An emotional game followed an emotional ceremony.
Matt Garza struggled for the second straight time against the Bombers, allowing seven runs (five earned) in 5+ innings. And just like last time, Ivan Nova cruised early before losing command and getting pulled* with the bases loaded. As usual, I enjoyed watching Nova. He locates all his pitches well, throws hard, has a surprisingly good changeup and a sharp curve. He looks like he could be a solid ML starter for years to come. He just has to stay focused for the entire game rather than losing command after a few innings.
Curtis 'Under The Bus' Granderson hit two homers and is finally showing why the Yankees acquired him in the first place: he's OPSing nearly .900 since July 24th when he was previously below .700. His five RBI tonight are a career high.
The Yanks jumped out and had a 4-0 lead in the fifth before a combination of walks, hits and bad luck let Tampa tie the game. Fortunately, the lineup never let Garza off the hook, rocking him for another four runs in the bottom of the inning.
A big issue was the strike zone. This horse has been beaten so many times that it's tiresome to bring up again, but HP ump Tim McClelland is/was painful to watch. He takes his sweet time calling balls and strikes and has a K-zone about 3"x3". I'm thinking specifically of a 2-2 pitch by Kerry Wood called a ball. (Pitch no. 9 on the graph)
Jeter scored twice to tie Mickey Mantle for third on the Yankees' career runs list with 1677.
Play of the Game: It wasn't Grandy's three-run bomb in the sixth or Jeter's go-ahead single, but Grandy's two-run shot in the third that put the Yanks up 2-0 (+19%).
Comment of the Game: pastor2b.
* Again, what was Girardi thinking? Since when is Chad Gaudin the guy you want pitching with the bases loaded and two outs and first place on the line? There's a guy named Joba Chamberlain who is better than Gaudin and he threw all of four pitches yesterday. How could he be unavailable?
I didn't like the initial move of taking out Nova, who was only at 78 pitches and still showing great stuff. His control was a little off in the sixth, but the Rays were hardly tattooing him - they hit one ball hard that inning. Nova's made 35 starts in Triple-A (spanning 212 innings), it's OK to let him work out of a jam. But this is really what I don't understand: Girardi seems glued to the 'health is more important than winning the division' idiom. Yet why does he panic every time Nova struggles? He can't fathom seeing Nova try to escape a jam yet is consistently using lesser relievers in the late innings of close games? There's a contradiction there.
Then he brought in D-Rob and Wood to pitch the seventh; if they were available, why weren't they used in the sixth? Who do you trust more to escape a bases-loaded situation, Gaudin or D-Rob/Wood? The answer is obvious, so... why, Joe?