I really don’t want to talk about tonight’s game. But here’s a very brief recap and you’ll see why…
The Yankees lost tonight’s game to the Rays 16-1. And it was just as brutal as you can imagine.
Ivan Nova, normally a stellar starter, was certainly having an off day. With the bullpen from last night’s disaster basically out of commission, once Nova got in trouble, he had to stay there. He still only lasted 4 innings (plus 2 batters in the 5th), 82 pitches, 8 hits, 8 runs (4 of them home runs), a walk, and just 4 strikeouts. His trouble sort of began when he let 3 home runs in the 2nd and 3rd innings build up to a 4-0 Rays lead, but adding another 2-run home run in the 4th and allowing 2 runner on base in the 5th really sunk the Yankees. The only thing that pulled Nova out of the slaughter was a sore elbow, something they MRI-ed it and it doesn’t look good. We’ll know more tomorrow.
So they brought in yesterday’s call-up Matt Daley, hoping his new arrival will be untainted by whatever seemed to be going around the bullpen yesterday. No such luck. 41 pitches over 1.1 innings, 5 hits, 6 runs (only 4 earned), 2 walks for Daley’s stats tonight. A 3-run home run 3 batters in continued the disaster. Then coming back in the 6th inning, Daley continued to allow 2 more RBIs.
And they turned to Dellin Betances, struggling recently but usually pretty reliable late in the game. Over his 1.2 innings, Betances’ only weakness was allowing 2 walks, but he was not credited for a run scored on a throwing error. Honestly, it was refreshing to have Betances on the mound and being sharp again. His 7th inning was a breath of fresh air, with just 14 pitches for a 1-2-3 out inning. But Betances is a short-term reliever, and the Yankees were out of options.
Apparently, that meant the only logical choice was Dean Anna. (I know, I had to double-check that a couple of times myself.) But really, Anna had a pretty decent outing. He threw 17 knuckleballs (topping out at 72 mph, but hovering around low-60s) to 6 batters, gave up 3 hits, 1 run, and got out of the 8th inning fairly unscathed for not having any MLB pitching experience.
The sole run from the Yankees came in the 5th inning. With 2 outs and Alfonso Soriano on base, Kelly Johnson’s double drove Soriano in for that one run to put on the Yankees side of the scoreboard. Were the Rays pitchers just that much better? Their starter was pretty good, and the Yankees pushed him to 94 pitches into the 7th inning. But the Rays bullpen isn’t known for its clutch ability. I think by the time the Yankees got to face the bullpen it was already too late.
So the Rays were basically handed another game. This one was just a blowout. My brother (who is a Rays fan) even said that he hates games like this because you should really feel like you earned the win if you’re going to win. I agree. Even when our respective teams may benefit from such a game, there’s always something a little unsatisfying about it. Baseball is a competitive sport, so if there’s no real “competition”, it’s kind of a let down. It sucks the fun right out of the whole thing. And if it’s not fun, what’s the point?
And now with some roster moves inevitably coming (especially in light of Nova’s elbow injury), it looks like there’s going to be some Easter changes tomorrow. In better news, it looks like Mark Teixeira may be coming off the DL tomorrow and David Robertson may re-join the team on Tuesday in Boston. Familiar faces packaged with consistent excellence might be just the infusion the Yankees need to keep at the top of the AL East. (Oh, by the way, they’re still 1st in the division, well sharing now with Toronto at 10 wins-8 losses for the season.)