“A good throw, [Jeter]‘s out.” Davey Johnson, on Ian Desmond’s throwing error in the seventh inning.
Like most games this season, the Washington Nationals found themselves in a close game heading into the later innings against the New York Yankees Friday night in the first of their three-game set this weekend. Unlike most games this season, however, the Nats didn’t push the right buttons and the Yankees took advantage for four seventh inning runs to blow open a tight game and eventually walk away with a 7-2 win, all before a sell-out crowd of 41,406 at Nats Park.
The loss breaks the Nats six-game winning streak and extends the Yankees’ current win streak to seven games. Washington falls to 38-24, four games ahead of the Atlanta Braves, who beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-2.
Gio Gonzalez hadn’t been cruising, necessarily, up until that point, but had limited the Yankees to two runs on four hits and two walks through six innings. But Gonzalez (L, 8-3) gave up a leadoff single to Andruw Jones on his 109th pitch, and that’s all the leash manager Davey Johnson was willing to give the lefty. “He didn’t want to come out of the ballgame, either,” Johnson said. “But it’s too early in the season, behind in the ballgame, for me to keep him in to his limit.”
“I’d have stayed with him with a one-run lead. Not down a run. It’s that simple.”
Johnson called on veteran Brad Lidge to put out the fire, but he just threw gasoline on it. Lidge walked the first batter he faced. After a sacrifice bunt moved the runners up to second and third, Lidge intentionally walked left-handed pinch-hitter Robinson Cano. Of course, that brought up Derek Jeter, who hit a ground ball to the hole at short. Ian Desmond fielded it cleanly and from replays it looked like a good throw would have had Jeter at first.
Unfortunately, it was not a good throw. It skipped past first baseman Adam LaRoche and two runs scored on the play. Johnson took the ball from Lidge and gave it to lefty Michael Gonzalez, but Curtis Granderson greeted Gonzalez with an opposite field double, plating two more. With the Nats bats falling silent all night, that was pretty much that.
Asked about Lidge’s leadoff walk, Johnson paused, then said, “That kinda put us in the hole. Which we couldn’t come out of.” When a reporter followed up with another question about Lidge, whether they’ve seen enough from him since returning from the disabled list, Johnson chose his words very carefully, then responded, “He didn’t give in to a hitter. He got a ground ball out of Jeter, unfortunately it was in the hole. Could have got out of the inning there. You just can’t make mistakes with this club [the Yankees].”
So, did Davey Johnson think Desmond should have had Jeter at first? “He’s made those plays all year long,” Johnson said. “He’s got a cannon. A good throw, he’s out.”
THE GOOD: Michael Morse went 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored.
THE BAD: The 3-4 hitters, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche, combined to go 1-for-7 with three strikeouts.
THE UGLY: Lidge. He doesn’t trust his fastball, and rightfully so. Injury has robbed him of any movement on the pitch, so he hardly throws it anymore. The scouting reports say lay off the slider, which is hardly ever a strike, and let him come to you. He’s been ineffective since his return (4 ER in 1.2 IP with 2 H and 3 BB), and either needs to reestablish confidence in the fastball or he could find himself part of a numbers game when Ryan Mattheus and Drew Storen return to the active roster.
THE STATS: 8 H, 2 BB, 12 Ks. 1-for-8 with RISP, 7 LOB, 1 GIDP. E: Desmond (9), 1 DP.
NEXT GAME: Saturday at 1: 05 against the Yankees. Jordan Zimmermann (3-5, 2.91) hosts lefty Andy Pettitte (3-2, 2.81).