Jul
01

Yanks blow two leads, but come back to beat M’s

By

The matchup looked electric. Joba Chamberlain vs. Brandon Morrow. 2006 first round pick vs. 2006 first round pick. Electric arm vs. Electric arm. It did not meet expectations. Both had troubles throwing strikes. Neither lasted six innings. The disappointment in the matchup set the tone for the game.

The Yanks got a bit lucky in the early goings. After two straight singles, Hideki hit a tapper to third. Chris Woodward not only bobbled the ball, but threw it past Russ Branyan at first, allowing Robinson Cano to score. That also put Jorge Posada on third, and he scored on a deep fly ball to center field. Melky laid into one, but Franklin Gutierrez is quite adept in center. That’s two runs on the two mistakes by Woodward.

The M’s got one of them back when Gutierrez blooped one to where no one could get it. That’s baseball for you. That doesn’t mitigate the game Joba Chamberlain pitched, though. Ronny Cedeno’s jack certainly wasn’t a cheapie, after all.

Joba was a bit frustrating last night, as we’ve seen a in a number of his starts this season. Not only were the end results — 5.1 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 4 K — disappointing, but in the process was as well: only 55 of his 96 pitches were for strikes. There was plenty wrong with Joba’s game, and all considered he might have been lucky to escape with those results.

One question I kept asking during the game is, why isn’t Joba throwing strikes? This is a guy who early in his pro career was known as someone who didn’t issue many walks. So why now? Why is he, like Hughes and Kennedy before him, having trouble finding the zone? All three had excellent K/BB ratios in the minors (5:1 for Joba, 4.59:1 for Hughes, 3.55:1 for Kennedy), but have all struggled in the majors (1.86:1 for Joba this year, 2.05:1 career for Hughes, 1.20 for Kennedy). Is there a connection here?

While you ponder that, back to the why question. Why isn’t Joba throwing more strikes? Is he trying to fool hitters and failing? Is worried about hitters making solid contact if he throws in the zone? These are, unfortunately, questions to which I have no answers. There’s nothing more I’d like to know right now, short of what color and type of panties Emmanuelle Chriqui is wearing right now, than why Joba isn’t throwing strikes. It’s frustrating, because we know just how good he is. It’s just going to take some more patience, I suppose.

After the game, Girardi mentioned that in long counts Joba slows down, which further messes him up. Is it really that simple? Pitch quicker? If so, can we beat Joba with a cudgel when he takes more than a few seconds to set up for a pitch? Something tells me, though, that it’s a bit more complex than Girardi is willing to admit to the press.

Once Joba left the game, the Yanks turned it on. Phil Coke came on with one out in the sixth and finished it with just seven pitches, including a strikeout. Phil Hughes followed with a nine-pitch seventh, also including a strikeout. In the bottom of the inning Alex Rodriguez foiled the Mariners plans to pitch him up and in, turning on one and parking it near the left field bleachers. It was 5-3 Yanks, and it felt like they were about to ride that lead to victory.

Brian Bruney had other plans. It’s easy to fault Girardi here. Not only had Hughes just dominated the M’s in the seventh, but he’s been generally awesome since his move to the pen. He’s capable of going multiple innings, so why not let him hand the ball to Mo? As Girardi explained after the game, the plan was to go to Bruney, the official 8th inning guy, the whole way if they had the lead. With this I take issue. Then again, I believe that bullpen roles in general have gone far beyond the point of ridiculousness, so my ire for this move is a biased one.

Still, it’s a chance for Hughes to pick up an inning. It’s a chance for him to face more hitters. It’s a chance for him to pitch in a close game in the 8th. Girardi said he wanted to get Bruney going, but tonight did not seem like the situation. With the offense generally sputtering at that point, why not stick with what’s working? Plus, the more guys you go to in the pen, the more of a chance you have of running into someone who’s having a bad night. That’s what Girardi did last night.

