May
05

A perfect day for a game

By

A few hours after I got home from the Bronx, I was talking to my mom about the game. It was, we decided, one of the nicer days at Yankee Stadium. The weather was perfect; the game was fast and crisp; and, of course, the Yankees won. It was, in other words, a day on which I could easily imagine Ernie Banks waking up, stepping outside and saying, “Let’s play two.”

Sadly, for the Yanks, two against the Mariners was not in the cards today. They had to settle for one win and their first three-game sweep of the season. The Yanks now find themselves in second place at 17-16, three games behind the Red Sox for the AL East lead and two back of Oakland for that fourth playoff spot.

The good news for this weekend was the emergence of the Yankee offense. During the three-game set, the Yanks scored 19 runs and banged out 27 hits. With three solid outings from Chien-Ming Wang, Mike Mussina and Darrell Rasner, this weekend’s sweep came easy to the Yankees. It was baseball as it should be in the Bronx, and everything was ok.

The offensive started, as it should, with the top of the order. After racking up 10 hits on Saturday, the Yanks’ one through four hitters dialed it up to 11 on Sunday. Over the last two days, Johnny Damon, Derek Jeter, Bobby Abreu and Hideki Matsui are a combined 21 for 37 with 11 runs scored and nine RBIs. The table-setters are setting the table, and the clean-up crew is cleaning up. While the top of the lineup won’t hit .568 all season, it certainly makes for an easy baseball game when they do.

On the other side of the ball, Darrell Rasner was everything the Yanks expected him to be and more. He got off to a rocky start, giving up a two-run home run in the first, but that would be all the Mariners would muster against the 27-year-old. Rasner threw two-thirds of his pitches for strikes and didn’t walk anyone. He also managed to keep his pitch count low, throwing just 76 pitches through six innings. Ian Kennedy should take a lesson.

And that brings me to my one and only nitpick of the game. Why did Joe Girardi opt to remove Rasner from the game after six innings? Rasner hadn’t thrown a game in a few days, and he’s a 27-year-old. He was rolling, and he could have thrown at least another inning and maybe two. It seemed like knee-jerk management to me: Have your starter throw six good innings, and then turn things over to the bullpen.

In my book, if your starter is rolling through six innings with a six-run lead and his pitch count is at 76, just keep him in. It’s far better to go with the known — Rasner’s command — than the unknown coming out of the Yankee bullpen. (To take this one step further, the Yanks could have used Joba to throw the last two innings today to stretch him out. They have an off-day tomorrow, and he really has to start making some multiple-inning appearances.)

But that complaint is small beans. The Yanks won decisively; they got a good start from someone other than Wang or Mussina; and the bats seem to have woken up from their early-season slumbers. The Cliff Lee 0.96 ERA buzzsaw comes to town on Tuesday, but we’ll worry about then. For now, let’s just enjoy the sweep and hope for more days of solid baseball under the sun this spring.

Categories : Game Stories
  • dan

    So, Ben, I was just wondering if the Melky home run was hit anywhere near your seat. If the ball ended up thrown back onto the field, then I guess that answer is yes ;)

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      A text message exchange from the game. I was sitting in the tier boxes; Joe was on the main level; Mike was at home.

      Ben: Melky’s making us look bad.
      Joe: Very bad.
      Mike: It’s an impostor. Must be.

      I’m happy to look bad here. As long as he doesn’t start trying to hit home runs every time up, this new-found power is fantastic.

  • http://yankeesetc.blogspot.com/ Travis G.

    i didn’t have a problem taking Rasner out. you wanna have him leave with confidence rather than taking the chance of getting hit in the 7th. frankly, he was succeeding with smoke and mirrors. a lot of hanging breaking balls were missed. with an off day tomorrow, it was a fine time to get relievers some work.

  • mustang

    I would of left him in, but that’s a small point.
    The weather was beautiful and the game was great.

  • http://www.myspace.com/j_panama Jamal G.

    I agreed with the move because I saw it more as utilizing the bullpen than taking out Darrell Rasner. With nine relievers in the bullpen you have to give these guys regular work or else we’ll see repeats of 2007 Edwar Ramirez. Would it have been nice to see Rasner go seven or possibly eight? Sure, but again with the multitude of guys in the bullpen they must be utilized often to stay as sharp as possible.

    • RustyJohn

      Ditto-I was a bit surprised he got pulled but not shocked or upset. Got an off day tomorrow and what seem to be like 800 arms in the pen- if you look at the past week, it looks like Farnsworth is the one used the most.

