Yanks score early and often as Burnett shuts down Texas

Charleston knocks around a top 2009 draftee
Sunday reading: Saving Ruth's other field

Just like the second half of last season, we sit and watch every game this year expecting the Yankees to win. They’ve delivered on seven of ten occasions coming into Saturday’s game against the Rangers, and they took the field with a chance to win their first four series of the season for the first time since 1926. Using a little bit of the classic wear ‘em down approach, the Yankees had this one in the bag after three innings.

Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II, AP

Biggest Play: Nick Johnson‘s bases loaded walk

For the second time this young season, the biggest offensive play of the game was Nick Johnson working a bases loaded walk. Rangers’ starter Scott Feldman came into the game having walked just one batter total in his first two starts, but Johnson drew one in the 1st and came back for more the next inning.

Jorge Posada, Brett Gardner, and Derek Jeter were on base after three singles, and Feldman had already thrown 25 pitches in the inning.Johnson, as he tends to do, took the first pitch even though it was probably the best pitch he saw all game; a fastball belt high and down the middle. A curveball low and two sinkers off the plate later, the Yankees’ designated hitter was staring at a 3-1 count. Johnson let loose in the classic hitter’s count, fouling off a sinker. Two more foul balls later, Feldman’s pitch count in the inning was up to 32 and he was visibly gassed. It’s exactly what the lineup is designed to do, to wear down the opposing team’s pitching staff. The eighth pitch of the at-bat was a cutter high, putting Johnson on first and pushing the first run of the game across the plate.

The Yankees would go on to score another run in the inning for a quick 2-0 lead, and Feldman’s pitch count through the first two frames was over 50.

Biggest Out: Nick Swisher‘s fly out

An inning after Johnson gave the Yankees the lead, the other New York Nick stepped to the plate with a chance to really blow things open. Posada and Curtis Granderson were stationed at second and third with one out, chasing Feldman from the game after he needed 73 pitches to record seven outs. Reliever Doug Mathis came in and was able to retire Nick Swisher on three pitches, getting him to fly out to shallow left, keeping Posada on third.

Even though the Yanks were able to score four runs in the inning after Swish recorded the second out, it could have been a whole lot more if he reached base.

Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II, AP

Biggest Pitch: Michael Young’s fly out

Just as soon as the Yanks took a 2-0 lead, Texas threatened to get some back the very never inning. Taylor Teagarden was standing on third with two outs, and in stood Michael Young, who believe it or not had more hits than Derek Jeter from 2004 through 2009. Instead of waiting out the perpetually wild A.J. Burnett, Young offered at the first pitch, a 93 mph heater in on his hands, flying out harmlessly to Swisher in right. The threat was over, and the two run lead remained just that.

Burnett rolls along

Perhaps more than any other pitcher on the Yankees staff, Burnett has the potential to go out on any given day and throw a one-hit shutout or give up nine runs in two innings. You could either be upset that he’s inconsistent, or enjoy the surprise every time he pitches.

Today, Burnett kept the Rangers’ hitters off balance all day with his usual mix of fastballs and curves. He got 14 swings and misses in his seven innings of work, all of them coming on a fastball. Five of the six hits he allowed were singles, and his biggest jam of the day – bases loaded, one out in the 5th – didn’t come until after he was staked to a seven run lead.

Seven shutout innings is more than you can ask from any starter, and Burnett was kind enough to deliver on Saturday. Over his last two outings, the Yanks’ number two starter has allowed just a pair of runs in 14 innings.

Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II, AP

Happy Moments

Michael Kay had starting bringing attention to it with each at-bat, so it was good to see Alex Rodriguez hit his first homerun of the year. It was a solo shot just to the right of the Yankees’ bullpen, and it pushed him ahead of Mark McGwire for sole possession of eighth on the all-time homerun list. He’s now 16 away from 600.

