The Yankees lost for the second game in a row to the Baltimore Orioles by the score of 5-4 in extra innings, but the culprit this time was actually the bullpen. After playing the Orioles at home for three games they had to travel to Baltimore, during a rare off day, for one game, to make up a game that was postponed due to Hurricane Irene.
Ivan Nova pitched well enough to get the victory, allowing three runs in 5.1 innings and it would have made sense for Girardi to have left him in to finish the sixth inning since he was only at 98 pitches. This was Nova’s 13th start since June 3rd and he is remarkably not picked up a loss in any of them, while getting the victory 11 times.
However, he was on track to win the game since Alfredo Simon gave up four runs in the first three innings. All the runs actually came off of singles. In the top of the second, Eric Chavez singled to shortstop scoring Alex Rodriguez. Later in the inning with the bases loaded and two outs, Derek Jeter singled to shallow center scoring Robinson Cano and Chavez.
In the top of the third Chavez would collect his second single of the afternoon and thus his second RBI as Mark Teixiera scored from second after a rare steal. After the fourth inning the Yankees failed to have a runner reach scoring position off of five Orioles relievers.
They were shut off the bases by four of those relievers and three of them – Clay Rapada, Jeremy Accardo and Jo-Jo Reyes – have ERA’s over 5.18. They will need to improve their hitting against relief pitching as they will be facing relieves who are much more dominating in the coming series against the Angels in Anaheim, as well as in the playoffs.
Baltimore was led by likely Hall of Famer, Vladimir Guerrero, who was 3-5, with a homer off of Nova. The real hero for the Orioles during this game was the speedy Robert Andino out of the ninth spot in the Baltimore lineup. He won the game for the O’s as he had an RBI single in the 8th off of Rafael Soriano for his second blown save, and a walk-off single in the 10th off of the newly re-acquired Scott Proctor.
They Yankees were lucky that the Blue Jays helped them out once again by beating the Red Sox to keep their division lead at 2.5 games.
The Angels have been surging of late, having won six of their last 10, and they also won seven of eight towards the end of August. Anaheim is now only 2.5 games behind the Texas Rangers so it is possible that the Yankees will play them in the first round of the playoffs.
However, the Detroit Tigers (who lead the AL Central by 8.5 games), Rangers and Angels are all only separated by 2.5 games so we likely will not know the first round pairings until the last few days of the season. If the Red Sox win the Wild Card as they in position to right now they will play the division winner with the second best record and the Yankees will play the other division winner.
As of now the most favorable matchup for the Yankees would be if the Angels do indeed overtake the Rangers in the AL West since they have the weakest offense and the Yankees hit pretty well against their starters, which even includes CY Young candidate Jared Weaver.
They don’t want the take the mindset of scoreboard watching to set up their first round matchup but facing the Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander (22 wins, 2.44 ERA, 232 strikeouts) twice in the first round would be very imposing.
The Yankees should have been able to win three or even four of the games during their makeshift series against the last place Orioles, but they played down to the competition in the last two games with errors, not hitting in the clutch and A.J. Burnett pitching on Wednesday. They also had to deal with a lot of rain.
After playing in what seemed like monsoon conditions at times the Yankees are definitely happy to be playing cross country near Disney Land for three games against the Angels. They will get to avoid the rain for at least three days, play under the sun, but will unfortunately have to face Weaver on Friday after not much rest.
The hefty Bartolo Colon (8-9, 3.72 ERA, 123 strikeouts) who has been consistently reliable and at times dominating, surpassing any expectations that Cashman would have had for him, will pitch against the team that he won the CY Young for in 2005. That was also the last season that he was healthy for the whole campaign.
Colon should be a lock for the Comeback Player of the Year after the blast from the past season that he has put together, especially since he was out of baseball during 2010 due to right shoulder pain and damage to his rotator cuff.
Usually teams that are playing games on the other side of the country have a travel day but the Yankees off day was ruined because of the makeup game yesterday.
The Yankees lead the season series 4-2 after struggling against the Angels in years past. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, (who have gimmicks like the rally monkey that the Yankees would never use) have been the Yankees nemesis in the playoffs in previous seasons but it seems like they match up better this season.
This was their fourth rain delay this season against the Orioles who came out on top 5-4 in extra innings over the Yankees in a game that featured six errors and 13 relievers.
