For the first time this season, the Yankee bullpen lost a lead and had its first bad outing, costing the Yanks a series sweep of the Kansas City Royals.
After taking the first two games 4-1 and 6-1, the Yankees (3-3) took a 4-3 lead into the sixth inning before Phil Coke let 3 runs score. The Royals (3-3) closer Joakim Soria then retired the Yanks with 3 strikeouts in the top of the ninth to clinch the win and his third save of the season.
Joba Chamberlain got the start and pitched 6 solid innings, allowing only four hits and one earned run. Joba also struck out 5 batters. His pitching today was interesting. It seemed like his pitches were all over the place and were lacking control. However, Joba made it happen when it counted.
Royals catcher John Buck was the player of the game and tore up the Yankee pitchers. Buck homered and had 3 RBI’s on his way to a 3-4 afternoon. Buck started the scoring for KC in the third with his one-run HR and finished it with his one-run double in the eighth. He also had a one-run single in the fourth. Oh…I almost forgot. Buck also hits eighth in the order and has appeared in only 2 games so far this season.
Joba was originally charged with 5 hits and 3 earned runs due to a grounder that went through the legs of 1B Nick Swisher and 2B Robinson Cano. Later in the game, after a similar play that bounced off the hip of Royals 1B Mike Jacobs was ruled an error, the officials changed the earlier play to an error on Swish.
The Yankees were losing 3-1 in the top of the seventh when Swish and Hideki Matsui got on base with singles, Xavier Nady then hit a double, scoring Swish. Robinson Cano then hit a grounder which was ruled an error after bouncing of Jacobs’ right hip, scoring Matsui. Nady then put the Yanks in the lead when he scored despite pinch-hitter Melky Cabrera hitting into a double play.
After Brian Bruney pitched a 1-2-3 7th inning, Damaso Marte took the mound for the eighth. Despite retiring the first two batters on only 11 pitches, Joe Girardi pulled him for Jose Veras. After Veras walked Royals pinch-hitter Billy Butler, Girardi brought in Phil Coke, who promptly gave up a RBI double to Brayan Pena, an RBI single to Alberto Callaspo and the RBI double to Buck.
After Coke got out of the inning, the Yankees sent Matsui, Nady and Cano to the plate; the same guys who got the rally going in the 7th. Soria struck out all three.
I honestly have to blame Girardi more then coke for this loss. With two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Girardi should have let Marte finish the inning, since he had only thrown 11 pitches, or brought in Mariano Rivera to get the last four outs. Instead, he chose to bring in Veras and then Coke who lost the game.
It appears to me that Girardi got a little comfortable and figured the bullpen could hold the lead and he could save Rivera for a potentially more difficult series coming up against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Mark Teixeira missed his second straight game with tendinitis in his left wrist.
The Yankees and Royals won’t face each other again until the last series of the season at Yankee Stadium, Sept. 28-30. Its interesting that the Yankees helped the Royals open their remodeled stadium and the Royals will help the Yankees close their new stadium.