May
19

Yanks break out brooms for the first time in 09*

By

The floodgates opened early last night, with the Twins and the Yankees combining to score eight runs in the first inning. One starting pitcher wouldn’t make it through the frame; the other lasted two outs into the seventh. The Yankees were lucky enough to be on the right end of that equation. At the outset, it didn’t appear they would be.

Pettitte didn’t look sharp at all in the first, allowing three straight hits that plated two runs. After the victories of the past three days, this did not feel so good. A four-game sweep is asking a lot, sure, but is it so much to not let the game get out of hand early? Thankfully Andy recovered by retiring Joe Crede (why was he hitting fifth?) and Jason Kubel to end the inning.

Remember in the game thread when I mentioned that the Yanks needed something like their first two games facing Perkins last year? It was even better. As is often the case with big innings, the play-by-play captures that frame perfectly:

Both Teixeira’s and A-Rod‘s home runs were no-doubters. They might not have been 420-foot bombs, but there wasn’t a question of their departure once the bat hit the ball. It was a momentous occasion indeed, the first time Tex and A-Rod have gone back to back. We raise a glass to this and to many more over the next eight years.

It took two pitchers facing 11 batters while throwing 41 pitches to retire the Yanks. They recorded eight hits in the inning. It was one of those frames where you just kick back and enjoy the carnage. Everything after Teixeira’s go-ahead homer was gravy, and there was enough to host a feast for everyone on RAB.

Foolishly thinking six runs were enough, the Yanks went into hiding for the next few innings, giving knuckleballer R.A. Dickey a relatively easy go of it. It took him just 12 pitches to retire the 3-4-5 guys in the second and the same number, despite a Robinson Cano single (erased with a caught stealing), in the third.

Meanwhile, Minnesota chipped away at the lead, picking up a run on a Mike Cuddyer homer in the fourth. They had a chance for more in the fifth, but Brendan Harris got caught between third and home on a grounder back to Pettitte. He might have been able to turn two there with a quick turn toward second, but Andy did the right thing by getting the lead runner. They did get another in the sixth, as Denard Span hit a soft fly ball to center, allowing Carlos Gomez to score from second.

With the Yanks lead cut to 6-4 and with Mariano unavailable for the night, things started to get a bit sticky in the sixth. The frame started out fine, with Melky hitting a hard single to right, followed by a Ramiro Pena single. Frankie Cervelli laid down a perfect bunt in a perfect situation, moving runners to second and third with one out and the top of the order coming up. Unfortunately, either Luis Ayala hunkered down or the home plate ump expanded the zone, as both Jeter and Damon went down looking. Gameday did not like the one to Jeter, but agreed with the Damon call.

The seventh…ugh, the seventh. One question dominates this frame: Why did Joe Girardi feel that he had a better chance with Jose Veras than with Andy Pettitte? Andy had already recorded two outs, though he had just walked Jason Kubel. Considering Kubel has been killing the ball, that’s acceptable. So in walks Cuddyer, who had homered off Pettitte earlier. Apparently, this one at bat is worth more in Girardi’s eyes than a season full of frustrating appearances from Jose Veras. And how does Veras reward Girardi’s faith? By walking Cuddyer on five pitches to load the bases. If not for Carlos Gomez not being too good and particularly undisciplined, the inning might have gotten out of hand. But he popped up, and the Yanks were out of it.

This topic deserves a tangent, especially since Edwar Ramirez came in for the next inning and had his own troubles throwing strikes. We at RAB preach patience. Middle relievers are middle relievers because they’re not particularly good pitchers. If they were, they’d be starters, or at worst closers or set-up men. But they’re not. We cannot expect too much of them. However, one thing that can be expected of them is to throw strikes. When they don’t they get the team into precarious positions. This is what Veras and Edwar have done all season long. They performed admirably last year, but we know that reliever performance is volatile. After watching another maddeningly frustrating performances by these two last night, I have reached the breaking point. Enough with Veras, enough with Edwar. DFA the former, option the latter, activate Bruney, recall Robertson. The whole idea behind this bullpen construction was that the parts were interchangeable. If one guy sucked, he could be swapped for another. Well, we’ve seen enough suckage from Edwar and Veras to warrant such a switch. We can only hope that the Yankees brass is as fed up as the fans are.

