Abysmal: Extremely bad; appalling That’s the word I’d use for tonight’s loss to Baltimore. And thanks to that dreadful showing by the Yankees, their Division lead is down to two games. Hiroki Kuroda didn’t help his own cause when he gave up two singles and a sac fly to start the second inning. It put [...]
The Baltimore Orioles are playing the most important series their franchise has had in at least 14 years this weekend, and from the looks of Friday night’s series opener they have no intention of wilting under the pressure of chasing the Yankees. Miguel Gonzalez dominated the Yankees’ lineup with a career high seven strikeouts and Mark Reynolds added two home runs and some great glove work at first base to propel the O’s to a 6-1 lead, leaving the Yankees with just a two game lead in the American League East standings. Here are the lowlights:
- The Yankees’ offense was just brutal tonight. They failed to get a single runner on in the first three innings, and Gonzalez needed just 28 pitches to get those first nine outs. No one looked comfortable at the plate all night, and I honestly don’t think that I ever expected anyone to come through in a big spot. One of their worst games of the season, really.
- On the other hand, Gonzalez’s previous best for punch outs, eight, also came against the Yankees, so maybe there’s just something about him. Most of the hitters did seem off kilter all night, especially the left-handers, who looked like they couldn’t pick up the movement on his fastball. Being in Maryland I was stuck with the MASN broadcast, and Mike Bordick observed more than once that the Bombers weren’t able to get into deep counts like they’re accustomed to because Gonzalez was pounding the zone with quality pitches early in at bats. Hard to argue with that.
- The Yankees best chance to score came in the sixth inning, when Ichiro Suzuki and Jayson Nix both got on base to lead off the inning. The top three batters in the lineup all made outs and failed to bring even a single run in, however, at which point it really felt like the game is over. Really, when you’re trailing 4-0 and your eight and nine hitters get on to open an inning, you absolutely have to at least cut into the deficit a little bit.
- Not that he deserves to be singled out, but Nick Swisher was particularly brutal tonight, going 0-4 with four strikeouts, all of which ended with swinging strikes.
- On the other side of the diamond, Hiroki Kuroda was generally solid, and with the exception of a three run second inning was pretty good, really. He finished by allowing four runs in 8.1, or one run in the 7.1 innings that weren’t the second. Not that that really makes any difference if your offense isn’t going to score any runs, of course.
- The big blow in that second inning, however, was a Mark Reynolds moon shot that landed about a mile and a half away from home plate in the second deck in left field. That’s only the second or third time I can remember a ball being hit to that part of the stadium. I’m sure it’s been done more often, but it feels like a pretty rare feat. Reynolds hit another home run in the ninth inning off of Derek Lowe after Kuroda exited the game.
- Speaking of Lowe, are we allowed to complain about him yet? He entered with two outs in the ninth inning and managed to give up two runs on four hits, including the solo home run by Reynolds. Yeah, he had that four inning save against Texas in his first game with the Yankees, but he’s been absolutely terrible sense, and looks generally useless in doing it. I would not object whatsoever to having him DFA’d to clear up a 40 man roster spot for someone else this month.
- The Yankees can still win this series and gain a game on the Orioles, but I’m not going to lie, it really doesn’t feel like it right now. That’s kind of a microcosm of the way most of this season has felt for Yankee fans, isn’t it?
David Aardsma made his return to live game action tonight, starting for Tampa and working one inning. In that inning he issued one walk and also threw a wild pitch, but kept Lakeland off the scoreboard with three fly ball outs. Alex Rodriguez is DH’ing in this game as well, and is 0-1 with a groundout and walk so far. Check back here for further updates when his night is finished.
Update: A-Rod finished the night 0-3 with a walk and two strike outs. His walk kicked off a five run fourth inning for Tampa, but he also struck out looking to end that inning.
