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Yanks Drop The Ball
2008-08-19 20:40
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

With last night's win, the Blue Jays improved to 5-1 this season in games against the Yankees started by their top two pitchers, A.J. Burnett and Roy Halladay. It was Burnett's turn last night, as he struck out 13 Yankees while allowing just one run on five hits and a walk over eight innings.

The one run came right away in the first inning as Johnny Damon took the first five pitches of the game to draw a walk and Bobby Abreu doubled him home. Abreu has faced Burnett more than any other hitter in Burnett's career and seemed to be the only Yankee not overmatched by him last night, cracking another double in his second at-bat leading off the fourth (Burnett then struckout Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi and got Xavier Nady to ground out) and a sinking liner nabbed by a sliding Adam Lind in the sixth. After Abreu's second double, which was also the Yankees' second hit of the game, the Bombers managed just three singles off Burnett, one of which didn't leave the infield.

Remarkably, Darrell Rasner nearly made that first-inning run stand up. Though he struck out ten fewer men than Burnett, Rasner limited the Blue Jays to just three hits and a walk over 6 2/3 innings. Unfortunately, the last hit was a seventh-inning solo homer by Lind that tied the game. Jose Veras replaced Rasner a batter later, finished the seventh and struck out the first two men in the eighth. Toronto leadoff man Joe Inglett picked up a single with two outs in the eighth, but it seemed an insignificant hit until Marco Scutaro blasted Veras's next pitch to the wall in dead center.

Here's where things went from tense to traumatic. Back in the first inning, following the only walk Rasner issued in the game (to Scutaro), Alex Rios hit a deep fly to the gap in left center. Damon and Nady converged at the ball, but Damon called off Nady and camped under the ball only to have it hit off the outside of his glove and roll away for a two-base error. Fortunately, Scutaro was held at third base and Rasner picked up his center fielder by striking out Vernon Wells and getting Lind to ground out to end the inning. Now, with the game knotted at 1-1 in the bottom of the eighth and Jays closer B.J. Ryan warming up for the ninth, Damon drifted back on Scutaro's blast, turned toward his left to catch the ball a foot shy of the wall, then suddenly turned back to his right stretched and had the ball tip off his glove again, this time for what was ruled a double, but a game-winning RBI double.

Untitled Damon was in disbelief. After the game, he remained, to use his word, "baffled." "I just dropped two balls," he said almost to himself, shaking his head and laughing at the absurdity of that fact as if he had to remind himself it actually happened. "Just . . . just . . . awful."

Damon also scored the Yankees' only run of the game, but it was particularly striking to see Damon make two such plays on the day he'd been essentially named the Yankees regular starting center fielder due to the return of Hideki Matsui (who went 0-for-3 with a fly out, a pop out, and a strikeout).

Adding insult to injury, Alex Rodriguez led off the ninth against Ryan by lifting a flare over Lyle Overbay's head at first base. The ball dropped in fair and rolled toward the retaining wall in foul territory with Overbay losing ground in pursuit. Seeing that, Rodriguez sped up and headed for second base, but Overbay made a great play, sliding past the ball to stop it and, in one motion, rising to his feet and firing a one-hop strike to second base to nail Rodriguez by several feet. Jason Giambi then struck out for the fourth time on the night and Xavier Nady hit the first pitch he saw to left field for the final out. 2-1 Blue Jays, as the Yankees continue to find new ways to lose.

Comments
2008-08-19 22:23:00
1.   cult of basebaal
ya gotta admit, if nothing else, the yankees do keep finding new ways to lose ...

i don't think you can define that as gripping, but, if you have the right sort of appreciation for the absurd, at least it keeps things interesting ...

2008-08-19 22:30:15
2.   randym77
PeteAbe thinks it's going to get worse:

"Unfortunately, it's only going to get worse. The Yankees are largely a team of well-paid, under-contract players. Once it becomes obvious to even the true believers that they're not going to the postseason - and that could be by the end of the week - it could get ugly.

Keep in mind that 21 of the remaining 37 games are on the road and 19 are against teams that would be in the playoffs if the season ended today."