When’s the last time the Yankees had a team that could beat out three infield singles in one inning? Granderson, Gardner, and Jeter turned the trick in the 5th, and even though they didn’t score, it sure was fun watching a team that can run. Gardner had three hits on the day, none of which left the infield. He almost beat out a fourth too.

Ramiro Pena finally got an at-bat. Good for him.

Annoying Moments

Al Aceves was definitely not sharp, but he gets a pass because the Yanks were winning big and it was only his second appearance in the last 11 days. The three run homer he allowed to league leader Nelson Cruz ruined the shutout, but really did nothing in the grand scheme of things. The Yankees went from having a 99.2% chance of winning to 97.4%. Big whoop.

I don’t know what’s up with Joba Chamberlain pitching exclusively from the stretch, but I’m not sure I see the point. He’s been a starter and pitching from the windup his entire life, why change it up now? I see no reason for him to not work from the windup with no one on. No point in sacrificing stuff.

WPA Graph

Full player breakdowns are available at FanGraphs’ box score.

Next Up

These two teams finish up the series at 1:05pm ET tomorrow afternoon, Andy Pettitte vs. Rich Harden.

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Charleston knocks around a top 2009 draftee
Sunday reading: Saving Ruth's other field
  • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime (Optimovelist Primus)

    Feh, the Mets/Cardinals WPA chart is more interesting.

    On another note, AJ looked real good.

  • The Big City of Dreams

    another series win for the yanks looking for the sweep tomorrow

    • mbonzo

      Against the Yanks, Harden is 1-2 with a 4.5 era in 38 ip.
      Against the Rangers, Pettitte is 10-9 with a 5.41 era in 138 ip.

      Pettitte’s numbers mean a bit more than Harden’s but I think the Yankees bats are gonna have to win this one. Anything can happen in baseball though.

      • http://www.soxandpinstripes.net JGS

        Eh, even Pettitte’s numbers don’t mean that much. For one thing, it includes stuff like this game and this game. Pretty sure Pudge is the only player from those games who is still in baseball, forget about still on the Rangers.

        I think this page is much better than his numbers against the Rangers. Man look out for Vlad

        • bexarama

          yikes @ those games

          The Ballpark in Arlington used to be like… Anaheim times twenty for the Yankees, it was ridiculous

          • http://www.soxandpinstripes.net JGS

            not really

            6-3 against Texas in 1995
            5-7 in 1996 (beat them 3-1 in the playoffs)
            7-4 in 1997
            8-3 in 1998 (beat them 3-0 in the playoffs)
            8-4 in 1999 (beat them 3-0 in the playoffs again)

            Sucks for the Rangers that 1996, 1998, and 1999 were their only playoff appearances ever

            • bexarama

              they only won one game out of six against Texas AT Texas in 1996, which is where the idea comes from. They then won two games at Arlington in the postseason :) Oh, and Texas’ losing pitcher in Game 3? Darren Oliver. Yikes!

              • bexarama

                also, I’m seriously impressed that the 1998 and 1999 Yankees each held Texas to one run over a three-game series. One run!! And those were GOOD offensive teams.

                • http://www.soxandpinstripes.net JGS

                  1998 and 1999 Yankees. Good at baseball

      • bexarama

        http://www.baseball-reference......rams=oppon|TEX|pettian01|pitch|IP|

        Not very pretty numbers but a lot of those starts are from a while ago. I was also at an excellent Pettitte start against Texas last year. He also had a pretty crappy start against them last year earlier in the year, so who knows.

      • Salty Buggah

        Harden, with his nibbling problems, lack of control at times, and inefficiency, should not be too big of a problem with the Yanks’ patient power bats. Pettitte just has to keep the offense within striking distance, which I’m sure he can do.

        (Hope I didn’t jinx anything)

    • The Big City of Dreams

      sweep!!!!!!!!!!!

