Results tagged ‘ Joba Chamberlain ’
The Yankees tried to carry the momentum of an uplifting weekend at Tampa Bay into Detroit, but the regenerated offense failed to follow them. They scored merely one run Monday night, a total seldom enough to prevail against the Tigers’ powerhouse.
And yet it almost was this time with CC Sabathia on the mound dealing with a hard-breaking slider and a tantalizing changeup to go with a fastball that occasionally rang in the low 90s. It also helped that the Yankees played exceptionally in the field and ran down several well-struck balls to the outfield.
Sabathia faced the minimum number of batters through the first six innings working with a 1-0 lead supplied by Mark Teixeira’s solo home run (No. 4) in the second inning off Alfredo Simon, who kept the Tigers close in not allowing a run after that.
The Tigers did not get a runner into scoring position until the seventh inning when they turned the game around into their favor. Rajai Davis led off with a single and raced to second after tagging up on Ian Kinsler flyout to deep left field. Miguel Cabrera, who grounded into double plays his first two times up, again hit the ball to the left side. Shortstop Didi Gregorius took a chance throwing the ball to second base in an attempt to trap Davis off the bag, but his throw was saved by second baseman Stephen Drew, who was able to get the second out of the inning by throwing to first base to get the plodding Cabrera.
The Yankees decided to walk Victor Martinez intentionally, which made sense with an open base and the designated hitter having hit the ball sharply in his first two at-bats with nothing to show for it.
J.D. Martinez is no day at the beach, either, and he proved that with a slashing single off Gregorius’ glove in the hole that scored Davis with the tying run. Detroit grabbed the lead on a single up the middle by Yoenis Cespedes. J.D. Martinez headed for third base hoping to draw a throw to allow the slower Victor Martinez to score from second.
It worked, too. Jacoby Ellsbury threw to third base. While J.D. Martinez was eventually tagged out for the third out, Victor Martinez had already crossed the plate with what proved the deciding run.
Do not fault Ellsbury for the move. Cespedes’ grounder hit the lip of the grass behind second base, which slowed the ball down as the center fielder playing deep was charging. I doubt Ellsbury’s throw to the plate was certain to nail Victor Martinez.
The 2-1 Tigers lead would hold up because a familiar figure to Yankees fans pitched out of a jam in the eighth. With runners on first and third and one out, Joba Chamberlain came out of the bullpen to face Ellsbury, who hit the ball hard but into a rally-killing double play.
There may be some second-guessing about a play before the DP when third base coach Joe Espada held Chase Headley at third base rather than waving him home from second base on a single to center by Gregorius. What Espada could not anticipate was that Davis, the Detroit center fielder, would bobble the ball for a moment before recovering a firing a bullet to the infield. Headley was no cinch to score in that spot, so I cannot fault the third base coach for playing it safe.
Joakim Soria made it 5-for-5 in saves with a scoreless ninth inning as the Tigers improved to 11-2 while the Yankees fell below .500 again at 6-7.
It was a tough loss for Sabathia, who looked a lot like the CC of old in the first complete game for a Yankees starter this season. To hold the Tigers to two runs and seven hits through eight innings is quite a feat. His record fell to 0-3, but the Yankees have every reason to be encouraged.
Hiroki Kuroda was hoping to make history Tuesday night in his start against the Tigers and 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner David Price. Detroit is the only team in the major leagues against whom Kuroda does not have a victory. With a defeat of the Tigers, Kuroda could have joined 13 other pitchers who have beaten all 30 big-league clubs.
For a while there, it appeared as if Kuroda would do just that. After giving up a first-inning run on a sacrifice fly by Victor Martinez, Kuroda set down 13 hitters in a row and watched his teammates take the lead on home runs by Brian McCann and Martin Prado and a two-out, RBI double by Jacoby Ellsbury.
Home runs off Price are nothing new. He entered the game tied for the most homers allowed in the AL with 20. Both bombs were solos, however, so the Tigers remained within striking distance. Detroit cut the deficit to 3-2 on a leadoff home run in the seventh by shortstop Andrew Romine, brother of Yankees farmhand Austin Romine.