I kinda figured this year might be the year the Yanks didn't make it to the post-season. To tell you the truth, I thought that during spring training, just because Boston's pitching looked so much better than ours.

But it's still kind of a shock.

2008-08-19 23:45:32
3.   cult of basebaal
2 fine by me ... a real tumble to the finish might put us into a protected draft slot, that's worth a lot more than ending the season 5 games above .500 and 10 games back ...

give me the playoffs or give me a train wreck!

2008-08-20 00:25:21
4.   RZG
Damon's feeble swing to strikeout (in the 5th?) looked even worse than his fielding last night.
2008-08-20 04:10:37
5.   OldYanksFan
On paper, playing Matsui APPEARS to put our best team on the field, but I wonder. Mats only had 3(?) games on the Farm, after being out for 3 months. Can we really expect an impact soon? It it a matter of getting a week or 2 out of the way before he hits?

On the plus side, you get Matsui's bat over Gardner's. On the minus side, you have a defensive downgrade in LF, a defensive downgrade in CF, and lose Brett's speed on the bases. I would how much that tradeoff is worth.

And was anyone calling for Brett as a LIDR for JD?.... even with a tie score?

It seems to be quite common, the rule rather then the exception, for players to jog out of the box, and not start to 'really run' until they see the play in front of them.

I'm sure we would see more guys reach on bobbles, more doubles and more triples, if players just busted it out of the box. Maybe the season is too grueling for players to do this when the extra effort might only pay off 10% or less of the time... but man... it's frustrating to see ARod get thrown out at 2nd when he lost a number of steps coming out of the box. How often are plays decided by a fraction of a second?

The 'average' player makes about $8k per AB. Jeter about $32k, ARod about $48k. Per AB! I wonder if Angel players bust it out of the box.

Man, but does the comnments section over at Lohud reek like a cesspool after a Yankee lost, especially one where there are obvious demons. Calls to bench JD, trade ARod and shoot Giambi are plentiful. It is a living example of how people can't deal with their anger and frustration and must immediately find and punish 'the guilty culprit'. It's kinda sick.

I guess it ain't over until it's mathimatically over (fat Lady singing), but man... it's tough to watch a team in a hospice.

2008-08-20 04:27:08
6.   randym77
I'm not sure what to make of Damon. It's not like he didn't get there, or that they were running on his weak arm. He just dropped balls he could have caught. Usually would have caught. Maybe he's a little rusty.

I think he got distracted by Nady the first time. He was looking out for the left fielder instead of looking the ball into his glove. Just not used to working together?

2008-08-20 04:51:20
7.   rbj
Glad I had the Olympics last night. I feel sorry for Rasner, he pitched a helluva damn good game last night, shoulda got a W.
2008-08-20 05:05:12
8.   Sliced Bread
5 "it's frustrating to see ARod get thrown out at 2nd when he lost a number of steps coming out of the box."

as the third baseman sees it; he busted out of the box. NY Daily News quote:

"I was thinking double right away; get out of the box as soon as you can, push the envelope a little bit. I had no idea he was going to throw me out. The way we're swinging the bats right now, I thought being aggressive was the best option."

Awesome play by Overbay there.

I like ARod's quote that Burnett was throwing "pellets" and "snakes." Good description.

Dang, you see Carl now has a stiff neck?
Vintage Spavino.

2008-08-20 05:32:16
9.   OldYanksFan
With an assist to PeteAbe:
"The Yankees are 6.5 games out of the wild card with 37 games to play. If the Red Sox simply go .500, they'll win 91 games. The Yankees would have to go 25-12 to match that."

The Sox have +4 Home games overall, with their next 7 on the road. Obviously, they then have +11 Home games in their remaining schedule. Short of them losing 6 of those 7 (1 Balt, 3 Toronto, 3 Yankees) I can't imagine them playing less then .500 ball from here on out.

Actually, TB has +3 Road games, so I think the Sox have a reasonable chance of catching TB. These are important games for the Sox as the ALDS could be Angels/Red Sox at LA -or- if they catch TB, White Sox/Red Sox at Fenway. Big difference for them.

