Yanks eke out 4-3 win over Tampa

2009 Draft: Purke wants Porcello money
Fan Confidence Poll: June 8th, 2009

Prior to Sunday’s 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays, the Yankees had not beaten the AL’s tough teams. They entered the game 0-5 at home against the Red Sox and Tampa, and while the Bombers are 17-6 against everyone else in the Bronx, Tampa’s players and coaches criticized the atmosphere at the new stadium.

While the ghosts weren’t on the Yankees’ side on Saturday afternoon, they were on Sunday. In front of a crowd of 46,465 that included me and my family, the Yanks mounted a late rally in the 8th to eke out a one-run win and move back into sole possession of first place. As Mariano Rivera induced a hobbled Evan Longoria to hit a weak grounder to second as the afternoon’s final out, the game featured redemption and a vindication of Mariano in his locker room struggle with Joe Girardi over Saturday’s costly decision to intentionally walk Longoria on Saturday.

For the Yankees, this afternoon’s game was not shrouded in the usual rancorous debate over the day’s starting pitcher. Joba Chamberlain took the hill without the typical “Joba to the pen” debate, and for five innings, he was on his game. While not as sharp as last week, Joba was pitching to contact and had kept his pitch count low.

In the sixth, he lost the strike zone and couldn’t handle the bottom of the order. He left with a decent line and a so-called quality start: 6 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K. He would not get a decision.

Of course, Joba’s no decision wasn’t for lack of trying. Matt Garza matched Chamberlain zero for zero, and it seemed as though the team would break through in the fifth. Nick Swisher walked, and Melky Cabrera up. Derek Jeter, hitting over .310 and swinging a hot stick, came up and attempted to bunt. I was apoplectic. What is Derek Jeter, one of the Yanks’ best hitters, doing bunting with two on, no out and the top of the lineup behind him?

After the game, Joe Girardi defended his decision. He claimed that Garza is tough on righties and generates a lot of double plays. He wanted Teixeira and A-Rod up with a chance to take the lead. Why that means Jeter bunts, I have no idea. Giving away Derek Jeter’s outs is a terrible strategy.

Anyway, it didn’t really matter in the end as the Yanks stole three runs in the 8th. After a Jeter fly-out starting the inning, Grant Balfour gave up back-to-back singles to Johnny Damon and Teixeira. A-Rod walked, and in came J.P. Howell.

The Yanks were set up for a big inning, and they nearly disappointed. The team’s second run scored on a Robinson Cano walk. Then, with the bases loaded, Jorge Posada hit a scorcher to third base. Luckily for the Yanks, Evan Longoria was out, and Willy Aybar was in. Aybar tried to catch and turn two at the same time. He ended up getting no outs. Posada reached on a fielder’s choice, and the run scored on an error.

Then, Hideki Matsui, the leading candidate for the “ground out to second” wing of the Hall of Fame, did what he does best: He grounded out to second. However, the ball was slow through the infield. Ben Zobrist tagged Jorge Posada but could not nail the slow Matsui at first. A-Rod scored the Yanks’ fourth run, and it would be enough. While the inning would end on a controversial appeal of a Melky Cabrera swing, the Yanks and Mariano Rivera wouldn’t need anymore runs.

With that win, the Yanks reestablished their claim to the best record in the AL. They have a 0.5-game lead in the AL East and face off against the Rays tonight at 7:05 p.m. Andy Pettitte is slated to pitch.

Quick Hits: How about that Al Aceves? Two innings of one-hit ball with four strike outs. He really impressed everyone today and gave the Yanks a chance to do what they do best…While Aceves was stellar, I was pretty surprised to see Phil Hughes remain in the pen. Since his removal from the starting rotation, Hughes has thrown zero innings. He needs work. I wonder if the Yanks have something brewing for Monday in light of Hughes’ inaction and Andy Pettitte’s recent ineffectiveness.

2009 Draft: Purke wants Porcello money
Fan Confidence Poll: June 8th, 2009
  • Spaceman.Spiff

    I loved that Cano walked in a run.

    • Zack

      Cano stood there like, WTF they walked me??

  • e mills

    I was wondering the same thing about Hughes tomorrow. Can they, at the last minute, decide to allow Hughes to start, giving the Rays very little time to prepare for him?

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

      Certainly can. It may just be a conspiracy theory, but I wouldn’t be too surprised by it. No matter; I’m sure that Hughes will be ready in the wings if Pettitte falters at all later today.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

        Hughes was supposedly warming on Saturday, so I wouldn’t expect it.

  • JGS

    Nice, I was there too today

    I think this game told us more about the Rays than the Yankees–last year, Tampa wins this game. That 8th inning looked like the Devil Rays of old.

  • Coach6423

    I was relegated to listening on the radio, and saw the highlights via MLB Network. That being said, Jorge owe’s Hideki Matsui dinner for absolutely bailing him out in the 8th. How do you run yourself into a tag, and a potential inning ending DP like that. Baserunning 101.

    • whozat

      If he’d stopped, causing the guy to toss the ball to 2nd, it’d probably have been a DP.

