"There is always more spirit in attack than in defense."
—Livy, History of Rome (Book XXVIII, sec. 44)
"This is a ninth inning that has to be seen to be believed." So said WFAN’s John Sterling, he ironically a radio play-by-play man who, though famous for being wrong about things most of the time, was appallingly right on this occasion. The Yankees hung eight runs on a generally ineffective Angels squad, but that’s not what’ll be remembered from this one. Turn to the ninth where, with a seven run lead over the opposition, the unlikely tandem of Esmil Rogers and Dellin Betances allowed six runs to score.
Most of the blame, as you might expect, lies squarely at the feet of Rogers, who did a stellar job of providing wildly incompetent relief. In a context where we might have been comfortable turning the ball over to Garrett Jones, Rogers dished up mediocre pitch after mediocre pitch, seeing Johnny Giavotella single, Taylor Featherstone double (or "duggle," as John Sterling uttered), Grant Green single, Efren Navarro walk, and Kole Calhoun single. He added a wild pitch into the mix for good measure. Betances did not provide the quick finish Joe Girardi might have been hoping for. He entered and allowed a single, a walk, and a walk, before eventually retiring three. Five runs were charged to Rogers, with one to Betances—his first earned run of the season, which sees his once-naught ERA inflate to an abysmal 0.30.
Betances might have been more effective had he not insisted on throwing his curve, which he had little-to-no control over. Some of those curves may have bounced their way to China had it not been for one Brian McCann. But, ultimately, Betances should not have been in that position in the first place. Rogers has done his best to convince us that he now cannot be trusted to see out a blowout, and in doing so has erased what little goodwill he might still have had. Also featuring was a Chase Headley and Jose Pirela botch-job in the field when the two men allowed an easy pop-up to fall between them.
Said Sterling gravely of the inning: "This should not have happened."
Thank the Yankees’ offense for the number they did on the Angels’ starter Jered Weaver. Weaver is, unfortunately, a bit of a shadow of his former self, and the home team saw cleanly through his garbageball routine. New Yankee hero Stephen Drew inflicted the most damage with two home runs in the game, the first in the second inning off a 69 mph curveball (which also scored the recently vibrant Garrett Jones), the second off a 82 mph two-seamer. Both were deposited into the right-field seats, and both are things Weaver can’t be too proud of. "You can get away with hitting .165 if every hit you hit is a home run," cried Suzyn Waldman, in a moment of beautiful naivety.
Given the ninth inning, Drew’s input was absolutely essential; so too was Mark Teixeira’s, whose came in the form of two-run home run in the third, and Alex Rodriguez’s, who went 4 for 5 on the night. Rodriguez entered the night thirteen hits away from 3000 and exits nine shy. One of the hits was a double; another was a RBI single, which saw him pass Barry Bonds on the all-time RBI list—Rodriguez now sits pretty with a career total 1997 batted in.
Nathan Eovaldi started for the Yankees, going 5.1 innings and allowing a run on four hits, four walks, and four strikeouts. Though he looked unconvincing most of the time, he looked like a veritable Cy Young candidate compared to his opposite number and his long-man teammate. Eovaldi struggled to put people away, and was lifted in the sixth after allowing the bases to load on three walks. Chasen Shreve replaced him and got the Yankees out of the jam after allowing one of the runs to score on a groundout.
The Yankees looked convincing for eight of tonight’s nine innings. And, truth be told, Esmil Rogers was essentially the sole culprit here. The score line does not reflect the play on the field for most of the game, but it does reflect the ineptitude of one man. The Yankees will hope for a slightly better ninth inning when they play the Angels in the second of this three game series tomorrow. Adam Warren will face off against Garrett Richards.