Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Game 7 Recap

[WPA data via FanGraphs]

1. The Yankees got it going in the bottom of the first, as Nick Johnson jumped on a 1-1 Ervin Santana fastball and crushed it to the right field bleachers to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead.

2. In the top of the third, Derek Jeter followed with a solo shot of his own to right-center

3. The next inning, the Yankees stretched the lead to 3-0, as a bases loaded infield single from Jeter plated Curtis Granderson.

4. Andy Pettitte pitched himself into a bit of a jam in the fifth, allowing a leadoff single to Jeff Mathis followed by a walk to Brandon Wood. Erick Aybar's groundout to third put both runners in scoring position, but Pettitte wriggled out of trouble by inducing a pop up from Bobby Abreu and a groundout from Torii Hunter

5. The Angels threatened again in the sixth, with back-to-back singles from Kendry Morales and Juan Rivera leaving runners on the corners with one out. Pettitte then induced a double play ball off the bat of Howie Kendrick, costing the Angels 11.9% of Win Expectancy.

6. The Yankees made it 5-0 in the bottom half of the inning. Walks from Nick Swisher, Nick Johnson, and Mark Teixeira loaded the bases. An infield single from A-Rod plated the Nicks. Raise your hand if you thought you'd see Nick Johnson score from second on an infield single this year. Yeah, me neither.

7. The Angels got on the board in the top of eighth, as Kendry Morales blasted a solo shot into the second deck in right field. The Yankees responded in the bottom half. Nick Johnson led off with a double and came around to score on a Jorge Posada two bagger. Curtis Granderson continued his hot start by driving Robinson Cano home with a base hit. Though seemingly pile-on runs at the time, they would prove crucial.

8. David Robertson had a rough top of the ninth. He gave up three straight singles to start the inning, the second of which was supposed to be a bunt attempt. After retiring Aybar for the inning's first out, D-Rob surrendered a grandslam to Bobby Abreu to make it 7-5. Even so, the Yankees' Win Expectancy still stood at 95.9%. Mariano Rivera came on to get Torii Hunter and old friend Hideki Matsui to shut the door.

IFs, ANDs & BUTs
  • Outstanding job by the Yankees with the ring ceremony. From the 27 championship flags flying from the Stadium, to the presence of living legends Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford, to the surprise guest appearance by Jerry Hairston Jr, who took a cross country red eye from San Diego last night to spend his off day getting his ring, it was well done. If only Bernie didn't bounce the first pitch, and if only YES wasn't late in getting back on the air for it.

  • Extremely classy move by the Yankees to give World Series MVP Hideki Matsui the final ring. It was also very nice to see the entirety of the Yankees come forward to greet Matsui after he received his ring. While that move spoke volumes of how Matsui's former teammates feel about him, the fans took the opportunity to express their gratitude with a standing ovation for Matsui's plate appearance in the first inning. Nice job by Andy Pettitte to take his time and step off, giving Matsui an opportunity to tip his batting helmet.

  • As nice as the reception was for Matsui, the best moment of the day was to see Gene Monahan in attendance. As we mentioned this morning, Monahan has been away from the team battling illness, reportedly cancer. His appearance today was the first of the season. It was very poignant that he received the first ring in the ceremony and touching to see the warm reception from the fans and how much it moved Geno.

  • The very first ring of the day was presented to George Steinbrenner. Joe Girardi and Derek Jeter visited his suite early in the afternoon to deliver his ring. Hal said his pops was very appreciative.

  • Another solid outing for Andy Pettitte, who was very sharp through four and gutted through jams in the fifth and sixth. It was good to see that Pettitte was able to receive his ring on the field before heading to the bullpen to warm up.

  • Nine walks by Angels pitching today, including three to Nick Swisher and two each to Nick Johnson and Mark Teixeira.

  • Robinson Cano continues to swing a hot bat, picking up a double and a single, and making good contact on his fly out to the right field warning track.

  • Nick Swisher has been replaced for defense in three consecutive games and five of the last six. I know he can look bad at times and that his arm isn't great, but as we discussed a couple weeks back, he's not a terrible defender.

  • Chan Ho Park looked good for his second consecutive outing. Perhaps those who were ready to write him off following his Opening Night performance might have reacted a tad too quickly.

  • David Robertson's ERA is going to take a looooong time to recover from today.

  • I don't want to jump to conclusions after just one game, but Torii Hunter looks like he's aged in dog years defensively. He got poor jumps on about three or four fly balls today. Perhaps the wind played a factor, but that doesn't explain away his failure to cut off Nick Johnson's eight inning shot in the right-center gap.

See you in the morning Fackers.

Needs More Diamonds

Via the MLB Twitter account, here some pictures of the Yankees World Series rings.

They would probably look pretty ridiculous on anyone's finger but damn, is that a lovely sight or what?

Game 7: Champion

While the Yankees are already six games deep in the 2010 season, today is the first time they get to don the famous pinstriped uniforms. While the road grays are handsome unis in their own right, the pure white background and the dark blue stripes of the home duds are particularly aesthetically pleasing, especially under the bright sunlight of a day game.

Of everyone, Curtis Granderson is probably the most anxious to try on the uniform and get out on the field. For the first time, he'll be patrolling centerfield in Yankee Stadium in the top halves of the innings and staring down the short porch in right during the bottoms. He'll be acknowledging his first roll call from the Bleacher Creatures. He will be one of the few players not getting a World Series ring, but after his solid start during the preceding road trip, the fans will certainly make him feel welcome in his new home stadium.

