Tonight felt like one of those nights early on, when the Yanks weren’t hitting, when Gavin Floyd and Pettite got breaks on calls from blind home plate ump Ted Barrett well off the plate, when runs and even opportunities were at a premium. Unfortunately, a few costly mistakes felled the Yanks 3-2 in a tight game. Pettite was tremendous, going 6 2/3 and allowing just 5 hits, 2 runs 1 earned, walking none and fanning 8 on 101 pitches/71 strikes. Floyd certainly matched him, fanning 10 in 7 2/3.
The game buzzed along, thanks to an umpiring crew that officiated as if affronted by an hour rain delay that interrupted dinner plans, something on which I will touch later. The Sox broke through in the third when Pettite hung two sliders, one to Getz for a lead-off single and one to Beckham for a two-out RBI double, 1-0 White Sox. The Yanks, meanwhile, were held in check and mustered little until the sixth, when Molina lined a ground-rule double over the fence in left center to start the inning. Jeter lined out right to Dye in right, and JD laced an RBI single to right to tie the game, taking second on the throw. Teixeira struck out on a curve outside that Ted Barrett generously and erroneously called all game for the second out, and A-Rod’s abysmal plate awareness suckered him into swinging at a curve well outside for the third out, clipping short a rally that actually had potential.
Despite how good Pettite had been all night, the bottom of the seventh was brutal and ultimately costly, for the normally reliable Yankees’ defense caved and allowed a lousy run. Thome hit a slow chopper up the line at first and Pettite lumbered toward the ball as if it would be a close play at first when, with the ox Thome loping harmlessly, a gradual approach to field the ball would have been more than sufficient. Nope; instead, Pettite scampered to the ball as if Wise were running, then slipped like an oaf on the turf, giving Thome first on what should have been a sure out. He fanned Konerko on a nasty cutter for the first out, but Pierzynski, whose picture fittingly appears in the Oxford English Dictionary next to the entry “jackass,” lined one low to third that A-Rod should have had, yet it glanced off his glove into the hole, first and second instead of a sure DP ball. Hughes entered and got Quentin on what should have been a 5-4-3 DP, but Cano got a hard slide from Pierzynski and made an errant throw to first, allowing the painfully slow Thome to score from second, 2-1 Sox.
The Yanks got two two-out singles from Jeter and JD, but Barrett decided that Teixeira’s flinch at an 0-2 pitch merited a strike call to allow him to get pasta and meatballs at Harry Carey’s restaurant a half-hour earlier than warranted. Barrett was a joke all night. Hughes worked through the eighth, and with two outs in the ninth, Swish creamed an 0-1 fastball up to deep left to tie the game at 2. Still, I didn’t feel at ease; it was just too odd a night. I would have felt better had the game slid into extras but, alas, it didn’t happen. Beforehand, to end the top of the ninth, Barrett rung up Cano on another lousy call, high and outside, really a joke call. Yes, players need to adjust to abnormal strike zones. Yet I deny that Barrett’s was consistent all the way through the night. Joke.
Hughes worked into the bottom of the ninth, ensuring that he won’t work until Saturday at the earliest. Thome hit a one-out single to center when Coke might well have subbed in for him. Konerko singled to left. Coke entered and got that asshead Pierzynski on an F8 shallow, but fell behind the weak-hitting Wise 2-0, came back to 2-2, then grooved a cookie down Broadway (or Michigan Avenue in this instance) that Wise hit through the box to score Podsednik pinch-hitting for Thome, 3-2 Sox, bad start to the four-game set for the Yanks.
The key to the loss, other than poor defense? Teixeira, A-Rod (who looks lost at the plate), and Matsui combined to go 0-12, 8 K’s. That was a killer. The team fanned 14 times; atrocious. Floyd and Thornton are good, but not that good. Lots of help from Barrett, and regular readers here know I do little complaining about umpiring, but tonight it was well justified. Still the big reason for the loss was defense, looking awful for the second time in three games, wasting a gem of a start from Pettite.
Mitre goes tomorrow night against lefty Clayton Richard (4-3, 4.65 ERA). Better get off the mat fast, Yanks. Enough of the nonsense with struggling unknown lefties and youngsters. The Yanks blew an eminently winnable game tonight, and have one tomorrow against an inconsistent lefty who walks a fair amount of batters and, while very good in his last two starts, has struggled in plenty of others. Don’t screw around with him and this dangerous but justifiably .500 team, guys. With Boston’s win and the Yanks’ loss, New York now sits 2 1/2 up in the East.