Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Two-Out Troubles

Five, two-out runs.

The Angels scored five, two-out runs Monday.

Thank goodness the Red Sox squandered a six-run lead in their loss to the Royals because this loss for the Yankees was positively maddening.

This one very easily could have been a Yankees' victory, instead it's a 5-2 loss at the House of Horrors. The Yankees will have to wait another day to secure a playoff spot. Their lead over the Red Sox remained at 5, but their magic number to clinch the division dropped to eight.

The Yankees have lost six of their last 10 games and dropped their 17th of their last 22 in Anaheim. Why can't Al Davis just buy this team and move it to San Jose?

Andy Pettitte was serviceable in his return from a bout with shoulder fatigue. He allowed three runs on five hits and two walks in six innings. He struck out three and threw 57 of 91 pitches for strikes.

Unfortunately, Pettitte just couldn't make the big pitch to escape trouble.

With two outs in the first, Bobby Abreu singled before Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter hit consecutive doubles to make it 2-0.

Pettitte settled down and cruised into the fifth, when Robb Quinlan walked and Jeff Mathis singled with one out. Chone Figgins then lofted a fly ball that should have been caught by Melky Cabrera, but instead was caught by Johnny Damon, allowing Quinlan to advance to third.

That proved costly as Erick Aybar grounded a single to left that would not have been able to score the runner from second. Instead, it made the score 3-0.

Normally, Pettitte's night would have been good enough, but not at Angels Stadium and not on this night.

The Yankees offense simply couldn't figure out Joe Saunders, who allowed two runs on seven hits in 8-1/3 innings. He struck out three and threw 70 of 108 pitches for strikes.

The Yankees simply couldn't mount any sort of attack against him. Their only runs came on homers by Alex Rodriguez in the seventh and Hideki Matsui as a pinch hitter in the eighth.

Someone has to explain this to me. Joe Girardi said he didn't start Matsui because he wanted to get more righthanders in the lineup against the lefty Saunders. The thing is Matsui hits lefties as well as righties and about half his homers have come off lefties.

I understand wanting to spell Matsui to keep his knees in shape, but that's not what Girardi was doing here. He simply outsmarted himself.

Girardi also make a puzzling move after lifting Pettitte prior to the seventh and the Yankees trailing 3-1. He went to Brian Bruney instead of a well-rest Alfredo Aceves. Then Girardi compounded it by bringing in Jonathan Albaladejo in the eighth.

The result: Bruney gave up a two-out homer to Kendry Morales and Albaladejo allowed a two-out RBI double to Juan Rivera.

The Yanks ended up going to the ninth facing a three-run deficit, which proved just to steep to overcome, even against suspect closer Brian Fuentes.

At some point the Yankees are going to have to start making big pitches against the Angels in Anaheim and getting big outs. Giving up two-out runs ... five of them ... is simply unacceptable. Good teams don't do that and the Yankees (95-56) were not doing that as they were building the league's best record.

This kind of struggles just can't continue.

The Yankees have to turn it around ... now.

Runners In Scoring Position
0-for-3 (.000)
389-for-1,435 (.272)
First Half
217-for-819 (.265)
Second Half
172-for-616 (.279)
Since A-Rod's Return May 8
324-for-1,162 (.279)
Vs. Red Sox
36-for-163 (.221)

Up Next
Tuesday at Angels, 10:05 p.m., Local TV (check your listings)
Chad Gaudin (5-10, 4.81 ERA) vs. Ervin Santana (7-8, 5.43)

Just get a win in Anaheim. Please.

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