Apr
30

Burnett, Cano lead Yanks to series victory

By

Remember when I said that there’s just no way Cano will keep up this production throughout 2010? It’s still equally unlikely that he does, but damn. This has been a pleasure to watch. It must be what people in St. Louis feel all the time with Albert Pujols. Even if he makes an out, he’s still hitting the ball hard. He powered the offense in their 4-0 win in the series finale against the Orioles.

Biggest Hit: Cano’s first homer

Photo credit: Nick Wass/AP

When Burnett has both his fastballs and his curve working, the Yankees don’t need much offense to hand him the win. He toyed with the Orioles all night long, inducing ground balls and poor contact on fly balls. Not only were his pitches moving, but he also showed excellent control, throwing nearly two-thirds of his pitches for strikes. That resulted in just one walk, which, combined with the three hits he allowed, amounted to no runs for the Orioles.

The Yankees got the only run they’d need in the first, but they can’t count on just one run. Robinson Cano tacked on another in the fourth inning. A-Rod has been in a little slump, 0 for his last 19, so Cano has been coming up with fewer men on base. That hasn’t stopped him from brutalizing pitchers. Brian Matusz started the at-bat with a curveball high for ball one, and then went back to the same pitch. This one landed a little lower, high in the strike zone but slow enough for Cano to get all the around on. Into the seats it went, and Burnett got a bit larger lead.

Biggest Pitch: The walk

In the top of the sixth Cano struck again, doubling off Matusz to lead off the inning. Marcus Thames followed with a double, giving the Yankees a 3-0 lead. Burnett had dominated the Orioles for the first five innings, so a three-run lead looked like quite a convincing lead at that time. It was. The largest WPA swing in favor of the Orioles came in a situation where they merely put a runner into scoring position, the first time they’d done so all game.

Photo credit: Nick Wass/AP

It was one of the rare poor sequences for Burnett. He missed pretty badly with a first-pitch fastball, and then came back with three more. Only one, a called strike two, was close. The final three pitches all missed inside, though Markakis did foul off a curveball before taking a fastball inside for ball four. That was all they’d get, though. Matt Wieters hit into a fielder’s choice, and Miguel Tejada popped out to end the frame, ending the Orioles’ best chance of the evening.

Hey Mark Teixeira

Teixeira might have gone only 1 for 4 with a double last night, but again made some solid contact. That solid contact hasn’t translated into his normally ridiculous numbers yet, but it seems like he’s close. Maybe a trip back to the inviting confines of Yankees Stadium will be just the boost he needs. He did, after all, hit 24 of his 39 home runs last season at home.

When Burnett’s on

Photo credit: Nick Wass/AP

Some games A.J. Burnett will have trouble with his curveball. We saw one of those starts over the weekend, though he mixed his four-seamer and two-seamer well enough to survive 6.1 innings against the Angels. This time he added his power curveball, and it left the Orioles with no chance.

You might notice, on Brunett’s FanGraphs page, that he’s throwing more fastballs this year than he did last year. If you go to his PitchFX page, you’ll see that he’s dividing them among his four-seamer and what PitchFX classifies as a sinker. A number of other pitchers have shown the same tendency this season, so it sounds like a chance in pitch classification algorithm. Still, it does seem like Burnett has been mixing his four-seamer and two-seamer a bit more this season.

His strikeouts per nine are way down this year, under six for the first time ever, but his groundball rate has risen. After another nine groundouts last night that figures to increase. Combine that with a low walk rate, and you have a very good, albeit completely different, A.J. Burnett. He’s not going to pitch like this every start, but if he has a few more like it in him, we’re going to enjoy life plenty this summer.

Robinson Cano…

Photo credit: Nick Wass/AP

Is there anything Robinson Cano can’t do? He leads the league in batting average and is ninth in OBP. He tied the two league leaders, Paul Konerko and Kelly Johnson, this evening, but both hit home runs of their own today, Johnson one and Konerko two, so he’s still in third. Also, I’m not completely certain of this, because I used a wOBA calculation spreadsheet and I’m not sure if it exactly matches FanGraphs’ formula, but I believe Cano will lead MLB in wOBA once the stats update.

Some Yankees have been in slumps lately. Teixeira hasn’t gotten started this season, A-Rod is 0 for his last 19, and Granderson had a pretty poor road trip. Cano has made up for them. Thankfully, when his production starts to even out, the other guys will likely get into a groove. Just another reason to love this team.

Joys

Every minute of that game.

Just so it doesn’t go unmentioned, yes, that backhand and throw by Cano was unreal. It was impressive enough that he got to the ball in time to make a play. But that throw was perfect. For his next trick, he’ll remove his glove and throw to first left-handed.

Annoyances

None worth mentioning.

WPA Graph

Great game last night, eh? Oh yeah, total domination. Unbelievable. Fuggedaboutit.

Next Up

The Yanks are back home and will face the White Sox. Unfortunately, Ozzie Guillen just now, a day before he starts a series with the Yankees, realized that Juan Pierre is no good. Andy Pettitte might have to face a slightly better hitter when he opens the series tomorrow night.

Categories : Game Stories

57 Comments»

  1. 1) Robbie is OPSing 1.235. Alex Rodriguez OPS in April 07? 1.297

    That’s a small enough difference Cano could make it up tomorrow with a good game.

