Well that was a crappy loss. The Yankees were in a good position to get a series-opening win in Oakland last night, up multiple runs heading into the game's later innings. But a few bad pitches and a really horrible bullpen decision fueled an A's comeback and got the Bombers' West Coast trip off to a tough start.
It wasn't the 1st inning, but Brian McCann got the scoring off to an early start with a 1-out solo home run in the top of the 2nd. He drove in the Yankees' second run in the top of the 4th too. Alex Rodriguez started the inning off with a single, moved to second on Mark Teixeira's walk, and came around to score on Mccann's base hit up the middle. Close play at the plate, but A-Rod's blazing speed around third was enough to get him in. There was still 2 on and nobody out after the replay, but the Yanks would not get any more runs in the inning.
They didn't need more early on with the way CC Sabathia was pitching. The A's hitters came out swinging and the big fella came out locating his fastball well. He retired the first 6 batters he faced, 5 of those outs coming on the ground. He worked into some bases loaded trouble in the 3rd and dialed the heater up a bit to get 2 big strikeouts. He kept things scoreless until 2 outs in the bottom of the 5th, when he hung an offspeed pitch to Billy Burns. That put Oakland on the board, but thanks to an A-Rod sac fly in the top half the lead remained 2.
Then things really started getting troublesome in the 6th. Sabathia gave up a leadoff double to Ben Zobrist, got 2 outs to set up the escape, and Brett Lawrie stepped in against him for the third time. CC started him off with a changeup for ball 1, then doubled up on the changeup and left it in the meaty part of the strike zone. Lawrie didn't miss it and hit it for a game-tying 2-run home run. It was the first real blemish on what was an otherwise solid start for Sabathia.
The next one came in the 7th when Joe went to the 'pen after a leadoff single and a walk ended CC's night. He was short on available arms and so it was David Carpenter who got the call. Things went about as predictably as they could have with Carpenter this year. He got 1 out, then gave up a single to load the bases and a walk to score the go-ahead run. Needing a groundball to try to get out of the inning, Billy Butler hit a deep sac fly for an insurance run. What can you say at this point? Carpenter blows.
Despite that fact, the Yankees still could have won the game if their offense could have done a little more. Not scoring more runs in the 4th was bad. Wasting a leadoff single and 2 men on in the 6th was bad. Garrett Jones and Brett Gardner tried to get something going with a 2-out walk (Jones) and double (Gardner) to bring the Yankees back within 1, but Chase Headley hit one to the warning track for the game's final out. Pretty symbolic of the whole game for the offense.
- 3-hit night for McCann and his third straight game with a homer. He's got a 6-game hitting and RBI streak going right now, with 10 RBI in those 6 games.
- 3-hit night for Gardner too hitting leadoff. He's still humming right along at .288/.366/.442.
- Officially CC's line was 6 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 K. I know it's a tired line, but it didn't seem like he pitched that poorly. He was cruising early. Once again it was those few bad pitches that cost him. Shows how invisibly small his margin for error is these days.
- The bottom of the order, woof. The Yanks had 8 hits last night and they all came from 4 players hitting in the top 5 spots in the order. The bottom 4 (Beltran, Drew, Young, Didi) combined to go 0-14 with a BB and 3 K and they left plenty of men on base. How much longer can Joe go with Didi and Drew every day and honestly believe he's giving his team the best chance to win?
- Alright, now the rant. I know Joe said after the game that Betances, Miller, and Wilson were not available last night, and I respect that if that's the case then it leaves him with few options, but the decision to bring in Carpenter was unforgivable.
David Carpenter has been garbage this season. Horrible from day 1. He's been even worse recently and there is absolutely no reason he should be pitching in tie game situations with multiple runners on base. That's the type of matchup binder/"veteran experience" decision making that has so many people rolling their eyes at the Yankees these days. Simply because David Carpenter has pitched more and pitched well in the past, he's better qualified to pitch there than a Chasen Shreve or a Jacob Lindgren. They couldn't handle it. They're just rookies. The moment would probably be too big for them.
It's asinine. Shreve and Lindgren are in that bullpen presumably because the Yankee decision makers (Joe included) believe they can get Major League hitters out, left or right-handed Major League hitters. The team said as much during Spring Training. If you're never going to give them the chance to do it in a situation that matters, then what's the point in calling them up? Experience level aside, if you're telling young relievers that the guy pitching the worst out of the entire bullpen group is a better option than them to get big outs in a tie ballgame, that's the wrong message to send.
And this isn't even supposed to be a "let the kids play" type of rant. It's not about that. It's about making decisions with the interest of winning in mind, and the decision to use Carpenter in the 7th over Shreve or Lindgren was not a winning decision. Hell, Esmil Rogers might have been a better choice there than Carpenter, and yes, I recognize how ridiculous a statement that is. But Joe going to Carpenter there was just as ridiculous and it cost the team the game.
CC gave up the tying runs and put the go-ahead runners on, Carpenter let them score, the offense didn't do enough, but I'm putting that game on Joe. When you willingly give the ball to the worst pitcher in your bullpen in a tie game with 2 on and nobody out, you deserve to lose.