Everything tonight went just about according to plan. The Yankees got a strong performance from Ivan Nova and quickly gained the lead after falling behind. They got a strong performance out of the bullpen in the eighth, then it all fell apart.
Let’s start with the fifth inning. Ivan Nova gave up a homer to Alejandro De Aza, the first run of the game for either team. Paul O’Neill made this observation a few times and I definitely agreed: It was odd that De Aza’s homer was the first run, considering that both Nova and Chicago starter Dylan Axelrod were giving up their fair share of hard contact. Regardless of said hard contact, that was the first run of the game, but Chicago’s lead would be short lived as the Yankees struck for two runs in the bottom of the fifth thanks to RBI doubles by Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano. Things stayed quiet until the 8th.
Ivan Nova exited after striking out Kevin Youkilis and Boone Logan entered the game to face (my favorite non-Yankee) Adam Dunn. Logan got the job done, getting Dunn to fly out to center field for the second out of the night. Cody Eppley then trotted in and struck out Paul Konerko to finish off the inning. Mark Teixeira added a run for the Yankees via a homer to left, then things got interesting.
David Robertson was noticeably not warming up during the eighth inning and Rafael Soriano was not available due to his usage in the last few days. So, Joe Girardi was in mix and match mode. Cody Eppley remained in the game to face Alex Rios, who singled. Eppley was removed for Clay Rapada who was set to face A.J. Pierzynski. At that point, David Robertson started to warm up. With a runner on first, Rapada got exactly what he needed: a grounder that was tailor made for a double play. Rapada, however, side-armed the ball towards the somewhat general direction of second base and it ended up in center field, allowing Rios to go to first. With the powerful Dyan Viciedo due up, Girardi called on David Robertson…and Vicideo took him deep to left to put the White Sox up 4-3. Dewayne Wise led off the bottom of the inning with a single, but ended up stranded at first despite a ball to the wall of Derek Jeter‘s bat. Sidebar: How AWFUL did Addison Reed make Andruw Jones look?
A lot is going to be made of what Joe Girardi did with the bullpen in the ninth inning and that’s not without good reason. Since David Robertson DID eventually come in, it appears he was available. However, the fact that he wasn’t turned to immediately makes me think that Girardi wanted to avoid using him completely. The bullpen usage was definitely odd tonight, but I can’t pin it all on Girardi. It’s not his fault that Rapada yanked his throw into center and it’s not his fault that David Robertson served up a homer.