The Yankees lost a pivotal game three to the Tigers, 5-4, and now hope for a quality start from the enigma that is A.J. Burnett.
Sabathia had a rocky first two innings after allowing four walks but he was able to get bailed out of trouble with timely double plays. He would walk another batter in the third to raise his total to five. It did not help that every call that was a borderline strike was called a ball by the home plate umpire.
The walks would come back to hurt Sabathia as Ramon Santiago would hit a single that would score Brandon Inge. With runners on first and third, and no outs, Sebathia was able to induce his third double play. Austin Jackson would score but that inning could have been much worse.
Tigers starter, Justin Verlander ended the sixth inning by striking out Alex Rodriguez with a 92 MPH fastball but earlier in the at-bat he had thrown a 100 MPH fastball and an 88 MPH curve. That combination is basically unhittable.
Sebathia did not have his ace caliber stuff and it is likely that Girardi should have taken him out before the sixth inning in order to bring in the rested bullpen. Johnny Paralta hit a double to deep left that scored Don Kelly to make the score 4-2 in the sixth inning.
Brett Gardner came up clutch again as he had a two RBI double, to the gap in left-center, in the seventh, to tie the game.
Verlander would throw a 101 MPH fastball to Alex Rodriguez in the eighth inning with two outs. Verlander threw 120 pitches, 74 for strikes, but allowed four runs making the loss very disappointing.
He is the obvious CY Young choice, and a possible MVP, but for Rafael Soriano to relieve Sabathia, after he battled valiantly without having his best stuff, and give up a home run to Delmon Young is deflating. Soriano’s pitch selection was questionable as well as Girardi deciding to pitch him instead of David Robertson. Robertson would have been the wise choice because he has not allowed a run in his last 10 appearances and had a stellar 1.08 season ERA.
Soriano allowed three runs in his last regular season appearance and ruined a game where the offense, overall, actually performed well off of Verlander. Among their six hits, in addition to Gardner’s two RBI double, MVP candidate Curtis Granderson hit a triple to deep center, in the first scoring Jeter.
Derek Jeter struck out to end the game. Valverde always seems to make things interesting but he was 49 out of 49 in save opportunities this season. Nothing would have been greater for Jeter, who is one of the most clutch postseason performers, to win the game off of Valverde because of his over-the-top celebrations.
Young, who threw a bat at an umpire while playing in the Tampa Bay minor league system, and was acquired by the Tigers in August, his been a helpful contributor for Detroit since his arrival.
In order for the Yankees to have a chance against the Tigers they will need the offense to perform like they are capable of. Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher and Mark Teixiera have vastly underperformed in this series, as Swisher is leading the three with a paltry .182 average.
Rodriguez, Teixiera and Swisher went a combined 0-10 in last night’s win that gave the Tigers the momentum in the series. The Yankees count on Teixiera and Rodriguez to drive in runs and not strike out or hit weak fly balls. Girardi should move Rodriguez down in the lineup like he did a few years ago, and move Jorge Posada up since he has found his stroke.
The Yankees now find themselves in the regrettable position of sending out A.J. Burnett in an elimination game. This season he had a record of 11-11 with a 5.15 ERA but two out of his last three starts were actually quality ones.
On September 25th against Boston he allowed two runs in 7.2 innings, while striking out six, and on September 13th at Seattle, he gave up two runs in six innings, while striking out an impressive 11 batters. However, Burnett is too inconsistent, and I would have more confidence in Nova coming back to pitch on short rest.
Burnett did prove that he can pitch well against a quality opponent on the 25th, so it is possible for him to pitch the Yankees to victory over Rick Porcello, who has also been inconsistent. Burnett has had trouble pitching with a lead so many times this season because he lets the smallest things get to him like a fielders or umpires mistake. If the Yankees are able to score some early runs off of Porcello he needs to be able to be in control tonight.
Porcello, from Morristown, New Jersey, finished the campaign with 14 wins and a 4.75 ERA. He allowed three runs in each of his last four starts but in four career games against the Yankees he has a 5.56 ERA. This will also be his first playoff start so he will be feeling extra butterflies.
In this possible series ending game Girardi should start Andruw Jones instead of Swisher because he has lots of playoff experience and Jones can’t do any worse than Swisher has done so far. Russell Martin is struggling as well with a .182 postseason average, so if he gets out his first two at bats, it would make sense to insert rookie sensation Jesus Montero in his place.
The Yankees need many things to come together but if Burnett has a quality start where he gives up two or three runs, and Rodriguez and Teixiera finally contribute, there is a good chance that the series comes back to the Bronx. Burnett was the Yankees most disappointing starter this season, not really deserving a playoff start, but has shown the ability to pitch well at times this season when his head is on straight.
