BOSTON -- Even if the New York Yankees somehow make it into the playoffs -- and the Tampa Bay Rays seem to be trying awfully hard to help them -- tonight's 9-2 loss should remove any illusions of whether they can even manage to win a game. And forget about "deserving" to get in. The non-performance turned in by just about everyone on the team not named Brendan Ryan, in a game New York absolutely had to win, says it all about what kind of a team this is.
Tired, injured, depleted and on life support. And oh yeah, Alex Rodriguez left the game in the fifth inning with a tight right calf.
Ivan Nova was terrible, the offense couldn't take advantage of Clay Buchholz on a night when the undefeated (11-0) right-hander was wilder than Lindsay Lohan's hypothetical bachelorette party, and even the normally-reliable Ichiro Suzuki made a horrible misplay in right field that led to a couple of runs.
A dreadful, soul-crushing performance all around.
A-Rod down: Rodriguez, who has been hobbled recently by a left hamstring strain that has limited him to DH duty for the past five games, was pinch hit for by Joe Girardi with Vernon Wells in the fifth. Diagnosis: A tight right calf. Prognosis: We'll find out after the game. But it can't be good.
Handy man: Tough to tell if it was inadvertent or not, but Napoli broke up a potential double play in the fourth when his right hand got in the way of Mark Reynolds' relay throw on Jarrod Saltalamacchia's grounder over second into a shift. Girardi came out to argue for an interference call but to no avail; the play was scored a forceout and Salty stayed on first. He wound up scoring later in the inning on a bizarre double steal (see below).
Grand theft: The Red Sox got their fourth run when, with runners on first and third, Ryan muffed a throw from Chris Stewart on an attempted steal of second by Xander Bogaerts, allowing Saltalamacchia to score from third and Bogaerts, who had stopped in the baseline, to scamper into second ahead of Ryan's tag after he finally picked up the ball.
Plunked out: Nova's final act of the night was hitting Mike Carp in the leg with an 0-2 curveball with the bases loaded to force in Boston's fifth run. As the ball bounded away, catcher Stewart's reaction -- a plaintive glance heavenward as if pleading for divine intervention -- was priceless.
Scratch that Ich: The Red Sox took a reasonably close 5-1 game and busted it open in the sixth with a big assist from Suzuki, who misread Bogaerts' fly to right, headed for the wall, and then frantically tried to scamper back in as the ball landed 10 feet in front of him for a leadoff double instead of the out it should have been. From there, the wheels rapidly came off. Adam Warren gave up an RBI single to Nava, and then lefty Cesar Cabral came in to face Ortiz, who singled in another run to make it a 7-1 game.
Double your pleasure: The Yankees hit into three double plays -- two on batters first-pitch swinging -- despite the wildness of Buchholz.
Gettin' Ziggy wit it: Mike Zagurski, a somewhat rotund left-handed reliever, became the franchise-record 56th player to appear in a Yankees game when Girardi brought him in with one out in the seventh, although it turned out to be a brief appearance. Zagurski got one out but allowed a single to Bogaerts and hit Jackie Bradley Jr. with a pitch, prompting Girardi to come out and collect him. Worst of all, both the runners came around to score when David Phelps gave up a two-run double to Dustin Pedroia, leaving Zagurski with an ERA of 54.00.
What's next: A much-needed day off, followed by the opener of a three-game series against the Blue Jays in Toronto starting on Tuesday night. Pitching matchups: Andy Pettitte vs. RHP R.A. Dickey on Tuesday, Phil Hughes vs. LHP J.A. Happ on Wednesday and Hiroki Kuroda vs. RHP Todd Redmond on Thursday. All games are at 7:07 p.m.