Jun
07

For a day, Mariano is human while Damon isn’t

By

This Yankee approach to winning is becoming quite the theme. For the second time in three days, the Yanks pulled out a walk-off win to emerge victorious. By winning dramatic fashion, the Yanks’ success allows us to forget, for a few minutes, some of the poor play we saw today.

We start in the ninth inning. Today’s winning pitcher — Mariano Rivera — is on some stretch this year. Yet to blow a save, Rivera has allowed just two earned runs this year, and for a few minutes today, it looked like the second was going to cost the Yanks the game. Having just tied the contest at 10 in the bottom of the 8th, Rivera gave up a first-pitch home run in the 9th to David DeJesus. The cutter just didn’t cut. It happens, and Mo’s ERA is a whopping 0.67 now.

After DeJesus, Rivera pulled out a dominating 1-2-3 performance, and the Yanks could go to work on Joakim Soria in the bottom of the 9th. With one out, Jorge Posada homered to tie the game, and the Yankee Stadium crowd, shocked by a rare display of mortality by Rivera, came back to life. Robinson Cano saw four pitches, swung at all of them and grounded out to short. But then Mystique and Aura, Curt Schilling’s best friends, reared their heads.

Wilson Betemit drew a walk; Melky Cabrera hit an 80-foot single just down the third base line; and Johnny Damon — already five for five on the afternoon — roped a single into the right field corner. Betemit crossed the plate; the Yanks mobbed Damon, an amazing six for six on the day; and all was right in the Bronx.

But until minute 230 of this game tonight, all had not been right in the Bronx. Five days after coughing up three different leads in a game in Minnesota, Andy Pettitte couldn’t keep the Yanks and Royals close. The Yanks kept have to play catch-up, and when all was said and done, Pettitte’s final line was terrible: 6.2 IP, 10 H, 10 ER and two Jose Guillen home runs, including a grand slam.

On the season, Pettitte’s ERA is now 4.99. He’s allowed 97 hits in 79.1 innings and just hasn’t been generally sharp this year. His performance is yet another reason why the Yankees need to see how Joba fares in the rotation. They need good starting pitching, and with Wang and Pettitte struggling lately, they just aren’t getting it.

But Pettitte is to blame only in performance. The other person who, until the bottom of the ninth, carried this game, was Joe Girardi. On Pettitte’s 111th pitch with the bases loaded, Guillen, a significantly better hitter against lefties (.311/.344/.541) than against righties (.233/.258/.390) , launched a ball high and far and gone. Why is Joe Girardi, usually one to the bullpen too quickly, leaving in a scuffling Andy Pettitte to face Guillen? No one in the pen could have done worse than Pettitte.

My other two bones to pick with Girardi today came on strategic moves. In the first inning — the first inning! — with Damon off of second, Derek Jeter, number three on the Yanks’ all-time hit list, bunted. I was stunned. Considering that it was the first inning, bunting is a terrible strategic move, let alone with Jeter at the plate.

Then, in the eighth, with Damon off second and Jeter off first and one out, the Yankees were primed to steal a base. They had their best base-stealers on, and Jimmy Gobble, a lefty slow to the plate, on the hill. At no time did the runners go, and Bobby Abreu hit a very deep fly ball that David DeJesus tracked down near the wall. That out could have been a sac fly. With one out in a tie game, the Yanks have to at least try to start the runners.

Girardi has seemingly been afraid of strategic managing this year. He’s been loathe to start runners; he’s shied away from hit-and-run plays; and he seems generally satisfied to wait for the big blow that hasn’t always come for the Bombers this year. When all is said and done of course, the Yankees won today, and the game was an Instant Classic. But we should take some lessons from the first 8 innings. All was not right until Johnny Damon and Jorge Posada picked things up in the 9th.

Categories : Game Stories
  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

    On a side note, the ad on the left side a few minutes ago was for Diovan, a medicine that helps lower one’s blood pressure. Outside of that medicine, the Yanks’ not waiting until there are two outs in the bottom of the ninth to win would probably help lower everyone’s blood pressure as well.

