Pettitte's ugly start costs Yankees
Lefty charged with eight runs as A's leave with series victory
NEW YORK -- Simple progression: bloopers, base hits and then bombs.
The A's hit six singles and followed up with a double and two homers in the first two innings on Sunday afternoon, knocking Yankees starter Andy Pettitte out of the game after 1 2/3 innings in New York's 11-5 loss at Yankee Stadium.
A's manager Bob Geren knew he had seen a Pettitte rarity.
"Any time you score that many runs against a pitcher of that caliber, it's a good inning," Geren said. "I'm sure he got some balls where he didn't want to."
Jorge Posada confirmed that Pettitte's pitches were up and over the plate -- uncharacteristic for a pitcher who not long ago was considered for a spot on the All-Star team.
Given that Pettitte has been Mr. Consistent this season -- he had a streak of six consecutive quality starts in May -- his teammates were surprised after the early exit, but not in doubt of his ability.
"He's human -- it's bound to happen," Alex Rodriguez said. "He's thrown probably 10 or 11 quality starts this year. That's the way it goes."
Manager Joe Torre replaced Pettitte with two outs in the second inning. The veteran left-hander hadn't left a game that early since the 2003 season.
"It's just way too much to overcome against those guys," Pettitte said.
Torre said that seeing ball after ball drop for hits was a strange sight with his left-hander on the mound. Most of those hits, however, were bloops. What seemed stranger to Torre was the progression from dinkers to dingers.
"Initially, between the toppers and bloopers, you say, 'This doesn't look good,' he said. "Then, all of this sudden, they chipped in with a couple of bombs."
But the story didn't end with Pettitte's poor performance. One day after Posada said that some of his teammates were just "going through the motions," the Yankees showed fight.
Bobby Abreu and Andy Phillips had two RBIs apiece, and Derek Jeter plated another by the sixth to cut the deficit to 8-5. But the Athletics kept hitting, and with All-Star Dan Haren on the mound, the A's wouldn't break down.
"It's easy to say people look like they're going through the motions when you're losing," Jeter said. "You'll have to ask [Posada] what his thoughts are today, but I didn't feel as though we we're going through the motions today."
Torre shuffled Sunday's lineup, bumping up Robinson Cano to the three-hole, but the change didn't bode well for the second baseman. Then again, it hasn't worked for outfielders Hideki Matsui or Bobby Abreu, either.
Incidentally, Torre noted, Matsui scored two runs and Abreu knocked in two runs, while Cano went 0-for-5. Torre said that he'll stick another player into the No. 3 spot on Monday and cross his fingers; the three-hole has been the "bugaboo."
"We're going to change the number there," Torre said. "We're not going to make it the three-hole anymore. We're going to call it 'that spot.'"
Posada said he couldn't put his feelings of frustration into words after the game. The fact that he made the All-Star team as a reserve, winning a close race, was no consolation.
Jeter may have summed up Posada's and the team's feelings the best -- just get back to the ballpark and win the next day, series or whatever.
"You have to," Jeter said. "It's 162 games. You have no choice. ... I always try to focus on the positives. You can't sit and allow yourself to get caught up in the negative stuff."
At the end of the day, the Yankees' record settled at 37-41. The team hasn't won a series since beating the Mets on June 17.
The reason? Nearly every Yankees player who talked after Sunday's loss mentioned it, and again, Jeter said it best:
"When we pitch some days, we don't hit" Jeter said. "And when we hit, we don't pitch. When we pitch and hit, we don't play defense. When we pitch, hit and play defense, we don't run the bases. That's how things go when you're scuffling. Like I said, it's happened to every team throughout the course of the year. It's just, for us, it's happened for a long time."
Caleb Breakey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.