The Yankees wasted a rare quality start from Andy Pettitte, who overcame yet another poor first few innings to keep the game within reach.
You know, sometimes I wonder about the contents of Joe Girardi's legendary binder. Does it contain actual scouting reports for opposing lineups? Because if it did, I would assume the scouting report on the Dodgers reads something to the effect of: "Don't let Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez beat you." So what does Pettitte do in the bottom of the first? With one out, he hangs a curve that Puig hits to the tippy-top of the wall in dead-center for a double. Then, after inducing a pop-up from Adrian Gonzalez, he tosses a 3-2 cutter over that broke over the plate to Ramirez, the second-hottest hitter in the National League in July. Ramirez deposited the ball into center field and the Dodgers took a quick 1-0 lead. And so Andy Pettitte's first-inning struggles continue...
The teams exchanged solo home runs in the second inning. Lyle Overbay led off the top half of the frame with a dinger to right off of Zack Greinke...because the Yankees do these things now, apparently. Juan Uribe put the Dodgers back up by one in the bottom half of the inning by crushing an 0-2 slider from Pettitte 440 feet into the second deck in left. And so Andy Pettitte's second-inning struggles continue...
Those struggles nearly continued right into the third inning as well - Ramirez doubled with two outs and A.J. Ellis looked to drive him in with a single to right. Pettitte was saved by the right arm of Ichiro Suzuki, who nailed Ramirez at the plate with a laser throw to end the frame.
The Yankees knotted the game at 2-2 in the top of the fourth. Alfonso Soriano led off with a double, moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a ground ball from Overbay. The thing about extra-base hits - and I've only noticed this in the past two games - is that they make it easier for the offense to score runs!
Both starters would settle down through the next few innings. Pettitte threw quite a few curve balls - particularly early in the count - to keep the Dodger hitters off-balance. Greinke certainly had his 'A' stuff tonight - his fastball was consistently hitting the mid-nineties, with movement, and his change up had sharp late fade.
The Yankees had a quality scoring chance off Greinke in the seventh, thanks to a one-out double by Ichiro, but Jayson Nix and Chris Stewart wasted no time Nix'ing and Stew'ing the rally into oblivion with a strike out and a ground out. I've noticed a disturbing pattern in 2013: the Yankees' best chance to take a lead often comes with Nix at the plate, and once Nix invariably fails, the offense wilts like a parched desert blossom. The lineup mustered not a single base runner over the next two innings against the Dodgers' bullpen.
David Robertson threw only nine pitches in a brilliant eighth inning. With such a low pitch count, many Yankee fans were hoping to see him come back out for the ninth...but eighth-inning pitchers only pitch in the eighth inning, dag-nabbit!
Shawn Kelley allowed a one-out base hit to Andre Ethier. Following a strikeout of Uribe, Ethier stole second, setting the stage for Ellis' heroics. Kelley didn't pitch horribly, given the circumstances, and there was a pretty fair chance the Yankee lineup would have needed another nine innings to score anyway.
Once again, the Yankees lost to a superior starting pitcher and a superior lineup. They have to be damn-near perfect in all areas of the game to squeak out a win these days, and they simply were not. The going will get even tougher tomorrow as Clayton Kershaw - he of the 1.96 ERA - takes the mound.
More from Pinstriped Bible:
- MLB Trade Rumors: Angels make Alberto Callaspo available, could Yankees be interested?
- Biogenesis suspensions likely coming after MLB trade deadline
- Yankees offense is improved, but will it be enough?
- MLB Trade Rumors: Michael Young will only approve trade to Rangers
- Remembering the great deadline heist of '06