Sunday, May 9, 2010

Game 30 Recap

1. Marcus Thames' defense cost the Yankees once again in the second inning - although this time Javy Vazquez wasn't the recipient of it. J.D. Drew singled to lead off the frame and moved up to second on a curveball in the dirt that got past Francisco Cervelli. Burnett retired David Ortiz on a high fly ball, struck out Adrian Beltre on a nasty hook and was one out away from stranding Drew. However, Jeremy Hermida lined a ball to left field that Thames got to in time, but the ball caromed off of his glove and Drew, who was running on contact, scored easily to put the Red Sox up 1-0.

2. Burnett walked Marco Scutaro on five fastballs to begin the third. The next batter, Dustin Pedroia, ripped a ball right down the third baseline that ricocheted off the part of the wall that faces the plate and back out into left field. When he fielded it, Thames briefly looked towards third base at Marco Scutaro but that moment of hesitation allowed Pedroia to dig for second.

That ended up being just a drop in the bucket. Burnett walked Youk and Drew followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0. Burnett got ahead of the ghost of David Ortiz 0-2 but threw him three straight balls to fill up the count. Ortiz fouled one off and then sliced a ball down the right field line that bounced into the stands for a ground rule double, scoring Pedroia but holding Youk at third. Someone named "Adrian bel-TRAY" then rapped a two run double to left which was followed by a RBI single by Jeremy Hermida. When the dust settled, the Sox were ahead 6-0.

3. The Yankees got on the board in the top of the fourth inning with a massive home run of the Sports Authority sign on top of the Green Monstah. Two batters later, A-Rod followed with a tater of his own atop the Monster, albeit less convincing, landing just one row deep. Sawx 6, Yanks 2. The pitch was actually a pretty good one,

4. Lil' Dusty worked a one out walk in the fourth and was doubled in by Youk to make it 7-2 Boston.

5. Hermida homered on 1-0 fastball from A.J. Burnett in the 5th, putting the Sawx up 9-2 and chasing Burnett from the game.

6. Ramiro Pena replaced Derek Jeter at shortstop and led off the 8th inning with a single. Robinson Cano drove him in with a base knock of his own with two outs to cut the Yanks' deficit to 6, but that was as close as they would come. Final score, 9-3 Red Sox.

IFs, ANDs & BUTs
  • A.J. Burnett's struggles at Fenway Park continued. He allowed nine runs on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings, walked three and struck out four. He command wasn't great and it was one of those nights when every hard hit ball (and a few softer ones) found a place to fall.

  • Lester was on point, throwing seven innings of two run ball, allowing six baserunners and striking out seven. He threw 103 pitches and might have been able to at least begin the 8th inning but with a seven run lead, he called it a night.

  • Joe Girardi got tossed in the fourth inning. Thames struck out looking on a curveball that was well outside stuck around to jaw at Tim McClelland, whose strikezone had been erratic (to put it kindly) all night. Girardi came out and separated the two and after they exchanged words and Girardi started walking back towards the dugout and got bounced. He got his money's worth after that, apparently complaining about some low strikes that were being called.

  • A-Rod's homer was his 586th, tying him with Frank Robinson on the all-time list.

  • Romulo Sanchez made his Yankee debut when he replaced Burnett in the 5th. He touched 97 on the ESPN gun but has a wild motion, falling off the mound to left, seemingly off balance and out of control. For whatever reason the RomBomb (just made that up) pitched the final 3 2/3 innings despite the fact that the Yankees have a 13 man bullpen. He was effective though,

  • As proven tonight, ESPN's K Zone is horseshit. Since it always aligns perfectly with the centerfield camera, you can tell it's not based on PitchFX and is just done by some guy in the production booth who decides where to place the strikezone can mark where he thinks the pitch crosses the zone. It's just someone's opinion but the ESPN crew acts like it's some sort of official measure. It's not.

  • For some reason, the ESPN production crew was showing shots from behind the plate when batters were leading off innings early in the game. It was pretty disorienting as it made a flyball by Marcus Thames in the third inning look like a home run.

