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Deep Six

Heading into the bottom of the sixth, the Yankees looked to be in firm control of tonight’s game with the division-leading Tampa Rays. Curtis Granderson had drilled a deep three-run home run off ace David Price and increased the Yankee lead to four runs, 5-1. A.J. Burnett had allowed only three hits and walk and, while not dominating, was in fine form.

In the bottom of the sixth, the Rays struck quickly like a sunburst. A double and home run by slim Sam Fuld tightened the score. Burnett has been pitching to terrible support this year, with the bullpen, defense and offense all taking turns abandoning him. Sometimes all in the same game. When Derek Jeter couldn’t circle a soft grounder to end the sixth, Burnett must have thought, “Screw it, I’ll do it myself.”

After a series of bad pitches and solid contact, the Rays were within one with B.J. Upton at the plate. Burnett’s mechanics were shot and his head was who-knows-where. He whipped a perfectly normal looking fastball three feet into the opposite batter’s box. Uh-oh. Instead of calling for a conference on the mound or a relief pitcher, the Yankees let A.J. straighten himself out. He did just that, straightening out a curve ball on the next pitch. Upton scrabbled it. B trumped A as the J’s cancelled each other out.

What’s so striking about the wild pitch in replay is that Burnett doesn’t stumble, or jerk his arm or even appear to have a major problem with his slot or release point. He just lined up his body to throw it that far outside. Like a “hit-the-bull” moment, without the purpose. At that point in the game, with a parade of red flags trotting around the bases already that inning, I don’t know how you let him throw the next pitch without someone going out there to help him clear his head.

So Burnett had a stinker of an inning; he was entitled given how badly his team has played for him lately. The Yankees trailed by one run and had three big innings left. They went down nine in a row and saw a total of 31 pitches. Even that paltry number is deceiving because rookie Eduardo Nunez worked a ten-pitch at bat to start the seventh. The next eight batters saw 21 pitches. Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher saw five pitches combined and not one of them even had the courtesy to take a good hack. The game effectively ended on Upton’s home run, 6-5 Rays.

A long losing streak is always a combination of deficiencies and bad timing. Viewed in a close up, it seems the bats quit on the pitcher once he blew their lead. But in the wide angle, I doubt this is the case. They all wanted to hit the home run that tied the game, hence the first pitch swinging and over-aggressiveness when the opposite was needed. The result is the same – inept offense, but at least their hearts were in the right place.

I will stop short of saying they just need a big hit or a strong pitching performance and everything will be OK. That might end the losing streak, but one-night heroics won’t turn a decent team into a great team. Right now they’re looking up at decent.


Categories:  1: Featured  Bronx Banter  Game Recap  Jon DeRosa  Yankees

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1 William J.   ~  May 16, 2011 10:29 pm

At some point, 1965 is going to happen. Some similarities are starting to emerge.

2 Chyll Will   ~  May 16, 2011 10:42 pm

"They all wanted to hit the home run that tied the game, hence the first pitch swinging and over-aggressiveness when the opposite was needed. The result is the same – inept offense, but at least their hearts were in the right place."

Somehow they got it in their heads that this is the only solution. Is anyone at least attempting to oppose this line of thinking, or yunnow coach them past it? Where did that come from and how do you get rid of it? Someone please explain how is it that five veteran hitters forget how to hit while a rookie attempts to "do what was needed"?

3 William J.   ~  May 16, 2011 11:00 pm

[2] Not sure, but I did a post today that showed some absolutely dismal numbers concerning the Yankees using the opposite field. Ironically, most of their hits in the second inning were up the middle, but then they abandoned that approach.

4 Start Spreading the News   ~  May 16, 2011 11:01 pm

Adding insult to injury, Kyle Farnsworth picked up the save.

5 Raf   ~  May 16, 2011 11:05 pm

[4] Adding more insult, Boston won.

6 thelarmis   ~  May 16, 2011 11:05 pm

of course, the shit sox came back.


i loathe them...

7 MSM35   ~  May 16, 2011 11:25 pm

There are no quick fixes here. The pitching is adequate but it requires an American League lineup to put up some runs. They are carrying too many outs lately.
As someone who remembers '65 well, this time management or at least Cash has been preparing for this. As I recall he only wanted to give Posada 3 yrs. Jorge used the Mets to get 4. He was also against ARod getting all those yrs. When he tried to limit Jeter the media went crazy.
The worst kind of thinking is that they are one player away.
To misquote Bette Davis, "Buckle your seatbelt it's going to be a bumpy ride."

8 Chyll Will   ~  May 17, 2011 12:13 am

[7] Good points. I was discussing some of this with my niece and we both agreed that many local and perhaps non-local sports journalists deem themselves as a group a very important aspect in the decision making process of the Yankee hierarchy. If Cash is doing a Michael Corleone as was suggested recently, you can't really blame him too much when you consider the circumstances. He's far from perfect, but I bet his judgment has borne out to be on the plus side.

9 OldYanksFan   ~  May 17, 2011 8:06 am

I mentioned '65 in last night's thread. That's really up to ARod. If we can't count on him for a .900 OPS, we won't win. If his future is an .850 OPS guy, add that to 3 more years of Jeter, and 2 big pieces of '65 are in place. God forbid, Mo could add to that misery.

Certainly glad we have the G&G boys, instead of Matsui and JD. A smart move by Cashman. I wish Nunez could throw, because his bat and glove will be better then Jeter. I thought that GB Jeter couldn't reach was VERY fieldable.

I think Posada has 2 weeks left, before Cashman gets another DH. It's not that early that we afford to throw away any more games.

10 The Hawk   ~  May 17, 2011 9:07 am

It is SO tiresome watching them again and again try to jack one out of the park.

"So Burnett had a stinker of an inning; he was entitled given how badly his team has played for him lately."

A tough argument to make but I'll buy that.

11 rbj   ~  May 17, 2011 9:09 am

I don't think I've ever been this frustrated with the team before. And that goes all the way back to 1969. Having bad players play badly is one thing, but these guys should not be playing the way they are. Aren't they supposed to be "working the count?"

12 Raf   ~  May 17, 2011 9:17 am

The sloppy defense is a bit of a concern. Nothing is synching up right now. You score 5 runs off Lester and Price, those games should be won.

13 BobbyB   ~  May 17, 2011 9:52 am

Looking more and more like 2008.

14 Jon DeRosa   ~  May 17, 2011 9:54 am

[10] Check out Burnett's recent game log. The Yanks have had crushing defeats in 5 of his last 6 starts. He pitched 8 great innings vs CWS, and lost because Humber was untouched. Mo & Soriano blew two wins. He had that strange 3 hit, 1 bb, 3 error, 5 run loss vs Detroit. And then he blew his own win last night.

In 4 of the last 6 games, he's allowed 2 or fewer ER and the yanks lost all of those games. That type of misfortune might break a borderline pitcher like burnett.

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