Sox top Yanks as Jorge goes down

Posada strains left hamstring
Early a.m. injury updates: A-Rod, IPK, JoPo

The Yanks were down by two, and with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth, I thought Robinson Cano, hitless so far, would deliver that big blow against Jonathan Papelbon. On the first pitch, he swung at a 94 mile-an-hour fastball just over the outside corner of the plate and fouled it back.

Cano had just missed the Yanks’ best chance to tie, and when Papelbon went to work, I had a sinking feeling the big hit wouldn’t come. On a night marked by a long rain delay, the Yanks almost pulled off another comeback but just couldn’t get those last two runs across.

Yankee fans went into tonight’s game expecting big things from Phil Hughes. He threw six stellar shut-out innings last week in Detroit but clearly didn’t have his “A” game today. He threw 94 pitches in just four innings, and while 56 of them were strikes, he wasn’t attacking the zone. This outing was more reminiscent of 2008 Phil Hughes than last week’s edition of Hughes.

On the night, his line wasn’t pretty. He threw 4 innings and gave up 7 hits and 4 walks. He struck out just two and allowed a crushing Mike Lowell home run. His defense did not aid him as Jose Molina, now thrust into a starting role, allowed a run to score on a passed ball early on.

Hughes, still just 22, gets a pass. In fact, as Zach Greinke showed again tonight with a complete game shut-out, Hughes gets a pass until he turns 26. He had to face a two-hour rain delay and very damp conditions when the game started. He had his stuff and was at 94/95 to start the game. He just couldn’t locate. He’ll face the Orioles in Baltimore on Saturday night.

With Hughes at his pitch count, the Yanks turned to Al Aceves. The Mexican Gangster threw an admirable 4.1 innings. He struck out 7 but allowed two runs on what would be a costly Jason Bay two-run shot off of the left field foul pole. Those runs would be the difference in the game. Aceves was good, and barring any necessary roster moves the Yanks may have to make, he’ll stick around. But that one pitch was the difference in the game. The Yanks almost got away with it; the ball was almost foul. Baseball though is a game of definites, and almost isn’t good enough.

On the other side of the ball, though, the Yanks faced an uphill battle. Jon Lester had his stuff working tonight. He struck out 10 on what was a fair strike zone (but more on that later today). The Yanks, though, went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position and left 10 runners on base. It’s hard to win games when that big hit never materializes.

Game Notes: Mark Teixeira‘s two home runs don’t quite fit in with my game narrative tonight, but I was quite pleased to see them. Teixeira walloped two balls, one from the right side and one from the left, and those two shots are a clear indication that his wrist is finally allowing him to generate power. With the return of both his health and A-Rod, I would expect a big month from Teixeira…Jorge Posada was removed from the game in the 6th inning when he felt “grabbing” in his left hamstring. According to Joe Girardi, Posada aggravated a hamstring injury when he slid unnecessarily, and the Yanks’ catcher and leading RBI man will hit the MRI tube later today. For more on his injury, check out this earlier post.

Posada strains left hamstring
Early a.m. injury updates: A-Rod, IPK, JoPo
  • Accent Shallow

    This one hurt. So many things went wrong, but they were still hanging around at the end. Ugh.

    While you need all the wins you can get against divisional rivals, I think the Yanks can take the East even without this.

  • Drew

    That first pitch Robbie fouled back was a great swing. I too though he would deliver a hit, I had a line drive to left playing in my mind but it just didn’t happen.
    Chalk this game up as disappointing, another one we could’ve won, another game our starter couldn’t deliver.

    • tim randle

      he said Phil gets a pass, and I’ll agree this time–passed ball for a run, Jeter’s range to his left right failing, some awkward starting and stopping on wet outfield, Robbie not making contact with the bases loaded (lean into it LEAN INTO IT!!! hbp scores a run!), lots of other ‘could haves.’

  • ranger11

    Why have they had such difficulty in hitting with runners is scoring position the past few years? I just don’t get that. It’s a strange statistic but its stayed pretty consistent since last year. Is it age? I don’t know.

    • BronxBomber44

      I think the Yanks know they have a lot more riding (pressure) on each AB with RISP than, say, the Marlins or Royals at this point. They just don’t look comfortable. The expectations are weighing the players down, even on specific AB’s and pitches, etc. It’s a shame.

      • Zack

        “They just don’t look comfortable”
        -And if they went up to bat with a smile on their face we’d kill them for not taking the game seriously

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside


    • dudes

      also note that the yanks tend to have better players who get on base more so a smaller percentage of them get knocked in.

      also, batting avg. with risp is a misleading stat. say there is a runner on third with no outs. a sac fly scores a run but is not technically a “hit” and does not add to the batting avg. w/ risp even though the batter did a good thing.

      • tim randle

        got a stat that compares how many runners got into scoring position for the Yanks vs the field?

    • Zack

      If they bat .300 with RISP they fail 7 out of 10 times, and hitting .300 with RISP is excellent. But sadly we only remember the times when they don’t get the run in, and ignore the fact they continue to win 90+ games.

      2008: .261 with RISP (10th in AL)
      2008: .268 with RISP & 2 outs (1st in AL)
      2007: .293 with RISP (2nd in AL)
      2007: .272 with RISP & 2outs (3rd in AL)
      2006: .286 with RISP (5th in AL)
      2006: .260 with RISP & 2outs (8th in AL)

      This year is too small of a smaple size and Boston was behind Yankees in each of those situations but one.

  • Bob Stone

    Great summary, as always Ben. The Yanks have been both exciting and frustrating in these Rod sox games. It is a game of inches and they could be 2-2 or 3-1 with a break of an inch or two here and there. I am confident that the Yanks will keep up the historical pattern of the past five years and either win or lose the season series by two games or split it with the Sox.

  • Rich

    I thought the homeplate umpire’s floating strikezone messed up Hughes approach. His stuff was nasty, his command wasn’t, and that only made it worse.

    As Singleton implied during the game, Molina’s gamecalling was moronic at times, like the first pitch FB that Lowell hammered.

    I really didn’t want this game played because I thought the wet conditions could make an aging team that is susceptible to injuries even more vulnerable, and it would be nice to play as many games with Alex as possible, but whatever, they did.

    Just win later today.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      Considering the game conditions at the start, I was shocked that this game was played.

      I’m going to post more about this later tomorrow, but the ump’s strike zone was actually consistent. He called a few pitches in the zone balls and a few out of the zone strikes, but it was far from terrible.

      • Jamal G.

        Yeah, I was wondering if you were trying to imply that there’s a stark difference from fairness and accuracy when discussing a strike zone.

      • Rich

        FWIW, via Ham:

        (After discussing the allegations that Bogar was stealing signs)

        Meanwhile, Girardi and the Yankees were furious with the strike zone of Jerry Meals.

        “It was the calls for the whole night,” Girardi said.
        Said Derek Jeter: “Obviously I didn’t agree with it. But that’s part of the game. I didn’t agree with some of the pitches but there’s much you can say about that.”

        Jeter has never been ejected in his career and almost never argues. For him to even talk about the umpires is a sign of how mad he was.

        The most composed guy in the clubhouse afterward was Phil Hughes. He said that while he would have liked to get some of the pitches, he didn’t want to use it as an excuse.

      • rafael

        Also for what it’s worth…

        The people over at RLYW were also pretty upset about the strike zone. I didn’t see any of the game, so it’s hard to know how it actually went down.

      • Chris

        It looked to me like Hughes wasn’t getting calls that both Lester and Aceves were getting. Look back at Gameday and compare the Ellsbury walk in the second and Jeter’s K in the 5th. The balls to Ellsbury were no worse than the strikes t Jeter.

        • steve (different one)

          I’m going to post more about this later tomorrow, but the ump’s strike zone was actually consistent. He called a few pitches in the zone balls and a few out of the zone strikes, but it was far from terrible.

          check the pitch f/x

          Girardi had a legitimate beef.

          i can’t blame all of Hughes’ struggles on the ump, and credit Boston’s hitters for taking pitches and getting big hits, but the umpiring was atrocious.

          Lester had about 15 balls that were called strikes.

