From Bruce Wigdor:
"How are we supposed to go out there and give it our best when we know that Steve isn't watching?"--Alex Rodriguez, after the game.
Well, OK, maybe A-Rod didn't say that. But until he issues a formal statement denying he said it, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
So my two days hosting here are both losses to the Phillies...just great! Note to Steve: next time, I'm blogging Baltimore.
Girardi tried batting Granderson 2nd and Swisher 6th today, but it didn't wake up the offense at all.
Pettitte was simply brilliant today in his losing performance. You just won't find a better pitched 3 run game than Andy pitched today. He had command of all of his pitches and was really wheeling and dealing.
After retiring the first 9 batters, Andy let up his first run in the 4th when Victorino muscled a good pitch to right field. He pops up Utley with a pitch in on the hands, and gets Polanco to hit a routine ground ball to 3rd which Pena let go under his glove. Ryan Howard followed the error with a groundball that found its way between Cano and Texiera, and the Phillies scored a run without getting a good pitch to hit. Andy bounces right back and strikes out Ibanez in an at bat where Ibanez looked completely overmatched. At that point, I'm thinking that, so long as the Yankee bats wake up, we'll be OK, because that's all they're going to get on Pettitte.
Well, I was wrong, because in the 5th, despite pitching well, Andy got beat again. First he got away with one of what I thought were two mistakes tonight, as Francisco crushed a line drive right at Pena at 3rd for an out. Andy walked Ruiz, and then Phillies manager Charlie Manuel made a really good call by sending Ruiz on a groundball that would have been a double play had he not been moving, That allowed Victorino to step up again and Victorino again delivered the hit on a great pitch as he takes a pitch boring in on his hands over the left field wall. A great job by Victorino of keeping that ball fair. Andy must have been wondering what he needed to do there! I'm still thinking, that's all you're getting off of Andy today! Kind of like the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Andy could have let up 12 runs with the command he had; I'd still be refusing to believe we were beat. "I'll bite your kneecaps off!"
In the 6th inning, Andy had baserunners again after Polanco got a check swing single, and then Werth reached out and pulled a decent but not great pitch for a single. Andy recovered by striking out Ibanez on 3 pitches and then catching Francisco looking on a 1-2 pitch.
The Yankees scored their only run with a two out rally when Texiera walked, A-Rod singled, and Cano drilled a single to right to score Texiera. Who says being a major league hitter is hard? It's simple! All you have to do is watch Robinson Cano and do what he does! He's making it look easy, and even in the Yankees' offensive drought of the last two days, Cano has managed to go 4 for 8 with a HR and 2 RBIs. Unfortunately, Swisher missed two very hittable pitches on the next at bat to end the Yankees' only threat.
Andy pitched out of trouble again in the 7th--I know it sounds crazy to say that Pettitte was brilliant with all of these jams, but he has always been the type of pitcher who gets in trouble and pitches out of it, and he was never better at it than today. Anyway, in the 7th he made what I thought was his second mistake of the game, and Ruiz, who chose today to come out of a terrible slump, crushed a double. The Yankees then tried the wheel play on the sacrifice, but Valdez's bunt was good enough that they had to go to first. They then walk Victorino to set up the double play and pitch to Utley. Pettitte tries to get him out by busting him inside, but Utley wasn't biting and Andy walked him on some very close pitches. By the way, I thought the plate umpire Tom Hallion, was great tonight--I didn't disagree with a single call! Anyway, Andy got ahead of Polanco, and then got him to ground to Texiera, who got the force at the plate. He then got ahead of Howard and struck him out with the power curve away. What a great performance--at 3-1, I was hoping the Yankees would mount a comeback to reward Andy for it, but it was not to be.
Gardner and Cervelli both had great at bats in the bottom of the 7th before hitting the ball hard but right at people. Before lining out to 3rd, Cervelli just missed his first home run by hitting a ball hard down the left field line but just barely foul.
Robertson pitched a pretty good 8th inning; I thought he made some good pitches, but also grooved a few fastballs. His fastball is too straight, I think. Anyway, it was good to see him with another successful outing.
The ninth inning was of course a disaster that put the game out of reach. Joba came in to pitch, and Ruiz continued his coming-out-of-slump party by leading off with a double, and then the Yankees tried the wheel play again on the anticipated sacrifice...but this time the Phillies burned them on it by having Valdez swing away and bounce an RBI single up the middle. Joba walked another batter, and then Marte came in and walked another, and then let up back to back sacrifice flies to put the game out of reach.
Oh well, a rare lost series for the Yankees. Disappointing, especially since we won the game against Halliday. A new series begins against the Mets tomorrow, with a new guest blogger--thanks for reading while I kept Steve's seat warm for the past two days!