Saturday, April 10, 2010

Game 5 Recap

[WPA data via FanGraphs]

1. The Yanks put runners on first and second with one out for Derek Jeter in the 3rd inning but Jeter rapped into a double play. It was the biggest shift in WPA in the game at the time but didn't end up mattering much.

2. With the game still scoreless in the top of the 4th, Mark Teixeira worked a six pitch walk from Wade Davis. After A-Rod popped out to just behind second base and slammed his bat to the ground in disgust, Robinson Cano launched a 1-1 fastball from Davis into the right field seats, 2-0 Yanks. As he did with his first homer in Fenway, Cano dropped his lumber and took a moment to admire his handiwork. I can't blame him, but I'm guessing that's the kind of thing opposing pitchers don't take too kindly to.

3. In the 5th, the Yankees plated another two runs but went with a small ball approach instead. Brett Gardner led off with a single and was moved over to 2nd by a well-placed bunt off the bat of Francisco Cervelli that was almost good enough for a hit. Jeter then flipped a single to center, scoring Gardner. Two batters latter Teixeira finally got his first hit of the season, driving in Jeter to put the Yanks up 4-0.

4. CC Sabathia was perfect through 4 innings but allowed a leadoff walk to Evan Longoria to begin the 5th, lowering his best case scenario to a no-hitter.

5. The tension of the possible no-no began to mount in the 6th inning. Kelly Shoppach hit a sharp line drive to left field which Brett Gardner was in good position to field for the first out. With two down, Jason Bartlett battled through a 7 pitch at bat, fouling off three before being robbed of a base hit by a diving Mark Teixeira.

6. Carl Crawford walked to leadoff the 7th. Next, in a rather odd play, Ben Zobrist bounced one back at Sabathia and the big fella threw a little wide of second. Crawford arrived in time but overslid the bag and a heads up Cano was right there to apply the tag. Technically, he was safe and then made a base running error but the play was ruled a fielder's choice. Either way, the no-hitter was still intact. Upton was at the plate next and ripped a line drive right at third base but A-Rod made a diving stab, popped to his feet and threw a frozen rope to nail Upton at first. Inning over.

7. The Yanks blew the game open in the 8th, which wasn't exactly good for Sabathia. He was at 100 pitches and although any pitcher would enjoy four additional runs of support, it took the Yanks almost 20 minutes to tally them up and the anxiety of wanting to complete a no-hitter probably made it feel like even longer. 8-0, Yanks.

8. To begin the bottom of the 8th, Willy Aybar hit a bouncer up the middle that Sabathia deflected with his pitching hand. It bounced towards Cano who made the play in stride. One away. Next, Pat Burrell lofted a high fly to center. Two down. With Sabathia 109 pitches deep, Kelly Shoppach came to the plate and flailed at a first pitch change up. The crowd urged the big lefty on, but on the next pitch, Shoppach lined one to left field in front of Gardner, breaking up the no-hit bid. Joe Girardi immediately popped out of the dugout to remove Sabathia and CC was greeted with a standing ovation on his way back to the dugout.

9. The Yanks tagged on two more runs in the top of the 9th and David Robertson, who took over for CC in the 8th - got the final three outs. Yanks 10, Rays 0. Fin.

IFs, ANDs & BUTs
  • Clearly, the story of the game was Sabathia's performance. The Yankees haven't had a no-hitter since David Cone's perfect game back in 1999 and every time a pitcher gets close, the game, no matter how out of hand, becomes highly captivating. This was about as much fun to watch as an early season game gets.

  • Sabathia also made a slick play on a ball hit by Carl Crawford in the 4th. On a grounder back up the middle, CC's follow through left his glove hanging in the right place at the right time. He was able to snag it gracefully and throw to first seemingly before Crawford even got out of the box.

  • The Cervelli-Sabathia tandem got off to a great start least year as well, combining for a complete game shutout in Baltimore.

  • Cervelli also contributed offensively as well, knocking in a two-run double during the Yanks' onslaught in the 8th.

  • When the no-hitter was broken up, Old Hoss Radbourn informed the Twitterverse what he would do under similar circumstances.
The series finale is tomorrow at 1:40.

Game 5: Bron Yr Aur

The Yanks won't have to spend too much time thinking about last night's tough loss as they take the field shortly after 3 PM to face the Rays today. The game will be televised on FOX so that means we will be treated to the nonsensical stylings of Tim McCarver and the smarmy proclamations of Joe Buck. On the bright side, we get a day off from Michael Kay.

For the Yanks, CC Sabathia looks to improve upon his 5.2 inning, 5 run outing against the Red Sox facing a Rays lineup that tagged Javier Vazquez for 8 runs last night. Like Vazquez did against the Rays, Sabathia started off strong on Sunday but saw the wheels fall off as the game wore on.

Jorge Posada gets the day off (day game after a night game) meaning that Francisco Cervelli will see his first start of the year. It works out well because Sabathia and Cervelli were an excellent battery last year, holding opponents to a .551 OPS in 10 starts.

Twenty-four year old Florida native Wade Davis (not be confused with the noted Canadian ethnobotanist) gets the start for the Rays. About three quarters of the pitches Davis throws are fastballs, but he can get away with that because the pitch sits in the low-to-mid 90's with considerable sink. He can throw his curveball for strikes and occasionally mixes in some sliders and change ups.