Putting on the Pinstripes is nothing new to Andy Pettitte, but this start might be a little more special than usual for the 38 year old. Pettitte has won all three home openers he's started for the Yanks - the first one coming in the snow against the Royals in 1996 - and his fourth one is likely to be his last.

Dating back to the end of last season, Pettitte also has a three game home winning streak going. He won against the Red Sox on September 27th and started the clinching Game 6's of the ALCS and World Series, both of which, of course, were played in the Bronx. Despite a rain-soaked Spring Training consisting of more simulated games and bullpen sessions than he would have preferred, Pettitte pitched well in his first start of the season, allowing one run in six innings in Fenway Park on Wednesday. He walked three and gave up 6 hits but notched 5 K's and erased two of those baserunners with a pair of double plays.

Ervin Santana will be taking the mound for the Angels. Santana wasn't especially successful as a starter last year (5.03 ERA) and he got bumped back to the bullpen for one appearance at the end of the season and remained there for the playoffs. He made two strong appearances against the Yankees in the ALCS, lasting 5 2/3 innings in total and giving up only one run.

In his first start back in the rotation this season against the Twins, the 28 year old righty allowed four runs in six innings, including two home runs to Justin Morneau and J.J. Hardy. Over the years, Santana has had longball issues against the Yankees, allowing 11 of them to the Bombers in 46 2/3 IP. Four of those were to guys who are no longer on the team (two to his new teammate Hideki Matsui) but Granderson has taken Ervin deep twice himself.

As Matt noted earlier, the Yankees are pulling out all the stops for the ceremony this afternoon. Banners hung, legends present, color guard playing, giant flag unfurled, National Anthem sung and fly over executed. It might be a little awkward for Granderson, Nick Johnson and especially Chan Ho Park and Hideki Matsui, but the organization is taking the opportunity to treat the fans who are lucky enough to be in attendance to a special experience.

It will be even more special for guys like Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, A.J. Burnett and Nick Swisher, who will finally be given a symbol of the World Series titled they contributed to last year after long and otherwise successful careers without that satisfaction. No longer will any of them be looked upon as guys who "never won the Big One" or "couldn't get it done in New York". The on-field celebration that took place five months ago is a distant memory and although the crowds in Tampa were mostly friendly, the players have yet to be officially embraced by their own fans this season. Today they will in a way that they've never been before.

Did you realize, that you were a champion in the eyes?
Yes I did, so I packed it up and brought it back to the crib.


Jeter SS
Johnson DH
Teixeira 1B
Rodriguez 3B
Cano 2B
Posada C
Granderson CF
Swisher RF
Gardner LF

Aybar SS
Abreu RF
Hunter CF
Matsui DH
Morales 1B
Rivera RF
Kendrick 2B
Mathis C
Wood 3B

O's Fever: Catch It!

Last night, Camden Yards played host to the smallest crowd in it's history: 9,129.

Granted, the O's were playing their fourth home game, squarely in the slow period after the rush to get out to the first series has worn off but before summer has arrived and the kids are out of school. They were also off to a 1-5 start (now 1-6), it was a Monday night and the Rays in town, who have a good team but few displaced fans in other cities. Still, with a solid young core like Baltimore has, you'd think it a few more people* would have made it out.

While Camden Yards is still the face of the "New Ballpark Movement", any novelty has long worn off. It doesn't seem like it, but the park is now hosting it's 18th season and is actually due for some renovations over the next year or two. As Craig notes, there are now only 10 parks older than Camden.

It's quite jarring to see the place so empty, but when the Yanks come to town at the end of the month, surely there will be fewer of those seats unoccupied.

*Noted stoner and manfish Michael Phelps was in the crowd. No word on whether or not he tried to toke some herb out of a red pepper.

Happy (Home) Opening Day

Good morning Fackers. And once again, Happy Opening Day. I suppose that's the nice thing about opening on the road; we get to celebrate baseball's biggest holiday a second time. And today we get to have a proper Opening Day. Something was slightly lacking during the opener in Boston, namely, the game was played at night. I understand ESPN's desire to make an event out of the season's first game, but there's something special about Opening Day.

Last year, Opening Day was quite the event, as it marked the first official game at Yankee Stadium. This year will offer its own intrigue, as the Yankees' 27th World Series banner will be raised, with the previous 26 also being represented. I'm not sure yet if that means the large banners will adorn the frieze or if there will be flags flying atop the Stadium rather than the usual League standings. George Steinbrenner will reportedly be in attendance.

Gates open at 11 AM, so if you're lucky enough to be going today, make sure you're there on time. For the rest of us, coverage on YES begins at 11:30 AM. The ring ceremony, featuring living legends Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford, is scheduled to start at 12:15 or 12:30, depending upon which press release you read. It will be followed by full player introductions. The West Point Cadet Color Guard will present the colors. The National Anthem, sung by Kristen Chenoweth, is slated for 12:56, followed by the ever-popular fly over. Finally, Bernie Williams has the first pitch at just after 1:00.

[UPDATE 9:30 AM: I forgot to this mention initially, but I'd be remiss to let it slide. Rumor has it that longtime Yankee trainer Gene Monahan, who's been in the organization for more than 45 years and with the big club since 1973, will be at the ceremonies today. Monahan has been away from the team all year, dealing with an undisclosed illness, though Mariano Rivera may have let the cat out of the bag yesterday. Glove slap: iYankees]

Back with the preview in a bit.