The Yankees were absolutely atrocious when they needed to be adequate; they choked when all they had to do was trip over themselves to score. They have no one to blame for this loss but themselves (and yes, I’m going to go into a whole tangent about the umpiring in a second). Everything boils down to this: the Yankees had the bases loaded twice with no outs. They scored two runs in both of those circumstances combined, on two sacrifice flies in the first inning. That kind of production will not get the job done.
They loaded the bases in the first inning, and came away with a two-run lead. They would not score again. Their 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position looks even worse when you consider that both hits were by Nick Swisher–and he didn’t get an RBI. So even when the Yankees got the RISP hits, they couldn’t score.
It looks even worse when you realize that Ricky Romero was terrible. He couldn’t locate his pitches, he was everywhere with his fastball, and the Yankees were hitting him hard. He left the game after the third inning with an apparent knee injury that he sustained earlier in the game. He was responsible for the two bases-loaded jams; and he left the game after only giving up two runs.
And even worse? The Yankees out-hit the Jays, 9-7–the ultimate barometer of RISP ineptitude (because, of course, you have to create RISP to fail at hitting with RISP).
Andy Pettitte looked fine, albeit less good than his last turn out. He located his pitches fairly well–he took advantage of the black hole zone that Mike Everitt was giving down and away–and he worked efficiently, for the most part. He’s certainly capable of giving the Yankees a chance to win every time he takes the mound; and when he builds up a bit more stamina, he’ll be a more than viable third option in the playoffs.
But he wasn’t the story today.
The game was long over when Russell Martin came in to bat for Christ Stewart in the top of the ninth. The 3-2 scoreline didn’t mean much; it might as well have been 50-2. The Yankees just were not going to score: nothing in their play, nothing in the game, and nothing in their attitude suggested that they would be able to rally. When Martin took a called third strike, it was like watching the whole game in reverse: the set-up looked fine, the execution of the at-bat was acceptable, but when it came down to it he couldn’t pull the trigger.
That was the story of the Yankees’ afternoon.
Warning: disregard the rest of this if you want to avoid a semi-coherent umpire rant.
Well, that and a little help from the umpires. The pitch to Martin was maybe six inches outside, and low. It was a travesty of a call. But, it was a pitch that home plate umpire Mike Everitt was giving today–to both teams–so Martin should have been protecting it. Just a few innings earlier, for example, Brett Lawrie struck out on a similar pitch–it was maybe six inches down, and a few outside. It was a call that we could have expected, which is one of the most important things an umpire can do: sure, it may be wrong, but at least do it consistently.
I bring this up to talk a little about the way the Jays tied the game in the fifth inning. There were two men on, Jeff Mathis on third, Brett Lawrie on first, with two outs and the Yankees hanging to a 2-1 lead. Rajai Davis, the batter, dribbled a hopping grounder down the third base line. The ball, hooking foul before well before third base, bounced well past the foul line and into a charging Alex Rodriguez’s glove. A-Rod’s throw to first was nowhere close to getting Davis, as Mathis scored the tying run.
That was a foul ball. If you don’t know the exact rule on this, it’s OK, because I looked it up:
A FOUL BALL is a batted ball that [...] while on or over foul territory, touches the person of an umpire or player, or any object foreign to the natural ground. MLB Rule 2.00.
The play should have been stopped and there shouldn’t have been a run. That’s not to say that the Jay’s wouldn’t have scored there. In fact, they probably would have won this game regardless–the Yankees were that bad–but it’s sincerely aggravating that this blatant call was missed, especially at such a crucial moment. (Am I right, Armando Galarraga?).
The Yankees take on the Jays tomorrow afternoon in Toronto; their AL East lead will be determined tonight when the O’s take on the Sox in Baltimore.