On a Mo-less night and an evening before the Yankees get their setup man back, Edwar Ramirez could not get the job done. True, the homer to Span was a complete golf swing, but it still left the yard. And he still did go 3-0 on Mauer before eventually walking him. That forced Phil Coke into the game early to face Justin Morneau, who had homered twice off him in the series. Not exactly the position the Yanks wanted to be in. But Coke made Morneau look foolish, using the lefty-lefty matchup to his advantage, fooling Morneau into three feeble swings. Inning over. Just one more to go.

Despite this moment of heroism, Coke would battle through the ninth. He led off by walking Joe Crede — which takes some serious, serious work. As in, I have a hard time believing Coke didn’t try to walk him. A pinch runner, wild pitch, and two groundouts later, the score was just 7-6. All of a sudden, that seventh-inning Tex homer loomed large — even larger after Coke walked Gomez, a guy who, like Crede, you have to try to walk. The guy was clearly a nervous wreck out there, as Girardi and then a Cervelli/Pena combination had to calm him down. In the end, Mike Redmond gave Coke the greatest gift a hitter can give a pitcher: swinging at balls out of the zone. Two in a row, according to Gameday, though I thought the one before those was questionable, too.

So the Yanks walked away with a win and their first series sweep of 2009*. All of the games were pretty tense at points, making each victory even sweeter. Most of the Yanks got in on the offensive barrage. Well, except Nick Swisher, but I kinda brought that up so I could note that he had a couple of nice looking hacks today. Hopefully that’s a sign that he’s coming out of his funk. Robinson Cano came out of his mini slump, going 2 for 4 with a double. Let’s hope Swish follows in kind.

The Yanks have now won six in a row, and as if things could get better they’ve got their ace taking the hill tomorrow night. He’ll square off against that troublesome Baltimore lineup, while the Yanks bats will get their first look at Brad Bergesen. Maybe they can reverse their recent trend of futility against mediocre rookies and give Bergesen the Scott Richmond treatment.

*Meh, I’m not counting the rain-shortened Oakland series.

Categories : Game Stories

104 Comments»

  1. 1) Phil Coke gives the most awesome postgame interviews ever. It’s not so much what he says as the way he says it. Like, “‘I’m glad Tex made that play because if he didn’t that wouldn’t have been cool”

    2) My heart may have been beating harder through the 7th, 8th and 9th today than at any point during the walk offs.

    3) I’m really, really glad I’m not a Twins fan right now.

    4) Melky’s batting .320 and Francisco Cervelli’s at .375. I thought there was supposed to be a black hole of doom at the bottom of the line up?

  2. mustang says:

    I was at the Game tonight and it finally felt like Yankees Stadium. The crowd was into the game even in the cold. However watching Veras and Ramirez pitch was like having a root canal. Bring up Bruney bring up anyone else, but don’t let these guys pitch anymore please.
    It’s bad when the whole crowd is just waiting for the ceiling to fall in on the both them.

    • mustang says:

      BTW Cervelli has a cannon for an arm.
      WOW!!!

    • andrew says:

      I think it might become more like that as the season progresses and the initial touristy type fans stop coming. Or atleast I hope that’s the case.

      • mustang says:

        I think for the weekday non-premium games it will. From talking with some fans I get the idea that a lot of people are picking up tickets on stub hub for weekday games on the cheap.

        • andrew says:

          Yea, that’s definitely the case… a group of 6 of my friends went tonight for $10 a ticket… cheaper than my local movie theatre.

          • LiveFromNewYork says:

            I can’t stand reading articles that say the average price of a ticket at YS is $80. The “average” simply doesn’t work in this venue.

  3. Jamal G. says:

    It looked like Melky had a shot, but his throw was so far off line that Tex had to slide in its way to prevent the other runners from taking another base.

    Wait, that happened twice?

  4. Moshe Mandel says:

    Totally agree on Edwar and Veras. People say you dont want to lose Veras, but that is not a reason to keep him on the roster all season. Bruney and Robertson in. When Marte comes back, out goes Tomko.

    • mustang says:

      “People say you dont want to lose Veras”

      Well those people weren’t at the game tonight. I have never seen anything like it no in my section wanted him in when he was announced people were like ” oh no not Veras”. People cheered mocking his first and only strike it was truly funny and sad at the same time.

