The Yankees needed to sweep their current series against the Red Sox, so their having lost the first game by the convincing score of 7-3 takes a lot of the excitement out of the remaining two games. Heading into last night’s game, the Yankees were counting on Andy Pettitte to come through in what may prove to have been the Yankees’ biggest game of the year. He didn’t:
“It’s extremely frustrating. I hate it. I didn’t get it done. I didn’t get it done tonight. I wish I could say I felt terrible, but I felt pretty decent. I got out of synch in the first inning and walked a couple of guys, but after that I felt that I was able to throw my all pitches pretty much where I wanted to. I couldn’t get anybody out, though.”
Johnny Damon staked Pettitte to an early 1-0 lead when he led off the bottom of the first by wrapping a solo homer around the foul pole in right field. Pettitte, who worked around those two two-out walks in the first, got two quick outs in the top of the second, but then the last two men in the Boston order reached on slow rollers up the third base line and Jacoby Ellsbury plated one of them with a single to left to tie the game.
The Yankees answered right back with a run in the bottom of the inning on two-out singles by Hideki Matsui, Robinson Cano, and Jose Molina, but Pettitte gave that run and one more back in the top of the third on doubles by David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis and a single by Jason Bay. It was still 3-2 Sox in the top of the fifth when Jason Bay singled back up the middle off Pettitte to spark a two-out rally.
“I had two outs and was hoping to have a 1-2-3 inning and then the inning turned into a horrible inning. Just frustrating. I felt like it was a pretty good pitch on the outside corner to [Bay]. I think he got into a count [2-2] where I had to throw a little bit more over the plate than I wanted to out there. I thought I threw a good back-door curveball to the next kid [Jed Lowrie] and he hit it, ground ball [single] in between second and third, and then, again, I thought I threw a good changeup in a good count [1-2] to [Jeff] Bailey, and he just rolled it right down the line on the bag. It’s frustrating. I gave up those three runs early. I broke out my changeup in the fourth, and I was throwing it for strikes when I wanted to. It was a game where I thought that as soon as I started throwing that for strikes the way I was, the way I was locating my fastball, it was a game I could carry into the seventh inning or so and hold them to three right there, but obviously it didn’t work out like that. I just, I didn’t get the job done.”
In between Lowrie’s single and Bailey’s infield hit, Coco Crisp singled Bay home to make it 4-3. Bailey’s hit would have been a two-run double, but it ricocheted off the third base bag to Alex Rodriguez, who quickly fired it across the diamond to Jason Giambi, but Bailey beat the throw and Crisp, who had stolen second, never hesitated and scored anyway to make it a two-run infield hit aided by Giambi mistakenly thinking Bailey had been ruled out and thus not throwing home.
That sequence of events made it 6-2 Sox and bounced Pettitte with two out in the fifth. Damon added a second solo homer off Wakefield in the bottom of the inning, but Brian Bruney gave that run back in the top of the sixth on a Jason Bay sac fly after walkking the bases loaded.
From there things got ugly, though the 7-3 score would remain unchanged. The Yankees loaded the bases with one out in the seventh against Manny Delcarmen, bringing Alex Rodriguez to the plate as the tying run against Justin Masterson. Rodriguez took a fastball down the middle at the knees, then took and ill-advised hack at a slider down and in and ground into an inning-ending double play, bringing out the boos for the first time this season.
The Yankees got the first two men on in the eighth against Masterson, but Hideki Okajima came on for an eight-pitch battle with Matsui that ended in curveball that dove across the zone for called strike three. Okajima then got Cano to pop out on a full-count, and Jonathan Papelbon came on to retire Ivan Rodriguez on one pitch. An error by Lowrie in the bottom of the ninth simply allowed Rodriguez to come to the plate to make the last out with a runner on base.
On the night, Rodriguez went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts, two double plays, and an error in the field, and left seven runners on base. He fell on his sword after the game:
“It was an awful night. For me personally, it was a long night, pretty much screwed it up anyway you can screw it up. . . . My team expects me to get big hits and make plays, and tonight I didn’t do that. Johnny, Jeet, and Bobby worked great at-bats all night [combined 6 for 11 with two walks] and I just killed the rally . . . . No one’s more frustrated than me. Everyone’s desperate for wins. A night like tonight, I was booing myself. . . . We’ve always said you want to get a good pitch to hit and put an A swing. On that double play [in the seventh], it wasn’t a good pitch to hit, and it wasn’t an A swing. . . . Today we sucked. I sucked. I played terrible, and they hit balls all over the place down at the corner at third base, and I left men all over the field. . . . tonight you can put it on me.”
I’d actually put it on Pettitte, if I had to point a finger, but Rodriguez was his accomplice. With that in mind, I found this post-game comment from Johnny Damon interesting:
“[Alex is] out there busting his butt. He still works harder than all of us in here. He had that off night and that’s unfortunate. This was a night when we needed to get something and unfortunately, we couldn’t get anything from him. He expects to be the greatest player ever, and unfortunately on a day-by-day basis that doesn’t really translate at times. It’s tough to be the best player on the field every single day. He expects to be, and unfortunately tonight he wasn’t.”
The Yankees weren’t a playoff team last night, either.