As baseball games go, Wednesday night's Yankees game against the Seattle Mariners was a disaster, at least for the Yankees and their fans. With a final score of 12-2 in favor of Seattle, it's clear that things didn't go according to the Yankees plan. It was a tough loss but there were still some positives.
Just over 15 minutes after the game started, before most viewers, and those with Yankees tickets, had even settled into their seats, Seattle had batted around, the score was 7-0 in their favor and New York Yankees starter Phil Hughes was sitting in the dugout after recording only two outs. With a game ERA of 94.50, a WHIP of 12.00 and another loss, Wednesday's game was just another example of the sometimes maddening inconsistency of the Yankees homegrown starter. Hughes did nothing to silence his legion of doubters or answer the question of whether the Yankees should offer him the sizable contract he's likely to pursue this offseason.
Yankees fans now know precisely how Baltimore and Detroit fans felt watching Raul Ibanez, the Yankees erstwhile postseason hero, slug homeruns out of Yankee stadium with his unconventional swing. Watching his first inning grand slam soar off to right field was painful and he added another one before the night was complete giving him three in the first two games of the series. It's safe to say that the love affair is over and the Yankees won't be sorry to send Ibanez on his way after tonight's game.
A player making his major league debut is always a special thing. Certainly David Adams, called up earlier in the day to play 3B after Chris Nelson was released, would have preferred a different outcome for the team but, from a personal perspective, it was a good experience. He went 1 for 3, getting his first major league hit (a single) on his 26th birthday and played representative defense at the hot corner. Good day for the rookie.
He wasn't alone as Brett Marshall also made his major league debut. He gave up five earned runs, including the second Ibanez homerun, showing some control issues and only striking out one but the 23 year old righty reliever threw 108 pitches in 5.2 innings and saved the Yankees bullpen on a night when their starter went only 0.2 innings. He did the job asked of him, something that is often easier said than done for a rookie, and the remaining Yankee faithful gave him a nice hand as he exited the game.
By the top of the ninth inning even the most optimistic fan had to concede that a comeback was likely out of the question. With Marshall having delivered all a manager could ask, Girardi needed just one more out. A glance over to the bullpen showed that it was quiet, and it was clear Girardi didn't want to waste an arm. So it was that the defensive alignment for that final out included Alberto Gonzalez, the light hitting shortstop, on the mound featuring a high 70s - low 80s fastball, Vernon Wells once again playing an unfamiliar position in the infield at 2B and Jayson Nix slotting in at shortstop. Gonzalez got Robert Andino to pop up to Ichiro Suzuki in right field, and walked off the mound with a slight smile.
As John Sterling is fond of telling his broadcast partner Suzyn Waldman, "You can't predict baseball." Wednesday's game was a great example of the truth in that statement. In the end there will be some justifiable concern over Phil Hughes as well as fears of a carryover to Thursday from the deflating loss. However, two well performing rookies and an unexpected pitching performance should serve to mitigate the loss.