Yanks’ offense continues resurgence, drop Braves

Cashman: Possible worst-case scenario for Nady
Olney's premature obituary for A-Rod

For news and discussion on Xavier Nady‘s rehab setback, please see our injury update. Try to keep Nady-related comments in that post, and use this one to discuss the game.

In the sixth inning Wednesday night, the Yankees bats broke out of a two-week slump. Last night they didn’t waste those first five innings. They scored in each of the first four, and then tacked on a few at the end when the score seemed just a little too close. In the middle were 3.2 shaky innings from Andy Pettitte, but the Yankees were ultimately able to overcome it and defeat the Braves 11-7.

Recapping the game chronologically just isn’t my style. Most readers already saw the game. For those who didn’t, it seems better to review the important aspects of the game, rather than relive it play by play. For that, you can always check the game log. This time, though, the important parts start at the beginning.

Things looked promising, as Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon hit back to back singles, putting runners on the corner with none out. Mark Teixeira then induced the always-uneasy feeling after seeing a player ground into a double play while (unofficially) driving in a run. Thankfully, Alex Rodriguez made it all better by parking one to dead center, giving the Yanks an early 2-0 lead.

The bigger story was Derek Lowe. It was clear from the start that he didn’t have his A-game, and the Yanks certainly took advantage. Alex Rodriguez hit an RBI single in the second, and then the Yanks struck what I — and probably many of you — thought was the death blow in the third when Johnny Damon tripled with the bases loaded. That put the Yanks up 6-1. As if that weren’t enough, Cody Ransom added two more with a double in the fourth.

On the other end, Andy Pettitte was having his own set of troubles. He held the Braves to one run through three innings, but he wouldn’t get so lucky in the fourth. Brett Gardner didn’t help by dropping a pop up off the bat off Garrett Anderson to start the frame, and Jeff Francoeur didn’t help by swinging at a pitch almost in the dirt and pulling it for a double, but Pettitte didn’t do much to help himself, either. When the inning ended the Braves had added five runs, and Pettitte was no longer in the game.

Al Aceves continued his winning ways, finishing the fourth for Pettitte and then allowing no runs over the next two. He did walk Javy Vazquez, a pitcher pinch-hitting for a pitcher, but still got out of the inning despite allowing a Nate McLouth double. It’s the kind of performance we’ve come to expect from Aceves. He’s given the Yanks far more than they could have expected when they signed him out of the Mexican League last year.

Despite the offensive onslaught and the solid relief effort by Aceves, the Yankees still led by only two in the seventh. After two weeks of loss after loss, the lead just didn’t feel safe, at least not from my couch. I’m not sure if the Yankees felt it was safe, but they weren’t about to find out. Derek Jeter got things moving with a one-out single, followed by a Johnny Damon walk. WIth Teixeira up and no chance of a run on a double play, Jeter and Damon executed a double steal. For some reason, the Braves thought it wise to throw two intentionally balls to Tex and award him first base.

A week ago, that might not have been a terrible strategy. Heck, even a couple of days ago it wouldn’t have been the worst move. Alex Rodriguez was struggling. He was mired in a long 0-fer before his RBI single last night. But he did have that single, and he had a homer and a single — plus a rocket at Yuniel Escobar — in last night’s game. A-Rod made them wait five pitches until showing them why walking Teixeira was a mistake, as he smacked a two-run single to extend the Yankees lead.

That would be enough to take the game, though it wouldn’t be without dramatics. With an 11-6 lead in the ninth, David Robertson allowed three hits, including a forgivable home run to Brian McCann. He recorded two outs, both by strikeout, but once the tying runner reached the on-deck circle, Girardi saw the bat signal. Save situation. Must go to Mo. Six pitches later and it’s save number 499. The move felt a bit unnecessary, but it was a short stint. It might keep Mo out of tomorrow’s game, it might not. Hopefully the Yanks hit Pelfrey hard enough tomorrow night that it’s moot.

Lost in all this is Phil Coke‘s dominance. He retired six Braves with just 24 pitches, allowing just one hit along the way and striking out two. He threw two thirds of his pitches for strikes, which is exactly what you want to see from a reliever. Well, any pitcher really, but there’s nothing more frustrating than relievers walking guys. Both Robertson and Aceves threw plenty of strikes, too, and even Pettitte had 62 percent of his 95 pitches in the strike zone (or swung at, of course).

Despite the tension in the middle innings and the general ugliness of the game, it was a good win for the Yanks. Good, mostly because every win is good, especially on the heels of an ugly stretch of play. The Yanks will take the momentum back up to New York tonight and into Citi Field to cap off their National League tour. CC Sabathia against Mike Pelfrey tomorrow night. Three in a row would be a beautiful thing.

