Sunday, April 25, 2010

Game 18 Recap

1. Scott Kazmir started off the second inning by throwing a fastball high and inside to Robinson Cano. It looked like it might have gotten away from him but Kazmir then plunked Cano square in the backside with an 89mph "heater" and walked right towards home plate after the pitch and it didn't look like he was delivering an apology. Jorge Posada made him pay for his aggression as he took the first pitch from Kazmir - a belt-high fastball right down the pike - into the forest of arborvitaes in centerfield to put the Yankees up 2-0.

Marcus Thames followed that with a double to left center. With Curtis Granderson at the plate, Francisco Cervelli on deck and still no one out, Joe Girardi called for a sacrifice bunt. Curtis laid down a very nice one up the first base line that Kazmir scooped to first and beat him out by a split second. Fransisco Cervelli drew a walk and brought up Derek Jeter who grounded into what was very nearly a double play but ended up as an RBI force out to extend the Yanks lead to 3-0.

2. Javier Vazquez struck out the side in the third inning but in between the second and third K's, he allowed bomb to his noted foe Bobby Abreu. Javy has now allowed 10 home runs to Abreu, four more than he's allowed to any other player.

3. The bottom of the fourth brought more offense for the Angels. Vazquez allowed a single to Kendry Morales and caught a piece of Juan Rivera's elbow guard to put runners on first and second with one out. Howie Kendrick poked a single through the left side, scoring Morales and cutting the Yanks lead to 3-2.

Next up, Brandon Wood hit a sharp line drive to left field that Marcus Thames got a terrible read on and allowed to drop. Two runs scored in the process and Wood was awarded a highly questionable double (it should been at worst a single given where it was hit). Macier Izturus then grounded out to second, driving in another run and giving the Angels a 5-3 lead. With Bobby Abreu due up, Girardi called for Boone Logan and Vazquez was done for the day. Abreu lined out sharply to Jeter to end the inning.

4. Robinson Cano got his own revenge for Kazmir's HBP by smashing a 1-1 slider for a home run deep to right field, bringing the score to 5-4.

5. Alfredo Aceves replaced Boone Logan with two outs in the fifth inning and came out to begin the 7th. After getting Izturus to line out to second, Girardi went to the bullpen for Damaso Marte to face Babe Ruth Bobby Abreu. Marte promptly walked Abreu and hit Torii Hunter with a pitch, bringing up Kendry Morales. For whatever reason, Marte and Cervelli begun the process of intentionally walking Morales despite the fact that right hander Juan Rivera was on deck. After some confusion and a mound visit by Cervelli, they resumed the at bat with Frankie squatting behind the plate, having given Morales a free ball for no good reason.

Also for no good reason, when the count was 1-0, Torii Hunter took off for third with two outs and would have ended with inning if Cervelli had made a better throw. Instead, he slid in under the tag and the at bat continued. That pitch was a ball and Marte threw another fastball low and outside to make the count 3-0. The YES cameras showed the Yankee dugout and Tony Pena and Girardi were signaling to Cervelli that Morales is prone to swing on 3-0, instructing him to convey the message to the pitcher. Despite the warning, Marte spotted a fastball down and away but Morales yanked it over the left field wall for a three run homer.

IFs, ANDs, & BUTs
  • The decision to bunt in the second inning worked out fine, but you've gotta wonder what Girardi was thinking there. Granted, Granderson is not a great hitter against lefties, but having him bunt to get to Cervelli? I know he's a "hot" hitter, but is passing the buck to him to drive in that run really worth giving up an out for?

  • Abreu has owned Vazquez throughout their careers but it's been even worse this year as Bobby is 4-5 off of Javy this year with a homer and a double.

  • This is the second time Thames has screwed over Vazquez with his shitty defense. In his first start against the Rays, he let a double by Jason Bartlett fall in for what was probably the biggest hit of the game. Again, the "double" by Wood was a huge swing in momentum as it took the Angels from one down to one ahead.

