The Yanks scored two in the ninth, and down 6-5 with two out, had runners on 2nd and 3rd, but Curtis Granderson (more on him in a bit) popped up to end the game.
It is the 12th loss in the last 18 games for the Yankees, and I noticed something about the first 2/3 of the season (2/3 + 1 game now).
What kind of team are the Yankees, anyway?
Consider this. In the first 42 games of the season, the Yankees were a .500 team. 21-21.
Then they got hot. They won 26 of their next 35 games.
After that? They have become a .500 team again. 16-16.
Do the math. 21-21, plus 26-9, plus 16-16 give you what they are now. 63-46. That 26-9 in the middle looks awfully good, but in the other 74 games out of 109 they are a .500 team.
Now here is what is really disturbing. That 26-9 run? It was fueled by going 12-3 in interleague play. Now I hate interleague play. Maybe I should love it.
Take away that 12-3 run in the middle of that hot streak, and the Yanks are 51-43. That is an 88 win pace. Not the pace of a division champ, but of a wild card, if that. Remember that in the only year since 1994 (the strike year) that the Yanks missed the playoffs—2008—the Yanks won 89 games, and consider that outside of that 26-9 run, that the Yanks are a .500 team for the other 74 games.
It makes you wonder what kind of team they will be over the next 53 games.
If they keep being a .500 team (except for that 35 game run), and they go 27-26 they’ll be a 90 win team, and that may not be enough.
In other words, they need to snap out of it, and soon.
Another observation before the game recap. Ichiro, like A-Rod, isn’t what he used to be. He did have two hits and two RBI tonight. But the Yanks lineup had A-Rod, Ibanez and Chavez in it. Now it’s Ichiro, Ibanez and Chavez. So, with A-Rod’s injury, you are substituting Ichiro for A-Rod. Now A-Rod gets criticized often, mostly because of his salary and for not being the A-Rod of old. But consider this. A-Rod’s OPS+ this year is still a 114 (14% above league average). Ichiro’s is an 80, 20% BELOW league average. Don’t get me wrong. I like Ichiro. Both players aren’t what they were. But that’s a huge difference. Don’t tell me that A-Rod isn’t missed right now.
But people on Twitter aren’t thinking. They are clamoring for Ichiro to leadoff. Now I’ll get to Granderson in a minute, but do these people realize that Ichiro came into this game with a .286 OBP? That he walked only 17 times this year? That he still HAS NOT DRAWN ONE WALK AS A YANKEE? Is THAT what you want out of a leadoff hitter? I think not.
Now for the game.
Through three innings, Phil Hughes was doing pretty well, but as YES’ Jack Curry reports,
Hughes was a 2-pitch pitcher tonight (FB, curve) as he barely used change. Didn’t have put away pitch. Threw 102 pitches, 34 were fouled off
Eric Chavez hit a 2-run HR in the top of the fourth (HR #11) to put the Yanks up 2-0.
Then that beast, Miguel Cabrera, struck again. He hit a solo HR, his 29th, to make it 2-1 in the bottom of the fourth. Two outs and a single later, Hughes had a 1-2 count on Jhonny Peralta. Once again, with two strikes on a hitter, Hughes couldn’t put him away. Peralta doubled in the tying run.
Once again, from YES’ Jack Curry:
Hughes needed 42 pitches to navigate through the 4th, in part because Tigers fouled off 17 pitches. Hughes threw 43 across 1st 3 innings.
That says it all about not putting people away.
In the fifth, Cabrera struck again with a two-run double to put the Tigers up 4-2.
Hughes 4 1/3, 4 R, 8 h, 0 walks and 3 K. (L, 11-9, 4.10).
Logan 2/3, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks and 1 K. 3.55.
Cody Eppley 1 2/3, 1 R, 3 H, 0 walks and 1 K. 3.19, as the Tigers made it 5-2 in the sixth. A single and double with two out.
Clay Rapada 2/3, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks, 0 K. 2.70.
Doubles by Swish and Ichiro made it 5-3 in the seventh.
Joba came in and gave up a run in the eighth that proved to be the ballgame.
2/3 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 1 walk and 1 K. 6.75.
In the ninth, Teix popped up, Chavez singled. Swish struck out, but then Ibanez walked, Ichiro singled in a run and Martin doubled in another to cut it to 6-5. Granderson then popped up to end it.
I’m concerned about Granderson. The 29 HR are nice, but the batting average is down to .240. Two more strikeouts tonight give him 135 for the year. He has the Yankees record for striking out (169 last year), and he is on a pace to shatter that. His pace is for 200 strikeouts! Now as for him leading off, he DOES lead the team in walks, and his OBP coming into the game was .339 as opposed to Ichiro’s .286.
But Granderson’s .240 BA and just 8 for 11 in SB aren’t what I’d like to see. I wonder if he’s too HR conscious (or if the coaches have made him that way). The 29 HR are nice, but I really think it might benefit the Yanks if he concentrated more on getting the BA up to .270, stole more bases, and concentrated less on the HR. In 2007 for Detroit, Granderson hit .302 and was 26 of 27 in SB. He still had 23 HR that year, along with 38 doubles and a MLB-leading 23 triples. Yes, he still struck out a lot (141 times) but that’s more of the player I’d like to see. Make more contact and use your speed more, Curtis.
Jeter had one hit to take him to 3231. Chavez has been hot, and he had 2 H, 2 RBI (the 2-run HR). Teix had two hits, and Ichiro had 2 h, 2 RBI.
The Yanks better snap out of it, and soon. The race is tightening up.
Update: The lead is down to 4 1/2. The time to snap out of it is now, with CC going tonight (Wed.).