      • mustang says:

        no one in my…

      • Yankee1010 says:

        Those people haven’t been watching this season. Or the 2nd half of last season when he pitched 26.1 innings, gave up 28 hits, walked 18 guys and had a 4.44 ERA. That ERA is pretty lucky considering that WHIP.

        Aside from the 1st half of last year, Veras hasn’t been that good. The strength of Girardi last year was his willingness to give new guys chances in the bullpen. For some reason, he keeps on going to Veras this year. It’s time to give Robertson and/or Melancon a real shot.

        • Chris says:

          Girardi’s strength last year was that he didn’t relegate relievers to the dog house. I got the feeling that the appearances for Edwar and Veras last night were basically an audition to see who would go when Bruney comes back tonight. Unfortunately, neither of them made a case that they should stay.

          • Bo says:

            Veras walking his leadoff batter is almost as automatic as Mo breaking bats.

            • AlexNYC says:

              Does anybody think Girardi have a vendetta against Robertson? I mean take a look back at spring training, he had a lot of days without pitching.

  5. Moshe Mandel says:

    Also, Andy was obviously laboring and had allowed 13 baserunners in 6.2 innings. I agree with the move to the pen, and its hard to quibble with the choice of Veras when the other options are likely Edwar and Tomko.

    • Jamal G. says:

      Yeah, I agreed with the move to the bullpen there as well. I kinda don’t get the criticism of it because people have been getting on Joe Girardi this season for making the call one batter too late, and this time he actually decided to be cautious.

    • Ben and I frequently disagree on calls to the pen, too. I think it goes to show that we should just let Girardi do what he does, and leave the criticism to the egregious offenses. Easier said than done, obviously, as I demonstrated above.

    • Yankee1010 says:

      I agree that the call to the pen wasn’t a bad decision in, and of, itself. However, it’s frustrating that Veras is on the receiving end of the call.

      I’d sure like to see Robertson and Melancon get real shots. It’s not like they could be any worse.

    • mustang says:

      To be honest Girardi has very little to work with in that bullpen it was never more evident to me then tonight. He is doing the best he can with what he has.

  6. J.R. says:

    God its awesome having a real first baseman.

  7. Rey22 says:

    Does anyone else think Burnett and Crede look kinda alike?

  8. Charlie says:

    i can’t wait to never see edwar or veras again, but I really think the front office is stupid enough to leave them on the roster forever for some inexplicable reason.

  9. Yankee1010 says:

    Wow. Sean Green. What an awful decision to throw to 1st.

  10. Garry D says:

    I’m growing very weary of the Yankees front office and their roster decisions. Veras and Edwar are dead weight and are not coming around. At worst, David Robertson and Mark Melancon can at least do no worse than these two guys. Being that they are the future and have more upside, give them the innings and experience.

    Same goes with Hughes. Sooner or later he has to be given the job and let him sink or swim for a season or two. Ideally, I see the pitching depth chart as this:

    SP – Sabbathia, Wang, Burnett, Pettitte, Hughes
    SU – Chamberlain, Bruney
    RP – Coke, Marte, Melancon, Robertson
    Long Reliever: Aceves or Tomko.

    To me, this is what you want if you’re the front office. Chamberlain’s future is as the closer of this team, plain and simple.

    • Moshe Mandel says:

      Plain and simple? Really? Would you trade Tim Lincecum for Jon Papelbon?

    • Mike Axisa says:

      Chamberlain’s future is as the closer of this team, plain and simple.

      Saying it doesn’t make it true.

      • Moshe Mandel says:

        But…..he said plain and simple.

        • Conan says:

          Great – let’s do to Chamberlain what the Yanks did to Righetti – another great starter who was mistakenly turned into a reliever.

          • Peter Lacock says:

            Good point
            and is was a huge mistake as the Yanks went to one World Series (that they lost) with him as a starter but never returned with him in the pen. All those years with hall of fame hitting and Righetti to close got them nada. They never had enough good starters, just like the last few years.

          • Am I the only Kevin? says:

            Was Rags that good as a starter? I was a kid at the time of the no-hitter, so really only remember him as a reliever. I remember he had a good FB and slider, but did he have a third pitch? Or was he like Burnett, the two pitches so good that he didn’t need a credible third?

