Yanks exposed in ugly walk-off loss to Jays
June, 25, 2014
By Wallace Matthews | ESPNNewYork.com
TORONTO -- Mark Teixeira no doubt spoke for a lot of Yankees fans Tuesday when he said, "It was an ugly game to watch -- if you were a fan, you should get your money back," because this was surely not just the ugliest Yankees game of the 2014 season, but probably of quite a few previous seasons as well.
Yes, the Yankees came back from a 6-0 deficit to tie the game, and yes, Dellin Betances came up big again. And you really can't knock Brian Roberts, who had a two run homer, or Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury or Brett Gardner, who had two hits each. Even Matt Thornton pitched a clean inning.
But on the other side of the ledger, there were two horrible defensive plays by Derek Jeter (who also homered for the Yankees first run); there was a terrible outing by David Phelps; there was Joe Girardi's sitting Ichiro Suzuki and his .421 career average against Mark Buehrle in favor of Alfonso Soriano and his .208, although Soriano did have the single that drove Buehrle from the game in the seventh; and finally, the throwing error by Yangervis Solarte allowed the game winner to score.
Yes, it was ugly -- and at times embarrassing. And worst of all, it answered three key questions about the 2014 Yankees:
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty ImagesYangervis Solarte's misfire to first doomed the Yankees in a 7-6 walk-off loss to Toronto.
Is it the pitching? Is it the hitting? Is it the defense?
Yes. And yes, and yes.
Right now, this is a team with more holes than any general manager can plug at a trade deadline, a team with more age on it than a Joan Rivers mah-jongg night, a team that can find more ways to lose than it can to win.
Actually, it is rarely all three areas in the same game. On nights Masahiro Tanaka starts and in innings Betances relieves, it is rarely the pitching. On some nights, the Yankees actually hit a little better than the stats tell you they do. And, usually, the cracks in the defense don't appear as wide as they did Tuesday.
As a result, even though the Yankees came to Toronto with a chance -- with a sweep -- to unseat the Jays atop the AL East, on nights like this it is tough to see how they will ever see October anywhere other than on their vacation calendars.
They all said the right things after the game.
Jeter admitted he made the wrong play twice in the Blue Jays' three-run fifth, first when he double-clutched on Edwin Encarnacion's routine grounder that became a bases-loading infield single, and again when he tried to race Colby Rasmus back to first on the next play, allowing a third run to score on what should have been a two-run single.
Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY SportsDerek Jeter's defensive gaffes gave the Blue Jays three extra runs in the fifth inning.
David Phelps beat himself up accordingly for failing to stop the bleeding after Jeter's first misplay by hanging a curveball to Rasmus, which barely missed leaving the park for a grand slam.
Solarte gave credit to Melky Cabrera for laying down a good bunt in the ninth, a bunt Solarte threw away, allowing Jose Reyes to score from second.
And Joe Girardi, voice calm but neck veins bulging, allowed that it was a terrible loss but saw it as nothing a little consistency couldn't cure, before going into his almost-nightly Scarlett O'Hara routine ("Tomorrow is another day!").
But no one dared to verbalize what is becoming clearer by the day: that despite spending nearly a half-billion dollars on four free agents, including Tanaka, who is probably among the five best pitchers in baseball right now, this roster is simply not good enough to win on a consistent basis, which means it is probably not good enough to be playing baseball beyond Sept. 28.
That, of course, is not a problem for Girardi to cure, or Jeter or Phelps or even Tanaka.
It is Brian Cashman's job, and right now, even though he has more than a month to go before the non-waiver trading deadline, it is tough to see how he can possibly find enough new parts to make this machine work again. No doubt, he will try anyway.
In the meantime, of all the words spoken in the Yankees clubhouse, none were truer than Mark Teixeira's.
This one did not deserve to be called major league baseball, or to charge major league prices for the "privilege" of watching it.
A lot of Yankee fans deserved to get their money back Tuesday.
Instead, unless something drastic happens, they will get this team for another 86 games, and Tuesday's won't be the last one for which they will be demanding refunds.