Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Well, That Didn't Take Long
2008-08-26 19:55
by Cliff Corcoran

The Yankees needed to sweep their current series against the Red Sox, so their having lost the first game by the convincing score of 7-3 takes a lot of the excitement out of the remaining two games. Heading into last night's game, the Yankees were counting on Andy Pettitte to come through in what may prove to have been the Yankees' biggest game of the year. He didn't:

"It's extremely frustrating. I hate it. I didn't get it done. I didn't get it done tonight. I wish I could say I felt terrible, but I felt pretty decent. I got out of synch in the first inning and walked a couple of guys, but after that I felt that I was able to throw my all pitches pretty much where I wanted to. I couldn't get anybody out, though."

Johnny Damon staked Pettitte to an early 1-0 lead when he led off the bottom of the first by wrapping a solo homer around the foul pole in right field. Pettitte, who worked around those two two-out walks in the first, got two quick outs in the top of the second, but then the last two men in the Boston order reached on slow rollers up the third base line and Jacoby Ellsbury plated one of them with a single to left to tie the game.

The Yankees answered right back with a run in the bottom of the inning on two-out singles by Hideki Matsui, Robinson Cano, and Jose Molina, but Pettitte gave that run and one more back in the top of the third on doubles by David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis and a single by Jason Bay. It was still 3-2 Sox in the top of the fifth when Jason Bay singled back up the middle off Pettitte to spark a two-out rally.

"I had two outs and was hoping to have a 1-2-3 inning and then the inning turned into a horrible inning. Just frustrating. I felt like it was a pretty good pitch on the outside corner to [Bay]. I think he got into a count [2-2] where I had to throw a little bit more over the plate than I wanted to out there. I thought I threw a good back-door curveball to the next kid [Jed Lowrie] and he hit it, ground ball [single] in between second and third, and then, again, I thought I threw a good changeup in a good count [1-2] to [Jeff] Bailey, and he just rolled it right down the line on the bag. It's frustrating. I gave up those three runs early. I broke out my changeup in the fourth, and I was throwing it for strikes when I wanted to. It was a game where I thought that as soon as I started throwing that for strikes the way I was, the way I was locating my fastball, it was a game I could carry into the seventh inning or so and hold them to three right there, but obviously it didn't work out like that. I just, I didn't get the job done."

In between Lowrie's single and Bailey's infield hit, Coco Crisp singled Bay home to make it 4-3. Bailey's hit would have been a two-run double, but it ricocheted off the third base bag to Alex Rodriguez, who quickly fired it across the diamond to Jason Giambi, but Bailey beat the throw and Crisp, who had stolen second, never hesitated and scored anyway to make it a two-run infield hit aided by Giambi mistakenly thinking Bailey had been ruled out and thus not throwing home.

That sequence of events made it 6-2 Sox and bounced Pettitte with two out in the fifth. Damon added a second solo homer off Wakefield in the bottom of the inning, but Brian Bruney gave that run back in the top of the sixth on a Jason Bay sac fly after walkking the bases loaded.

From there things got ugly, though the 7-3 score would remain unchanged. The Yankees loaded the bases with one out in the seventh against Manny Delcarmen, bringing Alex Rodriguez to the plate as the tying run against Justin Masterson. Rodriguez took a fastball down the middle at the knees, then took and ill-advised hack at a slider down and in and ground into an inning-ending double play, bringing out the boos for the first time this season.

The Yankees got the first two men on in the eighth against Masterson, but Hideki Okajima came on for an eight-pitch battle with Matsui that ended in curveball that dove across the zone for called strike three. Okajima then got Cano to pop out on a full-count, and Jonathan Papelbon came on to retire Ivan Rodriguez on one pitch. An error by Lowrie in the bottom of the ninth simply allowed Rodriguez to come to the plate to make the last out with a runner on base.

