(If this was supposed to fire the team up, it didn't work. Courtesy of The AP)
The Yankees used their off day last Thursday to reorganize their rotation and get their top 4 starters lined up for the first 4 games of this all-important, all-Baltimore/TB 10-game span. That moved backfired on them, as they'd gone 1-3 heading into last night's game, and they had the outright lead in the division on the line and essentially their 5th starter, Freddy Garcia, tasked with holding on to it last night. Garcia had been shaky at best his last few times out, and his margin for error was very small with an ineffective bullpen and weak-hitting lineup backing him up, but a good outing could help stop the boat from rocking so violently. Needing to be a stopper, Garcia just kept things right on a-rockin'.
- The offense drew blood early. Alex Cobb got 2 quick outs in the top of the 1st, but then Nick Swisher worked a 2-out walk and Robinson Cano, DHing a day after tweaking his hip, drove a 2-1 fastball out to left for a home run and 2-0 Yankee lead.
- Top 3rd, runners on first and second, Swish at the plate with a 2-0 count, what happens? If you answered, "Swish strikes out swinging on the next 3 pitches and Cano grounds into an inning-ending double play," congratulations. And go fuck yourself.
- It took Freddy just 9 pitches to get himself in trouble, but he worked out and only gave up 1 run in the process. He wasn't so lucky in the 3rd when he got 2 outs on 2 pitches, then walked Ben Zobrist and gave up a 2-run HR to Evan Longoria, repeating Cobb's mistake and giving Tampa a 1-run lead.
- Both Garcia and a few Yankee hitters were unhappy with Tony Randazzo's strike zone in the early innings, and it quickly came to a head at the end of the top of the 4th when Randazzo ejected Joe Girardi. Joe charged out of the dugout and got his money's worth, but nothing positive came from it.
- The 5th inning has been Freddy's undoing the last 2 times he's pitched, and last night was no different. With a pitch count in the 80s, he gave up back-to-back HRs to Desmond Jennings and B.J. Upton to make it 5-2, but at least he got through the inning this time, right? Right??
- At least the offense was supporting him. Oh wait, no they were disappearing again. 3 hits and 5 baserunners through the first 3 innings, just 1 hit, 1 baserunner, and 10 straight retired by Cobb after that.
- Derek Jeter broke up the hitless streak with 1 out in the 8th, but watched Curtis Granderson and Swish strike out to end the inning. A measly A-Rod infield hit is all they could muster in the 9th, and the Yankees went down quietly again.
- If you want to try to put a positive spin on this, you could say at least A-Rod looked good and smooth at third base. That's something I guess.
- Cano: 1-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 K, 2 LOB. Not too hard to be on the positive side of my report card these days. Just be the first, and usually only, Yankee to drive in a run.
- Jeter: 2-4, LOB. The only Yankee with multiple hits, and neither of them were cheap. Jeter said he wasn't panicking and he, for one, certainly didn't like he was. Little disconcerting to see the ESPN camera catch him with a hitch in his giddyup heading to first on his last hit.
- Garcia: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 5 K. There's just nothing to like about a Freddy Garcia outing. His stuff isn't that great, and it's only at its best for about 2 innings, he doesn't work efficiently, he doesn't command any of his pitches that well, and every time he's on the mound you're just waiting for things to completely fall apart. He got a little bit worse in every inning tonight, and only BABIP lucked his way into 5 innings.
- C-Grand: 0-3, 1 K, 1 HBP, 1 LOB. He looks just flat awful at the plate. I don't know if it was just me, but it looks like his load and swing have a little more slight motion in them than usual. His swing just doesn't look as smooth as it does when he's right.
We're officially at DEFCON 1, people. The 10-game advantage has completely dissolved, and the Yankees are drowning in their own puke. They can't hit, they can't pitch, and there's nothing in their execution to suggest they're close to turning anything around. They're facing Matt Moore today, and it wouldn't shock me if he threw 8 innings of 1-run ball with 11 strikeouts right in their grillmixes.