  • cy farnsworth

    let’s not forget that the yanks found themselves down in the 9th desperate for “mystique and aura” against by far the worst team in the AL for the second straight night.

    at some point they have to add to the rotation, don’t they? waiting for hughes to come back (and pitch better than before) and praying that mike mussina continues to pitch way above expectations is not gonna do it, not this year with tampa here to stay.

  • Adam

    andy pettitte needs to learn to pitch like mike mussina.

  • Manimal

    High socks>mustache+thong?

  • LC

    I don’t know that it’s fair to blame Girardi for Jeter bunting in the first. Jeter has been doing that kind of thing for years, and I think there’s a good chance he did it on his own. The worst thing about that play was that it put me in the position of agreeing with Michael Kay.

    • Chip

      That’s what I was thinking. Jeter does that kind of thing on his own. It’s not like he was straight bunting either, he tried to drop it down and get a hit. We’d have all praised his grittiness and intangibles had he ended up on first with men on first and third for A-rod

      • kingshaffy

        Agree 100%. Jeter aka Mr. Intangible has been doing that stupid move for years on his own. He also played that grounder in the 7th about as bad as you can.

        Its funny for all the criticism that gets heaped on the players on this team, the everyday player who (next to Cano) is having the worst season always gets spared. He’s made more boneheaded moves in the past month than I think he made in the rest of his career. Maybe he should stop thinking about which starlet will be next on his list, and start focusing on baseball again.

  • Chip

    I don’t think they add to the rotation. We’re already going to have a problem of too many starters when everybody comes back from injury. Pettite should be able to give us some league average innings this year but it’s foolish to think he’s a legit number 2. Hughes has got to be the Yankees number 2 in the second half this year. There’s just no way around it, we need the kid to step up when he gets back and be decent. He doesn’t need to dominate, he just need to average 6 or 7 innings with 3 ER. Hopefully Joba and Kennedy can follow suit and set the Yankees up for years to come.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=594331910 Jamal G.

    I’m not buying this belief that Joe Girardi has been shying away from hit-and-runs. I have seen it quite a few times this year. Also, you have to remeber that the Yankees have been down a lot in their games by more than a single run. That situation does not call for a hit-and-run.

    I also disagree with the presuming fact that Joe Girardi was the one who called for the bunt. We’ve seen it from Bobby Abreu, Melky Cabrera and even Robinson Cano today, that along with Derek Jeter some Yankees like to bunt for base hits. There is no way you can tell me that Derek Jeter would not have bunted on his own there ten times out of ten.

    My only beef with Girardi was the Andy Pettitte management. I did not think he should have even started the 7th inning. I did not think he should have pitched to Mark Teahen with Edwar Ramirez in the bullpen. And I damn sure was not a proponent of him pitching to Jose Guillen not only because of the LHP/RHP splits but because he owned Pettitte this afternoon.

    How ’bout that Jose Veras?

  • Dan W

    I disagree with you on the strategic decisions by Giradi. I do not think he tod Jeter to bunt. If look back during previous years, when a runner gets to 2nd with no outs in the first Jeter does bunt on his own. He has done it before and I sure he has done it on the past. By bunting he almost assures a run will score in the inning, while if he swings away the chance they score is going to be less.

    I do not think you blame Girardi for not running Damon and Jeter in the eight either. Yes, Gobble is not that fast to the plate, but you can not steal third in a game like that with a left-handed batter at the plate. If Damon is thrown everybody would murder him for sending the runners.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=594331910 Jamal G.

      That is my philosophy but I know we are in the minority. I say the best play is the play that assures the highest probability of a run scoring. I don’t like playing for upcoming moments in some situations. That’s why I also believe that not bringing in your closer in a tie game on the road in the 9th inning or later is the wrong move, can’t play for the future.

      • Adam

        jamal, no. no. no. bunting assures the highest probability of scoring one run. outs are way way too valuable to be just giving them away like that, especially in the first inning.

    • mustang

      I see your point, but in the first inning I don’t know about that.

