Postgame notes: Too good to be true • 07.27.10
In every which way, tonight’s ninth inning would have been the perfect time for home run No. 600. It was Alex Rodriguez’s birthday and the Yankees were down to this last out, needing a home run to tie it.
“Those are the best at-bats,” Rodriguez said. “You want a situation where you have to think small. Probably the worst at-bats are the wide-open ballgame, two outs, nobody on. Everybody stands up and is expecting one thing.”
That picture at the top, that’s the shot of Rodriguez’s final swing, a ground out to short that ended the game with the Yankees taking the loss and Rodriguez staying at 599. But this wasn’t a loss to hang on A-Rod’s shoulders.
CC Sabathia didn’t have his best outing, but literally every Indians run could be attributed to a Yankees mistake.
First run: Fourth inning, no outs, runners at second and third. On a grounder to third, Rodriguez’s throw home was in time, but Francisco Cervelli dropped the ball on the tag.“I could see it,” Sabathia said. “He slid right onto his mitt. There was really nothing Cervi could do about it.”
Second run: Fourth inning, one out, runners at first and second. Robinson Cano stepped off the bag trying to start a double play. Both runners were called safe — Joe Girardi seemed much more disappointed in the call at first — and the next batter hit a sacrifice fly. “I assumed he was out (at second),” Sabathia said. “I just worried about the runner at first. I thought he was out too. I had no idea until Alex told me he called him safe at second.”
Third run: Sixth inning, no outs, bases empty. Curtis Granderson nearly made a running catch in deep center field, but the ball hit the heel of his glove and bounced out. Any chance of a juggling catch ended when Granderson slammed into the wall. That runner scored two batters later. “He made a great attempt,” Sabathia said. “That’s what you expect out of your teammates, to go hard.”
Fourth run: Sixth inning, one out, bases loaded. Having intentionally walked Jason Donald to face No. 9 hitter Chris Gimenez — a career .149 hitter playing his fourth big league game of the year — Sabathia walked in a run on a 3-2 changeup. “He fought off a couple of fastballs,” Sabathia said. “I was just trying to make a pitch, get a strikeout right there. I tip his cap to him. He did a good job putting a good at-bat together and taking a changeup.”
More so than on at-bat in the ninth inning, those moments made the difference in the game. Here’s Rodriguez talking about his night and his on-going pursuit of 600.
• Can’t overstate how well Josh Tomlin pitched in his major league debut. He allowed no hits through three innings and faced the minimum through six. “He threw the ball extremely well,” Rodriguez said. “First time we saw him. He threw a lot of cutters. Kept working ahead of guys. Pitched backward a little bit. For the most part, I don’t think we had any good swings on him.”
• The Yankees have lost each of their past six games when facing a starting pitcher making his major league debut. The only other debut they saw this season was Jake Arrieta in Baltimore. That was a 4-3 loss.
• Sabathia hadn’t lost since May 23. “I felt like it was so-so,” Sabathia said. “I had good stuff, just didn’t make the pitches I needed to. I felt like I had a good fastball. The changeup was better than last time. It just didn’t work out today.”
• Girardi said he was surprised but had no problem with Cano being called off the bag. “If he’s right, he’s right,” Girardi said.
• Asked about the back end of the double play, though, Girardi only nodded his head to acknowledged that he’d seen the replay. Girardi wouldn’t comment, but it was pretty clear that he considered that a blown call.
• Mark Teixeira’s on-base streak came to an end.
• On a night of defensive mistakes, it’s easy to forget Brett Gardner’s great throw and Cervelli’s great block of home plate in the first inning. At the time, that seemed like a good sign for the Yankees.
• Girardi on what he was thinking during Rodriguez’s last at-bat: “This would be a real good time to hit one. But in that situation you’re just talking about keeping the line moving.”
• Derek Jeter was 2-for-4 and is a career .351 hitter against Cleveland, higher than against any other American League team.
