We won! We won!

Down on the Farm
John Sickel's Mock Draft

Aren’t we all thankful for Chien-Ming Wang? On a night defined by frustration (which was only exacerbated by the rain delay), he provided some relief. Just imagine how you would have felt last night (or this morning, depending on when you had to pry yourself away from the TV) if the Yanks had dropped the second half of that doubleheader. It would have been devastating. It would have been inexcusable. So you can thank Mr. Wang for the emotional swing.

Here’s the question, though: is it better to savor the victory, or point out the Yankees flaws? On one hand, you have a much-needed boost, both emotionally and statistically, and it feels wrong to undermine that. However, it also feels somewhat irresponsible to not point out what went wrong, and why it’s a signal that things might not have changed all that much. After all, we don’t live in the land of sunshine and lollipops; if the Yankees demonstrated a flaw last night, chances are it’s going to be exposed over the next few days.

Isn’t it fitting, then, that Bobby Abreu led off this game with a strikeout? Talk about poetry: in a game where much went right, yet plenty went wrong, Bobby Abreu embodies both poles. His leadoff strikeout was repeated two more times, leaving little faith left for (what could have been) his final at bat. Of course, the run wasn’t necessary — but with the unpredictability of the bullpen, every run counts. After taking a ball, Abreu looked absolutely silly on a Contreras splitter, whiffing on the pitch well before it got to the plate. The next pitch was a similar speed, and why not? Abreu had been out in front all night. The main difference: the pitch was right down Broadway (as opposed to the first two pitches being right around the corners). It’s a pitch that many hitters would crush, but with Abreu still mired in a slump, he did what he could with it. Base hit and an RBI, and the Yanks got some breathing room.

Another guy who’s been a bit iffy is Matsui. He doesn’t seem to be eyeing the outside part of the plate well, which results in him getting way on top of pitches and grounding out. This is something I’m sure he’ll work out; you don’t suddenly lose the ability to take pitches the opposite way. However, if you leave that pitch over the plate, he’s still going to crush it, as he did on a 3-0 pitch in the third inning. That was a fat pitch. What’s crazy is that the pitch on which he struck out in the sixth inning was in the exact same spot. I can’t speak for the velocity (Enhanced Gameday doesn’t have the pitch data for either at bat, just the locations), but the location was right there. In fact, all three strikes were right over the plate. I’m very surprised that Matsui, following his crush shot in the previous at bat, didn’t whale the first pitch Contreras threw him. If there was ever a time to hack at the first one…

The best inning, however, was clearly the ninth. Melky’s homer was super-sweet. Not just because it’s a rarity, but because he freakin’ whaled a 93 m.p.h. heater on the inside corner. So it’s not like he took advantage of a bad pitch; Sisco put it where he wanted, and Melky said, “I think I can state my case for playing tomorrow by depositing your best effort over the left field wall.” And so he did. The home run to Jorge was in the same exact location. I guess it was a changeup, since it came in at 86 m.ph., and was directly preceded by a 97 m.ph. heater. At this point, you almost have to feel bad for Sisco: he hit the corner with two pitches (though coming inside to a righty with a change is a questionable call), and was taken deep. He threw another good one to GIambi, on the outside corner, but Giambi reacted and punched that baby to left. The Giambi of 2002-2006 tries to pull that and whiffs. It’s good to see that he’s adjusting to his sapped power.

There were other little flaws that cropped up during the game, like Kyle Farnsworth’s imitation of John Wetteland: he can’t get out of an inning without putting a guy on base and making us all clench our teeth. But all in all, especially considering the 9th, it’s a good sign moving forward.

Last 7 Days
Posada: .476/.500/.714
Jeter: .409/.500/.545
Matsui: .360/.385/.480
Melky: .308/.357/.923
Damon: .227/.227/.273
Phelps: .200/.200/.500
Minky: .167/.167/.250
Abreu: .160/.192/.280
Cano: .095/.095/.095
Giambi: .091/.286/.091
Alex: .087/.192/.087

Down on the Farm
John Sickel's Mock Draft
  • Mike K

    Did anyone else get a lot of the “No way Wang can have that good of a season” talk before the season? I think haters see a Yankees pitcher who doesn’t blow people away and assume that he is all run support and no substance. Nothing can be further from the truth with Wang. He pitches like Brad Radke at his finest (and is better than Radke, in my opinion) and as opposed to Radke, admittedly, he has an offense to back him up. So why shouldnt this guy be able to win 20 games?

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

    I absolutely agree, Mike. David Gassko ran a piece on Wang at the Hardball Times last winter that said he should regress to the mean. I don’t have the article at my disposal, but from what I remember, he forgot two main factors: the ridiculous groundball rate, and his very low line drive rate. Those two should keep him ahead of hitters.

  • Ron

    Melky is slugging .923 over the last 7 days? Is that a typo?

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

    Nope, no typo. Off the top of my head, I can remember two homers and a double.

  • Yankee Fan in Chicago

    Melky looked great yesterday both in the field and atbat.

    Start of something big?

  • Jeter1

    1050 Espn Radio- Steve A Smith just announced on his show that Yankees has no shot winning world series this year.

    He says Arod will opt out, Joe will be gone as well after this season is over.

    He says Mets will find a way to win the world series. I thought He was a Yankees Fan.

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

    You just quoted quite possibly the stupidest sports personality in the history of existence.

  • Matt G

    What is enhanced gameday? I would love to see pitch locations. I watched this game on MLB.tv, and the CHI announcers wouldn’t shut up about the “small strike zone,” particularly on a pitch to (I think) Matsui in the (I think) 7th inning, just before he singled to center for a run. I am certain that ball was 6 inches outside, but the announcers acted as though the ChiSox (or “we,” as they continually called them) were monumentally jobbed.

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

    Enhanced Gameday is a more precise way of measuring events in the game (mostly pitching related, like velocity, break, and release point). They only have the equipment installed at a few parks, including the Cell (but not the Stadium. boooooo!).

    You can grab all the data by opening the Gameday feature on MLB.com. I don’t have it opened in front of me, but I believe that there was a pretty good pitched called for a ball in that at bat.

  • Jeter1

    If I had a gun, I will swear I shoot Steven A Smith for being a fraud… He’s irrated Yankees Fans like myself.. He’s killing Yankees and Joe torre for not winning a the world series last seven years.

    Mets had top payroll in Nl for last five years.Steve Phillips was fired as Gm, Mets was laughing stock before Omar Minaya came onboard. Mets haven’t won a world series in nearly 20 years. Did Willie and Mets won world series last year?

  • Matt G

    Wow, enhanced gameday rocks! Why have I never seen this before?

    So, it was the 9th inning, it was Matsui, and the ball was outside, not 6 inches, but 3 or 4. Also an inch or 2 high.

    If you could hear the whining, my god!

    On another note, wouldn’t it be nice to see Rivera pitch in games that aren’t already decided, regardless of the inning?