There was not a lot to like about this one. For the second night in a row the Yankees managed only a handful of hits against a White Sox starter, this time Gavin Floyd, who led Chicago to a 3-2 victory. Floyd wasn’t over-powering. Most of his pitches were in the high 80′s, so it’s safe to say that the Yankee bats have cooled. This was to be expected because most of the damage was coming from about half the lineup.
Adding insult to injury, the Yankees squandered their second consecutive strong start. Ivan Nova made it into the seventh inning for the first time in his Major League career, lasting 6.1 innings on 92 pitches, allowing only one run on five hits and two walks. Nova was pulled in the seventh to make way for David Robertson, who continued his brilliance this season, getting the last two outs of the inning. The Yankees were up 2-1 after seven.
A one run lead is never safe but, if memory serves, the Yankee front office committed about $35 million this offseason to Rafael Soriano to make sure that Yankee one run leads would be all but a sure thing from the eighth inning onwards. Soriano continued his miserable start to the season, allowing the go-ahead two run home run to Paul Konerko. While it is fair to say that home plate umpire Greg Gibson was squeezing Soriano like a vice when it came to any pitch above the belt (a call he did not give Alex Rodriguez in the ninth inning, by the way), the blame with this one rests squarely with the petulant reliever. Most of the suspect calls came when Adam Dunn was at the plate, after Konerko deposited one in the people, and a pitcher of Soriano’s purported caliber should be able to adjust to poor officiating. That, and the pitch to Konerko was right down broadway, belt-buckle high. Juan Pierre would have crushed that one. (Related, but only a bit, I welcome readers to comment on whether or not Soriano wants to be in New York. Did he look this miserable with the Rays? Is his jerky air just an act? I for one am sick of the grumpy smurf routine.)
Soriano deserves only most of the blame for the loss. The rest can be divided equally among Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher, Eric Chavez, Gustavo Molina and, to a lesser extent, Russell Martin. Those are the Yankees who managed not to get on base a single time in this game. (Martin is partially exonerated because he only got one at-bat.) In total the Yankees managed just four hits and two walks against the White Sox. Derek Jeter was the first Yankee to reach scoring position, and that only happened in the bottom of the ninth. The only offense came from a Robinson Cano moon-shot to right (which isn’t enough to make me forgive him for his .306 OBP this season) and a no-doubter off the bat of Brett Gardner, of all people.
The Yankees did make it interesting in the bottom of the ninth. Derek Jeter led things off with his new signature hit, a wimpy infield single. Joe Girardi then instructed Curtis Granderson to bunt because using all three of the Yankee outs would have been unfair to the White Sox. The only silver lining is that the sacrifice was effective and Jeter moved to second. Mark Teixeira then drew a walk.
That’s when the Brent Lillibridge show began. Lillibridge had come on as a pinch runner earlier in the game. The move paid off in spades. First, Lillibridge saved the lead when he made a leaping catch against the wall to get A-Rod for the second out of the inning. Rodriguez missed an opposite field homer by about an inch on the bat. If Lillibridge hits the wall even a bit harder, A-Rod has a double, and at least Jeter scores. But Lillibridge wasn’t done. Cano came up after that and smoked one down the right field line … right into the glove of a diving Brent Lillibridge. Ball game.
Admittedly, the Yankees had been coasting on a small handful of players who had been hitting out of their minds. With as many as four starters struggling mightily at any point in time there was no way the Bombers could continue their pace. Fortunately the Yankees have gotten off to a strong start, and have a two game hold on first place. The Yankees look to right the ship tomorrow against Mark Buehrle, with Bartolo Colon on the mound.
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