I was luckily able to attend the Yankees game on Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Rays, thanks to Kieran, enjoying it very much, even though they lost 15-8 in a game that the Bronx Bombers rested many regulars.
When we settled into our seats it was obvious that the Yankees had clinched the division crown the night before. The crowd was not quite as loud as normal during player introductions and it seemed like the Bleachers’ roll call was not as emphatic as usual.
However, I always get a kick out of hearing the Bleacher Creatures shout the fielder’s names and watching each individual Yankee respond in their own unique way. It seems like when all the starters are playing both sides are more into it but this was probably only about 10 percent less than normal.
The major benefit of this game is that as a result of the 15-8 thrashing to the Rays, Tampa improves by half a game in the Wild Card race as a result of Boston not playing. In other words, the Yankees impressive wins the previous three games against Tampa helped Boston not nosedive out of the Wild Card.
Nothing was working for Bartolo Colon as he allowed seven runs, but only five of them were earned as a result of two errors in the first two innings, on seven hits and a walk in only three innings pitched.
This lackluster performance by Colon, which raised his ERA from 3.81 to 4.02, might be a result of the long celebration after the win on Wednesday and knowing that the team had the division locked up. The Yankees need to be able to put this game behind them as they play the Red Sox for three games in an effort to knock them out of the playoffs and wrap up home-field advantage.
Nick Swisher failing to field a routine ball hit to him on the ground in left-field and Derek Jeter telegraphing his throw to first as he almost threw it into the stands surely did not help.
Jeter almost always makes the routine play, which proves that this game was purely a letdown game for the team. In addition to this error by Jeter he would make another one later on, but I would miss it since I was on line for some “gourmet” Carl’s cheese-steak, but this one was almost even more unexpected than the first.
In the fourth inning, the Rays former All-Star third baseman Evan Longoria hit a grounder that Jeter would field cleanly 99 out of 100 times but this time he let it go right through his glove allowing Longoria to score on Johnny Damon’s homer two batters later. The Yankees fourth error was committed by back-up outfielder Chris Dickerson, in the seventh, with the home team losing 13-2.
The highlight from my perspective from the first six innings of play was without a doubt the two run homer by Andruw Jones to deep left center (12), in the bottom of the sixth. This is because it was the first time the fans had a reason to get loud and cheer for something positive. Dickerson would also somewhat cancel out his error by making a beautiful running catch and he even dove at the end for style points.
With the game all but in the books, the Yankees were able to tack on some garbage time runs, to use a football phrase, and keep the remaining crowd interested. We moved down at this point as I had the idea of exploring the 100 level section, which I had never really done before, and also looking for two people.
Rookie sensation Jesus Montero was able to have a perfect night at the plate, truly looking composed and ready to attack the baseball. He went 3-3 while hitting a double to deep center scoring Ramiro Pena and Jones, in the seventh. Pena, who is a reliable fielder but usually a weak hitter, chipped in with a shallow RBI single followed by a single by Jones that scored rookie Austin Romine, which capped of Jones’s productive day at the plate.
This would add up to four runs making the score Tampa 13, New York 6, which was a little more respectable. Each team would add two more runs but they were more because of sloppiness by the pitchers and fielders and not any noteworthy offensive execution.
Matt Moore, the starter for the Rays, was expected to feel some butterflies as he was making only his fourth appearance of his career, while making his first start in the Bronx. However, he did not let the big city get to him as he looked poised on the mound hurling five shutout innings, while striking out 11.
The two players that got the loudest ovations from the fans were Jorge Posada and the previously mentioned Montero.
This is because Posada hit the two RBI double on Wednesday night that was the difference in the Yankees division clinching win and he has always been a fan favorite since 1998. Montero received loud ovations when coming to the plate because Yankees fans have been looking forward to his promotion as a result of his vast offensive potential and once he was called up on September 1st he has given the team a spark. He has an impressive .313 average so far with three homers and eight runs batted in and the only knock against him is that his catching skills could use a little improvement.
In addition to seeing a home run, something else that I was hoping to see came to fruition and that was the much publicized rookie hurlers,Andrew Brackman and Dellin Betances, making their debuts. These are two of the three “Killer B’s” as the three pitching prospects for the Yankees with the most potential are Manny Banuelos, Betances and Brackman.
The 26 year-old Brackman, who has had some serious injuries, is a mammoth 6’10 and played basketball and baseball in college at North Carolina State University. His late start in the majors is due in part to attending college for three years as well as undergoing Tommy John surgery. There were six Yankees pitchers and he was one of only two to keep the Rays off of the scoreboard.
