Yankees Win Series In KC, but End Things on the Fence
Added by Elizabeth DiPietro on August 18, 2011.
Jorge Posada’s last at bat last night had all the makings of a dramatic come-from-behind win for the Yankees. Bases loaded? Check. Two outs? Check. Controversial call earlier in the game that led to a Yankee deficit? Check plus. In fact, the only thing un-dramatic about the situation was the Yankees’ opponent—the Kansas City Royals.
The Yankees had taken the previous two games against the Royals and were looking for a sweep. A.J. Burnett fell back into our good graces (for now) with a solid 7-4 victory on Monday, his first as a Yankee in the month of August, amazingly. Derek Jeter, who went 9-for-15 in the series, hit a two-run triple in the sixth to help out the beleaguered right hander. Closer Mariano Rivera also rebounded from a few uncharacteristic outings with a perfect ninth inning, earning a save.
Yankee players, management, and fans alike are hoping that this is the beginning of a turn around for Burnett, especially if he wants to pitch in the postseason. “The way I look at it is, we’ll build from this one, start pitching a little better, and give [manager Joe Girardi] some confidence,” Burnett said.
On Tuesday the Yankees sent up rookie pitcher Ivan Nova. Nova immediately gave up two runs in the first, and never truly recovered. He surrendered nine hits and seven runs in 5 1/3 innings, and if it wasn’t for his offense, his streak of winning his last seven starts would have been over. Robinson Cano belted a three-run homer in the fourth, highlighting a five-run inning. The Royals battled back with two more runs in the sixth, but the bullpen wrapped a bow on Nova’s twelfth win, pitching 3 2/3 of scoreless, hitless ball. The Yanks hung on to win, 9-7.
With too many pitchers in the queue for the starting rotation, it seems as though every start by every pitcher is being analyzed to death. Despite the rocky start, Nova’s spot in the rotation should not be in jeopardy. He has been consistent all year. A little competition among the pitchers may not necessarily be a bad thing. In fact, it’s probably the reason why Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia have been so effective this year, since they are both veterans originally signed to minor league contracts by the Yankees and pitched their way into the rotation.
Speaking of Colon, he started the final game in the series last night. Colon’s pitching was sub-par; he gave up five runs in five innings and took the loss. (On the plus side, the bullpen continued its recent effectiveness, with Hector Noesi pitching three scoreless innings.) A disputed solo homerun in the third inning by Billy Butler turned out to be the difference in the game. The ball hit a chain-link fence in left field and bounced back onto the field. After utilizing instant replay, the umpires ruled it a homerun, but the consensus after the game seemed to be that the call was inaccurate, as a result of a misinterpretation of ground rules at Kauffman Stadium.
Rivera was outraged, saying, “That cost us the game…you have replays, and get the call wrong? That’s unacceptable.” Even Butler seemed to think it was a double after hitting it, as he put his helmet back on and prepared to go to second base while the umps were reviewing the video. The tainted homerun gave the Royals a 4-2 lead. Colon gave up another run in the fifth to make the score 5-2 before Yankees catcher Russell Martin blasted a solo shot in the sixth to narrow the deficit to two runs.
As maddening as the blown call was, the real frustration for Yankee fans came in the ninth inning. With the bases loaded and one run already in, Posada stepped up to the plate. All season, the five-time All-Star has been plagued with a much-publicized struggle to recapture his Yankee glory days.
Last Saturday Posada belted a pivotal grand slam to be the hero of that Yankee victory. The veteran had another chance for heroism last night, but this time he didn’t even swing the bat, watching three strikes whiz by and ending a grueling 40-pitch inning for Royals closer Joakim Soria, who seemed en route to his eighth blown save of the season.
Aren’t we taught in Little League, “If it’s too close to take, you gotta swing”?!
The point is, the Yankees could say they lost this game because of bad umpiring or a blown call. They could have even played the game “under protest,” whatever that means. But the bottom line is they have to come through in clutch situations, especially a veteran like Posada who, frankly, has been playing the role of the martyr better than the role of DH all season.
Sometimes the calls aren’t going to go your way. That’s baseball. You have to find a way to win regardless.
The Yankees open a four-game set in Minnesota tonight.
YANKEE FUN FACT: Ivan Nova now has 12 wins, tying the club record for most wins as a rookie with Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, who went 12-4 in 1998.