Sunday, September 20, 2009

Joba Gets Jacked, Bats Go Silent

So much for the 5 innings. So much for the hitch in his delivery. Joba Chamberlain was flat out awful this afternoon, not getting around it. He stumbled out of the gate in the first inning before falling flat on his face in the second.

Joba actually retired the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the first but then allowed back to back doubles to Jose Lopez and Ken Griffey and then an RBI single to Adrian Beltre.

He went the opposite way in the 2nd, allowing two singles to begin the frame. The Mariners gave away an out via a sac bunt and then the Yanks gave away a baserunner by intentionally walking Ichiro to load the bases. I didn't work out as planned because Joba forced in a run when he walked Franklin Gutierrez after the count went full. Jose Lopez followed with a sacrifice fly to put the Yanks up 4-0. Joba got ahead 0-2 on Griffey, but left a fastball on the inside part of the plate which Griffey blasted to left for a no-doubt, three run jack.

Joba came back out and worked a scoreless third inning but that was all for him, after throwing 69 pitches in what, ERA-wise was his worst outing of the season.

It was a frustrating day at the plate as well. Ian Snell didn't pitch particularly well, distributing four hits and four walks over 5 1/3 IP and only striking out two, needing 105 pitches to do it. He only gave up one run though, as the Yanks mustered only one hit with runners in scoring position of of six attempts against him.

In it's any consolation (and it probably isn't) Sergio Mitre pitched brilliantly in relief of Joba, throwing 5 scoreless innings allowing only one hit and one walk while striking out 5. Mark Teixeira also added two doubles and was driven in by Jorge Posada in his return from his suspension for the Yanks' only run in the 6th inning.

It probably seems bad at the moment, but the Yanks are off to a far more important series in Anaheim in terms of perceived postseason implications. There will be much stuff to overreact to when the next three games come around.

Game 150: I Need To Know

This afternoon in Seattle, after a last second loss on Friday and a dominant win yesterday, the Yankees square off in a rubber match against the Mariners. Aside from the full slate of NFL games, two interesting match ups are taking place earlier in the day with implications to the playoff picture.

The Twins could pull to within one game of the Tigers with a win against them today which is important because the winner of the AL Central most likely facing the Yanks in the ALDS. Also, if the Rangers lose to the Angels, the Bombers will be in position to officially clinch a playoff berth by beating the Mariners. The Yanks would probably rather gain some cushion for home field advantage over the Angels because the Rangers are going to disappear from the picture soon enough, but those are some things to watch for.

Going for the Mariners this afternoon will be Ian Snell. After starting off the season poorly for the Pirates, Snell actually asked to be demoted to AAA back in June, citing "too much negativity" concerning his performances from the fans, media and even some bloggers. It was widely considered that he would be traded from the Pirates after the demotion and was, shortly before the non-waiver deadline. He, along with shortstop Jack Wilson, were exchanged for 5 minor leaguers, including catching prospect Jeff Clement.

Snell took Jarrod Washburn's spot on the roster after the lefty was shipped to Detroit, but hasn't performed well in his place. He has a 4.86 ERA in 9 starts but has averaged just over 5.0 IP an outing and has walked 30 while striking out 25. He's 4-2 over that stretch, but the team is only 4-5.

Joba Chamberlain toes the rubber for the Yankees this afternoon, making his 5th artificially shortened start in a row. His last time out was the most encouraging of the bunch, lasting 4 innings against the Angels, with the only run coming on a solo homer to Vlad Guerrero. He still wasn't especially efficient, needing 67 pitches to get those 12 outs, but it was an improvement over his previous efforts.

With only two starts remaining after this one in the regular season, Joba should be cleared for 5 innings this time out in order to work up to being fully stretched out for the postseason. It would be nice to know Joba is on the right track for October and good performance today would be a big step in that direction.

I need to know (I need to know),
Because I don't know how long,
I can hold on,
And if you're makin' me wait,
If you're leadin' me on,
I need to know (I need to know),
I need to know (I need to know).

CC Deals, Teix Rakes, Yanks Win

The night after the Yankees' third largest offseason acquisition seemed to right the ship, the two most expensive and important pieces added over the winter continued pay dividends, combining to shut down the Mariners and beat them up.

CC Sabathia picked up where A.J. Burnett left off, dominating the M's, allowing six baserunners on 4 hits and two walks while striking out 8. He gave up only one (unearned) run in the fifth inning when the Yankees were leading 6-0, but that was the least of their concerns at the time.

With two outs, CC threw a 1-1 curveball to Franklin Gutierrez, who lined it directly back up the middle. With no time to react, Sabathia tried to block it, but the ball hit him directly in the top of his chest, missing his throat, collarbone and pitching hand by a couple of inches each. The ball deflected to A-Rod at third base who didn't have a play, and the whole infield rushed in to see if their stud pitcher was okay. CC was momentarily stunned but after catching his breath and stayed in the game. Not too many guys could shake that one off. As Joe Girardi said after the game, “He’s a strong man, he took it and he kept on pitching.”

The next batter was Jose Lopez and Sabathia got him to chop to thrid, but A-Rod made a throwing error which took a huge hop, got past Mark Teixiera and rolled around behind first base in no man's land, allowing Gutierrez to score from first. It didn't faze Sabathia, as he retired the final seven batters he faced. The bullpen, despite allowing 4 baserunners in the final 2 innings, didn't allow a run.

It was Sabathia's 9th quality start in a row, but saying that alone sells him short. He's thrown under 7 innings just one of those times and allowed two or more runs only twice. His ERA over that span is 1.79, his record 7-0 and the Yankees have won all 9 of those starts, dating back to August 8th.

Mark Teixeira was the driving force behind the Yanks' offensive effort last night. He notched his third triple in five games, knocking in Johnny Damon in the first inning. He added a three run homer in the 5th, all but ending Doug Fister's night. He singled in the 7th and came to the plate in the ninth in search of the Yankees second cycle of the year in the 9th. Teix blasted one into the gap in left-center but hit it too well, blasting his 37th HR of the season and adding his 118th RBI.

That dinger was off of lefthander Luke French, making it the third time this year that Teix has left the yard as both a righty and lefty in the same game. The Yankees have done that six times in 2009 while all other teams in baseball combined have done it once.

Hideki Matsui also homered and is hitting .439/.511/.659 over his last 12 games, homering thrice and driving in 12.

The Red Sox won and the Angels lost, putting the Yanks up 6.0 and 6.5 games up on those two teams, respectively, with 13 left to play. The Yanks magic number to clinch a playoff spot is down to 2 and to win the division and thereby homefield advantage is 9. Today's game will be played at a more reasonable 4PM but it will fall during the second slate of NFL football games. Have your remote controller handy.