    • andrew says:

      At worst, David Robertson and Mark Melancon can at least do no worse than these two guys

      I know it’s a small sample size, but both struggled in their few appearances with the squad, and Melancon is currently struggling in AAA. Give it some time, they both will be back eventually.

      To me, this is what you want if you’re the front office. Chamberlain’s future is as the closer of this team, plain and simple.

      *head explodes*
      Why would the front office want to take the starter who has the most potential and then cut his innings by 60%? How many times are people going to have to explain that good starters are more important than good relievers?

    • Rob H. says:

      figures. another person who would waste an ace prospect in the bullpen. Joba’s future of this team is as an ace, not as a closer. I never thought I’d see so many people actually think the bullpen is more important than the rotation. It’s completely nuts. Coke, Melancon, Robertson are the future of our bullpen and one of them, probably Melancon, is the closer of the future. there is absolutely no reason to waste Joba in the bullpen. I thought we ended this pointless “debate”.

    • kunaldo says:

      what exactly has hughes done to deserve the spot in the rotation that joba has earned? Bullpens are where bad starters go to be put to some use. Joba = VERY GOOD STARTER. Hughes = Still in question, but deserves to be given many shots.

      Just stop.

    • Infamous says:

      So who takes Pettite’s spot in the rotation next year?????

    • ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops says:

      Oaktag.

  11. Bonos says:

    Lo, the Maroon squad strikes again. Oh, the pain of it.

  12. Bonos says:

    Rebecca

    Somebody used your “You’re our only hope” thing last night and got strokes for it. Complete plagiarism, Feh!

  13. Moshe Mandel says:

    Wow, the Mets cant get a break.

  14. Conan says:

    A crazy thought – if Wang continues to struggle upon his return, why not consider him letting it rip for an inning or 2 in the bullpen? He may find those extra mph he’s been missing, too.

    Not only that, he could get that double play ball if he comes in with runners on.

  15. Holy fuck how do you not catch that…

  16. dkidd says:

    i love love love the mets

  17. Jaysun says:

    was at the game, did you guys hear the “we want Mo” chant after Coke struggled? It got loud

    • Andrew says:

      No. Was in the grandstands, though.

    • LiveFromNewYork says:

      That’s obnoxious. What is with the “fans” at the Stadium these days? Real fans don’t do crap like that.

      • The “Swisher pitch” in 4-1 games is too much for me. Anyone who chants that is a Grade-A moron in my book.

        Also, chanting “Boston sucks” when another team is in town is for losers. Like, Red Sox fan losers.

        • LiveFromNewYork says:

          Completely agree. I hated when the Patriots won and a “Yankees sucks” chant broke out. WHAT THE HELL do the Yankees have to do with the Super Bowl?

          When Yankee fans do it, it’s just copying the stupidity of Boston fans and is an epic fail.

        • cult of basebaal says:

          chanting ‘boston sucks’ when Boston is in town is for losers.

          chanting ‘so-and-so sucks’ is always a low class move.

  18. Andrew says:

    To answer your question…Can’t leave Pettitte into face Cuddyer there. No way, no how. He left him in for Kubel because Kubel was 0-3 off Andy with 2 K’s. When Andy walked him on 4 pitches, it was pretty clear he was done for the night.

  19. DCR says:

    Depending on how things go, I wouldn’t be upset with a bullpen of Tomko, Robertson, ?, Aceves, Marte, Bruney, Rivera just as long as that question mark isn’t Veras or Edwar. Both of their acts are old.

  20. Matt k says:

    Is berroa realy still on this team??

    • Jamal G. says:

      Well, when you have to DH ARod and play the bat of Ramiro Pena, Hideki Matsui becomes a viable option to pinch-hit, thus the Yankees need a second infielder on the bench (Angel Berroa).

      When ARod is ready to be the full-time third basemen then Berroa will leave.

      • Zack says:

        “When ARod is ready to be the full-time third basemen then Berroa will leave”

        Will that be after his offseason surgery?