Kuroda ended up being hurt by the over-shift defensive alignment that has been in vogue this year. Leading off the seventh inning of a one-run game, Victor Martinez hit a soft grounder to the left side where no one was stationed to field it. A weak dribbler became a leadoff single.
Kuroda almost got out of the inning. He retired Torii Hunter on an infield pop and J.D. Martinez on a fly to center. Nick Castellanos kept the inning alive with a single to center. Alex Avila followed with a single to right field that tied the score.
That was Kuroda’s last inning, so he was hung with a no-decision and is still without a career victory against Detroit. The Yanks have another series against the Tigers Aug. 26-28 at Comerica Park, which if his turn comes up would be Kuroda’s last chance to beat them.
Just for the record, the 13 pitchers who have defeated every club are former Yankees hurlers Al Leiter, Kevin Brown, Terry Mulholland, Randy Johnson, Javier Vazquez, Derek Lowe and A.J. Burnett, plus Curt Schilling, Woody Williams, Jamie Moyer, Barry Zito, Vicente Padilla and Dan Haren.
Another former Yankees pitcher made a return appearance at the Stadium Tuesday night. Joba Chamberlain, once a near cult figure with Yankees fans and now a setup man for the Tigers, relieved Price with two out in the ninth inning and a runner on first base to face Prado, whom he struck out as the game went into extra innings. Chamberlain was barely recognizable with a thick, black beard, which would have never passed muster with the Yankees’ grooming policy.
When you come right down to it, the Yankees have the Blue Jays to thank for being in the wild-card chase at all. The Yanks bullied Toronto most of the year except this week. What a time for the Blue Jays to turn the tide.
The Yankees are crawling home from this trip. A 4-6 record through Baltimore, Boston and Toronto was not what they needed to make headway in the wild-card race. Losing two of three to the Blue Jays could turn out to be the killer series for the Yankees, who scored in only three of the 27 innings at Rogers Centre the past three nights.
Yankee manager Joe Girardi will take his lumps in the press and from fans for bringing in Joba Chamberlain in the seventh inning of a 3-1 game. Chamberlain, once a lights-out reliever, had fallen down the bullpen scale so much this year that he had not been used often in high-leverage spots, which made his appearance curious to say the least.
Walking weak-hitting Munenori Kawasaki to start the inning was a harbinger of what was to come. Brett Lawrie followed with a ground single through the right side. With lefthander Cesar Cabral throwing in the bullpen, Girardi stayed with Chamberlain against lefty-swinging Adam Lind, who crushed a 2-1 slider for a three-run home run that hit the Yankees like a dagger.
Actually, Yankees pitchers were on the tightrope all night. Hiroki Kuroda somehow got through six innings by allowing only three runs, thanks to some stupid base running by the Jays and even worse clutch hitting. Toronto was 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left seven men on base over the first four innings.
It was another disappointing outing for Kuroda, who over his past seven starts is 0-5 with a 6.37 ERA. The Yankees’ rotation has had an unproductive month. The starting pitchers combined are 1-7 with a 5.40 ERA in September.
As ineffective as the pitching has been, the offense has been worse. The Yankees scored only six runs in the three games at Toronto. Curtis Granderson apart, they did nothing against Jays starter Todd Redmond (4-2). Granderson tagged him for a solo homer in the sixth, but Redmond gave up only three other hits and one walk with seven strikeouts in seven innings.
The Yankees are four games back in the loss column in the wild-card standings in which five clubs are ahead of them for two available berths. The Yanks come home into the netherworld of inter-league play this weekend against the Giants and can only hope they can cut their deficit to Tampa Bay to three games or less when the Rays come to Yankee Stadium Tuesday night.
This was an ugly way to end a game that for a while there appeared as if it would be another uplifting victory for the Yankees. After a six-run seventh inning turned a 7-2 deficit into an 8-7 lead, the Yankees could not put it away against the Red Sox.
