Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Game 59: I Run This

The Yankees lost the first game they played against the Orioles this season by a score of 4-5. On that night in late April, the Yankees scored two in the top of the ninth and brought the winning run to the plate against Alfredo Simon, but came up just shy of a victory when A-Rod grounded out to shortstop to end the game, allowing the Birds to pick up just their fourth win in twenty tries.

The O's may have laughed first this season, but the Yanks have been laughing ever since. They Bombers have won all nine games the teams have played in the meantime by a combined score of 57-22.

In terms of pitching decisions, the biggest beneficiary of the Bombers beating on Baltimore has been CC Sabathia. The Big Fella has five victories on the season and three of them have come courtesy of the Birds. The decision in the game that followed the close loss detailed above went to Sabathia. CC's last two wins came exactly a month apart but they were both against the Orioles.

Since he became a Yankee Sabathia has started eight games against the O's and won seven of them, allowing well under a hit per inning, striking out more than twice as many as he's walked and pitching to an ERA of 2.88.

When the CC faced the O's a week ago he took the first step towards breaking out of a stretch of five starts during which the Yankees went 1-4 and he amassed an ERA of 6.28. CC wasn't spectacular, as he allowed homers to Adam Jones and Luke Scott, but he went seven innings and allowed three runs. Maybe one more go against the Orioles will be what it takes to leave his May struggles behind.

Tired of the basement placed in?
Take responsibility for your action in the race, then.
Instead of put cheer in our bone, paperhood promote,
negativity, and fear in our own neighborhood,
Since royalty breed to be (uh-huh),
And I puts small seed where small seed need to be,
I didn't make the laws, but they make sense to my ass,
While waitin' for the world end, won this,
Stunned his behind out the way of who reign,
I run this...
[Song Notes: I don't want to tempt fate with the tone of the preview but I didn't have much else to run with, and nobody does braggadocious rap lyrics quite like Slick Rick.]


After leaving last night's game with soreness in his thumb, Brett Gardner will have the thumb x-rayed. He is replaced by Kevin Russo in left field tonight.
Derek Jeter SS
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada DH
Curtis Granderson CF
Francisco Cervelli C
Kevin Russo LF

LHP CC Sabathia

Julio Lugo 2B
Miguel Tejada 3B
Nick Markakis RF
Ty Wigginton 1B
Luke Scott LF
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Garrett Atkins DH
Cesar Izturis SS
RHP Chris Tillman

Wednesday Linktacular

Good morning Fackers. It's been a while since I've pulled together one of these, so grab a seat in front of the Coleman Lifelike Scoreboard (via Neyer) and let's take a trip around the baseballing interwebz.

Some quick Yankee items first before we get to the big stuff.
Here's a nice wrap up of the Yankees' second day of the draft from with a video and a listing of all their picks.

Brian Costa of the WSJ took a look at some of the Yanks' late round picks of yesteryear.

Sean from Pending Pinstripes had a great post about giving more than lip service to the concept of "trusting the process" around draft time.

Brett Gardner was removed from last night's game with some discomfort in his thumb, likely stemming from the time that he broke it last year. As anyone who has fractured a digit can attest, pain can flare up at times for quite a while after the initial injury. Gardner said it's happened about 20 times since Spring Training, but it was a little worse tonight. Still, it's probably nothing to worry about.

Jorge Posada started taking catching practice once again, and hopefully should be available to resume that role part-time in the near future.

This isn't exactly news, but Dave Eiland was granted personal leave for an undisclosed reason and is not with the team at present. Bullpen coach Mike Harkey is occupying his role as pitching coach and Josh Paul - the coach of the short-season Staten Island team - is holding things down out in the bullpen for the time being.
Okay, onto the biggest topics of the last two days:
On Monday, Joe Posnanski went to great lengths to put the debut of Steven Strasburg into perspective and in so doing, said this:
But we live in a different time, our Christmas morning time, when expectation is more fun than realization, when potential costs as much or more than performance, when we happily get carried away, when it isn’t so much about that tired cliche of “what have you done for me lately?” but, instead, “what can you do for me tomorrow?”
If anything, Strasburg's jaw-dropping performance only served to increase the impossibly high expectations for him. Had he done something impressive but repeatable like striking out nine while walking two or three, that would have been one thing, but ripping of 14 Ks without issuing a single free pass? You have to go all the way back to 2007 to find any pitcher in the Majors that's done that, let along a rookie, let alone in his debut.

