Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Game 3: On To The Next One

Appropriately, the winner of the first series between the Yankees and Red Sox this season will be determined by who takes its third and final game. Each team has scored 13 runs so far (with the starting pitchers accounting for 9 of those and the bullpen the other 4), racked up 21 hits (6 going for doubles) and stolen two bases. The Yanks have hit three homers while the Sox have two and a triple. That's about as evenly matched as it gets.
The two teams won't meet again for another month so the victor of tonight's contest will get to hang on to the bragging rights for a pretty substantial amount of time.

The victim of several rainouts during Spring Training, Andy Pettitte won't have any weather-related issues in Fenway tonight. It was over 90 degrees in Boston today and although it will cool down by the time the first pitch is thrown, it will still be unseasonably warm. Pettitte's first appearance of the season
will be
his 35th start as a part of this unique rivalry and when asked about it earlier today had a hard time pretending he was especially excited for it.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, John Lackey will be taking part in the mania that is Yanks vs. Red Sox for the first time. Having pitched half of his games in southern California, the balmy conditions this evening should make Lackey feel right at home. Although he'll be getting eased into the rivalry as far at the weather is concerned, the 6'6" right hander is making his Sox debut against the Yankees and their best line up in front of a Fenway crowd with big expectations for their new highest paid player.

Lackey has faced the Yankees 7 times in the past 5 years between the regular season and the playoffs and has a 3.42 ERA with 40 strikeouts and 17 walks in those games.

For the first time in two years, Lackey will not begin the season on the DL. Despite the delayed debuts in '08 and '09, Lackey was still a valuable starter in those seasons, pitching a total of 340 innings with a 3.79 ERA. Lackey can probably expect his rate stats to take a hit as he settles into the AL East, but the biggest barrier to his success has always been his health and it appears he's off to a good start in that department.

So as Lackey dons a new uniform for the first time and turns the page to a new chapter in his career, the Yanks look to steal the final game of the set before moving on to face the Rays in Tampa. Let's do it.



Brett Gardner makes his triumphant return to left field, after coming off the bench to go 1 for 2 last night. Curtis Granderson slides back down to 7th and everyone else is in their usual spots.
Jeter SS
Johnson DH
Teixeira 1B
Rodriguez 3B
Cano 2B
Posada C
Granderson CF
Swisher RF
Gardner LF

Red Sox:
Ellsbury LF
Pedroia 2B
Martinez C
Youkilis 1B
Ortiz DH
Beltre 3B
Drew RF
Cameron CF
Scutaro SS

Tuesday Links

Like Kevin Youkilis last night, these links probably contain at least one error, even if it wasn't scored that way.
Apparently Marcus Thames wasn't starting last night just because the Yankees were in Fenway. Brian Hoch reports that the righty is a "near-lock" to see time against lefties. So Thames track record matters when it comes to facing lefties, but Curtis Granderson's doesn't? And Gardner doesn't even get a fair shake? Got that? No? Me neither.

Over at Pending Pinstripes, Matt was one of eight writers who answered a bunch of questions on Yankees prospects. Here are parts One, Two, Three and Four of the octagonal table.

Greg from PP also gathered up the links to his top 30 Yankee prospect profiles.

More from the farm: here is Mike from RAB's Minor League Primer, wherein he posts and discusses the rosters for each level of the minors.

Ross from NYY Stadium Insider did an excellent two part series analyzing the resale market for Yankees tickets this year. Well worth checking out if you are planning on picking up tickets online.

Want to hear some Sawx fans whining about the umpiring last night? Probably not, but here's the link anyway.

The Yankees are checking in at 3-1 to win the World Series right now with the Sox and Phillies next best at 6-1. Any takers?

It turns out that Joba really admires John Smoltz. The former dominant starter and reliever told the youngin' to treat everything like a one inning game, regardless of his role.

Via Craig at NBC, here is evidence that people have been complaining about the pace of play at baseball games since at least 1905. The only thing is, back then, 2:20 was apparently too slow.

Write something misguided about the Tampa Bay Rays and Jonah Keri just might write 4,000 words telling you how wrong you are. You've been warned.

Do you think if we told Joe Morgan that Hal McCoy was listening to the Sunday Night Baseball broadcast, he would stop talking?

Sky Andrecheck over at Baseball Analysts looked a how experts make predictions about baseball and developed a model that explains how it might be rational for people to pick teams that aren't actually the favorites. It was similar to what I started talking about here, except it goes about 10 times deeper.

Over at the Hardball Times, Geoff Young did something right up our alley by combining music and baseball. He watched the Yanks/Sox game last night on mute with Radiohead's OK Computer playing instead of the announcers. The results can be found here.

