August 11, 2006
August 10th @ The White Sox
Peter Abraham said it best, late last night:
The Red Sox lost five straight games against the Devil Rays and Royals and the Yankees picked up only two games in the standings. When you have a chance to throw your rivals under the train, you have to do it. The Red Sox are in a free-fall but they're one series away from being back in first.
Like the game on Tuesday against the Chisox, this was a tough game to lose.
Forget about the defensive play (or lack there of) of A-Rod, Melky, Posada and Cano in the 2nd inning of this game - at least for a moment. Let's just look at the Yankees batting last night in this one-run loss.
1st inning: Yankees have runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out. A-Rod strikes out swinging.
2nd inning: Cano doubles to lead it off. Wilson and Cabrera cannot move him along.
4th inning: Yankees have the bases loaded - albeit with two outs. Giambi strikes out looking.
6th inning: Yankees have runners on 1st and 3rd with one out. A-Rod flies out and Giambi strikes out.
9th inning: Yankees have runners on 1st and 2nd - but with two outs. Damon grounds out to end the game.
Giambi and A-Rod's name seems to come up a lot in the above comments, no?
Still, Giambi did have a 2-run homer in this game. And, A-Rod did have the big, inexcusable, throwing error in the 2nd.
But, if I were to say now "The Yankees lost this game, for the most part, because Alex Rodriguez played it like it was the 2005 ALDS" what would be the reaction (by many Yankees fans) to that statement?
"Oh, there goes the A-Rod basher again!"
"What are you obsessed with A-Rod?"
And, those would probably be the polite responses.
So, I'm going to say that Mickey Klutts lost this game for the Yankees against the White Sox. Yes, I know that Klutts last played for the Yankees in 1978. But, I'd rather have people come after me today for that statement than listen to complaints about getting on A-Rod - even if Alex had a huge hand in losing this game.
Posted by Steve Lombardi at August 11, 2006 09:40 AM
As someone that thought you were unfairly blaming A-rod the other night, I will say that he is the single biggest reason the Yankees lost last night.
Ditto for me, Steve. Just an awful excuse for a game from him--one of my biggest pet peeves is runners left at 3rd with less than 2 outs, and to do it twice plus that horrible error--well, enough said. Of course, Mussina seems to be just as hated as A-Rod in some circles as he was catching most of the flak on other boards last night. Moose had his one bad inning that coincided with a meltdown from the defense.
The defense was awful last night and Mussina typically melted down when things did not go his way.
However the core issue for the team is batters left on base.
On this past road trip the Yankees left 52 men on base: 15, 5, and 7 in Chicago and 8, 4, and 13 in Baltimore.
It amazes me to read the stories about the Yankees and to hear them think they are playing well. Poor defense aside, how is leaving 52 on base in 6 games playing well? How is a 3-3 road trip playing well?
The White Sox are the defending World Series winner, but they have been spiraling down since the All Star break. They are not as good as some think.
The Yanks will win the division. I hope. But this is not playoff baseball. Missed opportunities (and poor defense) are sure losing measures in playoff baseball.
Two people lost that game last night: A-Rod and the home plate ump. Mussina had clearly struck out Brian Anderson for the third time. It was borderline, but it was a strike. For the third straight night the strikezone was all over the place (is it hard to see there?). Then Anderson gets a hit and Podsednik dings a little changeup up the middle and he scores. That run should never have happened.
As for A-Rod -- listen, at this point you just want the guy NOT to hurt us in the field. My mouth was literally hanging open when he threw that ball away. It wasn't just a bad throw -- it was like the Vanderjagt kick in the playoffs: it wasn't anywhere NEAR the target. A readymade double play and he throws it away. That more than anything killed the game.
I'm really sick of how people treat Mussina. People want to talk about the unfair treatment of A-Rod? Well, Moose actually gets the job done and he has to hear about "melting down" because of errors behind him. It's a joke. All of those errors happened with no outs. With the Cano bobble at second base, he had to get about six outs in the inning. And he did. And then he went on and reeled off a few scoreless innings, more than enough for the offense to get back into it.
This is yet another game where a terrible A-Rod throw lands Mussina with an unfair loss.
And, Paul, the Yankees ARE playing well -- and they certainly were before this series. I believe they have the best, or one of the best, records since the All-Star Break. This was an ugly series, but their play here doesn't totally erase what they've done. And truthfully, outside of Wang's performance in game one, our starting pitching was pretty good. Even the bullpen was good outside of Mo in game two and Farnsworth in game three. Proctor might have given up the game-winning hit, but he still looks great (he's absolutely blowing guys away). And Villone got out of a bases loaded jam with no outs.
It is pretty annoying that we didn't gain more ground while the Sox were getting swept by the Royals, to really put the boot on their necks, but it's better to be three up than three down. Now Lidle and Wright have to buckle down versus the Angels. The Sox have Baltimore for three in their house, and even if the Sox are playing terribly, they will probably win two of those games. The Yankees can't let them get back within one after they got swept and humiliated by the Royals.
