Bullpen Collapse Leads to Boston Domination
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 7- After Friday night’s game between the Yanks and the Red Sox, Boston’s skipper John Farrell remarked, “It was almost two different games tonight.” The Yankees led 8-3 at the end of the fifth inning, but were held scoreless during the final four frames while the Red Sox scored nine runs in the seventh and eighth.
During the first five frames, the Yankee offense was in full throttle. In those innings, every Yankee batter had successfully reached base at least once. The Yankees scored two runs in four of the first five innings and six different batters recorded RBI.
Four of the first five Yankee runs were scored by batters who were walked by Red Sox starter Felix Doubront. After Derek Jeter walked with one out in the first inning, Alfonso Soriano struck his 13th home run in pinstripes since joining the club on July 26. The four-bagger was his 30th of the 2013 campaign.
Vernon Wells drew a base on balls to open the second inning and scored on a triple by Eduardo Nuñez, who later in the inning scored on a sacrifice fly by Chris Stewart.
Two out walks issued to Mark Reynolds and Stewart in the fourth were transformed into runs when Brett Gardner drove in both runners with a triple.
In the fifth, a double by Robinson Cano followed by singles from Wells, Nuñez and Reynolds resulted in another two run inning.
After the contest, Yankee starting pitcher Andy Pettitte gave credit to the offense, “The offense has been great. I like the way the guys have been swinging the bats. I love the fight in us.”
Unfortunately, for the large crowd (44,117) of Yankee fans, the offense was unable to continue the fight after the fifth. Boston relievers kept the Yankee batters scoreless and hitless during the final four frames. Six of the 12 outs were by strikeout.
Andy Pettitte had another quality start. In six innings, he yielded three runs on five hits. The veteran has turned his season around since problems earlier in the year. In his last five starts, the left-hander is 3-0 with an ERA of 1.71. The competitive hurler was self-critical despite his fine performance. “I wish I could have gone a lot longer in the game.”
In the past two games with Boston, the failure has come with the depleted relief corps. Mariano Rivera pitched in the previous three contests and was unavailable David Robertson, who pitched in Thursday’s game was found to have tendonitis in his shoulder and will be out for several days. Shawn Kelley is also not available for approximately one week.
Phil Hughes, removed from the rotation for David Huff, made his first relief appearance of the season. In the seventh, he gave up three hits and a walk on 0.1 inning, all of whom scored. Hughes honestly commented on his performance, “The stuff was flat. It was a terrible inning. It cost us big time.”
Hughes was followed by Boone Logan who also lasted 0.1 inning. The second batter he faced, Mike Napoli, just cleared the glove of right fielder Ichiro Suzuki for his second grand slam against New York in 2013. The game was tied at 8 at the end of seven.
Logan explained the problem that will have him undergo an MRI on Saturday, “It’s been a long year. I felt a little tightness 2-3 pitches into Napoli’s at bat.”
The story of the previous game was repeated as other relievers gave up four additional runs in the eighth to Boston. Preston Claiborne, the losing pitcher, and Joba Chamberlain each surrendered runs in their respective 0.2 inning stints.
Several spoke of the need for those left in the pen to succeed. Hughes said, “We have to find a way to get it done and not let a quality start go to waste.” The Yankee manager remarked, “It’s a chance for other guys to shine and they’re going to have to do it.”
David Huff (2-0) and John Lackey (8-12) will be the starting pitchers in game three on Saturday afternoon.