Thursday, June 11, 2009

Yanks Just Play Differently

It's not that complicated, really.

The Yankees just don't play the same way against the Red Sox as they do against the rest of the league.

They don't pitch well, field well or hit in the clutch.

And it's perplexing as to why, because, despite what Dave and other annoying Sox fans like him think, that neuveaux riche team isn't more talented or better.

If the Sox were, they'd be more than a game in front of the Yankees in the AL East.

Wednesday, Chien-Ming Wang failed to get out of the third inning, the offense went 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position and the Yankees couldn't complete the comeback, losing 6-5 at Fenway, losing for the seventh straight time to the Sox this season.

The Yankees also lost their second straight, the first time that has happened since May 6 and 7 vs. the Rays, part of a five-game losing streak.

I don't think anyone was expecting Wang to go deep into this game, but everyone was expecting him to do a better job throwing strikes.

Must be something in the water at Fenway because A.J. Burnett couldn't throw strikes either.

Wang allowed four runs on six hits and three walks in 2-2/3 innings. He threw 69 pitches, but only 39 were for strikes, despite throwing a fastball that hit 95 mph.

It's not about Wang's health anymore. He's clearly throwing hard enough. And that puts the Yankees in a tough spot.

Wang was pitching well out of the bullpen and deserved a chance to prove he can be an effective starter again. But he has struggled in his two starts and again we are hearing Dave Eiland talk about Wang's inability to throw consistently with the same arm angle.

The Yankees are reaching decision time on Wang. Odds are they will give him one more start to show them something -- anything -- but if it's another of these ineffective disasters, it may well be time to face the fact that this is a just a lost season for Wang.

The best the Yanks could hope for in that case is that Wang can return to the bullpen and be effective as a long man again for the rest of the season, before sending him off to winter ball to be rebuilt as a starter.

But the reality is Wang's poor start wasn't the biggest reason the Yankees lost this game. Phil Hughes pitched well for the next 3-2/3 innings, but allowed a two-run homer to Kevin Youkilis. Phil Coke and Alfredo Aceves were strong after that.

But the biggest issue on this night -- and for all seven games against the Sox, really -- was the offense and its inability to hit with runners in scoring position.

I felt one of the keys for the Yankees coming into this series was their ability to take advantage of their scoring opportunities. After this game, the Yankees are 10-for-71 (.141) with RISP against the Sox this season.

Jorge Posada, Mark Teixeira and Johnny Damon all homered. The other two runs scored on a Melky Cabrera single and a Robinson Cano ground out.

But the Yankees should have had so much more and crushed Red Sox starter Tim Wakefield and the bullpen.

Start with the second inning, when Posada led off with a homer to tie it at 1. Hideki Matsui followed by snapping and 0-for-16 skid with a double. Nick Swisher then laid down a bunt and got the call at first for a single.

I'm can't explain why Swish would be bunting there, considering he had been one of the Yankees' hottest hitters over the previous 11 games. But the Yankees were set up with runners at the corners with no outs.

Yet they failed to score.

Cabrera lined out to short and Swish was doubled off. Derek Jeter then flew out to center, and the rally fizzled.

The fourth was just as bad. Matsui and Swish walked with one out. Cabrera followed with an RBI single to cut the deficit to 4-2, but that's all the Yankees would get. Jeter flew out again and Damon fouled out.

And as frustrating as that was, the eighth and ninth were worse as the Yanks failed to push across the tying run.

Swish led off the eighth with a walk, and Brett Gardner came in to run. However, instead of letting Gardner steal, Joe Girardi elected to have Cabrera bunt him over.

Look, Gardner is on this team for one reason -- his speed. Yes, he's been hesitant to run late in the game at times, but Girardi has to try to take better advantage of that speed by having him steal there. Then Girardi would have had some real options. Cabrera has been one of the most clutch hitters on the team and had already driven in a run in this game. Cabrera would have been in position to drive in Gardner or at least get him over to third with one out.

But that didn't happen.

Instead, Jeter and Damon followed the sacrifice by striking out.

In the ninth, Alex Rodriguez walked with one out and pinch runner Ramiro Pena stole second. But Cano struck out and Posada flew to left to end it.

It's getting tiring watching this team perform like this against the Sox. There is no way the Yankees should be 0-7 against Boston, and if they had even won two or three games, Boston would be in full panic mode, searching desperately for a real shortstop and a big bat to replace David Ortiz, who is DONE. They'd also be trying to repair the holes in their rotation caused by an unreliable Daisuke Matsuzaka and Brad Penny's 5.85 ERA.

Instead, the Yankees are a game back, staring up at the Sox in the standings.

The good news is CC Sabathia goes Thursday against Penny.

Something tells me CC will have Dave eating his words.

Runners In Scoring Position
2-for-15 (.133)
142-for-541 (.262)
Since A-Rod's Return May 8
76-for-273 (.278)

Up Next
Thursday at Boston, 7:10 p.m., YES, NESN
Sabathia (5-3, 3.56) vs. Penny (5-2, 5.85)

Make no mistake, this is a huge start for Sabathia. Call it a chance to earn his Pinstripes.


Dave said...

Sadly, that will prove to be impossible as CC appears to have eaten my words, his words, your words, and the words of everyone between Boston and Washington, DC.

Aviv said...

It was quite a battle between him and Fat Old Papi!