  • The Big City of Dreams

    “He’s been a starter and pitching from the windup his entire life, why change it up now? I see no reason for him to not work from the windup with no one on. No point in sacrificing stuff.”

    maybe he’s just trying to get into the mindset of a reliever. It was strange seeing him do it because as you said he’s always gone from the wind-up but with joba it’s always something lol

    • The Three Amigos

      I dont think they were making a change… I think they probably wanted him to face live hitters from the stretch to work on something. What better way then in a game in hand?

      • The Big City of Dreams

        true you have a point that could have been a reason

  • http://www.mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

    Over his last two outings, the Yanks’ number two starter has allowed just a pair of runs in 14 innings with Jorge Posada catching.

  • http://www.mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

    Funny you mention Joba going from the stretch, as Ubaldo went to the stretch tonight because he was so wild out of the windup.

    But yeah, I really don’t like seeing Joba pitch exclusively from the stretch.

    • ROBTEN

      But yeah, I really don’t like seeing Joba pitch exclusively from the stretch.

      I haven’t been able to watch much, as I am currently stuck in Europe, but it’s this kind of stuff that worries me. If he’s having such mechanical problems with delivery/command that he’s switching to the stretch, and in the short term he’s essentially only a marginal upgrade over someone like Melancon, then it makes no sense to keep working him out of the pen rather than in Scranton. If this is a permanent (or semi-permanent) delivery change – and, again, I grant that it may not be – then it seems like the Yankees have lost all perspective when it comes to Joba.

      • The Kruker

        even if the yankees have decided that he is not a starter, woould it be such a bad thing to have him go down to scranton for a month or two? He looked good yesterday as his slider was nasty, but sitting 91 with the fastball??? I have accepted that the days of 99 mph joba are long gone, but he has shown he can throw harder than that which makes me think it is mechanical and not loss of ability (total loss of ability) or injury.

        the bullpen doesnt need him right now so I would like to see him down in the minors working on his craft and hopefully straightening out whatever is wrong with him

        • The Big City of Dreams

          I’m in favor of sending him down too and thought that would be the right move once he lost the “battle” for the 5th but unfortunately thats not what the yankees have in mind.

          “I have accepted that the days of 99 mph joba are long gone, but he has shown he can throw harder than that which makes me think it is mechanical and not loss of ability (total loss of ability) or injury.”

          exactly the fact that he has thrown hard suggests that the ability is still there but his mechanical issues just needs to be straightened out. Hopefully they can correct it because the kid has a world of talent

  • bexarama

    they took the field with a chance to win their first four series of the season for the first time since 1926.

    HOLY CRAP

    Agreed, it’s awesome to see the Yankees legging out infield singles and the way they work the count is just… disgusting.

  • http://kierstenschmidt.com Kiersten

    Walk offs? We don’t need no stinkin walk offs.

  • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ pete

    Stretch/Windup aside, I really liked what I saw from Joba yesterday. He was mixing his pitches very well (threw a couple of sliders for strikes and a couple of wipeout ones, a nice backdoor curve, decent velo on the 4-seam FB, decent action on the 2-seamer, and what appeared to be a nice cutter (of which he might have had the best command of any of his pitches). Overall, I was encouraged by his outing, if not the pitching from the stretch.

    • The Big City of Dreams

      he was throwing a few cutters yesterday?

      • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ pete

        that’s what it looks like. They didn’t look vicious, but it seemed like a pitch that he had really good command of, and a 90mph fastball with some movement and good command = a great pitch.

        • The Big City of Dreams

          so that explains why many of his fastballs fluctuated in velocity yesterday. I maybe wrong about this but in 2007 or 2008 wasn’t he throwing the cutter as well?

          • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ pete

            I definitely don’t remember that. I remember him having such a dominant hopping 4-seamer (not a lot of lateral movement, but essentially so fast that it drops less than the brain expects it to in the time it takes to move from the hand to the plate) and slider that he didn’t need to use a cutter. I remember seeing a few two seamers, though none of them particularly good.