Cashman: Possible worst-case scenario for Nady
Olney's premature obituary for A-Rod
  • Will (the other one)

    Two out of three? Amen to that, no matter how it goes down. Hopefully the offensive resurgence is a sign of things starting to balance out in the “they can’t be this bad for that long” department, and I won’t feel too guilty looking forward to a game where C.C. squares off against Mike Pelfrey.

  • Raul

    Is CC gonna have it tomorrow? I know he says that his biceps is fine but is he just being a tough guy and pitching through it?

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

    Good win. Bad game by Andy, but it’s only his third actually “bad” start thus far out of 15 (the other two being 5/1 against the Angels and 6/13 against the Mets). I’m fine with that from my fifth starter.

    Out of curiosity, I wonder if the Blue Sox losing to the Nationals tonight was “inexcusable”? Or is it only inexcusable when we lose to the Nationals? Little help here?

    • Raul

      For the Nation its excusable. To the idiots that call themselves ESPN the Sox could have a dog fighting ring in the clubhouse and it would be excusable.

    • Salty Buggah

      It’s inexcusable because Smoltz was supposed to win 3 Cy Young’s in this one year.

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

      The BBTN guys said it was okay for Smoltz to have that kind of start against the Nats (in an NL park) because he’s their fifth starter. Yet last week they said CMW was hurting his team by having a better start than Smoltz’s (in an AL park).

      • Jamal G.

        The fact that he’s their fifth starter speaks great things about their rotation. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have Tim Wakefield and Brad Penny as your #3 and #4 starters? Depth!1!1!!!!1!

    • http://kikojonesusa13.blogspot.com Kiko Jones

      Inexcusable, blah, blah, blah.

      How ’bout some logic: if the Nats are the worst in the majors, then everyone else is better than them, obviously. Therefore, anyone who loses to the Nats, lost to the worst team. And since the Nats are not, say, 3-67 but actually 21-49, a bunch of teams have lost to them. Including the Toronto Blue Jays who lost the next two Nats games immediately after the two the DC team won from the Yankees, which gave the Nats a 4-game winning streak.

      Here’s a list of teams beaten by Nats this year, in chronological order:

      Red Sox

      (* series won by the Nats)

      Not only does that list include the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies, but a couple of contenders, as well. And the rest…well, they’re all better than the Nats, remember?

      I’m not excusing the Yankees’ undeniably poor performance in the aforementioned series; it was a desultory affair to say the least.
      But to harp on this incessantly, to the point of eclipsing a really troublesome stat–the Bombers are 0-8 vs the rival Red Sux this season–is ludicrous and borders on hysteria.

      So, people should give it a rest already. Jeez…

    • JP

      Bad game by Andy, but it’s only his third actually “bad” start thus far out of 15 (the other two being 5/1 against the Angels and 6/13 against the Mets). I’m fine with that from my fifth starter.

      Nice to have the offense come through when the pitching doesn’t…it hasn’t gone this way for the Yankees for a while. As he was walking off the mound, my wife (athletic/strength trainer and PA; watches the Yankees with me but doesn’t follow anything about individual players…knew nada about Andy’s recent situation) said “he looks like he’s having back problems.”

  • Salty Buggah

    Good win. Nice to see Alex back in action.

    Oh and BTW, Joe, it wasn’t a double by Al. He advanced to second on the throw.

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

      Wait. I knew that. I typed double?

      • Salty Buggah

        A-Rod made them wait five pitches until showing them why walking Teixeira was a mistake, as he smacked a two-run double to extend the Yankees lead.

  • crawdaddie

    IMO, that first ball that dropped in the 4th inning should’ve been caught by Damon. He wasn’t even in the play as Jeter couldn’t find it and Gardner was playing too deep.

    Also, I didn’t like Gardner playing so deep. I prefer my CF to be good enough defensively that he plays a shallow CF.

    • Raul

      Like BJ upton

    • MattG

      My eyes tell me Damon is no longer a good fielder.

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

        The empirical evidence agrees with your eyes.

        Johnny went from a +6.7 UZR last year to a -6.8 UZR thus far this year. His range is far decreased suddenly.

        • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

          If I understand uzr, wouldn’t any ball grit or leche catches in left count against him? Any chance part of that decline is irrelevant?

          • whozat

            I suppose…but it’s not like either one’s range is so mindblowing that he’d be stealing 13 points of UZR from Johnny.

            Johnny’s really not doing so hot out there. If he doesn’t start being a plus defender again in the second half of the season, I may have to re-evaluate my willingness to give him a 1+1 deal for next season.

            • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

              He’s certainly hitting well enough to take Matsuis job and be the 4th OF.

              Comes down to price.

        • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

          Do you think it’s regression, age, or just one of those swings? I think we’ll need more than this year’s data to figure that out.

          If it’s going to be the first, regression to the mean, I’d expect him to be somewhere between -1 and 1 this year because then it’d show us he wasn’t as good in left as he was in ’07/’08, but he’s not as bad as he’s been so far in ’09.

          If it’s the second, then I’d expect that number to stay where it is, or perhaps get lower, because the dude’s legs ain’t that great anymore.

          If it’s the third, well, that’s just what seems to happen with fielding data isn’t it?

        • JP

          Johnny went from a +6.7 UZR last year to a -6.8 UZR thus far this year. His range is far decreased suddenly.

          Not sure if you are mocking the stat and having fun, or are serious, but consider this:

          He has dropped two fly balls this year. In both cases, he was in position to catch them. In one case (Boston?) he had the “eyes fluttering” thing, and then the other night he slipped. There may have been a third one where he misplayed a ball because he slipped.

          Is it correct that his range suddenly decreased, or were those simply freak gaffes which show up as “range” in the UZR?

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

            Good question. There was a third dropped ball that came before Boston, too. Back in April, I think. It wasn’t because he slipped, though. It was just a goof.

            That said, I don’t think three plays would cause that drastic a swing in UZR.

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

              That said, I don’t think three plays would cause that drastic a swing in UZR.

              They wouldn’t.

              • JP

                Well, then there’s likely some error or slop in the system, I’d say, because it seems implausible that a player could go from saving his team almost 7 runs/150 (very good for a corner OF) to costing them nearly the same amount, in one year. Damon is still running well, and has been generally about as healthy this year as last.

                You often say something about declarative statements, tommie; care to share why you are willing to state so declaratively that 3 botched plays might not be having a big effect on Johnny’s sudden swing in UZR? Or to share why you think it might be happening?

          • MattG

            According to Klaw chat, UZR is not reliable in these doses–as decreed by its creator. It does not help that the UZR is damning, but ignoring the plays where he slips, you can’t like the way Damon has looked. The “eyes fluttering” thing commonly happens to aging fielders, as they loose dexterity in their legs and are unable to run as smoothly as they did in their youth. What’s worse, Damon has developed an affinity for bananas when tracking balls hit over his head.

            It ain’t as bad as that Garret Anderson play last night. Man, was that butchered. But that’s not exactly the standard I’m looking for.

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

              Can you pull up that Klaw bit? Or else let us know if it was from a recent chat? I’d like to see his exact words on it.

              • MattG


                Russell (Knoxville)

                Blake’s UZR/150 is up 8.5 runs over last year to 2.2 FWIW..
                Keith Law

                UZR is not reliable in samples this small, according to the guy who invented the metric.

            • JP

              I’m not saying he isn’t worse this year. I’m saying that the conclusion, based on UZR, that his “range is dramatically reduced” this season is probably incorrect.

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

        Agreed. He definitely looks shakier out there than ever before.

    • TeeJay

      Yeah I did think Gardner was playing too deep. He plays much more shallow at yankee stadium. He is a rookie so I assume the coaches are the ones positioning him. But it looked like he was playing no doubles defense.

      Yeah agree the first ball should of been caught by Damon I have no clue what he was doing.

  • Dela G

    great win tonight

    i felt very proud of the guys

    lets beat the mets and get the bragging rights

    • http://farm1.static.flickr.com/153/413671602_daded72a81_m.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      Dela G, are you wearing pants?


      • Dela G

        hahahahaha yeah that was very very funny

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

        (golf clap)

  • Salty Buggah

    The Braves guys sure had creative ways of describing Alex’s hits. First, he “punches” one out to center for a HR. Then, he “fists” one out to right for the twp-run single.

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

    They don’t have to be pretty.

    They have to be wins.

  • Manimal

    Am I the only one excited to see CC bat(Hopefully, if his bicep doesn’t act up again before his at bat)?

    • Salty Buggah

      I’m super-excited. Hopefully, he can crush one in Citi.

      • whozat

        Gonna by tough. It’s a pitcher’s park :-)

        • RollingWave

          Gonna by tough. It’s a pitcher’s park the grand canyon

          • Salty Buggah

            I think CC can do it still.

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

          Thats great news for our pitching staff especially Wanger.

  • Joba-to-the-pen

    Thank you Joseph for not reminding us (Like crappy Peter Abe’s blog in LoHud Yankees) about A-Rod tieing Reggie on thr All-Time homerun list.For people mentioning it is a shame.Yes were stuck with A-Rod but don’t mention any tainted accomplishments.

    When A-Rod passes Ruth hopefully A-Rod would be released from the Yankees and in the Long Island Ducks team.

