I set the betting line at 1.5 runs before the game. Can I set a line or what? I had no doubts that the Yankee offense would remain absent. Their starting lineup was terrible. What I didn't anticipate was Big Mike being out so early after a very good start to his night, and that ended up being the difference on another limp night for the bats.
Strange game for Michael Pineda. He pretty much cruised through 4 scoreless on 52 pitches, giving up 2 singles, striking out 3, and getting 7 outs on the ground. His slider was missing bats and his cutter was moving perfectly to generate weak, groundball contact. It was all groovy. Then Brendan Ryan threw a ball away with 1 out in the 5th and things started to go haywire. Pineda walked the next batter and then failed to catch a toss from Brian McCann that would have ended the inning. Kevin Kiermaier, on second after the first error, came around to score to get the Rays on the board.
Pineda got out of that inning and fanned James Loney to start the 6th, but got back into immediate trouble on a Nick Franklin double. He moved up to third on another walk, and after a Joe visit to the mound Pineda got beat by a really well-executed squeeze bunt by Yunel Escobar. The run scored, the Rays went ahead for good, and Pineda's night was over.
The Rays went ahead because the Yankee offense, while making the tremendous improvement of actually scoring, only did so in a singular fashion. Top 2nd, Chris Young 1-out double, Ichiro RBI single. That's it, ladies and gentlemen. A September scrap heap signing who's only here because all the other outfielders are banged up, and a near-41-year-old man who couldn't hit a ball to the warning track if he was batting from second base. Your 2014 New York Yankees! Championship-caliber like you read about!
Just because the game was over at 2-1 didn't mean the game was over at 2-1. The bullpen B-team brigade of Esmil Rogers, Rich Hill, and David Phelps combined to give up 4 runs in the bottom of the 7th, the big blow a Wil Myers 2-run sac fly that came when Jacoby Ellsbury made an awesome diving catch. The real fun came in the 8th when Derek Jeter got plunked to start the inning. Joe didn't like that, came out and yelled at the pitcher, and got tossed. In the bottom half, Phelps somehow missed Kiermaier with a pitch that was clearly intentional, and he and Tony Pena got tossed. Little late to show some "fire in the belly" or whatever, guys, but I appreciate the effort.
- The big offensive rally fails of the night were the tops of the 3rd (Ryan BB, Ellsbury single to start the inning, 0 runs) and the 5th (back-to-back singles to open the inning, 0 runs). That's 2 on, no outs in 2 separate innings and not a single run scored.
- That's the 5th time in 11 starts that Pineda has allowed 2 ER or fewer and lost this season, and the second in the last 3. Think about that. Guy has been almost everything the Yankees thought they were getting when they traded for him and he has almost nothing to show for it.
- The Chris Young resurrection continues. 1-4 with a double and the only run scored as the starting DH.
- Tough night for Brett Gardner. Came up with men on base 3 times and couldn't come through with a hit. He can't possibly be playing at anything close to 100% right now.
- Special shoutout to Rich Hill, who came on to face Loney in the 7th and didn't retire him. Didn't get Franklin out either. How the hell is this guy on the team??