It was a highlight seeing Betances make his first appearance of his career even though he allowed two runs on four walks, while only recording two outs. He was probably feeling a lot of nerves because he was pitching in front of friends and family since he grew up in Washington Heights and has lived in the Lower East Side as well as Brooklyn.
I remember Betances, who went to the Grand Street Campus high school, in Bushwick, Brooklyn, likely being the best pitcher in the city when he was a senior. To be able to make his debut in the Bronx must have been a very special feeling for him even though he was very wild.
I was even able to find some Rays fans who flew up just for the day to watch this game and then will be flying back to Florida on Friday morning. They surely enjoyed their introduction to Yankees Stadium and being able to move half a game closer to Boston.
It is likely that the reason the Yankees did not show up to play was because of the long champagne celebration the previous night but it was great to see some of the rookies like Montero, Brackman and Betances in person. It was also a thrill to see the homer by Jones because that prevented the Yankees from getting shutout.
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.
Ivan Nova was super once again, pitching seven effective innings, while not wasting the offensive explosion, during the 8-3 victory in the second game of the doubleheader. He became the first Yankees rookie to win at least 10 straight decisions in one season since Atley Donald won 12 straight in 1939.
Nova allowed one run in each of the first three innings, as Adam Jones would drive in two of those runs. Nova leads all rookies with his 14 wins, and pitches very well with a lead. Some pitchers will crumble and buckle under pressure with a lead, but Nova excels.
However, the story of this game was how the Yankees offense put on yet another remarkable display.
Curtis Granderson turned around his slump with a vengeance as he hit a three run home run in the third. His 37th home run, in the top of the third, nearly made it onto Eutaw Street and it put the Yankees up 3-2. He is now in sole possession for the major league lead in homers.
Granderson drove in Eric Chavez and Brett Gardner, who have both been in slumps recently. Chevez’s slump has been more pronounced as he is only 4-25, but at least he is not an everyday player.
The home run barrage off of Orioles starter Brian Matusz would continue a Cano hit an opposite field home run in the top of the sixth, to break the tie and send the Yankees up 5-3. That was the first of back-to-back-to-back homers which would make the score 7-3. Nick Swisher sent one over the fences off of Matusz to end his night and send him to the showers.
The next two pitchers could not avoid the long ball as well. Chris Jakubauskas, struck out two batters but he also gave up Andruw Jones’s 11th homer of the season. Granderson hit his second home run off of journey man giant Mark Hendrickson.
An interesting not about the three consecutive homers in the sixth is that the last time the Yankees did so it also came against the Orioles. That date was May 20, 2009, and Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano joined the party on that day as well.
Another positive about Granderson is that he has totally turned around his offensive production against lefties. He used to struggle against them but ever since his meeting with hitting coach Kevin Long, last August, he has been a new hitter from both sides of the plate. He now leads the majors with 15 long balls off of lefties and has just passed Cano for most RBI against them.
This is the offensive outburst that was expected against the Orioles, and especially Brian Matusz because he had an 8.92 ERA coming into the game, now 9.07, and even though he has not been in the rotation the whole season he has likely been the worst starter in the American League.
David Robertson had not allowed a run in his last 12 appearances. He entered the game with the score 8-3, and runners on first and second. He would go on to allow a single to Adam Jones. Since it was hit right to Nick Swisher in right, J.J. Hardy was stranded at third. Robertson got the free swinging Vladimir Guerero to strike out on a pitch that was well out of the strike zone. Another hitter who does not take many pitches, Mark Reynolds, was Robertson’s next victim, as he struck out for the third time. He then struck out Ryan Adams for the trifecta, pulling off the impressive feat of striking out three men with the bases loaded.
This was a truly remarkable outing by Robertson, also known as Houdini. He had the correct mindset as he threw mainly pitches out of the zone against Guerrero and Reynolds because he knew they were apt to be overly aggressive. Now, out of the 44 batters he has faced with the bases loaded he has struck out 23 of them.
Baltimore’s bullpen has been suspect as well, so they were due for a down game after having won six straight. Hopefully this will be the start of a long winning streak for the Yankees as they start a three- game series, in Boston, against the Red Sox, on Tuesday. They are now two games behind Boston, who has won three out of their last four.
In an effort to give the Yankees a split of the four-game set, Freddy Garcia (3.16 ERA) will pitch during the series finale on Monday, which will be his first start since coming off of the disabled list. He has the advantage against O’s starter Alfred Simon, who only has four wins and 4.30 ERA. However, in his last start, he only allowed the Twins offense to score one run over a career high eight innings.
It is also possible that he will not see Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez in the lineup, who could continue to be out with minor injuries.