Apr
19

Yanks complete sweep with win over Rangers

By

Taking two of three always represents a favorable outcome. That works out to a 108-win season, excellent by any standard. But when the opportunity to sweep a team arises, I always find myself a bit disappointed if they don’t deliver. For instance, not sweeping the first three series was fine because each featured a rubber game. In this weekend’s series, however, the Yankees had a chance to walk away perfect. They delivered in their first opportunity, defeating the Rangers 5-2.

Biggest Hit: Ramiro Pena‘s two-run single

Photo Credit: Kathy Willens/AP

Rangers’ starter Rich Harden lived up to his reputation yesterday, showing good stuff and poor control. The Yankees took advantage, working the pitch count an driving Harden from the game in the fourth inning. The greatest damage came in the third, when eight Yankees came to the plate and saw 35 pitches. They also erased their only deficit of the game in quick, impeccable fashion.

Walks to A-Rod and Curtis Granderson, sandwiching a Jorge Posada single, set the Yanks up with bases loaded and one out. Nick Swisher failed in his attempt to capture the lead, striking out on three pitches. That left the inning up to Ramiro Pena. Harden started the at-bat with a low changeup, which Pena swung over. He came back with a fastball, slightly off the plate inside, but Pena kept his hands in and got a good part of the bat on the ball, sending it over Ryan Garko’s head for a single.

With Andy Pettitte dealing, the Yanks didn’t need any more than this. They got more, which is always appreciated, but they didn’t need it. The pitching has just been that good this season.

Honorable Mention: Teixeira’s jack

Photo credit: Kathy Willens/AP

For the second straight season Mark Teixeira has started the season in a slump. It seems like he’s just missing some of these pitches, which is both encouraging and frustrating. Encouraging because it means that he’ll surely be in mid-season form before long. Frustrating because he’s so close to making an impact. Yesterday he took a step forward, hitting his first home run of the season and tying the game after the Rangers had taken the lead in the top of the inning.

Harden did not come out throwing gas in the third. His first pitch registered only 86 mph, and while it looked like a fastball PitchFX classified it as a changeup. The next pitch was similar in speed, just 1 mph faster, and break, but it was classified a fastball. In any case, neither of them were particularly impressive, and they both ran right down the middle. Teixeira jacked the second one, about thigh high, into the second deck in right.

Tex didn’t pick up a hit the rest of the afternoon, and it’s quite possible that his slump continues a bit longer. Still, it was nothing but encouraging to see him tie the game with his first homer of the year.

Biggest Pitch: Andrus and Young give Texas the lead (tie)

Photo credit: Kathy Willens/AP

While Pettitte pitched well for most of the game, he still ran into a bit of trouble in the third. Matt Treanor opened the inning with a single, and after a sacrifice bunt found himself on second with one out. On a 1-2 count, Pettitte threw a cutter inside to Elvis Andrus, and the latter hit one sharply down the line for an RBI single. It wasn’t a bad pitch by any means. The pitch was in on Andrus’s hands, but he reacted quickly enough. It was much like Pena did in the bottom of the inning, though Pettitte’s pitch had a bit more movement than Harden’s.

Pettitte then delivered three fastballs off the plate outside to the next hitter, Michael Young. After a fastball strike on the outside corner, Pettitte again went away with the fastball, this time catching a bit of the plate. Young lined it to right, which all but assuredly would score Andrus. Swisher, possibly overestimating his own arm strength, gave it the ol’ college try, but all it did was allow Young to advance to second.

The situation nearly got worse when the next batter, Josh Hamilton, smoked one toward right field. Mark Teixeira made a leaping catch, though, and nearly got Young going back to second. One batter later, Vlad Guerrero popped one up to the infield, leaving the Rangers with their one-run lead.

Cano’s impatience can be frustrating

We’ve gone out of our way to praise Robinson Cano, the new fifth hitter, for his hot start. At times he’s seemed a bit more selective at the plate, even if he drew only his second walk today. During other at-bats, though, he still seems like the hacking kid who came up in 2005. This is what his at-bat in the third felt like.

