Thursday, June 3, 2010

Game 54 Recap

Despite the fact that the Orioles brought the tying run to the plate in the 9th inning, the Yankees' sweep never seemed to be in danger. Unlike last night, their Win Expectancy never cracked 50%.

The O's managed just six baserunners this afternoon but unfortunately for CC Sabathia's ERA, half of them scored on home runs he allowed. It doesn't seem right, but Sabathia has allowed 12 dingers already, two more than Javy Vazquez. Adam Jones and Luke Scott both caught with with poorly placed fastballs from the Big Fella today, but that wasn't enough to keep pace with the Yankee bats.

With the help of a goofy mistake by Kevin Millwood, the Yanks jumped out to an early lead. Jeter and Swisher hit back to back singles in the first inning and Jeter stole third with Mark Texeira at the plate. Getting nailed at third with no one out is a great way to kill a rally but Jeter pulled it off and apparently got into Millwood's head when he got there.

With the count 2-2 to Mark Teixeira, Millwood lost his balance and attempted to deliver a "pitch" anyway. I wish PitchFX had clocked it because it went about thirty miles an hour and forty feet in the air, thereby distilling the Orioles futility this season into a couple blissful seconds. The umps ruled it a balk, the Yankees took a 1-0 lead and never looked back.

The rest of the Yankee runs came in more traditional fashion. Robinson Cano continued his hot hitting, driving in a run in that first inning. A-Rod hit a two run shot in the third, Curtis Granderson chipped in an RBI single later in that frame and Brett Gardner lofted a home run just barely into the short porch in right in the seventh.

After Sabathia left the game, Joba Chamberlain worked a perfect eight inning and Mariano Rivera put two men on base in the ninth via a hit and hit by pitch but didn't allow either to score. They nailed down the win for CC, his first since he started against Baltimore a month ago.

The Yanks just wrapped a 6-1 homestand and they'll be heading up to lovely Toronto for a weekend set with the Jays. Tomorrow night's game is at 7:00.

Game 54: Alabama Getaway

The Yanks look to bust out the brooms this afternoon and go for a sweep of the lowly O's. It'll be a match up of former teammates on the Cleveland Indians, as CC Sabathia and Kevin Millwood face off.

Millwood was arguably the better of the two pitchers on that 2005 club, posting a 2.86 ERA and despite a 9-11 record, finishing sixth in the AL Cy Young voting. Millwood was worth 3.9 WAR that year, third on the Cleveland staff to Sabathia's 4.1 WAR.

Millwood hasn't been quite as unlucky this year, but he certainly has deserved a better fate than what he's received so far. He enters today 0-5, despite a 3.89 ERA (110 ERA+) and a 3.99 xFIP. The woeful O's offense just hasn't given him any run support.

On the flip side, CC Sabathia hasn't pitched all that well of late. He enters today at 4-3, despite a 4.16 ERA (98 ERA+) and a 4.11 xFIP. His last win came one month ago today, and in his five starts since he's gone 0-2 with a 6.28 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, and a .291/.346/.538 batting line against. He'll look to get away from that sort of performance this afternoon.

The conclusion of today's game marks the end of the first third of the season. It also marks the end of the Yankees' seven game homestand. A win today would give them six wins on the homestand, five in a row, and put them on pace for 102 wins on the year. For Alabama native David Robertson and the rest of the Yankees, it's getaway day in the Bronx, as they look to make it three in row against the O's.

Twenty-third Psalm Majordomo
reserve me a table for three
in the Valley of the Shadow
just you, Alabama and me

Alabama getaway
Alabama getaway
Only way to please me
turn around and leave
and walk away
[Song Notes: It's a good day for some Grateful Dead. This tune is the lead track from their 1980 album Go To Heaven, the first to feature keyboardist Brent Mydland. Keyboardist for the Dead has been the real life equivalent of drummer for Spinal Tap, as Mydland was the fourth in a line of five keyboardists in Dead history, all of whom have now in fact gone to heaven. This performance comes from their appearance on Saturday Night Live on April 5, 1980, three weeks before the album was released.]


Nothing to report here. Same deal as yesterday.
Derek Jeter SS
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada DH
Curtis Granderson CF
Francisco Cervelli C
Brett Gardner LF

Julio Lugo SS
Miguel Tejada 3B
Nick Markakis RF
Ty Wigginton 3B
Luke Scott LF
Garrett Atkins 1B
Adam Jones CF
Craig Tatum C
Cesar Izturis SS

Minor League Notes

A couple minor league notes as we steam on towards game time:

Last year's first round pick, Slade Heathcott, was promoted from Extended Spring Training to low-A Charleston. He made his 2010 debut last night, going one for five with a single. He made his lone hit count though, singling with the bases loaded in the tenth to give the RiverDogs a walkoff 5-4 win. Heathcott played center field, and batted leadoff.

