Yanks may have lost long before the ninth inning
Before everybody climbs all over David Robertson for getting beat with his third best pitch in the ninth inning, look back to several other innings when the Yankees had a bevy of opportunities to break the game open and failed. In one-run losses, which the Yankees have had too many of this year, there are usually other areas to point to other than the game-losing play.
You could go all the way back to Boston’s starting pitcher, Jon Lester, who walked a career-high seven batters in his 5 1/3-inning outing, including the leadoff hitter in four innings, but only two of them scored. The Yankees were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left nine on base in the first six innings. In the final three innings against three Red Sox relievers, the Yankees did not get a runner into scoring position.
The Red Sox treated the 4-3 victory as a playoff triumph, and why not? Playing spoiler is what is left of their season. They surely spoiled Tuesday night for the Yankees, who dropped into a first-place tie in the American League East with the Orioles, 9-2 winners over the Rays.
Holding on to leads continues to be a problem for the Yankees on this trip in which they are 3-5 and amid this 22-game stretch of games against AL East competition in which they are 5-9 to this point with eight remaining. Hiroki Kuroda could not protect 1-0 and 3-2 advantages.
Derek Jeter’s two-run double in the sixth was the Yankees’ lone clutch hit and uplifting at that, but he was left stranded as reliever Junichi Tazawa came in and struck out Nick Swisher and Alex Rodriguez. In the bottom half, Kuroda gave up a home run to Dustin Pedroia that tied the score. Pedroia had a big night with three hits and two RBI.
Even bigger for Boston was Jacoby Ellsbury, whose fourth hit of the game won it. He singled off a changeup from Robertson to compete the winning rally that was created by two ground singles through the left side by Pedro Ciriaco and Mike Aviles, who may have had the at-bat of the game as he fought off several tough pitches before getting the hit.
Robertson used his fastball to great advantage in the eighth in striking out the side. In the ninth, he broke out the breaking ball a bit more, which resulted in some awkward swings by Red Sox hitters but well-placed knocks. The changeup was a dangerous call to Ellsbury, that’s for sure.
Rodriguez’s 13-game hitting streak came to an end, but Swisher showed some life for the first time on the trip with a double and a single. Jayson Nix laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move the runners up that Jeter knocked in with his double.
The Yankees’ record in one-run games fell to 17-22. After stops at Tampa Bay and Baltimore against their closest pursuers in the division, the Yankees may have thought Boston would be a soft stop. What happened Tuesday night should have changed their minds. The Red Sox made it clear they are not rolling over.