Over the past week, the New York Yankees have played seven games and have committed at least one error in five of them. They also lost four of those five games. Given that the current Yankees (despite maintaining power levels that few expected) do not resemble the well-rounded offensive juggernauts of previous years, pitching and defense are all the more important.
A clean game keeps the fielders on their toes and, more importantly, keeps the pitch counts of the starters low. A sloppy game, on the other hand, can be deflating especially when they lead to unearned runs.
On Wednesday night this trend continued as Brennan Boesch, the backup outfielder getting a rare start against the Tampa Bay Rays, committed an error on a Kelly Johnson single. Boesch came in to field the ball which skipped through his legs causing him to turn around and chase a turf-aided baseball that was speeding toward the right field wall.
Jose Molina, who can be generously described as lumbering, reached second and, upon seeing Boesch's miscue kept going for third. On the game's radio broadcast, New York Daily News beat writer Mark Feinsand described Molina as perhaps the most surprised person in the stadium. The error set the Rays up with second and third with no outs.
Before the error, Andy Pettitte and Alex Cobb were locked in a pitchers battle and both were essentially cruising. John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman were literally in the midst of discussing how efficiently and successfully Pettitte was pitching in 2013 when the inning opened. For two batters it seemed that Pettitte would bail out his right fielder by getting out of the inning without giving up any runs. He struck out the next two batters but then gave up a two run double to Ben Zobrist. The way Cobb was pitching, however, it might as well have been five runs.
The Yankees threatened against Cobb and Rays closer Fernando Rodney in the ninth inning but could not push across a run. So they ended their twelve game road trip at 6-6, perfectly average in their record but imperfect in the field.
The Yankees played their last six games on artificial turf in Toronto and Tampa Bay, certainly not fielding friendly surfaces, so that may have contributed to the uptick in errors. However, given that both teams are division rivals whom many early season projections have competing for playoff spots, it would be advantageous for the Yankee fielders to get the hang of playing clean baseball on these surfaces. They will be seeing them plenty this season.