At fault were bullpen breakdowns by Mariano Rivera, who blew the save in the ninth, and Joba Chamberlain, who gave up the deciding run in the 10th. Wayward base running by Alfonso Soriano in the bottom of the ninth did not help, either. He was picked off first base and got away with it when pitcher Craig Breslow made a lousy throw to first base. Then Sori got picked off second base and was out in a rundown.
“You can’t get thrown out there,” Yanks manager Joe Girardi said somberly.
Chamberlain got thrown out, too, of the game. First base umpire Joe West gave Joba the heave-ho when the reliever beefed coming off the field about a check-swing call, or non-call. Chamberlain gave up a one-out single to Jacoby Ellsbury, who then stole second base. On a 1-2 slider to Shane Victorino, he tried to hold up his swing. The Yanks appealed to West, who ruled no swing. Replays seemed to disagree. Victorino lashed the next pitch into right field for a single that scored Ellsbury with what proved the deciding run.
“The replay speaks for itself,” Chamberlain said. “Obviously, I’ve got to make a better pitch after that.”
Obviously, he did not. Chamberlain was the seventh of eight pitchers used in the game by Girardi, who felt he was his only right-handed option. Shawn Kelley has an inflamed right triceps. Phil Hughes, Girardi thought, was not up to the situation having just gone into the bullpen from the rotation.
A sad way to end what might have been a stimulating night.
At the beginning of the same week that the National Football League will begin its schedule, the Yankees fumbled their chance to blow past the Orioles in the wild-card race. They caught one break this weekend with fellow contenders Tampa Bay and Oakland playing each other in the Bay Area so they would gain ground on one of them daily and were on the brink of sweeping Baltimore and putting the O’s in the Yanks’ rear-view mirror.
That was before the Birds changed their luck by rolling seven in the seventh inning that ruined yet another strong starting effort by Andy Pettitte (3-0, 1.20 ERA in past five starts) and jostled the Yankees back into fourth place in the American League East and kept them at least 3 ½ games back in the wild-card hunt with another calendar date torn off.
The 3-0 lead that Pettitte took into the seventh appeared pretty safe with the Orioles offering little resistance until newly-acquired Michael Morse and Danny Valencia opened the inning with singles. Yanks manager Joe Girardi turned to a well-rested bullpen but found no relief.
Shawn Kelley and Boone Logan each faced two batters without retiring either. Kelley did the most damage by giving up an RBI single to Matt Wieters and a three-run, opposite-field home run to J.J. Hardy on a ball that hit the top of the wall just beyond the reach of Curtis Granderson in right field. Logan yielded a bunt single to Brian Roberts and a walk to Nick Markakis before Joba Chamberlain got clobbered one out later by Adam Jones with the second three-run homer of the inning, this one onto the netting above Monument Park that created the 7-3 final score.
It marked the first time in 33 home games this season that the Yankees lost when they had a lead of at least two runs.
“They have been so good for us all for so long, it was surprising to see,” Girardi said of the pen.
Despite the pitching changes, all of this seemed to happen in a mini-second. What would have been Pettitte’s 256th victory went flying out the window and offset the decision to have him start instead of Phil Hughes, who is scheduled to get the ball Monday in the Labor Day afternoon tilt against the White Sox, a last-place team but one that swept the Yankees Aug. 5-7 at Chicago.
In games like this, you look back at missed chances for the Yankees to put up more runs. They were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 base runners. Cano, who usually rakes against Baltimore (.340, 27 HR, 99 RBI) was 0-for-5 and struck out three times in a game against the O’s for the first time in his career.
Derek Jeter had a sacrifice fly but was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. The RBI was career No. 1,258, which pushed him past former teammate Bernie Williams into sixth place on the all-time franchise list. The Yanks’ 2-through-6 hitters in the Yankees’ lineup were a combined 1-for-19 (Alfonso Soriano’s RBI single in the third inning giving him 36 RBI in 34 games for the Yanks) with 10 strikeouts.
