Saturday, May 28, 2011

Yankees Follow Road Failure Flowchart

When it comes to getting things done right, no one is better than accomplishing a goal than the Yankees on a west coast road trip.

  1. Take a lead early and then stop hitting.
  2. Have your starting pitcher limit the other team, but be ineffective enough to not provide any depth of innings.
  3. Have the bullpen blow the lead.
You've seen it happen dozens of times. (Actually it feels more like hundreds thousands gazillions of times). It happened many times in the Kingdome in Seattle over the years and I'm happy to see the tradition has carried over to Safeco Field.

The Yankees entered the game with the tough task of having to face rookie intimidator Michael Pineda. The 6'7" right-hander, whose fastball pops in the catcher's mitt with a resounding bang that can be heard throughout the stadium, entered the game with a 2.16 ERA and impeccable control. In fact, YES reported that Pineda threw 71% of his first pitches for of course he started things out with two straight out of the strike zone to Derek Jeter. After getting past the Yankees captain and Curtis Granderson, Pineda surrendered Mark Teixeira's 14th home run of the season for a 1-0 lead.

A.J. Burnett, meanwhile, was having an up and down game of his own. He walked two batters in each of the first two innings, but also struck out a pair in each frame as well. The Yankees added to their lead in the 5th when Granderson drew one of a season high five walks issued by Pineda, moved to third on Teixeira's single through the right side shift and came home on a wild pitch. Alex Rodriguez then singled back through the middle to plate Teixeira for a 3-0 lead.

But in the home half of the 5th Burnett ran into trouble of his own. After shortstop Brendan Ryan reached on a lead off single, Ichiro Suzuki placed (there's really no words to describe the swing he took and the contact he made) a double to left to put both runners in scoring position. Ground outs by Justin Smoak and Luis Gonzalez brought home both runners to cut the lead to 3-2 and Burnett's night was done at 97 pitches.

Boone Logan started the 6th, and has been the case all season, gave up a base hit to a left-handed hitter (Adam Kennedy). Joe Girardi then sent for Luis Ayala, who was of no use. Miguel Olivo greeted Ayala with a single and Carlos Peguero drew a walk to load the bases. Ironically, it would be two more ground outs that would score a pair of runs. Ryan bounced into a force out as the Yankees tried unsuccessfully to turn two and Ichiro hit a bouncer to short with the only play to first base, giving the Mariners a 4-3 lead.

Things could have been worse- Ayala threw a wild pitch and hit Luis Rodriguez- but Ayala escaped further trouble by striking out Smoak. The Yankees got a runner on in each of the 7th and 8th innings, but stranded them both against reliever David Pauley. In the 8th Jorge Posada drew a two out walk against Jamey Wright and was pinch-run for by rookie Eduardo Nunez. In an instant Nunez went from potential hero to definite goat. The rookie infielder stole second base (the Yankees third steal of the night), but fell asleep and was immediately picked off of second by Wright for the final out of the 8th.

The Yankees went down meekly in the 9th against closer Brandon League and just like that the nine game road trip got off to an ominous fashion.

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