There is perhaps no pitcher in the majors who gets as worked up over the strike zone as Mike Mussina. If he throws a pitch near a corner and it’s called a ball, he seriously turns into the Hulk. What usually follows is not pretty. Thank God we weren’t subject to that last night, what we term the Mussina Meltdown. Then again, allowing a home run to a fringe major leager is meltdown-esque.
All in all, Mussina didn’t pitch badly. Three runs over six innings is acceptable when you have a lineup like the Yankees. Really, it was the offense that didn’t deliver. Of the 21 outs recorded by Josh Fogg 13 of them were in the air. That’s usually a bad sign for someone pitching against the Yankees. However, for the most part they weren’t strong flyouts; they were shallow pop ups. And it seemed like everyone was catching the fever.
Another baffling aspect of the game: the Rockies had just one extra base hit all night, the Torrealba home run. The Yankees had seven hits, four of which were doubles (Posada, Jeter, Cabrera, Matsui). They just couldn’t string anything together. It was especially frustrating in the eighth and ninth innings.
What good came of the game? Another scoreless appearance by Luis Vizcaino. He’s still a bit wild (14 pitches, 8 strikes, one walk), but he’s getting the job done. Hell, if home plate umpire Lance “Avon” Barksdale had any clue what a strike zone was, Myers would have cleaned up for Viz with ease. I wonder if it was a “that’s what you get for trying to show me up” call. I hate to call out the integrity of umpires, because their entire job is based upon just that. But, uh, that looked like a pretty damn good pitch.
Pettitte vs. Jeff Francis tonight. Francis had a 6.52 ERA on April 27, but has brought it all the way down to 3.61. He beat the Red Sox last time out, though he threw 103 pitches through five innings (six strikeouts, two walks, seven hits, bafflingly no runs). He got smoked by Baltimore the time before that. If he throws a game like he did last time out, even with the six strikeouts I think the Yanks would get to him. I’m very surprised the Sox didn’t. Baseball is a funny game.
We also see Andy Phillips back in the starting lineup. I don’t know what it is about Phillips; I love the idea of him starting at first base, but I know that once he gets a handful of at bats, he’ll make it apparent (once again) that he’s just not starter material. Still, he’s better than Cairo. Looking through his extensive splits at ESPN.com, little stands out. Yeah, he has an OPS of .884 against groundball pitchers, but that’s in only 37 at bats. It’s crazy that in his three years in the majors that he only faced a pitcher twice in the same game 66 times — and holds a .813 OPS in those situations.
Other fun Phillips facts:
- Andy has run the count 3-0 seven times in four years, and has zero hits (four walks).
- 3-1 is not a hitter’s count for Phillips: he hits .167 (.712 OPS) on a 3-1 pitch, and a .077 average (.506 OPS) in an at bat where the count was 3-1.
- He can be tough, though. When he puts the first pitch of an at bat in play, he has a .914 OPS. You gotta throw him a strike, though, as he has a .974 OPS when he puts the ball in play on a 1-0 count, and a 1.334 OPS when he puts the ball in play on a 2-0 pitch. His best count, however is 1-1: 1.500 OPS.
- However, if you get ahead of him, you’ve in essence already put him away. On the 0-1 pitch: .369 OPS. On the 1-2 pitch: .182 OPS (yes, that’s OPS). On the 2-2 pitch: .206 OPS. On 3-2: .456 OPS.
Of course, these are all small samples, so take them with a grain of salt.
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