The Yankees were able to contain Baltimore first baseman Chris Davis in the series. The major-league home run leader had 1-for-10 with a walk, a hit by pitch, an RBI and 10 strikeouts. He was the only Orioles player who did not reach base Sunday as he made five outs.
It was Baltimore’s relief corps that held sway. After a shaky start by starter Wei-Yin Chen (three earned runs, four hits, five walks in four innings), four Orioles relievers teamed up to pitch five scoreless innings allowing three hits and one walk with seven strikeouts. The Orioles lead the season series, 8-7, with four games remaining against the teams Sept. 9-12 at Camden Yards.
To be honest, I contemplated getting on Alfonso Soriano’s case for styling when he hits a long drive instead of running hard out of the box in the event the ball does not clear the fence. Robinson Cano has a history of doing the same thing.
But how dumb would that have looked on the day the Yankees won an 11-inning game because of Soriano’s legs and Cano’s sizzling bat?
Soriano’s base running Sunday helped the Yankees to a 3-2, 11-inning victory over the Rays that avoided a three-game sweep at Tropicana Field. He ran hard from the box to second base to get a one-out double off Tampa Bay righthander Jamie Wright and even harder to third base for a key steal that made it possible for him to break the tie on Curtis Granderson’s flyout to right-center that proved a game-winning sacrifice fly after Mariano Rivera pitched a 1-2-3 bottom half for his 38th save of the season and career No. 646.
Regular readers are aware of my high regard for Soriano, but one element of his game that I find disturbing is his tendency to hot dog it at the plate when he hits a ball into the air and deep. If the ball goes over the fence, fine. When it doesn’t, which was the case in one of his at-bats Saturday night, it is an embarrassment if Soriano is unable to take the extra base because he was too late to move into high gear as a runner.
Considering his speed, Soriano should never look flat-footed on the field. He certainly did not look that way in the 11th inning Sunday. This was a big victory for the Yankees, who are in a positive frame of mind heading to Toronto for a three-game set against a club they have beaten in 12 of 13 previous meetings.
Cano, who was 1-for-8 in the first two games of the series, both losses, broke free with his 24th home run, plus a double and a single. He drove in both Yankees runs in regulation. Cano has hit safely in 17 of past 20 games, batting .410 with 11 runs, seven doubles, three home runs and 14 RBI in 78 at-bats.
For the Rays, Evan Longoria was responsible for both their runs as well with an RBI single in the first and his 28th homer in the sixth. It was the seventh homer of the season against the Yankees by Longoria, who is batting .299 with four doubles and 12 RBI in 64 at-bats against them this year. The homer was the 23rd of Longoria’s career against the Yankees, the most he has off a single club.
The Yankees had confidence that Ivan Nova would help them avoid a sweep by the Rays. And why not? Nova was on a personal three-game winning streak and along with Hiroki Kuroda has been a very reliable arm in the rotation.
Nova did a commendable job and kept the Yankees in the game during his 6 2/3 innings. At the outset it appeared it might be a miserable day for the Yanks. Tampa Bay scored in the first inning and threatened to add on by loading the bases with none out. Nova was still trying to get control of his breaking ball, but the first indication that his sinking fastball would be a major weapon for him was when James Loney swung late on a 94-mph heater and hit a ground ball to third baseman Mark Reynolds, who began an around-the-horn double play to squash the rally.
Nova continued to have some issues with his curve displayed by his six walks (one intentional), but the sinker remained an ally as the righthander got 14 of his 20 outs on ground balls. Only two outs were recorded in the air. Nova also struck out three batters and got an out from his catcher, Chris Stewart, who caught a base runner attempting to steal second (Stew got a second one after Nova came out of the game in the seventh).
The Yankees had the leadoff hitter reach base in the eighth and 10th innings but did not capitalize. In the 10th, Alex Rodriguez got the first pinch hit of his career (in 15 at-bats), but he ended up being doubled off second base. The double play proved more an ally for the Yankees, who turned four of them in the game.