  • AMS223

    I just got back from the game…dont know what people said, but do you think Damon should have bunted. I understand that they then may have walked Tex, but that isnt for sure because he would be the winning run. Also Damon is hitless against Pap. Even if they walk Tex you have your 4 hitter up with the bases loaded and 1 out. Also, with damons speed it wouldve forced the Defense to make the play. I dont always like giving away outs, but I 100% wouldve bunted there.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      I take my chances swinging away. I can see why you might want to bunt, but Damon’s been on a tear lately. Let him swing the bat.

      Plus, he too just missed a three-run home run. He connected squarely but was a tad under it.

    • Jamal G.

      With a pitcher the caliber of Jonathan Papelbon you do not give away outs when you have a hitter the caliber of Johnny Damon. I know it sounds weird but you don’t give away outs with a quality hitter like Damon when you need a base hit against a quality pitcher like Papelbon.

      • Tom Zig

        By quality pitcher you mean a guy who throws nothing but fastballs and scowls at people?

  • kSturnz

    they needed a molina passed ball, a dominant strikeout pitcher performance and a bloop hit to win, so i’m not worried at all

  • jonathan

    I think there is ligitimate reason to be concerned. We have under achieved all season so far and now the “its only april” birds will start singing the “its only may” song. Our big bat is hitting ~.190 with 4HRs, our big three for pitching has been fairly aweful, and our hot hitters are starting to cool which leaves us up shits creek without a pattle.
    We the talent and money that gets pumped into this team we should never have to say “its only…” We should be saying “Its May and we have a 6 game lead in the east.” This is a big problem…

    • Bo

      We could be buried by 8 games before we blink if we don’t start getting some W’s against the teams we are directly competing with.

      • Chris

        They Red Sox are currently 2.5 games up on the Yankees. It’s way too early to talk about getting buried in the standings.

        • tim randle

          split two series instead of getting swept twice, and its .5 instead of 3.5…

          so a Yank blowout tonight makes everyone feel better until tomorrow :)

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        We could have everyone healthy and have a 3 game lead and your statement would still be true.

        Making it a useless tautology.

  • ryan

    Hughes got squeezed… that strike zone was BS. he was calling Low for lester and giving phil nothing. Hughes had some control issues but no where near what his line would indicate. I can think of about 2-3 walks what should’ve been strikeouts and his pitch count got out of hand bc of it. Poorly called game.

  • Ed

    It’s nice reading the comments on this page because you guys are a lot more optimistic than I. I know the Yanks don’t need it, but a win tonight would be nice with Tampa Bay, Baltimore and Toronto coming up.

  • Hobbes

    Fair strike zone?

    He killed Hughes on the entire down and in to lefties corner. Lester had and extra 2 inches down and in to righties, plus he got make up calls galore in that spot. Phil was hitting his spots, the ump killed him.

    • ryan

      I had to turn the game off it was pretty rediculous.

      • Bo

        He got squeezed but there’s nothing you can do about it. You got to tough it out. Hughes’ reactions after the game showed me a lot about how mature he is now. Games like this will be good for his development. You don’t get these in Scranton.

  • Bill

    2 on with 0 outs and Damon doesn’t bunt??? This is a pattern I don’t like. Can this guy bunt? He does play major league baseball.

    • Chris

      Why give up the out when you would still need a hit to tie the game? I think they should have tried the double steal earlier, but I have no problem letting Damon swing away there.

      • Bo

        Damon is a real home run threat as he proved a few innings before. I hate taking the bat out of the hands of star players especially down more than 1 run.

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside


          Bunting lowers your chances of winning the game. This is a virtually universally agreed to point. Hence, bunting is only an acceptable strategy when the hitter is an abysmally bad hitter and the alternative (letting him swing away) is virtually guaranteed to produce a worse outcome than a bunt.

          Damon is not a bad hitter, so he shouldn’t be intentionally lowering our chances of winning the game.

          • Zack

            I agree and remember, we were down by TWO runs- not one.
            If it’s a 1 run game then he definaetly bunts.

            • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

              Exactly. What were we going to do, sacr bunt Damon to get the runners to 2nd and 3rd (giving up one out), then have Tex sac fly to score Gardner from 3rd (giving up 2 outs) and then put Swisher up with Jeter on second and hope Swisher gets a two out hit to tie it?

              No matter how you cut it, with runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs but DOWN TWO RUNS, we need at least one hit in order to tie the game. Sacrificing isn’t going to help us unless we get 4 outs in the bottom of the 9th.

              In that situation, with Damon-Tex-Swish-Cano due up and no outs, you let all of them swing away 10 times out of 9.

  • hamburger helper

    Meh – if we drop 12 of 18 to the Sox this year, we can still, with the help of TB or – gasp – Toronto, squeeze them out of the playoffs entirely. We (especially our pitchers) just need to come to the park and play like we want to.

    I was encouraged by Aceves’ performance. Too bad the one mistake he made turned out to be the difference. Really, though, we lost that game before he came in.

    I also like our late-inning fire. In the last 3 games, we’ve stirred late. That’s a good sign. An even better sign would be not needing to at all. :(

    Above all, we need to stay healthy.

    Two questions for the gang here:
    1. I heard some pretty terrible stats on YES last night about the Yanks’ pitchers (specifically the bullpen?) and their baserunner to inning ratio. Anyone catch those numbers?
    2. WTF is Aceves scratching under the right side of the brim of his hat all the time? Nervous tic or sandpaper?! ;)

  • Todd

    Someone please explain this concept that somehow Aceves’ 2 runs allowed were more significant than Hughes’ 4 runs. My understanding of baseball is that runs in each inning contribute to the aggregate which determines the outcome of the game. And this concept that Hughes gets a “pass” for the next 4 years is rediculous. Where is this “pass” for our other young players like Melky, Cano, Gardner, Ramirez etc? They all have the same expectations as Yankees and must perform. But basically because Hughes is Hughes and Aceves is Aceves, Aceves blew the game despite giving up fewer runs over basically the same amount of innings pitched.

    • hamburger helper

      I’m with you re: Aceves. At the end of the game, his HR was the difference, but there’s a reason Hughes got the loss. That’s why they don’t just automatically hand the L to the guy who coughs up the GW RBI.

      I’m actually really happy with the way he pitched, and I think it would be a damn shame and send the wrong message if he were sent down amid all the roster moves that will have to be made now that Posada is down and A-Rod’s return is imminent.

    • Joseph Pawlikowski

      “They all have the same expectations as Yankees and must perform.”

      So you’re saying Melky Cabrera, who peaked at No. 8 on BA’s Yankees prospect list, faces the same expectations as Phil Hughes, who was the No. 1 pitching prospect in baseball in 2007? No, that’s rIdiculous.

      The reason he gets a “pass” is because of the conditions and because it looked like the ump was squeezing him a bit. It’s not like Kevin Bacon saying “all is well,” but rather it says we’re not going to get all pissy over this poor start by Hughes. And no one said Aceves blew the game. The homer he surrendered proved to be the difference, and it was a matter of inches. As Ben said, it happens.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        The “he gets a pass” just means that while he is responsible for this loss, there were mitigating factors and he still remains a good prospect who we expect will perform better than this, and soon.

  • Bo

    Why were they even playing last night? They play each other a billion times. Why take the chance of an injury not to mention making your fans suffer. Who knows if the Posada injury would have happened if the conditions weren’t god awful.

  • Chris V.

    Phil Hughes put up a Brett Marshall line tonight.

    • Mike Pop

      Except it was last night.

      • Chris V.

        oh snap

  • Bo

    Even with all this losing to the Sox you got to give them a little credit. They are scrapping. You do have to like it. With all thats gone wrong early here they could have been buried. But they aren’t which is a good sign. Because the pitching won’t be this bad and Tex won’t hit 180 and 3b won’t be an off blackhole.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Wow. Great comment, I agree with you.

      Perspective FTW!

  • Mike Pop

    Man, fuck the Sox.