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  • Ivan

    Hey the only thing you can blame him on is leaving Andy way too long. Other than that, blaming him for the other things aren’t right.

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

    Third round pick Scott Bittle held right handed batters to a .352 OPS last year. That is all.

    • Scott Bittle

      I told you guys! I’m the next Rivera, I’m waiting for Mo to give me some of his special sauce and I’m gonna tear this league apart baby!

  • mustang

    I don’t agree with blaming Girardi for the bunting it probably came from Jeter he does that a lot. I actually seen Girardi hit and run a few times in this home stand so I don’t think he is shying away from it. Totally agree with Andy Pettitte’s management Girardi could of done a lot better.
    They don’t need to go out and get another starter they should be fine until Hughes gets back.

  • Chip

    Question for ya Mike, if Bleich signs quickly, where do the Yankees send him? Is he Hi-A ball material?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      I’m guessing Staten Island. The last draftee I can remember then sending straight to High-A was JB Cox, and he, obviously, is a reliever. Bittle needs a little rest, then he’ll go to SI like Melancon.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=594331910 Jamal G.

        Damon Oppenheimer said in his post-draft press conference that Bittle will head to Tampa after he gets that rest you mentioned.

        http://yankees.lhblogs.com/200.....t-yankees/

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

          Well then, nevermind. I listened to it, but I must have missed that part.

        • Chip

          As in extended spring training or the Tampa Yankees?

          • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

            Extended Spring ends in a week or two.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=594331910 Jamal G.

    BTW, Steve Lombardi is an idiot, here he is on the Gerrit Cole selection:

    “Me? I would have passed on this one. Instead, I would have gone for Conor Gillaspie (or, if it had to be a pitcher, Shooter Hunt).”

    “Mostly it’s because of his immature mound demeanor.”

    http://waswatching.com/2008/06/05/gerrit-cole/

    I see why I never read this guy. I bumped into his link on sny.tv (which owns YESnetwork.com and is a pretty good site overall) and forgot who the author of Was Watching…was, LoL.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      Mike Mussina & Josh Beckett have immature mound demeanors. They’re doing just fine.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=594331910 Jamal G.

        In terms of makeup, aren’t the things they are saying about Gerrit Cole compare favorably to Josh Beckett? I don’t see the big deal.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

          Everyone is immature when they’re 17. What matters is his maturity level when’s 22, 23, etc.

          • Chip

            I agree, the kid probably really looks up to Andy Pettite, Phil Hughes, Joba and such. They’ll show the kid how to act

          • mustang

            “Cole, showing off his youth when he rattled off the names of Scott Brosius, Paul O’Neill, Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams and Aaron Boone as some of his favorite Yankees”

            This just makes me feel so damn old.
            LOL

            • Rick in Boston

              What, they’d prefer him to say “Lee Geutterman, Kevin Maas and Bam Bam Meulens”?

  • Chip

    How about that Jose Veras? Between him and Edwar, they could be saviors to the middle relief. By the all-star break I would think that with Bruney possibly being back and Cox/Melacon in there, I don’t know what you do to get rid of Farns and Hawkins

  • Haggs

    Girardi has this weird thing where he tries really hard to get his starter a win, often to the team’s detriment, as it was today.

    If the game is tied or close, he’ll leave the starter in as long as humanly possible. But if they have the lead he’ll pull them earlier than normal.

    He’s done it with Wang, he did it with Pettitte today, and Rasner threw a TON of pitches last night.

    • nmc

      I think it’s more than that, it’s a matter of “loyalty” to veterans. It’s the same thing as running Farnsworth out there every freaking close game, or sticking Giambi in the lineup every day for the first month of the season, despite him hitting .181 or whatever it was.

      Obviously, having faith in his veteran guys has worked with the Big G (-string), but not so much with Jafarnsworth. FWIW, I think he’s a pretty poor manager of pitchers. He has left Wang in several times for an inning too long, Rivera in that walk-off TB win, etc. I can think of a bunch of examples where I scratched my head … “why??”

  • Greg G.

