Maybe I'm alone on this one, but I don't think losing to a guy with an ERA of 3.51 with your worst pitcher on the mound is really that bad, regardless of what team the other guy plays for. I made fun of some of the beat writers this morning for proclaiming anything less than a sweep was unacceptable and unfortunately, tonight's game proves my point exactly. An opposing pitcher with an ERA in the threes and is entitled to have a good night once in a while, regardless of how shitty the team he plays for is.
Without question, last night was frustrating on several levels. For one, the offense was lackluster against lefty John Lannan. Only six men reached base. The Yanks had no hits with runners in scoring position, but that was mostly because they only had three chances. The only two runs were scored off John Lannan came via solo home runs by Robinson Cano in the 5th inning and Johnny Damon leading off the ninth. Even after Damon's jack, Lannan had thrown only 103 pitches. He got Nick Swisher to fly out on one pitch, but was pulled after giving up a single to Mark Teixeira.
Representing the tying run, Teix was ran for by Brett Gardner. With one out and trailing 3-2, the speedster was much more likely to score from first and tie the game. It turns out that wasn't the only benefit of making the swap. The Nationals guessed correctly with a pitchout in an 0-1 count after three consecutive pick off attempts, but Gardner swiped second anyway. He then stole third on the very next pitch as Josh Bard failed to handle a ball in the dirt.
With the tying run 90 feet away, A-Rod worked a walk and passed the buck to the hot hand from last night, Robinson Cano. Ironically, the presence of a runner on first for the Yanks would be their undoing. It's always A-Rod's fault, isn't it? Cano and Mike MacDougal battled for nine pitches, six of them fouls. When Robby finally put on in play, it rolled right to Cristian Guzman who turned an easy game-ending double play.
The reason the Yankees had to play catch up the whole night wasn't Chien Ming Wang. Through four innings, the lone run the Nats scored came from a towering solo blast by Adam Dunn. Wang only lasted 5IP, but it could have easily been more if it wasn't for the raw deal he got in the fifth inning.
Willie Harris reached base on a single to lead off the frame and get the wheels in motion. He got a marginal jump when he took off for second base, and Posada made a great throw, but Ramiro Pena couldn't quite hold on to it. Replays showed that Pena's glove beat Harris to the bag, but it didn't have the ball to go along with it.
One batter later, Cristian Guzman pulled a grounder to A-Rod at third. Alex made a brilliant play and fired across the diamond. Guzman was called safe at first, but slow-mo proved that he was indisputably out. Nick Johnson stepped into the box next and lofted a ball in between Melky Cabrera and Johnny Damon in left-center field. Melky made a diving attempt but the ball fell and rolled past him, allowing both runners to score and Johnson to end up on third base. Wang prevented further damage, but 3 runs would prove to be just enough for the Nationals to secure the victory.
When I wrote "Even if Wang turns in by far his best performance of the year, the Yanks could very easily lose" this morning, it was one of those rare times that you'd rather not be right. Tonight sucked, but it's not the end of the world. If they lose tomorrow, then get back to me.