The six, seven, and eight guys singled off Bruney, bringing the game within one run. After a Cedeno sacrifice, the Yanks walked Ichiro to get to Russ Branyan. He’s cooled down a bit lately, but he’s still a dangerous hitter. He did his job though, hitting one deep to left. Johnny Damon had no chance of throwing out Woodward, and the game was tied. The second guessing became much, much easier at this point.

Something awakened the Yanks bats at this point. Maybe A-Rod‘s homer jacked them up. Maybe they sacrificed a live chicken. Who knows? What we do know is that they came out firing in the eighth. Matsui doubled, and then Nick Swisher, with Brett Gardner running, laid down a pretty bunt that Sean White just couldn’t handle. Melky and Jeter followed with a double and single, giving the Yanks all they’d need to lock this one down.

It wasn’t the prettiest game, and for the first six innings it wasn’t the most fun to watch. It changed once the starters left, though, and in the end the Yanks came away with their sixth straight win. To make things even sweeter, the Red Sox and their indefatigable bullpen blew a 10-1 lead, losing to the Orioles 11-10. That puts the Yanks just two games back, even though that shouldn’t matter right now. All that matters is that the Yanks keep winning. They did just that, which means we can all be in chipper moods tomorrow. Andy Pettitte vs. Jarrod Washburn. I did not pick a good matchup to take my parents to.

*Chris Jakubauskas. I messed up at first by writing that Chris Jakubauskas fielded Swisher’s bunt. Just wanted to make sure Chris Jakubauskas’s name got into the recap. Chris Jakubauskas.

Categories : Game Stories

99 Comments»

  1. Stephen says:

    I know this about the Red Sox, so it’s off topic- but I took this picture of Papelbon. It’s too priceless not to share. Sorry!

    http://www.facebook.com/photo......id=1707656

  2. Salty Buggah says:

    Mo became the 1st ever to throw out the first pitch and the last pitch.

    (I would think so at least)

  3. A.D. says:

    Bruney might just pitch himself out of the 8th inning

  4. Manimal says:

    I could care less about how we got this win, Just the fact we got a win on the same day that the Red Sox imploded just adds salt to the wound for them.

  5. Will (the other one) says:

    Joe – good call on Emmanuelle Chriqui. That chick is flat-out unbelievable.

  6. Salty Buggah says:

    Romo, who came to the game, brought a guest — 10-year-old leukemia patient Ben Grant of Albany, N.Y. Asked his favorite teams, the boy said the Yankees, Cowboys and New York Giants. “No, not the Giants!”

    Is that possible? Cowboys AND a Giants fan? That’s like being a Yankees and Red Sox fan.

  7. A.D. says:

    Basically if we look this season, good Joba throws strikes and throws 6+ strong innings, bad Joba throws too many balls and throws ~5 okay innings.

    Common point, neither Joba is giving up much more than about 3 runs a start, so I’m happy to take this type of inconsictency as he builds as a starter.

    • Mike Axisa says:

      Basically if we look this season, good Joba throws strikes and throws 6+ strong innings, bad Joba throws too many balls and throws ~5 okay innings.

      Something tells me this is true for every pitcher ever.

      • A.D. says:

        Yeah its the runs thats key, he’s still only giving up 3 or less for the most part.

      • Giuseppe Franco says:

        Perhaps, but Joba does have a knack for avoiding getting bombed and letting games get out of hand.

        He’s only allowed 4 ER or more in a start three times in his 26 career starts.

        Even when he’s bad, he still keeps his team in the game.

    • whozat says:

      it also seems like good-strike-throwing Joba has a mid-90′s fastball. I’m wondering which direction the causality is…is it that sometimes he’s got a few extra MPH on his fastball and this causes him to feel better about attacking the zone? Or, is it that sometimes he gets his head out of his ass and throws with confidence, and this leads to a few extra ticks on his fastball? It could be a mechanical thing, it could be a pacing thing, I dunno…but I’m wondering if the speed leads to the confidence and the strikes, or if the confidence leads to the speed and the strikes.

