Is it time to hit the panic button? The Yankees have dropped 9 of their last 12, fourth in a row - all against division rivals, and have seen their 10-game lead in the division cut in half over the last two weeks. Tonight was a game they should have won, and used as a pacesetter game to get back on track.
Ivan Nova started the game with a 3-up 3-down inning, and the Yankee bats came out roaring in the bottom half of the first. For those of us thinking this one was in the bag, we were the victims of a cruel joke as Nova had one of the worst outings of his career. Staked to a 5-0 lead, Nova allowed the first two runners to reach in the top of the second. He responded by striking out the next two and was one out away from getting out of the inning. What happened next was hard to watch. A double and a couple of singles cut the lead to two. Then Nova gave up Chris Davis' first career grand slam, slamming the door on all the momentum the offense garnered a half inning earlier.
What made it especially difficult to swallow was that the Yankees, in the bottom of the first, were finally doing what they have not done all season, and yet needed to do. They were manufacturing runs, not exclusively relying on the long ball. Derek Jeter led the game off with a double, and Curtis Granderson followed with a base hit. Robinson Cano then hit a 2-run home run for his 23rd of the season.
The hit parade continued as Nick Swisher got a single, and two batters later Eric Chavez got a base hit. With men on first and third,Ichiro Suzuki hit a hard grounder back to the pitcher that Chris Tillman could not field, scoring the fourth run. Russell Martin got the final hit of the inning, scoring the fifth run, but also resulted in the second out as he strayed too far off of first.
After falling behind 7-5, Ivan Nova extended his lead in extra-base hits allowed, giving up the eighth run on back-to-back doubles Lew Ford and Wilson Betemit in the top of the third. He gave up a lead off double to Adam Jones, who came around to score on a Wilson Betemit single. To his credit, Ivan Nova did not call it quits, giving the Yankees 5 innings and keeping the bullpen from being completely depleted.
Boone Logan and Cody Eppley did their best, holding the Orioles down in the hopes of keeping them in the game. But Clay Rapada gave up a two-run home run to Nick Markakis - the first batter he faced - in the top of the 8th to extend Baltimore's lead to 11-5. Nevertheless, our hitting never recovered. Following the first inning, the Yankees reverted to the hitting patterns that have gotten them in trouble of late. They went 0 for 4 with men in scoring positions, putting eight consecutive zeroes up on the scoreboard.
In other news, Joba Chamberlain was activated from the disabled list prior to the start of tonight's game. This should provide a nice boost to the bullpen and to the morale of the team.
Also, the Yankees acquired third baseman Casey McGehee from the Pirates for pitcher Chad Qualls just before the non-waiver trade deadline. He is expected to join the team tomorrow, and should provide Joe Girardi some good options for third base.
Final Score: Orioles 11, Yankees 5
--Ike Dimitriadis, BYB Writer
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