            • The Big City of Dreams

              Maybe I was wrong but I vaguely remember him saying something about sitting next to mo and using a cutter. AHHHHHH who knows for sure

  • larryf

    Maybe Mo suggested the stretch. JoMo-a deadly 8th and 9th-even if MoJo sounds better.

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ pete

      Thus far into the season, Joba the reliever has been no better than Robertson, Marte, or Park, and when Ace gets going he’ll be just as good, too. Hell, when Melancon gets called up he could be just as good as well. I really don’t think there’s any need to assign an arbitrary 8th inning role to Joba. Let people pitch when they are feeling good and the matchups make sense.

  • mko

    I see no reason for him to not work from the windup with no one on. No point in sacrificing stuff.

    What do you mean? Why is pitching from the stretch “sacrificing stuff”?

    • Hughesus Christo

      Why doesn’t everyone pitch from the stretch all the time?

      • mko

        I don’t know, I would…it must be tougher to have two different motions working at the same time.

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ pete

      I don’t have a problem with him trying to get some work out of the stretch, but as the motion from the stretch is quicker than from the windup, it gives the pitcher less of a chance to get everything behind his stuff. In other words, he’ll either see diminished velocity or have to strain his arm more than he already is to get the velo up (usually resulting in diminished command). Personally, I’ll take the diminished stuff + improved command over diminished command + increased injury risk.

      • mko

        but as the motion from the stretch is quicker than from the windup, it gives the pitcher less of a chance to get everything behind his stuff. In other words, he’ll either see diminished velocity or have to strain his arm more than he already is to get the velo up (usually resulting in diminished command).

        Interesting. Is there some sort of evidence to support this statement? Or at least an article about it?

        • dalelama

          A stopwatch proves the first point and see Newton’s Law of Physics for an explanation of the second.

          • mko

            Smartass…and not a very good one.

        • http://mystiqueandaura.com/ pete

          There probably is, somewhere. I know that the Nationals are working on elongating Strasburg’s stretch delivery, saying that it was at around 1.00s (!!!) and they’d prefer it around 1.3s. But my only real evidence is from experience. I used to pitch in HS and threw pretty hard for my league, so I thought maybe I would try to neutralize baserunners by throwing as quickly as I could from the stretch. In doing so I not only lost velocity and command, but also couldn’t throw for a week afterwards because my arm was so sore.

          In general, when I pitched, my arm would never hurt afterwards. Interestingly enough, though, I could blow it out on a single throw from the outfield. I guess what I’m trying to say is that while throwing as hard as you can can induce a ton of strain on your arm, it is possible to pitch without causing nearly as much stress. But this takes more time, because you need to gather your weight and then allow gravity to do a lot of the work for you.

          I wasn’t gunned very often, but I do remember we used one for a bullpen session once because the pitching coach wanted to prove this very point to me. First he told me to throw from the windup at full speed, and I clocked in at 86-87. Then he told me to try to throw with my hips and legs and just go downhill and use as little arm strength as at all possible, and I was 83-85. Then he said to throw as hard as I could from the stretch, and I was 83-85 again. Then he said throw as hard as I could from a quick sidestep, and I was 80-81, and had absolutely no command.

          Now this may have just been me, and obviously isn’t conclusive evidence of anything, but I can certainly attest to the fact that it is easier to throw hard from the windup than from the stretch.

          • mko

            Cool story, very interesting! Thanks.

  • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

    I called OBP Jesus’ bases loaded BB and my girlfriend called A-Rod’s homer. We rule. The stadium was real cold yesterday; being in the upper deck didn’t help much.

    • http://twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      You called something that happens more than a quarter of the time and your girlfriend predicted a homer from a guy with 583 before yesterday batting against a reliever, Nostradamus (and Lady Nostradamus).

      (Just sayin’.)

  • Matt

    Guys, this is out of left field, but does anyone know how to listen to Yankee games on the internet? Just wondering if it’s possible.