Entering last night’s first game of a very important three-game series againt the Blue Jays, in Toronto, the Yankees knew time is running out in their drive to to make the American League playoffs this year. The Yanks had only 38 games remaining as they started play yesterday, and needed to win at least 70% of those games [27 wins] for a chance to play meaningful games in October.
The Yankees task became a little bit harder after they made the final out in yesterday’s, 2-1, loss to the Blue Jays. Their record fell to (66-59), which is only one game better than the fourth place,Toronto Blue Jays (65-60).
Both the Tampa Bay Rays (77-48) and Boston Red Sox (73-53) won their games last night, to move even further ahead of the Bombers. The Yankees are now six games behind the Red Sox; and, eleven games behind the Rays, who now have the best record in baseball, after beating the L.A. Angels yesterday.
The Yankees jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead, off Blue Jays starting pitcher, A.J. Burnett, on a leadoff walk to Johnny Damon, who scored on a RBI double by Bobby Abreu in the top of the first inning.
That first inning run, would be the only run the Yankees would score this night; and, it was the only run in the game, until Adam Lind hit a solo homerun, off Yankes starter, Darrell Rasner, in the bottom of the 7th inning, to tie the score, 1-1.
It was a pitching duel between Rasner and Burnett throughout the game, as both starting pitchers were brilliant.
In the bottom of the first, Darrell Rasner gave up a one out walk to Marco Scutaro, and it looked like he would record an easy second out when next batter, Alex Rios, hit a fly ball to centerfield. But, Johnny Damon, “dropped the ball”, for a two-base error. This set-up a second and third situation, with one out.
Rasner got the next two batters out without allowing a run to score. So, the Damon error was not costly, as the Yankees held onto the 1-0 lead.
After the first inning, Rasner coasted until giving up the 7th inning homer, pitching a solid 6 2/3 innings, allowing one run, on three hits, one walk, and three strikeouts, while throwing 86 pitches.
This was Darrell Rasner’s best pitching performance of the season for the Yankees, and surely he deserved to win this game.
But, if this was Rasner’s best effort of the year [which it was], then he had the great misfortune to pitch against the Blue Jays, A.J. Burnett in this game.
Burnett, very simply, “pitched a gem” !!!
A.J. Burnett threw 120 pitches [120 pitches !!!], over eight outstanding innings, in which he gave up one run, on 5 hits, and one walk, while striking-out 13 batters. This tremendous display of awesome pitching improved Burnett’s record to: 16-9.
Among the 13 strikeouts, Jason Giambi struck-out, 3 times; Alex Rodriguez, 3 times; Johnny Damon, 2 times; Derek Jeter, 2 times; Nady, one time, Matsui, one time, and Ivan Rodriguez, once. Giambi also struck-out one more time [against Ryan], for his fourth strikeout on the night.
The only Yankee batter who had any success off A.J. Burnett was Bobby Abreu, who was 2-for-4, both doubles, with one RBI.
Jose Veras (L,3-2) replaced Rasner, and with the score still tied 1-1, recorded two quick outs in the bottom of the 8th. The next hitter, Joe Inglett, singled, putting the go-ahead run on base, with Marco Scutaro coming up to the plate.
Veras did his job by getting Scutaro to hit a long fly ball to centerfield. Damon drifted back to the wall, and it looked like he had the ball all lined up to make the catch, for the final out of the 8th. But, just like in the first inning, Johnny Damon, “dropped the ball” — again !!!
Inglett, running on the hit, easily rounded the bases to score the go-ahead run, as Scutaro made it to second for what was scored a double. But, the fly ball was clearly a two-base error, and should have been the third out. The ball was right at Damon, and bounced off the top part of his glove. The ball [just like the dropped ball in the first] should have been caught.
After the game, a very disappointed, and “upset” Johnny Damon, took full responsibility for the two dropped balls. Damon said, ” I just missed the balls, plain and simple. I missed two balls tonight, and that’s unacceptable”.
The Blue Jays closer, B.J. Ryan, entered the game in the top of the 9th inning, to protect the 2-1 Jays lead.
Alex Rodriguez led off the inning with a bloop hit over first base, that scooted into foul territory. A-Rod thought the ball rolled far enough away from the infield, and tried to stretch the hit into a double. Blue Jays’ first baseman, Lyle Overbay, very quickly hustled after the ball, slid on his knee, and made a beautiful perfect throw to shortstop, John McDonald, who placed the tag on the sliding Rodriguez, for the first out in the 9th.
It was an aggressive play by A-Rod, that did not work out. But, I think, you really can’t fault Rodriguez. The way the Yankees are hitting, he was just trying to get something going, trying to get a runner in scoring position, with no outs. It took a perfect play to get A-Rod out at second; and, I give all the credit to Overbay, for staying with the ball, and making the perfect throw to get the out. So be it !
There are many reasons why the Yankees lost this game, and the A-Rod play was not one of the main reasons. I do think, though, Alex Rodriguez getting thrown out on a perfect throw in the 9th, put an “exclamation mark” on how badly this game was going for the Yanks; and, also, on how badly this season is ending !!!
B.J. Ryan retired the next two batters, to record his 24th save of the season, to close out Toronto’s 2-1 victory.
Time is running out for the New York Yankees. October never looked so far away.