    2) Last player to hit .400 with 8+ HR in April? Some dude by the name of Bonds in 2004 (h/t bexarama)

  2. pat says:

    This game made me wanna rent some cahs.

  3. Salty Buggah says:

    Robinson. Cano. That is all.

  4. Damian says:

    Enjoyed the game tonight (in person at Camden Yards for this DC exilee). Have to say, though, Jeter letting that soft liner go off the end of his glove for a single was pretty annoying.

  5. BigBlueAL says:

    Marcus Thames bitches.

  6. Ben says:

    Easily the best WPA Graphs ever. Fuggedaboutit.

  7. JobaTheHeat62 says:

    love the Avis commercial reference…on a network filled with beyond awful commercials that one continues to deliver in the clutch.

    anyway…yea once Javy gets going we have the sickest rotation..CC, AJ, Andy, and Phil have been fantastic this season. I don’t care if AJ doesn’t strike out another batter the rest of the season, this new version of him is such a better and more efficient pitcher. Also Robinson Cano is amazing. I am glad everyone around the sport is finally really taking notice, and once TEX and A-ROD get it going, look out MLB..it won’t even be fair anymore.

    • Count Zero says:

      Funny thing — the Yankee fan sitting at the table is my old college housemate.

      He does a lot of commercials and occasionally lands speaking roles in TV shows. I crack up every time I see it because I think of the crazy shit we did back in college.

      But in RL, he is a Red Sox fan from RI.

  8. pat says:

    That throw was unreal. Running in the complete opposite direction and still throwing a lazer to 1b. I honestly don’t think there’s another 2b in baseball who can make that throw.

    • Klemy says:

      When he made that play, I said to my wife during it, “No way this throw is in time.” Just as I finish the sentence I see the runner late and I was like…”Okaaay. That was ridiculous.” She just laughed at me. lol

  9. BigBlueAL says:

    LMAO just read this in the AP game recap:

    “When I grow up I want to be like him,” teammate Nick Swisher said of Cano.

    • Pat D says:

      Notice how you never hear those “scouts” talk about how he can’t possibly fit in on a team captained Derek Jeter anymore?

  10. Guest says:

    I know its too much to ask, but it would be something to see Tex, A-Rod, Cano, and Jorge hot at that same time. Runs would be scored, my friends. Runs would be scored.

    • pat says:

      True that but it would almost be overkill. A hot couple weeks from at least one of those guys is enough to carry the team. I’d almost rather they be hot at all different times to spread it out throughout the season.

  11. Sean says:

    Robbies gotta be in the allstar game. I just hope he doesn’t do the HR derby and mess up his groove.

  12. dkidd says:

    cano’s throw defied the laws of biomechanics. can he make his rib cage disappear at will?

    unbelievable

  13. Tom Zig says:

    Pedroia probably gets to that ball as well, but will make an unnecessary dive for it.

  14. Kiko Jones says:

    Just out of curiosity, did anyone have a problem with AJ not pitching the 9th after a 3-hit, 1 walk, shutout?

    I was kinda irked by the fact that my fave active non-Yankee aka the reigning NL Cy Young winner being pulled from a 4-1, 11 K, 3-hit, 1 ER outing after one out and a walk in the 9th on Wednesday…which the bullpen blew.

  15. pete says:

    things I enjoyed: Francisco Cervelli’s defense. He really looks awesome out there.

  16. RollingWave says:

    Cano has been coming up with fewer men on base. That hasn’t stopped has helped him from brutalizing pitchers.

    fixed

  17. Zack says:

    This is the AJ that is fun to watch, even without the Ks.
    One of those games that shows how nasty a FB with movement can be.

  18. Marcus Thames is really murdering the ball right now.

    He may finally be earning his “True Yankee” uniform after all.

    http://www.theonion.com/articl.....ent,17314/ (safe)

  19. steve s says:

    Can’t help but be happy with 14-7 and 6 of 7 series wins but to keep grounded I do note that if Marcus Thames goes 1 for his next 62 he will have the same batting average as Tex does today. Obviously it’s going to change for the better for Tex and Thames will end up quite a bit south of .588 but Tex’s start with the bat is uglier than his usual poor starts.

    • Sign that the 2010 Yankees are pimpshit:

      Your attempt to “keep things grounded” involved you citing the fact that our 5th outfielder/last man on the roster is currently hitting .588 and would need to go 1 for his next 62 to be hitting poorly.

      • steve s says:

        Absolutely agree that when Tex (and Johnson) start performing as their baseball cards say they will the 2010 Yanks will be pimpshit but Tex has dug himself quite a hole and Thames’ great (but small sample) offensive performance so far sort of gives Tex’s poor offensive performance some context for the moment.

  20. JohnC says:

    Wonder how the Red Sox fans at ESPN (Ravech, Berthelume, Kruk) took the news of the ESPN poll about the Red Sox being the 2nd most hated team in baseball and the Yanks 5th.

  21. Anksy says:

    Robbie is tearing it up right now. Imagine what he could do if he actually tried!

    /MSM’d

  22. Sleepykarl says:

    Cano has a 510 wOBA…

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