The bullpen did a magnificent ensemble job. Shawn Kelley, David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan (4-2) and Rivera combined for 4 1/3 hitless innings. Only one of the 12 Tampa Bay hitters faced by the Yanks’ relievers reached base, on a one-out walk by Chamberlain in the 10th, and he was erased on a double play.
So off to Toronto go the Yankees where their captain, Derek Jeter, will be waiting to rejoin them.
On the final day of HOPE Week 2013 (Helping Others Persevere & Excel) Friday, the Yankees celebrated “Stand for the Silent” and its anti-bullying initiative in the Great Hall at Yankee Stadium.
Kirk Smalley delivered a moving presentation that has given to almost 700,000 children and adults around the world. Joining him on stage were Yankees general partner Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal; general manager Brian Cashman; pitching coach Larry Rothschild; pitchers Andy Pettitte, Joba Chamberlain and Boone Logan; catcher Austin Romine; designated hitter Travis Hafner and first baseman Lyle Overbay, with WWE wrestler The Big Show.
Approximately 500 students, parents and teachers from local schools and community groups were in the audience to hear Smalley’s message.
Ty Smalley was raised in the town of Perkins, 15 minutes from the campus of Oklahoma State University, in the heart of Payne County. For Ty, who was small and looked much younger than his 11 years, school was a waking nightmare.
By sixth grade, he had already been the subject of unmerciful bullying for a number of years. Kids tossed food at him. He was regularly jammed into lockers and garbage cans. Deflecting insults, coping with intimidation and suffering violence from classmates were part of the daily curriculum administered. Most administrators looked the other way or brushed off the incidents as “boys being boys.”
Throughout it all, Ty maintained his good nature and ever-present smile. Unfortunately, his outward demeanor masked a great deal of hurt. No one saw coming what seems inevitable now. On May 13, 2010, Ty was provoked into a fight at school and was suspended. Home early from school and left alone because his parents had to work, he took his own life.
That summer, Ty’s story was taken up by local high school students participating in Oklahoma State University’s Upward Bound program. Together, they set a goal to end bullying in their respective high schools and began an initiative called “Stand for the Silent.”
Word of the movement spread quickly and just over three months later, a silent vigil was held on the lawn of the Oklahoma State Capitol. Related ceremonies took place simultaneously in 20 other states and six other countries, including Australia, Canada, Ireland, Spain, South Africa and the United Kingdom.
Needing an outlet for their grief, Ty’s parents, Kirk and Laura, threw themselves into the movement. When summer ended, they assumed leadership of the program and took Ty’s story on the road to any school, community group or religious gathering that wanted to hear it.
“Bullying is the same in the city as it is in country towns, and it’s the same among the big kids as it is with the little kids,” Kirk said. “The message resonates no matter where I go.”
His typical audience ranges from fourth-graders to high schoolers, though he has spoken to pre-kindergarten children, prison populations and senior citizens.
At the start of his presentation, five life-size photos of children are placed on easels behind five empty chairs. Each photo is of a child who has taken his or her life as a result of being bullied. Student volunteers read aloud the stories of these children as written by their parents. The children then introduce Kirk, who tells how bullying has impacted his family’s life.
“Kids have a built-in b.s. detector,” Kirk said. “I’m no public speaker. I’m a construction worker. But they realize that I’m someone who cares. I can’t let this happen to another family.”
Kirk also urges children to cultivate a culture of kindness toward each other based on recognizing and celebrating the worth of every individual. He asks everyone in attendance to take a pledge entitled “I Am Somebody.”
Together they recite:
“From this day forward, I promise to respect those around me as well as respect myself. I am somebody, and I can make a difference. I can make another feel loved. I can be the helping hand that leads another back to a path of hope and aspiration. I will not stand silent as others try to spread hatred through my community. Instead, I pledge to lift up these victims and show them that their life matters. I will be the change because I am somebody.”
