and still they’re several games ahead of the Yankees. Having better pitching has something to do with that and therefore the Yankees’ injuries of Wang and Joba matter considerably, but there’s much more to it than that. It’s having people step up and play well, and for all his struggles this year, Ellsbury has certainly outplayed Melky, as has Crisp. Pedroia has outplayed Cano. Youkilis has certainly outplayed Giambi. The injuries argument is somewhat hackneyed to me, especially when discussing the Yankees’ offense. Yes, Matsui and Posada missed lots of time and that hurts. But I can’t be told that there wasn’t enough talent on the Yankees to perform at a much higher level this season. Their approach seems to be to swing for the fences, as I and others have often discussed. Boston has outhit the Yankees with runners on (.279 to .272) and with RISP (.273 to .260). That also occurred last night and Boston didn’t have Drew and Lowell.
Get it done or don’t Yanks. Nothing more, nothing less. Lose this series, and the Yankees are already down six in the wild card race, and you can just kiss the post-season–already rather remote–good-bye.