    • Salty Buggah

      One would think that after he was such an integral part in a win with a great game, that people could appreciate or accept him for at least one night. Apparently not.

      • JP

        To paraphrase Giambi, you call those hits? Is that what we pay him for, solo homers and weak girly singles?

        (Sarcasm…self-deprecating humor…you can sit back down jsb)

        • jsbrendog

          you’re even obnoxious when you try not to be. do you even get it? i dont think you do because the comments you make are so unnecessary its like youre trying to start something but then you plead ignorance. i think we all wouldve gotten the gist without your throw in last line “you can sit bakc down jsb” really? please in the future try not to ruin good solid comments with throwaway last nies like yesterday and today.

          you are so much like DBHOF

          • JP

            Sorry jsb, but that was humor, and it was aimed at ME. You are the one who doesn’t get it. Do I have to quote all the vitriol you slung at me yesterday? This was a peace offering, and you find a way to call me obnoxious and take offense. Well, you know what, I think your reaction is obnoxious.

            • jsbrendog

              wow. there was no vtitriol yesterday. there was a man unable to admit his failing and a stupid argument. i will not og through it again. ythi is pointless. even your peace offerings are masked attacks because you assume some slight on my part to you.

              go back and read yesterdays exchange. and see that i was just echoing what everyone was saying and not until the last moment did you realize your folly.and if you’ll notice, i attacked you in no way, even saying your comment are good and solid. your throwawy lines, this one above and your attakc on the rab sensibilites yesterday however are obnoxious.

              • JP

                Here’s what I did: I wrote that your statement, and one of tsjc’s, indicated the paragon of optimism and fandom. You took the latter to be a swipe at you, calling you a “fanboy,”; I meant it, literally. It was not meant as a derogatory comment against you, it was an honest reaction that said “geez, after 3 weeks of not hitting their way out of a paper bag, 4 innings has you convinced they are turning it around?”

                I take full responsibility for having offended you, but there was no intent it insult you…You took it that way, and I suppose it’s my fault for not making my meaning more clear.

                As for the comment on RAB being skewed toward positive commentary on the Yanks and absence of criticism, again, there was nothing personal intended to anyone. I was stating my impression of the nature of the blog. Plenty of people managed to disagree with me without insulting me, calling me obnoxious, accusing me of being “DBHOF” whoever that is, or otherwise berating me, as you did, in multiple postings.

                My comment was hyperbolic and perhaps too broad; but I can’t tell you I was lying or I was being a jerk intentionally, because I wasn’t. That’s how I see this site. Maybe I overstated the case, but you have no right to tell me what I see and what I don’t see.

                The fact that you were echoing what others said is not totally accurate…as I said, many disagreed with me without resorting to calling me a jerk, as you did, in so many words. TSJC’s arguments against me were factual, and pointed…

                I don’t have another work day to waste arguing with you. I’m sorry you find me so offensive. I like contributing to this blog, and I’ll continue to do so. I’ll try to be very careful to avoid ruffling your feathers in the future. I’ll ask you to do the same.

    • ranger11

      Are you serious? Do you not want to win?

    • Will

      Speak for yourself…I am more than happy to celebrate 563 and every one that comes hereafter, especially if they help the Yankees win.

  • Salty Buggah

    Happy 35th Birthday to Captain Derek Jeter!

  • Billy

    its a good thing we got our offense clicking before the mets series.

  • jonathan

    Off topic I know, but this just really shocked me when I read it…after all the talk about how the red sox we so fiscally responsible and smart:

    By making his debut, Smoltz began earning incentives on top of his $5.5 million contract: $125,000 for his first day on the active roster and $35,000 for each day he stays on the active roster until Oct. 3. He’ll get $500,000 more if he’s on the active roster on the last day of the season

    So he stands to make close to 10 million dollars this year if he stays active. 10 million dollars to a 42 year old pitcher coming off of shoulder surgery….I hope he says active and keeps putting up numbers like he did last night.

  • jsbrendog

    pettitte gave up more runs than wang. he obviously sucks, is done, finished. move him to the pen.

    • Mike Pop

      He was pitching to the score. That’s what great pitchers do.

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

        Jack Morris and Andy Pettittte = Surefire future Hall of Famers

  • Doug

    I have to be honest. Coke and Acceves really impress me. Petite is the man. He always pitches better in close games.

    • jsbrendog

      as in, if yesterday were close he wouldve pitched better?

      he made it close yesterday cause he was gassed…im not bashing pettitte, my above comment was mroe of a stab at the anti wangites. but i dont understand your pettitte coment

  • The Raging Platypus

    Petite was most definitely gassed. You could keep a family of bedouins alive in the Sahara for a full week with all the sweat pouring off him in the 4th inning.