Yanks outlast Tigers in pitchers’ duel

Montero's grand slam leads Trenton to a win
Sunday morning Mariano musings

Entering the Great Hall at yesterday’s game, I had one thing on my mind. With CC Sabathia opposing Justin Verlander, I could only hope it was a classic pitcher’s duel. “I hope the only run in the game is a home run,” I said to my friend. “By A-Rod. In the first inning.” Things didn’t go exactly that way, but it was close enough. Both pitchers went seven strong, but the Yankees’ offense was able to muster more than the Tigers’, leading to a 2-1 victory.

Early on, a pitchers’ duel did not appear on the horizon. Justin Verlander had his A-game, which CC Sabathia struggled, throwing 51 pitches in the first two innings. He didn’t appear to be long for the game. A 10-pitch third certainly helped out, as did Joe Girardi‘s willingness to let him start an inning with 100 pitches already thrown. In the end he finished seven without allowing a run. He handed the ball off to Aceves and Mo, who had enough cushion to finish off the game.

One thing about pitchers’ duels — perhaps my favorite part — is that there’s not much left to say afterwards. Both pitchers pitched well. Verlander made his pitches most of the day, and Sabathia made pitches when he needed them. They actually allowed the same number of baserunners, eight, but the difference was that Sabathia kept the ball in the park, and got grounders and short flies with runners in scoring position. Verlander faced fewer of those situations, which was to his advantage, and allowed just one hit with at least a runner on second. Unfortunately, that one hit cost them the game.

It was a strange hit, Melky’s in the seventh. Upon first appearance it seemed like a routine grounder to short. Once Everett fielded it, though, it was clear that the grass had slowed it down, and that Nick Swisher had caused some soft of diversion by tip-toeing over it. How much he had to do with that play I don’t exactly know. But the throw was low, and by the time it landed in Miguel Cabrera’s glove, Melky had already touched first base. The umpire called him safe, and the Yankees had a 2-0 lead.

(Two minor comments on the play: 1) the replays that I saw showed that he was safe, and 2) one has to wonder, if Mark Teixeira was at first, would he have made a better scoop? Cabrera’s one-knee act might help him keep balls in the dirt in front of him, but it doesn’t appear to be the optimal setup. In other words, playing first base leaves his defense less exposed, but he’s still pretty bad in the field.)

Some will surely say that A-Rod’s homer was a New Stadium Special, and it’s tough to argue with that. We know the walls are in and down a bit compared to the old home, and it’s questionable whether his homer would have left the park across the street. In the same way, though not exactly, Marcus Thames got lucky with his homer in the eighth, which left the park with about as much clearance as Alex’s.

More than anything, yesterday’s game put on display the effect of luck in baseball. Both teams got lucky with homers that squeaked out of the park. The Yankees got lucky on a slow grounder to short which Melky just happen to beat out for an RBI single. The Tigers were in that position a few times, too — runners in scoring position and two outs — but couldn’t catch that lucky break. LIke many other elements, it’s what separates baseball from the other sports.

Hopefully you’re reading this on Sunday morning after celebrating the fine summer evening. It’s Old Timer’s Day tomorrow, and the festivities begin quite early. Gates open at 10, ceremonies begin at 11:45, and the actual game — Joba Chamberlain vs. Edwin Jackson — starts at 2:05. Yanks go for the sweep, and Joba goes for redemption. Should be a nice afternoon cap to Old Timer’s Day.

By the way: I went down to the Mohegan Sun bar for the last inning of the game. The view from there is incredible. They also have Bass and Newcastle on tap, so it’s a nice break from the Bud and Miller Lights you see all around the concourses. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who can score tickets, but whether it’s worth the price is up to personal preference.

Montero's grand slam leads Trenton to a win
Sunday morning Mariano musings
  • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime

    I love games like this.

    • Alex

      how do you always get the first post? You must have a knack for knowing when an article is posted.

      • andrew

        game posts are at midnight every night

  • JGS

    fantastic game. Verlander’s expression after A-rod’s shot went out was priceless

    • Ivan

      Yeah, Verlander had one of those “Are You Kidding Me” expressions.

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

        It was all sorts of Jesus Montero awesomeness

      • ShuutoHeat

        Heh, when a pitcher is throwing fireballs and the batter has enough power to handle it… then it’s bound to be hit far.

  • Little Bill

    It was a great game. CC battled his way through 7 and Clutchy Cabrera did the rest with that clutch infield single. Robbie Cano could learn a thing or two from Melky and luck isn’t one of them.

    Here’s what they need to do now- Stretch out Hughes and get him back in the starting rotation. This would complete the rotation and make the Yankees an unstoppable force down the stretch.

    • whozat

      “Clutchy Cabrera did the rest with that clutch infield single. Robbie Cano could learn a thing or two from Melky and luck isn’t one of them.”

