Yanks grind out a nearly k-less win on cold night

Undefeated no more
Mattingly training to succeed Joe, but which one?

It’s not very nice out in New York City right now. While the sun came out briefly this afternoon only to set a few minutes later, it’s raining and chilly in the Big Apple. It isn’t, in other words, good weather for baseball.

But the Yankees and the A’s had their window. One night after the Yanks’ first rain-out of the 2009 season, baseball was back in the Bronx, and the Yankees played not a crisp game but well enough to win 5-3.

We could, if we wanted to, tell a few different stories about this game. We start with Dana Eveland. The A’s 25-year-old lefty is generally the type of pitcher against whom the Yankees struggle. He’s a soft-tossing lefty, and tonight, he didn’t disappoint. His only pitch to hit 90 miles per hour was his tenth of the night, a fastball. Otherwise, he was throwing mid-80s breaking pitches.

The Yankees though wouldn’t let that beat them. They put together a four spot in the bottom of the second and never looked back. The scoring was quicky and easy — and not until Johnny Damon blasted a ball into right field in the 6th did any team hit a home run at the park being dubbed Coors Field East by some.

The Yanks plated their four through some good old small ball. Nick Swisher walked to lead off the inning, and Hideki Matsui doubled. After a Cody Ransom fly out, Brett Gardner drove in two with a single. He then stole second, moved to third on a Derek Jeter hit and scored on a Johnny Damon single. Mark Teixeira would plate Jeter with a base hit. Seven batters, four runs. That’s tidy baseball.

On the other side of the ball, Andy Pettitte worked efficiently. With game time temperatures at 54 degrees and a fine mist falling for much of the game, Pettitte needed just 105 pitches to get through seven innings. A whopping 67 of them were strikes, and yet, oddly enough, Pettitte didn’t strike out a batter. He also didn’t walk anyone, and so the nine hits he scattered resulted in just two earned runs and a lot of runners left on for Oakland. (Fun Fact of the Night: Andy Pettitte is just the 12th Yankee since 1954 to walk no one, strike out no one and pitch at least seven innings. Nine of those outings ended with a W for the starting pitcher.)

For Pettitte, the win moved him to 2-0 on the season, and it’s clear why he is succeeding this year. Simply put, because his shoulder pain is gone, he can throw his breaking pitches again. According to pitch f/x, he threw 21 sliders and 11 curveballs tonight. By the end of last season, he couldn’t throw those breaking pitches. Andy never reached higher than 90 on the gun, but with his control and array of off-speed pitches, he doesn’t need to.

The game of course ended with a Mariano Rivera save. Rivera, who recorded the only Yankee strike out of the game by fanning Ryan Sweeney for out number two — saved an Andy Pettitte victory for the 57th time in his career. That mark ties the record held by Dennis Eckersley and Bob Welch, and in five days, I expect Pettitte and Rivera to be the sole holders of that one. It shouldn’t be any other way.

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Undefeated no more
Mattingly training to succeed Joe, but which one?
  • Joey

    Mo struck out Sweeney

    • Drew

      You’re suppose to read the whole article!
      “Rivera, who recorded the only Yankee strike out of the game by fanning Ryan Sweeney..”

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

        I was still editing when Joey commented. It still had no mention of that strike out when he posted.

        • Joey

          You’re just a sneaky snake

          http://tinypic.com/16058i

        • Drew

          ahh true. Just looking out for ya! Not that ya need it, hope the NBC spot went well.

  • Tripp

    Forgot to throw a line in there about some pretty good D by Gardner and Tex!

    • Rich

      And the ball up the middle didn’t get past a diving Jeter, which saved a run from scoring on the play.

      But yeah, Gardner’s play, in particular, was stellar.

      • Tony

        Whoa dude, we’re all supposed to act like Jeter is half-dead in the field. Tread lightly.

