Yanks hit lowpoint of season after back-breaking loss
The Yankees season-killing road trip came to a merciful end last night in Chicago as the lowly White Sox finished off their 3-game sweep with a 6-5 win highlighted by 2 come from behind rallies in the 9th and 12th innings, when down to their final out both times. The loss leaves them 6.5 games out of the 2nd Wild Card with 4 teams in front of them including KC and Cleveland as the Yanks dropped to 57-56. At just 1 game over .500, it is their lowest point since April 14th when they were 6-5.
This game was especially frustrating because in some ways there were a lot of bright spots but the team floundered opportunities and Girardi made some puzzling decisions. The offense has been brutal all year and coming into the game had gone 7 straight games without scoring more than 3 runs. So when they erupted for 4 runs in the first 4 innings, things looked great with a 4-0 lead. For the game they scored 5 runs on 3 HRs, 11 Hits and 8 Walks….a veritable offensive explosion for this team. Eduardo Nunez had his best game of the season with his first HR, a Double to deep left-center, a line drive single to right, 2 Walks and a Stolen Base. Now that he’s healthy and Jeter is shelved again, Nunez has a chance to show if he’s good enough to be in the team’s future plans at SS and games like last night’s showcase the potential he has. Still just 26, his defense is vastly improved this year but he has to show some offensive consistency now.
Another bright spot was the rebound of CC Sabathia. Everyone knows how bad CC has been lately with the team losing all of his last 4 starts while he’s allowed 22 Earned Runs in 19.2 IP The big Ace finally pitched like one for the first 6 innings and despite giving up 2 runs in the 7th, left the game after 7.1 with a 4-3 lead – so all told, a positive outing for CC. Hopefully it is something he can build upon although he had just 1 strikeout and the Sox hitters seemed to have good swings at his once dominating Changeup. Many commentators have suggested that CC isn’t getting enough of a difference between his FB and Change as there’s only been a 5-6 MPH difference in velocity his last few starts. There may be something to this……CC has always thrown a harder Change – more like a BP Fastball but over the last few yrs the difference from his FB has gotten less and less. In his early years with CLE there was a 8-10 MPH difference and in his first year in NY it was a 7.7 MPH difference. Last yr it diminished to 6.3 and has been about the same this year. As CC loses more velocity on his FB, a wider gap between his FB and Change would be advisable rather than the smaller gap we’ve seen. There is little deception in the pitch right now and with batters not having to respect his diminished FB, it’s a recipe for danger. Hopefully CC cn make the necessary adjustment.
Say it Ain’t So Joe
I’ve often scratched my head at some of Joe Girardi’s in-game decisions over the years but by-in-large, he’s done a solid job this year keeping the team in the race as long as it was with their pathetic lineup. But last night, I constantly found myself disagreeing with Joe’s strategy and decision-making. Here are the 2 things that got me yelling at the TV set:
1) Clinging to a 4-3 lead, the Yanks had 1st and 2nd with 0 Outs in the top of the 8th inning and Lyle Overbay At Bat vs LHP David Purcey. We all know Overbay has been anemic vs LHP hitting .202/.245/.309, 46 RC+. This was a CLEAR bunting situation and Girardi had several options on who he wanted to bunt. He could have left Overbay in who hasn’t had a Sac Bunt in 2 years. He could have used RH hitters Nix, Adams or Chris Stewart or lefty hitter Ichiro. Those 4 are perhaps the teams best bunters. If for some reason, Joe didn’t want to bunt then he should have used any of the aforementioned 4 players to Pinch Hit. Any of those options would be better than what he elected to do, which was let Overbay swing away. What followed was a weak grounder to 3rd for a tailor-made 5-5-3 Double Play and end of rally. Brutal managing!
2) Going into the bottom of the 11th, with short-relievers Preston Claiborne, Shawn Kelley & Boone Logan all still available, Girardi elected to go with long-man Adam Warren. A questionable decision in my eyes with his trio of short relievers all available, why go to Warren there. It worked out in the beginning as Warren threw a scoreless 11th and Cano led of the 12th with a HR to give the Yanks a 1-run lead. At that point, I figured Joe would surely go to Claiborne or Kelley to close the game. After all, Claiborne has allowed just 1 run in his last 10.1 IP and has a sterling 2.13 ERA on the season. Instead, Warren pitched the 12th and after getting 2 outs, allowed 3 straight hits to win it for CHI including a 2-out triple to DeAza. With 2 on and 2 out, perhaps Logan could have been used against the lefty DeAza. Oh well.
There were a lot of other frustrating parts of the game….all of the missed opportunities to add on to the lead and the poor baserunning by Nix who was used as a pinch runner in the 11th for Romine. With no outs and Gardner up, Joe finalyy called for a hit-and-run. Gardner popped uo to very shallow RF and since the 2B Beckham was near the bag for the steal, he couldn’t get back to make the catch. However, Nix was caught in no-man’s land and was sprinting back towards first when the ball landed. he reversed direction when he saw Beckham fall down and the ball drop, but Nix fell flat on his face (literally) and couldn’t get up in time to run to 2nd base and was forced out. Instead of 2 on and no outs for Ichiro, ARod and Cano, the rally was stunted. Just frustrating loss to sum up a frustrating season.