On the night, Rodriguez went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts, two double plays, and an error in the field, and left seven runners on base. He fell on his sword after the game:

"It was an awful night. For me personally, it was a long night, pretty much screwed it up anyway you can screw it up. . . . My team expects me to get big hits and make plays, and tonight I didn't do that. Johnny, Jeet, and Bobby worked great at-bats all night [combined 6 for 11 with two walks] and I just killed the rally . . . . No one's more frustrated than me. Everyone's desperate for wins. A night like tonight, I was booing myself. . . . We've always said you want to get a good pitch to hit and put an A swing. On that double play [in the seventh], it wasn't a good pitch to hit, and it wasn't an A swing. . . . Today we sucked. I sucked. I played terrible, and they hit balls all over the place down at the corner at third base, and I left men all over the field. . . . tonight you can put it on me."

I'd actually put it on Pettitte, if I had to point a finger, but Rodriguez was his accomplice. With that in mind, I found this post-game comment from Johnny Damon interesting:

"[Alex is] out there busting his butt. He still works harder than all of us in here. He had that off night and that's unfortunate. This was a night when we needed to get something and unfortunately, we couldn't get anything from him. He expects to be the greatest player ever, and unfortunately on a day-by-day basis that doesn't really translate at times. It's tough to be the best player on the field every single day. He expects to be, and unfortunately tonight he wasn't."

The Yankees weren't a playoff team last night, either.

2008-08-26 21:48:01
1.   Jeb
Stick a fork in them. My question is whether the Yanks will even manage to finish third.

After Boston wins 2 of 3 the Yanks get to face (the tremendously-great-against-the-Yanks-mediocre-against-everyone-else-auditioning-for-a-job-for-2009) AJ Burnett and Doc Halladay and then get the wonderful road trip known as:

Detroit-to-Tampa-to-Seattle-Orange County. Blech. They'll get a .500 team by 9/15

Bring me Tex and CC..Tex and CC...and Milton...and what the hell -- Burnett too.

2008-08-26 21:48:59
2.   Jeb
1 I meant They'll BE a .500 team by 9/15
2008-08-26 21:52:08
3.   Shawn Clap
"My team expects me to get big hits and make plays, and tonight I didn't do that..."

And by "tonight" A-Rod means his entire career in a Yankee uniform whenever the season is on the line.

2008-08-27 00:27:07
4.   weeping for brunnhilde
Earlier I quipped that maybe Alex should be batting ninth and toking up in the on-deck circle.

While the joint is being passed his way, one might even whisper to him that it's ok, he needn't be the greatest player ever; it's enough to just be Alex.

Maybe he should start seeing his shrink again.

2008-08-27 00:46:25
5.   Mr OK Jazz TOKYO
the Damon signing turned out to be a good one after all, BTW...great player to watch..
2008-08-27 04:15:40
6.   Knuckles
Allow me to reintroduce myself,
My name is LOB,
L to that O-B...
2008-08-27 04:23:48
7.   Bronxer
5 - A good one for NY, but bad for Johnny D since he missed a second ring had he stayed in Boston.
2008-08-27 05:00:01
8.   Sliced Bread
I'm not ready to give up on the season. These games still mean a lot to me. I'm going tonight, and will spend today believing the Yanks, led by the third baseman HIMSELF, will set Gas Can Byrd ablaze, and Sir Calzone will somehow hold down the fort.
Dat's dat.
2008-08-27 05:21:00
9.   Bronxer
Having pitched just well enough to win, Wakefield had this to say about his final time on the mound in Yankee Stadium:

"Lou Cucuzza, the clubhouse guy, got me some dirt from the mound. It's pretty special. Playing in this league the last 14, 15 years, and pitching here for such a long period of time, it's such a cathedral of sports. To walk the hallowed grounds that such great players before us have played their game and walked and ran and hit, it's pretty special."

I dislike the Sox (well, not this season's version of the Sox so much) but have never disliked Wakefield - he "gets it".

