Monday, May 10, 2010

Game 31 Recap

1. What Alex Rodriguez lacks in range he can often make up for with his arm. However, it was a throw that cost him an error and the Yanks two runs in the first inning. After Magglio Ordonez rapped a two out single to right, Miguel Cabrera hit a sharp grounder to A-Rod at third. Alex managed to knock the ball down, keep it in front of him, hop to his feet, do a full turn and fire to first in what should have been enough to get Cabrera, but he short hopped the throw. The ball bounced over Mark Teixiera and into the stands, leaving the Tigers will runners on second and third, still with two outs.

Rookie outfielder Brennan Boesch made the Yanks pay as he hit a hot shot just past the diving try of Teixeira, scoring both Cabrera and Ordonez and giving the Tigers an early 2-0 lead.

2. The Tigers tacked on another run in the second inning, but Sergio Mitre didn't have his defense to blame this time. Mitre began the frame by walking Scott Sizemore and then allowed a single to Gerald Laird. A sacrifice by Adam Everett moved the runners up and Sizemore scored on a ground out to Derek Jeter at short. 3-0 Tigers.

3. As he did in the first inning, Nick Swisher worked a one out walk in the third. Mark Teixeira took two balls and then turned on a fastball down and in, ripped it down the right field line and just inside the foul pole to make it 3-2. A-Rod followed with a single but was erased when he attempted to steal second on Brad Thomas' first motion but was picked off. Cano then grounded out to end the inning.

4. Johnny Damon hit his second home run of the year off of Sergio Mitre in the fifth. The first pitch he saw was a sinker right down the middle of the plate and Damon put one of his signature wristy swings on the ball, and deposited a few rows back in the right field seats. That was Mitre's 69th and final pitch of the night and he left the game with the Yankees trailing 4-2.

5. Boone Logan started off the seventh inning with a walk to Johnny Damon but got Magglio Ordonez to ground into a 6-4-3 double play. Logan wasn't out of the woods quite yet, however, as he walked Miguel Cabrera and gave up a triple to Broesche that extended the Tigers' lead to 5-2.

6. The Yankees loaded the bases with no one out during the 8th inning on consecutive singles by A-Rod and Cano and a walk by Jorge Posada, all off of Zumaya. Marcus Thames pulled a soft grounder to short stop that allowed A-Rod to score and every to move up one base safely and made the score 5-3.

At that point Jim Leyland called on Phil Coke to face Brett Gardner. Brett drove in Cano on a grounder to second to bring the Yankees within one and Randy Winn to the plate. Winn took a bad swing at a 2-0 pitch, popped it to third and passed the buck to Derek Jeter.

Leyland made another pitching change, this time calling on Ryan Perry to get the Tigers out of the jam. Jeter worked the count full before slicing a ball down the right field line that Magglio Ordonez made a nice sliding catch on, ending the inning and leaving the Yankees down 5-4. Since the count was full and there were two outs, Brett Gardner was going on contact, meaning that he almost certainly would have scored had Ordonez not made the play.

Jose Valverde came on to close out the game for the Tigers and struck out the side in the 9th. Game over as the Yanks dropped their second in a row after winning six straight.

IFs, ANDs & BUTs
  • Sergio Mitre didn't pitch that poorly, all things considered. One of the four runs that he gave up was unearned (could have been two) and at one point he retired eight straight Tigers. On the other hand, he only threw 37 of his 69 pitches for strikes and allowed seven runners to reach base. David Robertson, Boone Logan and Joba Chamberlain combined for 3 2/3 innings of one run ball so almost all of the damage came on Mitre's watch. I guess what I'm trying to say is that it wasn't all that surprising.

  • Brad Thomas did roughly as well Mitre; he lasted three innings and gave up two runs. It was right about what you would expect from two relievers making spot starts. It was a battle of the bullpens from there on out and the Tigers had been spotted two runs.

  • The Yanks went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base. In the second inning they put two men on with no one out but failed to drive in either of them. In the sixth, they had A-Rod on third with one out and left the bases loaded without him scoring. In a game that you lose by one run, these are the things that you tend to point to after the fact.

  • Eddie Bonine, who replaced Thomas, struck out Derek Jeter on a knuckleball for the first out of the fifth inning. PitchFX had it as a change up, but the YES cameras clearly showed a knuckleball grip and almost no rotation on the ball. It looked like he threw a few more of them during his 2 1/3 innings of work but that was the only one YES made a point of highlighting.

