Bullpen leads to another Yankees loss

By Rich Mancuso

Close games are costing the New York Yankees this season and no longer having the reliable Mariano Rivera could be a reason. The Yankees were prepared for the inevitable day when closing a game would not be routine when Rivera retired. In two of the last three games they realize more how much Rivera meant.

The bullpen implosion led to the Yankees third straight loss, 5-2, on a long Tuesday night in the Bronx in a game that was delayed over an hour by rain. And there are two more games with Oakland to close the home stand before another long road trip.

It was the Twins on Sunday when the Yankees pen imploded. Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium, in the Oakland Athletics 10th inning, there was another implosion. Oakland scored three-runs off Adam Warren, and what was left of the 41,677 in attendance realized again the Yankees without Rivera are very beatable.

 The Yankees are no longer a power threat and lacking a run producing lineup, so much different when Rivera was closing another win. Close games in the late innings are not a guarantee win, evident by the extra inning loss and the second home run of the night by Brandon Moss, in the 10th off Warren that broke a 2-2 tie.

To say there is panic or that the Yankees are in deep trouble, it is still early with a third of the season complete. However, if close games are continually lost by the bullpen implosion, as has been the case as of late, then there is reason to panic.

“They are not going to be perfect they have been a big part of wins this year and not going to always be perfect,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi commented. The reference was to the reliable Dellin Betances who has been unstoppable, but finally had an implosion

The closer, David Robertson pitched a perfect ninth but gave away the lead Sunday. Betances had not walked a batter in his previous 10 appearances but, with two outs in the eighth inning Albert Callaspo got one. Pinch hitter Stephen Vogt followed and on a full count hit a tying double into the right center field gap.  

And, as good as Betances has been, you can’t pitch like that to the A’s who happen to have the best run producing offense in baseball.

"I felt good,” Betances explained in a quiet Yankees clubhouse. “I just think the two out walk hurt, I had him in my head and I just did not put him away I think from there  I just fell behind on Vogt and just threw him a good pitch to hit. I think Callaspo, that at-bat was more frustrating."

Frustrating is the word Girardi used as his Yankees at 29-28, are in danger of falling to the .500 mark if they lose the second game of the three- game series tonight. It is not only the pen, but an anemic offense that showed some hope with a solo home run from Mark Teixeira in the sixth, his team leading 10th that gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead off A’s starter Scott Kazmir.

Teixeira got clearance to start after missing the last two games with a sore right wrist. He has driven in 21 runs in his last 25 games, but when the wrist that is still heeling from surgery becomes bothersome, Teixeira, who appears to be the lone home run threat in this lineup, will have to sit down.

 But it is the bullpen implosion that has the Yankees concerned. And without that late Hall of Fame closer no longer around, the Yankees have realized how different the late innings have become.

Comment Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com   Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso