Yanks Fail to Give Away Game, Win 9-7

Despite some egregious errors in the field, various squandered opportunities, a poor start from Sabathia and an equally poor decision by Girardi to milk Sabathia dry, the Yankees pulled out a 9-7 win in 14 innings yesterday.  Melky Who Wants to Be Clutch Again belted two homers, including the two-run walk-off, and Jose Veras Who Wants to Be Trustworthy Again pitches his heart out, working 3 1/3 hitless, scoreless innings for the win.  The game turned from exciting to frustration to painful to downright laborious as the Yanks burned missed chances to win and burned through their bullpen.  Thankfully, this excruciatingly long game transpired before a much-needed day off.

Sabathia had a rough start, settled down in the middle innings, then got roughed up again at the end of his stint.  His defense abandoned him in the third inning, but most of the blame rests with Sabathia.  In the second, he granted Holliday a lead-off walk, Cust singled, and Suzuki cranked a 2-2 hanging slider to left, 3-0 A’s.  But the Yanks responded right away in the bottom half, with Matsui and Melky hitting back-to-back homers to cut it to 3-2.  Both were impressive shots, with Matsui’s on a 1-0 fastball mid-thigh and right over the plate.  That Melky hit his right-handed was just as impressive as how well he turned on a first-pitch belt-high fastball to left-center, starting his big day off right.

Things got weird in the top of the third.  JD dropped a sure out when Giambi popped up to left.  He called off Jeter, used two hands, but still allowed the ball to hit the top of the glove and bounce behind him, a hideous error that should never occur to a professional.  It proved costly, for Holliday singled Giambi to third, and he eventually scored on an equally bizarre play.  Cust hit what should have been a 1-6-3 DP, but Jeter went home to try to get Giambi instead of going to first to complete the DP.  The problem was that, after Sabathia threw to second, Jorge took off to back up what would have been Jeter’s throw.  There was no one but the umpire at home, 4-2 A’s.

Jorge was good enough to take the blame:

“I’ve got to stay home, because Jason stayed,” Posada said. “As soon as the ball was hit to CC, I said, ‘Two, two, two,’ but then Jason didn’t break. Instinct just takes you to first base and I got caught in no man’s land.”

Yet I think it’s more complicated than that.  Jorge should have stayed home, but Jeter still had the DP right in front of him even though Holliday was bearing down on him.  If he could pause and throw home under duress, he could have thrown to first and should have.  At first it seemed as though Jeter forgot how many outs there were, but I think now he just considered it the easier play.  It wasn’t; nor was Jorge even there.  Jeter rushed and, combined with JD’s error, it put the Yanks two runs behind.

Yet they tied the game right away, a good sign in my book that they responded immediately.  Teixeira singled, Jorge doubled, and Cano’s slow 4-3 plated Teixeira, 4-3.  Swish’s single to center tied it, but he was thrown out going for two.  I really don’t mind the aggressiveness in general, now in that situation in particular.  Things started to look up in the fourth when CC worked a 1-2-3, and Jeter’s two-out blast to deep center, his fourth of the year already, gave the Yanks a 5-4 lead.  Sabathia followed up with another 1-2-3, but got in trouble again with a walk to Cust.  Suzuki moved him to second with a ground out, and Ellis scored Cust with a single to tie the game.  But again, the Yanks responded, scoring two in the bottom half.  Melky walked but was thrown out trying to steal.  But New York manufactured a two-out rally when Ransom doubled and Jeter doubled him home, 6-5 Yanks.  Jeter’s hit was terrific, going down and ripping an 0-2 slider to center, then taking second on Sweeney’s slow path to the ball.  He then scored on Teixeira’s single, 7-5 Yanks.

But Sabathia and Girardi cost the Yanks in the top of the seventh.  Sabathia was at 100 after six, but it was a laborious 100. He wasn’t efficient, and was touched up a bit in the sixth.  He should not have pitched the seventh, regardless of pitch count.  It was a bad decision by Girardi, also reflecting what little faith he has in parts of middle relief.  Crosy led off with a single, Sweeney walked, Cabrera bunted them over, and Giambi’s 6-3 cut it to 7-6.  Holliday’s single to center tied it at seven, and Sabathia left the mound to a chorus of boos.  The guy’s a gamer, and I respect the heck out of the fact that he wants and takes the ball.  But those of us watching yesterday knew he didn’t have it.  I don’t think it was that he was gassed as much as it was that he wasn’t effective.  But the Yanks blew a golden opportunity to take the lead back, again right away in the bottom of the seventh, when the loaded the bases with no outs but didn’t score a run. Cano singled, Swish came back from 1-2 to walk, and Matsui’s bloop to right loaded them up.  But Melky fanned, Gardner pinch-hit for Ransom to avoid the DP yet popped out meekly to third for the second out, and Jeter weakly popped out to second, a terrible blown chance that probably extended the game an extra two hours.

Albaladejo replaced Coke and worked around a lead-off single to strand Suzuki at third, fanning Crosby to end the eighth.  But JD’s lead-off walk went wasted.  Mariano pitched the ninth, inducing some trepidation in me about his past travails in tie games, but he too worked around a single.  Yet Matsui erased Swish’s lead-off walk with a DP, and Melky fanned to send it to extras.  Marte relieved Mariano and made things interesting with a lead-off walk and then a two-out walk to put runners at the corners, but got Crosby to pop out to Jeter.