After Teixeira’s game-tying homer, Harden lost control a bit. He walked A-Rod on five pitches, the four balls all high pitches. What does Cano do to follow-up? He swings at the first three pitches he sees. Harden went down the well, starting Cano with a fastball low in the zone, which the latter fouled away. He fouled the next pitch, a changeup that fell below the zone. The final pitch, a changeup in the dirt, drew a futile swing.

Cano will do this from time to time. The key, I think, is that these incidents are spread further apart than in the past. So far we’ve seen that, an encouraging sign. It’s tough to not be frustrated after watching that at-bat, though.

Happy thoughts

Photo credit: Kathy Willens/AP

Andy’s continued April brilliance. It seems like he’s been excellent to start the year since returning in 2007. He ran into a bit of rough patch early in 2008, but other than that he’s been money in the early goings. He’s not going to pitch like this every time out, but it’s nothing but encouraging to see Pettitte at the top of his game in April.

Brett Gardner’s big day. As Mike said, this isn’t going to be a regular occurrence, but it’s a nice reminder of what Gardner adds to the team when he gets on base. At very worst, his willingness to take pitches works right with the Yankees’ M.O.

The Yanks continue to work opposing pitchers like few other teams. Not only did they force Harden to throw 94 pitches in his 3.2 innings, but they also put a dent in the Rangers’ bullpen. Dustin Nippert threw 40 pitches in 2.1 innings, though Darren Oliver used just 23 to complete the final two. I wonder, though, if by the time Oliver came in everyone was just racing to the finish.

Jorge’s home run was a think of beauty. Nippert opened the AB with two curveballs that missed, and then went exclusively to the fastball. He reached back for something extra on the 3-2, hurling it at 94 after sitting mostly 91-92. It caught all of the plate, though, and Jorge sent it on a line over the right field wall.

Annoyances

Other than Cano’s three-pitch strikeout after A-Rod’s walk, I had few complaints about this one. I had few complaints about the series in general, and seeing how it resulted in a sweep I think I’ll back off the annoyances section for now.

WPA Graph

It dips and rallies.

You can check out the player breakdowns at FanGraphs.

Up Next

The Yanks take the day off today as they travel to start a six-game tour of the AL West. Thankfully, only half of those games start at 10 p.m., with the schedulers cutting us a break on Wednesday with a rare road getaway game. The A’s are up first, 10 p.m. on Tuesday.

Categories : Game Stories

79 Comments»

  1. Pat D says:

    Being that I work to 10:30, I’m not that upset about 3 of the weekday games starting at 10, because I should be able to see most of them. Of course, I will miss Saturday’s game since I have a wedding to go to, but this doesn’t actually bother me that much.

  2. Hangoverologist says:

    I was clapping loudly when Ramiro hit that single. Somehow, I knew that the Yanks weren’t going to look back after that.

    Also, I hate games on the West Coast. They either start too early or too late.

  3. poster says:

    Hey guys, guess what? The Yankees are a pretty good ballclub. Read all about it.

  4. pat says:

    Not all is well in Yankeeland. By the looks of it, our outfielders really need to work on the timing of their celebratory hip bumps.

  5. bexarama says:

    I was busy today and saw the early innings only, up to the fifth or so. Pettitte looked like he was really laboring… I figured he’d get pulled maybe after 5.1 with guys on base. Never imagined he’d go 8. That was awesome. His ERA being over one is truly tragic, though. =P

    It was great to see Pena get the big hit.

    • YankeesJunkie says:

      It is nice to see Pettitte off to a great start. I really could not see him going more than 5 or 6 after the third inning, but then he got his stuff together and rolled. Texas did not even put a fight for most of this week. The offense is continually working 150 pitches a game I would not be surprised if the Yankees score even more runs in the coming weeks.

  6. Dirty Pena says:

    If the Yankees can continue this roll for one more week, there’s an awful lot of Mets, Orioles, and AL Central in the near future.

    • PaulF says:

      It’s gonna get ugly for the rest of baseball. The schedule between June and August is a joke. I really wouldn’t be surprised to see the Yankees play .750 baseball for three months.

  7. YankeesJunkie says:

    If the Yankees and the Sox keep this up for one more week the Yankees may have a 7 game lead in the division over the Sox.

