The New York Yankees knew things were going south when the team’s bullpen, which hadn’t surrendered a run in 17 consecutive innings, gave up five runs in two innings and relinquished a lead against the divisional rival Tampa Bay Rays. However, the situation worsened quickly after lefty reliever Cesar Cabral entered in the eighth inning down 8-5.
Cabral footed the rubber with two outs already put away. Ben Zobrist was the first batter Cabral faced and he reached on a single to center. The strike zone immediately became foreign matter to the 25-year-old reliever. A wild pitch allowed Zobrist to advance to second and eventually set up a RBI after another single by Brandon Guyer. Hang in there, the worst is yet-to-come.
Now down 9-5, Cabral should be able to settle down with the chance of winning basically gone, right? Wrong. Cabral imploded by hitting Evan Longoria and James Loney in back-to-back at-bats which loaded the bases. Will Meyers stepped to the plate and smacked a grounder off the third base bag which sent the ball soaring into left field, scoring two. The score became 11-5 and manager Joe Girardi already used four relievers, and with two games left against the Rays and a big series coming up against the Boston Red Sox, he did not want to use any more.
All Cabral had to do now was get the ball over the plate, let someone put it in play, and hopefully get one measly out. The task proved to be unmanageable. Cabral hit his third batter of the inning, Logan Forsythe, and was tossed by home plate umpire Joe West in an effort to protect the defenseless Rays. Shawn Kelley came in and immediately retired his first batter to mercifully end the nightmare.
Cabral was immediately designated for assignment after the game. His performance was an atrocity and warranted the rapid reaction. A MLB pitcher doesn’t hit three batters in one inning. Cabral was painful to watch, comparable to a little-league pitcher hurling the ball merely in the vicinity of the catcher.
Girardi’s expression during Cabral’s outing was disappointed, shocked, and hopeless all at the same time. The Yankees’ bullpen might be thin right now, but surely the organization can supply someone who can do better than hit three batsmen in less than an inning of work.