      Last Sunday- Chamberlain & Rivera
      Monday- Albaladejo, Farnsworth, Chamberlain, Rivera
      Tuesday- Ohllie (3 innings), Ramierz, Hawkins
      Weds- Hawkins, Farnsworth, Ramirez
      Thurs- Albaladejo, Britton (2 2/3rds)
      Friday- Farnsworth, Chamberlain, Rivera
      Saturday- Hawkins, Ramirez, Veras
      Sunday- Ohllie, Farnsworth, Rivera
      Monday- Off

      Is Farnsworth on some sort of “let’s pitch him every other day and hope he keeps his control” diet?

  • http://knickerbockerchatter.blogspot.com/ Bruno

    “(To take this one step further, the Yanks could have used Joba to throw the last two innings today to stretch him out. They have an off-day tomorrow, and he really has to start making some multiple-inning appearances.)”

    YES! But when will Girardi stop Torre-ing JOBA?

  • RollingWave

    I think one issue people don’t seem to recall is that Rasner hasn’t establish himself in the majors so far isn’t as much to do with lack of ability as lack of health, the dude has a pretty bad record health wise, in 06 he pitched 1 outting out of the pen then lost several month to shoulder woes (that’s almost Carl Pavanoian) and in 07 he had some tough luck taking line drives off his pitching hand.

  • RollingWave

    what i mean to say is that they’re probably keeping a little bit of kids glove on Rasner because of his shaky health record.

  • Rich

    Farnsworth’s recent string of effective pitching is incrementally encouraging.

  • LiveFromNewYork

    I can see why he pulled Rasner. They have a 9 man bullpen. They’ve got to get these guys work. Also anything that is positive for a pitcher who was just called up should remain positive. No sense in him getting shelled. let him go out on a high note. Extend his depth into the game as time goes on. I wanted to see him keep going but I understand the pull.

    • Marsha

      I agree about the bullpen getting some work. Even Rivera came in for the 9th in a non-save situation (and still blew all three batters away).

      • http://www.pinstripealley.com jscape2000

        That’s what we figured was going on from the bleachers. We can’t see the pitch count from there, but it felt low. Ohlendorf hadn’t pitched in a few days, and neither had Mo.

  • Bart

    NOT SMALL BEANS — everyday they waste not doing the right thing – not “working the plan” are days and opportunitiues they won’t get back

    There is no light” on in the Yankee office — sending IPK down for a LOOK at Igawa is PANIC – Igawa has done nothing to merit a start — and he is not a strater for the future — Skowcase him to trade him – maybe if you take two broken down big contract guys and eat most of his contract.

    It is a huge benefit to have muddled through Posada, ARod, Cano, Giambi, Hughes, IPK and “only be 3 games back of Boston” after a month, but Tampa is tougher than woul dhave been imagined, Totonto nearly as good as Boston and NY — there is no room for error is using every opportunity.

    This is what Cashman and Giradi are for – not watching games from the dugout.

    • Greg G.

      OK, take a deep breath there, chief. Perhaps it’s time to grab a cup of coffee.

      Make it decaf.

    • LiveFromNewYork

      The histronics are really unnecessary. I think yesterday was the right thing all around except maybe Giambi still not sitting.

      Sending Kennedy down to get some of his stuff refined is NOT panic.

      Dude back away from the ledge and chill the F out. The only one panicking here is you.

    • Micky#7–Old Ranger

      If one remembers right, at AAA/AA etc., the pitchers only go about 6/7 innings at the most…throwing about 75/85 pitches. Having Raz go another inning would have been a bad idea. He was at (around) 78 pitches/6 innings, better then we have been getting from some others.
      Someone also brought up the fact that Farnsy was going to serve his suspension, that’s why he was brought in…to keep him sharp. 27/08.

  • Marsha

    Um, isn’t it a bit early to make mention of a wild card spot? C’mon, it’s only May 5th (happy Cinco de Mayo everyone).

  • Chris

    One thought… what if the plan is to start Joba on Thursday?

    Girardi suggested that Mussina would get an extra days rest before his next start, which means they need to find a starter for Thursday. Starting Joba on Thursday would give him 4 days off since the last time he pitched. He could reasonably go 50-60 pitches, or about 4 innings. Since the bullpen will likely be rested with the day off today followed by Pettitte and Wang, this would seem a good time to get him out there.