I'd obviously recommend reading through Poz's live blog of the game, but the most entertaining thing I found this morning about Strasmas was Dashiell Bennett's spot on vivisection of Bob Costas' call of the event over at Deadspin:
Bob Costas did more in just nine innings to craft the Legend of Stephen Strasburg then a lifetime supply of Baseball Almanacs ever could. Yet, he wants to use his same breaths to tsk-tsk the big bad media for losing their heads over the man. If you can't restrain yourself, Bob, why should anyone else?
If you think Dash is being harsh, click through for a mash-up of the historical name-dropping and "on the other hand" detachment Costas employs. I'm not saying there was a clear and easy path to walk for this kind of a game - something truly special was unfolding and it's tough to talk about that without going overboard - but it's the tone with which Costas speaks out both sides of his mouth, listing off legends of the game while saying that "others" might be going overboard with the hype, that neatly encompasses why so many people don't like him.

Deadspin was actually right in the middle of yesterday's second biggest baseball story as well - the one about Pete Rose's corked bat. Barry Petchesky did some real journalism and brought together the story of a PR4192 - a stick used in a game by Mr. Rose himself with an unbroken chain of custody - that X-rays show has a 6" piece of cork inserted right into the barrel.

Craig Calcaterra and Kevin Kaduk ask whether we should care about this and does it really matter, respectively. Beyond the story being a thoroughly enjoyable read, I do care and think it does matter.

It's not surprising by any stretch. We've long known that Rose has a shaky moral foundation (to put it kindly) and accusations of him corking date back to 2001. But his play on the field has always been unimpeachable. He was Charlie Hustle and any tarnish on his name had been confined to things he did without a batting helmet on. To my knowledge, no one ever questioned the veracity of his all-time hits record, save for the jab that he probably shouldn't have put himself in the lineup at the end of his career when he was a player-manager.

Even if MythBusters and other empirical research concluded that corking a bat doesn't really help. Fine, but it's still cheating, regardless of how much of an edge is provides. Again, not that this is shocking, but the one last leg that Rose had to stand on, now looks considerably more unstable.

Game 58 Recap

[WE data via FanGraphs]

This is a great example of when a Win Expectancy can put a final score into perspective. The ultimate tally of 12-7 doesn't necessarily represent a blow out, but the Yankees snuffed the Orioles' chances of winning into the single digits as early as the third inning and had them under 1% almost exclusively from the seventh inning on.

It started early. Almost as early as possible, in fact, as Derek Jeter worked a walk to leadoff the game - something that he's only done two other times in 56 plate appearances this season. Moments later, Nick Swisher pounded the first pitch he saw - an 88 mile per hour fastball - over the wall in straight away center field and the Yankees were up 2-0 before Kevin Millwood could record an out. Mark Teixiera and Robinson Cano would both reach base around a strikeout by A-Rod but the two run jack by Swisher was the only blood in the inning.

The hit that really broke the game open came off the bat of Curtis Granderson in the third inning. With two outs and the bases loaded, Granderson took a 2-2 slider deep onto the plaza/terrace/patio atop the wall in right field, extending the margin to 6-0.

By the end of the fifth, the O's had plated three runs off of Phil Hughes, but the Yankees blew the game open again in the top of the seventh on a bases-clearing double by Swisher which was promptly proceeded by a two run homer from Mark Teixeira. Fucking finally.

The slumping Teixeira really came to life in his hometown tonight. He went 3-4 (thanks mostly to two well-placed singles) with two walks and might have driven in more than two runs if that selfish bastard Nick Swisher didn't sweep up five for himself. This may or may not be a memorable turning point or a change in the winds of fortune for Teixeira, but it was certainly fun to watch.

The game was played at a glacially slow pace and I can't help but think that it affected Phil Hughes. Even in the innings the Yankees weren't scoring, they were putting runners on base - they had 15 hits and 6 walks while Hughes was the pitcher of record. Still, he made the obligatory quality start of six innings and three earned runs and picked up an easy win.

Chad Gaudin was the main reason the game looked closer than it was. He was asked to pitch the eighth and ninth innings and during the course of his sloppy mop-up work, he allowed four runs, not to mention stranding three more runners in the process. If there was one blemish, this was probably it, but no one is going to remember it in the morning anyway.