Road Trip Blues…
Not that we need further evidence, but the Yanks are clearly better at home…
Next to the Baltimore Orioles, the Yankees have the word road record in the AL East. By salvaging the last game of the three game set with the Blue Jays in Toronto, the Yankees are 16-15. By comparison, the Tampa Bay Rays hold a road record of 22-8. The Yankees have the best home record in the division at 19-7 but they do need to figure out how to win on the road if they intend to be successful.
The Yankees had been playing great until their arrival in Canada. Friday night’s loss was abysmal as the Jays battered their former teammate, A.J. Burnett. Saturday, the problem wasn’t pitching as Andy Pettitte was great; it was the lack of hitting and scoring. Credit Jays’ pitching but they kept the Yankees off the board in extra innings before they prevailed in the bottom of the 14th inning, 3-2. Mark Teixeira had one of his worst games with 5 strikeouts.
Andrew Mills/The Star Ledger
The losses made Sunday’s game a “must-win” if there is such a thing in June. After losing ground to both the Jays and the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees needed to turn the tables. Early on, it was a stellar pitching duel between Toronto’s Brandon Marrow and New York’s Javier Vazquez.
Javy had a no-hitter going into the sixth inning. With two outs, he walked Adam Lind which brought Vernon Wells to the plate. Wells homered in what would be the only hit off the day off Vazquez for a 2-0 Jays lead.
Vazquez breezed through the bottom of the 7th inning with three up and three down. His day would be finished thanks to what would happen next. In the top of the 8th inning, the Yankees broke through for four runs and their first lead of the game.
Francisco Cervelli and Brett Gardner were both hit by pitches to start the innings (Cervelli by Morrow; and Gardner by Scott Downs). Derek Jeter made the Jays pay for their miscues with a run-scoring double. After Nick Swisher struck out, the Jays intentionally walked hitless Mark Teixeira (why?). With the bases now loaded, Gardner scored on a Jason Frasor wild pitch. After Alex Rodriguez struck out, Robinson Cano came up with the hit of the day when his single scored Jeter and Teixeira. The Yankees would need those extra runs as the Jays would close the gap to 4-3 in the bottom of the frame when former Yank Jose Molina scored on a single by Fred Lewis. Joba Chamberlain, who had started the 8th in relief of Vazquez, needed help from Damaso Marte to get out of the inning but it was Mariano Rivera and “game over” in the 9th.
The Yankees now head to Baltimore for a series against the Orioles at Camden Yards. Since they last saw the O’s, the O’s have a new manager (Juan Samuel, replacing the fired Dave Trembley) and they are no longer mired in a long losing streak thanks to today’s 11th inning walk-off win against the Boston Red Sox.
Hopefully, the Yanks can shake their road doldrums and end the current road trip on a high note.
Following the trip to Baltimore, the Yankees will return home for the continuation of interleague play. They’ll see the Astros, Phillies and Mets before heading west for a trip down memory lane. On June 21st through 23rd, they’ll be in Phoenix to face the Arizona Diamondbacks. It is the scene of two of the worst baseball games I’ve ever personally attended, Games 2 and 6 of the 2001 World Series. Then, in the climax of interleague play, they’ll be in Chavez Ravine on June 25th through 27th to confront old friends Joe Torre and Don Mattingly, and the Los Angeles Dodgers. It should be a thrilling month, but PLEASE, work on the road record!