I hate blaming umpires for a Yankee loss, but tonight’s firstbase umpire cost the Yankees one of the most important games of the year. The play above is the last play of the game. With a man on first and third, one out, 5-4, bottom of the ninth, Mark Teixeira hit a groundball. The runner at second was clearly out, but on the return throw, Teixeira slid into first base and was clearly safe, but Jerry Meals blew the call. Meals is notorious for some terrible calls, including this one from last year, which I still think is the worst call in baseball history. If Meals makes the right call, the Yankees tie the game. Now, the Yanks and O’s are tied for the AL East again.
The game started with a 2-0 lead thanks to a sac fly by Alex Rodriguez in the first inning, and a double from Ichiro Suzuki in the second. CC Sabathia couldn’t hold the lead though, and gave up 5 runs though his 6.1 innings on the mound. He seems to have lost his command, as well as movement on his slider. I’ll look into what the PITCHf/x looks like since his elbow issues this week, and I think it’s fair to worry about him going forward. Cody Eppley pitched and gave the Yankees 1.2 innings with just 1 walk and 1 strikeout.
While Sabathia was disappointing, the offense continued to battle throughout the game. During the game, Curtis Granderson came on to replace Andruw Jones, and the Yankees, for the first time in a while, had their injury-free lineup. Rodriguez has looked red hot, and continued his streak with a homerun in the 8th inning. There was a bit of a rally in the 8th as well, but it ended with a slumping Curtis Granderson popping out to the catcher.
This brings us to a 5-3 game in the 9th inning, with Jim Johnson on the mound. Ichiro Suzuki and Eric Chavez hit two very quick singles to set Derek Jeter up for the bunt. Manny Machado misplayed the bunt, and Jeter was rewarded with a bunt single, meanwhile the Yankees were rewarded with a bases loaded no out situation. Nick Swisher grounded out, but narrowly beat out a double play, allowing Ichiro to score. Then, with Teixeira up at the plate, Jerry Meals stole this game from the Yankees.
With all the technology we have today, and how quickly we can use it, what happened tonight is a shame. Mark Teixeira blames the umpires, saying, “Sometimes you wonder if the umpires are trying to get out of there.” Personally, I don’t blame Jerry Meals for this game. People make mistakes. Instead, I blame Bud Selig, who should be ashamed of himself for ignoring the importance of instant replay, and instead focusing on his plan for the two wild card teams this season. Creating drama, and more possible playoff situations, creates more money for the MLB and team owners. But, if he wanted late season drama, he got it at the expense of angry fans and angry players.
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