Now in fairness, the Yankees have faced some very tough pitchers in August. Thus far they are a weak 3-6 on the month, and those six losses have come in games started by James Shields (an excellent pitcher having a less-than-stellar year), Brandon Morrow (tied for 10th in the American League in WAR, at 3.1), Ricky Romero (8th in the AL in WAR, at 3.4), Clay Buchholz (tied for 15th in the AL in WAR, at 2.3), Jon Lester (3rd in the AL in WAR at 4.3) and C.J. Wilson (tied for 13th, at 2.5). That’s one hell of a group of starting pitchers.
So on the one hand, the Yankees, to a certain extent, can continue to trot out the ol’ “tipping of the cap” excuse and say “Hey, [pitcher X] is a great pitcher, and he beat us. What can you do?” However, on the flip side, the Yankee lineup is — at least in theory — a patient group of professional hitters, paid quite a bit of money to wear the opposing pitcher down and find ways to score runs. I’m all for giving credit where credit is due when a starter is dominant; but (and admittedly this may very well be a case of selective memory) this year’s Yankees seem to get shut down by tremendous starting pitching way more frequently than the offensive juggernauts of the last few seasons. I realize it’s a different roster and all that jazz, but the offensive talent level is still pretty high, even if it’s not 2009 Yankees-high.
Anyway, the Yankee bats were again mostly silenced last night as they lost to the Rangers 4-3 in 10 innings, this time at the hands of the aforementioned C.J. Wilson. Wilson wasn’t quite as efficient as he’d have liked, tossing 5 1/3 innings of two-run ball, but it was still more than enough to stymie a Yankee lineup missing both Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano and that featured Marcus Thames batting 3rd, Austin Kearns batting 5th and Francisco Cervelli (.237 wOBA over the last 30 days), Brett Gardner (.264 wOBA over the last 30 days) and Ramiro Pena (.239 wOBA over the last 30 days) bringing up the rear.
On the bright side, the ever-enigmatic A.J. Burnett was very good after missing his last start due to back spasms, throwing seven innings of three-run ball. Kearns also went 2-3 and scored a run, so kudos to Austin. Additionally, the Yankees managed to tie the game on an Alex Rodriguez solo home run in the eighth inning.
On the sad side, Mariano Rivera — correctly brought in once again in a tie game on the road; thank you Joe Girardi! — was nickled and dimed to death in the bottom of the 10th and lost the game on a walk-off single. Can’t get too upset about losing the game with your best out on the mound. However, you can get a little upset about a .297 team wOBA in August. All we can do is turn the page and hope that the Yankees defy every single expectation possible tonight and somehow administer the shellacking of a lifetime to Cliff Lee.
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