I have to admit, I missed the first six innings of last night's game. Since getting a digital video recorder last August, I've watched very few games live, and I simply forgot to set the thing to record yesterday's game. By the time I tuned in, the Devil Rays were up 7-6. Boy am I glad I forgot to set the DVR.
What I missed was Kei Igawa and Casey Fossum trying to out-awful each other. Fossum started the bidding with Alex Rodriguez's 13th homer of the year, a solo shot to lead off the second. Igawa countered with a three-run shot by Rocco Baldelli in the bottom of the inning that made it 4-1 Rays (two walks and a single preceded the dinger). Fossum gave one of those runs back in the third (a Josh Phelps double plated by a Melky bunt and Jeter sac fly), one in the fourth (singles by Rodriguez and Giambi, sac fly by Matsui), and one in the fifth on a Robinson Cano solo homer.
Igawa gave up another run in the bottom of the fifth on a single by Delmon Young and a double by Akinori Iwamura, then got the hook after 97 pitches. Colter Bean came on and struck out Elijah Dukes, but let Iwamura score on a Josh Paul single before getting out of the inning.
Fossom followed Igawa out of the game in the top of the sixth after allowing another run on a double by Abreu and singles by Rodriguez and Giambi, then plunking Robinson Cano with two outs to load the bases. Gary Glover came on and walked Josh Phelps to force in a run before getting the final out.
That's how it got to be 7-6 Devil Rays.
Brian Bruney and Luis Vizcaino combined to yield three more runs in the seventh, both yielding a walk and a double before Vizcaino recorded the first out of the inning, the big shot being B. J. Upton's bases-clearing double off Vizcaino. After appearing in eight of the Yankees' first 12 games and allowing just six base runners in those 8 1/3 innings, Vizcaino's been terrible in three of his last four outings. Those splits are symptomatic of the way in which the rotation's failures have wreaked havoc on the entire bullpen, which entered the season as one of the best in baseball.
Down four runs, the Yankees rallied in the eighth. After Juan Salas walked Giambi and Matsui, Brian Stokes came in and got Posada to foul out, but Robinson Cano singled to load the bases for Josh Phelps, who had doubled and walked in three trips. Except that Joe Torre sent Johnny Damon up to pinch-hit for Phelps against the right-handed Stokes. Sending Damon up wasn't a bad move, but sending him up for Phelps rather than saving him to hit for the next batter, Melky Cabrera, was. Damon battled Stokes, but fouled out and Cabrera struck out on four pitches to leave the bases loaded.
Against Al Reyes in the ninth, Bobby Abreu drew a one-out walk and Alex Rodriguez delivered yet another home run to pull the Yanks within two, but Jason Giambi struck out and Hideki Matsui popped out to mercifully end the game.
The 10-6 loss to the Rays drops the Yankees to just a half game out of last place in the East. The Yanks have now lost four straight because their pitching staff has allowed an average of 7.75 runs per game over that span. This feels like rock bottom. Here's hoping it is.
Chien-Ming Wang makes his first start of the season tonight. It's not soon enough.