Pitching was far from the problem, as Andy Pettitte turned in his best start of the season and Mariano Rivera recorded the final five outs in a 2-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants. It was an eighth-inning run off David Robertson – which was charged to Pettitte – that became the ultimate difference in the heartbreaking loss.
Offensively, the Yankees could do nothing at the plate. They got on the board first when Mark Reynolds blasted his 20th home run of the season in the third inning. However, that would be the extent of the damage done against San Francisco Giants starter Yusmerio Petit.
The Yankee offense was not heard from again until the eighth inning, when Alex Rodriguez led off with a single and Robinson Cano laced a double down the right field line.
Despite two runners in scoring position with no outs, the Yankees were unable to score. Pinch-runner Zoilo Almonte was erased at the plate on a fielder’s choice where Cano failed to advance to third base. Cano was then gunned down at the plate on an Eduardo Nunez single. Afterwards, third base coach Robby Thompson defended the decision to send Cano home from second base.
“Not one bit [of regret],” Thomson said. “If that was the last out of the World Series, I’d send him every time.”
Pettitte (10-11) was charged with the loss despite starting the game with five no-hit innings and allowing just two hits and a walk in all. He was pulled in favor of Robertson after allowing a leadoff double to Pablo Sandoval in the eighth inning. The 41-year-old lefty exited to a standing ovation from a sellout crowd as he walked off the Yankee Stadium mound, likely for the final time. Because of the loss, Pettitte will need a victory in his final start of the season in Houston to avoid his first career losing season.
So, did Pettitte start thinking about tossing his first career no-hitter prior to giving up a solo home run to Ehire Adrianza in the sixth inning?
“I felt really good, I felt like my command was really good,” Pettitte said. “I knew I had had it. I hate to even say it, at this point, at this stage, I don’t know if my body will allow me to pitch nine innings. It was good to dream and think about it, but it helped me mentally, just saying, keep making your pitches, go as hard as you can for as long as you can. I definitely knew I had a no-hitter and felt really good and couldn’t believe I had made the two mistakes I did because I really felt so locked in.”
The loss leaves the Yankees four games back of the second American League Wild Card spot after Cleveland and Tampa Bay both won their games on Sunday. With only six games still to play, the Yankees’ postseason chances appear to be all but over.