Sweeney led off the eleventh with a single but was caught stealing.  With two outs, Veras at first tried to reenact the Easter debacle in KC by issuing a two-out walk to Giambi.  But who would have guessed that The Big G was the only base runner Veras would allow over the next 3+ innings?  Not I, for he set down Holliday on an F9, then proceeded to perform yeoman’s work in the clutch for a team desperately needed to win, and desperately trying not to.  It didn’t help that ex-Yankee Dan Giese himself pitched very well in relief, avoiding some trouble in the thirteenth but getting Cano on an F7.  But in the fourteenth, Swish again worked a terrific walk, and Melky pasted a belt-high fastball inside to deep right to finally end the 4 hour, 57-minute marathon, 9-7 Yanks.

The Yanks had to win this game after getting 17 hits and 7 walks.  The team was a good 5-12 with RISP, but stranded 13.  They had ample opportunities well before extra innings to distance themselves from Oakland but failed to do so, instilling the fear in me that the team would falter and choke to not just let one get away, but take a bad, self-induced beat.  That didn’t happen, and Melky deserves credit for his dramatics and a good game–2-6, 3 RBIs (7 on the year), 2 runs and a walk, batting .304, though he fanned 3 times and was caught stealing.  His second homer was huge.  Jeter was clutch, driving in 2 (10 this year) with a double and his fourth homer, scoring twice in his 2-7 day (.286).  JD was 3-5 with 2 walks, batting .306/.407.  Teixiera is starting to warm up, going 2-7 (.222) with his 9th RBI and a run.  Jorge was also 2-6, and is also at .286.  Cano was 2-7 (.367) with his 9th RBI.  Matsui looks better since his knee was drained, going 2-7 (.244) with his second homer.  Ransom was 1-3 with a double, batting .170.  All the starters had at least one hit.  Some of the starters also had something for which to atone–Jeter and Jorge for the terrible play in the third, JD for his atrocious drop, and Melky for whiffing thrice.  But in all, they delivered, and seven runs in regulation should be enough to win a game.

Sabathia again struggled, going 6 2/3 and allowing 6 hits, 7 runs 6 earned, walking 4 and fanning just 2 on 112 pitches /66 strikes.  Again he wasn’t sharp or efficient.  He also should have been out after the sixth.  Girardi had a two-run lead, and could have gone to Coke for the seventh and Bruney for the eighth.  Bruney threw 21 pitches the day before, but had off Monday and only threw 9 pitches Sunday.  Can he not go two consecutive days?  Regardless, Girardi made a poor decision, and hopefully the tremendous work by the bullpen can help to restore some faith in the group–7 1/3 IP, 3 hits, no runs, 3 walks, and 6 K’s.  Veras especially was incredible, allowing just the walk in over three clutch innings.  Surely he won’t be available for a couple days, but the guy earned some big points with me. I’ve been suspicious of him and his inconsistencies, but yesterday Veras stood tall.  I’m proud of him, and Melky.

The Yanks are now 9-6, tied for second place with Boston whom they play in Fenway over the weekend, each 1 1/2 behind first-place Toronto.  Big series, and a sporting handshake to Steve and Joe before the upcoming series.  Enjoy.

I’ll be around tomorrow night, and might do an HDLR; we’ll see.  However, I won’t be around Saturday, and may be Sunday night.  Great pitching match-ups this weekend:

Friday: RHP Joba Chamberlain (0-0, 5.06) vs. LHP Jon Lester (1-2, 5.50), 7:10 p.m., YES

Saturday: RHP A.J. Burnett (2-0, 3.20) vs. RHP Josh Beckett (2-1, 3.79), 4:10 p.m., FOX

Sunday: LHP Andy Pettitte (2-0, 2.53) vs. RHP Justin Masterson (1-0, 3.18), 8:05 p.m., ESPN

Thanks to everyone for commenting lately.  I just got my laptop fixed after a virus disrupted operations, causing such a disturbance that the tech guy could not even download an anti-virus program or get the prompt page up; terrible, and expensive.  He had to re-install my operating system, causing me to lose what I had on it.  Thankfully I backed everything up off-site, including thousands of pages of written materials and other vital information.  It was a loss, but thankfully not a total loss.  Now, my machine is back and protected, running well and just in time for the series with Boston.

Published in: on April 23, 2009 at 4:36 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Infinitely awesome ending to a long, but worth it, game.. I was actually there =) .. I posted some pics if you want to check them out.. It was great to be there.. even if it was 5 hours, lol..
    Looking forward to this Boston series.. it should be good.. I assume you’ll be hosting another HDLR J?

  2. Good to hear your computer is back up and functional. My computer crashed a couple of months ago, and unfortunately I had to go back to the OS that was on the system when it was purchased, which meant no more Vista. The Dell tech guy thinks Vista was the problem anyway. Fortunately everything I had on the computer was on my old laptop, so I didn’t really lose anything….just had to go through the pain of re-installing programs and moving files over. Thankfully all my Pink Floyd bootlegs were on my flash drives and not affected.

    As to the game, I am beyond thrilled we won even though we didn’t really deserve to win….we played like poop. I only hope our rotation + pen + offense doesn’t decide to take this series off. Boston is always a rival, no matter what either team looks like.

  3. Great post you put together on the game, V, and I’m glad you got to go. It seems to have been a blast.

    Thanks for the well wishes about the ol’ laptop, Beth. It was a worry and a big pain, delaying some much needed work for a few days, but it’s running like a top now. What a relief to have had nearly everything backed up off-site, seriously one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. That saved me an enormous series of hassles. I couldn’t imagine the pointless anguish of searching for e-versions of my dissertation chapters, research notes, and other pertinent materials. I’ve heard bad things about Vista, and have had no real problems with XP. On the game, the Yanks did almost everything to lose, but the bullpen was their saving grace; tremendous work. True that they’ll need a total effort against Boston, who really got hot the last week-plus.

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