  • To be fair, Vazquez was his own worst enemy today and couldn't seem to get it right no matter what he did. When he got ahead in the count, he struggled to put hitters away and part of his undoing in the 4th inning was the fact that he was pitching from behind. He walked three, and aside from the third inning, didn't strike out anyone.

  • The 8th inning was a complete clusterfuck. The decision to yank Aceves was questionable at best considering the right handed Hunter was behind Abreu and there was only one out so Marte was going to have face him anyway. The choice was between a right hander facing a batter from each side or a lefty doing the same and considering that Aceves had already got 5 outs without giving up a baserunner, it probably made more sense to stick with him.

  • Maybe the false start on the intentional walk was the result of miscommunication but it's still absolutely inexcusable. Give a batter a free ball in a dangerous situation when the game is slipping away and you deserve what comes of the at bat.

  • Probably because Marte made Girardi's decision look bad, he left him in to face Juan Rivera after the home run to Morales. David Robertson had already warmed up in the bullpen and was ready to go, but all of a sudden Girardi doesn't want to make a mid-inning pitching change?
This loss was pretty tough to stomach and there will be no shortage of negative pieces about Vazquez and the 8th inning tomorrow, especially because the Yankees aren't playing until Tuesday night in Baltimore. Hang in there. The Yanks still went 3-3 on this swing and the Red Sox lost in the 10th inning at home.

Game 18: When The Lights Go Out

The Yankees have won their first five series of 2010. If they're going to open the season with six straight series victories for the first time in club history, they'll have to capture their fourth rubber game of the young season.

Javy Vazquez goes to the hill for the Yankees this afternoon. His three starts in 2010 have gone from poor to mediocre to satisfactory. Today he'll try to continue his upward trend and turn in his first quality start of 2010 after recording 22 quality starts in 32 outings last year. Vazquez faced these Angels eleven days ago, getting booed off the mound at Yankee Stadium after allowing four earned runs over five and a third innings. I'd tell you what his career numbers are against the Angels, but is having all sorts of server problems today, and the splits pages have disappeared. He's made only one other start against the Angels since 2005, getting a no decision with two earned runs over six and two thirds in 2008.

Scott Kazmir gets the ball for the Halos. The lefty made his 2010 debut in the series finale against the Yanks just over a week ago, and they abused him to the tune of eleven baserunners, six runs, and three homers over four innings of work. He rebounded to pick up the win against the Tigers on Tuesday, going five and two thirds of shutout ball, giving up six hits and no walks against seven Ks. While with Tampa Bay, Kazmir had a great deal of success against the Yankees, but has lost both his starts against them since moving out West. He also had an ugly go of it in last year's ALCS, surrendering five runs, four of them earned, over four innings in a start and two thirds of an inning of relief. Overall though, the Yankee hitters do not have good numbers against him.

So as the lights go out on both the west coast portion of the Yankees' road trip and their only visit to the Big A during the 2010 season, the Yankees will try to win yet another rubber game to take yet another series. As such, we'll turn to The Black Keys and the lead track from their album Rubber Factory.

You can be, oh so mean
I just can't see, no in between
You know what the sun's all about
When the lights go out


Nick Johnson's stiff back keeps him out of the lineup for the second consecutive day. Combined with tomorrow's off day, Johnson will have three days to rest. Nick Swisher moves up the two spot in the order, where he can further showcase his bunting skills. Jorge Posada takes Johnson's spot as the DH, giving the Cisco Kid his third start behind the plate in the last four days. Facing the lefty Kazmir, Marcus Thames is predictably in the lineup, playing left field. It's a bit of roll of the dice with flyball pitcher Vazquez on the mound for the Yanks, which says nothing of the hot bat Brett Gardner's been swinging this weekend.
Jeter SS
Swisher RF
Teixeira 1B
Rodriguez 3B
Cano 2B
Posada DH
Thames LF
Granderson CF
Cervelli C

Maicer Izturis SS
Bobby Abreu RF
Torii Hunter CF
Hideki Matsui DH
Kendry Morales 1B
Juan Rivera LF
Howie Kendrick 2B
Mike Napoli C
Brandon Wood 3B