Apr
29

Swisher, Cano & Sabathia help get Yanks back in the win column

By

The last five games hadn’t exactly gone according to plan, but the Yankees had the right man on the hill Wednesday night to get things headed back in the right direction. CC Sabathia took the ball and carried the team into the 8th inning, and even though his final line wasn’t pretty (7.2 IP, 11 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K), he did exactly what an ace is supposed: he stopped the losing streak.

Stop hitting our players, kthxbye. (Photo Credit: Gail Burton, AP)

Biggest Hit: Nick Swisher‘s Triple

The Paul O’Neill Theory was on full display tonight, as the Yanks jumped out to an early 2-0 lead off Jeremy Guthrie after pushing some late-inning runs across in a loss the day before. They came back for more in the second, when Jorge Posada led off the inning by taking a pitch off his knee (more on that later) and Curtis Granderson followed that up with a sharp single to left-center (ditto). Eighth place hitter Nick Swisher, he of the .488 career wOBA at Camden Yards, stepped to the plate with a chance back Guthrie into a corner, and he didn’t disappoint.

Photo Credit: Gail Burton, AP

The Orioles’ righthander broke out a first pitch changeup that missed away for a ball, but then dropped a slider and another changeup in for a 1-2 count. Guthrie throws his fastball 53% of the time in a 1-2 count, and Swisher must have paid attention to the pregame scouting report, because he jumped all over a 92 mph heater left up in the zone. The ball flew over centerfielder Adam Jones’ head, hit the base of the wall, and ricocheted back into the outfield. The lumbering Posada and speedy Granderson scored, and Swisher slid into third without a play for his second triple of the season. The Yankees had built a four-run lead before Guthrie could record his fourth out, and their chances of winning already stood at 87.3% in the 2nd inning.

Swisher has already tied his career high with two triples this year, and you have to think he’ll luck into another one at some point over the final 142 games.

Biggest Out: Matt Wieters’ Strikeout

After giving up that early 2-0 lead, the Orioles tried their best to get it right back in the bottom of the 1st. Nick Markakis sliced a one-out double down the leftfield line and moved to third when Miguel Tejada singled two batters later. Baltimore had runners on the corners with two outs, and after seeing how quickly a lead could evaporate the night before, I can imagine Sabathia really wanted to bear down and escape the inning without allowing a run.

He started the Orioles’ catching phenom with a sinking fastball on the outer half, but Wieters fouled it off. The next pitch was a big breaking slider that caught the inside of the plate for strike two. On the next pitch, Sabathia let go of a changeup a little too early and it sailed way off the plate for the first ball of the encounter. It’s no secret that the change is CC’s weapon of choice against righthanded batters, so he went right back to it for the fourth offering of the at-bat, except this time he executed the pitch. Wieters got caught out in front, and swung right through the pitch for the inning ending strikeout.

It sounds silly in hindsight given the wide margin of victory, but getting out of that inning without allowing a run was a big step toward putting this one in the win column.

Photo Credit: Gail Burton, AP

The Stopper

Like I said at the top, it wasn’t always pretty for Sabathia, but he managed to give his team length and keep the Orioles in check while his offense went to work. Baltimore had runners on base in seven of the eight innings started by the Yankee ace, but they only scored three runs and left eight men on base. The defense helped by turning a pair of double plays, but that was possible because of Sabathia’s 12-6 GB/FB ratio. It certainly wasn’t his best outing, but the Yankees are paying CC to turn losing streaks into winning streaks, and that’s exactly what he did on Wednesday.

Slump Busters

Curtis Granderson came into Wednesday’s game riding an 0-for-17 stretch, but he said before the game that he wasn’t concerned and it was just part of the normal ups and downs of a long season. The most well-spoken Yankee busted out of that slump in his first at-bat, taking the first two pitches off the plate before reaching out and slapping a 92 mph fastball from Guthrie into left-center for his first hit since the Oakland series. He tacked on another hit later in the game for good measure.

Nick Johnson didn’t enjoy the same kind of multi-hit breakout as Granderson, but he still managed to find the outfield grass on a ball in play. Given that he missed a few days with a stiff back, it’s easy to forget that Johnson picked up a hit in his last start in Anaheim, and he had a nice little stretch of reaching base in three consecutive plate appearances and four of five. The batting average is still an ugly .143, but he’s getting on base 38.5% of the time and has shown signs of waking up lately.

Now we’re just waiting on Mark Teixeira to get it going. May is only two days away.

Happy Moments

Photo Credit: Gail Burton, AP

What more can we say about Robinson Cano? The guy went 2-for-5 with his sixth homer of the year in this game, bumping his triple-slash line up to .390-.430-.701.  He leads the American League in batting average by 22 points and all of baseball by 17 points, and it would take an 0-for-24 stretch for Cano’s average to dip below .300. I know it’s April, but that’s utterly insane. If the Yankees didn’t already contractually control his rights through 2013, I’d suggest that they lock him up before he hits the open market.

