"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Chicago-a-go-go

Viciedo's ninth-inning homer cooked the Yankees (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Going into Thursday night, Ivan Nova had a 1.27 ERA in four starts in June. This is good, because Ivan Nova is suddenly much more important to the Yakees than he was supposed to be. A day after CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte both headed to the disabled list, with Adam Warren and Freddy Garcia looming, an authoritative, effective performance from Nova was an oasis of relief — though, speaking of relief, that part of the equation didn’t go so well. The bullpen, specifically Clay Rapada and David Robertson, worked together to take turn a 3-1 lead in the ninth into a 4-3 loss thanks to a three-run homer from Dayan Viciedo. It was not a particularly charming party trick.

Any last-minute loss is a tough one, but this one was particularly so because it wasted a now-precious good start. Stinging even more was Clay Rapada’s ninth-inning throwing error, which cost the team a double play and probably the win, and the question of whether it all could have been avoided if David Robertson had just started the inning. Girardi said afterwards that he was trying to avoid overusing Robertson given his recent injury and use. I think that’s understandable, but of course Robertson ended up pitching anyway, and there’s room to second guess if you’re so inclined. It was hard not to feel for Rapada watching his postgame interview, in which he looked downright haunted, as if he had just accidentally run over Derek Jeter’s dog.

The runs the Yankees did get came from two doubles in the fifth – Alex Rodriguez knocking Granderson home, and then Cano doing the same for A-Rod – and a Mark Teixeira solo shot in the eighth. Chicago starter Dylan Axelrod ended up with a solid line, even though at times it seemed the Yankees were about to crack him wide open: 7 innings, 6 hits, 3 walks, 4 Ks, 2 ER. In fact, it was just about identical to Nova’s except that the Yankee hurler tossed an additional third of an inning, struck out one more batter, and allowed one less run.

This series also gave Yankees fans their first glimpse of Kevin Youkilis in another kind of Sox uniform, which took me aback even though I was of course expecting it. Youkilis’ odd bat-waggling stance still makes me want to yell obscenities at my TV, just because - the guy is inherently infuriating - but I’m nevertheless a bit sad about his unpleasant separation from Boston, where up til just recently I imagined he might stay for his entire career. It’s not one of the world’s tragedies, but seeing him in the Chicago uniform – and whatever other uniforms are to come – will always be odd.  He was 0-for-4 on the night.

How much panic is necessary about the Yankees’ sudden pitching concerns is still unclear, and will largely depend on your individual brand of fandom. It doesn’t sound like Sabathia will miss much too much time, though of course you never know and I just reached down to knock on the wood floor after typing that. But we will not see Pettitte again until September, at best, bringing to a crashing halt one of the best stories of this baseball season. I was in upstate New York visiting my dad when the Yankees announced Pettitte’s return; there’s not much reception where he is, and when I checked my phone as we drove through a rare three-bar zone, the news was so unexpected that I wondered if the phone was actually working properly — as if somehow I had just received a delayed tweet from 2007. That he would not only come back, but do so the tune of a 130+ ERA and regularly pitch into the eighth inning, surpassed my dreams of a best-case scenario. Even his injury was caused by a comebacker, a freak accident, not age or rust. But so it goes.

Hopefully, the Yankees have employees guarding Phil Hughes, Hiroki Kuroda and Nova 24/7, preventing staircase trips and cooking cuts and fending off stray meteors, lightning strikes and coyote attacks. I want their best men on it.

8 comments

1 kenboyer made me cry   ~  Jun 28, 2012 10:28 pm

"It was hard not to feel for Rapada watching his postgame interview, in which he looked downright haunted, as if he had just accidentally run over Derek Jeter’s dog"

Funny but true. Very enjoyable recap, thanks.

2 thelarmis   ~  Jun 29, 2012 1:24 am

sucks to home to a crushing yankee loss...

but *great* to come home to an emma recap!

miss you, lady!!!

3 rufuswashere   ~  Jun 29, 2012 4:55 am

Anyone else think of WS Game 7 vs Arizona when Rapada threw that ball into center field?

Still makes me sick to my stomach to remember that more than 10 years later ...

4 RIYank   ~  Jun 29, 2012 6:00 am

Oh, well, having Emma write it up takes the sting out. Don't be a stranger, E-Span.

5 Boatzilla   ~  Jun 29, 2012 7:11 am

Whereya been Emma?

Seeing your by-line easily softened the sting of this nasty loss.

Welcome back.

6 Alex Belth   ~  Jun 29, 2012 7:25 am

Yeah, poor Clay. Nice write up E!

7 Emma Span   ~  Jun 29, 2012 9:06 am

Thanks, guys - great to visit the Banter again.

8 Hank Waddles   ~  Jun 29, 2012 12:55 pm

Emma! So glad to have you back. Your voice and perspective have been missed. As usual, great job with the recap.

And you're right about poor Clay Rapada. It's so easy to focus on our own disappointment as fans when things like this happen. I'm not ashamed to admit that my mood took a serious turn when Rapada threw that ball into center and Robertson gave up the game-winner a few moments later. But watching both guys stand up in front of the New York media after the game certainly put things in perspective. While I would have preferred if Robertson had simply said something like, "I get paid to get outs, and I didn't do that tonight. End of story," I understood his frustration at not knowing how he was going to be used.

And Rapada? His glistening, red-rimmed eyes said volumes more than anything that came out of his mouth. Sure, there's pressure on the big money players, but what about a 31-year-old career middle reliever who's spent much more time in the minors than the majors? That's pressure.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
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