    Just wanted to chime in here that I agree with most of the previous posts in this thread. I really doubt Girardi called for Jeter’s bunt in the first. (Maybe we’ll find out in a postgame quote somewhere?) I didn’t see the play, but is there any chance Jeter was trying for a hit (infielders playing back?) to set the table for Abreu/A-Rod/et al.?

    Far as I’m concerned, this was a beautiful win because it was just that – a win. Pettitte and Wang have been terrible lately, but their track records would suggest that regression to the mean will eventually occur.

    Statistic with the highest correlation with team wins = TOOPs (times outscoring the opposition). Today was a TOOP, and I’ll take it.

    • Greg G.

      Follow-up: the only thing that really pissed me off about this game was that I have Rivera, Pettitte, and Soria on my fantasy team. Not good for the ol’ ERA and WHIP.

  • stuart

    the reason Girardi likes to keep his starter in more then many think he should is quite simple THE PEN SUCKS. They have 1 reliable option, that is it…

    GET MELANCON UP HERE ASAP…….

    • Manimal

      Not quite ASAP, but definately within a month. JB Cox + Melancon should come up by allstar break+P hughes and IPK+Bruney and we should be fine.

  • Greg G.

    Mike A.:

    Do you know how many innings the org wants Cox and Melancon to throw before they consider them viable call-up options?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      No idea. I imagine Cox needs fewer innings than Melancon though, for obvious reasons.

      • Greg G.

        Yet another nice outing by Melancon today. 2 IP, zeros, 3 K.
        Can’t wait to see him in the bigs…(or at least catch him in Trenton before he’s moved up)

  • Steve

    “Derek Jeter, number three on the Yanks’ all-time hit list, bunted. I was stunned. Considering that it was the first inning, bunting is a terrible strategic move, let alone with Jeter at the plate.”

    Jeter bunts on his own, and always has.

    You should know better than to blame Girardi for that.

  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    Is Damon really the first Yankee to ever go 6-6? That’s amazing, if its true.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=594331910 Jamal G.

      Believe he tied a Yankee record.

      • Manimal

        It happened 3 times, but this was the first time at home.

        • The Ghost of Myril Hoag

          HHHEEELLLLLOOOO! Remember me? At least I did it against the Red Sox. You know, Boston. Where the women smell like the bay?

          • Andy in Sunny Daytona

            Sorry Myril. Next time I will read an article before I ask stupid questions.

  • Manimal

    Arbiso isn’t doing too good. He was the picked by the yanks in the 22nd round, 680 pick.

  • Manimal

    Can someone find out what Damon’s stats are ever since I ripped on him.

  • Brian

    Besides celebrating Damon’s historic accomplishments, just read a surprising fact in an mlb.com article on Pettitte. 10 H is a career high for him (and 10 ER’s, but that’s not a surprise). I guess that’s somewhat a testament to the shorter Bronx leash, but Pettitte and his consistency have something to do with that. *

    * Facts like these are palatable in wins only.

    If I may take a moment to appreciate the term “immature mound demeanor.”
    Excuse me while I pump my fist.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=594331910 Jamal G.

    How the Mets have handled Ryan Church is borderline negligence.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/spo.....again.html

    • Brandon

      I fear for his health, they really are rushong him just to save a season. His life could be on the line out there.

  • Brandon

    Anyone know the status of Christopher Smith ?, I want that kid signed.

  • Rich

    The win was nice, but Girardi’s decision to leave an ineffective Pettitte in for 111 pitches, including allowing him to face Guillen with the game on the line even though he had owned Pettitte, was more than a little curious.

    To me, it was a Torre-like instance of the manager sending a message to the GM: I don’t trust my pen. Fix it.

  • marc ack

    anybody know why posada refused a curtain call, Ive never seen that before?

  • RollingWave

    to be fair to Damon, he’s # will at least get him on the HOF ballot, and if he pulls a Pete Rose or at least hang around till he’s 40 he might actually have a realistic shot.

    he’s not the best player EVER but his career is pretty darn good.

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