      I thought you were kidding all day with this, but I guess you weren’t. I was at this game, and that was nothing but luck and some hustle. I don’t see Cano dogging it on grounders, so I’m not sure what you’re going for here. This wasn’t a clutch single…Miguel Cabrera doesn’t really stretch for throws, and he was just fast enough to take advantage.

      I was saying to my dad as we walked out of the park that, despite the fact that Melky’s dribbler added on a run when the Yanks were already ahead on the strength of ARod’s homer, the events that happened after would make it seem more clutch. Which is just funny to me. ARod drives in the first run off a great pitcher, in the 7th inning, to give the Yanks their first lead of the game…and it gets overshadowed in the minds of fans by a dribbler to short.

      It’s funny how perception gets made.

      • Salty Buggah

        That’s like the main reason people think A-rod is unclutch. It’s because he hits some HRs early in the game, even though the game is still close, so he didn’t really have the deciding hit even if we win by 1. A-rod does not hit all the time with RISP (and no one does) so if it’s late in the inning, they say he’s unclutch. If he does happen to get a hit, people say he was due, despite the fact he gets those hits late in the game a lot of times but they are either overshadowed like today or people block that out of the memory so they can still think he’s unclutch.

        • whozat

          Today’s homer was in the same inning as Melky’s dribbler, but I agree with what you’re saying.

          This notion of the “deciding” run is a flawed one that people have. If you win by one run, ALL the runs were “deciding,” in that the decision would have gone the other way without them.

          People remember surprising events. ARod hitting a two-run shot to put the Yanks ahead for good in the 6th isn’t surprising. ARod hitting a two-run single in the 9th to win the game isn’t as surprising as Gardner or Melky doing it, so we still remember it less. We expect ARod to hit all the time, so when he does we forget.

          Remember Bubba Crosby? He was tall, old Brett Gardner and he got this cult following because of this one go-ahead homer against the Orioles. The guy was not a quality MLB player, but there were reams of fans a LoHud that kept talking about how he was good and just needed a shot.

          • Salty Buggah

            Exactly…Good Points.

          • randym77

            Bubba Crosby was tall…if 5′-9″ is tall. ;-)

            I don’t think it was the walkoff homer against the Orioles that gave him a cult following. I distinctly remember seeing teen girls wearing “Mrs. Crosby” jerseys before then.

            Bubba made a very good first impression. His first spring with the Yankees was positively blistering – on offense and defense. Then he homered in his first at-bat as a Yankee, and homered again the next day, knocking a piece off the facade of the upper deck. And made at least two spectacular catches in CF.

            I think another reason so many people wanted to see him get a shot was the players they put on the field instead. Way past his sell date Ruben Sierra, Tony Womack (worst player in MLB that year), Matt Lawton (caught juicing, and still batting .l25), Terrence Long (nicknamed “Magellan” for his circuitous routes in the outfield), etc.

      • Little Bill

        I was kidding all day and I was kidding here. Cano gets so much crap for hitting the ball too hard right at somebody with RISP, but if anybody else hits a slow dribbler or a little bloop hit that drives in the run that person is clutch and Cano is trash. I was trying to make a point with sarcasm, but I guess it wasn’t worded that well.

        • whozat

          I stand corrected, Bill.

  • Salty Buggah

    The media seems to believe this win was all luck. They called A-rod’s HR a pop-fly. What I know is that pop-fly are usually in the infield or slightly away from it. They do not reach the fences. A-rod put a good swing on it so it went far enough. It was said that this win was because of the “bandbox.” And they said that replays showed Melky was out and that Swisher did all he could to distract Everett. From what I’ve heard from the interviews, Swish said he was just trying to avoid the ball and that it probably didn’t even affect Everett much. They just wanted to say that YSIII is a bandbox and that we win because of that. However, they forgot to acknowledge that Thames HR was a cheapie too. I’m kinda irritated by Verlander’s comments about a cheapie HR. His selective memory just blocked out that his teammate got a cheapie too and that they had 9 innings in the same park to hit it to right field. Make your pitches and the ball won’t go in the air to right. So annoying.

    Here’s the AP story:

    • Salty Buggah

      Yikes that was supposed to be like 2 sentences but ended up being a long paragraph.

    • Zach

      the “cheapie hr” comments are annoying. if a pop fly lands on the first row of the monster is it a cheapie? is it analyzed for 30 mins on BBTN? are the HRs at tigers stadium compared to their old home stadium?

      • Salty Buggah

        Exactly what I’m saying. Hopefully, next year these comments will be gone or at least considerably died down.

        • Zach

          You can hope, but you know how its going to be. Game 5 World Series Buck and McCarver are going to be bitching about the walls, or jet stream, or whatever else.

      • JGS

        well the thing about Fenway is that the Monster giveth and the Monster taketh away. For every pop fly that lands in the monster seats, there are two or three bullet line drives that would have been out of 29 other parks that wind up as singles. That’s why no one thinks twice about the pop flys.

        also, BBTN hates the Yankees

        • whozat

          There are also wall-ball doubles.