  • Jon Miller claimed that Kevin Russo made his Major Leauge debut tonight when in fact it was yesterday. When he corrected himself he said that it was his first appearance on Sunday Night Baseball "the only game we really care about". It was the most accurate thing anyone said in the booth all night.
This game was pretty miserable but like we said in the preview, the Yanks were playing with house money. They will see the Sox again for a quick two game set in the Bronx starting on May 17th but won't be back at Fenway until the last series of the season. For now, they head out to Detroit and begin a four game set tomorrow night at 7.

Game 30: Easy Goin' Evening (My Mama's Call)

Despite weathering what seems like an interminable and unwaivering onslaught of injuries, the Yankees find themselves carrying a six game winning into the series finale at Fenway tonight.

Since Curtis Granderson went down last Saturday during a losing effort to the White Sox, the Yanks haven't lost again and are averaging almost nine runs per game. The real key to their success, though, has been in holding the opposition to just 16 runs over that time, and allowing them to score more than three runs just once (and in that game, four of the five runs came in the 8th and 9th innings when the Orioles had little chance of coming back).

Smack dab in the middle of that streak was a 7 1/3 inning, one run gem tossed by A.J. Burnett in the Bronx. With Francisco Cervelli behind the plate, Burnett finally discovered his long lost Uncle Charlie and fanned eight Orioles in the process. While he continued to feed the birds a steady diet of two and four-seam fastballs and induced 10 groundballs, it was his curve that allowed him to set a season high in K's.

Burnett only dropped 8 of his 19 hooks in for strikes but five of those were the all-important strike three. Perhaps the comfort of knowing that Cervelli would be able block the wilder curves (something he likely doesn't have with Jorge Posada) gave Burnett the confidence to finally attempt to harness it in game action. We'll see if he goes back to it this evening as the battery will be united again as Posada is still not ready to put on the catcher's gear yet.

For the Sawx, it's Jawwny Lestah. After three poor starts to begin the year - including a five run, four inning effort against the Yankees - the lefty has really found his stride. He's given up just one run in his past three starts, spanning 20 2/3 innings. Over that time he's allowed just 18 baserunners (10 hits, 8 walks) and struck out 23. He's thrown over 110 pitches each of those times out - including the 5 2/3 innings against the Orioles - but that's not a big deal for Lester; he did it in 12 of his 32 starts last year.

Coming into this series, given all of the attrition to the Yanks' roster, taking two out of three would have been terrific. Thanks to some solid pitching and two offensive explosions, they've already guaranteed themselves that much. A sweep would be tremendous, putting the Sox two games under .500 and eight games back in the standings, but the Yanks are playing with the house's money tonight. Whichever way it goes, it will be difficult to complain with the results of the series and that should make for some pleasant viewing if it weren't for the overenunciations of Jon Miller and the inane ramblings of Joe Morgan. Do your best to tune them out and enjoy the game.

[Song Notes: This one is an instrumental so any purported significance has to be derived from the title. The reason for picking this one should be pretty self-explanatory. I'm not going to get all sentimental like last year but I wanted to take a moment to wish my mom a happy Mother's Day. She reads the blog on a pretty regular basis and has started watching more baseball in an effort to better understand what we are talking about. She's probably more proactive about telling other people about the site than I am and actually seems fairly proud of what we do despite the fact that I don't always use G-rated language and all this writing probably keeps me from doing more productive things with my life. Thanks Ma.]


