On a Friday night, CC throws a clunker

Banuelos, Mesa ranked among Sally League's best
Like it or not, Molina likely to catch in playoffs

We talk about narratives a lot. Sometimes, they’re valid, but mostly, they’re used a tool to get through a very long season. Tonight’s game was part of that narrative.

Baseball is a marathon. For eight months, a bunch of players play nine innings every day. They play 30 games in Spring Training, 162 times during the regular season, and then, for the lucky and good teams, another 15 games in October. Sometimes, it just doesn’t go the way the fans want.

Tonight was one of those nights. As CC Sabathia said during the post-game interviews, he just wasn’t comfortable tonight. From the first pitch on, he couldn’t find his change-up, and when the Yanks gave up four unearned runs in the first, it just compounded the problem. By the time his night was over, CC had thrown a Joba-ian 82 pitches in 2.2 innings and allowed nine runs — five of them earned — as the Rays knocked 8 hits off the big man. He struck out three but walked five. Better today than next week.

While it would have been nice for Sabathia to win his 20th game, that’s about all it would have been. For the last three months, he’s been the staff ace, and in five days, he’ll take up that mantle in a game that counts. Feeling good after the game, he declared himself set for the post-season. “I’ll be ready five days from now,” CC said. So will the Yankees.

Meanwhile, Sabathia wasn’t the only one struggling to say focused and in control during a meaningless game on a Friday in front of 22,704 fans in Tampa. Phil Hughes, throwing in the 8th to get some work, couldn’t put away hitters. He threw 12 of 17 pitches for strikes but gave up three hits and a row. Joe Girardi lifted him for Damaso Marte, and it appeared to me as though Phil was just throwing for the sake of throwing. It was 12-3, and that’s called pitching to the score. At least Brian Bruney and Phil Coke looked good.

For the Yankees, the highlights were few and far apart. The first highlight — or scare — was retaliation. In the first inning, Mark Teixeira was hit on the left hand by a David Price pitch. It was clear retaliation for the Yanks’ unintentional beaning of Carlos Peña a few weeks ago. That HBP broke Peña’s fingers. This one just nicked Teixeira’s. “It just kind of grazed me. So luckily it’s good,” the Yanks’ slugger said after the game. He will be okay.

In the top of the 8th, the Yanks caught of glimpse of some left-handed power. Juan Miranda took a Dale Thayer offering into the back of the right field seats for his first career home run. The Yankees should be able to find a taker for Miranda this off-season, and while power-hitting left-handed first basemen are a dime a dozen, he’ll probably return something useful.

In the end, this was an ugly one. The Rays won 13-4, and B.J. Upton had hit for the cycle by the 5th inning. In five days, it’ll count. This one didn’t, and it showed.

Banuelos, Mesa ranked among Sally League's best
Like it or not, Molina likely to catch in playoffs
  • Accent Shallow

    It’s almost comforting to see CC throw up such a horseshit start, since the odds of him doing it twice in a row can’t be very high.

    • thurdonpaul

      maybe he should go to the pen and lets see….how bout edwar starts in his place ?

    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.baby-bombers.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/melky-cabrera-317x400.jpg Drew

      You’re not the only to make this point. Honestly, I don’t understand it.

      Since it’s CC it doesn’t really matter either way, but I see nothing to gain by him clunking it in the last RS start.

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

        I think either way, we’re in danger of overanalyzing it. The last start of the regular season doesn’t mean anything more than his stellar start last week against the Red Sox. There’s nothing to gain and nothing to lose, but by throwing this start now, the odds are that he won’t do it again in five days.

        Anyway, as I said in the post, baseball is a marathon, and fans tend to look at every game as if it’s a sprint. He’s healthy; he feels fine; he just didn’t have it and was victimized by both the bounce of the turf and bad fielding. C’est la vie.

        • Tom Zig

          Remarkably, people are pretty calm.

        • radnom

          but by throwing this start now, the odds are that he won’t do it again in five days.

          No, the odds are exactly the same, it just appears differently because its an event that doesn’t occur often. If you flip a coin heads five times in a row then its not true “odds are that it will be tails next” even if it seems that way.

          This start was completely meaningless.

          • http://imgur.com/NMNVd.jpg Joba Powers (all I needs is a jheri curl mullet)

            Can a coin fix it’s mechanics in order to right itself from making the same mistakes it made on the last flip which resulted in heads?

