“It’s a bad loss. There’s no doubt about it. It’s a bad loss. You know, you gotta believe if you’re up 10-5 going into the seventh inning that you have a good chance of winning. We didn’t do it today. And they never stopped fighting, and, uh, they scored more runs than we did.”
“You’re not going to be up until 3am again, are you?”
It took the Yankees nearly four and a half hours on Saturday afternoon to build up a huge lead over the Indians then, slowly, like a mighty mountain being eroded by the wind, give it all back plus some for a soul-crushing, mind-numbing, eye-gouging, 13-11 loss to the hapless, punchless Indians. Indians broadcaster Tom Hamilton had a flight to catch out of Newark International, the last flight of the night back to Cleveland where his daughter was having a graduation party later that night and her graduation on Sunday. Between innings late in the game, he told Yankee announcer Michael Kay, “I cover a team that never scores and today they score 12 runs.”
It was ugly in almost every way that a game could be ugly. In the middle of a third-inning rally, Alex Rodriguez lined a ball off the forehead of Indians starter David Huff, who fell face-first onto the mound and lay motionless for several minutes before being strapped to a board and carted off. His family was in town to see him pitch. They wound up spending the afternoon with him at New York-Presbyterian hospital where, thankfully, his CT scan came back negative (“they x-rayed my head and found nothing” goes the classic Dizzy Dean line). He was back at the ballpark soon after the last out.
What he missed was the Yankees adding a third run to his ledger in the bottom of the third, then a fourth inning in which the two teams combined for nine runs. CC Sabathia, who looked sharp in the first three innings, suddenly started to struggle again, perhaps due to the long delay from Huff’s injury. He couldn’t seem to get in sync with catcher Francisco Cervelli and threw 31 pitches in the inning in the process of allowing the Indians to tie the game at 3-3 on an infield single, a wild pitch, a walk, an RBI single, and a tw0-RBI double by Matt LaPorta, the key player the Indians received for Sabathia back in July 2008.
Facing Huff’s replacement, fellow lefty Aaron Laffey, the Yankees picked up their struggling ace with a six-spot in the bottom of the fourth, the key hit being a two-RBI double by Robinson Cano, but Sabathia let the Indians chip away at that 9-3 lead with a run in the fifth (which the Yankees got right back to go up 10-4) and a run in the sixth.
Out after 113 pitches in six innings, Sabathia yielded to David Robertson, but after allowing a run on a hit-by-pitch, stolen base, and RBI single, Robertson, who had been hit in the back by a Joe Mauer comebacker in his previous appearances, came out of the game with a stiff lower back. That caused another long delay in the game as Sergio Mitre took some 30 pitches to get warm on the game mound only to complete a four-pitch walk to Jhonny Peralta and get pulled in favor of Damaso Marte as Joe Girardi began playing matchups with a four run lead in the seventh.
Marte got his man, but he was promptly replaced by Joba Chamberlain, who didn’t. Having entered the game with a four-run lead, runners on first and second, and two outs, Chamberlain proceeded to cough up the lead via a single, walk, back-to-back doubles by rookies Lou Marson and Jason Donald, the eighth and ninth men in the Cleveland batting order, and another single. By the time Chamberlain finally got the third out of the inning, the Yankees were down 12-10.
After Derek Jeter erased a leadoff walk to Brett Gardner by hitting into a double play in the seventh, Chad Gaudin, effectively the last available man in the Yankee bullpen save for Mariano Rivera, gave up a solo homer to Russell Branyan in the eighth, but the insurance run was unnecessary. After stranding a two-out Robinson Cano single in the bottom of the eighth, the Yankees did push a cross a run against closer Kerry Wood in the ninth when Curtis Granderson drew a pinch-hit walk, was balked to second, and scored on a Jeter double, but that was all the Yankees would get.
I don’t know if Hamilton made his flight or not, but the game, which I didn’t start watching until the evening due to a busy day with my daughter and some preparation work for her first birthday party on Sunday, did indeed keep me up until 3:00 am, even with the benefit of the fast-forward button on my DVR. All totaled, the game saw 402 pitches thrown, 159 of them balls, across the course of 92 different plate appearances resulting in 24 runs scored on 26 hits, 13 walks, and three hit batsmen.
I’m glad Huff is okay. I hope Robertson is (Girardi said he was day-to-day). I also hope Sabathia’s problems had more to do with the long delay fouling up his rhythm, as Girardi suggested, than with his poor outings against the Mets and Tigers. I also hope I don’t have to watch a game like this one again anytime soon, and that someone takes the time to read this recap before we all move on to Sunday’s 1:05 matchup between Justin Masterson and A.J. Burnett, a pitching pairing that doesn’t seem to suggest the clean, crisp game we all deserve after Saturday’s mess.
I also hope I don’t pass out in my daughter’s birthday cake. My wife would not be pleased.