Road Swish. It truly is an awesome spectacle. Three hits tonight to boost his season line to .284-.385-.493, which has to be against some kind of unwritten rule regarding the maximum allowable offensive production of a guy hitting eighth. Slash-and-dash Brett Gardner behind him too; the Yanks’ 8-9 hitters combined to go 5-for-9 on Wednesday. That’s how you score eight runs across the first six innings of a game.

You know what else is awesome? That Sabathia gave up three runs in 7.2 innings, and the general feel is that it was a subpar start for the big guy. When’s the last time we could say that about a Yankee starter? CC has really spoiled us, let me tell you.

Oh, and hey, it’s Sergio Mitre! Good for him.

Photo Credit: Gail Burton, AP

Annoying Moments

Not too many for me, but I don’t know what’s up with Jeremy Guthrie. The guy just loves hitting Yankees. I’m sure you remember him drilling Tex in elbow during the last week of Spring Training, giving the entire fan base a minor heart attack, and then on Wednesday he plunked Posada right above his right kneecap with a fastball. Jorge stayed in to run the bases, but he was lifted in favor of Frankie Cervelli after the inning. No tests are scheduled right now and Posada said they’re going to wait and see how he feels tomorrow, but you have to believe the Yankees will be careful with their 38-year-old catcher. I would be pretty surprised if anyone but Cervelli was behind the dish Thursday night, no reason the push it.

WPA Graph

Nice and boring, just the way I like it. Individual breakdowns are available at FanGraphs’ box score.

Up Next

Thursday night’s rubber game with feature A.J. Burnett and one of the best young pitchers in the game, lefty Brian Matusz. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm, and it’ll be broadcast on MLB Network as their featured game of the week.

Categories : Game Stories

54 Comments»

  1. .390-.430-.701

    .390-.430-.701

    Repeat.

    .390-.430-.701.

    HOLY SCHNIKES

  2. Salty Buggah says:

    Cano is beastly while A-Rod & Tex are having BABIP issues. Yanks should be better than they’ve been, which is awesome.

    (Got this from someone on Twitter (don’t remember who) but here’s a new name for CC: Big Stoppa)

  3. PaulF says:

    What’s the deal with Cervelli getting all these hits? Is this just luck or could Cervelli actually hit (a mostly empty) .300 as an everyday player?

    • PaulF says:

      And why does he strike out less in the majors than at any level of the minors?

    • Mad, mad BABIP luck. He starts playing every day and he’ll be exposed. As a back up, he’s awesome. As a starter, not so much. Still love the Kid though and THOSE EYES OF DOOM

    • Salty Buggah says:

      Yea, I’m guessing mostly BABIP luck but to me, he’s shown some impressive plate discipline and he did say that now he somewhat works on hitting, whereas before he only focused on catching.

    • mbonzo says:

      Some guys just need a chance in the majors. Before Cervelli’s big injury vs the Rays in the minors leagues he had great numbers in the minors. His recent minors numbers seem to be on the other side of luck. I see Cervelli as a .270/.350/.400+ player. Though not considered great, for a player with his defensive capabilities its pretty damn good. And great for a backup catcher.

      • whozat says:

        actually, for a catcher, that’s starting caliber. There’s no actual data to support thinking that Cervelli is that good a hitter. At all.

      • Salty Buggah says:

        That’s a .750 OPS. For a catcher, that is freakin awesome.

        Consider this: In 2009, among all qualified catchers in the AL, that would be the 4th best OPS (5th best in all of MLB!!!), and if you don’t include Victor Martinez, as he didn’t get at least 500 ABs as a catcher, that’s 3rd best (4th best in MLB).

        If you knock that AB requirement down to 350, where Posada + a couple others will count, that would be the 8th best OPS among catchers in the AL, 13th best in all of MLB.

        If Cervelli truly is a .750 OPS hitter, he is one of the most valuable players in the game with his defense and cheap salary. If he is that good, the Yanks should trade him as he’ll be wasted as a back-up and would be a valuable trade chip. Unfortunately, he most likely isn’t that good, though he’s still a pretty good backup.

        • YankeeScribe says:

          Lets wait til the end of the 2010 season when we have a bigger sample size of his at-bats before we write him off as an all-defense/no-hit catcher. He’s handled himself well at the plate so far and at 24 years old, it’s more likely that he hasn’t reached his peak as a hitter yet.

      • pete says:

        I could see him hitting .270 easily. I don’t see him OBPing .350, though, and I definitely don’t see him slugging .400+

        • Rick in Boston says:

          It’ll be an empty .270, but I can see it. .270/.310/.360? As a backup catcher, that’s pretty good.

          A bigger concern for me is that his track record is littered with injuries and being pushed through a minor league system that didn’t have many options post-Navarro. He’s never played more than 89 games at any level, and his higher OPS seasons must be taken with a grain of salt since they come in SSS.

          If he ends up catching 60-70 games this year, it will be the second most he’s played in his professional career.

  4. Tom Zig says:

    Tom Zig is mad because he cut Swisher from his fantasy team yesterday.

    What’s with Swisher and hitting triples this year?

    He just tied his career high for triples in a season with 2 and it’s only April…fluke much?

