The "meat and potatoes portion of the schedule" took a sour turn last night. The Yankees got great pitching against the Devil Rays, and it didn't matter: Four hits in 11 innings, and a walkoff homer by Reid Brignac -- his 8th career homer in 133 games in the majors -- gave Tampa Bay a 1-0 win and vaulted them into first place.
CC Sabathia allowed just 2 hits and 2 walks over 8 innings. Kerry Wood pitched a perfect 9th -- without getting hurt. Boone Logan got an out in the 10th, and Joe Girardi should have left him in. Instead, he brought in Chad Gaudin, who got the 2nd out, then loaded the bases before getting a strikeout. By allowing the sequence of hitters to the plate that led to Brignac's homer, it was Gaudin, and by extension Girardi, who lost this game, not Sergio Mitre, who actually gave up the fatal blow.
It was made worse by the top of the 10th, when Lance Berkman drew a walk, and Girardi sent Brett Gardner in to pinch-run. Garnder stole 2nd. But with 2 out, Gardner tried to steal 3rd. He was out.
How many times have we heard, "You don't make the last out of the inning at 3rd base"? Gardner did.
Now, I find out that he said he got spooked by a wasp on the basepath, and that slowed him down.
How the flying fuck did a wasp get in there? It's an enclosed domed stadium! First the bugs in Cleveland 3 years ago, now this.
As mad as I was at Gardner, the real culprit last night was Girardi. He let Logan pitch to just 1 hitter. Screw the lefty-righty matchup: If a guy is pitching well, and his arm isn't hurting, leave him in! In the old days, a pitcher like CC would have struck that guy out in the bottom of the 11th, instead of allowing the injury-time goal. (It was 1-0, after all.) It wasn't Mitre's fault, or even Gaudin's for messing up in the 10th to get that batter up in the 11th: It was Girardi's.
Of course, the post-2001 Joe Torre would have brought in Kyle Farnsworth or Scott Proctor and lost the game in the 9th. Pre-2001 Torre would have had Mike Stanton and Jeff Nelson to lead up to Mariano Rivera -- who didn't pitch last night because Girardi won't bring him in unless there's a lead for him to close out. But Girardi, so often a great manager these last 2 years, blew it last night. He could have used Joba Chamberlain or David Robertson, and used neither. Why?
Still, the Rays brought only 26,907 to their 36,973-seat dome. This after nearly 3 seasons of contention, including the franchise's first Pennant. And considering how many ex-New Yorkers live in Florida, you gotta figure that at least a third of those fans were rooting for the Yankees. So we're talking about 18,000 people coming in hopes that the home team would win.
I don't care what they've already won (1 Pennant in their first 12 seasons, and all but guaranteed to make their 2nd postseason appearance this time), or what they go on to win: The Tampa Bay Rays franchise is a fucking joke. Their fans are a joke. Their stadium is a joke. Their name, whether "Devil Rays" (1998-2007) or just "Rays" (2008-present) is a joke. Their promotions department, which got less than 27,000 fans into the joint for a clash that decided 1st place in baseball's marquee division, is a gigantic joke.
That attendance was, in a way, even worse than the Mets got last night in their nearly-as-impotent, but ultimately victorious, game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Both pathetic teams copied the mighty Yanks and rugged Rays by going into extra innings scoreless, before the Mets won in the 10th. Attendance for these 2 lousy teams: 24,384. And I'll bet you any money you like, there weren't one-third of those people rooting for the Pirates. But at least the people who get paid to bring paying customers into Citi Field have the excuse of 2 lousy teams. The people who get paid to bring paying customers into Tropiciana Field got only 2,523 more. So the difference between 2 Pennant contenders and 2 bottom-feeders is... the amount of people you would expect to get at an East Brunswick High School football game.
You got a stadium that seats about 37,000, and it's September, and you're headed for the Playoffs, and the team you're playing is your most hated rival, and they are also headed for the Playoffs, and their fans are known for traveling well... you sell out the damned stadium. If you don't, then your franchise is a fucking joke.
Another joke that isn't very funny: The Jets contracted a serious case of SUJ last night. That's Stinking Up the Joint.
First game that counts in the new Meadowlands Stadium for them, and they held the Baltimore Ravens, including Rutgers grad now NFL star Ray Rice, to just 10 points. They only scored 9, gaining only 6 first downs all game and racking up 11 penalties.
Their final drive was full of stupidity, from Mark Sanchez doing his best Jim Kelly impression by forgetting the clock and throwing over the middle to that final play where Dustin Keller didn't realize he was a yard short of the first down that would have kept the game alive, putting the Jets within 30 yards of a game-winning field goal. It was a real "What the hell were you thinking?" game closed with a complete "Hello, hello, anybody home? Think, McFly!" play.
It was a good performance on defense, but if you're going to talk as much as the Jets have, you better score a hell of a lot more than 9 points in a home game, I don't care if Ray Lewis is bearing down on you with the intention of burying you in that brand-new FieldTurf.
Between me and the Yankees, and my sister and the Jets, Mom and Dad do not have happy children today. I certainly didn't tell the grandchildren about it.
Neither the Yankees nor the Jets cut that meat, nor sliced them taters.
Ivan Nova vs. Matt Garza tonight. The Yankees must win.