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Endgame
2005-08-18 05:14
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

"This was ugly. We just gave too much away and we didn't get the job done. It's one thing having a team beat you. It's another thing to help them beat you. That's what this one was tonight." Joe Torre

It was a game the Yankees needed to win. With a 5-2 lead in the sixth, it appeared that they would win. But poor relief pitching combined with lousy fielding and hitting allowed the Devil Rays to come-from-behind and beat the Bombers, 7-6. This game goes to the top of the list of painful losses for the Yanks who failed to gain ground on either the Red Sox or A's. This one was like bony finger in the Yankees' gut.

Robinson Cano, Taynon Sturtze, Aaron Small, and Joe Torre all played a part in the loss (Alex Rodriguez going hittless for the second straight night didn't help either). Robinson Cano's eighth inning error was the pivotal play in the game. According to Tyler Kepner in The New York Times:

Torre seemed most disappointed in Cano. After reliever Aaron Small lost a 5-2 lead in the sixth and seventh innings, the Yankees scored in the eighth to retake the lead, 6-5. Aubrey Huff led off the bottom of the eighth with a grounder to Cano's left. He spun and fielded the ball but never set his feet and threw wildly past first baseman Tino Martinez. Huff scored two batters later.

Torre said Cano should have taken more time with a slow runner like Huff. "The whole thing with that play is the preparation and knowing who the hitter is," Torre said.

Cano said he might have rushed the throw because Huff is a left-handed hitter and thus closer to first base when he hit the ball. But he admitted he failed to think about Huff's lack of speed.

"I forgot who was running," Cano said. "I should have waited to throw the ball a little bit longer. I should have held the ball a little bit more and waited for Tino to get to the base."

Johnny Gomes, Tampa Bay's cocky rookie, scored the winning run. This kid is easy not to like if you aren't a Devil Rays fan. He was hit by a curve ball his first time up and gave Al Leiter a load of attitude as he went to first--never mind that he leaned into the pitch. He doesn't just hustle, he struts too. A small, compact man, he's a combination of Pete Rose and Jimmy Superfly Snuka. But he has energized the Rays. After the game, he told repoters:

"It just shows that the Yankees, with their history and with their payroll and with their All-Stars, they're not bulletproof," Gomes said. "In between the lines there's no salaries and no world champions. It's nine-on-nine plus your bullpen and your bench, and it just shows anyone can win."

Gomes aside, the Yankees gave this one away. As a friend mentioned to me in an e-mail this morning, the Yankees are now 4-12 against the Devil Rays and Royals. Flip that record around and they are easily in first place. If they miss they playoffs because they could not beat the two worst teams in the league, well then they clearly don't deserve to play in October.

Comments
2005-08-18 06:08:15
1.   bp1
Do the Yankees deserve the post season this year? Good question. I think so. Even more so than if they had stayed healthy and won the division by 10 games with a dominant Randy Johnson. They've been hit with plenty of good punches this year, but are still on their feet and in the fight. Early this year, they were knocked down and glassy eyed and looking up at the ref thinking "this can't be happening", but they got back on their feet and starting hitting back. (Ok - end of boxing analogy)

Can a $200 million dollar budget yield a scrappy team who bites and scratches their way into the post season? I guess we'll see. We're certainly not going to steamroll our way to a championship this year. When Aaron Small is viewed as "stalwart", you know things are a little weird in Yankeeland. This is the anti-1998 team. We'll see if the Yankees are capable of winning ugly.

BP

2005-08-18 06:13:32
2.   Shaun P
domvjr in the last thread talked about how this team was an 87-win team and reminded him of the '59 Yanks. I think we probably do have an 87-win team on our hands, which probably isn't enough to make the playoffs this year.

Maybe we should have expected this. Last year, by runs scored and allowed, the Yanks were an 89-win team . . . who won 101 games and came thisclose to a World Series apperance. Given the offseason, most of us didn't expect the team would be much better - yet we still expected them to contend. Perhaps we were fooled by last year's won-loss record.

