WHEN OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS…THE YANKEES AREN’T HOME
Added by Elizabeth DiPietro on June 14, 2013.
Kevin Youkilis reacts after striking out with the bases loaded in the 11th inning. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
It was only 12:30 in Oakland when Thursday’s game began, but by the time the A’s pushed across the winning run it was way past nightfall over in New York.
Oakland completed a three-game sweep of the Yankees with the 18-inning marathon that saw the Yankees go a measly 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position and strike out 15 times.
The main culprits in the missed-opportunity crime spree were Travis Hafner, Kevin Youkilis, and Vernon Wells, who went a combined 0-for-23. The trio had 9 strikeouts and left 16 men on base. The wasted chances epitomized what has been the Yankees’ biggest problem in the postseason the last couple of years.
The Yanks scored early on a Robinson Cano two-run homer in the first inning, and then spent seventeen subsequent innings failing miserably to get a clutch hit. Or a clutch sac fly, walk, hit-by-pitch, wild pitch, anything.
It certainly wasn’t for lack of opportunities. In the top of the eleventh, they had the bases loaded with one out, only to have Hafner and Youkilis strike out. The next inning Jayson Nix struck out with runners on first and second, right after Brett Gardner was intentionally walked. It seems like that would be motivation enough to get a hit just out of sheer embarrassment, but apparently not.
In the thirteenth, Cano opened the inning with a double and Teixeira was intentionally walked, only to see Haf, Youk, and Wells go down one-two-three afterward. Then the Yankees blew it again with the bases loaded an inning later.
As has been the story all season, the bright spot in the heartbreaker was the Yankee pitching. Hiroki Kuroda went eight innings and seven of them were perfect. His only blemish was the third inning, in which he gave up two runs, both of whom were walked on base.
Also terrific was Adam Warren, who essentially became the second starter of the seemingly endless game. He threw six scoreless innings, scattering four hits and two walks.
As injured players begin to return, available excuses for the Yankee offense begin to dwindle. Hot in April, Wells and Hafner have cooled considerably, although Hafner and Gardner lead the team with runners in scoring position (.333). And we keep hearing that Mark Teixeira’s about to get his swing back, that this is really like his April, but we wonder exactly when, and if, the Teixeira we know will return and shatter the Mendoza line for good. Since returning from the DL, he is 8-for-49 (.163).
Up next, the Yankees will test the waters against the Angels. Los Angeles is currently ten games under .500, but with the likes of Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, and Mike Trout, you can never really count them out.
The Yankees will need to look more slugger and less sluggish if they want to steer this road trip back on the right path.