Pictured: The only member of the Yankees' lineup who has never been an All-Star OR received MVP votes. What a loser.
Sometimes, the thing that you think is going to happen turns out to be exactly what actually happens. For example, Kurt Suzuki comes to the plate and hits a grounder to short. You pretty much saw that coming, right? Sometimes, though, life surprises us and throws us an unexpected turn of events. A few years ago, I was at a game in which Marco Scutaro hit a walk-off homer off of Mariano Rivera. What a twist!
Unfortunately, today's game fell into the former category. A New York Yankees lineup featuring 7 current or former All-Stars faced off against an Oakland Athletics lineup featuring 7 players hitting below .220, and the results were exactly what you would expect. The Yankees pounded out 14 hits, including 3 homers, and trounced the A's by a final score of 9-2.
There's no easy way to say it: Oakland looks bad right now. The rotation is struggling, and the lineup is abysmal. Hope inches ever closer, as it is possible that by the end of next week the team will finally have Yoenis Cespedes, Brandon Inge, and Manny Ramirez back in the lineup. Until then, though, the team is going to continue to be difficult to watch. Follow me after the jump for a look at today's contest.
The first inning of this game was actually quite promising. Bartolo Colon retired the Yankees on 7 pitches, and, for the second straight game, Jemile Weeks led off the bottom half with a single. Coco Crisp followed with a sacrifice bunt, and Jonny Gomes drove in Weeks with a solid single to right for a quick 1-0 lead. I was really happy to see Coco bunting, since he can't hit at all right now and grounded into a first inning double play yesterday. I don't understand why he is batting second in the lineup, but this time it worked out well.
This was the only time that the A's would lead in the ballgame. Colon gave the run right back with a solo homer to Robinson Cano to lead off the 2nd, and New York scored again in the 3rd when Derek Jeter drove home Eric Chavez. Earlier, I mentioned that the Yankees had a lineup with 7 guys who have been All-Stars. Eric Chavez is not included in that list, because he's never been an All-Star. He has 235 homers, 6 Gold Gloves, and he's received MVP votes in 4 different seasons, but he's never been on an All-Star team. Ty Wiggington has been an All-Star. So have Omar Infante, Matt Joyce, Jason Bartlett, and Christian Guzman. Kosuke Fukudome started one year. Not ol' Chavy, though. The Yankees have a lineup featuring 7 All-Stars, AND Eric Chavez as a throw-in at the end of the order. Good grief.
The A's struck back in the bottom of the third in the only way they know how: a solo homer by Josh Reddick. It's tough to complain about any kind of home run, but it sure would be nice to see some runners reach base ahead of Reddick on a consistent basis. Today, the solo shot was enough to tie the score; the happy feelings were short-lived, however, as Mark Teixeira launched a response into the right-field seats to make it 3-2. Teixeira, who would homer again later, apparently picked this weekend to come alive at the plate. He entered the series hitting .226 with 5 homers, but has gone 6-for-10 with 3 homers and 7 RBI in the first 2 games to push his average to .248 and raise his OPS from .672 to .763.
The 5th inning pretty much sealed this game for the Yankees. Non-All-Star catcher Chris Stewart led off with a single, and Derek Jeter laid down what should have been a sacrifice bunt to the right side. Colon and first baseman Adam Rosales both broke toward the ball, with Colon reaching it first. When he turned to throw, however, no one was covering the bag. Jemile Weeks had been shifted near the bag at second, and failed to break toward first when he saw Jeter square around. I'm hesitant to lay total blame on Weeks, since he was positioned so far away from first base, but if he had been running toward first on contact then he would have almost certainly made it in time to retire Jeter. As it happened, failing to record that out would prove costly. Curtis Granderson followed with a productive flyout to move Stewart to third, and Alex Rodriguez lined a sac fly to right to plate him. If Jeter had been retired, then A-Rod's liner would have been a harmless, inning-ending flyout instead of a run-scoring play. Instead, the inning was prolonged, and after a double by Cano and a 2-run single by Teixeira, the Yankees had built up a 6-2 lead which would never be threatened.
At this point, it was kind of eerie how similar this game was to last night's. There were homers by Reddick, Cano, and Teixeira, and a fielding miscue by the Athletics which prolonged an inning and led to a 3-run New York rally. The rest of this contest played out slightly differently, but the result was the same. Some other interesting things that happened:
- Collin Cowgill picked up three hits, and they were each almost identical soft liners to center. Cowgill is a player who can make a lot of consistent contact, and if he can start turning that contact into consistent hits then he can have a very positive impact on the basepaths.
- Jordan Norberto picked Granderson off of first. That was neat.
- Cliff Pennington made an error on a routine grounder in the 8th. With two runners on, he booted what should have been an inning-ending forceout, allowing the Yankees to load the bases (and ultimately score an unearned run). Pennington is an adequate shortstop for now, but I'm certainly willing to listen to ideas for a replacement. He's unlikely to ever be a league-average hitter, and his defense is solid at best. He flubs a lot of routine plays, and doesn't make that many Web-Gem-type spectacular plays. He seems to me to be the very definition of "replacement level." I would love him as a utility infielder, which is where I think his future ultimately lies.
- Graham Godfrey is just not good. He would have given up even more than three runs if not for a gift double play, in which Raul Ibanez lined out to Rosales at first while Rosales was standing in between the baserunner and the bag. There is a silver lining, however: Post-game analyst Greg Cadaret suggested that he thinks Godfrey's appearance in today's game suggests that he won't be making his scheduled start on Monday. Instead, he suspects that Travis Blackley, who has thrown 6 shutout innings out of Oakland's bullpen since being picked up, is the likely choice. That's not exactly encouraging, as Blackley has a 9.35 ERA in 8 career Major League starts, but hey, at least he's not Godfrey. I would assume that if Blackley did start, he wouldn't pitch more than a few innings and Godfrey would appear at some point in long relief.