        I have literally not seen a single play this season that made me think, “wow, he’s losing it”

        • whozat

          That’s the whole point. You have to look at Jeter in comparison to other shortstops to see his shortcomings. He’s got good hands and a good arm, so he rarely boots the balls he gets to. The problem is his RANGE, which is much less immediately obvious. Maybe his performance from last year, when he finally started paying attention to scouting reports and positioning, will carry over. Maybe not. We’ll see.

  • Joey

    Oh and how did you’re big spot on NBC primetime go? Don’t get the show in Orlando, but if they give you any recordings you gotta post it up

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      It went well. It’s always a quick few minutes on TV, but I’m getting more comfortable in front of the camera. When I get my hands on the video, I’ll post it.

      • andrew

        Can’t wait.

  • http://www.teamnerdrage.com leokitty

    Only thing I’m a little antsy about is that Andy’s GO:AO is a bit up from where it should be, but once he’s got the secondary stuff under better control it’ll get back there I’m sure.

    He did well tonight with only okay stuff, always good to see.

    • Rich

      Looking at FanGraphs, which I assume hasn’t yet been updated to include tonight’s game, his GB% was .45 (10/22), but tonight his GB/FB ratio was 12/8, which ups his GB% to .73. That is still way off his career mark of 1.71, but the sample size is small enough that it doesn’t concern me at this point.

  • Drew

    Mo reached 93 on his second pitch, that was the fastest I’ve seen this year. (according to YES’s gun)
    His cut was breaking so much near the plate. They showed some overhead slo-MO video and it’s just ridiculous, he never ceases to amaze me.

    • jsbrendog

      dont believe the yes gun. andrew bailey was throwing 98. and i watched him at wagner and he never threw 98.

  • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime

    This was really the first game I’ve been able to watch since I went home on Saturday for my aunt’s funeral.

    I’m still not quite sure if it’s providing any sort of comfort or not.

    But hot dang, what a catch by Gardner in the first!

    • http://liberalmusings.wordpress.com Pablo Zevallos

      I hope it does. By the way, your post on your last few days was one of the most touching and well-written pieces that I’ve read in a while.

  • BigBlueAL

    Whats the weather looking like for game on Wed????

    • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime

      Scattered showers in the evening

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

        Which is good because it’s a day game :)

        • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime

          I don’t know if you can tell, but I’ve been a little distracted of late.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          YOU LEAVE MY OPTIMIST PRIME ALONE, KABAK!

          You’ll rue the day you crossed me, Kabak, what with your dago mustache and your greasy hair…

          • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

            That is by far the best SNL Celebrity Jeopardy. I wish someone had the comment handle Turd Ferguson.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

              It’s an oversized hat. It’s funny.

  • John R

    Mariano Rivera retirement Over/Under 100 years old

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      The idea is inconceivable. He’s bound to have a bad outing at some point this year, but his line this year — 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K — is sick. And he had minor shoulder surgery in October.

      • Joey

        Reading comprehension fail?

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

          I’m just saying that even at 100, he could still be doing this. The man is a robot.

          Any retirement at all is inconceivable is what I meant.

          • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

            I’d still take the under though.

          • Joey

            Ah, I thought you misread the question. I’m dumb

      • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime

        Inconcievable! You keep on using that word and I do not think it means what you think it means!

        • http://liberalmusings.wordpress.com Pablo Zevallos

          That’s because “inconcievable” means nothing.

          • Drew

            i before e except after c! stupid rule!

            • timrandle

              hey neighbor!

              Mo=the man in black…he bested me with his cutter, he bested you with your strength, be vested Vizzini at a battle of wits…surely he can get our only strike out of the night!

        • jon

          as you wish

  • KP

    RAB geniuses – is it just me or is Pettite’s pitching pallet incredible? 7 different pitches thrown? AJ Burnett normally throws 2-3. Is that the sign of a pitcher becoming more cunning with age?

    I was actually really excited he was mixing it up so much. Sometimes it can get dull watching pitching, but just like Moose last year I really hope Pettite does well and it’s a pleasure to watch him pitch.

