The glorious return to .500By
On Sunday, June 3, the Yankees defeated the Red Sox 6-5. The game took over four hours to play. That Friday night, June 3, they won 9-5 in a 3-hour, 53-minute bout. Even against the lowly-hitting White Sox and Pirates, the Yanks weren’t able to get the games under three hours.
Last night’s billing of Webb vs. Wang, however, was sure to be different. They’re economical pitchers, both throwing just 3.5 pitches per batter faced. They also both throw a good percentage of strikes: 65% for Webb, 63% for Wang. And guess what? The game clocked in at a hair over two and a half hours (2:34). That was especially nice, considering the near-hour rain delay.
The weird thing was, though, that Wang recorded more flyball outs than groundballs: 10 to 9. It was billed as a night many worms would die, but Wang seemingly had different plans. It didn’t hurt his overall effectiveness, though, as he allowed six hits in seven innings, striking out two and walking none. He threw 64% strikes, which is always a blessing.
Webb was as-advertised. He hit a huge streak of bad luck in the first inning (more on that later), but rolled from there, recording 12 groundouts, 4 flyouts, and four strikeouts — walking two batters and allowing three runs through seven innings. He threw 68% strikes, something we’d all really like to see from a Yankees pitcher one of these days.
The box score suggests that we got some solid pitching throughout the night. Of course, I wasn’t too thrilled with Kyle Farnsworth. He was better than normal, but even then he’s frustrating as hell. He seemed to have his gas tonight, but having just his gas sometimes isn’t enough. Without it, he’s going to get rocked. With it, he needs to find his ability to spot the ball (which is nearly nonexistent) — and he needs a whole ton of luck.
By all means, Farns will never be a guy who can throw through a teacup (or, for those of you who hate old baseball cliches, he’ll never be able to throw through a baseball-sized target). He’s also not going to find a ton of success by putting everything behind the ball and hoping it crosses the plate where the batter can’t hit it. So what’s going to work for Kyle Farnsworth? I think he’s trying to figure that out right now, and his performance is suffering because of it.
On the offensive side, the Yanks caught a couple of much-needed breaks — though they made their share of mistakes, too. I suppose it all balanced out, though, as they scored runs where they might not have, but failed to tack on when it seemed likely.
Let’s talk about the hit and run (my most despised old baseball move). Abreu’s homer doesn’t happen without it. Hell, that whole inning was a lucky break. First, O-Hud makes an error, allowing Damon to reach. Then, Damon takes off on a hit-and-run, drawing the shortstop to cover second. I suppose that’s because of Jeter’s penchant for going the opposite way. If Hudson covers, or there’s no hit and run on, that’s a double play ball. But it hits the hole, and there are runners on first and third with none out. And then Bobby smoked a mistake high into the right field stands, and the Yanks had an early lead.
So you praised the hit and run for resulting in runs. But then in the 6th, one of the many failures of that play was exploited. With Alex on first and one out, the hit and run was put on with Jorge up. Yeah, yeah, they wanted to avoid the double play. I get it. But Jorge swings and misses, and there’s no way Alex makes it to second at that point. So there you go, base runner erased. My point in refuting the double play isn’t just what you saw in that inning; it’s the many places it can go wrong.
Another bad break was in the 7th. After a Matsui walk and a Cano double, Melky hit a grounder to Hudson, who was playing in. He fell to his knees to make the play, which should have bought Matsui enough time to score — had he been taking off early. He didn’t. Cano did, though, making it easy for the D’Backs to retire both Cano and Melky. Thankfully, Matsui scored on the play. It’s tough to pin the blame on any one player right there. Then again, you can fault Melky for seeing just five pitches all game, swinging at four of them — two of which were double plays.
But in the end, it was the seventh straight win, and their 10th in the last 12 games. And for that, we’re all thankful. We’re at .500, baby!
Mussina vs. Livan Hernandez tonight. Hopefully, Moose can figure out how to pitch on five days rest. We’re going to need him: Livan’s having a pretty good year.
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