“No one is born to hate,” Kirk said. “It’s something that’s learned and something that can change. “To the bullies who gain an understanding of what they’ve done, I say ‘We love you. But now you have to apologize and change your behavior.’ ”
The Smalleys have sacrificed almost everything to spread the Stand for the Silent message. Prior to Ty’s suicide, Kirk was a foreman for a union sheet-metal company; however, after a year of mourning and dedicating himself to speaking to children, his job had to let him go.
“It’s very hard on us, but it’s what I do now,” Kirk said. “Laura and I prayed over it, and we decided that Stand for the Silent was our mission, and we would let God take care of the rest.”
Stand for the Silent receives speaking requests daily, and Kirk is booked solid into the summer of 2014. Booking Kirk’s travel, handling the organization’s finances and managing the e-mails that flood in from around the world is Laura’s full-time job. She was previously employed as a member of the kitchen staff at Ty’s school, but never went back. Their daughter, Jerri Dawn, coordinates the scheduling.
Kirk and Laura ask schools and organizations to cover his cost of travel and lodging. If that’s not possible, Kirk will visit anyway, out of pocket. He and Laura never turn down a request. As a result, they have burned through their savings and are now using their retirement money to fund their work.
“Knowing that we are saving lives is gratifying,” Kirk said. “We get messages by the thousands from children and young adults who want to get involved and from kids who hear us and realize that taking their own life isn’t the answer.”
Jerri Dawn arranges her father’s schedule to enable him to speak three or four times in a day, often at various locations in the same city. Then, he will drive or fly to the next city and do it again. Typically, he’s on the road five or six days a week, recounting and reliving any parent’s worst nightmare solely for the benefit of others. At this point, the pain is permanently watermarked in his voice.
“The most important thing parents can do is to be completely aware of what’s going on in their child’s life,” Kirk said. “Don’t take ‘OK’ for an answer. You have to ask your child hard questions and be prepared to fight with his or her school in making sure that their safety is looked after. Kids need to know not to internalize any mistreatment they receive. If they’re upset, they can talk it out. They don’t have to act it out. My boy didn’t know that, and it’s too late for him. But it’s not too late for others.”
Perhaps the Yankees decided to play Monday night’s game at Target Field as if it were a playoff game. After all, they beat the Twins nine times in 10 games in winning three American League Division Series against Minnesota. Monday night was like many of those playoff games with the Yankees overcoming early deficits with some late-inning lightning.
It was a tight game for seven innings before the Yankees broke through with seven runs over the last two innings against a sloppy Minnesota bullpen for a 10-4 victory, which marked the first time in 48 games that they reached double figures in runs. They had not done that since an 11-6 victory over the Royals May 10 at Kansas City.
It was also the 600th managerial victory for Joe Girardi and was a long time coming following a five-game losing streak that had pushed the Yankees into fourth place in the AL East.
Andy Pettitte overcame a 42-pitch first inning in which he turned a 1-0 lead into a 3-1 deficit to pitch into the sixth inning and along the way unseat Whitey Ford as the pitcher with the most strikeouts in franchise history. Pettitte’s punchout of Justin Morneau in the fifth, one of only two Ks in the game for the lefthander, was his 1,958th.
Of course, Andy already had more career strikeouts than Whitey. Pettitte had 428 strikeouts in his three seasons with the Astros and has a career total of 2,386, which is 41st on the all-time list, 10 behind Sandy Koufax. With his Yankees total, Pettitte ranks third among pitchers on New York teams in strikeouts behind Tom Seaver’s 2,541 with the Mets and Christy Mathewson’s 2,504 with the Giants.
It was not a strong outing by Pettitte, who allowed six hits and four walks and made a throwing error that accounted for one of the four runs against him. He was removed after giving up a home run to Chris Parmelee leading off the sixth inning that put the Twins ahead, 4-3. The late rallies by the Yankees took Pettitte off the hook, but he remains winless in four starts since June 8.
