For the fifth time in their last nine games, the Yankees played to a tie against their opponent into the ninth inning and lost, this time by a score of 5-4 to the Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre. Two days after giving up a walkoff home run to Luis Rodriguez, Cory Wade again surrendered the game-winning hit to a light-hitting part-timer in the form of former Yankee Jose Molina. Of course.
The loss dropped the Yankees to 20-23 in one-run games on the season, and while one’s record in games decided by one run is inherently random, one curious aspect of the Yankees’ recent stretch of shoddy play has been Joe Girardi‘s bullpen deployment. I’m all for resting key guys down the stretch with a playoff berth all but assured, but as many have noted, Girardi has made a rather strange habit of late of deploying his top relievers early and then going with the seamy underbelly of the bullpen after the Yankees don’t score. If you’re going to punt a game, may as well bring the crap in for the 7th and 8th instead of wasting Rafael Soriano and David Robertson.
However, in spite of the questionable bullpen usage, the blame for these late-game one-run losses really lies squarely on the offense. Coming into this game the Yankees were hitting just .230/.312/.398 in 14 September games. With a measly five hits against the Blue Jays tonight the team’s BA on the month fell to .226. Additionally, the lack of late-game scoring — something I touched upon earlier this season — has been killing them, as the Yankees have scored TWO total runs from the sixth inning on in their six losses this month. That’s two runs in THIRTY late-game innings. So if you’re wondering why the Yankees have been playing a ton of tied and or one-run games of late and losing them, there’s your answer.
CC Sabathia had kind of a rough outing in this one, needing an uncharacteristic 120 pitches to get through six innings, striking out eight but putting 14 baserunners on and giving up four runs. The Yankee offense was provided by Nick Swisher (RBI double and game-tying single), Eric Chavez (two-run homer) and Robinson Cano, but the Yankees couldn’t even get a runner on base over the final three innings, something that’s been a rather common occurrence of late.
Part of the reason the team’s struggled to score runs of late are the dual slumps of the team’s biggest bats in Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira, who combined to go 0-7 with a walk in this one. Coming into this game Tex was at .234/.288/.362 in September and Curtis at .188/.278/.292; they’ll come out of it soon enough, but it’s been pretty tough to watch their at-bats of late.
For his first start against the Yankees in more than three years, Dustin McGowan fared pretty well, going five innings and giving up three runs