Walkoff Walk compiled a guide to the stadium grub that is new for the '10 season. Nothing new at Yankee Stadium but plenty to check out around the league.

Balls too slippery? Rub some mud on 'em.

Here is a professional poker player talking about how Major League Baseball is "complete garbage" and "totally, and insanely boring to me". He adds:
Teams like Tampa Bay occasionally have a miracle year with a cast of young players, but guess what happens when their contracts are up? They end up in Boston or New York.
Exactly. Like, you know... that awesome player who went from Tampa to the Yankees that one time. Cleveland would have probably been a better example.

Daniel Negraneau is fantastic card player and he makes some fair points, but I don't really care about what someone who is admittedly not a fan of the game thinks about what is wrong with it.

That's it for now. We'll be back with the preview for tonight's game in a little bit.

Today In Gross Overreactions

After last night's game, the Boston media questioned David Ortiz about his 0 for 7 start and asked if he was concerned that this might be indicative of another slow beginning for the slugger. Ortiz, unamused, justifiably responded unpleasantly:
"Shit happens. Then you guys talk shit. Two fucking games already. Motherfuckers are going crazy. What's up with that, man? Shit. There's fucking 160 games left. Y'all fuckers go ahead and hit for me."
Ortiz then threw a jar of his spicy mango salsa at the assembled writers and stormed off to continue his months-long quest to get the to bottom of his positive steroid test.

While I may have made up that last sentence, Ortiz brings up a very valid point. We're just two games into a six month-long season. There have been any number of things that have been overreacted to over the past three days, but in my opinion none has been more egregious than the hosannas thrown at Joba Chamberlain because he recorded two strikeouts in the eighth inning last night.

I'm tired of reading about Joba Chamberlain. For nearly three years now, every pitch he's thrown, every fist he's pumped, every start he's made, every trot from the bullpen, every fastball that's fallen short of our expected velocity has been overanalyzed to death.

I refrained from commenting when it was announced he would pitch out of the bullpen this year. It's not the role in which I want to see Chamberlain, but someone had to lose the competition, and I'd probably be just as unhappy if Phil Hughes were banished to the bullpen for another year. I still hope the Chamberlain will be a starter in the long haul, so perhaps my crankiness today is driven by those feelings.

But I'm absolutely stupefied by the sheer volume of things I've heard and read proclaiming that last night's performance signifies that 2007 Joba is back.

I've seen the picture of him roaring and fist pumping in about seven different places. I heard Jorge Posada use his post-game interview with Kim Jones as an excuse to get up on his soapbox and say he thought Joba belonged in the pen all along. I heard Kay, Singleton, and Leiter trot out the same old tired debate lines that have been beaten to death over the past two and half years. I heard the normally level-headed Jack Curry say on the post-game show that Chamberlain has to earn the eighth inning job and his performance last night did just that. I've read countless pieces this morning, both from the beat writers and the blogosphere, that have waxed poetic about Joba recapturing his former fire.

To which I quote David Ortiz: "There's fucking 160 games left!" Joba was great last night, there's no questioning that. But have we forgotten that he was horseshit on Sunday night? Did we forget that he needed 33 pitches to get four outs, that his fastball was sitting at about 92-93 MPH, and that he continued to nibble and not challenge hitters? Do we forget that Sunday's appearance reminded us of all the troublesome aspects of Joba's 2009 season that we've analyzed and debated and beaten into the ground over and over again? Or does that get thrown out the window because he had a great (2/3 of an) eighth inning last night?

I'm not trying to say that Joba can't or won't be a weapon out of the bullpen this year. I'm not saying that the bullpen isn't where his ultimate fate lies. I'm not saying that we shouldn't be happy with his performance last night. But before we go lionizing him like it's August of '07 all over again, before we declare him The Eighth Inning Guy, before we go plastering his mouth agape, fist pumping picture on another post, could we please, please just step back for a minute and realize that last night was just one game and that it doesn't guarantee that the rest of Joba's 2010 campaign will play out like the final two months of the 2007 season?

Last Night In Funny Euphemisms

Good morning Fackers. We're just two games into the 2010 season, and we already have an early contender for line of the year.

In the bottom of the ninth last night, Mariano Rivera caught Jacoby Elsbury looking at strike three for the second out of the inning. Instead of busting the lefty in on the hands as he usually does, Mo dropped his cutter over the outside corner for the final strike.

In the YES booth, a discussion ensued about Mo's use of the backdoor cutter. Ken Singleton dropped this gem on us:
"When he decides to go back door they just stand there and take it"

Whoa, easy there Kenny. He must have spent the Monday off day watching the complete series of Oz on DVD.

I don't think Singleton's line last night tops Michael Kay's "He dropped a deuce on him" from last year, but it's the early leader for best line of 2010.

