Mood Music - Fool in the Rain by Led Zeppelin
The New York Yankees defeated the Texas Rangers 3-2 in twelve innings, finishing off their impressive home sweep of the AL West leaders (box score). In the bottom of the twelfth inning, Brett Gardner delivered an RBI single off of Michael Kirkman, earning the win for freshly called up Cory Wade.
There were tons of subplots in this game, so I'll just dive right in: The Yankees got some brilliant pitching tonight from some unlikely sources, with Brian Gordon allowing only two runs in 5.1 innings of work, and Cory Wade throwing two perfect innings in the eleventh and twelfth. With the way that Yankee pitchers have been dropping like flies, the more that they can squeeze out of guys like Gordon and Wade, the better their chance of weathering the injury storm. With that performance, it is likely that The Commissioner earns himself another start.
As far as I could tell, every single one of Joe Girardi's weaknesses were on display tonight: Brett Gardner sat for Andruw Jones, who continues to look horrible at the plate, there was an absolutely indefensible bunt in the ninth inning, and we burned through our best relievers at light speed.
I've got some mixed feelings on the subject of Andruw Jones. When he was signed, I thought that he could be everything that Marcus Thames was in 2010, with the added bonus of league average fielding. Horrible as he has looked recently (cherrypicking, I know, but if you remove his 2 home run game, he's hitting .185/.264/.308 on the year), I think there is at least some value there for the Yankees to extract. If there's an injury in the outfield, Jones is still a better option than Chris Dickerson, Greg Golson, et al. He needs to get some reps to stay fresh, but Brett Gardner is simply too productive to sit every time we face a left handed starter. There are other ways to get Jones some at bats and this platooning needs to stop.
The bunt: Darren Oliver is much worse against lefties and is struggling. Let's give him an out, while simultaneously taking the bat out of the hands of two right handed batters (Eduardo Nunez and Alex Rodriguez) and condemn our most valuable bat on the bench to an obvious intentional walk situation. Even ignoring all of those things, the successful implementation of the bunt still dropped the Yankees chances of winning by 1.6%. This was nothing more or less than an inexcusable failure to grasp basic strategy.
Why do we pull Hector Noesi when he's pitching well in a tie game to burn through David Robertson and Mariano Rivera, making it a near certainty that the back end of the pen will pitch high leverage innings? You want your closer to pitch the ninth inning of a tie game when you're playing at home, but not at the expense of your only dependable long man. Noesi should have been allowed to go at least one more inning. Thankfully, Mariano Rivera was able to give two innings and Cory Wade was able to help us avoid Boone Logan, Luis Ayala, or Lance Pendleton seeing the field.
And finally, holy crap do I wish the Yankees would use their starting pitchers the way the Rangers do. C.J. Wilson was able to give the Rangers eight strong innings, going well over 100 pitches, and preventing the Yankees from sinking their teeth into the lesser quality of the Rangers middle relief. It makes all the sense in the world to look for as much depth as your starters can give you, and the alarm bells that go off the 100 pitch mark have never been proven to be in any way helpful to a pitcher's arm.
The Yankees will travel to Wrigley field tomorrow to take on the Chicago Cubs as inter-league play gets under way. Oh joy.
Play of the Game: Brett Gardner's walk off single.
Comment of the Game: Jedi Master A-Rod (although I was strongly tempted by the use of Corey Wade's name to mock the Miami Heat).