  21. jeremy51 says:

    I have to say that I really like Girardi coming back with Coke for a third time to face Morneau. I know he didn’t really have other options, in terms of left-handers, but its really a great show of faith in Coke in a high leverage spot, against a red hot hitter, and lethal hitter. And Coke responded, using his fastball to retire Morneau, and doing so impressively. I know he struggled and got a bit rattled in the 9th, but that confrontation with Morneau is one that builds confidence, and serves as reference. Girardi could have overthought the matchup, but instead went to his best available bullpen arm to get the biggest out of the game. Nice work all around.

    Of course this thread is 12 hours old, so I’ll be happy to watch this comment disappear into oblivion.

  22. Ed says:

    The relivers lack of control aside, on a night where the fourth starter didn’t have it and the closer needs rest, a 7-6 win works.

  23. LiveFromNewYork says:

    It’s weird to hear a Phil Coke interview with all the “Cervelli said, “Dude..” and then Pena said, “Dude…” and then Mo said, “Dude…”"

    I have trouble imagining these guys going, “Dude…”

    Phil “Lebowski” Coke

  24. Bo says:

    Ramirez is headed to Scranton because he has options and they think they can solve/fix Veras.

  25. Axl says:

    Can we just talk about how I’ve been right about almost everything thus far…

    I’m not one to “toot my own horn”…but I think it’s necessary in this case. In several posts in the past I’ve talked about how the bullpen is choppy at best yet fluxuating between looking terrible and getting terrible results…and looking terrible and getting positive results. The mirage has most posters here thinking that the bullpen is “shaping up” or performing much better. Last night was yet another night of the bullpen being incredibly shaky and looking terrible…but barely getting the job done yielding in a positive result.

    I’ve also constantly brought up the fact that we tend to score a bunch of runs in 1 inning and 1 inning only…and then become strangely dormant there-after. The only exception were these last 4 games against the Twins where we were dormant for several innings…and score that much needed run in the end. This is how it should be played…although it’s unlikely to continue over and over this way. Was RA Dickey THAT good? Or was it just that we’re the one inning wonder team where if we don’t score enough runs in that one inning…we’re almost out of luck. Which should be the case anyway…because our pitching should be much better.

    The starters are doing good enough to win if we score about 5+ runs a game on average. The bullpen is doing good enough if we score about 7+ runs. This certainly can’t continue.

    Although, with Teixeira heating up…Cervelli filling in nicely for Posada/Molina at the plate (Kevin Cash sucks bad), and everybody else from Cano, Melky, Matsui, Jeter, etc hitting the ball like they should…and Johnny Damon on a tear for another contract from us so he can eat up the money next year and sink into the DL for a while…our offense isn’t really what I’m worried about persay. Sure the scoring a lot of runs in one inning and barely ever again is odd and strange…and unexplainable…but if there’s one thing I’m used to with the Yankees as of late…it’s unexplainable strange things that don’t make any sense. The bullpen however, is beyond garbage. Regardless of how the results have looked recently. Even against the Twins the bullpen gave up big hits to their best hitters…the rest of their line up is pretty anemic…so the fact that they barely held on to some of these games makes it even more worrisome.

    Starting pitching is coming around…the hitting is coming around nicely. Just need to get that bullpen in form and we’ll have ourselves an incredible team. Right now, when the bullpen comes in…it’s almost a flip of the coin of whether they’re going to hold the lead, blow the lead, or just blow it out of the water. Jose Veras has 12 walks in 16 innings? …that’s absolutely horrendous. Edwar Ramirez has 15 walks in 17 innings. That’s just absolutely ridiculous. Albaladejo has 10 walks in 18 innings. “The Prodigy” Mark Melancon has 5 walks in 3 innings. Joba has 21 walks already as a starter in 40 innings. That’s over 4 walks per 9 innings. Sabathia has 20 walks, Burnett has 25 walks. Hughes has the same amount of walks as Josa Veras does as a starter (12 walks in 16 innings). Are the umps really out to get the Yankees or is it just a mere strange weird coincidence that NOBODY can find the strike zone out of like 13+ pitchers we have on our team at a time?!?!? How is that even possible?!?? I love the outcome of what’s going on now…but this team can surely drive you to drink…

  26. YankeeScribe says:

    It was nice to see Jeter and A-Rod clowning around in the dugout over the past few games. I can’t remember the last time they were all smiles together in the dugout.

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