      • ArodMVP217 Retire 51 says:

        Joba needs to train with Hughes in teh offseason. and I’m sure the dui messed with his training as well.

        medicine ball + long toss + lat pulldowns FTW

      • jim p says:

        Only speculation, but I remember AJ in an interview saying how he’s learned not to throw so hard all the time looking for the K, and hurting himself as a consequence. And I’m pretty sure he said he was telling the youngsters what he learned.

        So maybe Joba is saying “Look, I’ve lost time to injury, let me learn how to pitch with all my pitches.” And so he holds himself down as long as he can, and come the 3rd-4th inning we start seeing some 94 & 95.

        • whozat says:

          1) that’s not the pattern we see. Today, for example, he wasn’t throwing much faster than 93 ever.

          2) 95 isn’t as hard as he can throw. If you were right, he’d start throwing 97 – 99 in the 3rd.

    • handtius says:

      Joba has a weird home/away split: ERA 5.18/2.74

  8. Ivan says:

    Great Night all around. Yanks win, Sox blew a huge lead and lost. Great, great, great night.

    As for the situation in the 8th, it was a no brainner that Hughes should of pitch the 8th. Girardi fell into the premist that almost all managers fall into which is going by the book and everybody having a “role” especially in the pen. Hopefully Girardi learns from it and gives Hughes more opportunity to succeed in bigger spots especially in the 8th.

  9. jive says:

    Whats up with Big Chief Pitch Count? Is he scared of contact cuz of Stadium? Got to throw strikes. Where are you sitting tomarrow?

  10. Greg G. says:

    Excellent use of “indefatigable”, Joe.

    Days like this make me miss my time living in Boston, when I can watch the NESN postgame show. Ah, the Schadenfreude!

    • It’s been my word for the Sox bullpen for the year.

      • IvanS says:

        I also wanted to give you kudos for the English/Middle French lesson. As for the NESN postgame, it’s always good to watch Tom Caron try to do an hour of postgame sounding like he just had his lunch money stolen and not like a pompous db.

  11. Salty Buggah says:

    JoPo actually lost a HR today because of TEH BANDBOX today with that fly to center.

  12. Little Bill says:

    The Yankees won in spite of Girardi yet again. He’s not going to learn from this at all. Next game he’ll go right to Bruney in the 8th because that’s his role and you can never deviate from the book. It’s just like how he always bunts in the 5th inning with Jeter or Damon. He is a bad manager who is lucky to be surrounded by an amazing team.

    • Double-J says:

      Hindsight is 20/20?

    • Either that, or he’s going to keep going to Bruney in the 8th for the same reason he keeps giving starts to Wang:

      Because it’s June/July and it’s in the team’s best interests to get these guys righted and back into their normal levels of performance and normal roles on the team.

      Players appreciate managers who continue to show faith in them when nobody else will.

      • mos says:

        That’s *exactly* how I feel. Bruney of old should be the 8th inning guy. We don’t currently have the “Bruney of old”, but benching him won’t get him the innings he needs to be his old, effective self again.

  13. e mills says:

    who does TB think they are upping the Yanks by 1 win in the win streak column?? >:(

  14. Mike HC says:

    “There’s nothing more I’d like to know right now, short of what color and type of panties Emmanuelle Chriqui is wearing right now, than why Joba isn’t throwing strikes.”

    I don’t always notice who the author of each post is, but after reading the above line, I was sure that JoPaw wrote this post. Not sure what that means, but I just knew.

  15. Rob H. says:

    Hey Mike, the bunt by swisher was actually off of White, not Jakubauskas.

  16. Mike HC says:

    What is the plan with Hughes this year? The Yanks can’t keep him as Wang insurance forever. Either they trust Wang or they don’t. Are the Yanks planning on keeping him on the ML roster no matter what the role and inning limits be damned? I don’t claim to know the best way to develop a young pitcher, but it seemed the Yanks were intent on keeping Hughes starting. I get the feeling the Yanks are kind of going with the flow. It does not seem like they have a definitive plan they are sticking to when it comes to Hughes development.

