Champions on Display MLB

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Ohh, The Missed Opportunities

That one was tough to take.

And the news only got worse after the game.

Mariano Rivera surrendered a two-run homer to Jason Bay with two outs in the ninth and Damaso Marte could not get through a second inning of work unscathed, allowing a walk-off homer to Kevin Youkilis in a 5-4 gut wrenching, 11-inning loss Friday at Fenway Park.

I had plenty of question about the way Joe Girardi used his bullpen. Unfortunately, he had some valid reasons behind his decisions.

Prior to the game, Girardi said on WFAN that while he did want to, he would be willing to use the combination of Brian Bruney and Mariano Rivera for nine outs. So when Jonathan Albaladejo got the Yankees to the eighth inning with a two-run lead, I assumed Bruney would come in and Mo would get the ninth. Instead Albaladejo went back out there for they eighth, and Rivera entered the game in the middle of a batter to get the last out of that inning.

After Rivera gave up Bay's homer, I figured Bruney would come in for the 10th. Nope. It was Marte for the 10th ... and 11th.

Turns out Bruney's elbow is hurting and he's heading back to New York for an MRI. With Veras unavailable following Wednesday's outing, that the the Yankees short in the bullpen that was terrific until Rivera's first blown save of the season.

The Yankees are going to remedy their bullpen shortcomings by placing Chien-Ming Wang on the DL and recalling David Robertson. (Dave, the Yankees are finally saying the Lisfranc tear may have caused Wang to favor is foot by altering his windup. They claim it has caused him to have a hip issue). But if Bruney's injury is serious, it would be a terrible blow to this bullpen. We don't know what the issue is, but if Bruney is out for any amount of time, top prospect Mark Melancon will be called up.

The news only got worse: Cody Ransom strained his quad while stealing second in the eighth. He was placed on the DL and it looks like Angel Berroa will be called up.

But when the Yankees look back at this loss, ultimately they will have to blame their offense. They Yankees made Sox starter Jon Lester work, getting runners on in every inning and forcing him to throw 114 pitches, 67 strikes, in six innings.

But the Yankees left 15 men on base, went 4-for-19 with runners in scoring position and grounded into three doubleplays for the game. The biggest missed opportunity came in the ninth.

Leading 4-2, Mark Teixeira was hit by a pitch and Jorge Posada and Nick Swisher walked to load the bases to with no outs. It was the Yankees' chance to put the game away and against a team a resilient as the Sox you must come away with at least one run there, if not a lot more. But Robinson Cano grounded into a 4-2-3 double play and Melky Cabrera fouled out.

It was the opportunity they'd come to regret missing most because it was game in which they did everything possible to bail out a shaky Joba Chamberlain.

Chamberlain kept the Yankees in the game, pitching 5-1/3 innings and allowing two runs, one earned, on nine hits and four walks. But he was not sharp, throwing 91 pitches, only 49 strikes. How'd he do it? Well Joba seems to have found Wang's missing sinker and got the Sox to ground into four doubleplays.

Still, the concern here is Joba's inability to throw strikes. If he continues to struggle with his location, the issue won't be rotation or bullpen as much as majors or minors. No matter what his role, he has to be able to throw strikes.

This is a tough loss swallow, but Yankees have A.J. Burnett going Saturday and have a great shot to bounce back behind a guy who's eaten the Red Sox alive in his career.

What We Learned
Rivera is not ready to throw more than one inning just yet. Remember, Rivera did have minor offseaon shoulder surgery and in two months, he closes that game out, no problem. He's just not there yet, and with the bullpen down two arms, that just prove too much to overcome. Still, Phil Coke and Albaldejo were impressive and even Marte looked good in the 10th.

Hey Dave ...
Nice win. We'll get you Saturday.

Runners On Third With Less Than Two Outs
5 Opportunities
1-for-4, 3 R, 3 RBI, SF, GIDP
31 Opportunities
7-for-26, 3B, BB, 4 SF, 18 R, 15 RBI, 2 K, 3 GIDP

Up Next
Saturday at Boston, 4:10 p.m., FOX
Burnett (2-0, 3.20 ERA) vs. Josh Beckett (2-1, 3.79)


Dave said...

I find it funny you and I feel about the game the same way from the opposite side. I see the Sox as having chance after chance to score off Joba wasted and Lester keeping the Sox in the game.

Unknown said...

The top of the ninth is really what killed me. The failure stick to the dagger into you guys there was beyond awful.