Tuesday, August 11, 2009

This Just In: You Can't Win Them All

Well, it happened. The Yanks lost, but it wasn't because they came out flat, or played sloppily or couldn't score runs. The one person to blame for tonight's loss, and I know that there are a lot of people who were involved, was Sergio Mitre, and he played no part in the Red Sox series.

The starting rotation's weakest link actually started out remarkably well, striking out six of the first 7 batters he faced. In his previous four starts Mitre had only struck out 9. Derek Jeter gave him a small cushion to work with by leading off the bottom of the first with a home run, but Mitre gave it back in the 3rd on a homer by Aaron Hill that bounced off the top of the wall in front of the opposing bullpen. Jeter scored again in the home half of the 3rd on a sac fly by Swisher to give the Yankees the lead, but Mitre once again faltered.

The turning point of the game came in the top of the 4th. After Lyle Overbay walked and Vernon Wells singled, Jose Bautista came to the plate with men on first and second. He hit a sharp bouncer back to Mitre, who made a beautiful snare and looked to be in position to turn a double play. Instead, he hesitated for a moment, took a few steps up the mound and fired a throw towards Robinson Cano standing at second. The throw started tailing towards first base and with the runner bearing down and perhaps with the double play in mind, Cano briefly took his eye off the ball. It glanced off his glove and rolled past, allowing Overbay to score and Wells to move to third.

Instead of having at least one and possibly two outs, the Yanks now had no one out, one run in with runners on the corners. The error was initially charged to Robinson Cano but then transferred to Mitre. The Jays brought Wells and Bautista around to score before the inning was over and took the lead 4-1.

As was the signature of the series with the Red Sox, the Yankees responded to the Jays immediately, as they had done in the 3rd. Robinson Cano led off the inning with a blast to right center which was followed by Jerry Hairston's first round tripper as a Yankee. Marc Rzcepczynski lasted on 3 1/3 innings and gave up four runs, but was never on the hook for the loss due to Mitre's shortcomings.

Lyle Overbay hit a two out solo shot in the fifth inning that would prove to be the difference in the game. With the count full, Mitre left a sinker in the fat part of the plate and Overbay pummeled it, just short of the right field bleachers.

The Yanks led off the 6th and 7th with hits, but just couldn't seem to level the score. To begin the 8th inning, Jorge Posada engaged with a 12 pitch battle with Jesse Carlson, which ended on Posada swinging through a slider the third time in a row Carlson had thrown it. Hideki Matsui singled in the 9th but that was the end of the Yanks' offense for the night.

While the Jays cycled through four relievers to close out the game without allowing another run, the Yanks needed only one. Blog favorite Alfredo Aceves notched only one strikeout in the four innings but he allowed just two hits and didn't walk anyone. According to ESPN radio after the game, Joe Girardi said that Mitre will make his next start, which may or may not prevent the speculation that Aceves was being stretched out to start.

A loss is always bad, especially when the Red Sox win, but tonight wasn't especially brutal. The Yanks had some chances but didn't capitalize against the Jays' pen. With the Yanks' relievers having been so lights out recently, it was only a matter of time before the tables were turned on them.


  1. Didn't pitch terribly. To be honest, I could care less about the score with Mitre. I'd rather see him go out there, pitch to the scoreboard and soak up innings. He did the first part, but not the second (5 innings).

    I was listening to the YES broadcast and Kay relayed Cashmans's stance: They've won 3 out of 4 (now 5) of Mitre's starts which is good for any pitcher, and hey: he's the #5 pitcher.

    So, I'm tolerant of the whole thing, assuming he makes it 6+ his next start. 5 innings isn't going to cut it.

  2. He didn't pitch terribly, but he was the reason they lost. That throwing error was very costly and was the difference in the game.

    It would be great if he could pitch to the scoreboard at will, but the only reason he's been able to do that so far is because they Yanks have scored an average of 6 runs in each of his starts. That's also why they've won 3/5 of the games he's started.

    It's true, the guy is a #5 starter and we shouldn't feel entitled to a great pitcher in that slot, but Mitre has a 7.50ERA and is averaging fewer than 5 innings per start. He hasn't made it through the 6th yet, so I'm not very optimistic that he can do it his next time out.

  3. I'm essentially of the same opinion on last night's game and Mitre, Jay. Not a letdown from the team, and not atrocious work by Mitre, but certainly not good. He's a guy who, one way or another, eventually reverts to his career norm. A 7+ ERA thus far this year is far from encouraging. His poor throw, though Cano got the E, was clearly costly. I know the "Baseball Tonight" gang focused their commentary on Cano's failure to catch the ball, which he could have done, but it would have taken him off the bag. Mitre had all day to throw it, double-clutched it and, for the second time this year, screwed up a potential 1-4/6-3 DP with a lousy throw. For a ground ball pitcher especially, failing to have that aspect of the game down is inexcusable.

    After jettisoning Ponson, I thought the Yanks would be done with him. In essence, that's who they have going in the five-spot in the rotation. Slimmer guy, same bloated ERA.