At long last, Jorge Posada returns to the lineup for the first time since Monday. He won't be behind the plate, but will DH tonight. Francisco Cervelli gets his fifth straight start behind the dish. Robinson Cano returns to second base, but for the moment at least, it appears Kevin Russo will stick around for another night. With Posada's bat back in the middle of the order, Nick Swisher's power isn't quite so needed in the heart of the line up. He moves up to the two spot, pushing Brett Gardner back to the bottom of the order. Lastly, with a lefty on the mound, Marcus Thames gets the nod in left. Thanks to the big green wall, he doesn't have too much ground to cover.
Derek Jeter SS
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada DH
Marcus Thames LF
Francisco Cervelli C
Brett Gardner CF
Red Sox:
Marco Scutaro SS
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Victor Martinez C
Kevin Youkilis 1B
J.D. Drew RF
David Ortiz DH
Adrian Beltre 3B
Jeremy Hermida LF
Darnell McDonald CF

Mother's Day News And Notes

Though I'm sure they would frown upon some of the language used here from time to time, we'd like to extend our Mother's Day wishes to all the moms out there. Happy Mother's Day to you all.

On to today's news and notes:
Another day, another injury for the Yankees. As Jason noted in the recap, Alfred Aceves had to exit yesterday's game with two outs in the sixth inning. Alf's lower back seized up on him; he's out for the next two or three days, further shortening the roster.

I was forced to listen on the radio for most the game yesterday. After the Aceves injury all Sterling and Waldman could muster up was "Isn't amazing?" parroting each other and using the phrase for about the five hundredth time on the afternoon. No, it's not amazing you idiots. It's horseshit luck. How do these two still have jobs?

Aceves' back gave him problems last year and during Spring Training this year. Back problems tend to be chronic, so there's a good chance this will flare up again before the season is out. I'll be interested to see if all those who are so quick to condemn signing of the perpetually injury prone Nick Johnson as a bust afford the same level of impatience to Aceves.

Of course with all the Yankee injuries, trainer Steve Donahue is keeping awfully busy these days. Sadly, the Yankees are still without longtime trainer Gene Monahan as he continues his recovery from throat cancer. He's targeting a June 1st return. The Daily News has a great profile on Geno today. Give it a read, and as always, we extend our get well wishes to Monahan.

In the minor league injury department, Juan Miranda returned to Scranton's line up yesterday, following a two game absence resulting from a hit by pitch on the elbow. Chances are we'll see Miranda recalled in the near future, and that he'll be part of DH platoon with Marcus Thames in Johnson's absence.

Kevin Russo, who made his Major League debut yesterday, is the likely candidate to be demoted for Miranda. Once Robinson Cano can return to the field, Russo will no longer be necessary. However, he is also currently doubling as the fifth outfielder, Greg Golson having been demoted Friday in favor of a thirteenth pitcher.

That thirteenth pitcher, as we've mentioned, is Romulo Sanchez. Apparently a nine run lead wasn't safe enough for Sanchez to mop up the final two innings yesterday, which begs the question: why is he even on the roster at all? Of course with Sergio Mitre pulling spot start duty tomorrow night and Alf and Andy out of action for a few days, Sanchez and the thirteen man staff are a likely bet to stick around for awhile longer.

Instead of Sanchez pitching yesterday, Joba Chamberlain, after coming on it a bit of a jam in the seventh, started the eighth. With two outs and a lefty due, Girardi went to Damaso Marte. Nothing like matching up in a nine run game.

More minor league news: Jesus Montero was pulled from Scranton's game Friday night. The initial fear was a leg injury suffered while trotting out a ground ball, but he did manage to catch another inning before getting pulled. However, later on in the game Montero was warming up pitcher's in the bullpen, leading to speculation that his removal was more disciplinary than precautionary, leading to everyone's favorite Yankee blogosphere doomsayer to proclaim Montero the new Jose Tabata. Nothing like jumping to conclusions. For what it's worth, Montero was held out of yesterday's game as well. Still no official word as to what transpired.

With Russo recalled to the Big Club, Scranton poached utility guy Justin Snyder from the Trenton roster. To take Snyder's spot, the organization signed former prospect Justin Christian from the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs of the independent Atlantic League.

In honor of Mother's Day, MLB will once again be partnering with Susan G. Komen for the Cure today. Former Yankee Dave Winfield, who lost his mother to breast cancer more than twenty years ago, is taking an active role in the initiative this year.

