From one divisional basement dweller to another, the Yankees traveled to Boston to start a 3-game series last night looking to continue to beat up on inferior competition and keep pace with the Blue Jays. Based on the number of opportunities they generated, the Yankees should have won this game in a walk. But they could never cash in big on even one of them, and instead they went home with a frustrating "coulda, shoulda, woulda" type of loss.
How many missed opportunities were there? Let's just list them out.
- Top 1st- Yanks loaded the bases with nobody out on a catcher's interference, a fielding error, and an Alex Rodriguez base hit. They scored a run on a Carlos Beltran sac fly and nothing else.
- Top 4th- Loaded the bases again with nobody out on a walk to Brian McCann and 2 singles by Chase Headley and Greg Bird. They scored a run on a Didi Gregorius single and nothing else.
- Top 5th- Loaded the bases with 2 outs on a Beltran double and back-to-back walks by Eduardo Rodriguez. Greg Bird struck out to end the inning.
- Top 6th- 2 on, 2 out with A-Rod facing Robbie Ross. A-Rod flied out swinging at the first pitch to end the inning.
- Top 9th- Loaded the bases with 1 out on a Stephen Drew single and 2 walks by Boston closer Jean Machi. Scored a run on another walk to Headley and nothing else, as Bird struck out again and Didi flied out to deep right field. Would have been a grand slam at Yankee Stadium.
And that's not factoring in the double plays to kill potential rallies in the 7th and 8th innings, the last one a freak play off a deflection to nab Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury. It was just one of those nights where the Yankees could never get the big hit they needed.
And it killed them because the pitching was just poor enough for the Yankees to lose. Ivan Nova had to battle and work around trouble all night, but he did end up pitching 6 innings and only gave up 3 runs. 1 came on a solo home run by David Ortiz on a pretty good pitch that Ortiz drove out the other way. That you can live with. The other 2 that came on a Mookie Betts homer you can't. That pitch was right down the pipe, the type of pitch that any decent Major League hitter is going to annihilate. Still, Nova located a little better than he had been, got a lot of outs on the ground, and kept his team in the game. This one wasn't on him.
The bullpen made matters worse in the 7th. Adam Warren struck out Ryan Hanigan to start the inning, then gave up a double off the monster to Jackie Bradley Jr. and a single to Betts to end his night with runners on the corner. That brought in Chasen Shreve, who got the ground ball he wanted off the bat off Pablo Sandoval but Bird couldn't come up with the clean catch and was unable to attempt to turn 2. It would have been a close play anyway, but because it wasn't made, Bradley scored from third and the Sox got their insurance run. It proved to be huge with how badly Machi melted down in the 9th, but even then the bats couldn't come through.
- The key play in the top of the 4th was the double play that ended the inning. Ellsbury lined out to Bradley in left, and for some reason Joe Espada thought it was a good idea to send Bird from third. Bird got thrown out by a mile and the inning was over. It was an awful decision, terrible. Espada has to know the situation and his runner better there, and even if he wanted to try to send him to force the throw, he should have been down the line stopping Bird once the ball left Bradley's hand. Seems like there have been more than a few crappy sends from third lately. It's like the Yankees are curse there or something. How hard can it be to find a competent third base coach?
- Tough night all around for Bird. 2 big strikeouts in his last 2 at-bats, getting thrown out at home, and the bobble on the grounder in the 7th. You hate to say it, but that's a play that Mark Teixeira probably makes. This game was a prime example of how much the Yankees miss Teix. It also definitely came across as a game where Bird showed his rookie-ness, but all he can do is shake it off and come back ready to go tonight. It doesn't sound like Teix is coming back anytime soon.
- Great night at the dish for Didi. He went 4-5 with an RBI and could have had a lot more on that last swing if it wasn't for Fenway. His average is back up to .269 with this recent hot streak.
- The Yankees had 10 hits last night and drew 8 walks. They put 18 runners on base, had 14 at-bats with runners in scoring position, got hits in 4 of those at-bats, and scored a measly 3 runs. That's pretty rough. Of the 4 hits with RISP, only 1 of them actually scored a run.
- Drew's pinch hit single to start the 9th inning rally boosted his average up to .203 on the year. The man is on fire.
- Shreve finished out the 8th and probably won't be available tonight, but everybody else out of the 'pen should be. Is it me or does he throw a lot of pitches every time he pitches lately?