    • The plan is for the fans to stop worrying about the plan. The Yankees aren’t about to blab their plans all over the place, and for now, we just have to trust that a successful organization with (mostly) smart people running it has an idea about how to develop and safeguard the health of their young pitchers. In other words, don’t worry about it.

      Right now, Hughes has become a big contributor at the Major League level. That’s far more important for both his development and the Yanks’ successes this year than his throwing largely meaningless AAA innings would be.

      • e mills says:

        However, there was a point in time where they employed George Costanza

      • The plan is for the fans to stop worrying about the plan. The Yankees aren’t about to blab their plans all over the place, and for now, we just have to trust that a successful organization with (mostly) smart people running it has an idea about how to develop and safeguard the health of their young pitchers. In other words, don’t worry about it.

        That’s a massive cop-out, Ben. I can’t believe you really attempted to quelch debate like that.

        Right now, Hughes has become a big contributor at the Major League level. That’s far more important for both his development and the Yanks’ successes this year than his throwing largely meaningless AAA innings would be.

        No, it’s not. It’s debatable. There’s valid and sound arguments for both developmental strategies (having him pitch fewer high-leverage innings in the majors or having him pitch more lower-leverage innings in the minors). It’s not a fact that it’s better for Hughes’ development to be in the bigs, it’s just one opinion out of several valid ones.

  17. Dela G says:

    good to see the yankees win, a-rod crush the ball, and the red sux meltdown lead sportscenter

  18. Jesse says:

    At least 2 of Joba’s below average starts have come following lengthy rain delays. I was at the start in Texas that took place after a 2 hour rain delay and it looked real similar to tonight’s effort (lower velocity, trouble throwing strikes). I’m not sure if there is a correlation, but it’s food for thought.

  19. Tseng says:

    This victory was brought to you by Jobu.

  20. Bruno says:

    One question I kept asking during the game is, why isn’t Joba throwing strikes? This is a guy who early in his pro career was known as someone who didn’t issue many walks. So why now? Why is he, like Hughes and Kennedy before him, having trouble finding the zone? All three had excellent K/BB ratios in the minors (5:1 for Joba, 4.59:1 for Hughes, 3.55:1 for Kennedy), but have all struggled in the majors (1.86:1 for Joba this year, 2.05:1 career for Hughes, 1.20 for Kennedy). Is there a connection here?

    Borderline pitches are swing-and-misses in AA/AAA, but get taken for balls in the bigs. This is what pitchers have to adjust to when the get to The Show.

    • whozat says:

      If Joba was just missing off the corners, I might agree. But he seems to go through stretches where he’s just winging it up there and missing by a mile. Way up or way outside.

  21. ArodMVP217 Retire 51 says:

    My theory is that he doesn’t have AS much faith in his fastball. I think he should go to cali with Hughes and condition his arm how Phil does.

    Somewhere in b/n the dui nonsense and the fundraisers/foundations in teh offseason he took something for granted. even in the minors he never touched as low as 90-91

  22. Andrew says:

    Legendary celebratory video recapping the O’s comeback tonight:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGNllqWKxxk

  23. Conan says:

    Brian Cashman made it sound like Hughes is staying with the big club, likely in the pen, long term be damned. I’m a believer Hughes is a starter, but he has solidified the pen.

    The Yanks window of opportunity is slowly closing. Jeter, Mo and Posada aren’t getting any younger, with Damon and Matsui likely gone next year.

    As Yankee fans, do we want to keep Hughes in the pen, or mortgage some of the future for Street/Valverde?

    • V says:

      Depends on what ‘mortgage the future’ entails. McAllister, Nova, etc.? They’re expendable (that doesn’t mean to trade too many of them, get ripped off, etc.).

      However, don’t underestimate the economics of the trade market this year. The Yankees should flex their financial muscle this year.

      For example, Valverde’s way too expensive to give anything more than a token B-level prospect.

      Street starts getting expensive next year.

      • Bo says:

        How do you know McAllister and Nova are expendable now? What if the Yankees think they are future top of the line starters? Would they be expendable then?

