Monday, August 21, 2017

Missing the Pitches...

Credit:  Corey Sipkin-NY Post
Red Sox 5, Yankees 1...

Sunday's loss was a microcosm of the season.  In the end, it was about missing the pitches as the Yankees dropped the finale and the series with the Boston Red Sox.

It's been a difficult season for last year's AL Cy Young Award winner, Rick Porcello, but on Sunday, he gave a glimpse why he won the award last year.  He held the Yankees to three hits over six innings, and three Red Sox relievers including closer Craig Kimbrel no-hit them the rest of the way.  

Credit:  Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Boston scored first with two runs in the bottom of the 2nd.  Inevitably, it would be the only runs they would need.  Jackie Bradley, Jr's two-out triple to the center field wall off Yankees starter Sonny Gray scored Xander Bogaerts and Sandy Leon.  The Red Sox had taken a 2-0 lead.

Meanwhile, the Yankees had runners in scoring position from the second through fourth innings but could not capitalize.  Finally, in the top of the 5th inning, Brett Gardner lined a shot just inside of the Pesky Pole in right to pull the Yankees within one run, 2-1.  But it was the last hit the Yankees would get off Porcello and the Red Sox bullpen.  

Credit:  Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
In the bottom of the 6th, the Red Sox added a run against Yankees reliever Adam Warren. Mitch Moreland reached on a single to left, and moved to second on a wild pitch by Warren that went through Gary Sanchez's legs.  A ground out by Sandy Leon moved Moreland to third.  Jackie Bradley, Jr didn't waste the opportunity like so many Yankee hitters had done.  His single to right that dropped in front of Aaron Judge scored Moreland and Boston increased their lead to 3-1. Aroldis Chapman was brought in to replace Warren (the earliest he has appeared in a game as Yankee) and he struck out Brock Holt to end the inning.

Credit:  Adam Glanzman-Getty Images
The Red Sox added two more runs in the bottom of the 8th.  Tommy Kahnle started the inning in relief of Chapman.  He couldn't find the strike zone at all with the first batter, Xander Bogaerts, issuing a free pass on four pitches.  Mitch Moreland doubled to left off the Green Monster and the Sox had runners at second and third.  Sandy Leon lined a double to the right field corner, both Bogaerts and Moreland scored.  5-1, Red Sox.  Kahnle was pulled and replaced by Caleb Smith.  A walk and a single loaded the bases with no outs, but Smith was able to retire the next three Red Sox batters to leave the runners stranded.

It didn't really matter.  The Yankees weren't going to win this game.  Craig Kimbrel came on in the 9th and set the Yankees down in order, the last two by strikeouts.  

If the Yankees were looking to make a statement in this series, they failed to do it.  Boston exhibited superior bullpen strength and their hitters, excluding Saturday, didn't miss their pitches.  The Yankees (66-57) slipped back to five games behind the Red Sox with the loss.  The Tampa Bay Rays' 3-0 win, coupled with a loss by the Baltimore Orioles, moved them back into third place in the AL East.  They are 6 1/2 games behind the Yankees.  The O's lost, 5-4, to the Los Angeles Angels.  The Angels picked up a game on the Yankees in the Wild Card standings and trail the Yanks by 2 1/2 games for the top position.  The Minnesota Twins, who pummeled the Arizona Diamondbacks 12-5, are also just 2 1/2 games behind.

Sonny Gray (7-8) took the loss.  He pitched five innings on a high pitch count (106), allowing seven hits and two runs.  He walked two and did not strike anybody out.  Run support has not been his friend with the Yankees.  

Credit:  Steven Senne-Associated Press
If Aroldis Chapman can piece together more outings like his, his name might be back in play for the closer's role.  Adam Warren and Tommy Kahnle have some things to work on.  

Brett Gardner, with two hits (a single and a homer), and Chase Headley, with one (a double), were the only Yankees with a hit.  Everyone else took an 0-fer.  

A win today would have been huge.  But it was not to be.  The Yankees need to re-group during today's off-day and come out ready to play on Tuesday.  There will be one more shot at the Red Sox.  They'll come to the Bronx for four games over Labor Day Weekend.  The AL East is not dead...just wounded.  There's time to heal and show the Red Sox that the Pinstripes are back.  

Next Up:  The Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park, Detroit, MI...

The Yankees get a much-needed day off today, hanging around the Motor City, before starting a three-game series with the Tigers on Tuesday.

TUESDAY
Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (8-10, 4.92 ERA)
Tigers:  Matthew Boyd (5-6, 5.70 ERA)

WEDNESDAY
Yankees:  Jaime Garcia (1-1, 5.64 ERA)
Tigers:  Buck Farmer (2-1, 6.62 ERA)

THURSDAY
Yankees:  Luis Severino (10-5, 3.18 ERA)
Tigers:  Jordan Zimmermann (7-10, 5.87 ERA)

The Yankees need to win these games.  Anything less than two out of three will be a major disappointment.  The Tigers stopped a six-game winning streak by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday with a convincing 6-1 victory behind Justin Verlander (making perhaps his final start in a Tigers uniform although I think he stays). A team with nothing to play for has nothing to lose.  The Yankees had better be prepared. After the series, the Yankees return home for Player's Weekend to take on the Wild Card contending Seattle Mariners and the player named "Don't You Know".  

Odds & Ends...

Greg Bird had the day off on Sunday for his rehab assignment with Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but Jake Cave and Miguel Andujar did not as they powered the RailRiders to a 3-0 win over the Durham Bulls.  Cave was 2-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored, while Andujar was 3-for-4, with a double and a home run, for 2 RBI's.  I am looking forward to seeing these guys in a few weeks when MLB rosters expand.  It was a nice pitching performance by Domingo German (5-2), who shut out the Bulls for seven innings on four hits.  He walked two and struck out nine.  Giovanny Gallegos, with two innings of scoreless relief, got the save.

In anticipation of Masahiro Tanaka's impending activation from the DL, the Yankees have optioned RHP Bryan Mitchell to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Have a great Monday!  A day off...a day closer to the return of good health for Starlin Castro, Greg Bird and others.  Go Yankees!

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