Baltimore and New York’s starters each struggled giving up a combined eight runs. Zach Britton who had been one of the Orioles better starters of late gave up all of the Yankees runs on five hits and four walks.
A.J. Burnett did not really do enough to deserve another start in this six-man rotation that should turn into the standard five-man one. He allowed four runs on seven hits, with four walks and a homer. This start proved again how unreliable he is since he allowed two runs in his start last week against the Red Sox but in his two starts before that one he allowed a combined 16 runs.
Burnett gave up a two run homer to Nolan Reimold, his ninth of the season, who is only hitting .231. It is truly hard to fathom how Burnett gave up two runs by the Boston offense but could not limit the paltry Baltimore offense.
It seems like Hughes can be counted on to pitch more consistently than Burnett especially since he only has one win in his last 10 starts while Hughes has shown some dominance since coming off the disabled list.
The offensive stars for the Yankees were Jesus Montero and Alex Rodriguez as they drove in all of their four runs. Rodriguez had a two-run double to deep center which drove in Russell Martin and Nick Swisher in the opening stanza, and Montero (5 RBI in 5 games) singled to deep right center which plated Rodriguez and Andruw Jones.
In the bottom of the sixth shortstop Robert Andino fielded a shot hop cleanly and it appeared that he would throw out Jesus Montero but Andino would receive an error because his throw to first sailed into the Yankee dugout.
In an effort to get the lead before the game was potentially called because of rain Manager Joe Girardi sent in Robinson Cano and Mark Teixiera. Curtis Granderson was inserted into the lineup after Teixiera which would make a very imposing seven, eight and nine to round out the order. Granderson hit a double to the wall in the seventh which had the potential of being a triple but he tripped after rounding first base.
However, his double to lead off the inning would go to waste as he would be stranded at third keeping the score at four. The Yankees squandered an opportunity to put the game away in that inning.
In the top of the eighth David Robertson dominated like normal but this time he struck out the side. He used his cutter to perfection.
In the ninth inning Clay Rapada would pitch for the Orioles and he is very deceptive on left handed pitchers because he is a side arm pitcher. The umpire went to the mound to try and force Rapada to put his foot on the rubber but it appeared as if his foot stayed off the rubber for the rest of the at-bat against Cano. Rapada would get Granderson to fly out to the catcher and with that Buck Showalter would make yet another pitching change.
Pedro Strop would come into the game becoming the Orioles seventh pitcher on the afternoon. Strop, a converted shortstop, has a 3.09 ERA in 10 appearances, two for the Orioles and eight for the Rangers. He would get Eduardo Nunez to ground out to Andino at short to force extra innings in a game filled with errors.
To start the “free baseball” Hector Noesi struck out Chris Davis to give him five on the afternoon, as well as a grand total of 20 in his last 40 at bats. Noesi would go on to strike out the side as he has filled his role adequately in relief this season.
Russell Martin picked up his second hit of the contest to lead-off the bottom of the 10th, but the next three batters would get out in order. Martin was the only Yankee who played the whole game to come away with two hits and he also had his second consecutive game with multiple hits. After pinch hitting for Ramiro Pena, Granderson got a hit in two out of his three at bats.
Nunez came away with an error after failing to pick up the fast short hop by Matt Angle. That was the fourth error of the game and committing so many miscues makes it difficult to win games, but the wet conditions certainly don’t help. Joe Girardi left Noesi in one inning too long as he threw a wild pitch to Reimold and the feast or famine Mark Reynolds hit an RBI single.
Eduardo Nunez had the chance to be the hero in the bottom of the eleventh and make up for committing his 18th error, but Girardi decided to replace him with Eric Chavez with runners on first and third. This strategic move proved to be an instance of over-analyzing because Chavez would ground into a fielder’s chance to end the game.
The Yankees offense should not have been held scoreless for six innings off of an Orioles bullpen that features the previously mentioned converted shortstop, a reliever making his fourth career appearance in Zach Phillips and four who all have more than a 4.15 ERA.
A reason for only scoring four runs in 11 innings is that they did horribly in clutch situations once again. Four players including Swisher, Cano, Montero and Chavez left runners on base with two outs and overall the team left nine runners on base. It is very important to drive runners in with ducks on the pond and in this game the Yankees could not convert off of mediocre pitchers.
