Games 140 & 141: TOR vs. NYY — Swept over in the rain twice

Today was a very long day in the Bronx, and the result was an even further dip in the standings. Seriously, the first game was 4 hours and 32 minutes and then with a brief break (about 40 minutes) between the game times to ensure the rain that threatened all day wouldn’t encroach on the second game. But it did anyway, causing a 33 minute delay as the deluge swept through the City. So add that to a 3 hour and 31 minute second game. You’re talking about 10 hours in the ball park, plus batting practice and other pre- and post-game meetings (like talking with the press).

Both games burned through the bullpen trying to fend off the advances of any offense. Both teams had this problem, but it really fell against the Yankees in the long run, with neither starter throwing their A-game.

In the first game of today’s doubleheader, Michael Pineda threw 98 pitches in his 5.1 innings, gave up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 4 runs, and struck out 5 Toronto batters. The Yankees, however, gave him a bit of a lead at first, with a 1-out solo home run by Brett Gardner in the 1st and a 1-out solo home run by Chase Headley in the 2nd. In the 4th, a 1-out solo home run got things started for the Blue Jays before Pineda got into and out of a jam.

But the Yankees came back in the bottom of the 4th to push on ahead further. McCann led-off with a single, and then Alex Rodriguez hit a 2-run home run. But the Blue Jays came back hard in the top of the 5th — a 1-out solo home run, a 2-out walk, and a 2-run home run tied up the game. Justin Wilson kept things quieter (read: tied) to finish the 6th and into the 7th inning. And Dellin Betances finished off the 7th and then got into a spot of trouble in the 8th with a lead-off solo home run.

Now, with the Blue Jays in the lead, the Yankees had to earn back their chances, which they did in the bottom of the 8th. Consecutive walks forced a pitching change, and 1 out later, a Brian McCann single scored Ellsbury to tie the game back up. Unfortunately, the Yankees couldn’t capitalize on a bases loaded situation, and despite Andrew Miller’s stellar pitching in the 9th, they were forced into extra innings. Miller’s pitching excellence continued through the 10th inning.

It would be the 11th inning that would change everything. Bryan Mitchell started the inning. After his concussion, Mitchell is still struggling to get back into his pre-injury sharpness. He loaded the bases with 1 strike out, which really set up some struggles for his replacement Chasen Shreve. Shreve’s outing was the “groan heard ’round the Bronx” — walked in a run, strikeout (okay, that was a cheer), an RBI single, another walked-in run, and then yet another walked-in run. Nick Goody stopped the bleeding with a 4-pitch ground out. The Yankees couldn’t bounce back and thus came up on the losing end.

Final score (Game 1): 9-5 in 11 innings, Blue Jays.

And then after a break, Ivan Nova took the mound. Nova struggled some in the 1st but was able to keep the Blue Jays from starting the game in the win column. But his 2nd inning spiraled out of control quickly after the lead-off strikeout — a double, an RBI single, a passed ball and wild pitch to move the runner to 3rd, a 2-run home run, a single, a fly out, a stolen base and wild pitch moved the runner to 3rd, an RBI double, two hit-by-pitch batters loaded the bases, and a double scored 2 more runs. And that would be it for Nova.

Nick Rumbelow came on and kept the Blue Jays from widening their early lead through the 2nd and 3rd innings. Chris Capuano came on for some long-term relief, pitching from the 4th inning into the 7th inning. He only got into his own sticky situation at the end of his outing. In the 7th, he loaded the bases with 2 singles and a walk and 2 outs before a single scored 2 runs and brought on Branden Pinder. Pinder then allowed consecutive singles to score 2 more runs for Toronto. After getting that final out of the 7th inning, Pinder’s 8th was much cleaner as he handed the reins over to James Pazos. Pazos easily threw the best inning, just 14 pitches to get through the 9th inning flawlessly.

The Yankees weren’t exactly stymied in their offense, finally breaking into the Blue Jays big early lead in the 5th inning. With 2 outs and Gregorius and Ryan in scoring position, Brett Gardner hit a big 3-run home run to put the Yankees on the board. And in the 6th, Ackley hit a 1-out single, moved to 3rd on Murphy’s single, and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ double. But then the Yankees did it again — 2 outs, Gregorius and Drew on base with singles, and Gardner hit another 3-run home run to put them within reach. But that was it.

Final score (Game 2): 10-7, Blue Jays.

Some grand totals from today’s doubleheader — 47 hits, 31 runs, 16 walks, and 31 strike outs. That’s really a big sign of bad pitching more than anything else. And even in the post-game press conference, Girardi was commenting that the biggest thing the Yankees need to work on is their pitching. It’s like the one thing they had really going for them earlier this season suddenly imploded on itself. But to be fair, at least they’re hitting. They’re just not hitting enough to make up for their bad pitching, like, well, their opponents this weekend seem to be doing.

Tomorrow, the Yankees will be honoring Alex Rodriguez’s 3000th hit with a pre-game ceremony and a special cover to their in-house magazine/program. A day I’m sure most people never imagined, say like a year ago. But 3000 hits is something to honor and celebrate.

Go Yankees!

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