    As for his innings limit, as you can see from the struggles of Kennedy and Hughes, it’s not a guarantee that he’ll pitch 6 or 7 innings in most (or more than a couple) of his starts. If his average start is 5 innings, moving him to the rotation now would give him about 130 innings as a starter the rest of the year. If he’s going deeper into games than 5 innings, then you can skip him in the rotation occasionally to keep his innings down.

    • Micky#7–Old Ranger

      Maybe so, but I think we would be pushing the panic button. The auditions for Jobas’ place in the BP are going on as we write…give them a chance to work that out first.

    • Count Zero

      Wishful thinking. He needs to lengthen out with at least a couple of 3-4 inning appearances before you could even think about starting him.

      Face it — it’s gonna’ be Quest and it’s likely to be ugly.

  • steve (different one)

    Girardi said on the post-game that if there was no off-day today, he would have sent Rasner out for the 7th.

    so, it wasn’t a “kneejerk” decision. he thought about it, had a plan, and executed.

    he just wanted some guys to get some work. not really a big deal.

    you want Rasner leaving with that good feeling. and there are NINE guys in the bullpen.

    also, Seattle’s offense kindof sucks. and every 1-2-3 inning that Farnsworth puts up is going to help his confidence. maybe Girardi knew he could throw Farns in there and it would be likely that he would dominate. get some more applause and add some more swagger to that 97 MPH fastball. it’s hard to argue that Girardi’s faith in Farnsworth isn’t starting to pay off somewhat.

    • nmc

      I’d like to see Farnsie succeed in a really high-leverage situation before I’m the judge of that. He does have the unfortunate propensity to get 2 guys out and then go walk-homer…

      • steve (different one)

        sure. i’m not saying i think Farnsworth is awesome. but there were a lot of people who simply wanted him released or traded for pennies on the dollar.

        and every inning he soaks up IS valuable, even if he isn’t an elite set-up guy.

        • ceciguante

          fair points that: 1) seattle’s offense sucks, so let’s all not get too excited and 2) farnsworth success is good for the head. he seems to be keeping the ball down pretty well now, so that even when he leaves it right down the middle, it’s not easy to drive. i’ll take it for now, but i’m not reading much into it unless he’s still doing it into july.

          if a start by igawa doesn’t say “this team needs another starter,” i don’t know what does. i’ll keep hoping otherwise, but i expect him to get punished by that detroit offense.

          what is interesting now is this “race” to find another high-performing starter or reliever. meaning, with hughes out until ~july and kennedy stumbling, this team will need to find a quality addition to the rotation (if joba stays in the pen) or pen (if joba successfully converts), and they’ll need to do this by late july, else be forced to make a deadline trade. the chances that hughes or kennedy fills that role in the rotation look slim now. but it’s frustrating to be looking at ohlie, farnsy, albaladejo, edwar, rasner, igawa etc. for the answer. longshots, those.

          • http://www.workwithpete.com Pete

            Every time I read or hear reference to Igawa, I try and convince myself Cash is shopping him to a smaller market team that has a reeeeeallly spacious ballpark and a localized Japanese population that will cheer for Iggy the same nostalgic fashion that we would for someone like Wayne Tolleson on Old Timer’s Day…

  • Ken Guo

    “The Cliff Lee 0.96 ERA buzzsaw comes to town on Tuesday, but we’ll worry about then.” Don’t worry, Men! We’ll have Wanger beat him up to 5-1.

  • http://www.workwithpete.com Pete

    Anyone else hear the radio call at the end of the game?

    I went out for some yardwork from innings 6-9 and when I came back the contest had just ended with Mo getting the final out. It was 8-2 when I checked in last, and I thought maybe Seattle had slammed Ohlendorf & Farnsworth for 4-5 runs with Mo being in there and the way Sterling was belting out his ‘Yankees win’ catchphrase like it was Game 5 in 2000.

    Yeesh.

  • gxpanos

    Travis G up there made a great point (too lazy to reply to him).

    Raz was wonderful, but he could have been awful. He threw some bad pitches, but the horrendous Mariners offense coupled with the fact that they didn’t know him really helped him.

    So I’m fine with Girardi pulling him, especially with an off day. Raz is probably most effective as a spot-starter type guy, that way he maintains that element of the unknown with teams that allows him to win games with “smoke and mirrors.”

  • http://yankeesetc.blogspot.com/ Travis G.

    baseball is funny. sweep by Rogers, Bonderman and Robertson: three average or worse pitchers. then we sweep Bedard, Felix and Silva: two very good and one average pitcher.

  • barry

    Not to mention we banged up some pretty decent pitchers which shows the offense isn’t a one series fluke.