It also would have helped if Martin would have thrown out some of the base stealers as three of the five stolen bases off of him came around to score. If he would have thrown out two or even three of them that might have caused a different outcome.
Burnett is now the first pitcher in history to have eight games in his career with three wild pitches. The Yankees
The Yankees will try and win the series (3-1) tonight behind Ivan Nova who strong candidate for Rookie of the Year. He has now gone eight consecutive starts with a win and has not picked up a loss since June 3rd helping him to a remarkable 15-4 record. Nova does not crumble under pressure and he has even improved his pitch location and execution after allowing one or two early runs.
They are 8-2 in their last 10 games helping them stay 2.5 games ahead of Boston.
CC Sebathia finally had a quality start against the Boston Red Sox, helping the Yankees win 5-2, improving their season record to 3-10 against Boston. He had help from the bullpen as they got into some jams but never surrendered a run.
Another positive about this game was that Mariano Rivera, who has struggled against the Red Sox in the past, allowing a run in his last appearance against them, picked a save while allowing one hit.
Eric Chavez had his best game production wise since the beginning of August as he had two run scoring singles, in the first and fourth innings, respectively, almost single handedly giving the Yankees all the offense they would need.
In addition to Chavez’s RBI in the top of the fourth, Robinson Cano, hit his 36th double, which drove in Robinson Cano. That was Cano’s 96th RBI, which places him third on the Yankees and fourth in the American League.
The Red Sox would score their only runs of the game in the bottom of the fourth innings as the speedy Carl Crawford, hit his 10th homer of the season, and Marco Scutaro hit a double to left scoring a run.
In the bottom of the fourth CC Sebathia had a clutch strikeout to end the inning and the Yankees would go on to score another run, off a rare homer by Francisco Cervelli, in the bottom of the inning. Cervelli’s actions upon returning to home plate were regrettably as he should have waited until he got back to the dugout to celebrate.
However, this was only Cervelli’s third home run of his career, so possibly the reason he displayed his usual enthusiasm was because he got caught up in the moment.
Crawford made an impressive catch up against the Green Monster, on a ball hit by Robinson Cano, for the first out of the inning.
In the bottom of the fifth Sebathia gave up a double to Jed Lowrie and the Yankees were lucky a run didn’t score because David Ortiz is extremely slow. He would strike out Saltalamacchia, who likely has the longest last name in baseball, to avoid any damage.
In the bottom of the sixth, with Sebathia still pitching, with 110 plus pitches, Chevez was able to show his gold glove form from earlier in his career by fielding a short hop and making a strong throw to Mark Teixiera at first. Sebathia was in true workhorse form tonight as he threw 128 pitches through six innings only allowing two runs. This proves how much confidence Joe Girardi rightfully has in him.
Francisco Cervelli got intentionally thrown at to lead off the top of the seventh. In some ways he had this coming as he clapped emphatically when stepping on home plate after his home run. A pitcher should never intentionally throw at a hitter, but what Cervelli did is against the “code” of baseball.
The Red Sox almost regretted hitting Cervelli because he wound up on third with nobody out after Gardner bunted for a single. This almost ignited a brawl, however, the benches emptied but nothing materialized. Unfortunately, Jeter would go on to hit a double play right to Dustin Pedroia at shortstop to end any kind of momentum. That scored a run but they should have had much more.
The Yankees got lucky a second time with David Oritiz running as he stopped at third on Crawford’s single to left field. Logan would then strike out Saltalamacchia, which would be Jared’s second strikeout with men on base. Logan would go on to pick up back-to-back strikeouts as Darnell Macdonald would swing at a pitch high and outside, to end the seventh inning.
Nick Swisher continued his recent hot hitting, which mirrors how he raked during his All-star campaign last season, as he hit a single in the eighth just inside the foul line to send Cano to third. This culminated a 3-3 game for him. After Posada walked to force the bases loaded, Cervelli could not continue to give the Yankees any more magic as he grounded out to Pedroia to keep the score 5-2.
In order to catch the towering fly ball hit by Marco Scutaro, in the bottom of the eighth, Brett Gardner had to use all of his blazing speed to catch up with the ball. It was almost a SportsCenter top 10 worthy catch.
