|WP: F. Hernandez (7-5) LP: J. Chamberlain (1-4)|
Sure, some of the blame for last night's loss can go to the offense, who went 1-for-8 with RISP and left nine men on base, but when you're beating the Mariners heading into the eighth inning you should win.
That wasn't the case tonight, as Joba Chamberlain experienced one of his meltdowns in the eighth, turning a 1-0 lead into a 4-1 deficit. Jack Wilson started things off with a single. Then, following a fielder's choice by Ichiro, Chone Figgins singled. Both runners then moved up on a wild pitch, forcing the Yankees to walk Russell Branyon to load the bases for Jose Lopez. Joba fell behind as he missed with two sliders, then had to throw a fastball and Lopez hammered it into the seats for a grand slam.
This is yet another example of why velocity is meaningless. Joba was consistently at 96-97 and even hit 99 at one point, but when you miss your spots it doesn't really matter how hard you're throwing.
There's a lot I like about this team, but the bullpen is not one of them. I don't know about you, but I don't trust Joba in any kind of big situation at this point. Not saying a 1-0 lead against the Mariners in July is a big situation, but how would you feel if that were Boston or Tampa and this was October?
Sadly, while you and I may not trust Joba, Joe Girardi still does. “I’m going to send him back out there," Girardi said after the game.
I just hope that while Girardi is sending him back out there, Brian Cashman is on the phone searching for a real setup man.
I know, I know, they have the best record in baseball. And yes, this team can win a lot of games with Joba as their primary setup guy, but can they win a playoff series? That's what the Yankees need to figure out between now and the trade deadline.
Not only did Joba blow the game, but he wasn't another great outing from Javier Vazquez.
Vazquez allowed just three singles and two walks, while striking out seven over seven scoreless innings. He held the Mariners hitless through the first 5.2 innings, and at one point retired 15 in a row. The only trouble for Javy on the night was a bases-loaded jam in the 7th, but he was able to get out of the when Milton Bradley lined out to Ramiro Pena. (Would Jeter have caught that ball?)
For seven innings he out-dueled King Felix and deserved a better fate than a no decision. After tonight Vazquez's ERA is at 4.45 and dropping like a stone.
Offensively, this was one of those nights where the injuries came back to haunt the Yankees. They certainly had their fair share of base runners, but failed each time to push a run across. Credit must go out to Felix Hernandez, who threw his third straight complete game against the Yankees, but the Yankees put 12 men (10 hits and 2 walks) on base and wasted many opportunities. Also, it doesn't help your cause when the bottom three of Francisco Cervelli, Colin Curtis and Ramiro Pena go 0-for-10.
The only run the Yankees scored came from the red hot Nick Swisher, who hit his 15th homer of the season.
Tampa won and Boston lost so the Yanks now lead the Rays by two and the Sox by five. CC Sabathia takes the mound as the Yanks wrap up the first half. Ryan Rowland-Smith starts for the Mariners. First pitch is 4:10 p.m. and the game is on YES.