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Tampa Bay Has Caught the Yankees Again

If this was a Tigers blog, we'd be giddy over Carlos Guillen's brilliant, ballsy turn of the game-ending double play with Brett Gardner bearing down on him — the one that saved closer Jose Valverde from what appeared to be an inevitable blown save. But this is not a Tigers blog. So instead, let's talk about the guy who hit the ball.

That guy, of course, is Derek Jeter. You may have noticed: Jeter hits a lot of ground balls. A full two-thirds of the balls he's put into play this year, in fact, have been hit on the ground, and seventeen of those have resulted in double plays. Wallace Matthews today pretty thoroughly dissects Jeter's struggles with ground balls, double-play balls, and hitting with the bases loaded. (It seems worth noting that in that column, the first four paragraphs are spent talking up Jeter's career accomplishments, so as to soften the blow of rare Jeter criticism.) His basic point: The double-play is becoming one of Jeter's trademarks. We do not disagree.

Of course, plenty else went wrong last night, and has gone wrong over the last couple of weeks. Javier Vazquez was woefully inefficient, though it's actually quite difficult to throw as many pitches (106) in as few innings as he did (four), and give up just two runs. Joba Chamberlain, who'd been pitching much better of late, allowed an insurance run in the ninth on Miguel Cabrera's home run. And both Nick Swisher and Alex Rodriguez left the game with injuries.

The Yankees came awfully close to getting shut out in consecutive games for the first time in over a decade, and Tampa Bay has once again caught them in the AL East. After series against Boston and Texas, this current stretch was supposed to be a chance for the Yankees to pad their lead — not a time to lose it altogether.

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Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images