Some days, pretty much nothing will go right. This was one of those nights. The defense looked dreadful and the offense was lifeless against Cardinals starter Lance Lynn, who twirled a five-hit shutout against the Yankees. They certainly had their chances with Lynn on the mound, but they couldn't bring a single runner home.
David Phelps pitched in his hometown of St. Louis for the first time in his career, and he really deserved a better fate tonight. The lone bright spot for the Yankees' defense did occur in the first inning when Matt Carpenter hit a long drive to deep right center and Jacoby Ellsbury demonstrated incredible range to somehow make the catch:
The play was made all the more pivotal when with two outs and no one on, Matt Holliday walked and Matt Adams singled to right, moving Holliday to third. A run might have scored had Carpenter remained on the bases, but instead, Phelps induced a 3-2 grounder from Yadier Molina to escape the jam.
Although the Yankees went in order in the top of the first, they got off to a good start in the second against Lynn when Brian McCann doubled. Unfortunately, that led to nothing, as the Cardinals righty retired the next three batters in order, though the last hitter, Brian Roberts, was almost safe on an in-between hopper up the middle. Kolten Wong handled it and threw a little wildly to first, but Adams corralled the throw while falling over, narrowly keeping his foot on the bag to preserve the out. The play was upheld after review and the game moved on.
It stayed scoreless until the bottom of the third. Carpenter led off by singling toward the shortstop hole vacated by the shift. That was annoying, but the next two hits were absolutely laced. With one out, Holliday slapped one to center field for a single, and Adams plated the game's first run with a booming ground-rule double over Ellsbury's head in center field. Phelps intentionally walked Molina to set up the double play with the slumping Allen Craig coming up. Craig hit a slow roller to shortstop that Derek Jeter charged and threw to first a little off-line, and the inexperienced Kelly Johnson, playing since Mark Teixeira had stiffness in his surgically repaired wrist, could not hold on to the throw.
Just when you thought the defense was ugly, it got worse when Jhonny Peralta hit a double play grounder toward Roberts that went right through his legs. Instead of ending the inning trailing by two, the deficit was doubled. It was sloppy defense all around, and it led to a big inning from St. Louis. All while this nonsense was going on, Wong put on a show at second for the Cardinals, making several great plays to rob the Yankees at various points. This is why defense matters, and it's getting pretty exhausting watching the Yankees continue to look like crap in the infield night after night. They better hope that Tex's wrist is okay.
St. Louis tacked on another run in the bottom of the fifth, when Craig lifted a high fly into deep right field. Alfonso Soriano ran back to the warning track and made a leap for it, but the ball dinged off his glove and fell over the wall for a solo homer. A half-inning later, Lynn threw some salt on the wound by tossing yet another scoreless frame while the Yankees left yet another man in scoring position. They were 0-for-9 in such situations all night while Lynn shut them down. Super!
Oh, and just for funsies, Alfredo Aceves entered the game in the bottom of the seventh after a decent performance by Phelps, and he immediately surrendered a booming homer to center by Holliday. The Cardinals broadcast clocked the ball flying over the wall at 101 mph. Obviously, the Yankees needed to turn to someone other than Dellin Betances and Adam Warren to give them a breather, but man. He bad.
Lynn finished off his gem with a perfect ninth inning, and a Roberts flyout gave him the first complete game and shutout in his four-year MLB career. The series is now even at a game apiece; the Yankees will have to try to figure out Shelby Miller tomorrow night while they send Hiroki Kuroda out to stem the tide. If the infield defense is as shoddy as it was tonight, it could be a bad night for #HIROK, but let's hope for the best.