My apologies for not posting a recap immediately after the game last night. I was too annoyed to pen anything other than a really nasty diatribe about Phil Hughes and I figured I'd sleep on those feelings before I attempted to write about last night's debacle. And I know that 5-2 doesn't seem like a debacle but the Blue Jays are pretty bad and they recently lost a series to the Houston Astros who are even worse. The Yankees really need to beat teams like Toronto if they want a chance to make the playoffs so last night was an unmitigated disaster in that sense.
I am not one of those people who believes the season is now over because of one loss or because the Yankees have slipped a bit in recent days but I do see the importance of these kinds of games and I feel like the players and coaches need to do so as well.
I also believe that their recent run of good games was not a fluke. It wasn't as if they beat scrubs. They won series against both Detroit and Boston who are playoff teams if the season ended right now. The Yankees just need to put everything together and make a nice run toward the end of the season.
Call me crazy, but I still believe that they have a shot, even if it's currently the length of the distance between Earth and the Sun, of making the playoffs and I will not count the Yankees out yet.
With that being said, let's recap last night's game.
It started off well enough with the Yankees scoring in the first and with Hughes holding Toronto scoreless in the bottom of the frame. Yes, the fact that Phil Hughes escaped the bottom of the first inning without surrendering a run is what counts as happy news these days. This is 2013, y'all.
Of course, Toronto wouldn't be held down and they knotted the game at one in the bottom of the second and then pulled ahead 2-1 in the bottom of the third.
This wasn't reason for panic. There was plenty of time left and the Yankees could tie or pull ahead at any moment.
In the fifth, Alex Rodriguez smacked an opposite field solo shot into the Yankee bullpen to tie the game at two. at that point, A-Rod was 8-18 in his career against Dickey.
Things were looking good if only Hughes could have a shutdown inning.
The Yankees and Hughes had their nightmare inning in the bottom of the fifth. Thanks to a big error by Ichiro, Toronto scored three to put them ahead 5-2 for good. If the error hadn't occurred it was possible that the Yankees could have escaped the inning only having given up one run and while not ideal, it would have been easier to mount a comeback.
While Hughes only gave up three earned runs (two were thanks to Ichiro's error), he only lasted 4.2 innings and he needs to do better. He's now 4-13 this season and I know people are trying to take the focus off people's W-L records when they're winning but you can't do it when they're losing this much. It's not all his offense's fault. Hughes needs to be better or be shipped off to a city where he can reinvent himself and do well.
So what went wrong (IMHO)?
Taking Hughes Out Too Late
Girardi should have had a quicker hook for Hughes in the fifth. David Huff is in the bullpen for these kinds of situations. He's been doing well and instead Hughes is kept in when it's obvious he just can't cut it. And like I said earlier, the Yankees did have enough time to make up the deficit but they didn't and the decision to stick with Hughes bit them in the butt.
The Anemic Offense
Again, they need to win these games. They need to be able to get something going against R.A. Dickey. He's not the 20-win pitcher he was last year - he's also not facing NL teams as much - and the Yankees should have pounced on him. Derek Jeter came back and as of 11:59 A.M. he hadn't been placed on the disabled list so that's a positive but he was 0-3 last night and if the Yankees want to make the playoffs, they need him to help spark the offense.
The Sloppy Defense
Ichiro Suzuki admitted that his play last night in the fifth inning, the error that opened the floodgates, was atrocious and he even said that if he could have gone home right after he committed the error, he would have. It was a rare miscue by Suzuki but the Yankees cannot afford plays like this. They need to be sharp and play at a higher level now.
Pinch hitting Vernon Wells for Brett Gardner
What the f---? I'm assuming it was because Aaron Loup throws with his left hand and Gardner is a lefty batter but come on, Wells is terrible and what happened? He struck out on three pitches, one of which was a ball way out of the zone. Even if Gardner had gotten out he more than likely would have made Loup work a little more.
I'm the queen of hyperbole, you all know this from reading my stuff and right now, the Yankees are playing for their lives. They need to be better or they will be sitting at home in October.
The good thing is they can turn the page and look to tonight's game. It happens to be a rematch of last Thursday's game between Andy Pettitte and J.A. Happ. The Yanks emerged victorious in that one, completing the sweep, so let's hope they can do the same tonight.