Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ample Opportunities Wasted

I'm glad today's game was a weekday matinee. As such, I was at work and couldn't watch with my usual attention to detail. Because as frustrated as I am with today's outcome, it'd be much worse had I been hanging on every pitch.

Where to begin? Let me throw some numbers out there, particularly a few that our friend Jason from the Heartland was pointing out during our live game chat. Texas offense today: 15 Ks, 3 BB. Yankee offense today: 10 K, 8 BB. Advantage Yankees.

How about these? Texas starter Dustin Nippert: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 7 BB, 3 K, 98 pitches, 52 strikes (53%), 27.73 pitches per IP. Yankees starter A.J. Burnett: Perfect through 3.2 IP, 6 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 12 K, 105 pitches, 63 strikes (60%), 17.5 pitches per IP. Advantage Burnett.

So where did this one go wrong? Texas HRs: 3. Yankees HRs: 0. Texas w/RISP: 3 for 4. Yankees w/RISP: 2 for 12. Texas LOB: 2. Yankees LOB: 12. Runners left in scoring position, Texas: 1, Yankees: 6. Big advantage Texas. That's your ball game right there.

The Yankees had more opportunity than they rightly needed. They worked Dustin Nippert over, letting him throw no fewer than 17 pitches in any inning, forcing him over 25 in two of the four innings in which he appeared, and put six runners in scoring position against him. But only two scored. And when Jason Grilli releived him, the Rangers' bullpen shut the Yankees down over the last five and a third, tossing shutout ball and allowing just two hits and a walk.

A.J. Burnett had a very good start. As mentioned, he was perfect through 3.2 IP, and would have been perfect through four had he been given the benefit of a borderline call on a 2-2 fastball to Josh Hamilton that MLB Gameday appears to indicate as a strike. Instead, Hamilton drew a two out walk, and the wheels came off from there. Another walk, to Nelson Cruz, followed, and then Ian Kinsler hit his first of two home runs on the day to give Texas a lead they would never relinquesh.

Burnett fanned a season high 12. He allowed only two hits and three walks. But he was victimized by the long ball. The Kinsler long ball accounted for all three runs given up by Burnett and it was enough to do him in.

Unlike their Texas counterparts, the Yankee bullpen didn't offer much relief. Thanks to all the stirkeouts, Burnett's pitch count grew rapidly, and as a result he was through after six. Phil Coke came on for the seventh and continued his recent trend of poor outings. The first three batters he faced yielded a ground rule double, a bunt single on a ball Coke himself misplayed, and another three run homer.

After getting two outs, Coke gave way to David Robertson, who has been quite reliable of late. D-Rob closed out the seventh and got two quick outs in the eighth before giving up Kinsler's second longball of the day. The only remote silver lining was a perfect ninth from a struggling Alfredo Aceves. All told, the Yankee pen allowed four base runners in three innings of work, and as a result of the homeruns, all four scored.

Another disturbing part of today's game was the Yankees' continuing penchant for giving up two out runs. Of the seven runs plated by Texas today, four came with two outs. Perhaps in an effort to actually let Phil Hughes pitch every so often, the Yankees can start using him to get the third out of each inning and stash him elsewhere in the field the rest of the time.

Once again, it's tough to complain. On the whole, the Yankees are still in good shape. They're not going to win every game. But I have a hard time stomaching a loss where they beat themselves rather than getting beat by the opponent. Still, it's only the second series the Yankees have lost since the All-Star break. They get chance to avenge the first starting tomorrow when the White Sox come to town. We'll see you then.


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