Game 17: NYY vs. TB — Bullpen implosion

Oh, I had such high hopes at the halfway point for this game…

I mentioned yesterday that certain games are harder to write about, including those where the Yankees get pummeled or when they just hand the game to the opposing team. Tonight’s game ended up being both. It started so well, but then just crumbled into a disaster. In almost 4 hours, the Rays came back to just pound the Yankees into oblivion, taking advantage of the seemingly endless mess out of the bullpen. It seemed as if they played two very different games, one up through the 6th inning and one for the last 2 1/2 innings. It was a very different ballgame during those last couple of innings; it was also a very long ballgame during those last couple of innings.

But let’s start with what was good. Hiroki Kuroda took the start tonight and would have had a very decent win had there been a little support in the last third of the game. In his 5.2 innings, he threw 99 pitches, giving up 7 hits, 3 runs, and 2 walks. He was backed by some great defense, reminiscent of last night’s team. (Like this nice leaping grab by Ellsbury.) Really, through the first 3 innings, Kuroda was flawless. His trouble began in the 4th, with 2 outs, he gave up a walk and a single before a double scored both runners. And then in the 6th, with 2 outs and two men on base with singles, a single easily scored that 3rd run.

And the Yankees gave him a nice cushion. In the 2nd inning, McCann, Solarte, and Johnson loaded the bases with 2 singles and a fielder’s choice, and all 3 scored on Scott Sizemore’s deep double. Then, Ichiro Suzuki bunts, initially called out at 1st, but a challenge and replay overturned it and called him safe (by a mile and a half, by the way), which moved Sizemore over to 3rd. Brett Gardner’s force out scored Sizemore, giving the Yankees a healthy 4-0 lead in just the 2nd inning. Things were looking up.

And after the Yankees got out of the 6th inning, it was 4-3 Yankees. Jacoby Ellsbury singled, stole 2nd, and scored on Soriano’s single to give them a 5-3 lead. And then the bottom fell out.

David Phelps came on in relief to get the last out of the 6th inning, which he did quickly, but a line drive to his thigh forced him off the field with 1 out in the 7th (it will probably just end up a nasty bruise). Matt Thornton took his place and things got hinky. A fielder’s choice and single put runners at the corners with 2 outs.

So they turned to Adam Warren. But a single quickly scored a run and a walk ended up loading the bases. Two more runs scored on another single, which pushed the Rays over the Yankees 6-5 before Warren finally got that 3rd out. So Warren came back for the 8th inning and got 2 quick outs. And then there was trouble again. A double followed up by a big 2-run home run put the Rays at 8-5.

And the Yankees turned to Cesar Cabral, who promptly gave up a single. A wild pitch allowed the runner to steal 2nd, and then he was able to score easily on the next batter’s single. Cabral loaded up the bases by then hitting the next two batters. Yet another single scored 2 more runs for the Rays, 11-5. When Cabral proceeded to hit the next batter, the home plate umpire ejected him, which I understand is standard, but I don’t really agree with because it wasn’t like he was intending to really get the batters. He just didn’t have any control.

Shawn Kelley got that elusive 3rd out for the Yankees. But the damage was too deep, too late.

Right after the game, Cabral was designated for assignment. I think even he saw that coming, with his lackluster outings and his really uncontrolled pitching tonight. They called up pitcher Matt Daley to take his place on the roster.

Like I said, it was like watching two completely different games. The last third of the game was just what I titled the today’s post — an implosion of the bullpen. They just seemed to crumble under pressure. They could grab those first couple of outs quickly, but then their strength would just dissolve.

And the only positive I can think of is that at least Kuroda didn’t get the loss because he pitched pretty well again and certainly didn’t deserve that on his stats.

They say it’s the second day after a late flight that gets to you. Apparently, it only got to the Yankee bullpen. Better luck tomorrow, I guess. There’s not much else to say, unfortunately…

Go Yankees!

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