Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Game 20 Recap

[WPA data via FanGraphs]

1. On the second pitch he saw from Jeremy Guthrie, Derek Jeter sliced a double down the right field line. Nick Johnson followed with a single to left that took a funny bounce and got past Luis Montanez, allowing Jeter to score. Mark Teixiera moved Johnson over to third with a ground out to first and Alex Rodriguez drove him in with a deep sac fly to left center. 2-0 Yanks.

2. Guthrie continued with his Yankee hitting ways, nailing Jorge Posada in the back of the knee to lead off the second inning. Jorgie was noticeably hobbled but stayed in the game. Curtis Granderson followed with a deep single and Jorge's knee probably kept him on second instead of advancing to third.

No harm no foul though, as Nick Swisher ripped a deep drive to left center that took a sharp bounce off the wall and back past Adam Jones, scoring Posada and Granderson and allowing Swish to end up at third with a two RBI triple, putting the Yanks up 4-0. That would be the last we would see from Posada as he was removed from the game after scoring.

Swish then scored on a sac fly to right by Jeter to extend the lead to 5-0.

3. Robinson Cano extended his hitting streak to seven games with a solo homer to right center in the third inning, putting the Yanks up 6-0.

4. The Orioles bats started to heat up in the third inning as Nick Markakis knocked a one out single and Ty Wigginton followed with a double, leaving runners on second and third for Miguel Tejada. Baltimore plated a run on a slow dribbler to second and cut the deficit to 6-1.

5. After going down relatively quietly on just one hit in the 4th inning, the Yanks put another run on the board in the 5th. Nick Johnson... wait for it... worked a walk, and with two outs, Cano and Cervelli knocked back to back singles to make it 7-1 Yanks.

6. The Yanks were back at it in the 6th as three consecutive singles by Swisher, Gardner and Jeter made the score 8-1.

7. Miguel Tejada scored on a sac fly by Nolan Reimold in the bottom of the 6th to make it 8-2.

8. After inducing his second double play of the night in the bottom of the seventh, Sabathia gave up an opposite field home run to Nick Markakis. 8-3 and that would prove to be the final score.

IFs, ANDs & BUTs
  • Sabathia wasn't at his best tonight, but he didn't really need to be. In 7 2/3 innings, he allowed 13 men to reach base but only two via walks. He only struck out five but the two double plays bailed him out of jams that could have made the game closer than it was.

  • Girardi elected to leave Sabathia in for the 8th inning with the Yanks up 5 runs. CC began the inning by allowing a walk to Miguel Tejada, then got two outs before he gave up a base knock to Nolan Reimold. At that point he was at 111 pitches and even though the left handed Luke Scott was on deck, Girardi called on Joba Chamberlain. Joba got Scott to ground out to second.

  • A-Rod made a beautiful play on a well-placed bunt by Adam Jones in the first inning. A-Rod, charged, barehanded it and fired to first just in time.

  • Curtis Granderson's single in the second ended a 17 at bat hitless streak.

  • After scoring the run in the second inning, Posada was replaced by Francisco Cervelli, reuniting the vaunted CC-Cervelli Combination. Posada apparently has a right knee contusion and is day to day.

  • Cervelli went 2 for 4 at the plate after replacing Jorge.

  • Cano's home run was his 6th of the year and he added another single. He had more good at bats as two of the balls that didn't drop in for hits were squarely hit, deep line drives.

  • Nick Swisher had an excellent night at the plate as well. In addition to his 2 RBI triple he popped a couple singles and scored two runs.

  • The home run that Sabathia gave up to Nick Markakis was the first one he's allowed in Camden Yards in 48 innings pitched there and it came to a hitter that was 0 for his last 12 against him.

  • Sergio Mitre got some work in the 9th inning and sat the O's down in order.
The series and the road trip both wrap up tomorrow at 7:05.

