There were plenty of positives for the Yankees to take away from in tonight’s 3-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox, but the bottom line in the clubhouse was that a loss is a loss.
“It’s tough,” Russell Martin said. “I felt like Hiro kept us in the game. He threw the ball really well. Really just one mistake early in the game to (Ryan) Sweeney, but other than that he was tremendous.”
Hiroki Kuroda gutted his way through eight innings, allowing just two runs on seven hits while striking out four. The key to his outing was inducing four double plays, as he continues to show the ability to bear down in a big spot.
The Yankees also got positive contributions from Russell Martin, and Nick Swisher had two hits in his return to the lineup after an eight day absence. But the rest of the Yankee bats went cold against Red Sox starter Felix Doubront, and David Robertson got burned by a game-winning bloop hit from Pedro Ciriaco in a wild top of the tenth.
“It’s tough, but it’s part of the game,” Robertson said. “I made a good pitch, but he hit it where no one could catch it. It’s a tough break.”
• This was the second consecutive game in which Ciriaco came up with the big hit. He’s earning the reputation of a Yankee killer, with an even .500 average (11 for 22) with six RBI in six games against the Yankees this season. “Fastball in, trying to jam him,” Martin said of the pitch that Ciriaco blooped into right field. “We did just that, but he found a hole and caught a break.”
• Prior to Ciriaco’s hit, there was some controversy and fireworks in the tenth. Will Middlebrooks got hit in the hand, but rather than being awarded first base, it was determined by the umps that he was attempting to lay down a bunt. Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine ended up getting tossed, much to the delight of the crowd. He was immediately followed by Josh Beckett, who got the boot for shouting from the dugout. “I probably would have argued myself,” Girardi said. “But I thought he attempted to bunt.”
• Robertson ended up giving up a single to Middlebrooks, but he felt that the most important at-bat of the inning was the first one — a walk to Jarrod Saltalamacchia. “Leadoff walks always come back to haunt you,” D-Rob said.
• While Robertson wasn’t at his best, Kuroda put forth a really gutsy effort. After giving up two runs in the second on a double from Sweeney, he did a great job of limiting damage throughout the game. He has not earned a loss in his last seven starts. “I think even though I gave up some hits, I tried concentrating on keeping everything down and I was able to get some double plays,” Kuroda said.
• Before Ciriaco put Boston ahead in the tenth, it was Martin who looked like he would be the star of the game. He’s still hitting under .200, but he went 2 for 2 with two walks, two RBI and a big homer. He led off the seventh with a solo shot, and then laced a clutch, two-out RBI single up the gut to tie the game at 2-2 in the eighth. “We’ve said all along that we thought his at-bats in the second half have been really good,” Joe Girardi said. “And we see a different hitter. He had two big RBI tonight – the only two that we get.”
• Martin didn’t really seem to buy into the idea that he looks like a different hitter, but he did admit to feeling much more comfortable at the plate. “I don’t know if I feel like a different hitter,” he said. “I feel good right now. I feel like I’m seeing the ball well, and that’s the first key…. I’m holding my hands a little bit higher; I feel like I’m a bit freer out there. I feel like my hands are going through the zone better.”
• Before Martin put some runs on the board later in the game, Doubront had looked very sharp through the first six innings. He struck out seven and allowed just four hits, not giving up many hard hit balls at all. He did walk five — which is what drove up his pitch count and forced him to come out with one out in the seventh — but the Yankees failed to make him pay for the extra baserunners. “Just using all of his pitches,” Girardi said of Doubront. “His changeup was good, his fastball was locating, his cutter was good, and he threw enough curveballs to keep our guys off balance.”
• Ichiro ended up with an infield single and a stolen base, but he also came up lame in a couple of big spots. In each of his first two at-bats he came up with two runners on, but he failed to do anything productive in either situation. He still doesn’t seem to be driving the ball with authority.
• Girardi was asked if he felt that the Red Sox are playing with more of a sense of urgency than the Yankees. Boston has been up-and-down all season, and will need a strong final two months to reach the postseason. “I think from everything that I see, they’re not uptight,” he said. “I think they’re playing pretty loose… They’re a talented group – no doubt about it.”
• The biggest reason that the Yankees struggled to score runs tonight: their 1-4 hitters combined to go 1 for 19 with six strikeouts. Ouch.
• The Yankees — who were the hottest team in baseball for a stretch of over a month — have now lost seven out of 10. Blip in the radar? Or legitimate reason to be concerned?
• Also, can you believe that this was the first extra inning game at Yankee Stadium this season?
Associated Press photos