I remember when the 'old team' would grind out games against Pedro, looking terrible against his great pitching, but SOMEHOW finding a way to eek out a Win. This current team SOMEHOW finds a way to eek out a loss, as we saw last night.

2008-08-20 05:38:17
10.   Sliced Bread
The Griddle reports Irabu arrested in drunken punch up in a bar.

But he's still available to start on Saturday... right, Cash?

2008-08-20 05:39:37
11.   OldYanksFan
8 Actually I didn't see that play, and can only go by 'posts' I have read. The most flattering said that it looked like he initally thought the ball was foul, and lost a step or two before realizing where it was.

I can't judge that specific play, But I think in general, my comment holds weight.

How about some thoughts:
1) Our BEST D alignment: JD LF, Brett CF, Nady RF, Abreu DH
2) Our BEST O alignment: JD CF, Matsui DH, Nady LF, Abreu RF

If you believe ZR (which has Abreu as about the worst D OFer in MLB), #1 upgrades all 3 D positions for swapping Matsui's bat for Brett's bat (and speed).

Is #2 REALLY a no brainer?

2008-08-20 05:44:35
12.   Rob Middletown CT
""Just . . . just . . . awful."

Sums it up perfectly.

2008-08-20 05:50:14
13.   ChrisS
I figured that Damon's defense in CF would cost a couple of games at worst down the stretch. I didn't think that the first one was going to happen so soon and so obviously.

A-Rod made the right decision on that attempted double, Overbay made a helluva play. So did Scutaro on Cano's liner (and that's definitely not the first or even the tenth time this season that Cano has been robbed on a smash).

After last night's performance, Razz is now sitting with an ERA under 5. Just fine for what he's supposed to do: not walk people (2:1 K:BB) and eat up innings. The offense disappeared against a good pitcher and the defense let the Yankees down. Their pitching is not the problem.

2008-08-20 05:53:16
14.   Sliced Bread
Last night convinced me the Yanks should go after CC instead of Tex -- if it's a choice of one or the other.
Damon should go to 1b next year if not sooner, to replace Giambi. He can platoon with Posada (if Po can't throw anymore), and a legit gloveman. Yeah, I know, 3 1Bs again, but what can you do?

11 no matter what we think, Damon will be the CF, and Mats will DH until doomsday '08, which still hasn't officially arrived.

2008-08-20 06:13:04
15.   Knuckles
I think they're cooked. Unless...they can use last night's embarrassment and go on a tear.
But still, we're getting awfully close to having to wait for Sundays and root for the G-Men...
2008-08-20 06:49:41
16.   JL25and3
13 If he hadn't gotten to the balls, I'd be more concerned. That would show that he can't cover the ground anymore. But he can, he got there. He just flubbed a couple, which can happen to anyone, anytime.
2008-08-20 07:16:21
17.   Bama Yankee
Very disappointing game. I guess the only Yankee fan smiling after watching Damon's performance last night was probably Melky...

Is it just me or do the Yankees look like a team full of DH's who have forgotten how to hit...

2008-08-20 07:29:16
18.   JohnnyC
17 In a nutshell, that's been our problem for several years. In the past, our roster full of DHs played mediocre, game-killing defense...but hit. Now, the hitting tool seems to have evaporated due to age and injury. If only this season serves as a warning shot to Cashman et al. to get younger, more athletic, and less ego-centric, it will have accomplished something good. But, somehow, I'm not sure anyone in the organization truly appreciates this insight, expiring contracts notwithstanding.
2008-08-20 07:44:22
19.   pistolpete
9 >> I remember when the 'old team' would grind out games against Pedro >>

That's exactly what last night's game felt like until Damon's last error. I only turned the game on in the 7th, and was pleasantly surprised to see the score the way it was.

Of course, I was also a bit sickened to see Burnett still in there too. Does this guy and every other member of that old '03 Marlins staff have some personal vendetta against the Yankees?

Pavano, of course, has been working the plan from the inside for the last 3+ years.

