When Mark Teixeira came to bat with two men on and no one out in the bottom of the fifth inning last night, the Yankees’ win expectancy, according to Baseball Reference, was 79 percent. Then came the slow roller to third, the injury at first, A-Rod’s double play, the Vlad Guerrero single, the curious intentional walk, and the Bengie Molina home run (with a couple of outs sprinkled in). The Yankees’ win expectancy now — just sixteen minutes and nineteen seconds, in real time, after Teixeira’s injury? Only 25 percent.
The Yankees had been poised to blow the game open with the heart of their order due up — unlike the fourth inning, when they also threatened, but with the bottom of the order. They’d been outplayed for the entire series, minus one inning, but now, maybe, finally, that was going to change. And in sixteen minutes and nineteen seconds, the Stadium crowd would shift from hopeful to silent to angry. And the next few innings would only settle it: Texas deserves to win this series.
Joe Girardi may not have been at his best last night, but so much went wrong, it’s hardly worth trying to find a single scapegoat. To update some stats: In this series, the Yankees are 6-39 with runners in scoring position. Last night, they stranded eight more runners, including three in the last-gasp eighth, when they brought the tying run at the plate. Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira have gone a combined 2-29 (and Teixeira’s ALCS will end without a single hit). By comparison, Texas’s 3-4 hitters had six hits last night — two of them Josh Hamilton home runs.
And then there’s the Yankees’ bullpen, which last night combined to allow five runs in three innings. Did Girardi leave A.J. Burnett in too long? Yeah, probably. But you got the impression as the game went on that no matter what move he made, his team would have screwed it up. It was a night when everything went wrong, in a series in which everything has gone wrong. At the time, in that bottom of the fifth, when the first two runners reached base with Teixeira, Rodriguez, and Robinson Cano due up — and Burnett pitching as well as could possibly be expected — it really felt like the series was about to tilt, finally, in the Yankees’ favor. Now, that seems almost silly. It’s not over yet, sure. But down 3-1, knowing what awaits in the best-case scenario of a Game 7, it sure feels like it is.