2008-08-27 05:21:05
10.   OldYanksFan
3 "And by "tonight" A-Rod means his entire career in a Yankee uniform"

Gee, that's a nice sentiment. Lets look at a few numbers (from last thread) and see how you comment stacks up.

In 2004, hsi first year as a Yankee and a 3rd baseman, ARod had a very 'poor' year with an OPS of .887. His RISP and other 'clutch numbers were a fair amount worse.

However, ARod in the last 3 years, 2005-2007:
RISP: .308 .434 .554 .988
Runners On: .309 .419 .603 1.022
Cl&Late: .294 .393 .520 .913
BasesLoaded: .469 .508 .918 1.426
(In 49 ABs, just look at those bases loaded numbers!)

Those seem like pretty good clutch numbers, looking to average well over 1.000. Shawn - You have a problem with 3 years of those clutch numbers (not to mention 2 MVPs and the greatest year for a 3rd baseman in Yankee history)?

2008-08-27 05:27:31
11.   ChrisS
3 "when the season is on the line"

Care to back that up, or are you just going to hate? Seems to me that the Yankees season has been "on the line" most of the last 4 years. It's hard to expect one player to succeed every time. Frankly, I'm pretty happy with what he's done. One thing he has historically done is GIDP quite a bit. I know lineups don't matter statistically, but Girardi has three guys back-to-back-back that have a lot of GIDPs, including Derek Jeter who is tied for third (and, because I looked, Vlad leads the AL with 26 - ouch.)

As for the Damon signing, well, it's OK, if you don't include his defense or his middling offense last year. "And that one gets by Damon" "Off the glove of Damon" "Over the head of Damon" "He scoots into second ahead of the throw by Damon"

If Damon was the Yankee LFer and Melky was a league average hitter, I'd have no problem with the signing. But man, did they ever miss the boat on Beltran.

2008-08-27 06:08:09
12.   bp1
The play where scored from second on an infield hit was the snapping point for me. Giambi just held the ball - and that felt like the whole season right in that moment. They just seem to be looking around with wild eyes, wondering what the hell is happening, hoping some umpire will make it stop.

A very ugly moment.

2008-08-27 06:09:05
13.   williamnyy23
The reality is the Yankees were done long before last night's loss. Too many people are getting caught up in the mathematics...the reason the Yankees are finished is not because they are 6 out with 31 to play, but because after 130 games they have been unable to hit, play defense or pitch like a playoff team. To suddenly expect them to sweep Boston, beat Halladay and Burnett and then rip through a brutal road trip is pure pie-in-the-sky. Is it possible? Sure, but so is winning the lottery.

10 The numbers for Arod are great and no one can deny he is a great player, but he also seems to exhibit a lack of confidence at an alarming rate for a great player. In contrast, I can't imagine Pujols or Manny ever coming to the plate with the game on the line feeling pressure. By all accounts, when Arod gets into his ruts, it's the mental side that sinks him. When you build your lineup around a player, you need him to hold up better through the tough times.

11 Damon's defense in LF actually rates pretty high. It's not his fault that the Yankees couldn't find someone to hit in CF. So far, I'd say that Damon's offense, defense in LF as well as his "intangible" qualities have made him a fair value at $13mn.

2008-08-27 06:14:15
14.   DarrenF
8 I seriously want to see this team stay out of 4th place (or maybe even 5th place) because at least that will demonstrate that they didn't completely quit. If they truly flame out and win 79 games, Girardi should be fired. Maybe the fans, players, coaches, etc. will need to miss the playoffs for a while before they can appreciate the playoffs again.

I can only think of one year in the Torre era -- 1996 -- when the team and the fan base was simply flat-out enthused about making the playoffs. Soon thereafter -- 1998 -- the experience had completely transformed into a win-or-else proposition. Not joyless by any means, but just business-like, and also not realistic.

I don't know a single person who thinks the '08 Yankees have a chance in the playoffs . Though you never know what could happen from game to game, this is a mediocre team with Ponson as the #3. They'd be the worst team in the playoffs.

