Friday, September 6, 2013
It's the type of late evening loss that is usually reserved for the New York football Giants on a Sunday, Monday, or occasional Thursday night. A prime time defeat to the Cowboys, Redskins, or an AFC team that has played the rude host. The type of game that keeps those of us on the east coast from falling asleep right away. The type of game that replays "what ifs" over and over in your head. The one that keeps you from tuning in to sports radio the next day and from reading recaps in the newspaper or on the internet.
Only this time it was the New York baseball Yankees (not the football Yankees that played from 1926-1928 in Yankee Stadium) that provided the dose of insomnia and bitterness. It was a 7-2 loss that turned into an 8-7 victory that turned back into a 9-8 loss to the Boston Red Sox in 10 innings. Though nothing was lost in the standings (Tampa Bay lost to the Los Angeles Angels so the Yankees remain 2.5 games back of the second wild card), it knocked another game of opportunity off of the schedule. Though Joba Chamberlain gave up the game winning hit to Shane Victorino after Jacoby Ellsbury reached on a one-out single and stole second, there was plenty of blame to go around.
It started with Ivan Nova, the American League pitcher of the month of August, who tossed his first complete game shutout last Saturday against the Baltimore Orioles. Thursday night he was removed after only four innings and 92 pitches. He gave up a pair of runs in the 3rd inning that Robinson Cano got back with a 2-run double in the home half of the inning, but an inning later Nova gave up a go ahead gopher ball to Will Middlebrooks.
Next up on the hit parade was Preston Claiborne, who gave up nothing but hits, runs and a walk. Claiborne was a revelation early in the season, but has struggled since the All-Star Break. He was greeted in the 5th by a Shane Victorino solo home run and moments later Mike Napoli singled in a run (at least I believe it was Napoli; all of the bald headed, beard faced, white supremacist looking dudes on Boston look alike.) with a third coming in on a fielder's choice. Clairborne was officially charged with 3 ER in 0 IP.
Ryan Lavarnway tacked on an RBI single against Adam Warren for a 7-2 lead when God Bless America commenced in the middle of the 7th.
Jake Peavy breezed through the first six innings with just Cano's ribbies on his sales receipt. Above 100 pitches to start the 7th, Peavy walked Ichiro Suzuki and gave up a pinch-hit single to Vernon Wells. John Farrell went to his pen, but the inning's die had been cast.
Brett Gardner greeted lefty Matt Thornton with an RBI single. The Yankees felt they could run at will, a thought that would later come back to bite them, and sure enough Wells swiped third. (Though replays showed he might have been out.) A walk to Derek Jeter loaded the bases for the Yankees best hitter, Robinson Cano.
The Yankees second baseman pulled an outside pitch, but was fortunate that hopped high enough to avoid a rally killing double play. With the lead cut to 7-4, Farrell sent for right-hander Junichi Tazawa and put three infielders on the left side of the infield for Alfonso Soriano. The move backfired when Tazawa threw a pitch towards the outside of the plate and Soriano slapped it through the vacant right side of the infield.
Curtis Granderson followed with a smash off of the base of the right field wall to trim the lead to one. Lyle Overbay, who had many big hits over the season, came through again with a single to right that plated Cano and Soriano for an 8-7 Yankees lead. David Robertson dominated the 8th inning and all seemed right with the world.
Mariano Rivera got in on David Ortiz's hands just enough to cause a line out to Overbay, who then scooped up Daniel Nava's weak grounder for the second out of the inning. Unfortunately, Rivera hung a pitch to Napoli, who stroked it to right for his second hit of the night. Recently acquired Quentin Berry pinch-ran and immediately took off for second. He had the base stolen easily, but to compound matters, Austin Romine's throw came up about 5-6 feet short of second and ricocheted off Jeter into left field. Berry raced to third and trotted home with the tying run when Rivera hung another pitch, this time to Stephen Drew, that resulted in an RBI single to right.
The Yankees could have turned the disappointment back into celebration had Soriano not gotten too cocky in the bottom of the 9th. The veteran had already gotten a break in the inning when he drew a one-out walk and was picked off by left-hander Craig Breslow. Soriano reached second when the pitcher's throw was low to first and handcuffed Nava. With one out, a man in scoring position and Granderson and Alex Rodriguez coming up, the Yankees had a golden opportunity. That is until Soriano got overly aggressive.
With six stolen bases already in the books for the Yankees, Soriano looked to nab third and widened his lead off of second. It was so wide that Breslow easily picked Soriano off again and the Red Sox erased him after a short rundown.
So take your pick - Rivera, Chamberlain, Soriano, Nova, Claiborne, Ichiro Suzuki (looked horrible at the plate all night), Romine..plenty of goat horns to hand out. It doesn't really matter, because it translated to another crucial loss for a team that at times looks like the worst in baseball.