Associated Press photos of Rodriguez, Cervelli, Girardi and Tomlin
Game 99: Yankees at Indians • 07.27.10
Derek Jeter SS
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira DH
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada C
Curtis Granderson CF
Juan Miranda 1B
Francisco Cervelli C
Brett Gardner LF
LHP CC Sabathia (13-3, 3.18)
Sabathia vs. Indians
Trevor Crowe CF
Asdrubal Cabrera SS
Shin-Soo Choo RF
Austin Kearns LF
Shelley Duncan DH
Jhonny Peralta 3B
Matt LaPorta 1B
Jason Donald 2B
Chris Gimenez C
RHP Josh Tomlin (NR)
Major league debut
TIME/TV: 7:05 p.m. / MY9
UMPIRES: HP Dan Iassogna, 1B Dale Scott, 2B Jerry Meals, 3B Mark Wegner
WEATHER: Might still be in the low 80s for first pitch, but ultimately upper-70s through most of the game with no real chance of rain. Beautiful night here in Cleveland.
THE NEW GUY: Josh Tomlin is making his big league debut. Earlier this season he faced Scranton/Wilkes-Barre once — Juan Miranda went 1-for-4 in that game — and Tomlin got the win that night, allowing two runs on seven hits through five innings. Reegie Corona’s double was the only extra-base hit against him. Tomlin faced Trenton once in 2009 and got the win that day too, allowing one run through six innings, again allowing only one extra-base hit (a double by Seth Fortenberry).
BIRTHDAY BOY: According to Elias, only two players have hit a century home run — No. 100, 200, 300, etc. — on their birthday. Cecil Fielder hit his 300th on his birthday in 1997 and Raul Ibanez hit his 200th on his birthday last season. Alex Rodriguez could hit No. 600 on his birthday tonight.
MORE MILESTONES: If Rodriguez doesn’t hit No. 600 tonight, he could hit it tomorrow, on the 14-year anniversary of Darryl Strawberry hitting his 300th career home run in a Yankees 3-2 win against the Royals.
CLOSE ENOUGH: The Yankees have won their past six one-run games and are 10-2 in their past 12. For the year, they are 10-6 in one-run games, having lost their first four.
MANAGER MATTINGLY: The Arizona Fall League coaching staffs were announced this afternoon. The manager for the Phoenix Desert Dogs — the team that will include Yankees minor leaguers — will be Don Mattingly.
UPDATE, 7:17 p.m.: A lot of things went right on that play. Great throw from Gardner in left field, great job blocking the plate by Cervelli and the Yankees got out of the first inning on the out at home. Joe Girardi was fired up when Cervelli came into the dugout. The Yankees manager appreciates those plays at the plate.
UPDATE, 7:45 p.m.: So far so good in Tomlin’s major league debut. He’s retired nine in a row. Sabathia, though, has looked awfully good since those back-to-back hits in the first.
UPDATE, 7:57 p.m.: We’ll call it an at-bat and a half for Rodriguez today. He was at the plate with two strikes when Derek Jeter was caught stealing to end the fourth inning. Meanwhile, Jeter broke up the very early perfect game with a lead-off single in the fourth.
UPDATE, 8:00 p.m.: The AP is reporting that Andy Pettitte said he was “feeling good” after going through agility and running drills today in Tampa. Pettitte also made 90 throws off flat ground.
UPDATE, 8:03 p.m.: Not sure whether Cabrera should be safe or out. The ball clearly came loose, but it seemed to come loose after Cervelli’s glove hit the ground, not on the play itself. Doesn’t really matter. The run scored and it’s 1-0 Cleveland.
UPDATE, 8:08 p.m.: Looks like a good call at second base. Cano came off the bag trying to turn the double play quickly and now the bases are loaded with one out in the fourth. Strange inning for the Yankees.
UPDATE, 8:17 p.m.: Defensive mistakes cost the Yankees in that inning and the Indians have a 2-0 lead.
UPDATE, 8:42 p.m.: Curtis Granderson’s turn to drop a ball. Looked like it hit him in the heel of the glove, bounced out and he lost any chance of catching it when he slammed into the wall. It’s a lead-off triple for Kearns.
UPDATE, 8:54 p.m.: Sabathia just walked in a run, meanwhile the Yankees are being shutdown by a kid named Josh Tomlin. It’s 4-0 Indians, and John Sterling was right. You can’t predict it.
UPDATE, 9:26 p.m.: Lefty on the mound, Marcus Thames pinch hits for Miranda. Indians bring in a righty, Colin Curtis pinch hits for Thames.