Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Well, At Least It Wasn't A Game 1 Redux...

Tommy Hanson was not Greg Maddux tonight, not by a long shot. But that didn't stop the Braves from duplicating the score of Game 2 of the 1996 World Series, which we recapped earlier in the day.

Hanson, the top pitching prospect in the Braves' organization and one of the very best in baseball posted a 0.73 ERA in 11 starts in AAA this year before earning his call up to the Majors. Since then he has made four starts, winning three and hasn't allowed a run in either of his last two. Tonight, however, was more about the Yankees' failure to convert opportunities than them being stifled by the young stud.

After a 1-2-3 first inning for Hanson, the Yankees put 10 runners on base (4H, 5BB, 1HBP) in the next 4 1/3, none of whom came around to score. They left the bases loaded in the second and fourth innings and Jeter grounded into a double play to end the sixth.

Hanson struggled with the same issues that Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes have been battling early in their careers: a lack of control and inefficiency with his pitch count. He walked more men than he struck out (5 to 4) in 5 1/3 IP and needed 99 pitches to get those 16 outs. The Braves bullpen finished out the game for Hanson, allowing no hits and only one walk in the final 3 2/3.

Hanson deserves credit for shutting the Yanks down, but getting a team to go 0-8 with runners in scoring position isn't just about dominant pitching. Failures on offense account for a large portion of that. The 2-4 hitters when 0-12 with a lone walk and Jorge Posada struck out four times. That's going to make it hard to win against anyone.

With the lack of any run support whatsoever, Chien Ming Wang's quest for a victory was once again put on hold, dropping him to 0-6 on the season. He pitched decently for the most part, with all three the runs he allowed coming in third inning on back to back doubles by Brain McCann and Garret Anderson, but never had a chance for a W.

Wang lasted only 5 innings, but for the first time this season he wasn't pulled due to his ineffectiveness. In the top of the sixth, Wang was due up to bat third. Since he had thrown only 62 pitches, if no one reached base in front of him he would have likely batted and come out to pitch the bottom half. But Brett Gardner singled and Hideki Matsui was sent in to pinch hit for Wang. Matsui walked, but that only led to the aforementioned Derek Jeter DP. From there on out, the only Yankee to reach base was Johnny Damon, who worked a pinch hit, one out walk in the top of the ninth only to be stranded at 2nd.

In what little good news there was for the Yanks, Phil Hughes came on in relief on Wang and pitched two perfect innings, striking out two in the process. Yay!

Yeah, it could have been worse, but not by a whole lot. In nine games against the bottom of the NL East, three teams with records under .500, the Yankees are going to have to win two in a row just to go 4-5. This is the tpye of stretch the Yanks are supposed to get fat off of, but instead they are falling back to the pack.

Before getting shut out by Josh Beckett in Fenway they were in first place by one game. Since then they have gone 4-9, which should be 3-10 if Luis Castillo made the most routine of plays. They now sit 5 games out of first, are tied with Toronto and two games ahead of the Rays. Will the real New York Yankees please stand up?


  1. I went to this game. The Yanks never seemed to get going, even when they got runners on base. Why is Damon not starting?

  2. Sorry you had to suffer through that stinkfest - unless of course you're a Braves fan, in which case it wasn't really suffering at all.

    The official reason Damon has been out of the lineup the last two games is that he has a sore calf. He pinch hit in both games, drawing a walk both times, and was immediately replaced by a pinch runner both times. So there would seem to be some merit to that.

    But Damon also has been having problems with his eyes. He's dropped two fly balls in the last two weeks, and was briefly out of the lineup on the last homestand because of some of the problems he was having.