    • Drew

      I’m not a jinxer.. Imagine if Pettitte can do this year, what Mooser did last year.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

        I still don’t really think the comparison between the two of them is an accurate one. Pettitte sucked last year because he was injured. He’s not throwing any differently or harder this year than last. In fact, his velocity is identical but because his arm isn’t hurting, he can snap off breaking balls. He is, in other words, pitching as he always has.

        Mussina had to completely reinvent himself as a different kind of pitcher. Pettitte doesn’t have to do that; he just has to be healthy.

        • Drew

          Ben! I’m not talking about how they pitch, I’m talking about something Moose did, for the first time! SHHHH!

        • steve (different one)

          perhaps Moose had a nagging injury in 2007 but kept his mouth shut?

          after all, he wasn’t THAT bad outside of that 3 start stretch in late August/early Sept.

          then again, i kept saying that all last offseason, but 50% of the people here wanted Moose released or traded for a box of baseball.

      • andrew

        shhhhhh

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

          It wouldn’t be the first time for Dandy Andy though. Check out 1996 and 2003. I won’t say more!

  • stuart

    Texiera has made more good fielding plays in 2 weeks then Giambi did in 1/2 a season…. He will save 20 runs over Giambi in a whole season, that is huge…

    • Drew

      *Teixe, I refuse to admit the giambino’s faults!

    • JeffG

      There is nothing I appreciate more. Defense is such a huge part of the game. Tex has an arm, he can catch, pick, and make the right plays with ease. This will change the whole dynamic of what our pitchers have to work with. So many fewer long innings is going to mean a lot more good outings.
      CF, RF, & 1B huge plus marks over last year.

      • timrandle

        …did you mean 1/2 to be half a season? if so i completely disagree.

        if you meant 1 or 2 seasons, well…

  • radnom
    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      Mike sent that around to me and Joe yesterday morning. The idea of an Irabu comeback is preposterous, but my favorite line is this:

      Because he’s gotten back into shape, he came to want play again.

      Don’t you have to be in shape originally to get back into shape?

      • http://www.npbtracker.com Patrick

        I translated that quote, and it’s one of those nuances of working with another language. The original Japanese was really “recovered his condition”, meaning, he’s gotten over the injuries that forced him to retire. I’m not saying I agree with that assessment, but it may be more accurate.

        I’ve seen this mentioned in a number of places; I think I’ll point that out on my original post.

        Thanks,
        Patrick

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

          Awww. There goes my admittedly unoriginal joke.

        • radnom

          At first I was going to mention that this was oddly formal.

          Then I saw that you’re website is the same one that the article is from.

          How did you know I linked to an article from your site at 2 in the morning on a monday?

          • http://www.npbtracker.com Patrick

            Some people clicked the link from this site, so I checked it out. I read this blog anyway from time to time, despite not being a Yankees fan.

            And it was 11:00pm my time.

      • Spaceman.Spiff

        Irabu’s always been in shape though. It’s just that the shape that he chose is the toad-shape.

        • JeffG

          … ahh yes, the TOAD – good one GS. That will never stop making me laugh.

  • LiveFromNewYork

    How annoying is that Russ guy on My9. He puts up a poll if Jeter should bat leadoff (which he disagrees with) and then says the one letter that said keep DJ at leadoff because it keeps him from GIDP’ing doesn’t make any sense. The reason? He READ IT WRONG. The way he read it said leadoff allows him to GIDP and Russ said, that doesn’t make any sense. Why? Because you read it wrong! A little bit of reading comprehension would go a long way.

    The guy is annoying! Ben, Joe or Mike to My9! Immediately please!

  • MattG

    (I am a Girardi fan, however) Girardi had Coke warming with the tying run in the batters box last night, and 2 out in the eighth. If that liner eludes Cano, it would’ve been Coke, and not Rivera, that comes in.

    This has nothing to do with Coke–the ‘other’ pitcher is irrelevant. This has already cost the Yankees one game. With no margin for error, Rivera time needs to be 6 outs or less.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      Wait. Wait. Are you saying a closer should come into pitch late in the game when the game is most on the line? But I thought you should save closers until you have a three-run lead in the 9th!!one111!1

      Conventional wisdom for bullpen management is the worst. The worst. I saw Coke warming in that situation and dreaded what could have happened.

      • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt

        Yeah, agreed here. When Bruney started (somewhat) getting into hot water, I wanted Rivera to warm up for a four out save.

      • steve (different one)

        instead of complaining about something that didn’t happen, why aren’t we giving Girardi CREDIT for NOT going to Coke simply b/c the lefty Chavez was up???

        in other words, he stuck with the superior RIGHTY pitcher, Bruney, when he had the lefty warmed up.

        maybe this should tell us that he just doesn’t want to use Mo for more than one inning in the cold weather yet, and it would explain the game in KC as well.

        no, let’s bitch about having someone warmed up who never came into the game!!!

        • MattG

          He should’ve had Rivera warming up. There is no reason to have Coke up. Coke would’ve been the next pitcher in the game if the inning didn’t end. We know this, so we can talk about it.

          • steve (different one)

            yet he didn’t bring Coke in to face the lefty.

            seems more to me that he is looking after Mo’s health instead of just managing “by the book”.

            he bucked “the book” by letting Bruney pitch to Chavez.

            he deserves credit for that.

            Mo is 39, had shoulder surgery, and has only been throwing 88-90 so far this season. it was cold and rainy last night.

            all i am saying is that there may be more to the story than we know about. once the weather warms up, perhaps we’ll start seeing Mo for 4-6 out saves.

            i object to the notion that Girardi isn’t smart enough to know that Mariano Rivera is a better option than Phil Coke.

            • MattG

              so then I can only assume he had Coke warming up for when the yankees lost the lead. i hope you are right.

    • A.D.

      They aren’t going to use Rivera for more than one inning early in the season, especially when its cold and bad weather.

      I get you’re point, but people need to get over this, he’s coming off surgery and they aren’t going to mess with Rivera’s arm this early.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

        Thanks, doctor. I’ll keep that in mind :)

        • steve (different one)

          well, it’s happened twice so far, and both games were cold and rainy.

          maybe we should allow for the possibility that Girardi MIGHT not be an idiot?

          • timrandle

            BLASPHEMY!

            or maybe, JUST MAYBE, he knows more about baseball than i do…

            however, we know they have heating pads down there…and if his surgery impacts are so great that he’s concerned about an additional 6-8 pitches and a cool down/warm up cycle, maybe Mo isnt anywhere close to original form (and as a casual fan, i dont see that at all…).

            if that were the case, why on earth are we risking breaking him by having him out there at all?

            • steve (different one)

              or maybe it’s April, and Mariano is such a huge part of the team, that it makes sense to be cautious at first?

              Girardi used Mariano for more than one inning FIFTEEN times last year. so it’s not like he doesn’t know how to do that.

              he also used Mariano FIFTEEN times when the game was tied.

              further evidence that Girardi isn’t just a push-button manager.

              • timrandle

                damn you AND your facts.

                i reject your reality and replace it with my own!

                can we at least lobby him to NOT use Mo when its tied and swing those innings to 4 out saves? :)

  • Rob in CT

    The out-of-the-baseline call was huge. The ball bounced the Yankees’ way last night (Gardner’s 2-RBI single, fer instance).

    Pettitte is probably going to benifit quite a bit from the improved D. Gardner & Teix really helped him out.

    • steve (different one)

      Geren should be beaten for bringing the infield in on Gardner’s hit. that was terrible managing and may have cost him the game.

  • A.D.

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/.....g-put.html

    People can stop worrying about the idea that the Tigers could go into massive sell mode and move Cabrera to the Sox

    • jsbrendog

      but they might still move maggs

      • A.D.

        That’s fine & to be expected.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    “Fun Fact of the Night: Andy Pettitte is just the 12th Yankee since 1954 to walk no one, strike out no one and pitch at least seven innings. Nine of those outings ended with a W for the starting pitcher.)”

    Jeff… Johnson.
    The name… you know.

  • Drew

    Looks like our game might be delayed..
    http://www.weather.com/weather.....undeclared