I'm not sure about changes in the dugout, but big changes need to happen on the field or next year will be more of the same.

2005-08-18 06:34:49
3.   STONER
Sorry guys, I've seen enough to convince me and my pinstriped pajamas that these Yanks aren't going to make it this year...the bullpen is bullshit...come on, we are talking professional baseball players here, absolutely choking the chicken - geesus, what the hell was that wild pitch all about from Tanyon anyway. Just how did we get sooooo bad in the pen??? When the gate opens, I cringe. Well, the team has two days to stew over this loss and hopefully, get so wissed off that they come out and kick some Chisox butt (opps, there I go again, eternal optimist)!
2005-08-18 07:21:26
4.   Zack
I am still so baffled as to why we haven't raided the minors yet for bullpen help. They can't do any worse. I know that its Torre's motto never to trust/use the young guys, but if Cashman would just sweep in a la Cano, he'd have no choice. Anderson and Bean, even if they don't at first succeed, will at least be as bad as the current bullpen, and they have fresher, as yet not burnt out by Torre, arms...

I look at the Sox, who are grooming their future starters by grooming them in the bullpen, or at least are starting to, and I see another example of why we won't be winning anytime soon.

2005-08-18 07:47:21
5.   carl
Its over! I am going on vacation in October becuse I know I won't be tied to the TV watching this team. Over the course of the season there have been some incredible works of art, Al Lieter against the Sox, ARod hitting (and lately fielding), Sheff crushing a homerun and the Giambi resurgence. But these have been overtaken by poor fielding, pitching (Any thoughts on what happened to Randy Johnson?)
The only way these guys win is if the stars align and they somehow get hot at just the right moment. Otherwise forget it.
2005-08-18 07:47:30
6.   carl
Its over! I am going on vacation in October becuse I know I won't be tied to the TV watching this team. Over the course of the season there have been some incredible works of art, Al Lieter against the Sox, ARod hitting (and lately fielding), Sheff crushing a homerun and the Giambi resurgence. But these have been overtaken by poor fielding, pitching (Any thoughts on what happened to Randy Johnson?)
The only way these guys win is if the stars align and they somehow get hot at just the right moment. Otherwise forget it.
2005-08-18 08:58:06
7.   rbj
It's been over for a while. I'm still rooting for them, but with only two inconsistent starters for most of the season it never looked good. Ah, for the good old days when a David cone could go down and an El Duque would step in and up.
2005-08-18 09:05:20
8.   tommyl
I've got a question. How does the Yankees middle relief compare to the league as a whole? To the better teams? I'm guessing its not good, but maybe its just a problem of perception. Certainly the Yanks aren't the only team with middle relievers who blow leads.
2005-08-18 18:37:36
9.   bp1
Tommyl,

I can't speak for the rest of the league, but I was reading someplace today that Boston's bullpen ERA is the highest in the American League, and they are in first place.

I figure the Yankees bullpen isn't too far behind Boston's, and we're in 2nd place.

Every team has a weakness. It would be an interesting study to break down a team's win/loss record and compare to certain attributes - like starter era, starter innings pitched, runs scored, etc. etc. Which facet of a team's makeup is most important? Based on the leaders of the AL East, is it possible that middle relief is not the most critical aspect of a team? I dunno.

But - boy oh boy - do I wish we had a few more really good arms in the 'pen.

BP

2005-08-18 18:41:14
10.   sam2175
I certainly dont want to make any excuses for anyone, and right now the picture is really gloomy. But I do believe a significant number of Yankee players overachieved this season, and some other teams also underachieved to make this race even a close one.

We still have the shell of Bernie Williams playing CF, Tony Womack continuing to get ABs for one reason or other, Posada in a state of horrendous decline, Giambi showing up for about a month and a half, the shot rotation where the only healthy person is Mike Mussina, and we are still 5 games out.

It is a miracle in itself when you consider the number of times we have lost against TB and KC Royals.

I dont think this team is going to post-season, but should that be considered a failure given the circumstances?