  • With two outs in the 5th, Brett Gardner lost a high fly ball from Miguel Cabrera in the lights that should have ended the inning but instead went for a double. There was no blood in the inning and no error charged. It just looked like he lost it in the twilight and/or wind.

  • There was a pregame ceremony to honor Ernie Harwell. Over 11,000 people filed by his body inside the gates of the park and several former Tigers including Al Kaline and Willie Horton were on hand to raise a flag sporting his initials that flew below the American flag in center field. The Tigers will wear a patch with a similar design for the rest of the season, much like the Phillies did in honor of Harry Kalas last year.

  • It was brutally cold and windy in Detroit for a game in May. The game time temperature was 54 degrees and got colder as it progressed. The wind was gusting in from center, making the already cavernous dimensions of the park seem even deeper.

  • Either the radar gun at Comerica was hot or the wind was helping out in during the later innings. Joel Zumaya was living in the triple digits with his fastball and Joba Chamberlain was in the upper 90's. Both those guys throw hard, but I doubt they were brining that kind of heat given how chilly it was.

  • According to WPA, the Yanks never had greater than a 50% chance of winning the game but it really felt like they were going to take the lead in the eighth inning. The ball that Jeter hit looked to be ticketed for extra bases but the typically poor-fielding Ordonez made a great play. Thems are da breaks, I suppose.

  • Jose Valverde was doing some odd shit after every strikeout he recorded. He'd walk over to the side of the mound, kneel down and take his hat off. When he got A-Rod swinging for the final out of the game, he did a couple of jumping fist pumps that would make the 2007 version of Joba Chamberlain blush. Not sure if this is par for the course for him, but it was pretty annoying to watch after how close the Yanks came to stealing this one back.

  • Not about this game but conveyed on the broadcast: According to Kim Jones, an uncomfortable bed in Boston forced Alfredo Aceves to sleep on the floor. That likely contributed to the stiff back that forced him from Saturday's game. Fortunately, he's back on the mattress in Detroit. Hey, Alf, why don't you keep it on the bed from now on, okay?
Same time, same place tomorrow night. If the Yanks want to win this series and make it 10 out of their first 11, they are going to have to sweep the final three.


  1. This felt like a pretty intense game last night, Jay. I also thought the Yankees were primed for a comeback win too. With guys on the corners and Derek Jeter at the plate late in the game, that is pretty much the best we can ask for. Perry pitched well and I am surprised Jeter didn't come through. Ordonez made a sweet catch, but I expected a Paul O'Neil-type hit to drive in a run and let Teix clean up the rest.

    Valverde came in an straight owned the Yankees in the 9th. He had them entirely fooled with his spltter and fastball. It is worth mentioning how impressive it was. I don't think it happens again, but for Monday night, Valverde was in charge. I didn't have a problem with his reaction after the strikeouts either.

    I kinda groan everytime that stuff gets mentioned too. Nobody says anything when a football player poses after making a tackle or a sack, regardless of the score. Nobody says anything when basketball players hold their hand up in the air after a 3, or when pound on their heart after a big play. Why are we so sensitive in baseball when emotion is showed? A pitcher slides off the mound, or pumps a fist, and immediately we talk about how they were "showing up the batter". Hitters celebrate sometimes when they hit a big homerrun or a come through with a clutch hit. Why do we care about these celebrations?
    I'm not trying to call you out or anything, Jay. I hear this sort of comment from a lot of places all the time. My thing is, if I am trying to hold a 1 run lead against the best team in baseball in front of my home crowd and with the heart of their order in the batting box, you bet your ass I am pumped if I mow them down like Valverde did. That was intense baseball and it was exciting on both sides. Now, If he stepped off the mound, pointed at the batter, made a gesture to slitting his own throat and then proceeded to strike him out on 3 pitches, well, I'd be pissed, but then again, if you talk the talk and then walk the walk.... it may not be classy, but these are big boys who should be able to handle taunting like that and just use it against the guy next time for revenge.

  2. Joshua - If what Valverde did last night doesn't bother you, that's a great thing. I was just frustrated with how the game went and thought his antics were a little over the top. I prefer guys who take care of business and don't feel the need to be all demonstrative when they succeed.

    Likewise, I enjoy guitarists who stay somewhat anchored on stage as opposed to guys who run all over the place and make wild motions when they play. Just personal preference.