There's no pretty way to spin this one. The Yankees turned in a real clunker of a series against the Nats. To an extent, I agree with Jay's post from yesterday that a sweep wasn't a necessity. However, sweeping the Washington Nationals of the world is what helps in weathering going 0-8 against other teams. Either way, the goal in any series should be to win it. To lose two of three to the worst team in baseball is awful. Yet something tells me it's not nearly as bad as Michael Kay would have your believe in the postgame, or as the tabloids will make it out to be tomorrow.
Aside from the third longest rain delay in history, things didn't start too badly for the Yankees. Joba Chamberlain cruised through three innings, needing just 30 pitches and throwing two thirds of them for strikes. He surrendered a lone run on back-to-back doubles in the first.
The game changed for Joba in the fourth. A single and a walk started the inning. After retiring the next two batters, Joba walked two in a row, forcing in the game's second run. He more than doubled his pitch count, needing 32 to get through the inning.
The fifth inning brought more trouble for Joba. He needed 25 pitches for the frame, surrendered another walk, and gave up a pair of doubles again to yield the game's third and final run. He settled down for the sixth, but the damage was done. Once again, Joba was gone after 100 pitches and six innings.
On the other half of the line score, Craig Stammen baffled the Yankees and encountered none of the problems Chamberlain had. Stammen's pitch count by inning: 14, 5, 9, 12, 13, 9, before getting chased 20 pitches into the seventh. 6.1 IP, 6 H, no runs, no walks. In short, the Yankees played like a team that was running five hours late for a flight to South Beach. I know today didn't feature the "A" lineup, but the Yankees have to be more patient than that. The Nats' pitching may be awful, but John Lannan and Craig Stammen turned in impressive performances the past two nights.
A-Rod's struggles continued. He ended the first by swinging and missing on a pitch that nearly bounced to the plate, flied out in the fourth, and flied out in the eighth. In the seventh, he got into one, lining one deep to left field. But Willie Harris laid out onto the warning track, using every bit of extension to snag the blast. It was one of the best catches I've ever seen. Sometimes you can't buy a break, and A-Rod is starting to get that the-world-is-collapsing-on-me-and-I'll-never-get-a-hit-again look about him. The worse thing that can happen to him when he's slumping is to get stuck in his own head. Hopefully a trip to his hometown of Miami will help get him right again.
Not to be outdone by Harris, Brett Gardner made his own highlight reel catch in the top of the eighth, crashing into the plexiglass portion of the left-centerfield fence to haul in an Austin Kearns shot. Gardner's lower back smashed into the wall right where the padding meets the plexiglass, and the impact smashed the back of his head into the glass. He went down in heap on the warning track and stayed down before leaving the field sitting on a cart. Another rain delay, another centerfielder injured.
I caught the post-game while grabbing dinner at the bar and saw Gardner was sentient enough to be interviewed; so that has to be a good sign. Since the sound was muted, I couldn't tell if he now speaks like Johnny Damon as a result of the head trauma. I had initially thought a DL stay might be necessary and wondered if Xavier Nady would be rushed back or if Angel Berroa would finally be DFA'd for another outfielder to be added. It doesn't look like either will be necessary now.
The top of the ninth started with David Robertson on the mound and John Flaherty handling play-by-play duties. Michael Kay must have decided to drop a deuce between innings and was running late. The top of the ninth ended with Kay back behind the mic and Ryan Zimmerman once again catching a backwards K as a Yankee pitcher "dropped a deuce" on him. If Zimmerman keeps this up we're gonna have to start calling him Hot Carl.
Fecal jokes aside there's nothing funny about this series. The Yankees played lackluster ball for three nights straight, didn't hold a single lead over the last 18 innings, and managed all of seven runs against the worst pitching staff in baseball. What was supposed to be a getaway day matinee game turned into a rushed, sloppy, rainy night game. With rain still falling and a flight to Miami on the itinerary, it could be a very late night for the Yankees. Perhaps the only consolation is that as Mike MacDougal was putting the finishing touches on Hideki Matsui, the Florida Marlins were still in Boston in the midst of a sixth inning rain delay. Perhaps they'll be the more worn out team tomorrow.