I see you out there on the ledge. You watched Thursday night’s game with the Rays right up to the bitter end, then unfolded your life insurance policy, placed it neatly on the kitchen table, and calmly opened the window and took a seat next to the pigeons. Or maybe I’m wrong; maybe I’m the only one on that ledge.
I put the TV on about five minutes after Andy Pettitte’s first pitch, and the screen came to life just in time to show me Carl Crawford and Ben Zobrist returning to the Tampa dugout, celebrating Zobrist’s home run and the Rays’ early 3-0 lead. Pettitte followed that with a walk to Evan Longoria, but bounced back by getting a double-play ball and a strikeout to end the frame. He made it through the second and third without event, but then gave up another home run to B.J. Upton in the fourth. He clearly wasn’t sharp.
The Yankee hitters did their best to keep up through the early innings, but even when the score was close it was only a mirage. Juan Miranda cut the lead to 3-2 with a second-deck two-run blast in the second inning, but the next couple runs were gift-wrapped, one unearned and the other undeserved. In the third, Derek Jeter followed a Randy Winn single by dropping a sacrifice bunt that rolled untouched between the mound and third base. Brett Gardner followed that with another bunt (natch), but this one produced a run when James Shields fired it over Peña’s head and down the right field line. With none out, runners on second and third, and Teixeira, A-Rod, and Canó on the way, it really did look like the game was about to change. As it turned out, Shields could’ve pulled a Satchel Paige and called his fielders in. He snagged a tapper back to the mound from Teixeira, struck out A-Rod on a change-up that bounced in front of the plate, and fanned Canó on three pitches. Move along.
If you were following the game on-line, you probably raised your eyebrows in the fourth inning when you read something like, “J Miranda tripled to deep center.” The truth of the matter was that Miranda lifted a gentle fly ball that center fielder Upton never saw. Upton immediately stood with both arms outstretched, asking for help that could never get there in time, as Miranda sprinted around second and slid into third. Two batters later Randy Winn cashed in Upton’s gift with a sacrifice fly, tying the game at four apiece.
The tie score didn’t last long as a couple Tampa hits and a walk led to two more runs in the fifth, and Carlos Peña finally sent Pettitte to the showers when he led off the sixth with a home run. If you’re looking for a silver lining in all this, it comes to you in the person of David Robertson, who relieved Pettitte and retired all six batters he faced in the sixth and seventh, striking out four of them. The bad news, though, is that Chan Ho Park followed Robertson and allowed an eighth Tampa run, making the Yankees’ nightly ninth inning comeback attempt just a bit more difficult. They could only manage two runs, settling for an 8-6 loss.
So the Rays leave town, surely pleased with themselves, and the Yanks are left with questions. But it’s not as bad as it looks. The Mets are up next, and they could be just what the doctor ordered.