Lastly, check this piece of lazy journalism from the NYT. Yes, I'm sure Red Sox fans are much much more comfortable losing. Those World Series titles get old after awhile.

Now go spend time with your mom. We'll be back with the preview.

Game 29 Recap

Hi Everyone. I am Jason from The Heartland writing a guest wrap for yesterday's 14-3 thrashing in Fenway. My apologies for the late post, but I had a heck of a time trying to write this last night, between Blogger's not saving my lengthy post, then not allowing me to log in when I already was logged in. Very frustrating. Anyhoo, thanks to Jay and Matt for the chance to pinch-hit. I have a little different style of game recaps than the Fack Youk authors, brought from my time formerly blogging at Heartland Pinstripes. Away we go with a wrap on a very long yet thoroughly enjoyable game.

The Yanks had an early opportunity to score runs, putting Jeter and Brett the Jet aboard in the first with infield singles and no out. Yet Pedroia made a wise move on Gardner's bunt single made the difference between a run and the eventual DP, for he backed up first on Martinez's poor throw. This kept Jeter and Gardner at first and second and, more importantly, the DP in order instead of giving them second and third, for Teixeira's grounder to second, which would have otherwise plated Jeter from third, instead resulted in a 4-6-3 DP. CC pitched out of initial trouble in the second for, after Youkilis and Lowell singled to open the inning, The Big Guy whiffed Drew on a nasty 2-2 slider, then induced Beltre to ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 DP.

The Yanks got two in the third when Pena led off with a double, Jeter walked, Gardner bunted them over, Teixeira singled in Pena, and A-Rod singled in The Captain before Cano's own inning-ending DP pruned what portended to be a big rally. The Big Guy fanned Hall with a slider before allowing Darnell McDonald to homer over the monster on what appeared to me to be an unusually long home run trot, 2-1. After retiring Scutaro, C.C. then did the right thing, reared back, and brought his very best 98-mph fastball and spotted it right on Pedroia's left ass cheek, to me unquestionably in response for Beckett's wildness the night before. Initially, it cost the Yanks, for it extended the inning and Martinez subsequently homered to briefly give Boston a 3-2 lead. Yet I had absolutely no problem whatsoever with The Big Guy's action. Good.

The Yanks tied it in the top of the fourth when Swish walked and Beltre, as part of a miserable day in the field, threw away what should have been a 5-4-3 DP on Winn's grounder, giving them second and third. Frankie C. laced a single, but Winn was thrown out at home after Swish scored, with Frankie C. The RBI Machine taking second. Although he went to third on a wild pitch with one out, neither Pena nor Jeter plated him. Not to worry; the floodgate of runs blew wide open soon enough.

After C.C. worked a quick 1-2-3 fourth, including getting Hall looking on a vicious 97-mph heater, the Yanks commenced the ass whipping in the fifth. Teixeira ripped a one-out homer way deep in right center, 4-3 Yanks. A-Rod walked, Cano laced a single to center, Swish was caught looking on a slider that painted the outside black, Winn walked the bases loaded, and again, Frankie C. smoked a single to center to plate both A-Rod and Cano, with Winn, to me, unnecessarily getting caught in a rundown between second and third to allow Cano to score. I was initially bothered because it seemed that Cano would have no problem scoring, and Winn's self-sacrifice ended a good rally. Yet it ultimately didn't hurt, for C.C. and the bullpen allowed nothing more the rest of the way.

Their work, however, had to wait until after a rain delay of just over an hour, which occurred with Martinez facing a 2-2 count and two outs. This too irked me, for it had just begun to rain--and it started to rain hard--when I saw McClelland's hands go up to halt the action. I had hoped he would at least give C.C. the chance to get Martinez and therefore have a chance at the decision, but it seemed McClelland wanted an early crack at the post-game buffet. If nothing else, this gave me a chance to rip into the delicious roast turkey and stuffing we enjoyed last night. When the game resumed, Aceves entered and finished off Martinez. After Aceves exited with a stiff back and Logan came on, whiffing Hermida on a nasty slider, the Yankees finished off Boston with eight late runs to chase most of the "Fenway faithful" before a laughingly lackluster version of "Sweet Caroline."

