(I feel ya, Phil. Courtesy of the AP)
Monday we got Liam Hendriks the superhero secret identity nobody, and the Yankees dispatched of him with relative ease. Last night we got Esmerling Vasquez, another nobody that Minnesota plucked out of the bargain bin to fill out their rotation. According to FanGraphs, he's a 28-year-old right-hander who the Yankees have faced before when he was with the D-backs, but with a name like that he sounds more like a female character from one of those soap operas on Telemundo. He was tasked with stopping the Yankees and Phil Hughes, who were looking to extend their division lead to 2.5 games and chop 2 more off their magic number as they entered the season's final week.
- The Yankees put runners on in each of the first 3 innings, but had nothing to show for it against Vasquez. That changed the second time through the order when Robinson Cano singled for his second hit of the game and scored on a 2-run HR from the rapidly heating up Nick Swisher.
- After throwing 3 scoreless, stress-free innings, Phil decided it would be a good idea to start giving up runs in the bottom of the 4th when it was a shutdown inning. Chris Parmalee can thank BABIP luck for his RBI double to make it a 2-1 game, but a better-placed slutter from Hughes could have finished him off.
- To Hughes' credit, he didn't get rattled. He continued to pitch aggressively with his fastball, and used the slutter to get more GB outs than we usually see from him. Hughes worked a quick and efficient 7-pitch 6th inning to keep it a 1-run game.
- It stayed a 1-run game because the offense couldn't do much else against Vasquez, that is until the top of the 7th when Russell Martin's solo HR to lead off the inning made it 3-1.
- Things started to get a little tense in the bottom of the 7th after Parmalee worked a 10-pitch walk to put 2 on with nobody out. A dinky infield single loaded the bases, but Hughes battled back to get a big strikeout for his 2nd out of the inning. Then Joe got involved.
- Hughes had earned the right to work out of his jam, at only 99 pitches and with 3 outs to his credit already against Denard Span, but Girardi and his fucking binder took that away. Joe went to Boone Logan and Logan was terrible, giving up 4 runs on a pair of hits and a wild pitch and hanging the loss on Hughes' record.
- The lifeless corpse of Andruw Jones managed to stumble into a homer in the 9th to make it interesting, but the Yanks still ended up on the losing end. Gotta be a real bad taste in everybody's mouth after the way this one went down.
- Cano: 3-3, 1 R, 1 BB. Just baby steps, but a productive game for Cano. Maybe the day at DH was just what he needed.
- Martin: 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K. Quietly maintaining a respectable level of production this month.
- Joe: It's easy to sound like Monday morning quarterbacking knowing how things played out after Logan took the ball, but this loss falls on Joe's decision. Hughes had owned Span the previous 3 times he faced him, didn't look like he was tiring, deserved to get that last out and get out of the game with a chance to win, and was a better option than a probably-gassed Logan. Joe and his stupid binder took that away, plain and simple.
- Logan: 0.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 K. The game-losing runs get tacked on to Hughes' tally, but this L belongs to Logan. His slider was hideous, his control was putrid, and he absolutely, 100% shit the bed and blew what should have been a prime opportunity for a win.
- A-Rod: 0-4, 2 K, 2 LOB. Was gracious enough to take Robbie's spot as designated non-hitter while Robbie took the chance to get on base a few times.
Strange to say that a game against a lowly Twins team in late September is a must-win, but this one is a no-doubter. The Yankees can't afford a series loss after last night's debacle, not with the division race so tight. They send CC Sabathia to the hill this afternoon against Sam Deduno.