            • radnom

              Ok, but you could also argue that baseball tends to be a game where players are streaky. A bad game is more likely to follow another, hitting or pitching.

              Either arguement is equally useless without some statistics.

    • Lucky

      THe odds of him throwing up a “horse hit” start in consecutive starts is nearly guaranteed, if you look at his Oct history. This was right in line. He now has 27 BB in 27 Oct IP.

    • Joba Rules

      RSN level cognitive dissonance

  • Dela G

    it was odd that he was just off, but that’s ok, he’s been just fine all season.

    In other news, i just realized that halladay finished with a 17-10 2.79 ERA. Holy cow was that a great season for him or what. I know he had a rough patch in july/august, but he finished strong.

    Good for him, and i bet if he had any consistent offense, he would win close games (a game in which he pitched 9 innings, gave up 1ER , 10 or so Ks and still had a no decision because the rays won it in the 10th comes to mind) and easily have 20 wins. I hope he one day gets to pitch in the playoffs during his career, just not with boston or anaheim

    • Dela G

      by the way, his last 2 games (both complete games), he allowed 0 runs of any kind, 10 hits, 15 k’s


  • Klemy

    The retaliation scared me and it pissed me off at the same time, since there wasn’t a damned thing we could do about it. CC wasn’t trying to hit Pena when he broke his hand, so I didn’t expect that. I guess that’s baseball though. They’ll be sitting home while we are playing in five days, I guess that is some type of revenge.

  • radnom

    At least the Tigers lost and the Twins won.
    Magic number is still at two. I haven’t really been following, but I assume if the Tigers don’t clinch tomorrow, they have to start Verlander Sunday?
    Chances of that are looking decent after tonight.

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

      I read somewhere (probably Twitter) that Verlander was starting tomorrow on short rest. He’d have to start on short rest again to make a Game One start.

      • Mike bk

        why would they do that when if they win and greinke wins he wouldnt have to start at all? just seems like an unnecessary move out of panic. because if he loses tomorrow then they are screwed.

        • http://bronxbaseballdaily.baby-bombers.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/melky-cabrera-317x400.jpg Drew

          Can’t count on another team to win. If I’m in their situation I want CC pitching in what is probably a must win. Worked for the brewcrew last year.

          • Mike bk

            i am not counting on the royals to win, but recent history shows the success of pitchers on short rest is much less. he threw 129 pitches on tuesday. if he loses and greinke loses it’s tied and they have who for Sunday? you play it smart and you pitch him sunday if you have to. this is a move made looking at the playoffs when ur not even there yet.

        • Dela G

          agreed. What a dumb move. ZG is pitching tomorrow, so that’s pretty much a guaranteed win for the royals tomorrow.

          • http://bronxbaseballdaily.baby-bombers.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/melky-cabrera-317x400.jpg Drew

            You gonna count on the Royals if the Yanks were in the Tiger’s shoes? ZG can go out and pitch 9 innings of 2 run ball, it doesn’t mean KC is going to win.

            • Dela G

              he just beat them last weekend, i can see it happening again.

              • http://bronxbaseballdaily.baby-bombers.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/melky-cabrera-317x400.jpg Drew

                You didn’t answer the question though, Dela. If the Yanks had the choice of starting CC on short rest over a sub par option, would you rather go with CC, or start the sub par option and hope the Royals win? ZG can beat anyone but let’s face it, he’s on the Royals! I’m not putting any faith into them, as a team, winning a game when I need them to win.

                • Dela G

                  Well CC any day of the week, but seeing that i have the one game lead, why not go against the grain and pitch my best pitcher on full rest the final game of the season, knowing that there is a very very good chance he wins on full rest.

                • http://bronxbaseballdaily.baby-bombers.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/melky-cabrera-317x400.jpg Drew

                  Word good point. They have no problem workin that dude like crazy. If I was a Tigers fan I’d probably be cool with it though.

                • Dela G

                  100 percent agree

        • Tom Zig

          Why not put yourself in the best position to win and clinch a little earlier?

          Verlander on short rest >>>> anyone else on that staff

          • Dela G

            he threw 129 pitches a couple of days ago, we’ll see if it is a gigantic detriment to his pitching performance tomorrow.