This is similar to the plan the Yankees have used with last year's second round pick JR Murphy. Murphy was sent to Charleston in mid-May and has been splitting time between catcher and DH. The organization has said they wanted Murphy to get some experience playing in minor league stadiums and under lights before sending him to Staten Island when the short season NY-Penn League starts up this summer. Heathcott is likely getting the same treatment.

Elsewhere in the minors yesterday, 2007 first round pick Andrew Brackman continued his recent hot streak. He went five scoreless innings last night, giving up just three hits and a walk while striking out seven. Over his last five starts, he's posted a 1.65 ERA over 27.1 IP, allowed 22 hits and 5 walks, and struck out 26.

It Really Is A Mean Old World

Good morning Fackers. In Tuesday's preview, Jay lamented the state of Javy Vazquez' 2010 season, only to see the maligned pitcher take the hill and spin a gem over seven innings. Last night, Jay's choice of Chuck Berry's "Mean Old World" proved slightly more prophetic, but its meaning went far, far beyond the nagging injuries and vagaries of age that have impacted the Yankees at different points this season.

Vladimir Guerrero, enjoying a late career renaissance in his first season in Texas, took one of his own batted balls to the eye during batting practice, resulting in a trip to the hospital. Like half the Yankees' roster, he's day to day. And that doesn't even begin to tell to the terrible tales from last night around the Bigs.

Shortly after the Yankees' game got underway, Ken Griffey Jr announced his retirement, cutting short his 22nd Big League season hitting just .184/.250/.204 with only two extra base hits (both doubles) in 98 at bats. He suffered through his nap-gate controversy earlier this season, had been benched in recent weeks, and despite his statement to the contrary, was almost assuredly nudged towards the door.

I've had mixed feelings about Griffey over the course of his career, and I have mixed feelings about Griffey's retirement. It's near tragic to see him go out like this. At the same time, I suppose it's good that he didn't force Seattle to release the most iconic player in franchise history. And it's good that he didn't hang on longer to further tarnish his reputation. But I can't help but think he wouldn't have been better off just hanging them up after last year. Here's the farewell post we ran for Griffey eleven months ago. It was premature then; it's overdue now.

And yet the unfortunate circumstances surrounding Griffey's exit from the game don't even remotely approach what happened in Detroit last night. One out from an unprecedented third perfect game in the first third of the season, and second in four nights, Armando Galarraga coaxed a grounder to first. He raced to the bag, received the throw from Miguel Cabrera, and recorded what should have been the final out of the game. Instead first base umpire Jim Joyce called Jason Donald safe.

Armando Galarraga must feel terrible. Jim Joyce must feel even worse. And while the men in blue haven't been at all popular of late, and while many have made poor decisions that actively inserted themselves into the fabric of the game, Jim Joyce doesn't deserve what he has coming his way. It was a bang-bang play, not terribly close, but pretty close. And he made the wrong call. He didn't do it to make himself part of the storyline. He didn't do it to flex his muscles. He did it because he thought it was the right call. And he was wrong. And he's going to have to live with it for the rest of his life. And despite a 24 year career as a Major League umpire, a career that has been otherwise respectable if not commendable, Jim Joyce will forever be remembered for one mistake.

At least Griffey will be remembered for his peak, not his nadir. Jim Joyce won't ever be so lucky. It sure as hell can be a mean old world. Let's hope it's a little nicer today.

Game 53 Recap

(WPA data from Fangraphs)

Well that is one pretty looking chart for the Yankees. At only one point in the game did the Orioles have a better than 50% chance of emerging victorious, as Luke Scott's one out double in the second inning pushed the O's WE to a whopping 51.7%.

That speaks volumes as to how well the Yankees played last night. Phil Hughes was brilliant yet again, going seven strong, allowing six hits, one run, a walk, and fanning seven. He threw 72 of his 101 pitches for strikes.

On the offensive side, the Yankees continued to feast on the teams they should be roughing up, and once again, Robinson Cano led the charge. He went 3 for 4, with three runs scored and two RBI. He blasted his team-leading 12th home run of the season into the right field bleachers, extended his hitting streak to 16 games, and boosted his line for 2010 to .373/.412/.632. He now leads the AL in batting, is fourth in OBP, and third in SLG. His 12 HRs is tied for sixth.

Cano wasn't alone on offense though. Curtis Granderson continued his hot post-DL hitting, going 3 for 4 with a big two run double in the second to open the scoring. Nick Swisher chipped in three hits of his own, one of them also a two run double in the second inning. Alex Rodriguez had two hits and two runs scored, Brett Gardner doubled and scored twice, and Jorge Posada singled and walked in his return from the DL.

The end of the game saw Chad Gaudin finish off two scoreless innings, with subs Ramiro Pena, Kevin Russo, and Marcus Thames behind him in the field as the Yankees cruised 9-1. You can't draw it up any better than that. They'll go for the sweep behind CC Sabathia this afternoon at 1 PM.