      • AndrewYF

        Personally, I can’t believe the guy waited to tag Jorge. They could have easily gotten the DP if he had just played it regularly. Jorge did an excellent job of baserunning there.

  • Drew

    Melky’s check swing and Jeter’s bunt attempt both pissed me off. Of course, I’m assuming Melky’s swing was a check because that was my initial thought from one view. YES refrains from showing replays of important plays when they are the last out of an inning, reprehensible if you ask me.
    As always, W’s quell all displeasure from the day’s game and that’s all that matters.
    This team really has a fight in it that has been missing in recent years.
    I hope AP has it tomorrow, 6 BB’s would be no bueno. Even with a shotty pen outside of a couple people, I have no doubt that we are the best team in the world.

    • John

      and just wait how much better we will be when Marte and Bruney return to restore our ‘pen and Nady returns to bolster our bench.

  • MattyIce

    So Joe Maddon doesn’t think we have “home field advantage” in the NYS??? I guess he missed all those come from behind wins we have this year…..

    • A.D.

      But teh smell!!!!!!

  • kSturnz

    Girardi is not buying Jeter’s hot streak. do you blame him?

    • Drew

      lol, not buying? Que? He went with a move, whether we agree or disagree, it was his gut feeling. Has nothing to do with what he “buys.”

  • Alex

    Is anyone else utterly sick about everyone scrutinizing what Girardi does? Obviously the bunt is debateable, but isn’t every managerial decision? I think Girardi deserves some credit for the success of the Yankees. Yankee fans neglect to laud him when he does something beneficial for the team, yet at the same time pounce on him for a decision that could goes wrong. I think we, especially the writers here, need to take a step back and realize whose managing the team.

    • Drew

      If you don’t like criticism don’t come to a blog. I love Joey G but if I disagree with a move I’ll voice my opinion. We all know who is managing the team, bro.

    • TheLastClown

      Debatable. “Nearly everything in baseball is debatable.” D-e-b-a-t-a-b-l-e.

      Debatable.

      • Peter Lacock (anyone that boos a Yankee is the enemy)

        It seems like many times the criticism is unfair.
        If the logic behind a decision is sound, I’m OK with it.
        The only problem I had with this situation is that Jeter failed to execute.
        At the time I felt that there were more reasons to bunt than not to bunt.

  • AndrewYF

    Jeter grounds into a million double plays. He’s a double play machine, because he’s a ground ball machine. Girardi knows this, that’s why he flipped Jeter and Damon to at the start of the year. The bunt attempt is simply not worth getting bent out of shape for, especially when there are fly-ball hitters coming up after. What looks better, man on 3rd, two outs, or 2nd and 3rd one out? It was the correct decision, just like bringing in Mo yesterday was the correct decision.

    • whozat

      So send the runners. Do a hit-and-run. Jeter’s really good at making contact. The sac bunt is just NOT the right call there.

      • Peter Lacock (anyone that boos a Yankee is the enemy)

        What is they pitch out or Jeter simply misses and a runner gets thrown out?
        Jeter could hit a line drive that’s caught and runner(s) are doubled or tripled off.
        Even on a flyball, guys might not get back.
        Bunting was safer and Jeter should have executed.

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

          Brilliant idea. Give away an out with one of the team’s best hitters up. Joe Maddon should personally thank Joe Girardi for that entirely non-genius bit of managing.

    • JP

      I think you go by “broad” percentages, which means looking at a) the game situation (inning number especially, and score of course), b) the skill of the batter, c) the hitters behind him.

      Overall, I think with the top of the order, it’s a mistake to bunt. You do risk the double play, but against a tough pitcher you figure you are going to need at least one hit to score a run, and with a runner on second and none out, I think you shouldn’t give away any outs. Bottom 9, different story.

      The “best” outcome for the Yankees on bunting is second/third one out. Damon gets a hit to score one, and you have third and one out for Tex/ARod. Damon walks…also good. Damon makes an out to score a run, and there’s two outs…

      I think you take your chances and have arguably your three most clutch, hot hitters take full shots at getting a hit there.

      Girardi is doing lots of managing this year. I disagree with some of it, but I am actually quite glad he’s doing it. He’s figuring out what works and how his players react to these moves. I think by the time the end of the season comes along, he’ll have a great feel for what his guys can do and how they react in certain situations.

      • AndrewYF

        No, the ‘best’ outcome is bases loaded, or an error. The most likely outcome is 2nd and 3rd.

        Jeter getting a hit in that situation is actually the least likely outcome. With the team’s 3 best hitters coming up, you want them to have runners in scoring position and less than two outs, not a man on third with 2 outs, which is actually the most likely outcome if you have Jeter swing away.

  • Drew

    “Jeter grounds into a million double plays.” Last year or this year?
    Correct is debatable. Just because you agree with the manger doesn’t make you right or wrong. What looks better, bases loaded no out, or man on first and third one out?

    • Drew

      Ba fangul, that was a reply to AndrewYF.