Game 2 Recap

1. After reaching base on a high pop up that probably should have been fielded by Marcus Thames in the bottom of the first, Jacoby Ellsbury took off for second base in an 0-1 count. Jorge Posada's throw to second sailed wide right and Ellsbury ended up taking third base. He scored on a sac fly by the next batter, Kevin Youkilis, to put the Sox up 1-0. Giving away three free bases will do that to you.

2. Nick Swisher tied the game in the top of the second by driving in Robinson Cano on a double to right. The Yanks loaded the bases with one away but Curtis Granderson struck out and Derek Jeter grounded into a force play to end the inning.

3. In the bottom of the third, Ellsbury reached base again, this time leading off with a legitimate double. Two batters later, Victor Martinez took A.J. Burnett deep for a two run homer on a 0-1 fastball that caught too much of the plate before ending up in the Sox bullpen in right-center.

4. The Yanks came back in a big way, loading the bases against Jon Lester with no one out in the 5th. They plated three runs in the frame, one each on a fielders choice by Mark Teixeira, a double by A-Rod and a sac fly by Robinson Cano. This put them them ahead 4-3.

5. That lead was short lived as A.J. Burnett lost another battle against Victor Martinez in the 5th. Dustin Pedrioa had singled in the previous at bat and scored when Martinez lofted a double high off the Green Monster.

6. Hideki Okajima had runners on first and second with two outs in the top of the 8th when Derek Jeter came to the plate. For what seemed like the 6th or 7th time already this season, Jeter grounded out to softly to short, except this time he was bailed out by a poor throw from Marco Scutaro that Kevin Youkilis couldn't quite scoop. With the bases loaded, Nick Johnson worked a 5 pitch walk and drove in his first run of the season to give the Yanks a 5-4 lead.

7. Joe Girardi got to tinkering in the bottom half of the 8th when he started the inning with David Robertson, pulled him after he gave up a single to Youk and brought in Damaso Marte to face David Ortiz. Papi flied out to center and Joba Chamberlain was called on with Adrian Beltre due up.

At that point, Beltre was 2-3 with a walk on the night, but Joba shut him down, inducing a swinging strike three on a ball well off the plate low and away. J.D. Drew was due up next and stuck out swinging, the at bat culminating with whiffs over two perfectly placed sliders. Joba was sitting between 94 and 96 with his fastball and responded with an emphatic fistpump when he got out of the inning.

8. Robinson Cano dropped his bat as soon as he made contact with an 0-1 slider from Scott Atchinson and sure enough and that sucker found the seats down the right field line, giving Mariano Rivera an extra run to work with in the bottom of the 9th.

9. Mo didn't need that cushion, although he did allow a double to Marco Scutaro that landed between Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner in left-center. He recorded one strikeout (Ellsbury) and induced two fly balls from Mike Cameron and Dustin Pedroia, the latter ending the game and giving the Yanks their first win of the season. FINALLY!

IFs, ANDs & BUTs
  • Three times early in the game, Angel Hernandez declined to give time to hitters who asked for it in the box. This is likely related to the pace of play issue that the MLB is so concerned about.

  • Speaking of which, my theory from earlier today is not holding up very well considering this game clocked in a snailish 3:48. That makes it 2 minutes longer than last night despite the fact that it wasn't on a national network and fewer runs were scored.

  • Both starters were finished after 5 innings, each with 4 R. Only 3 of Burnett's were earned and gave up 7 hits, walked one and hit one batter. Lester allowed 5 hits, 3 walks and two HBP.

  • Of the 94 pitches Burnett threw, only 1 was a changeup (which he was supposedly fine tuning in Spring Training), according to MLB data. That pitch was 89MPH, probably isn't enough of a differential off of his fastball to make it an effective pitch.

  • Nick Johnson is hitting a perfectly stereotypical .000/.500/.000, the product of 4 walks and 1 HBP in 10 plate appearances.

  • Marcus Thames went 0-1 with a walk and a strikeout against Jon Lester. Brett Gardner entered the game in the 6th inning as a pinch hitter and went 1 for 2, that hit coming as a single off of the lefty Okajima.

  • Alfredo Aceves pitched two innings of relief and allowed just one baserunner (and that came on a throwing error by Derek Jeter).

  • Five relievers combined for four scoreless innings. I guess this means Phil Hughes can stay in the rotation.

  • The Yanks had three errors in total, the one I haven't mentioned yet came when Damaso Marte botched a pick off throw and allow Youk to advance to second.

  • Randy Winn replaced Nick Swisher for defense in the 9th inning.

  • When Mariano Rivera entered the game, he, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada set a record as the only three teammates in any major American professional team sports to appear in a game together for 16 years straight.