  24. LiveFromNewYork says:

    Devil’s advocate here: wouldn’t getting the fan base/MSM used to a successful Bruney in the 8th, quell Joba/Phil to the pen B/P-jobbers? I know Bruney screwed up but could the Yankees be trying to avoid the Phil to the pen nuttiness or Phil is our 8th inning guy by keeping him out of the 8th inning. The plan works better with an effective Bruney but I’m just saying.

  25. JeffG says:

    I find it funny that people always complained about Torre’s bullpen management… yet they still want it. Bruney hasn’t had that many opportunities since he has come back and already we can’t find him pitching in a tight ballgame?
    Giardi is doing the right thing by getting him chances to hone in again. That also makes Phil available for tonight.

    • Davor says:

      If Hughes is available tonight, then putting Bruney in, if not right, at least wasn’t wrong call. If Girardi plans to sit Hughes today, putting Bruney in was terrible call.

      During Torre’s years NYY pitching philosophy was “put the ball in play”. Is it possible that Eiland prefers strikeouts, so pitchers are nibbling more and throwing more balls?

      • jonathan says:

        I really dont think that its a big deal of Phil is not an option tonite. We still have Al Aceves in the pen, him and Phil are really starting to solidify this pen. If we could get Marte straight we would be all set, does anyone here know what is going on with him?? I heard something about a throwing program…but that seems like a while ago. I think this team needs one more piece and thats a really good arm in the pen in case bruney cant stay healthy.

        • Jersey says:

          Don’t forget Robertson. He’s been money.

        • Davor says:

          It’s not a big deal for the team, but he needs innings. He doesn’t have anything like “Joba rules”. It makes no sense to use him just for 9 pitches if he can’t be used on consecutive days. And if he can’t go today, Girardi has spent his three best 8th inning options (Coke is probably available, but Burney shouldn’t be so soon after injury). But most of all, Hughes needs to pitch. He is starter, he should be allowed to go 2 innings when he pitches well and is well rested (as I said, if he may pitch on consecutive nights, pulling j+him after one inning is justifiable).

  26. Jake H says:

    Joba has had a frustrating year. I do have to wonder if he should listen to Posada more. He seems to shake Joba off a lot. They never seem to be on the same page.

  27. Bo says:

    Forget the problem of whether he should have let Hughes go 2 innings after throwing 9 pitches. That was just another example of the by the book managing, lame Girardi does and that won’t change. The real issue is when will Joba finally stop nibbling at hitters and pound the zone and go deep into games. He has top of the rotation talent and throws like Sid Ponson. The 5 innings every start aren’t working. He’s better than that and if he wants to be a starter (an ace starter) he has to take a leap and start working.

  28. J.D. says:

    Its a tough situation for Joe because your damned if you do and damned if you don’t put Bruney in. I think Joe is just trying to establish some type of order in the bullpen foodchain but I don’t think that’s necessary. Since he’s such a slave to matchups, why not just base the decision off of the numbers? I like the Emmanuelle Chriqui- easily the best looking celebrity out there now.

    • The Bruney situation is just like the Cano batting fifth situation:

      He’s doing it to show faith and confidence in his player. Bruney has been lights out in the 8th in the past. Now that he’s back, he gets the 8th inning, even if the results are suboptimal at first. He’s not going to yank him out of the 8th inning role just because he has some hiccups at first.

      Imagine if we were talking about Mo returning from being on the DL with elbow issues twice this year. Would Mo go right back to his 9th inning closer role? Yup.

      • I’m more comfortable w/Bruney in the 8th than I am with Cano batting 5th.

      • Klemy says:

        While I don’t really take issue with giving him the 8th like Joe did, I did take issue with leaving him out there as long as he did to flounder. We were a pitch away from being down 3 runs. I would’ve preferred he pulled Bruney with the 1 run lead and by God especially after the game was tied and the bases loaded.

  29. doug711 says:

    Does anyone think there’s some truth to theory that Joba is afraid to throw in Yankee stadium? Joba has always been such a high energy character that I find it strange that his pitches have lost some of their speed. I would think that he would feed off the energy from the crowd during games, but he has yet to show some of the swagger he had coming out of the bullpen. I don’t want to make excuses but does anyone think the two rain delays (vs Washington, vs Seattle last night) have anything to do with it?

