The Yankees had a chance to push their lead in the American League East to 5 games, with 10 games remaining, but Brandon Morrow pitched eight dominating innings for the Blue Jays in their 3-0 victory.
This loss, in a game where Freddy Garcia was only able to pitch 4.2 innings, closed out their three city road trip where they only went 4-5. Luckily, the Red Sox are 2-8 in their last 10 games so the Yankees did not lose ground in the standings. The Red Sox now only have a two game lead in the Wild Card over the Rays after losing three out of four in the series that ended on Sunday.
Morrow only gave up four hits in his eight innings and has owned the Yankees offense this season pitching to a 1.74 ERA in three starts. However, the Bronx Bombers did not exactly send out the A lineup as Eric Chavez replaced Mark Teixiera at first, Ramiro Pena was the shortstop giving Derek Jeter the day off and Chris Dickerson got a rare start as Curtis Granderson didn’t play as a result of having a very low career average against Morrow.
All-Star second-baseman Robinson Cano got half the game off, as he was the Designated Hitter and Eduardo Nunez got the start at second base. Nunez was the only player who really showed up on offense as he improved his average from .254 to .261 with his three hits.
Another troubling sign about this game, in addition to the offensive ineptitude, was that Garcia had his third consecutive subpar start. He only gave up three runs, but Girardi took him out at the right time since he gave up five hits and three walks including two solo home runs to Adam Lind. In his two previous starts Garcia had allowed five and seven runs, respectively. Hopefully this is not a sign of what is to come as he will be needed to be relied upon as the fourth starter in the playoffs.
The Yankees bullpen continued to be a bright spot as they were lead by Luis Ayala who pitched 1.1 perfect innings, and Raul Valdes who pitched 1.1 innings, only allowing one hit in his first appearance for the team.
The imminent Comeback Player of the Year, Bartolo Colon, who was the other pre Spring Training signing to a cheap contract, also struggled mightily in his last start, on Saturday, against the Blue Jays. However, this was not totally unexpected as he has a 7.99 ERA and a .327 BAA in five starts against Toronto this season. He should be the Yankees number three starter in the playoffs.
If Manager Joe Girardi would have trotted out all of his regulars they could have had a 5.5 game lead over the Red Sox heading into their makeup game against the Twins, in the Bronx, on Monday afternoon. It is impossible to win when you don’t put any runs on the board and having all the normal starters playing would have surely helped the offensive attack.
However, this was the last chance for Girardi to give some of his injured players a day off as the rest of their games down the stretch are all critical. It is almost guaranteed that the Yankees will win the division, since they are up by 4.5 games with 10 games left but it is important to go into the playoffs with momentum.
In today’s matinee tilt against the Twins A.J. Burnett will be pitching who comes into the contest with a 5.20 ERA and 10 wins. He is lucky to have that many wins as Colon has eight wins but a very respectable 3.81 ERA. This should be Burnett’s last start of the season as he has mysteriously received a few extra starts since Girardi decided to stick with the six man rotation.
The Twins rookie, Scott Diamond, who is from Ontario, Canada, will be pitching for the Twins. Diamond went to SUNY Binghamton, in upstate New York, which is not known for producing professional baseball players. He has made only five starts after coming up from AAA Rochester and has one win with a 3.94 ERA.
Minnesota is the worst team in the American League so the Yankees need to win this game before the Tampa Bay Rays invade the Bronx for three games. The Yankees are in as strange position during the series with Tampa since sweeping the series will drastically help the Red Sox win the Wild Card.
Also, on Saturday, Granderson became the only Yankee besides Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth to have had seasons of at least 20 doubles, 10 triples and 40 homers. He has joined exclusive company as those are three of the best players of all time.
>Freddy Garcia (2-2, 2.61) vs. Jon Lester (4-1, 2.96)