            • Tom Zig

              I hope they run Verlander into the ground (without him getting injured of course).

              • Dela G

                agreed. Just like CC was last year. It screws with the pitcher’s mentality and makes them mentality spent. I’ll take a tired verlander + EJackson over a fresh verlander + EJackson back to back any day of the week

                • Tom Zig

                  I’m hoping that they have to play a game 163.

                • Dela G

                  wouldn’t it be great if in game 163, the game is so deadlocked that EJ has to pitch 5 innings of relief in a 15 inning game?

                • RCK

                  I know this is insanely superstitious, but I feel like it is bad luck to root too specifically about what goes on in the central. I just want their games to keep counting and for them to be mentally and physically tired.

                  But really, I say that the Yankees can beat the Tigers no matter what! We don’t need any handicapping.

                  Right. I should be asleep. My absurd superstitious side is definitely showing.

      • toad

        Planning to start him in Game 1 is the only sensible reason to start him on short rest now. Otherwise it’s just silly. Detroit has two regular season games left and Verlander can start one of them. There’s no special virtue in making it the first of the two.

        Teams do this sort of thing in the post-season all the time. “We’re down 3 games to 2 so we have to start our ace in game 6 on short rest.” Why?

        • Mike P

          Good point. I never understood either why managers do that. It fits right in line with not bringing in your closer in a tied game on the road for lack of logic.

  • Dela G

    by the way, edwin jackson’s numbers for the season:
    (h/t detroit free press comment from a reader)

    Here’s Jackson’s by-the-numbers ERA by-month since the start of the season:
    April – 2.25
    May – 2.34
    June – 2.91
    July – 3.16
    Aug. – 4.45
    Sept. – 5.08
    Oct 2- a zillion runs to the white sox (added by me)

    i like the yankees’ chances against him

    • Esteban

      per KLaw: Edwin Jackson’s post-ASB ERA is now 5.36. Can we please stop talking about “Verlander and Jackson” like they’re remotely similar?

    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.baby-bombers.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/melky-cabrera-317x400.jpg Drew

      He has struggled as of late but let’s face it. A sub 3.5 ERA over 200 innings isn’t a coincidence. I think we’ll beat whomever we play but he’s no scrub. ;)

      • whozat

        He’s been mediocre for 2+ months. He was mediocre for many years before that. What’s the outlier? The couple of stellar months, or the guy with a lengthy history of walking too many guys and putting up mediocre performance.

        • http://bronxbaseballdaily.baby-bombers.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/melky-cabrera-317x400.jpg Drew

          Since June he’s allowed 5 runs a total of 3 times, all of which have been in September. Is he slumping? Yep. Can he be really good in any given start? Yep.

          Argue all ya want, he’s had a good year. As I said, a sub 3.5 era in 200 innings is not a coincidence.

          • whozat

            I didn’t say he hadn’t had a good year.

            I said that he’s probably the same guy he’s always been, and just had a stellar couple of months early in the year that are probably an outlier.

            Thus, it’s likely that he’ll be the same Edwin Jackson he’s always been in the post-season: capable of throwing a great game, but more likely to have spotty control, throw a lot of pitches, and issue a bunch of walks.

            • http://bronxbaseballdaily.baby-bombers.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/melky-cabrera-317x400.jpg Drew

              Word I hear that. I just think it’s unfair to hold his 20,21,22,23,24 year old seasons against him. He’s shown to be a pretty solid starter this year.

              • whozat

                Well…no. He had a couple of very good months, and then returned to pitching the same way he has for years..

                I’m not holding anything against him; I’m trying to accurately gauge his true-talent-level so that I can take my best guess at how he’ll most likely perform when the Yanks play against him next week.

                • http://bronxbaseballdaily.baby-bombers.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/melky-cabrera-317x400.jpg Drew


                  Okay gauge him as you like.

                  “He’s capable of throwing a great game, but more likely to have spotty control, throw a lot of pitches, and issue a bunch of walks.”

                  heh… way to jump out on a limb.

                  The Yanks are capable of making the best pitchers look like scrubs imo. Saying he may or may not pitch good is like saying AJ may or may not shut down the opposition.

                  Whatever you want to say bro, he’s had a good couple of months, no one argues that. My only point is that he isn’t as bad as his SSS ERA may suggest. At 25, it’s possible he’s matured and is a better pitcher than he was as a youngen in Tampa.

