If the Yankees were going to make even the most token of attempts to hang around in the Wild Card race, they were going to have to stop losing close games. They opened a 3-game series against the Rays last night, and naturally they did exactly that, falling 4-3 thanks to some more self-inflicted offensive wounds.
Before we get to those, let's talk about Hiroki Kuroda's night. It started with a strikeout of the side in the top of the 1st and the appearance that he had his A-game going. Then the top of the 2nd started and all that went out the window. James Loney homered to lead off the inning to put the Rays out front. In the 3rd they strung 4 singles together in a 5-batter span to put 2 more on the board and hit 3 straight with 1 out in the 4th to make it 4-0 and end Kuroda's night. Whatever command he had in the 1st disappeared after that inning. His sinker wasn't getting down enough, he was catching too much of the plate with 2 strikes. It wasn't pretty and Joe pulled the plug.
The undermanned lineup waited until the 4th to produce its first hit, which came in the form of a Jacoby Ellsbury leadoff home run. In the 5th, a hit batsman and an Ichiro single put Chris Archer in a jam with nobody out. Stephen Drew singled to dig Archer in deeper, and a Chris Young single brought 2 runs home to get the Yanks within 1. Ellsbury kept the rally going with a base hit of his own to left, but Rob Thomson idiotically sent Drew home and he was thrown out by a lot for the first out. When Derek Jeter lined into a double play at second to end the inning, the E-brake was pulled on the Yankees' comeback. I don't even care about the issue of whether the catcher was blocking the plate or not. Drew never should have been sent. Period.
The Yanks never got anything going with the bats again. They managed a lonely hit in the final 4 innings, wasting a solid effort by a 7-man relief crew. Once Kuroda exited, the Yankee 'pen threw 5.2 scoreless innings with 6 strikeouts to keep the game close. Close enough to win again, and a team-wide effort that was just enough to lose. Story of the season right there.
- A 2-hit night for Ellsbury, his first in September. He's up to 15 HR on the season now, more than his 2012 and 2013 HR totals combined.
- The 3-6 hitters: 1-14, 1 R, 3 K. Power and patience.
- The Yanks actually went 3-5 with RISP last night. Only 1 of those hits scored runs though, Young's single. Power and patience.
- 3.1 innings for Kuroda was his worst start since 8/10 when he failed to finish 5 against the Indians. He was due for an off-night and 9 hits in 3.1 innings is indicative of an off-night for Hirok.
- I say this knowing it won't make much of a difference in terms of wins and losses, but Rob Thomson absolutely needs to be let go as the third base coach after this season. He's horrible over there. He gets somebody thrown out at home by half a mile seemingly every week. Without even checking for any kind of statistics, I have to imagine his successful send rate (SSR) is at or near the bottom of the league. I get that a lot of that stuff is snap judgement reactions in real time, but he's never even close with his. The Yankee baserunners would be better off flipping a coin as they round third.
Congratulations to Chris Young for his first career Yankee RBI. Have to think that ball is going to be worth a lot some day.