Yanks hurt by errors, lack of clutch hitting
Whether the Yankees like it or not, they are going to be in a division race. The 10-game lead in the American League East that they had July 18 is ancient history. The Orioles went into their game Wednesday night against the White Sox trailing the Yanks by only two games in the loss column and are due at Yankee Stadium Friday night to open a three-game series that could have ramifications on what kind of a September is in store.
Yankees fans must hope their team will play better than it did against the Blue Jays in losing two of three games to the division’s cellar dwellers. Wednesday’s 8-5 setback was a messy affair. CC Sabathia, the staff ace, failed to hold leads of 2-0 and 4-3, although his defense betrayed him in spots.
The biggest spot was in the third inning. An error by third baseman Jayson Nix opened the doors to a three-run rally. The Yankees appeared to have escaped danger in a bases-loaded, none-out situation with Nix fielding Mike McCoy’s grounder, tagging third and throwing home for a twin killing.
Broken-bats by Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind tied the score before Yunel Escobar got the first of his four hits, three doubles and five RBI with a shot to left that put the Jays ahead. The only reason the Yankees were able to regain the lead with two runs in the third was because left fielder Rajai Davis misplayed Curtis Granderson’s line drive into a two-run double, one of six two-baggers the Yanks had in the game.
The one big mistake by Sabathia was hanging a full-count slider in the sixth to Escobar, who crushed it into the left-field bleachers for a two-run home run. Escobar had actually attempted to bunt earlier in the at-bat. Six of Sabathia’s eight strikeouts in seven innings were on sliders, but the one to Escobar in that situation was too fat.
Still, the Yankees had chances, loads of them, to get back into the game. Nix doubled to lead off the sixth and never got past second base. Robinson Cano doubled with one out in the seventh and ditto. Successive doubles by Raul Ibanez (6-for-18 as a pinch hitter) and Russell Martin in the eighth got the Yankees within 6-5, but Martin was stranded.
The Yankees had 3-for-17 (.176) with runners in scoring position. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays had 5-for-13 (.385) in the clutch in sending Sabathia to his first loss in 10 starts since June 7. It also ended an eight-game winning streak Sabathia had against the Blue Jays dating to May 1, 2007 and marked his 10th loss in 42 decisions at the current Stadium.
“I was falling behind in counts and wasn’t making pitches with two strikes,” said Sabathia, who did not resort to excuses.
Asked about the broken-bat dunks, CC said, “They are hits that score runs, it doesn’t matter. I have to pitch better. We have to play better.”