Results tagged ‘ Bat Day ’
Even after the grimmest of losses, Joe Girardi can put on a good face and handle questions from the press adroitly. Sunday was different, however. There is no doubt that the Yankees’ manager has become exasperated at what is going on with his hitters these days.
The Yankees’ 5-2 loss to the Reds could have easily been blamed on CC Sabathia, who blew a 2-0 lead in the seventh inning by allowing three runs on solo home runs by a couple of guys named Ryan, Ludwick and Hanigan, and a sudden loss of control that resulted in three straight walks, the last of which forced in what proved the winning run. Sabathia showed rare displeasure with a plate umpire by gesturing at Tony Randazzo after the inning ended, but none of the replays I saw indicated that CC was being squeezed.
Three earned runs in seven innings from a starting pitcher are plenty acceptable any day. Sabathia was working on a three-hit shutout before the seventh and did not get a lead until the sixth when Raul Ibanez, who has become the steadiest productive player in the Yankees’ lineup, slammed a two-run home run in the right field second deck.
Yes, it is important for a pitcher to shut down the opposition the inning following that of his team taking the lead, so CC must share some of the guilt for his seventh-inning turnaround. But the glum expression on Girardi’s face and his dour response to inquiries were not due to what Sabathia did as much as what his lineup did not.
“We didn’t score a lot of runs again,” Girardi said.
The Yankees totaled 11 runs in the three games against the Reds and lost the rubber game in a series in which the pitching staff struck out 35 Cincinnati batters. That the Yankees won only one of those games was due to an offense that continues to struggle with runners in scoring opportunities. They were 3-for-18 (.167) in the series stranding 19 runners and are in a 6-for-59 (.102) funk in the clutch. For the season, the Yankees are batting .231 in those situations.
Almost as loud as the ovation the Bat Day crowd of 45,622 at Yankee Stadium accorded Ibanez for his homer were the shouts throughout the stands when Alex Rodriguez hit a towering drive to left field in the eighth with a runner on that had the look of two-run homer when it came off the bat that would have regained the lead for the Yankees.
The strong wind blowing in from left field on this sunny, breezy afternoon may have had a part in A-Rod’s blast dying on the warning track.
“We thought that ball was gone big time, and he probably thought that ball was gone, too,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “But the elements were with us on that particular play.”
“I thought it was going out when he hit,” Girardi concurred. “I thought we’d get the lead.”
Perhaps it did not matter. The Reds scored two more runs in the ninth on a two-out double by Ludwick off Rafael Soriano. Mark Teixeira, who did not start a game in the series because of his bronchial condition, reached base with one out in the bottom of the ninth as a pinch hitter, but two other pinch hitters, Russell Martin and Andruw Jones, couldn’t handle the 98-mph gas from Aroldis Chapman, who earned his first save of the season.
The Yankees’ first taste of inter-league play this year was bitter. Sabathia was paired with the Reds’ Johnny Cueto, who improved to 5-1 with a 1.97 ERA in winning the top-shelf pitchers’ duel. Games like this often prompt players and managers to say that occasionally you have to tip your cap to the opposing pitchers.
Girardi wore an expression that told everyone in the room that he is getting tired of doing that.
Is there any way the Yankees could bottle the fifth inning from Sunday’s game and bring it out whenever things are going bad for them? The five-run rally was a classic example of sustained offense, an element that has been in relatively short supply for them this season.
Of course, the Yankees might have to bottle Indians pitcher Josh Tomlin along with it. The righthander, who won his major-league debut against the Yankees with seven strong innings July 27 last year at Progressive Field, was pretty hittable Sunday at Yankee Stadium as he allowed 12 knocks in five innings, half of them in the fifth.
The Yankees have relied heavily on the long ball this season with a major-league leading 95 home runs in 63 games that have accounted for 47 percent of their 2011 run total
They had 18 hits Sunday, appropriately on Bat Day, but no hit went over the fence. A rally such as the one the Yankees manufactured in the fifth to beat the skidding Indians turned what had been a one-run game toward a 9-1 blowout.
Brett Gardner started things off with his second double, showing his usual good hustle out of the box and taking advantage of a somewhat circulatory route taken to the ball by right fielder Shin-Soo Choo.
Derek Jeter, who hit the ball hard his first two times up with nothing to show for it, fouled off a bunt attempt with third baseman Jack Hannahan playing even with the bag. Good idea by DJ, who started thinking right side in the rest of the at-bat to get Gardner to third and did even better by lofting and lofted a single to right field for career hit No. 2,992 that scored Gardner.
The Yanks didn’t stop there. Curtis Granderson, who had four hits but did not add to his home run total of 20, singled to center. After Mark Teixeira was out on an infield fly, Alex Rodriguez doubled over Austin Kearns in left field for a two-run double. A-Rod came home on a single to right by Robinson Cano.
Nick Swisher sent Cano to third with a single past first baseman Matt LaPorta. Jorge Posada, who had two hits and is now batting .226, drove in the fifth run with a fly ball to left field. In the inning, the Yankees had 3-for-4 with runners in scoring position while keeping the line moving.
“That’s how you would draw it up every day, if you could,” manager Joe Girardi said. “We kept putting together good at-bat after good at-bat.”
The Yanks also had 3-for-4 with runners in scoring position in a three-run eighth, again started by Gardner, this time with a triple to left-center. Jeter’s 2,993rd career hit, a single past a tight Cleveland infield and into center field, scored Gardner.
Eduardo Nunez, who ran for Jeter, advanced to second on a wild pitch by Chad Durbin and scored on Granderson’s fourth hit, a single to center. One out later, A-Rod got his third RBI of the game with a single. It would be nice to bottle that inning, too.
Here is one of the great things about Jeter. He is aware how close he is to 3,000 hits and how everyone from his parents on down would love to see him to that milestone at Yankee Stadium. Yet as he showed in each at-bat, Jeter remained a situational hitter. With Gardner in scoring position in the fifth and eight, DJ concentrated on making contact and putting the ball in play.
“My job there is to move the guy over,” Jeter said. “We’re still trying to win games here. The two balls I hit the hardest were caught. All I can do is have a good at-bat and hit the ball hard.”
He has four more games left on this homestand with seven hits to go for 3,000, and with Texas coming to town Tuesday the quality of pitching will definitely improve.
Speaking of quality pitching, how about Freddy Garcia? One start removed from his worst outing of the year (4 earned runs and 4 hits in 1 2/3 innings last Tuesday against the Red Sox, Garcia left Indians on base constantly through his 6 2/3 innings. Cleveland stranded 12 runners in the game, including at least one in each inning, and was hitless in 12 at-bats with runners in scoring position, all but one at-bat against Garcia.
That is one area where the veteran righthander has been outstanding. Opponents are batting .198 in 106 at-bats with runners on base and .134 in 67 at-bats with runners in scoring position against Garcia this year.
“In those situations, you have to be able to make a good pitch,” Garcia said. “I had a much better fastball [Sunday], which makes all my other pitches better.”
“He allowed us to build our lead,” Girardi said.
Build was the apt verb.