The Red Sox would threaten to score in the ninth, as Ortiz smacked a double to shallow right and Saltalamacchia got hit by a pitch, but as stated above, Rivera was able to limit their scoring opportunity.
John Lackey gave up four earned runs, but five overall, during the game. The Yankees should have scored more but that was the minimum amount that would have been acceptable against Lackey what has been struggling the whole season.
However, tonight the Yankees will not have the privilege of facing a pitcher who is not living up to his contract. Josh Beckett has an 11-5 record, a 2.43 ERA and is a CY Young candidate just like Sebathia (and the likely winner Justin Verlander). If Sebathia had not struggled so much in his first four starts against the Red Sox he would probably be even with Verlander right now.
Phil Hughes has pitched very well in five out of his seven starts since coming off of the disabled list, so, if he can deliver a quality start the Yankees will have a great chance since Beckett has a 5.37 career record against the Bronx Bombers.
Derek Jeter is 0-9 in his last two games, while missing the last game of the Orioles series because of a minor injury, but hopefully he can get back on track tonight against Beckett, who he is hitting .282 against for his career.
One of the Yankees top prospects, catcher Jesus Montero, will join the Yankees from AAA Scranton for the series finale. He is more known for his offense than his defense behind the plate.
There is no way to tell if a players encouraging or underachieving start to the season will continue or not but so far Brian Cashman’s offseason signings have been a resounding success, overall. He deserves praise for his strategy of signing many low risk high reward veteran players hoping that many of them would capitalize.
Andruw Jones and Eric Chavez are both hitting above .300 in limited action with Jones even adding a home run as one of his six hits. An added benefit of signing Chavez is that he gives the team versatility since he can play first base and third base. Freddy Garcia has only allowed one run in three appearances, two starts. They will need him to continue this dominance. Russell Martin has played like the All Star he was a few years ago before his injuries. He is hitting .292, with six home runs, 16 RBI and has shown the speed from earlier in his career with two stolen bases. Martin is constantly hustling and has proven to cause havoc on the base-paths.
The off-season signing who has surprised the most is none other than Bartolo Colon. He has likely been the Yankees most dominating pitcher so far. He has proven that his excellent numbers from winter league and Spring Training were not a fluke. Most probably doubted Colon in Spring Training because he showed up out of shape and did not even pitch in the major leagues last season but so far he looks the pitcher who won 21 games for the Angles in 2005. So far, in five appearances and two starts, he has 26 strikeouts, six walks and has recorded a stellar 2.77 ERA.
Cashman’s most expensive offseason signing was Rafael Soriano who was coming off an All Star season with the Tampa Bay Rays. He was signed to a three-year, $35 million contract after recording a 1.73 ERA, 45 saves and 57 strikeouts with Tampa Bay. So far this season he has allowed nine earned runs which is only three less than he surrendered all of last season.
Soriano came to the Yankees with a lot of hype because it seemed like he would be the perfect bridge to Mariano Rivera in the eighth inning, and be a suitable replacement for Rivera when he does retire. However, as stated above he has not produced on the field, in addition to having meltdowns as well as refusing to talk to the press after ruining a CC Sebathia win against the Twins. He has even used the cold weather as an excuse for giving up runs earlier in the season.
It is possible that he is one of the players that just can’t handle the media and everything that comes with playing in New York City but based on his performance that last few years it seems like he will bounce back. In 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010 he pitched in at least 53 games and his ERA was always 3.00 or below. His previous track record surely suggests that he will have many more shut down performances than not the rest of the season.
The other pitcher that Cashman signed that was going to be counted on as being a reliable lefty out of the bullpen was Pedro Felicano. He was somewhat of a risky signing coming into the season because over the last three years he led the majors in appearances. He suffered a torn capsule in his left shoulder in Spring Training and is now likely out for the season. This is not the end of the world because relief pitchers are so hard to predict before the season anyway. Cashman could not predict that this injury was coming and if needed the Yankees can sign another lefty in July.
Jones and Chavez offer reliable bats off the bench that the Yankees did not have last season and the team will need the stellar pitching from Colon and Garcia to continue. Hughes will be out for an extended period of time so if Colon can continue to “turn back the clock” it will surely be an added bonus. The bullpen can still be a strength of the team when Soriano lives up to his past performance.