Yanks Drop 6-5 Rubber Game to Florida

CC left the game in the second with what the team has characterized as “biceps tightness” that doesn’t appear overly serious, but for which I’d have had an MRI done as a precaution.  Aceves relieved with the score 1-0 Marlins and was tremendous, an “unsung hero this season” as Mike quite rightly texted me during the game, working 2 2/3 innings of one-hit, scoreless relief.

Yet the dark cloud that is Brett Tomko appeared in the bottom of the fifth with the Yanks ahead 3-1, the result of a good two-out rally in the third.  He promptly allowed two homers, a two-run shot to Hanley Ramirez in the fifth that Tomko left belt-high, tapering to the inner half–a wheel house pitch to tie the game–and a solo homer the next inning to Cody Ross, also belt-high, that Ross creamed to deep left.  Coke and Robertson allowed two more in the seventh, with Robertson allowing a single to Cantu to left that Melky threw wide of home, allowing two to score instead of one.

It would prove costly, for the Yanks’ dormant offense awakened and rallied for two with two outs in the ninth that would have tied it without Melky’s throwing error.  Posada and Melky singled before Brett the Jet laced a triple to the gap in right center, 6-5 Florida.  Yet right after JD walked to put runners at the corners, and with the closer Lindstrom having thrown 20 pitches, Jeter swung at the first pitch to ground out and end the game.

I don’t get what Hughes’s role is on this team.  Granted, he pitched an inning last night and maybe they’re utilizing some “Franchise Rules” for him by not having him work consecutive days.  Since he has not pitched consecutive days while working out of the pen, perhaps this is the case.  However, he’s been great lately.  In his last 8 2/3 IP, Hughes has allowed just 5 hits, two runs earned, a walk, and fanned 12, all the while aggressively attacking the strike zone and keeping batters on the defensive, which he did not do last year.  While presumably Bruney is the setup guy, is Hughes simply some keep-it-close pitcher?  I’d say he’s rather more than that and, considering he is still somewhat stretched out, would have been an ideal choice–not Tomko–to work the fifth and sixth and hold the lead.  Tomko has easily filled Veras’s role as untrustworthy reliever, while Hughes has been terrific.  Was Hughes not available after pitching the night before?

A-Rod had two of the three RBI in the three-run third, breaking his 0-16 slump but was 1-4 today and, despite his fatigue that caused him to finally get a couple days off, was seen cavorting with Kate Hudson until 2:30 in the morning.  Hey, A-Rod, if you’re fatigued, get some sleep.  I really don’t care much about the personal lives of players, honestly, and they’re entitled to a little fun.  But I can’t help but think that, given A-Rod’s various distractions and somewhat flaky temperament when he struggles, that his on-field issues aren’t part of a larger bag of irresponsibility and fallout from everything, from steroids to his divorce to probably some self-imposed pressure given his struggles and weighty contract.  If so, and honestly even if not, so much for his eliminating all those pesky “distractions” as he vowed before the season.  Whatever.

Personally, I’m a bit more concerned with the fact that the Yanks’ offense has tapered off badly in the last couple weeks, just as the pitching has been mostly better and the competition, especially the GNats and Marlins, considerably weaker.  Going 2-4 to these chumps is a disgrace, and the Yanks were a mere .260 (26-100) against the Marlins.  Against the GNats, they hit a lowly .203 (19-93) and, in the last two series, combined to score all of 18 runs against two sub-.500 teams, one of which in the GNats pundits have not inaccurately compared to the 1962 Mets.  The offense has been shut down by lousy pitchers such as Craig Stammen and Chris Volstad.

I’m not trying to lay all the blame on the person whom I’ll briefly discuss, for the problems primarily rest on the field and in the collective swoon the offense is enduring.  A-Rod’s centrality in that has had ripple effects to Teixeira, whom teams are avoiding, yet others such as Melky and Posada have scuffled a bit lately as well.  Yet I am unimpressed by the Yanks’ effort and preparation for these two series.  It’s inexcusable, and why Girardi isn’t getting more flak for his team’s somnambulant efforts, I have no idea.  After all, wasn’t one of his alleged attributes his intensity after the laid-back, hands-off Torre?  I’m of the opinion that the players have ultimately lost the games for myriad reasons, including some shoddy defense after a historic errorless stretch.  I’m also of the opinion that too much intensity isn’t necessarily good for the team.  But there is something to be said about ensuring that the team is ready to play.  They have not been, period, and against lousy teams.  Focusing this team on playing better, more fundamentally sound basbeall and what is at stake is Girardi’s job.  I haven’t seen a lot of focus from the Yanks of late.

They appeared to underestimate both the GNats and Marlins and, with everyone else in the East winning today, it has brought the Yanks back to just seven above .500, and back to the pack in a tightening AL East instead of closer to Boston, whom the Yanks trail by four games.  The players deserve the bulk of the blame.  Girardi, however, deserves some too.  The Yanks haven’t played with much urgency the last week and it’s cost them.  Now they have a day off before three in Atlanta and three more in New York but at the Mets to think about the direction in which they wish to go.

Published in: on June 21, 2009 at 11:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

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