Game 136: BAL vs. NYY — Like a rug pulled out from underneath

I hate writing about a loss. I don’t expect many people like writing about what is essentially a failure. And it’s worse when it turns out to be a major disappointment. I guess that’s where the feeling of having the rug pulled out from underneath you comes into play. No one likes to lose, and I’m guessing no one likes to be responsible for a loss. But in a game of statistics and averages, someone is always responsible for a loss.

Today that someone is definitely not starter Andy Pettitte. He threw a really outstanding 6 innings against the Baltimore Orioles, allowing just 5 hits and 3 strikeouts with his 86 pitches over that time frame. And what was awesome was that no Birds crossed the plate at all during those 6 innings. It’s one of the better outings I’ve seen from him in a long time, and it’s thoroughly disappointing that he couldn’t walk away with the win that was needed both by him (for his own personal stats) and even more by the team itself (because the AL East just isn’t stopping).

Now, before everything fell apart. The Yankees were cruising along pretty good. In the 3rd inning, Alfonso Soriano singled and scored Brett Gardner. And in the 4th inning, with 1 out, Mark Reynolds walks, Eduardo Nunez doubles, Chris Stewart walks to load the bases, and they walk Gardner to score a run (Reynolds), keeping the bases loaded. And Derek Jeter’s sacrifice fly scores Nunez. And the Yankees kept their lead 3-0.

Until the 7th inning…

So back-to-back singles in 7 pitches from Pettitte has the Yankees calling for replacement Shawn Kelley from the bullpen. (Perhaps it was a mutual decision, but I’m thinking with the way Pettitte was pitching, a couple of runs might have scored but I think overall the Yankees would have kept their lead. I could be wrong, and we’ll never know, but it’s nice to imagine a better outcome.)

Anyway, Kelley promptly gives up an RBI single and then a 3-run homer. The Orioles are now up 4-3. And there’s no outs. So they go to Boone Logan. He then gives up a single and a walk. Still no outs. Now on to Joba Chamberlain. His first batter pops up a foul bunt to Stewart. Finally an out. But then he allows another 3-run home run. 7-3 Orioles. 1 out.

Somehow, Chamberlain gets the next two batters out — striking out swinging and a soft groundout to 1st. But the damage is done, and the Yankees never recover. Chamberlain throws the 8th inning, keeping the damage to a minimum. And Huff and recent call-up Betances split the 9th. Final score: 7-3 Orioles. The loss is clearly Shawn Kelley’s — his 2nd of the season and a big loss for the Yankees.

Two interesting things happened today. One was another show of the defense (remember, the Yankees lost due to home runs, something way out of their control) — a really snazzy double play in the 6th (before everything fell apart). Actually, I think my favorite part of today’s defense was watching Pettitte’s response to every out they made (you’ll see it at the end of the linked video clip). And the other was Jeter’s RBI in the 4th. Now an RBI, especially a sacrifice fly, usually isn’t the cause of anything particularly noteworthy, but this actually placed Jeter above former teammate Bernie Williams on the Yankees All-Time RBIs list. He currently sits in 6th place at 1258, behind Gehrig, Ruth, DiMaggio, Mantle, and Berra (mighty big company there).

I have to say that watching Pettitte pitch and cheer on his team was definitely the highlight of the game for me. It reminded me of the 90s dynasty. Other than the win, the only thing(s) missing was the other 3 of the Core Four to back him up. Then it would be “deja vu all over again”… A little nostalgia in the midst of disappointment is sometimes needed to take the edge off.

And putting things in perspective, the Yankees still won the series. Now, on to the next series. I’m feeling like a sweep is in order.

Go Yankees!

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