With serious apologies to Charles Dickens, the Yankees' two-game series with the Red Sox was the best of Thames and it was the worst of Thames.
Marcus Thames's home run to win the game in the bottom of the ninth on Monday was one of the biggest highlights of the young season. His pathetic attempt at Marco Scutaro's popup in the top of the ninth on Tuesday was the kind of play that makes its way to what not to do Little League videos. The error was but one of the ways the Yankees conspired to hand back a 5-0 lead and wind up losing a game that looked firmly in the win column, but it was the one that best exemplified everything that went wrong in the 7-6 loss.
It magnified the fact that Mariano Rivera had something less than his best stuff for the second straight night. While Thames's error opened the door to two Red Sox runs, Rivera couldn't put the Sox away even though he was facing Mike Lowell, Darnell McDonald, Scutaro and Jeremy Hermida. Hermida won the game with a line drive to left field that cleared the head of Randy Winn, who was positioned near the infield under the misguided impression that Hermida was playing only because Terry Francona was forced to play everyone by the rules of the local rec center.
Winn also struck out with two on and two out to end the game in the ninth inning, the final chapter of an 0-for-4 night that underscored how many chances the Yankees had to score after again opening a big lead on the Sox. They had bases loaded and one out in the sixth but didn't score and left eight runners in scoring position on base over the course of the night. Winn, like Thames, was only playing because the roster was decimated by injuries.
That's where Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi come into play. They sent down reserve outfielder Greg Golson on Tuesday to bring up Mark Melancon as an extra reliever for an overworked bullpen, a move that meant Thames, a DH masquerading as a right fielder, couldn't be replaced for a defensive upgrade. The pen needed help, but you have to wonder what it will take for the Yankee brain trust to cut bait on Boone Logan. They didn't need eight relievers in the pen last night, they needed a bench with Jorge Posada and Nick Swisher still unavailable thanks to injury.
Finally, Thames's error, miserable as it was, wouldn't have even been an issue if not for Joba Chamberlain blowing up for the second straight game. He gave up four runs in the eighth inning to erase a good night's work by CC Sabathia. Sabathia flirted with disaster at points but could never convince her to go home with him. She was waiting for Chamberlain, who was bailed out of making things even worse thanks to David Ortiz flashing the same reluctance for hustle that he has for lowfat meals.
The bullpen is a mess right now, ladies and gentlemen, and it is a mess from front to back. For all the errors and all the futility on offense, the simple fact is that the Yankee relievers have allowed 15 runs in the last three games. It's an unacceptable number and we could be looking at another bullpen overhaul on the fly.
In the end it's just one loss that doesn't do all that much to change the picture for the Yankees. It would have been nice to pile on the Red Sox instead of allowing them to keep breathing, but the two games with the Rays matter a lot more going forward. That doesn't mean it wasn't absolutely brutal to watch, however, or that it hurt all the more because of the letter on the hats of the opposition.