Saturday, September 14, 2013

Game 149 Wrap-Up: BOS 5 NYY 1

(The look of a beaten man.  Courtesy of the AP)

It's strange thinking about how much the feeling you have when CC Sabathia is starting has changed in just 1 year.  Last year there would have been nobody I wanted on the mound today more than CC, history at Fenway Park being what it is.  This year?  I didn't want him anywhere near the mound with a game of this magnitude hanging in the balance.  The Yankees lost a game to the Rays in the race for the second Wild Card spot last night, they couldn't afford to lose another.  4 games to make up in the loss column with 13 to play is a lot to overcome, and that's before you include the last-minute scratching of Alfonso Soriano with a thumb injury, so the Yankees needed Sabathia to not just not suck but pitch well and they needed to get a win to even the series back up.

Game Notes:

- Jon Lester only used 33 pitches to turn the lineup over in order through a perfect 3 innings.  His stuff looked good, the Yankee lineup was short again, and that put even more pressure on CC.

- CC pitched a clean 1st, then got burned on a Mark Reynolds throwing error in the bottom of the 2nd and it started to fall apart.  He started picking corners and missing for walks, misplacing fastballs in the strike zone for hits, and it led to 3 Boston runs in the next 2 innings to put the Yankees in a hole.

- A Curtis Granderson leadoff triple and a Robinson Cano RBI groundout got CC 1 run back in the 4th, which he promptly gave back to Boston in the bottom half after putting 2 runners on, getting a double play, then giving up a 2-out hit to Shane Victorino on a hanging slider.  More of the same from CC: inconsistent fastball location, missing badly in the strike zone, and no good putaway pitches.  Didn't help that he had J.R. Murphy making his first career start behind the plate.

- Joe got CC through 6 with another run against and pulled the plug.  Lester continued to handle the Yankee lineup with little difficulty through 7, and they were down to their final 6 outs with a 5-1 deficit.

- 1 more hitless inning against Lester and then a final one against lefty Franklin Morales.  A painfully quiet day from the lineup hurt the Yankees.  Tough to score when your leadoff man and cleanup hitter are both missing.

Phelps Activated, Could Step Right Into High-Leverage Bullpen Role

The Yankees made a key roster move this morning, activating David Phelps from the disabled list and transferring Derek Jeter to the 60-day DL to clear a roster spot.  Phelps has been out since July 6th with a right forearm strain that took much longer to return from than expected.  Given the current situation in the Yankee bullpen, his return couldn't have come at a better time.

Joe was working with next to nothing out there last night when he finally had to pull Hirok.  Mo and D-Rob were unavailable and Boone Logan is still out with elbow problems.  No disrespect to Cesar Cabral and Preston Claiborne, but they had no business being brought into a tie game at Fenway with major playoff implications on the line.  Had Phelps been around last night, chances are he would have gotten first crack after Kuroda.

Shawn Kelley has been up and down lately in the 7th inning job, Joba is Joba, and the rest of the healthy arms are either unproven or replacement level at best, so Joe could really use another solid 1-inning option ahead of the 8th and 9th.  Phelps has experience and has had success working out of the 'pen in his short Major League career, and his rehab from the forearm strain was limited to 1 and 2-inning appearances.  He's a perfect fit for a role that desperately needs to be filled and he'll be at the top of Joe's go-to list today if he needs to get some big outs before the 8th inning.

Game 148 Wrap-Up: BOS 8 NYY 4

(Courtesy of the AP)

The last time Hiroki Kuroda pitched against the Red Sox, the Yankees got their only win of the series last weekend.  He started off slow, then found his offspeed command and gave the team 6 solid innings of 2-run ball.  They were going to need at least another repeat performance of that to have a fighting chance last night, what with the bullpen reduced to nothing and a very weak Gardner-less lineup supporting him offensively.  As it was, Kuroda's start was even slower this time, and a valiant comeback by the undermanned lineup was wasted by an equally pathetic meltdown from the undermanned bullpen.

Game Notes:

- Kuroda didn't look like he was going to last long after a 4-run 1st inning.  He gave up a 2-strike double to David Ortiz to put runners in scoring position, and a 2-out, 2-strike, 2-run double to Stephen Drew that was the big blow in the inning.

- The Yankees started to claw their way back in the top of the 3rd with, what else, a Brendan Ryan leadoff home run.  They didn't get another run until the 6th when a Robinson Cano 1-out double came around to score on Lyle Overbay's sac fly.

- Give Kuroda credit, he bounced back nicely from that awful 1st inning and held the Boston lineup at bay into the 7th.  He did load the bases in the 7th, but once again he found his stuff in the later innings and allowed just 1 hit while recording 6 GB outs from the 4th through the 6th.

- A pair of 1-out singles chased John Lackey from the game in the top of the 7th, and with 2 outs and the bases loaded Cano came through with a big 2-run double - his 4th hit of the game - to tie it up at 4.

- Kuroda left after giving up a leadoff single in the bottom of the 7th and it all went to shit.  Cesar Cabral hit Ortiz and Preston Claiborne walked Jonny Gomes to load the bases.  He struck out Daniel Nava but left a fastball up to Jarrod Saltalamacchia and watched it turn into the game-losing grand slam.

- There wasn't another comeback in the lineup after that letdown, not that anybody should have expected one.  Koji Uehara kept his consecutive batters retired streak going with a perfect 9th.