    Robinson Cano has a 203 OPS+

    To pull a page from Bexy’s book… O_O

  5. dkidd says:

    despite:

    the struggles of tex, javy, nj, the entire bullpen minus mo
    15 of 20 games on the road
    9 games at boston/tampa/anaheim

    the yankees are on a pace to win 108 games

    /zen baseball is easy’d

  6. Tommy Fusco says:

    winner for tonight’s ‘predict the player’

    First Time Poster [Nick Johnson]: 1-2, H, 2BB, K, 2R
    REal Nick J: 1-4 1BB 2 Runs 2k’s

    He hit on 5, missed on 4.

    Andy C came close representing Cano. He missed on 4, hit on 3. just missed. he did get the HR.

    as stated, the winner with the closest hits after a weeks worth of games, will win something yankee related from my stash.
    not sure what, tho.

  7. e mills says:

    the one wednesday night I didn’t goto Moby’s in Fells Point (Baltimore, MD), Curtis Granderson rolls in…. me = fail

  8. JobaTheHeat62 says:

    so I found out tonight I have been pronouncing Brian Matusz wrong ever since I have heard of him. I always thought it sounded like Brian Matooz…Obviously I have learned this is wrong.

    • Fun Fact™:

      In several Eastern European languages, “z” takes the place of “h” in our language when combined with a “c” or “s”; so, for example, the Unabomber’s name, “Kaczynski”, should be pronounced “Ka-chin-ski”, not “Ka-zin-ski”.

      I don’t know what Matusz’ ethnic heritage is, but it’s possible his name was originally pronounced something like “Mat-ish” or “Mat-ush”, before it was Anglicized (Americanized?).

  9. Surry says:

    With Injury to Posada, Called up Montero Please Cash. Make it Happened.

  10. Cano is mvp material!

  11. larryf says:

    Correction on Grandy’s hit after Posada was plunked-it was to right center. It was scorched and Grandy doesn’t scorch to left. Nor does he scorch lefties-this weakness is being hidden fairly well so far but needs to improve. On the other hand, when are teams going to put in the opposite field shift for Grittner? The guy is living in that neighborhood.

  12. dark side of the goon says:

    Someone will get plunked tonight. AJ is the hit man for the team. You mess wid my cathcah?

    • Rick in Boston says:

      If anyone would have gotten hit, it would have been last night. If it was the 9th inning, then yeah, I could see AJ doing it, but not carryover all the way to the next night.

    • Zack says:

      I never trust AJ to intentionally put a guy on base; knowing him it would go HBP, BB, BB, then trouble

  13. CountryClub says:

    Good game for Jeter too.

    Also, Tex has looked much better at the plate the last couple of games. I think his problem right now is bad luck. He’s hit some balls hard that have found gloves.

  14. Hey ZZ says:

    I don’t think what Guthrie is doing is intentional

    However, he has no idea where the ball is going. You cannot go inside like he does with the control that he has.

    He is way to comfortable throwing inside and just shrugging off the consequences. I think he said in the postgame, “I wish I had better control.” Ya think? I am sure Jorge wishes that too.

    Girardi really needs to let him know that he needs to think twice about throwing the ball on the inside corner.

    • Zack says:

      It may not be intentional, but it keeps happening. Start hitting Wieters/Jones/etc and Guthrie wont be that comfortable going inside on Yankee hitters.

  15. gc says:

    Speaking of Guthrie hitting Yankees, don’t worry, he feels sorry. Well, he actually feels sorry about pretty much everything. I’m sure if it rained, he would have apologized for that as well.

    Guthrie’s post-game comments:
    “Let me start by saying I’m embarrassed by the way the game started, I was embarrassed by the way the game finished,” Guthrie said. “I’m embarrassed that we had to run the bullpen out there for 4 1-3 innings because I was unable to keep the pitch count down and get people out. I’m apologetic to fans who pay to come and watch the Orioles and watch us lose, in this case, because of me. I’m apologetic to my teammates for the inability to help them win a game in five starts.”

    He also said, “I’m apologetic to Jorge if he is to miss any time for (me) yanking a pitch and hitting him.”

    I know a lot of people would like to see guys like Joba and others (Ian Kennedy when he was here) take more of this kind of personal accountability for their performance, and to a degree I think they should, but I think this is kind of overkill. I’m sure some will disagree. Dude, if this is what you say after every loss, you’re gonna need to jump off a bridge by the All-Star break!

  16. SK says:

    who would have thought the NEW YORK METS would be leading their division?? at the same time as good as this Yankee team is, i have to give props to tampa bay for their hot start. If they’re lucky they will get the wildcard this year hehe

  17. How Ya Doin says:

    I think it was Joe who in one of the recent posts said Cano will surely cool down and I remember thinking – what is he talking about? Cano’s a STUD.

  18. Rose says:

    I would be pretty surprised if anyone but Cervelli was behind the dish Thursday night, no reason the push it.

    AJ Burnett: 2 Games, 14 IP, 1.29 ERA, 15 K’s with Cervelli in 2009!

    Snice!

Leave a Reply

You may use <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> in your comment.

If this is your first time commenting on River Ave. Blues, please review the RAB Commenter Guidelines. Login for commenting features. Register for RAB.