  • JohnC

    Missed opportunities. Big one in the second inning when we had 1st and 3rd 1 out and didn’t score. Melky takes a pitch right down the middle for strike 3. Aren;t you supposed to protect the palte with 2 strikes on you? Also, bad job by Hughes after he got Hughes to hit into DP, 2 out none on, then proceeds to give up 2 singels and a walk to give Sox another run. Thats the difference. Sox make the most of their opportunities, Yanks waste them.

  • JP

    The home plate umpire was an idiot. Sorry, his first three innings’ strike zone was about 50% smaller than his last 6. Papelbon, Lester, and Aceves all got calls on the corner, low pitches, etc., where Hughes was getting nothing early.

    I thought Hughes did ok. One of the runs was off a bloop hit. He struck out Kevin Youkilis with a fastball, and there aren’t many people doing that right now.

    Cano had a good at bat, it just didn’t happen. Doesn’t matter who’s up there, you’re going to bat .150 against Papelbon, so you can’t really get too upset about it.

    I’d rather see this stuff happening in May than in August–there are lots more games v. Boston, and although I know it’s not logical to think this way, I’m happy to see things break their way now. I’ll take our breaks in August and September.

    I think the Yankees are much better than they are playing right now. They’re going to start stacking wins up soon.

    Now when we get A-Rod back, maybe we can start playing Ramiro Pena at short and let Jeter start playing OF a little. Pena may be one of these players who improves at the MLB level, and he may be a “sleeper” among their prospects. Anything would be an improvement over Jeter’s D.

    • Chris

      While Pena would clearly be a defensive improvement at SS, his lack of hitting would cause him to be a net negative. I know it’s still early, but Jeter is currently the 5th most valuable SS in baseball. I doubt Pena could come close to matching that.

      • JP

        I know…Jeter hitting as he does makes him valuable as a SS, less so as an outfielder. I just can’t stand the lack of range and the inconsistent throwing arm. He hurts the pitching staff, there is no doubt about that.

  • YankeeScribe

    I was at the game last night and the ump was so unfair with the strikezone. Lester was getting the calls that Hughes wasn’t getting.

    On the brightside, Aceves pitched well in long-relief and I think he might be just what the Yankees’ bullpen needs right now. They need a long-reliever who can eat up innings when the SP makes an early exit from the game.

    • JohnC

      Agree on Aceves. His big mistake was hitting Drew after getting ahead 0-2. Big mistake. He could have been more careful with Nay then. Really thought they were going to pull it off in the 9th. Damon had a good pitch to drive and missed it. Really thought Tex was going to come through there in the 9th after hitting back to back jacks, but swung through 2 low, hittable pitches there in striking out.

  • E. Aron

    Sterling called it a wild pitch that scored the run in the 1st, not a passed ball. Who’s telling the truth?

    • steve (different one)

      it was scored a wild pitch, but it was clearly Molina’s fault.

      it wasn’t a good pitch, but it never hit the dirt. it wasn’t that far outside. Molina just missed it.

      • Chris

        It was initially ruled a WP, but I believe it was officially changed later in the game to a passed ball.

        • steve (different one)

          well, there you go.

      • Benjamin Kabak

        It was changed to a passed ball and an unearned run before the game was out. Considering that Molina just flat-out missed it, it’s a passed ball.

  • Rob in CT

    I only saw the first 4 innings, since I had to hit the sack. Those were 4 very frustrating innings.

    I don’t know that the ump was terrible, but he sure didn’t give Hughes any borderline calls. Hughes looked like he had really good stuff, but his command wasn’t at the same level. He wasn’t totally wild, but he definitely missed his spots at times. Enough times to walk a bunch of patient hitters.

    I would’ve liked to have seen some more curveballs. When he did throw them, they were pretty effective. I feel like I saw a lot of: fastball, ball. Damnit, we want to throw a fastball for a strike. We must redouble our efforts! Another fastball. Same spot. The hitter will never expect that!

  • Rob in CT

    I’m really glad I was asleep by the time Jorge hurt his hamstring. That would’ve pushed me from foul mood to full on rage.

  • rsam

    I told cashman to get manny but noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo we need a clutch hitter.

  • rsam

    I hope we get manny in the off season