This one shouldn't be made into an instructional DVD. Actually, yes, it probably should be. This game should be recorded to whatever medium necessary and given to every team and player possible. This is baseball is at its worst. Whatever you do, don't do what is on this video. My only concern would be scaring future players off the game by showing them the tape.
Something happened in this game that I really can't explain. This was as bad of a full-team breakdown as I've seen all year. Spotty pitching, easy plays booted, lack of awareness and Russell Martin. You could probably just say Martin and have it be the all-encompassing term for the prior three failures.
The most egregious mistake has to the dropped play at the plate. Dewayne Wise threw a strike to the plate to get Elliot Johnson, but Martin dropped the ball. Johnson looked like he might have been safe, but he wasn't. At least he wouldn't have been if Martin holds on.
Everything spiraled out of control from there. Ivan Nova would have been out of the third with a 3-0 lead, but no, can't have nice things at The Trop. Jeff Keppinger followed the plate botch with a lined two-run single to tie the game. It didn't turn out to really mean anything, but Eric Chavez shanked a chopper to first immediately after. The failure was contagious. He made up for it in the fourth with a double to retake the lead, but it didn't last long.
Bad pitches are going to get crushed by just about every major league hitter. Except maybe Chris Stewart or Chone Figgins.
Nova made a bad pitch to Sean Rodriguez and he crushed it. Just can't miss there, even if it is Sean Rodriguez. As bad as it is to give up a home run like that, the tack on runs were more disheartening.
Desmond Jennings led off the seventh with a double off Nova to knock him out of the game. B.J. Upton followed with a one out single to move him to third. Burner on first, burner on third; the double steal is coming. You know it is. Not even because it's the Rays. It's just the right thing to try with those two runners on in a close game. This clearly escaped Martin's grasp as he threw to second, and into center, allowing Jennings to score. Dumb. It couldn't have been more obvious, yet it needed to be more obvious.
Ben Zobrist tacked on another run with a single to close out the scoring. I'd like to say they put up a fight at least, but of course not. After Raul Ibanez doubled with one out in the sixth, the Yankees had one baserunner. One. Fernando Rodney easily cleared out the bottom of the order to close the 7-4 win. It's only fitting that Russell Martin was the final out. He's the enduring image from this game, so why not have him be the final one.
- Ivan Nova was decent. That's about it. He did some good things early on, but faded and started making bad pitches after the Martin play at the plate. Too many sliders and curves left up in the zone. What odd is that even with the curve staying up, he didn't adjust and work his fastball. Thirty-nine fastballs to thirty-two curves. I like to see the confidence in his off-speed stuff, but I like it better when he's actually commanding it.
- .221/.272/.351 hitter Sean Rodriguez went 3-4 with a homer, double and two RBI. They'll figure out how to get him out eventually.
- Dewayne Wise: power hitter. This little hot streak he's on has been a lot of fun. Checking HitTracker is now an appointment tomorrow to see how his home run off the catwalk rates out for true distance. It's always something at The Trop.
- The Yankees were two for three with runners in scoring position with one out in the first inning. They went one for five the rest of the game. They're back.
- Cano had a strange night on the bases. He was doubled off on a Swisher fly out in the first when he forgot how many outs there were, and was thrown out at home by roughly ten feet in the sixth. The first one is on him; the second one is on Rob Thomson. It's that awareness thing again. Thomson has to know who his runner is in that situation. It was an unnecessary risk given the time and player involved.
- Just stop with Jose Molina. Sam Holbrook's strike zone looks pretty bad, but that's largely a product of Molina's framing. He steals on umpires. He stole on the Yankees tonight. If he starts tomorrow, he's probably going to steal on them again. It's kind of what he does.
Play of the Game: Sean Rodriguez's home run in the fourth (+25%). Eric Chavez's single to give the Yankees a 4-3 lead is our side of things (14.7%).
David Phelps tries to salvage something from this series tomorrow against David Price. Just be better than Adam Warren. See how that works out and take things from there.