A lot to write about in a 4-2 loss. First, I think the Yankees are showing life but I think we have a very large hill to climb. A loss Sunday and the odds are less than 10%. Not because we can’t get a hot and not because there are a bunch of teams to worry about and not because we aren’t a decent team…it is because of all of those factors combined and the last one specifically, we are not a very good team, we are just decent…probably a wild card team if this was our roster all year. The issue is we need to play like an excellent team the rest of the way and we have too many warts.
I want to zero in on two major points in the game.
1. In the 5th inning the score is 0-0 and both pitchers are looking good. CC actually was consistently 93-94 instead of 91-92 as he has been and Price is being himself. ARod and Wells lead off with singles and Grandy comes up against the lefty Price. This is a must sacrifice situation and maybe even with 2 strikes because it is so obvious. Girardi does put the sac on and Grandy looked terrible on his first attempt. Now I know he looked bad, but you still must leave it on for a ton of reasons, but just because he looked bad on the first attempt (it was more of a half attempt) Grandy also looked worse in his first AB against Price. Girardi takes off the bunt and Grandy strikes out on the next two pitches. Either Girardi is not doing enough in practice with fundamentals or he is a bad manager to take off the bunt there…no other choice is possible!
The inning continued with Reynolds getting a single to load the bases for Romine and this setup the best AB of the game and to me what makes baseball interesting. Romine is a weak hitter overall, but has been swinging better of late. He also hit a slider very hard in the 3rd inning where Longoria made a very smooth start of a DP. Respecting Romine (with the bases loaded), Price starts him off with a slider and the AB didn’t change in terms of Price pitching to Romine like he was the best hitter on our team. Price mixed spots, mixed pitches and surely didn’t come right after Romine. Price did make a 2-2 pitch that looked like strike 3 to me on the inside corner but the ump was tight on that corner all day. Either way, Romine fouled off 3 more pitches before taking a high slider for ball 4 and getting the first run in. It was an excellent AB for Romine. Romine then made a really good base running play when Ichiro chopped a ball to 2nd base, Romine stopped and retreated slightly so that the fielder had to throw to 1st to get Ichiro and then the throw back to 2nd was not in time to get Romine as he just made it in. The play was good though because even if they would have thrown out Romine, the run would have scored because the force was removed. Unfortunately with 2nd and 3rd and 2 outs Nunez popped out to end that threat
2. The 2nd major point in the game was when CC simply lost control of his pitches in the bottom of the 6th for 3 batters. Fuld led off the inning with a bloop single and then CC lost it. He walked Jennings on 4 pitches then threw 2 straight balls to Zobrist, then aimed a strike and then throwing another ball. At 3-1 CC was just hoping to throw a strike and grooved a pitch that ended up a double scoring 2 runs. CC then grooved another to Longoria and the Yanks were down 3-2. It was off, but CC just lost it after looking as good as he has in a long time. Having his fastball at 94 (he hit 95 a few times) is really important so that is changeup at 87 has at least 7 MPH difference. I like it 8-9 MPH preferably but some like it even more. The Rays closer (Rodney) throws his about 10 MPH different and it is excellent. Either way 7 is the minimum in my book but of course it needs movement and location.
Outside of those two exciting/frustrating moments some other comments
CC didn’t cover again and the announcers made the excuse about him falling off, but he simply doesn’t try. Reynolds made a great play and got the call for an out diving for the player, but replays showed he did not tag him. Live it surely looked like he got him and from the umps view I could see why he thought so also.
Soriano was crushing balls he is missing now, including one where he watched thinking he had a HR and the ball died in the OF. I wonder if the Rays have some sort of air current that goes different directions when they are out in the field?
I say my last sentence because the Rays do a great job on positioning and any team that spends that much time looking at all the small details (I bet they know how to bunt or squeeze) probably looks at the AC flow during team AB’s. They took about 4-5 hits away form us with good positioning and the shift probably only hurt them once.
Romine made a good throw down to 2nd that should have been an out but the normally excellent tagging Cano overran the coverage spot a little and then tried his quick tag but just whiffed on the ball as it went into CF for an error. Bad play.
Nunez made a nice play on a ball up the middle where he used his speed to get to the play and actually made a good throw. I don’t think he is smooth enough to play SS (same thing I said 1-2 years ago), but plays like that are the reason why you hold out hope.
MUST win today!