  8. Mike HC says:

    So I think everyone basically agrees there is no reason to play out the rest of the season. Just hand the Yanks the rings right now and let everyone go home.

  9. Cecala says:

    I know it is early in the season still, but I do not think Theo’s little pitching and defense plan is working out as well as he planned. Even the Mariners are not playing as well as I thought they would be.

    The Yankees pitching has been stellar though, they are second lowest in runs allowed throughout baseball. They only gave up 3 more runs than the Giants.

    • YankeesJunkie says:

      Well, Theo’s idea was novel in the sense that he knew that he was not going to have as good as lineup as the Yankees he tried to make the Sox better at pitching and defense. Obviously it is still early the season, but the Sox are going to have trouble winning more than 95 games because the bottom of their lineup is average.

      Seattle should begin to pick up the pace when they get Lee back, but they don’t have enough starting pitching or offense to win a division title this year.

    • bexarama says:

      the one thing I don’t get about the “pitching and defense” thing is how Scutaro got lumped in there. Beltre, Cameron, these are elite defensive players (though did anyone see that ball bonk off Cameron’s glove? lols. I know you can’t base anything off of one play, but it was still hilarious.). Scutaro, he’s not. He’s an improvement over what the Sox have had at SS just because he’s probably not going to be a black hole offensively, but he has a negative UZR there over his career. He did have a positive rating last year, though.

      If they were really going for the “defense” thing Alex Gonzalez and Nick Green are actually better defenders.

      • YankeesJunkie says:

        The big reason why the Sox signed Scutaro over the other two players is because Marco is that much better of an offensive player even though last year is only year he was actually above average. The left side of the Sox’s infield is not very impressive to say the least.

        • bexarama says:

          Yep. He just got lumped in with the epic run prevention mantra when he’s not the defensive player the other two were.

          • Dirty Pena says:

            Wait, a player who was acquired by Boston got overly hyped up despite facts to the contrary?!?!?

            Color me surprised.

            • bexarama says:

              haha

              seriously, I think everyone that follows baseball knows Adrian Beltre is a really good defensive player, but he signs with Boston and suddenly he’s THE GREATEST DEFENSIVE 3B OF ALL TIME and equal to A-Rod.

              • Cecala says:

                The only new player that has been doing well is Lackey but hes pitching tomorrow and I hope he pulls a Lester. He will still be an Ace of the third rotation spot because he is so much better than Pettitte.

              • JGS says:

                I mean, he does have a 102.5 UZR since 2002, and that probably sells him short because it’s missing his age 19-22 seasons, when he was presumably a pretty darn good defender

                A-rod’s equal? Hell no. Damn good third baseman, at least fieldingwise? Yes

                • bexarama says:

                  oh, absolutely. He’s probably still a top three defensive 3B in all of baseball. No doubt. It’s just funny that all of a sudden it’s like “HIS DEFENSE MAKES HIM A-ROD’S EQUAL!!!!” No. No, it does not.

          • larryf says:

            He is one of the few players to beat Mariano with a late inning HR. Maybe the sawx thought he had the answer? NOT!

  10. Beef Hammerdong says:

    The Yanks take the day off today as they travel to start a six-game tour of the AL West. Thankfully, only half of those games start at 10 p.m., with the schedulers cutting us a break on Wednesday with a rare road getaway game. The A’s are up first, 10 p.m. on Tuesday.

    The A’s = umad.jpg

    • bexarama says:

      “You seem defensive and overly-sensitive about the Yankees.”

      “I am.”

      “Why?”

      “Because they get all the coverage from the media. We have some damn good players on our team. If they played for the Yankees they’d be superstars.”

      WAAAAAAHHHH

      Duchscherer living up to his name.

      • YankeesJunkie says:

        Other than Andrew Bailey and Brett Anderson most of the A’s players are nothing to write home about. Whatever, I guess I might get upset if there was only 12 people watching every game.

        • bexarama says:

          I met Andrew Bailey in person once. He was a pretty cool guy. If I was in contact with him I would tell his team to stop being so friggin’ whiny

          • bexarama says:

            I would tell him to tell his team*

          • Dirty Pena says:

            My friends and I heckled Andrew Bailey last year in the bullpen. Some of his friends (I guess he went to college or is from Staten Island or North Jersey or something) came to his aid and were promptly heckled by others themselves. He took it in stride though, at first he was smirking, as if thinking “I’ve been in this stadium many times as a kid, I would’ve been upset had I NOT been heckled.” Then he started talking back a bit. All in good fun.