Robinson Cano, who had driven in the Yankees’ first three runs with two home runs off Twins starter Scott Diamond, ignited the eighth-inning uprising when the Yankees regained the lead for good. He opened the frame with a double to right-center. After a bunt single by Ichiro Suzuki pinch hitting for Vernon Wells, Cano scored from third on an errant pickoff by Jared Burton, who ended up the losing pitcher as his record fell to 1-6.
A one-out single by Zoilo Almonte gave the Yankees a 5-4 lead, and they were far from finished. Almonte came around to score after a walk and a wild pitch on an infield out by Chris Stewart. In the ninth, they loaded the bases with none out and pushed across four more runs on RBI singles by Travis Hafner and Almonte, a passed ball and a bases-loaded walk to Stewart.
The 14-hit attack was spearheaded by Cano, who reached base four times and scored each time. He and Almonte each had three hits, and Brett Gardner and Wells added two apiece. After going 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position over the first seven innings, the Yankees went 4-for-10 in those situations in the final two innings.
For the first time since the losing streak began, the Yankees had cause to use Mariano Rivera, who in a non-save situation pitched a scoreless ninth, following a shutout inning apiece by pen pals David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain (1-0) and Shawn Kelley.
Andy Pettitte couldn’t even come away with a consolation prize Wednesday night. A seventh strikeout in the Yankees’ 8-5 loss to the Rangers would have given Pettitte the club record. His strikeout of Adrian Beltre in the fifth inning was career No. 1,957 for Pettitte, who tied Whitey Ford for the most punchouts by a pitcher in franchise history.
Pettitte’s final inning was the sixth. After retiring A.J. Pierzynski, the leadoff hitter that inning, Pettitte got two strikes on the next four hitters but failed to get strike three each time. Lance Berkman grounded out to third. Mitch Moreland singled to center. David Murphy came back from 0-2 to draw a walk. Leonys Martin ended the inning with a popout to shortstop.
The Yankees tried to get Pettitte off the hook in the bottom of the sixth. Trailing, 4-1, the Yanks rallied to make the score 4-3 on RBI singles by Robinson Cano and Travis Hafner but could get no closer. Lyle Overbay, who had homered off Texas starter Justin Grimm for the Yankees’ first run in the second inning, struck out. After a walk to Zoilo Almonte loaded the bases, Jayson Nix grounded into a double play.
Pettitte’s third consecutive loss that dropped his record to 5-6 came down to one bad inning – the third when the Rangers scored four runs, one of which was unearned due to a throwing error by Nix on a sacrifice bunt by Elvis Andrus that filled the bases with none out. Petttitte caught Nelson Cruz looking at a third strike, but Beltre and Pierzynski followed with two-run doubles. Pettitte at least stranded Pierzynski at second by retiring Berkman on a groundout and Moreland on a called third strike.
After the Yankees closed the gap, Joba Chamberlain opened it again in the seventh by giving up a two-run homer to Cruz. Chamberlain needed to be bailed out by Preston Claiborne after being touched for another double by Beltre and a two-out single by Berkman. Claiborne got Moreland on an infield pop for the third out after replacing Chamberlain, whose ERA skied to 6.38.
Chamberlain’s stretch of ineffectiveness covers his past seven appearances in which he has given up nine earned runs in 6 2/3 innings (12.15 ERA).
“He is making mistakes in the middle of the plate,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “I still have confidence in him. His stuff is too good not to turn it around.”
The Yankees tried to turn it around for them in the seventh when a two-run home run by Ichiro Suzuki off Ross Wolf again made it a one-run game at 6-5. Yet once again, the Yankees let the Rangers stretch their lead with a two-run ninth. Both runs were not earned. An error by center fielder Brett Gardner, who dropped a drive by Pierzynski on the warning track in left-center, put runners on second and third with one out. A single by Berkman and sacrifice fly by Moreland added insurance runs for Rangers closer Joe Nathan, who notched his 26th save with a perfect bottom of the ninth.
