(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)
This loss hurt Wednesday night in the Bronx. And it hurt more because the Yankees dropped two of three to Baltimore and they were scoreboard watching because Toronto has suddenly lost two straight games. So the 5-3 loss to the Orioles holds more significance because first place Toronto comes to town for a big four game series Thursday night.
And those four games, with the Blue Jays in front of the division by a game-and- half, could determine where this race goes or if the Yankees settle for one of two American League wild card sports. The preference of course, a divisional series best three-of five over a one game elimination and go home
Also, the loss is hard to swallow because CC Sabathia returned from another stint on the disabled list and overall did his job. The second baseman, Stephen Drew did not do his job and made a costly error that cost Sabathia and the Yankees. So if the division is lost, this game and not the loss Tuesday night will be tougher to swallow.
However the Yankees will not look at this game as the end as they await the Blue Jays, a team that has suddenly found a way to lose ballgames. Instead, and unless otherwise known, they have to be optimistic because CC Sabathia gave them 4 ⅔ innings on three runs, one which was earned.
The right knee inflammation that was supposed to end his season was not an issue. A brace on the knee enabled Sabathia to have the location and his velocity was in the low 90’s. The first inning a fastball was clocked twice at 93. if there was any bit of optimism it is hoped that Sabathia can return and provide a few more of those starts and let the Yankees bullpen take it from there.
“The brace held up and I feel confident going out here forward,” Sabathia said. That’s the good news of a loss that the Yankees can quickly forget if they get a few wins, or take the series over the potent hitting Blue Jays.
Said manager Joe Girardi about Sabathia, “After the first couple of hitters he got the ball down in the zone. I thought his breaking ball was sharp tonight. I thought his changeup was good.” That was good enough for Sabathia to earn another start, and the Yankees do need his arm to help them down the stretch.
They also have a guy in their clubhouse, Drew who has become public enemy number one with Yankees fans. It’s not that Drew can’t overcome his error game, but when the batting average is a few points over .200, it is hard for fans to forgive and errors are costly especially this time of year.
Girardi does have some options and perhaps Drew will sit and work it out, more so because these games with the Blue Jays become the most significant ones of the season in September.
“We gave them the first three runs they got,” Girardi said. “That was the difference.” And the defense of Drew turned out to be the difference, and more than once it has been a case of Drew not making the play the Yankees need that determined a loss instead of a win.
Again, this is not the time of year to make the error that cost a run or two. After Sabathia was lifted with two outs and the bases loaded in the fifth inning, Drew could not handle a low ball thrown off a grounder that was hit to Chase Headley. The ball went through the legs of Drew and Baltimore scored two runs to tie the score.
Drew heard the boos. And the Yankees could only get four hits off Baltimore pitching and they did not allow a walk. Two of the hits came from Carlos Beltran including his 15th home run, so Drew may have been a culprit on the field but the Yankees bats also were not helping the cause.
“It’s part of the game and you have to find a way to overcome it,” said Girardi about the errors. But at this time of year, and with the way Sabathia gave the Yankees a boost, errors should not be a part of the game. To his credit, Drew has been able to overcome the adversity of making the error and he faces the music.
But it is tough to swallow, especially this time of year and the magnitude of how important every game is,
“It’s tough for me to swallow,” Drew said. “Yeah it’s frustrating. I should have caught it,” he said about the play. “If I had to do it all over again I think I would try and catch it with one hand.” In the first inning, He also allowed a bouncer from Gerardo Parra bounce off his glove, a sure double play ball that went for a force out. Chris Davis followed with a two-out single to right that dropped in front of Beltran.
But there is no doing it again from this game. All the Yankees can hope is that errors don’t cost them in the next four games. And if they can count on Sabathia to give them five or six good innings, it boosts their chances in this stretch run to a division title, though a tough loss to swallow is always a reminder of a game that could have been won.
And in September as it is in April, these games that are lost by the error or a bad pitch prove to be costly.