I think I’ll let the NYT tell the story of last night’s debacle in Baltimore that represented yet another game loss, series loss, and deeper sinkage into last place. After the game Teixeira said, after being shut out 1-0 and not hitting, “It’s not rocket science.” Clearly, with the Yankees these days, hitting is tougher than rocket science. In the article, it’s also hard not to detect the feeling that Girardi is not managing the team properly. I mean seriously. Not using Miller in that game? Ouch. And poor Tanaka. A brilliant performance for nothing.
BALTIMORE — Perhaps Manager Joe Girardi could have saved himself some teeth-gnashing Thursday night when he was kicked out of the game in the fourth inning if he had showered and headed somewhere bucolic with a glass of red wine in his hand.
Instead, he retreated to his office and watched the Yankees’ 1-0, 10-inning loss unfold in Technicolor high definition.
The loss, the seventh in eight games for the Yankees, was a case study in poor execution, mismanagement and squandered opportunities that joined the familiar hallmark of their season so far: a conga line of meager at-bats.
The cherry on top of this frustration sundae was that when Pedro Alvarez lofted a sacrifice fly to shallow center field, scoring pinch-runner Nolan Reimold from third with the winning run, it wasted eight sublime shutout innings from Masahiro Tanaka, who has a 2.29 E.RA. in six starts, but just one win to show for it.
“It’s kind of been the story of the season — we haven’t hit,” first baseman Mark Teixeira said. “It’s not rocket science.”
The Yankees return home from a 2-7 road trip languishing last in the American League East, six and a half games behind Baltimore and Boston, against whom they open a three-game series on Friday.
They were shut out for the third time this season, this time managing just four hits — three of which came in eight innings against Kevin Gausman, who was every bit Tanaka’s equal. Until the 10th, the Yankees put runners in scoring position just twice — each time leaving Starlin Castro with regrets and anger.
Castro was picked off second with two outs in the ninth, getting caught by catcher Matt Wieters when Brian McCann swung through a 3-1 pitch. If that irked Girardi, he was infuriated earlier when the third-base umpire, Chris Guccione, refused to call Gausman for a balk for not coming to a stop in the set position when Castro, who had doubled, had reached third with two out. A balk would have sent Castro home with a run.
“He’s balking,” Girardi said. “And they can say he’s not trying to deceive the runner — he’s not stopping.”
He added: “I still don’t understand why it’s not a balk. It’s too loose of a rule, it’s not enforced and I don’t understand it.”
Girardi, who is usually stationed at the top dugout railing closest to home plate, went to the far end to harangue Guccione. When Beltran popped out, Girardi’s barking continued for a few seconds before Guccione turned and ejected him as Girardi began to walk up the dugout steps.
“He threw me out when I was coming to get an explanation,” said Girardi, who was ejected for the first time this season. “That bothers me. If you want to throw me out because I’m arguing the balk call, that’s one thing when I’m out there. But I was telling him he was balking, he was balking. He was saying no he wasn’t, no he wasn’t. So I’m going, trying to get an explanation after the inning. Before I say anything, I take one step and he throws me out. Clearly that bothers me.”
When Girardi, frustrated, turned to head back to the dugout after he had said his piece, Guccione said something that caused Girardi to pivot and engage the umpire again. Finally, Girardi returned to the dugout, handed his lineup card to the bench coach, Rob Thomson, and headed into the clubhouse where he meted out instructions.
The most puzzling came in the 10th inning when, after a 10-pitch inning from Dellin Betances in the ninth, Girardi turned not to Miller, the closer who has yet to allow a run this season, but to the rookie right-hander Johnny Barbato, who has begun to look vulnerable after a strong start to the season.
Girardi said he was trying to save Miller because he did not think he could pitch two innings and wanted him to be able to close out the game if the Yankees had taken the lead. Miller, who had pitched just twice in the previous nine days, said he was well rested and could have pitched two innings.
“I’m trying to get a couple of outs out of Barbato and maybe you can get an inning and a third,” Girardi said. “It just doesn’t work.”
Barbato was victimized by a high-chop infield single by Kim to lead off the inning, then Jonathan Schoop laced an 0-2 pitch into center field that sent Kim to third without a play. Miller then was summoned but his 0-1 pitch was lifted to center, where Ellsbury delivered another weak throw that was far too late to make a play at the plate on Reimold.
Allowing Ellsbury to play center field with Aaron Hicks — who has one of baseball’s strongest arms and is just as athletic as Ellsbury — in left field seemed another puzzling move. Hicks did not have a ball hit to him all night.
The Yankees sent the game to extra innings when Dustin Ackley, starting in right field for the second time in his career, leapt at the wall in the bottom of the ninth to catch Wieters’s towering drive, then recovered in time to double up pinch-runner Joey Rickard at first.
Ackley had a chance to be a hero in the 10th when pinch-runner Brett Gardner stole second with two outs. But Ackley struck out against Zach Britton.
“It’s frustrating,” Ackley said. “That’s the game you want to win 9 out of 10 times. I mean you’ve got to manufacture a run, at least one or two there for Tanaka. We weren’t able to do it. We had a couple of opportunities with guys in scoring position, but weren’t able to come through.”