                  A 3.4 ERA in our league is impressive.

  • http://www.theyankeeuniverse.com/ The Artist

    I think I figured out what Girardi was doing with Molina starting at DH last night. He’s preparing for the contingency of a Verlander-Burnett ALDS Game 2 match up.

    The way the AL Central race is shaking out, it appears Justin Verlander will have to pitch Sunday if either the Twins win today or if both teams lose. That would push Verlander to a Game 2 start facing Burnett on Saturday October 10th. The Yanks don’t figure to score much off Verlander, and he wants to give AJ his best chance at matching him zero for zero.


    Posada’s career number’s off Verlander are Molina-like, so it’s pretty tough at argue for Jorge’s bat with that pitching match up.

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

      We’re talking about a grand total of 11 plate appearances, RE: Posada vs Verlander. If they’re going to justify letting Molina play and having one of Posada/Matsui sit based on that, then I don’t know what to say.

  • Lucky

    You hear alot from the brain-dead media about how overworked Sabathia was in 2007 and 2008, but if he was overworked in 07 he is overworked this year. He’s not throwin more pitches this year than he did in 07 (and nearly as many as he did in 08). Don’t throw IP numbers at me. Innings are not what pitchers throw. Pitchers pitches. Innings can be quick or they can be slow. A pitch is a pitch, and by number of pitches Sabathia’s 2009 is nearly identical to his 2007 — including the fact that he played for a team with the best record in MLB that had time to rest him down the stretch.

    Here are the top 10 MLB leaders in pitches thrown over the last 3 years by year.
    1) Carlos Zambrano
    2) Dan Haren
    3) Jake Peavey
    4) Scott Kazmir
    5) Aaron Harang
    6) Sabathia
    7) Gil Meche
    8) Daniel Cabrera
    9) Dontrelle Willis
    10) Jeff Francis
    1) Sabathia
    2) Lincecum
    3) Burnett
    4) Cain
    5) J Santana
    6) Halladay
    7) Meche
    8) Verlander
    9) Arroyo
    10) Ervin Santana
    1) Verlander
    2) Wainwright
    3) Sabathia
    4) Jiminez
    5) Clee
    6) King Felix
    7) Edwin Jackson
    8) Haren
    9) Lincecum
    10) Garza
    Some observations:
    • Only one guy has been on this list all 3 years (Sabathia).
    • Lincecum and Verlander are the only others on the list each of the last two years.
    • Haren was on it the first and 3rd year.
    So I’ll conclude that this group above: Sabathia, Verlander, Linecum and Haren have managed to survive this kind of work load and be effective (so far). Gil Meche also made the list 2x (07 and 08 but has been ineffective/hurt in 09
    It’s too early to draw any conclusions about guys who appear on the 09 list, but not any others, but look at the others on the list from 07 and 08. But nearly every of these guys has had their careers derailed, cut short, or in serious jeopardy from overuse:
    Zambrano, Peavey, Kazmir, Harang, Cabrera, Willis, Francis, Burnett (OK *maybe* not him,), Cain, Santana (both of them), Arroyo…
    Another observation: No Red Sox on this list? Why? Because they rest their guys throughout the season every year. Guys like Penny and Smoltz come every year and go, but their role is clear: Give us a chance so rest our big guns for October. We don’t want to mess with their long-term health.
    It comes down to this. Sabathia has shown that he can be very effective with a very high work load. But he simply burns out at the end of the year. His own management buys the myth that he can take it, but they keep getting burned. Now the NYY have done it again.
    Time and again pitchers with big workloads in the regular season who also appear in the post-season suffer for it the next year. Most teams know this and adjust accordingly. Not the NYY. Not in 2009. Guys like Lincecum, Haren and Verlander have not had the additional burden of regular post-season abuse. CC has. Why would the Yanks sign this guy, knowing all this, and still let him go out and throw more pitches than he did in any year of his career other than 2009? And there was no need at all for it. Sigh.

    • crapulent

      What? Are you predicting CC is done for the season? It’s not the number of pitches thrown, it’s the rest in between. They are giving CC rest before the playoffs, something he didn’t get last year or the year before.