Sorry, Baileywalk, but I do not think the Yankees are playing well in the last 6 games. Note I did not suggest that was the case since the All Star break. I said then as I say now the last 6 games.
In a long baseball season the final results take into account the entire season but the fortunes of teams rise and fall based on current play.
The Yankees current play is not good at all. They fortunately played a poor team in Baltimore and a spiraling down team in Chicago who still has some very good hitting but questionable pitching.
The Yankees escaped at 3-3 on the road trip.
Yet they left 52 runners on base. Sorry, I cannot agree they are playing well.
I am hoping to see the batting order shaken up for the Angels series. The Angels are on a record close to Toronto and can be beaten with good and timely hitting.
The Yankees are capable of winning every game but not until they change their approach and get out of this stranding runner rut.
I also don't like stranded runners (and find them very frustrating to watch) but, like double plays, aren't they more likely to happen the more guys get on? I wonder if a better measure than just counting stranded runners would be counting stranded runners in innings where the team didn't score, stranded runners in scoring position, and (especially) stranded runners at third (or in scoring position) that got there with fewer than two outs.
Posted by: carla at August 11, 2006 11:57 AM
Oh - sorry for the double post - but 3-3 on a road trip is not awful, even against one bad team and one pretty good team. If the Yankees had won both series 2-1 I don't think anyone would be complaining - and that's only one game difference.
Both of these losses against the White Sox hurt because the games were ugly and winnable. I'm inclined to agree that the team is not in playoff form right now - but I'm not inclined to conclude anything about their playoff chances from that. There's a reason they call these the dog days of August.
Posted by: carla at August 11, 2006 12:01 PM
I hope Cano isn't going to make us miss Cairo at 2nd base, but he's apt to do so. I hope I'm wrong about that. Cairo was superb in the field and you win with pitching and defense.
Aren't two of the Angels starters this series rookies? You know what that means for the Yankees.
Don, that Cano comment looks like you're quoting something, but I'll assume it's your thought.
And it's a CRAZY thought. Cano was putting on a show at second base this whole series -- and he's been out a month! He bobbled the ball. I hardly think that calls for the reinstatement of Cairo, who couldn't hit his way out of a wet paper bag. Cano is also pounding the ball, if you hadn't noticed. And while you might win with defense and pitching, a little hitting helps -- and Cano's bat helps this team more than Cairo's overrated fielding skills ever could.
I think many are over-reacting. Look, it sucks to strand that many runners, and Arod is most to blame, but if Rivera nails down that save, the Yanks are 4-2, not 3-3. And if the Yanks get a little luck last night, they go 4-2 also. They could've easily swept Chicago.
Or look at it this way: losing 2 of 3 to the defending champs is almost expected, but Boston losing 3 to KC is never expected.
I hear what you're saying, 98, but the fact remains that the Yankees lost two very winnable games -- and that's not good. Especially the way they lost them. In one game Mo gave up a tying home run and in the other A-Rod made a huge error and the offense didn't get the job done. If anything, this last game is more frustrating than the one Mo blew. It was a cheap home run in a homer paradise. But A-Rod turning an easy play into two runs and the offense repeatedly not coming through -- that stings.
I also don't like the fact that we could have buried the Sox and we did not. Just think about this: if we had won those two winnable games -- say Mo doesn't give up that home run and A-Rod doesn't throw that ball away -- we would be five games up on the Red Sox. FIVE GAMES. Even through all the bull we went through, we were never that far behind.
As it is, we now have to play a tough team with two tough rookie pitchers, and the Sox get to swat around a lethargic Baltimore team in their own home. How would you feel if, after the Angel series, we were only one game up? I would be pretty disappointed.
ah, Yankees fans! Always seeing the positive, never the negative! Seriously, that was a tough fought series and we definitely blew an opportunity to create serious separation. But what I remember was that before this series, folks were seriously worried that we'd lose ground since we'd be playing chicago and Boston would be playing KC. Three games later and we actually gained a game on Boston. Blown opportunity? Perhaps. But anyone who thinks we're just going to blow everyone out is unrealistic about how baseball works.
"Always mystify, mislead and surprise the enemy; and when you strike and overcome him, never let up in the pursuit."
Cano putting on a defensive 'show'? This the guy who nearly misplayed Thome's grounder for the final out Wednesday and blew a DP? Cano's defensive skills are supect until proven. His hitting is nice but the team has plenty of bats and as was stated, you win with pitching and defense. This team has average pitching but questionable defense. You aren't winning a WS by bludgeoning teams.
I agree with Seamus. The Red Sox played the two worst teams they could play, and the Yankees played a below average team and the team with the third best record in the AL (second best possible for them to play since they have second best AL record). In this situation the Yankees should NEVER have gained a game, no matter how close it was. They got unlucky, and they had some poor play (Giambi killed us at the plate yesterday, despite his HR).