Tomorrow marks the opening of expanded rosters season, and according to Erik Boland the Yankees will make immediate use of the extra roster space. Boland reports that the Yankees are expected to call up catcher Francisco Cervelli, infielder Eduardo Nunez, outfielder Chris Dickerson, and pitchers Cory Wade, Adam Warren, and Justin Thomas tomorrow. Dickerson is not on the 40 man roster, so they’ll have to make some sort of move to create a spot for him. The easiest thing to do, as Mike Axisa of RAB suggested yesterday, would be to recall Dellin Betances and place him on the 60 day disabled list.
Calling up so many players at once is fairly unusual, but the Yankees could obviously use the help right now.
Tomorrow is September 1st, and the Yankees will open a series for first place with the Baltimore Orioles tonight. Crazy world we live in, huh? Despite everyone’s best guesses, the Orioles not only haven’t faded under the weight of their negative run differential, they’ve actually been playing much better of late, and simply have to be considered serious contenders for the postseason right now. In fact, if they manage to sweep the Yankees at the Stadium this weekend, they’ll be in a tie for first place in the A.L. East when the sun rises on Labor Day. I don’t think the space time continuum can handle that, so what do you say Hiroki Kuroda takes care of business and nips it in the bud tonight? Here are the lineups:
Nick Markakis RF
J.J. Hardy SS
Nate McLouth LF
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Chris Davis DH
Mark Reynolds 1B
Omar Quintanilla 2B
Manny Machado 3B
Miguel Gonzalez RHP
Derek Jeter SS
Nick Swisher 1B
Robinson Cano 2B
Curtis Granderson CF
Eric Chavez 3B
Raul Ibanez LF
Russell Martin C
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Jayson Nix DH
First pitch is at 7:05 P.M. Enjoy!
Get three coffins ready. The next 16 games are the biggest of the year. Three teams are left contending for the AL East playoff spot, and over the next two weeks, the Yankees will play 13 games against the Orioles and Rays. This is the stretch-run, these are the most important games of 2012, and [...]
Via LoHud, an update on a couple of injured Yankees’ starters. First and foremost, Andy Pettitte threw a 20 session bullpen today, and though he admitted that he wasn’t pushing off at 100%, he expressed optimism about his recovery timetable to reporters. “I feel like I’m getting real, real, close,” Pettitte said. Joe Girardi says that the next step is for Pettitte to throw a full fledged bullpen session just like he would in between starts.
Also, Ivan Nova threw long toss today, though there is apparently no timetable for his recovery from an inflamed rotator cuff as yet. “We’re trying to map out a schedule for him,” Girardi said. “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow, but he’s progressing as well.”
A quick note about this weekend’s series for first place with the Orioles: according to Sweeny Murti on MLB Network just now, the Yankees will be taking advantage of yesterday’s off day to adjust their starting rotation slightly. Freddy Garcia, who was scheduled to start tomorrow afternoon’s game, will be pushed back to the Tampa Bay series that will follow the weekend, while David Phelps and Phil Hughes will stay on regular rest to pitch Saturday and Sunday, respectively. No word on when exactly Garcia will pitch in that series, whether it will be Monday or whether Hiroki Kuroda and/or C.C. Sabathia will be moved ahead of him as well, but with the Orioles within striking distance of first place and facing the Yankees seven times in the next ten days, it appears that Joe Girardi wants to get his best pitchers in these games. Welcome to the pennant race.
Update: Via LoHud, Joe Girardi confirmed that Garcia will be pushed all the way back to Tuesday’s game with the Rays, and that C.C. Sabathia will stay on regular rest to pitch Monday’s Labor Day affair. Hiroki Kuroda wouldn’t be jumping ahead of Kuroda because, obviously, he’s pitching tonight, something that clearly slipped my mind when I originally posted this. Doh!
SNY.tv’s Pete McCarthy chats with Mark Brown of CamdenChat.com to preview the Yankees’ three-game battle for first place with the Baltimore Orioles.