I really wont be that disappointed, to be absolutely honest.

2005-08-18 19:11:27
11.   Jen
bp1,

I think the bull pen ERA differences between the Yanks and Sox comes down to the closers. Foulke and Schilling have given up more runs than Mo.

2005-08-18 19:59:26
12.   Rich
Tino should have come off the bag to catch Cano's throw.
2005-08-18 20:44:40
13.   marc
As frustrating and agonizing watching/listening to some of these losses are it's a bit silly to give up on the season now. They're a lousy ONE game out in the loss column behind Oakland in the wild card when I looked. I think Boston's schedule is pretty easy so that's going to be tougher. Chacon, Unit and Mussina are all pitching OK. Sure, middle relief sucks and late relief is showing strain but it's tough on all the teams right now.I know it looks like they're throwing the season away but
it's not in the toilet yet. Also Chien Ming Wang could possibly be back I thought.

BTW anyone know why Sterling stopped saying An A-bomb from A-Rod?. I guessed with the big Japanese following for the team it was a little too polically incorrect but I haven't heard anything.

2005-08-19 00:02:47
14.   brockdc
Does anyone have any clue as to what became of that Juan Rivera guy?

Oh, that's right, he freaking MASHES now (and plays great defense), sorta like that Delucci fellow.

2005-08-19 05:43:36
15.   pmarcig
This has really been a rough season for Yankee fan. Especially after taking one on the chin and getting "pantsed" last October. The Sox and A's are basically begging us to gain ground on them right now and we can't do it. It's discouraging. But as the "ever-optimistic I refuse to believe this is the year we don't make the post season" fan, we still have games left with both of those clubs.

The "realist" fan those looks at a three game stint with the Sox in Chicago and wonders what are the odds they are going to lose 8 in a row? If Sheff and A-Rod are going to earn their keep and put us on their back, THIS is the series to do it.

2005-08-19 06:01:17
16.   Yanks in NH
As much as I hate to admit it, the Red Sox can have a much higher bullpen ERA than the Yanks because their offense consistently produces, especially when they're behind. Our offense pounds it out one day and dissappears the next.

A-Rod is great, but he truly seems to be lacking that ability to hit in the clutch, i.e. post this week showing his low average with RISP. Leading in homers and with his high batting average, he should be far and away ahead of the pack in RBI's instead of third or fourth, but it comes down to the clutch hitting. It's not just him though, its the whole on again-off again offense of the entire team.

Thankfully (can't believe I'm saying this) we're out of Tampa Bay for now and playing a contending team where for some bizzare reason we seem to play like a contender!

You can never give up and I have a feeling that they will make the playoffs - but maybe that feeling is just a brain tumor growing rapidly!

2005-08-19 07:22:32
17.   Shaun P
brockdc, Juan Rivera could always mash - look at his numbers with the old Expos last year, and his minor league numbers with the Yanks. Its just that, like so many other young players, he was never given a chance. Sigh.

As for Delucci, his numbers this year are so out of line with his past production, its probably a fluke.

2005-08-19 11:40:53
18.   Knuckles
Brock,
Dellucci sucked in the Bronx, and he wasn't all that young then, so I'd say his numbers this year are either a one-year anomaly, or he has found a new pharmacist...

Juan Rivera was always going to be a pretty good player, the Yanks just never showed any inclination to let him be one in New York. Living in DC, I was kinda bummed that the Nats traded him for Guillen, because I like watching him play.

2005-08-20 10:36:54
19.   brockdc
Guys,

You're probably right about Delucci; maybe I'm seduced by his choice of theme music (Theme from "The Godfather") every time he approaches the plate more so than his actual career numbers.

But I couldn't be any more disgruntled over the fact that, for a 200 mil. team (or even a 100 mil. team, for that matter) the Yanks have zero outfield depth. Lest I forget this point for even a nanosecond, Timo Perez - a guy who spends much of his time on the Chisox bench - guns down Sheff from left field yesterday. None of our STARTERS have an arm like that.

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