The Yankees had finally gotten the big hit. One three-run double from Alex Rodriguez would be enough to overcome yet another night of missed opportunities. Kerry Wood would get the Yankees through the bottom of the eighth, and Mariano Rivera would come in to do what he always does. It was going to be a good win.
It became an absolutely brutal loss.
“It’s one of those games that, it bothers you if it doesn’t go the way you want it to,” Rivera said. “The first guy is setting the tone, and I walked the guy.”
A lead-off walk in the ninth started the unraveling. The most stunning hit-by-pitch I’ve ever seen ended it. In between there was the RBI double that tied the game, but that was a ground ball that found the right spot. The shocking part of this loss came from the man who was one the mound, the pitch that ended it and the fact that an inning earlier Rodriguez seemed to have made up for yet another night of too many runners left on base.
“It seemed really big at the time,” Joe Girardi said. “Then we got through (the bottom of) the eighth. We had another chance to score in the ninth, and we’re not able to do it. We’ve left some runners on base. We’ve done a good job getting runners on base this series, but we’ve struggled getting them in.”
In two games, they’ve stranded 32 base runners. More than Chad Gaudin on Friday and Rivera tonight, that number is the reason the Yankees have lost two in a row.
• Brett Gardner is hurt. He has an injured right wrist that has bothered him off and on since he was hit by a pitch in Los Angeles on June 27. “Nothing that I’ve done in the past few days or past few weeks has really aggravated it,” he said. “I can’t really point to one thing in particular, whether I jammed it on base or a weird swing or anything like that, it’s probably just from swinging the bat every day and it just hasn’t gotten any better.”
• Gardner is hoping to get an MRI while the team is in Tampa. He said he didn’t ask out of tonight’s game, but he had mentioned to Kevin Long that his wrist was hurting tonight and when Girardi was asked about taking Gardner out, he specifically said it was because of the wrist. Both Girardi and Gardner seemed to think the injury was manageable. Girardi was not planning to play Gardner tomorrow anyway.
• Girardi got agitated when asked about pitching Rivera after he threw two innings on Friday. “Because he didn’t throw a lot of pitches,” Girardi said. “I don’t know how many times I have to say it. He threw 23 pitches.” Rivera said pitching yesterday had nothing to do with tonight. “I was feeling really good today,” he said. “It’s not that. It’s that you go in there and walk the first guy, anything can happen.”
• Girardi said he pinch hit Marcus Thames for Austin Kearns in the ninth because Thames has had success against Alexi Ogando. Thames was 2-for-3 with a double against him.
• Nick Swisher fell making a throw from right field, but Girardi said Swisher’s fine.
• Girardi admitted that his bullpen will be a little thin tomorrow, but said, “We have some guys who can still give us some distance.” Sergio Mitre hasn’t thrown the past two days, but Girardi said Mitre is fine.
• Both A.J. Burnett and Girardi were encouraged by Burnett’s outing. His command wasn’t perfect, but Girardi said he considered this a step in the right direction. “I didn’t think my command was that bad today,” Burnett said. “Only with two outs, when you don’t want it to be bad.”
• Francisco Cervelli has reached base in eight of nine plate appearances this series.
Associated Press photos of Francoeur and Burnett with Cervelli