2008-08-20 07:45:50
20.   pistolpete
17 >> Is it just me or do the Yankees look like a team full of DH's who have forgotten how to hit... >>

Right. They should rename the position in honor of this bunch.

"DGIDP" springs to mind.

2008-08-20 07:48:11
21.   ChrisS
16 True, and agreed, I thought it was a heckuva coincidence that the day he basically regains the starting CFer job and people discuss how much his defense will hurt the Yankees, he drops two catchable balls and loses the game.

Even though Damon got to those two balls, it hasn't changed my opinion that Nady/Damon/Abreu is probably the worst defensive outfield in the league (Abreu is responsible for a large part of that).

2008-08-20 07:55:06
22.   JL25and3
21 That's probably true. Next year I'd prefer to see an outfield of Damon/Capable Major League Center Fielder/Nady, but I have no idea who that middle guy might be.
2008-08-20 08:07:46
23.   Raf
5 I wasn't calling for it, but I figured that would be the way Gardner would be used (LIDR, PR), if only to keep him active. Having said that, I don't pull Damon out of last night's game.
2008-08-20 08:29:27
24.   JohnnyC
23 I don't think anyone forsaw Damon not being able to catch a flyball...make a decent throw, yes, but simply catch a ball? Perfect storm Yankees once again. When we hit, we don't pitch. When we pitch, we don't hit. When we...
2008-08-20 08:36:27
25.   tommyl
24 To be fair, sometimes we do neither.
2008-08-20 08:49:56
26.   pistolpete
22 Not seeing much in next year's FA pool either. Patterson is an option, but he's barely hitting his weight with the Reds.

Mark Kotsay, anyone? He did hit for the cycle the other day... How's his fielding?

2008-08-20 08:53:33
27.   standuptriple
A fellow Yanks fan posed this question, at what point do the Yanks accept their fate and take a look at the youngsters? Considering the closing of The Stadium, perhaps some hustle could revitalize the crowds.
2008-08-20 08:54:19
28.   standuptriple
26 Kotsay is an older Melky. No thanks.
2008-08-20 08:58:20
29.   Mattpat11
Andy Pettitte really needs to be on his game tonight. Enough of this bullshit.

Also, just release Pavano. He does not want to pitch.

2008-08-20 09:06:29
30.   ChrisS
27 Never! The Yankees never give up! At this point we need to work a waiver deal with the Padres to get Maddux and another hitter. I'm prepared to trade AJax and Hughes for Tony Clark (he's got an 1.068 OPS w/ RISP) and Jody Gerut (he's got an 1.064 OPS w/ RISP)!

slap get a hold of yourself ...

Kotsay was a decent option four years ago. His fielding isn't bad, but he has a bad back, which has plagued him for years.

2008-08-20 09:06:31
31.   JohnnyC
27 If playing Damon in CF is showcasing him for an offseason trade, maybe the Yankees have already thrown in the towel. I doubt it though. But you're right, it would make sense to take inventory of what they have in house before embarking the busiest offseason in years.
2008-08-20 09:14:41
32.   standuptriple
31 If last night was a showcase, I'll take Antiques Roadshow any day.
2008-08-20 09:23:12
33.   JohnnyC
Damon's value to another team dwindles if he's perceived as no longer a viable everyday centerfielder. He's not a bargain as a leftfielder with a sub-par OPS+. And, as dismaying as this sounds, I don't think the team has given up on Melky as the CF of the 2009 Yankees. Which is why they might feel it unnecessary to give Gardner a full 6 week audition.
2008-08-20 09:31:19
34.   Mattpat11
30 Maddux went to the Dodgers. :)
2008-08-20 09:34:51
35.   Mattpat11
27 It depends on how the Yankees want to define "youngsters"
2008-08-20 09:35:07
36.   Raf
32 Last night was "Antiques Roadshow" :)
2008-08-20 09:39:57
37.   pistolpete
34 I thought he was being funny.
2008-08-20 09:54:08
38.   Raf
37 I dunno, Sandman Sims is lookin for him...

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