“It’s my fault. That’s all it is.” —Mariano Rivera
The Yankees lost more than a ballgame last night. They also lost their replacement starting third baseman to a quad injury and may have lost their primary set-up man to an ailing elbow. It wasn’t a good night.
Until the bottom of the ninth, it looked as though the Yankees were going to steal a win. Joba Chamberlain wasn’t sharp. Jon Lester was. Nonetheless, Joba managed to keep his team in the game.
The Red Sox got the leadoff man on in each of the first five innings and got a man to third in all but one inning against Chamberlain, yet they scored just two runs off the Yankee starter. Chamberlain worked out of trouble with the help of double plays, most of them coming off two-seam fastballs, in the first, second, fourth, and fifth innings. In the third he had runners on the corners and one out, but struck out David Ortiz, pitched around Kevin Youkilis (ultimately throwing him an intentional ball four to load the bases), and got J.D. Drew to fly out to the warning track in left to end the threat.
The Red Sox scored in the first when Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a single, moved to second on a balk when Chamberlain failed to come to a discernible stop in his delivery, and scored when Jose Molina came out of his crouch too fast on Ellsbury’s attempted steal of third and let Chamberlain’s pitch sail between his legs.
Surprisingly it was the bottom third of the Yankee order that did the damage against Lester. Melky Cabrera delivered a one-out single in the fourth, Jose Molina followed with a walk, and Cody Ransom shot a game-tying double down the third base line scoring Melky and pushing Molina to third. Molina then scored on a groundout by Derek Jeter to put the Yankees up 2-1.
The Red Sox tied it up against Chamberlain in the sixth, ironically the only inning in which Joba didn’t allow the leadoff man to reach base. With one out, Mike Lowell doubled off the Green Monster, Jason Varitek singled him to third, and Nick Green singled him home, driving Chamberlain from the game.
Phil Coke and Jonathan Albaladejo locked things down from there while the Yankees scored a pair of runs off Hideki Okajima and Manny Delcarmen in the seventh. Okajima entered the seventh with a 5.40 career ERA against the Yankees and failed to get an out. Derek Jeter led off with a double just past the Pesky Pole and off the tip of J.D. Drew’s glove near the right-field wall. Johnny Damon then moved Jeter to third on a drag bunt base hit, and Mark Teixeira scored the captain with a single. After Jorge Posada singled to load the bases, Terry Francona called on Delcarmen, who got Nick Swisher to fly out to shallow left, holding the runners, but then gave up a sac fly to Robinson Cano that pushed the Yankee lead to 4-2.
Flash forward to the bottom of the ninth. The score is still 4-2 thanks to Coke, Albaladejo, and Mariano Rivera, the last of whom replaced Albaladejo with two outs and an 0-1 count on Ellsbury in the bottom of the eighth. The YES Network prematurely names the Yankee bullpen the “Players of the Game.” Cody Ransom came out of the game in the eighth inning following a walk and a stolen base with an apparent leg injury and has been replaced by Ramiro Peña. In the ninth, Joe Girardi moves Melky Cabrera to right field and inserts Brett Gardner in center, removing Nick Swisher from the game. The Yankees have their best defense in the game and their legendery closer on the mound. Rivera starts the inning by striking out the struggling Ortiz. Mo is then nearly beheaded by a Kevin Youkilis single up the middle, but recovers to get J.D. Drew to ground out for the second out. That brings Jason Bay to the plate.
Mo’s first pitch to Bay is a ball just off the plate. The second is right over the dish and clanks off the top of the furthest center-field part of the Green Monster for a game-tying two-run home run.
Rivera escapes with the game tied. The bottom of the Yankee order mounts a threat against Jonathan Papelbon in the top of the tenth following a leadoff single by Molina (who was 2-for-3 with two walks on the night), but Molina is ultimately stranded at third after Papelbon wins a seven-pitch battle with Teixeira by throwing a high heater past the Yankee first baseman.
Damaso Marte relieves Rivera with a dominant tenth inning. The Yankees then mount another threat in the eleventh following a leadoff walk to Jorge Posada. Brett Gardner botches a sac bunt, bunting too hard to a charging Youkilis at first base, who in turn guns down Posada at second, but Robinson Cano follows with a single, only to have Cabrera hit into an inning-ending double play.
Marte returns to the hill in the bottom of the eleventh, opening the inning by striking out Ortiz, Ortiz’s fourth strikeout in six at-bats and Marte’s third strikeout in four batters. Marte then gets to a 2-2 count on Kevin Youkilis, but gets too much of the plate with his fifth pitch and Youkilis blasts it clean over the Monster Steats and onto Lansdowne Street for a game-winning home run. Red Sox win 5-4.
As if losing to the Red Sox wasn’t bad enough, as if losing in 11 innings wasn’t bad enough, as if Rivera blowing a save with a two-run lead and two outs in the ninth wasn’t bad enough, the Yankees also lost Ransom to the DL with a quadriceps strain. As if all that wasn’t bad enough, the reason Brian Bruney’s name doesn’t appear above is that he wasn’t in Boston last night; he was in New York having his sore elbow looked at.
The Yankees will call up an infielder to replace Ransom, most likely Angel Berroa, who was the last cut in spring training. That means they’ll have to make room on the 40-man roster. My guess is they either put Humberto Sanchez on the 60-day DL or try to slip him through waivers. David Robertson is already on his way to Boston as the roster replacement for Chien-Ming Wang, who was finally placed on the DL with what the Yankees are saying are hip problems that will simply require some physical therapy (their possibly bogus explanation for his bad mechanics).
As for Bruney, his elbow has been bothering him since he woke up Wednesday morning. He threw 21 pitches in the eighth inning against the A’s the night before, giving up a run on a single, a wild pitch, and a double. After resting Wednesday and Thursday, it felt no better yesterday, so the Yankees sent him back to New York for tests. Those tests are being performed this morning. If they don’t find anything, he’ll rejoin the team in Boston for today’s game. If they do, expect another roster move. Also, expect Steven Jackson (or Bruney’s replacement) to be optioned out after Monday’s game in favor of Tuesday’s likely starter, Phil Hughes. I can’t say I’m not excited about Robertson and Hughes getting their chances, but I’d rather skip both the silver lining and the cloud.