          Also, there are a lot more fly balls and pop-outs to LF in baseball, just in general, than screaming liners to LF that go for doubles or homers.

          Fenway has long been a park that enhances offense, whether it’s the pesky pole or the monster. The YSIII park factor is in line with kinds of park factors that Fenway generates most seasons. Which is why it’s ridiculous that people are making such a big deal out of this.

        • Zach

          eh, ive seen too many fly balls off the end of the bat go for doubles for ortiz/lowell/etc.

    • ShuutoHeat

      A HR is a HR. A punch to the groin is a punch to the groin. Just like how a WIN is a WIN. People need to get over themselves.

      A pop fly? If that was a pop fly how come no one got it? Verlander needs to get over himself and just dust himself off, saying “He got me there.” Have some class.

    • Salty Buggah

      Here’s more evidence from the Tigers’ official site:

      “That seemingly innocent popup plopped one row deep into the right-field stands for a home run”


      • Salty Buggah

        “He’ll tell you the same thing — he didn’t hit that ball good at all,” Laird said of Rodriguez’s home run. “As soon as he hit it, I thought it was an out. At our place, that’s not even at the warning track. I don’t think at most parks that thing is out.”

        At least Leyland is smart…:

        Thames’ homer in the eighth was similar to the one Rodriguez hit, barely getting over the left-field fence. Leyland said he knew Rodriguez’s was going out, but he was unsure about Thames’ shot.

    • Dave S.

      Cheater’s homer: not a pop-up, but a lazy fly that reached the first row of the seats.

      Thames’ homer: a line drive that did the same.

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

    It is frankly amazing how clutchy Clutchy McClutchbrera is.

    • Salty Buggah

      yea, it is. Hopefully he continues that in the playoffs.

    • whozat

      See my above comment. It’s funny to me, is all.

      • Salty Buggah

        Well, today may have been luck but he’s been incredibly clutch this year so far.

        • whozat

          yeah, he’s had a couple hits in big spots, which has been great. What’s more important to me is that, in general, he’s been a much better hitter this season than last year.

          • Salty Buggah

            That too of course

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


            • http://twitter.com/themanchine Bruno

              Melky for RF in 2010!
              (Swish, Gardner/A-Jax, Melky)

  • ARX

    Did I miss the last ‘stroll down Joba lane’? Or are you just putting it off so you can include tomorrow’s with his last 2 (might as well)?

  • Cano, can you drive in some runs, please? “NO! IT’S TOO RISPY!”

    Joba has his work cut out for him.

    The bats have to be awake for this game.

  • Fabio

    Joe, how exactly can the cleanup hitter hit a HR in the 1st inning, scoring the only run of the game? Perhaps if the umps and everybody in the opposing team forget the number of outs, Arod sees a pitch before people find out the error. I think in this case it would stand, but I´m not sure.

    • 27 this year

      I almost had a response with a GIDP but I realize that wouldn’t work.

      • 27 this year

        I got it, Arod hits a HR that would be a 2 run homer but because he is so blazing fast, he runs right past Tex and the third out is made although I don’t know how the run would count.

  • mr yankee

    I hope Joba was watching a real power pitcher at work yesterday Justin Verlander. Wow a pitcher who can throw 99mph late in the game. All I have been hearing was that nobody can throw that hard as a starter? I hope Girardi makes Joba sit down and watch Verlander pitch.

    • steve (different one)

      just as i was hoping yankee fans were watching Verlander and realize he struggled mightily last season, only to come back and be an ace this year.

      he, and today’s starter Edwin Jackson, are exhibits A and B why Yankee fans need to be patient with Joba.

      • mr yankee

        I agree but my issue with Joba has not been patience, its been that he seems to refuse to throw the ball instead trying to be a finesse putcher. While watching Verlander you see that you can throw hard throughout the game. Also when verlander was struggling he was still hrowing the ball hard

        • steve (different one)

          Verlander’s average FB last year was almost 2 MPH slower than this year.

          many attributed his stuggles to the lost velocity. same as Joba this year. same as Hughes last year.

          this is what developing young pitchers looks like sometimes.

          • Rick in Boston

            If Verlander keeps his FB right where it is, it’ll be the highest average speed he’s had with it since his SSSS cup of coffee in 2005 (95.5 mph/avg).

  • CB

    Miguel Cabrera didn’t do a great job stretching on that ball Melky hit and that was decisive. He’s much better than he was at 3b but still has a lot of work there.

    But the statistics go against that impression. Interestingly, Cabrera has second best UZR and third best UZR/150 amongst all AL first basemans. His UZR: 2.2. UZR/150: 3.8.

    Per UZR Mark Teixeira has been nowhere close to as good a defensive player this year as Cabrera has been. Tex’s UZR is -1.7. UZR/150: -2.2.

    By UZR Paul Konerko has been bar none the best defensive 1b in the entire game this year. His UZR is 6 and UZR/150 is 11. So Konerko has already been close to 0.8 wins better already than Tex.