Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Yanks Slug Their Way To Another Victory

A.J. Burnett's sub-par August bled over into September last night but the Yankees' offense launched 5 home runs in his defense and the bullpen provided a scoreless 3 2/3 innings to allow the Yankees to take the victory in Camden Yards.

Three of those homers came off of long ball machine David Martinez, two of which were courtesy of Jorge Posada. He and A.J. Burnett clearly didn't combine for a very good outing as battery mates and Jorge twice forgot the count in his at bats. In the second inning he stood the plate waiting for a pitch after ball four was called, and then three innings later he started walking towards the dugout after strike two was called, only to return to the plate to take Hernandez yard two pitches later. He also was nicked with a foul ball in the eighth inning but told Kim Jones he was okay in the postgame interview.

Nick Swisher and Eric Hinkse went back to back in the 7th, the former breaking a 6-6 tie and the latter putting the Yanks up by 3, which turned out to be the decisive margin. Amazingly, Swisher has hit more homers at Camden Yards this year (4) than he has at Yankee Stadium. He was 13 round-trippers at Oriole Park, the most of any park he hasn't called home.

Damaso Marte was the first to come out of the bullpen, throwing a perfect inning spanning from the 6th to the 7th before being replaced by David Robertson. D-Rob is working his way up the bullpen ladder, and has been used more often in high leverage situations as of late. He didn't disappoint tonight, but was lifted after giving up a double to Brian Roberts in the 8th. Phil Coke closed out the frame and Mariano Rivera picked up his second save in as many days, giving him the Major League lead with 38.

I'm sure the Yankees would have preferred a better start from Burnett but the bottom line is that they got away with it. He gave up six runs in 5 1/3 IP, but a whopping 11 of the 25 balls hit in play against Burnett dropped for hits (.423 BABIP). Hopefully he was just unlucky once again. I wouldn't point to Posada's game calling this time around as the cause for the poor performance. It seemed as if they weren't on the same page again but even if that's true, Jorgie more than compensated for it with his bat.

The Red Sox beat the Rays tonight, and the Rangers topped the Blue Jays. With the Rays sitting six games back, it's starting to look more and more like the Wild Card will come down to the Rangers and Sox with 3.5 games currently separating them.


  1. [Listening to SRV, "Tightrope" on the MP3.]

    Burnett continually missed spots tonight, especially on the homers by Pie and Scott, and on Mora's double. He has to sort out this mess, for Jorge has to be the catcher come October. There is no way around that. The Yankees need his bat in the lineup.

    In his limited work, Marte has looked good, especially against lefties.

    The team, and especially the offense, just refused to lose tonight. Good to see Cano heating up, raising his average to .320. I also loved that the bottom of the order, #5-9 tonight, went 9-22 with 8 runs and 8 RBI. This lineup just has such good balance that, odds are, someone along the lineup will make pitchers pay. A few guys did just that tonight.

    Chris Ray has become the Arthur Rhodes punching bag of the last couple years for the Yanks.

  2. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that Seattle beat the Angels 2-1, putting the Yanks 5 1/2 games up in the race for home field. The pinstriped vise tightens.

  3. So if the postseason began today (I hate this hypothetical), would Andy start Game 2 of the ALDS?

  4. I'm actually going to touch on that later today. Stay tuned...

  5. When I was watching SportsCenter this morning, they touched (briefly) on how AJ's been pitching with and without Posada as the catcher (shitty with, awesome without).

    Obviously if you ask Girardi or any Yankee about it they'll say it's a fluke, non-issue, and nothing to be worried about. But the front office HAS to be aware of these numbers, right?

  6. I'm sure the front office and everyone else is aware of it - the media's been beating that horse pretty badly since his start in Boston earlier this month.

    We've touched on a bit here too. Assume for a second that Posada is Burnett's problem. How much better would Burnett have had to pitch last night to overcome the loss of the four Yankee runs Posada had a hand in?

    Also, the numbers are what they are, but they may be a bit skewed. Posada was on the DL from May 5th to May 28th. Burnett made five starts in that time frame: two bad, two good, and one OK. Is Posada to blame for the bad ones? Or is that 5 game stretch a microcosm of what's been an up and down season for Burnett?

    From 6/14 through 7/27, Burnett went on a tear of 8 straight quality starts in which he went 6-1 with a 1.68 ERA. Posada caught six of those games. Did AJ go on that run because of Posada or in spite of him? Or does the catcher have little to do with it at all?

    My intent isn't to pick on you A-Train. I just think this is a media driven controversy. The effect a catcher has on results is much much much smaller than what the pitcher himself is responsible for. Catcher's ERA is a flawed statistic IMO. No one's going to give Jorge a Gold Glove or nominate him for game caller of the year. But no defense first catcher, not Molina, not Pudge Rodriguez, no one - offers enough of a defensive advantage to overcome the loss of Posada's bat in the line up.