      • Peter Lacock (anyone that boos a Yankee is the enemy)

        1st & 3rd, 1 out is what happened. There’s no way to know what else might have happened but Girardi was playing for, at worst, 2nd & 3rd, 1 out, with 2 lefties coming up, down 2, at home. Getting yourself in this type of position is a goal at that point and who knows, maybe Jeter does his job well and beats it out.

        • Frank

          Agree with you except for the fact in the bottom of the 5th, when the bunt was attempted, the score was 1-1.

  • dkidd

    i can’t wait for boston. this is not the same team the red sox beat last month. we’re in first place to stay

    • Drew

      +1. Also, I’m one of the few that expects Wanger to give a solid performance. Wang>>>>>>Wakefield

      • JP

        Hope you’re right. But I bet you’re wrong. Boston hitters are like cyborgs when it comes to laying off pitches. Wang will need to spot the sinker perfectly and will need to get close calls from the ump, or Wang will be 3-1 on every hitter. If he starts walking guys he won’t make it out of the 3rd inning.

        Wakefield is a mensch. We can hope it’s not knuckling and we can hit a bunch of homers, but if he’s on his game he drives Yankees hitters nuts.

  • BigBlueAL

    Im glad Ben brought up all the crap Tampa had been saying about the new Yankee Stadium. Besides reading that same article a couple of days ago I saw a bunch of interviews with their players and Maddon in their pregame show on Saturday (remember I live in Miami and the game was shown down here on Fox Sports Net Florida) ripping the stadium and their announcers all during the game acting like the Yankees were a shitty team and the Rays the perennial AL champions.

    Tampa still thinks its 2008. Reason why I was so frustrated on Saturday while posting a bit here was because the Yankees basically lost to Tampa’s bench players on Saturday and watching the game on the Tampa broadcast was making me sick. I actually hate Tampa more now than the freakin Red Sox believe it or not!!! OK well maybe not but its pretty close now….

    • Peter Lacock (anyone that boos a Yankee is the enemy)

      As a fan it gets me fired up. If I’m a Yankee player, it does the same.

    • donttradecano

      Clearly Tampa doesnt remember it wasnt too long ago their home field advantage consisted of 5 people.

      • http://forums.projectcovo.com/images/smilies/e6omir.gif OmgZombies!

        as opposed to the 10 right now?

  • Bill

    Girardi made the correct call. Jeter didn’t execute.

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

      Sacrifice bunting with Derek Jeter is never the correct call. Never.

      • Ivan

        If it was Derek Pena, then the bunt made sense, but last I check it’a Jeter with potential HOF tag on it, so yea the bunt is a bad idea.

        • Pasqua

          Hall of Famers never bunt? Is that part of the new criteria for election?

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

            Here’s a list of the players who should be sacrifice bunting:

            1) Pitchers batting in the NL
            2) Catchers, shortstops, and second baseman who can’t hit better than Kevin Cash, Cody Ransom, or Angel Berroa

            [end of list]

      • kimonizer

        that kind of absolute logic is just not very thoughtful

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

          Actually, it is. Can you justify sac bunting with Derek Jeter, one of the generation’s most prolific hitters?

    • JP

      Bill–good pitcher in there, 7th inning. You aren’t really playing for 1 run. In that situation, you want your shot at a big inning. I guess you can argue Girardi wants second/third and two good, clutch hitters (Damon, Tex) to have a chance to tie the game with a hit.

      I think with a good pitcher in there you need to give your best hitters a chance to get hits. Bunting Jeter is a wasted out. There is the risk of a double play, yes, but I think you take that risk and go for a big inning.

  • Trevor

    The Rays players and manager have been quite vocal about new YS. Don’t know why but they have.

    Maybe they’re jealous because they play in a dump.

  • A.D.

    Joe Maddon going off about the smell of the stadium and how that was an advantage…seriously?

    Longoria’s comments make some sense, but when YS2 opened a bet no one talked about the mystique, things like that take time/a few WS titles to build.

  • donttradecano

    I find it amusing that the Rays who have had one season over 500 are the ones talking about Yankee Stadium. I live in Bradenton, fl, about 25 mins from the Trop. If you want smell something you should smell the rednecks and hillbillies who attend the games here with there little noismakers, they call them cowbells. if you wear a Yankee Jersey you are called some kind of trash from NY…and this from people who have prob never stepped a foot into NY. I know they were talking about the old Yankee Stadium and comparing it to the new one, but I had to get that off my chest. The only time they fill up the Trop is when NY or Boston come to town. And then they are complaining in the stands and on the talk radio shows about is being at the games……if it werent for us Yanks/Red Sox fans they wouldnt even have baseball in Tampa/St Pete, the team would have moved a few years ago…

    Posted by BillyinBradenton on Jun 6, 2009 9:38 AM
    reply Report Offensive Post

    +1

  • JohnnyC

    Joe Maddon should really calm down. By the end of this season, he’ll be back toiling in the obscurity he came from. For a guy who rode ten years of #1 draft choices into the playoffs and then managed about as well as 21st century Joe Torre in the World Series, he should put a cork in it.