      • Lucky

        Crapulent, I know why you think he dind’t get any rest before the playoffs in 07. That’s what the media keeps telling you, but it’s a damn lie. Go back an Google “Sabathia too rested 2007” and you will see that Wedge was being hammered for resting Sabathia too much down the stretch. It was a very similar pattern to what he had this year, actually.

        The media blows. THis is all avaialable on sites like ESPN and SI in their own stats files. Look here, for instance at his 2007 game log:

        He went on Sept 19, Sept 28, and Oct 4 (playoff game 1). That’s 3 starts in 22 days. THat’s somehow being overworked at the end. And I’m not cherry picking. At no time did he go on less than 5 days rest and he had several 6-game breaks in Sept.

        Again, Wedge was criticized for giving him TOO much rest in Sept, but that’s forgotten by the media.

      • Lucky

        I’m not saying he’s done for the season, just that there is a very clear pattern with this guy: He throws a ton of pitches from April-Sept, then gets to Oct and can’t throw strikes. Maybe it’s a conincidence, but the part about throwing a ton of pitches certainly was true in 2009 and now it’s Oct and … Well. I guess we’ll see. I am expecting a disaster next week. Hopefully the offense will be able to overcome him. It worked for Cle in 07 for the first round.

        I don’t get why the Yanks didn’t give him some meaningful time off in August, like the Sox did with Beckett and Lester. Sure it was fun to open the division lead up, but in the wildcard era it just makes the Oct implosion hurt that much more. There is no reason to burn out Sabathia.

        And what about Joba? Wasn’t the whole point of “the rules” to have him ready for October? Why not DL him for a few weeks in July instead of what they did? It’s just nutty and now he’s a mess with a tired arm.

        • http://pinstripepalace.blogspot.com/ Brien Jackson

          And what about Joba? Wasn’t the whole point of “the rules” to have him ready for October?


          • Lucky

            No? Um. Yes. It was to keep his innings limited so that he had enough left in the tank to be a post-season contributor.

            • http://pinstripepalace.blogspot.com/ Brien Jackson

              No, it was to keep his innings limited so as not to go too far above his previous career high in innings so as to mitigate the likelihood of arm injury.

              • Lucky

                well yes, but obviosuly they were supposed to be getting him ready for Oct, too. Are you suggesting that the plan all along was to not use Joba in the rotation in Oct? Are you OK with this!

  • Lucky

    Another INteresting Sabatia tidbit.

    Career OPS against him with Posada catching: .758 — the worst of any of the 12 MLB catchers who have caught him. OPS with Molina? .622.

    To put that into perspective a .758 OPS is roughly what Melky Cabreara has put up this year. There is no AL hitter as bad as .622.

    Put it another way. That 758 OPS against him would have made him second to last in MLB (behind only Joe Blanton) had it not been for all those games Molina caught. Will Joe have the guts to do the right thing and start Molina in game 1?

  • Lucky

    As a staff opponents OPS against the Yanks this year with Posada catching is .773

    With Molina Catching it’s 665 (Cerveli 687). That, my friends, is a GIANT gap.

    To put it in perspective, Seattle was the best in the league in terms of OPS against them with .713. Toronto was 12th at 773.

    THis is not getting enough attention. How can the Yanks go into October with this guy behind the plate? He’s horrible! The offense has covered up this glaring hole in their game over the summer, but in October, where every run is precious, they are making a decision to turn what would be the best staff in the AL into one of the worst, simply by sticking with one veteran. Amazing how far this team has fallen.

    • Mike P

      Right, you’re being hysterical and looking at just one thing. Posada’s OPS is .889 against Molina’s .555. That means a whole load more. If Yankee starters are likely to give up a 2-3 more bases per game with Posada, they’re also likely to get 3-4 more bases in offensive support. And with the Yanks leading the league in RBI, it’s a no brainer.

  • Lucky

    so the gap between Posada and Molina offensively is 440 points of OPS.

    THe difference between them defensively is 110 points of OPS. Multiply that by 9 and you get 1000 points of OPS. The multiplier of 9 is to aknowledge that the defensive numbers apply to the entire other team’s lineup while the offensive OPS numebrs apply to just the catchers. IN other words, Posada would have to put up an OPS of 1550 (Molina’s OPS + 1000) To offset his defense.

    • pete

      you realize that molina only starts when the yanks are facing shitty offenses and don’t need posada to hit, right? No screw that, context just messes up your argument.

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

        Except that’s not true at all.