        • Dirty Pena says:

          Also, superstars? Brett Anderson would probably still be in the minors and Andrew Bailey would be a nice setup man ala David Robertson. Who would be superstars? Chad Gaudin and Edwar Ramirez?

          • bexarama says:

            Suzuki
            Davis

            They also have a nice young pitching staff. I don’t think these guys would be superstars though, Duch is just living up to his name.

            • Dirty Pena says:

              No doubt they have a decent team in general. But Davis would be Brett Gardner and Kurt Suzuki isn’t anything special. In my opinion, no one on the A’s would break the top 10 Yankees as far as “stardom”. IF Anderson was called up at the same time he got called up in Oakland, then maybe. But I highly doubt he would have- he only pitched 31 innings above Class A.

            • Snakes on the mother effin Temple Of Doom says:

              Heh. You said, “Duch.”

          • YankeesJunkie says:

            Nah, Brett Anderson is pretty legit. He was a 3.8 WAR pitcher last year and his SL/100 is over 2. He would be getting a lot more hype if he was on a east coast team a la Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, etc.

            • Dirty Pena says:

              He would’ve spent last year in AA/AAA, and there’s a good chance he would’ve broken camp with Scranton this year. I know he’s legit, but in a different circumstance he wouldn’t have been a major leaguer yet, he is only 22 after all.

    • PaulF says:

      Did they sound scared? I think they sound scared.

      • YankeesJunkie says:

        Vazquez, Hughes, and especially Sabathia could carve their lineup pretty easily if they are anywhere close to playing well. Yankees got lucky they don’t have face Brett Anderson, but I will be interested to see how Ben Sheets looks after being out baseball for over a year.

    • Meat Loaf says:

      So the guy known for having a fear of the public is mad they don’t get enough national media coverage?

      What a douche.

      • bexarama says:

        Heh

        Also, in the early 2000s, when Oakland was craaaazy good, they got so much attention. C’mon. Moneyball? That didn’t get them enough attention? Last year they were crappy and had terrible attendance, it’s not surprising they’re not getting a ton of attention.

    • Kevin G. says:

      I wonder if Duchscherer would be singing the same tune if he was on the Yankee (like many of us here at RAB wanted him to be).

    • “You think the Yankees are devastatingly better than any other teams we play?”

      Yes, Duch. I think that’s the perfect way to put it.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona says:

      He has the nickname J-Douche on here for a reason.

  11. Yankeescribe says:

    AJax is looking like a Rookie of the Year candidate so far.

    .340/.389/.500

  12. dkidd says:

    i’m worried. the yankees need to start slow, fall seven games back, then play .750 ball from july 4th onward. this “not digging a hole in the standings” thing will end badly!!!

    /uncomfortable not having something to worry about’d

  13. Cecala says:

    I really want Javy to have a great start so people can stop riding him over 2004. Hopefully he pitches the second no no of the year. I still can not believe this early there was a no no and CC just missed one and a game went to 20 innings.

  14. YankeeMatt says:

    Did anyone else fine satisfaction in seeing the Sox lose their rain delayed game and then lose the second game of the night as well. Lol between Cameron’s error and Ortiz being benched on Sunday, it turned out quite hilarious. I’ve never seen Tito more surely in the post game interview!

    • Pat D says:

      Anything involving the Sox losing is funny. But we just can’t expect them to keep playing at a 4-8 level. They have too much talent to be that bad. If they’re still at or below .500 in, say, 6 weeks, maybe we can start questioning how legit they are.

      On the other hand, I think it’s pretty clear that the Rays are going to be tough all year.

      • Ghost of Scott Brosius says:

        The Rays look like beasts. That pitching staff is extremely solid, the lineup is filled with explosive hitters, and they have excellent defense and great farm depth for trades or injuries. The one achilles heel is the bullpen, but even that might prove more solid when we think. I think Tampa has to be considered our primary AL competition.

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