Game 20: Hard Travelin'

When CC Sabathia took the mound in Oakland last Thursday, the Yankees were riding a six game winning streak and probably expecting to stretch it to seven. Their ace was on the hill in a pitcher's park against the punchless A's and if they could pull out a victory, they'd be heading into Anaheim with an outstanding 12-3 record. Instead, the A's jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning and never looked back. Including that tidy two hour and six minute affair, the Yanks have dropped four out of their last five games and now sit at a much less impressive 12-7.

Now, instead of looking to extend a winning streak, the Yanks need Sabathia to step up with a strong performance and stop the bleeding. In previous Aprils, it might not have been confidence-inspiring to know that CC was taking the mound tonight, but this year he has begun to buck his reputation as a slow starter.

After a shaky 5 1/3 inning inning performance on Opening Night in Fenway, Sabathia has allowed only 5 runs (4 earned), and 18 baserunners (8 hits, 8 walks) in his past three starts, spanning 21 2/3 IP. He was nothing short of dominant against the Rays, taking a no-hitter into the 8th inning and was as good or better in his rain-shortened six inning outing against the Rangers at Yankee Stadium. Even when he took the loss against Oakland, three of the four runs came on one pitch to Kurt Suzuki and he was efficient enough to complete 8 innings despite walking six batters. Total all of his outings up and you get a 2-1 record, a 3.00 ERA, a WHIP under 1.000 and about 8 K's per 9 innings pitched.

Sabathia's opponent tonight will be Jeremy Guthire. Like Kevin Millwood heading into last night, Guthrie has pitched well (3.46 ERA) but has only two losses to show for his efforts. Guthrie managed to throw 200 innings for the first time in his career last year, but he also tallied an ERA over 5.00 and led the AL in losses with 17. This year though, he's lasted longer than 6 innings in each of his four starts and given up fewer than 3 runs in each of them.

Guthrie is a fastball-slider-changeup pitcher, with his heater coming in at around 92-93-94 and both of his offspeed pitches about 84-85. A couple of those fastballs were responsible for a minor dustup during Spring Training between the two clubs. On March 29th, Guthrie hit Mark Teixeira in the elbow, foricing hit to leave the game, and a few innings later, plunked Francisco Cervelli. Joe Girardi was seen yelling from the dugout, informing the O's hurler that we was less than pleased with his lack of command.

Although what happened down in Sarasota is just one of many incidents between the Yankees and Orioles in the recent past, it's unlikely to inspire any bad blood tonight. Neither of Cervelli or Teixeira were seriously hurt that day and the regular season has a way of making what happened in March seem insignificant. Like they were last night, the Orioles are still desperate for wins and the Yankees are anxious salvage the final two games of this road trip, which is looking a whole lot more difficult than when it began.

I've been havin' some hard travelin', I thought you knowed,
I've been havin' some hard travelin', way down the road,
I've been havin' some hard travelin', hard ramblin', hard gamblin',
I've been havin' some hard travelin', lord.

Nick Johnson is back in action as the Yanks run their A lineup.
Jeter SS
Johnson DH
Teixeira 1B
Rodriguez 3B
Cano 2B
Posada C
Granderson CF
Swisher RF
Gardner LF
Garrett Atkins replaces Rhyne Hughes at first base tonight. Atkins is awful to a terrible state and manager Dave Trembly has put him on notice that if he doesn't produce, Hughes will take his spot.
Adam Jones, CF
Nick Markakis, RF
Ty Wigginton, 2B
Miguel Tejada, 3B
Matt Wieters, C
Garrett Atkins, 1B
Nolan Reimold, DH
Luis Montanez, LF
Caesar Izturis, SS

Wednesday Morning Odds & Ends

Good morning, Fackers. It's going to be another slow one around here today so here are a couple things of interest for your perusal:

Something I forgot to include in last night's recap: when sitting in the dugout during the 5th inning, Javier Vazquez nearly got hit with foul ball by Nick Markakis. It ended up narrowly missing him, but he still caught got on the ricochet and said that it's going to leave a mark.