The loss dropped the Yankees 3 ½ games behind the first-place Red Sox in the American League East and in a virtual tie for second place with the Orioles, who also lost.
Andy Pettitte wore the hair shirt after the Yankees’ 8-3 loss Thursday night to the Rays, but this was really another example of an offense that has had trouble clicking of late. The Yankees have the second lowest batting average in the American League and rank 13th of 15 clubs in scoring.
In their seventh loss in the past nine games, the Yankees’ team on-base percentage fell below .300, and their slugging percentage is well below .400. What is going on is nothing short of an epidemic.
The way their offense is sputtering these days the Yanks can use all the help they can get. They got it from opposing pitcher Matt Moore in the sixth inning when they were able to score three runs despite getting only one hit to get back into the game. Tampa Bay had a 4-0 lead at the start of the inning, but the Yankees cut the deficit to 4-3 thanks in large part to wildness by Moore.
Control problems have been a recent issue for Moore, who started the season 8-0 with a 2.18 ERA before losing his past three starts with a 13.86 ERA and 11 walks in 12 1/3 innings that raised his season ERA to 4.12. The lefthander was working on a two-hit shutout entering the sixth when the Yankees finally got something going.
Reid Brignac, who started at shortstop because manager Joe Girardi wanted his best defensive alignment behind Pettitte, led off the sixth with a single to center. Moore then filled the bases with walks to Brett Gardner and Jayson Nix and had to contend with Robinson Cano. A wild pitch allowed the first run to score and advanced the other two runners.
Cano hit a smoking liner to deep center field for a sacrifice fly that also put Nix on third base. The Rays kept the infield back and conceded a run as Travis Hafner made the second out on a grounder to the right side.
Pettitte was hoping for a shutdown inning in the seventh to keep it a one-run game, but with two out Desmond Jennings and Sean Rodriguez touched the lefthander for successive doubles that marked the end of his outing. The Rays had nine hits in 6 2/3 innings off Pettitte, who walked one batter, struck out six and threw a wild pitch.
“Matt lets our guys get back in the game, and Joe has confidence in me to get Rodriguez out to get us out of the inning and I give back another run,” Pettitte said. “It was another disappointing outing for me, very frustrating. My command in the zone isn’t where it needs to be. My fastball command isn’t there. I got to have my fastball. I can’t just throw cutters and curves.”
The wild pitch took away the possibility of Andy getting out of a second-inning jam with a double play ball as Tampa Bay got its first run on a sacrifice fly by Jose Lobaton. Three hits in a row and a sacrifice fly by Evan Longoria in the third pushed the Rays’ lead to 3-0. Longoria, who has had little success against Pettitte (3-for-23 career) got his second RBI of the game with a leadoff home run to right-center in the sixth.
“Andy didn’t make too many mistakes, but when he did they were big ones,” manager Joe Girardi said.
In losing his second straight start, Pettitte (5-5, 4.20 ERA) fell to 2-5 with a 5.13 ERA (52.2IP, 30ER) in his past nine starts covering 52 2/3 innings and is winless in his past five starts at Yankee Stadium (0-3, 7.46 ERA in 25 1/3 innings).
Moore also departed in the seventh after a one-out double by Lyle Overbay, the Yankees’ first extra-base hit in 18 innings. Overbay made a base-running blunder by trying to cross to third base on a grounder to shortstop and was thrown out to spike a major scoring opportunity. When teams are struggling for runs, plays such as that appear to be over-aggressive but turn out to be self-destructive.
It all became academic as the Rays continued their display of extra-base power. Longoria hit his second homer of the game leading off the eighth against Joba Chamberlain, and Boone Logan gave up a two-run shot to Yunel Escobar on a towering drive into the net beyond the center-field wall.
The Yankees lost an opportunity to gain ground on the first-place Red Sox and remained 3 ½ games behind them but are just 1 ½ games ahead of the fourth-place Rays. The last-place Blue Jays have gotten hot lately with an eight-game winning streak to get within one game of the .500 level. Things are tightening up in the division.