Taken in the third round of the 2004 draft, Davis has avoided injury and steadily worked his way up through the Rays system, pitching a full season in AAA before making his Major League debut late last year. Davis has had consistent success throughout his 5 year minor league career and his time in the Big Leagues last September was no different. He made six starts for the Rays last September, averaged more than six innings per start and tallied up an ERA of 3.72.

The last of those six starts came against the Yankees in the regular season finale. The Bombers plated 5 runs in 5+ innings against Davis that day at the Trop, chasing him from the game during the huge inning that A-Rod hit his 29th and 30th home runs of the season. We went with some Zeppelin for that game and we're going back to the well today.

This tune is a beautiful acoustic arrangement - played in the rather obscure open C tuning - off of the album Physical Graffiti. It doesn't have lyrics but the title roughly translates to "golden hill" which makes me think of the pitcher's mound and the YouTube video below depicts a lovely April day similar to the one we are having here in the northeast.


Cervelli's presence pushes the hot Nick Swisher up to the #6 slot and keeps Brett Gardner out of the #9 hole for his first start of the season.
Jeter SS
Johnson DH
Teixeira 1B
Rodriguez 3B
Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Granderson CF
Gardner LF
Cervelli C
Bartlett SS
Crawford LF
Zobrist 2B
Longoria 3B
Upton CF
Aybar 1B
Burrell DH
Shoppach C
Kapler RF

Game 4 Recap

1. The game began as a bit of a pitcher's duel with three scoreless innings. Vazquez worked out of a minor jam in the second inning when the Rays had runners on second and third with one out by getting Willy Aybar to strike out swinging and Dioner Navarro to ground out to second. The Yankees first baserunner came in the third inning via a leadoff walk by Nick Swisher but he never made it past second.

2. The Yanks drew first blood in the top of the 4th when Nick Johnson led off with a single and Alex Rodriguez blasted a deep line drive over B.J. Upton's head in center field. Johnson scored from first, and when the Rays threw home A-Rod broke for third. Rodriguez slid in safely as the ball went past Evan Longoria into the outfield allowing him to score on what was ostensibly a double (but was scored a triple). Yanks 2, Rays 0.

3. The only lead the Yankees would have all game was short-lived. In the bottom half of the fourth, Ben Zobrist led off with a walk. After getting Longoria to fly out to center, Javy Vazquez grooved a high fastball to Carlos Pena that was launched into the right field seats for a two run homer, knotting the game up at 2.

4. Still with one out in the fourth, Upton singled to to center and stole second. Willy Aybar flied out to left and the Yanks and Vazquez were awfully close to escaping the inning with the score still tied. Instead, Dioner Navarro sliced a single to left, scoring Upton. Sean Rodriguez followed with a shallow base hit to center, putting runners on first and second for Jason Bartlett. After falling behind 0-2, Vazquez battled back to level the count but left a changeup out over the plate that Bartlett pulled into left field, just past the diving attempt of Marcus Thames. It scored both Navarro and Rodriguez, putting the Rays up 5-2.

5. Vazquez came back out for the 5th inning and sat the Rays down in order. He returned to the mound in the 6th but gave up a double to Upton and a two run homer to Aybar. After getting two straight outs, Javy walked Sean Rodriguez and his night was over. Sergio Mitre took over at that point, allowed the inherited runner to score and gave up another run of his own. 9-2 Rays.

6. The final Yankee run came on back to back doubles by Derek Jeter and Nick Johnson in the top of the 8th. The Yanks loaded the bases with two outs but Nick Swisher struck out swinging to end the inning and squash the last bit of hope the Yanks had.

  • Considering the score and the situation, I think the biggest blow was the two out Bartlett double. Had Brett Gardner been playing left, he almost certainly would have made that play, ending the inning with the Yankees trailing by just one run. Instead, Marcus Thames couldn't get there and the Yanks chances of winning took a severe blow. Might Joe Girardi remember this play next time he decides to start Thames against a lefty? I think Gardner needs to be given a chance to contribute offensively before he is relegated to the bench every time a left hander starts against the Yanks. His considerable range in left is huge asset and could easily make up for Thames' superior power if Gadner is somewhat respectable at the plate.

  • Vazquez's return looks pretty terrible on paper (6 2/3 IP, 8H, 3BB, 8ER), but I don't think it was quite that bad. The above play was extremely costly and even with all the damage he was efficient with his pitches, tossing just 98 (62 for strikes) before getting pulled.

  • David Price was efficient and effective for the Rays giving up three runs over 7 2/3. He allowed 7 hits, walked three and struck out 7. He stayed out for 111 pitches with a considerable lead and if that rubs you the wrong way, Jonah will set you straight.

  • Nick Johnson finally picked up a couple of hits, going 2-5 with zero(!) walks.

  • Mark Teixeira, however, did not break the ice and is still hitless on the season. START PANICKING IMMEDIATELY.

  • After struggling to get the final out of the 6th inning, Sergio Mitre displayed his impressive mop-handling abilities, throwing two scoreless innings in the 7th and 8th.
Note: The game today is at 3:15, certainly an odd hour for an game in the Eastern Time Zone. We'll have the preview and all that jazz for you later on.