    • I think he just falls in love with his breaking stuff a little too much and maybe forgets who’s up there. There are times when he nibbles against guys he shouldn’t nibble against: Willie Harries, Wil Nieves, Ronny Cedeno, and Jose Lopez.

      Perhaps more preparation before the game, going over scouting reports, figuring out “who’s who” in the lineup, etc., could help.

  30. jsbrendog says:

    in two weeks we all get to watch sloan on entourage again….and then maybe, just maybe, we will know what color her underwear is my friend.

    and the jankees will be in first place

  31. pollo says:

    Anyone have this irrational hatred of the Seattle Mariners? Like, even if they’re dog poo you still enjoy watching their shit get pushed in each night? I do. I hate the Mariners. I blame them for stealing a ring away from Donnie Baseball. Fuck the Mariners.

  32. Mike Pop says:

    The best part of that game was how Michael Kay said he wouldn’t know what is was like to feel wanted. I love Pauly just raggin’ on him all the time.

    A-Rod’s shot was gorgeous too, or clutch Melkster!

  33. mos says:

    What I want to know is, what happened to the fire Joba used to throw? He seems to hit 96 on one pitch, maybe two each night. There was a game a couple of weeks ago where he was throwing serious heat, 96 or better for several innings, but out of the entire season so far, that’s the only time I’ve seen the Joba of old.

    I look forward to almost every game thanks to the Yankee’s starting rotation: I want to see CC and Burnett dominate, I want to be there watching when Wang says “fuck you, Jobu, I’ll do it myself”, and I always look forward to when Joba pitches because I’m always expecting to see the 23-year-old throw upper nineties and strike out more batters than innings.

  34. pete says:

    A couple of things. I really do believe that there is a correlation between the rain delay and the poor control and lower velocity. For the most part, joba’s been 93-95 on the fastball all year and hit 96-97 two or three times. It does seem, however, that when things, like the rain delay, don’t go right, he struggles. What has been really impressive, however, is that when joba struggles, it ends up being 5 innings 3 runs, which is usually considered somewhat “encouraging” from wang and “solid” from pettitte. I’m not saying he doesn’t seem to struggle a lot but i’ve been really impressed with the way he’s been able to avoid total clunkers throughout his career. I also think there really is a lot to the whole confidence thing and especially what girardi said about tempo. In his best starts this year (detroit, cleveland, and yes i count the 12K boston one), he has pitched very quickly and really seemed like he was just motoring through innings quickly. esepcially that boston start he seemed like he couldn’t wait to through the next pitch. But anyway, in terms of velocity, 93-95 is not something we should be worrying about right now. Last year he didn’t start starting until he’d had more than 2 months of flamethrowing relief. In other words, he was used to gassing out a fastball at 99 at this point. This year, he still hasn’t had that opportunity, and because he is really reluctant to throw harder than 94 or 95 in the first because he is probably cautioned not to, his arm is not used to that speed. I definitely believe he is still capable of touching 99-100, even in a start, and sitting 95-97, but we likely won’t see that until late july i think. I obviously wouldn’t condone throwing him into the bullpen for a couple appearances so he can regain his top fastball, but i do think that he should be encouraged to try to hit 100 a couple times in his next BP session.

  35. Matt says:

    Chamberlain is not the same since the injury. He throws too many pitches. His average is 5 1/3 innings per start. One game he went 8 and one game 7 innings, everything else is 6 and under.
    They have turned him from 1986 Dwight Gooden in the pen to an average #3 starter.

    I once liked Bruney, but I now think he is no good. In his only full season he pitched to a 4.68 ERA. Last year he missed 3 months. He was good in Sept when it meant nothing. Anyone out there trust him in a big spot? I dont.

    Oh, and when Chamberlain reaches 150 innings before August is over, then what do they do? Back to the pen? Or is Bruney ‘the 8th inning guy’ until Girardi gets fired?

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