2008-08-27 06:22:12
15.   DarrenF
10 Thanks for the research. My gripe with the unclutch storyline is that it basically started from day one and evidence to the contrary is ignored. Yesterday's game was pitiful and his clutch performance in '07 certainly deserves criticism -- but by now it's the boy who cried wolf. I don't really think the story would be written differently had he hit a grand slam in the 7th. It would just be pivoted slightly into, "Let's see him do it against a veteran pitcher in the playoffs." Shrug.

So, what happens at Yankee Stadium is that ARod is booed not just for one pitiful performance, but for the whole season and, in fact, for the frustrations of the past several seasons. The negativity is out of line and it largely ruins my enjoyment of attending Yankee games. It ends up being Yankee fan vs. Yankee fan. I almost long for the days of jokingly booing Joe Niekro, but really you're just laughing at him.

2008-08-27 06:27:10
16.   Bronxer
If NY wins the next two (definite possibility) the optimism, or hope, will be back. There are still 30+ games to go, and yes 14 they would be the worst team in the playoffs, but so was St. Louis in 2006.
2008-08-27 06:45:42
17.   Dimelo
I usually try and keep my emotions in check, but last night was just an awful game. I thought the home plate umpire made it a little harder on Andy than he would have liked, but Wakefield had to pitch to him too.

But the person I am most upset, pissed, whatever the eff you want to call it is with Madonna Rodriguez, he has to be the biggest piece of dog turd I've ever seen. By the end of the game I had developed this huge hatred for MRod.

In the last ten years, I think the most disappointing players in NY sports have to be:
Jason Sehorn

Every time I see MRod I am reminded of Jason Sehorn, I hope to read that they are both in some snuff film together - they are both overpaid losers.

2008-08-27 06:51:47
18.   Dimelo
Hillary has bigger nuts than MRod.
2008-08-27 06:53:33
19.   Bob B
My 11 year old nephew went to the game last night and, as we passed the New Yankee Stadium going up next to the Old Stadium, his comment was priceless."What's the point of that?"
2008-08-27 06:57:28
20.   tommyl
Argh, I'm not trying to be an A-Rod apologist but, argh. Can we stop this bashing of him? He had a shitty game last night, he's having an off year with RISP, but geez he's otherwise been amazing. I was at the game last night and Cliff, you're wrong about the booing, it started on Cash's infield single when A-Rod tried to barehand it. It was embarassing to call myself a Yankee fan at that point and be associated with those people. They literally expect A-Rod to run faster than a speeding bullet and hit a HR everytime out.

I was also at Game 4 of the ALDS last year and I remember when A-Rod hit that HR in the 7th people were complaining saying it was too little too late. Meanwhile, everyone forgets that the inning before Jeter grounded into a DP in a 1st and 3rd, 1 out situation. My point is not to bash Jeter at all, its to show that even the "clutchiest" of hitters screw up in big situations and that often our prevailing prejudices force us into a storyline. Does no one remember Alex's 12th inning HR a week ago?

I'm ranting a bit, but I'm sorry. In the long list of why the 2008 Yankees are mediocre the idea that A-Rod is high on that list is laughable. He has a 157 OPS+ and is playing a good 3B. I'm amazed no one besides Cliff has even pointed a finger at Andy for last night's game. You can't walk the 7-8-9 hitters as much as he did.

2008-08-27 07:33:01
21.   weeping for brunnhilde
19 Hah aha hah ah1!!



2008-08-27 10:22:46
22.   joejoejoe
Including the 0-for-5 A-Rod is .348/.423/.565 against the Red Sox this year in 49 PAs. Fans who expect ballplayers to perform like the Road Runner vs. Wile E. Coyote every night are called stupid fans. I'm not saying fans shouldn't boo (it's a free country) but that doesn't mean the booing is short sighted.
2008-08-27 11:41:05
23.   3rd gen yankee fan
19 Classic. Maybe Hank can explain.

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