Here's hopeful forecast for Javy from Paul Bourdett at FanHouse:
Even his FIP -- which assumes he'll continue to give up more than two homers per nine innings -- is almost three runs lower than his current ERA. That's still not very good, but it does go to show that in addition to being off the mark, Vazquez has been exceptionally unlucky. His strand rate sits around 57 percent (about 15 percent lower than the league average) and his BABIP is an inflated .342 (career .309). Javy's always given up his fair share of homers, but his HR/FB percentage (18.5 percent) is more than seven points higher than his career mark (11.2 percent). In short, he couldn't be this bad over his next four turns if he tried.
An interesting tidbit from George King in the Post:
Once in each of the three games against the Angels, hitters in the lower part of the order bunted with runners on first and second and no outs. Brett Gardner popped up, Nick Swisher was successful and Curtis Granderson was, too, but he was hitting eighth and that left it up to No. 9 hitter Francisco Cervelli, who walked.

"There is a time and place for it," said Girardi, who explained the bunt sign wasn't on in any of the three cases. "We discussed it."
It was kind of surprising to me that these were the player's decisions. We've been conditioned to think that players want to swing when they are at the plate so I had assumed that, for whatever reason Girardi had the sign on. It's good news that he didn't, because that means there shoud be fewer stupid bunt attempts in the future.

Tim Brown at Yahoo had an interesting conversation with Jorge Posada about the different pitchers he's caught over the years and singled out guys who did things particularly well. Two of the more interesting answers:
Best curveball

Hideki Irabu had a very good curveball. Just a straight up and down, swing-and-miss curveball. John Wetteland had a very good curveball. He threw it for a strike, too, in any count, any situation. But, he really didn’t use it much. He didn’t want to throw it. He wanted to throw fastball-slider. I would say Irabu. El Duque had a very good curveball.

Scariest guy when he went to the mound

David Cone. I was just intimidated. I would not even go to the mound. I was, like, scared, you know? He was the nicest guy in the world, but when he pitched, oof, don’t get near him. He was scary. He gave up a home run to Ken Griffey Jr.(notes) in Seattle once. I wanted him to come in and he didn’t want to. He gave up a home run on a split. Probably hung in there and Griffey hit a home run. So, I go out there and he says, ‘How the hell would you pitch him?’ I said, ‘I think we gotta come in.’ Next time, Griffey comes up, we go in and he hits a double.’ I go back out and Cone says, ‘How the hell you gonna pitch him now?’
Nick Johnson changed his number from 26 to 36, the one he wore during his initial go-round with the Yanks and most recently donned by the legendary Edwar Ramirez.

At the Wall Street Journal, Darren Everson wrote about Johnson's unwaivering patience even in the face of his dragging batting average.

More interesting visuals from Kevin Dame at the Harball Times.

Navin Vaswani made his way up to Fenway and back down to the National's Capitol as #TBRTOAL rolls on.

Joel Sherman has identified the reason that the Yankees late inning relief has been lackluster: they traded Tyler Clippard, who Sherman claims "might be the best set-up man in the Majors".

Here is Jonah Keri's extended take on the Ryan Howard signing that tries to balance the perspective of the fan and the organization with those of people less involved with the team.

All the credit for this one goes to my buddy Cliff. Read the first three paragraphs of this article wherein Phil Sheridan explains that Ryan Howard hustling out one ground ball on Opening Day explains everything you need to know about who he is. Now check out what happens starting at the 15 second mark of this video.

Yesterday, Gleeman heard that the MLB was cracking down on their beat writers for using Twitter for non-baseball topics. The league has since denied the claim but Aaron thinks that the actions and tweets of the writers speak for themselves.

The Mets have won 8 of their 9 games since Ike Davis was called up and are now in first place. Let your Mets fan friends gloat but be sure to file it away for when they inevitably fall apart down the stretch.
There will be a preview for the game later but in the interest of full disclosure, Matt is traveling today and I'm not sure I'll be able to get to anything else before then. Let's face it, the Yanks have lost 4 out of 5 and there aren't too many exciting things to talk about anyway.