In a game the Reds sorely needed to win to avoid being swept at home, Johnny Cueto came up huge, hurling seven innings of two-hit, one-run ball — the lone blemish on his ledger a Nick Swisher solo home run in the second — and enabling the Reds to beat the Yankees 10-2. The loss snapped the Bombers’ four-game win streak — which tied the team’s high water mark for consecutive victories — prevented the Yankees from sweeping their third three-game set of the season and represented the team’s largest margin of defeat in 2011.
Brian Gordon, who pitched well enough in his debut last week against the Rangers, wasn’t as sharp this time out, throwing five innings of four-run ball. All four runs came via the long ball, as Gordon surrendered two home runs to Chris Heisey of all people, and a solo shot to Johnny Gomes. The three home runs allowed tied a season-high for a Yankee starter. While Gordon wasn’t awful, the three home run pitches were. The Gomes home run in particular really hurt, coming on an 0-2 count. Oh, and to add insult to injury, Chris Heisey hit a third home run later on in the eighth inning.
Gordon — who did retire 10 in a row at one point — may have bought himself another start, and I suppose it’s possible he could Guy-The-Opposition-Has-Never-Seen-Before a few more teams before the league catches on, but with a 5.23 ERA over 10 1/3 innings through two outings, I’d be perfectly happy if the Yankees gave someone else — Adam Warren? — a shot to start next go-round. Gordon is what he is — a 32-year-old minor league vet with an 89mph fastball that’s going to get crushed if he misses his spots. Hector Noesi, who’s been pretty strong in relief for the most part, probably didn’t help his starting case last night with six earned runs in 1 2/3 innings, though if our performance expectation out of Gordon’s slot in the rotation is a 5.00-plus ERA, I’m pretty sure I’d rather watch Noesi or Warren do that.
After mustering two measly baserunners through the first six innings, the Yankees appeared poised to finally break through against Cueto in the seventh, as an Alex Rodriguez single and Swisher walk put men on first and second with none out. Cueto struck Russell Martin out on a ridiculously nasty slider, then got pinch-hitter Robinson Cano to roll over on a grounder that Cueto dropped at first, loading the bases. But if you were a Reds fan, you had to feel pretty good about Cueto getting out of the jam, especially with Ramiro Pena coming up. To the surprise of no one, and the anger of many, Pena swung at the first pitch he saw, grounding into a forceout. Joe then went to his bench again, pinch-hitting Jorge Posada. Posada — hero of game one — rewarded this decision by copying Pena and swinging on the first pitch and also grounding out to the second basemen. Two pitches, two outs. Awful.
Not that this would end up mattering all that much, but umpire D.J. Reyburn’s strike zone seemed hella tight, at least through the first few innings.
In any event, as nice as it would have been to sweep the Reds, it’s difficult to get too worked up over this loss, which — based on the pitching match-up — was essentially preordained. There’s no shame in falling to one of the best starters in the National League, and going 4-2 in National League ballparks is not an easy feat to achieve. Looking forward to the Yankees getting back to playing real baseball this weekend in the Bronx, as they host the Rockies for a three-game set for just the second time in Interleague history.