Teixeira ripped a homer around Pesky's Pole to begin the seventh, 7-3 Yanks. A-Rod then singled and stole second and, after Cano whiffed, Swish singled to right, 8-3 Yanks. The rout was on in full force in the eighth with a magnificent, leave-no-doubt two-out rally. Gardner singled with one out and, after Teixeira was robbed of a hit on a nice diving grab by McDonald, A-Rod and Cano walked before Bard relieved Schoenweis and promptly allowed a single to Swish that plated Gardner and A-Rod, 10-3 Yanks. After Winn walked to re-load the bases, The RBI Machine that is Francisco Cervelli smoked yet another RBI single to center to sore Cano and Swish, 12-3 Yankees. On a personal note, even though he's well regarded and throws 100 mph, I just am not that impressed by Daniel Bard. The Yanks appear completely unfazed by him and, as they worked him over last night, all I could think of was JD and Teixeira hitting back-to-back homers off him last August 9th to cap the great four-game sweep in the Bronx. Sorry, kid. Try again next time.

With outfielder Jonathan Van Every in for the 9th to rest the rest of the beleaguered Boston bullpen, Jeter ripped a double to center and Teixeira absolutely destroyed a pitch off the middle of a light tower above the monster that was destined for Lansdowne, capping the scoring at a football-like 14-3.

What a job Frankie C. has done --5 RBI yesterday, batting .429. Three out of every seven at-bats Cervelli has had thus far this season have been hits. Plus, the guy has 12 RBI in just 42 at-bats; amazing job to let the Yanks not miss a beat as Jorge continues to rest. Teixeira broke out in a massive way, homering thrice and also driving in five to finally breach the Mendoza line. Jeter and Brett the Jet were each 2-5 and, combined with A-Rod's 2-2, three-walk day, the 1-4 spots (including Kevin Russo, who subbed in for A-Rod late) combined to go 10-19 with 9 runs and 6 RBI. Swish was 2-4 with 3 RBI, giving him 23 for the year to lead the team, and a .298 average. Swish to a certain degree has been overlooked, for the second straight year getting off to a strong start if not outright carrying the offense as he did last April. He's batted in several spots in the order--second, clean-up, sixth, seventh, and eighth--has played a good right field, and avoided streaky play with consistent productivity. Thank you again, Kenny Williams, for taking that steaming pile Wilson Betemit in exchange for Swish. Thank you too, Ozzie Guillen, for being an asshead and inspiring Swish to exact revenge on you.

C.C. had one rocky inning in an otherwise good start, failing to get the decision due to the rain delay and Girardi's understandable unwillingness to send him back out afterward. The bullpen allowed no runs in 4 1/3 innings of relief, with even Robertson not allowing any despite surrendering two singles.

Although Girardi said he wouldn't use him as his regular DH in Johnson's absence, I advocate Cervelli catching more often to allow Jorge to DH. Cervelli obviously does a strong job behind the dish and, with his hot bat, allowing him to keep the bottom of the lineup strong as Jorge returns should let the offense click even better.

With Tampa losing to the A's, the Yanks pulled within a half-game of first with their sixth consecutive win. Outscoring Boston 24-6 thus far this series, the Yanks go for the sweep tonight, with Burnett (4-0, 1.99 ERA) facing Lester (2-2, 3.93 ERA) on ESPN.

Despite a slew of injuries, the Yankees are hitting their stride, going 21-8 out of the gate backed by strong pitching (second-best team and starters' ERA in the AL) and, despite Teixeira, Johnson, and to a degree A-Rod's struggles, an offense starting to erupt. 24 runs the last two games has vaulted the offense to the top of the AL in runs with 175 (6.03/game). Not too shabby for the 2-3-4 spots starting more slowly than we might like.

Get the sweep tonight, Yankees. Happy Mother's Day to all the great moms out there!

Game 29 Win Expectancy Chart