The New York Yankees are going to need performances from Ivan Nova like he had last night for the foreseeable future, but they can’t be followed up with disastrous ninth innings like the bullpen endured in the Yankees 4-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
After Nova pitched 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball and Mark Teixeira blasted a solo homer to give the Yankees a 3-1 lead, manager Joe Girardi chose to use his lesser known bullpen arms in an effort to give closer Rafael Soriano and recently injured David Robertson some rest. The move completely backfired on Girardi.
The bullpen, which has been one of the most consistent aspects of the Yankees season, may be showing signs of letting down, and it couldn’t come an a more inopportune time. Girardi, passed on using Cory Wade, who was a go-to guy while Robertson was on the disabled list. Wade’s ERA in June is 11.05. Soriano, who allowed a run in his last outing and slithered out of a bases loaded jam, had worked four the last five days so Girardi deemed him unavailable and Robertson has been treated gingerly since his return and Girardi wanted to keep him out of the game if possible.
So, Girardi asked Cody Eppley to start the ninth after he got the final out of the eighth. He allowed a lead-off single to Alex Rios. Girardi then went to lefty Clay Rapada who did exactly what he wanted with his pitch to A.J. Pierzynski, inducing a ground ball straight back to him, but he threw wild to second base putting runners on the corners. Enter Robertson and on the second pitch of the at-bat Dayan Viciedo roped a three-run homer to left to put the White Sox on top.
Nova was fantastic in his first start since injuries to CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte have forced him and his rotation counterparts into a situation where they need to step up. It was clear that Nova is up to the task. He really only had trouble keeping Alejandro De Aza off the bases. De Aza had four hits against Nova including a solo home run which put the White Sox ahead in the fifth inning.
The Bombers responded quickly in the bottom half of the inning behind run-scoring doubles from Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano to take the lead. It seemed to be more than enough the way Nova was going through the White Sox lineup. Nova ended up allowing six hits and three walks while striking out five, which is all the Yankees can ask for from their starters.
The decision making on Girardi’s part speaks volumes of his confidence in the middle part of the bullpen, but the bullpen receives days of rest naturally and messing with the flow can become troublesome in itself. Since Robertson was not completely shelved for the night, it would have been easier for the reliever to begin the ninth instead of coming in with two on and no one out. He can’t be Houdini all the time.
The Yankees (46-29) maintained their five-game lead over the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East and there was a status quo through the entire division as each team lost their games last night. The White Sox (41-35) held onto their 2 1/2 game lead over the Cleveland Indians.
In tonight’s game Adam Warren makes his major league debut for the Yankees. Warren was 5-5 with a 3.86 ERA in 15 starts for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the Yankees Triple-A affiliate. The White Sox send rookie left-hander Jose Quintana to the mound. Quintana is 2-1 with a stingy 1.25 ERA in 43 1/3 innings (8 games, 6 starts).
Derek Jeter will be looking to pass Cal Ripken Jr. on the all-time hits list after tying the Hall of Famer for 13th place last night with a seventh-inning single. It was hit number 3,184 for the Yankees captain.
Topics: A.J. Pierzynski, Alejandro De Aza, Alex Rios, Alex Rodriguez, Chicago White Sox, Clay Rapada, Cody Eppley, Cory Wade, David Robertson, Dayan Viciedo, Derek Jeter, Ivan Nova, Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees, Rafael Soriano, Robinson Cano, Yankees