Apr
07

Yanks walk their way to first win of the season

By

With two days for the Opening Night loss to fester, the Yankees and their fans were champing at the bit for Tuesday’s matchup. The Yanks and Red Sox played one of those good old fashioned back-and-forth affairs, and it was a typical game between the two rivals: drawn out and mentally draining. Both teams had plenty of chances to blow the game open, but it wasn’t until one batter simply refused to make an on out that the decisive run was scored.

Photo Credit: Charles Krupa, AP

Biggest Hit: Nick Johnson‘s bases loaded walk

The biggest hit of the game wasn’t even a hit, it was a wimpy little walk. Nick Johnson – a.k.a. The OBP Jesus – stepped to the plate in the 8th inning with the bases loaded and two outs, sporting a .444 OBP on the young season but zero hits. He drew a pair of walks in five plate appearances on Sunday, then drew another walk and was hit by a pitch in his first four plate appearances on Tuesday. Hideki Okajima was already 27 pitches into his night when Johnson  dug in, so fatigue was starting to come into the picture.

After three straight balls, NJ took a called strike before Okajima missed inside with a pitch, putting Johnson on base for the fifth time of the season and simultaneously walking in the go ahead run. It was the biggest WPA swing of the game, and he didn’t even bother to take the bat off of his shoulders. Nick’s cool like that.

Biggest Out: Marco Scutaro’s double play

In terms of WPA, the four biggest outs record by Yankee pitchers were all three outs in the 8th inning and the first out in the 9th inning. I’m going to go back a little bit earlier for what I think was the biggest out of the game, Marco Scutaro’s inning ending double play in the 4th. The Yankees trailed 3-1 at the time, and the Red Sox were poised to tack on some more runs after Adrian Beltre singled (again) and Mike Cameron took a breaking ball to the ribs.

A.J. Burnett had been in battle mode all night, pitching out of the stretch for what seemed like the entire game. He painted the outside black for strike one to the former A’s utility man, then overthrew a fastball that was too high for a ball. His third pitch, a 95 mph two seamer down and in, tied Scutaro up, resulting in a harmless groundball to short that turned into an inning ending 6-4-3 double play. If Scutaro reaches base and turns the lineup over with less than two outs, things could have gotten out of hand quickly.

Photo Credit: Elise Amendola, AP

Pulling the starter an inning early

Second guessing calls to the bullpen comes with the territory of baseball blogging, and we saw a prime example of this Sunday night when CC Sabathia was left in even after he was visibly fatigued. Joe Girardi didn’t make the same mistake tonight, lifting Burnett after five innings and 94 pitches, but more importantly, before he had a chance to work himself into trouble in the 6th.

Burnett’s performance was okay – 5 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K – servicable, but nothing to write home about. He didn’t have a 1-2-3 inning all night, and he let the leadoff hitter reach base in the first four frames. Just two of those leadoff hitters came around to score, but starting 80% of your innings off with a baserunner isn’t exactly a recipe for success. Burnett finished strong by striking out both Kevin Youkilis and The Corpse of David Ortiz swinging, but given his generally shakiness, it was time to get him out of there.

The old saying is that it’s better to get rid of a player a year early than a year late, and that same concept applies to this game. Bravo to Girardi for getting Burnett out of there before he made another mess, one he may not have been able to wiggle out of.

Bullpen shenanigans

Once Burnett was out of the game, Girardi turned to old reliable, Al Aceves. The Mexican Gangster tossed up two perfect innings on just 23 pitches, but once the almighty 8th inning came around, Girardi went back into micromanaging mode. The same cast of characters that let the game get away on Sunday night were right back in there on Tuesday, though they escaped the inning unscathed after Joba Chamberlain struck out a pair and pumped his fists like drunken pledges on initiation night. It worked for this game, but the constant mixing and matching is painful to watch. The more relievers you use, the more likely it is that you’ll find someone having a bad night.

Things That Made Me Smile

Photo Credit: Charles Krupa, AP

Nick Johnson gets all the attention for his plate discipline skills, but the other Nick put on an absolute clinic tonight. Swisher’s first at-bat came with runners at first and second and one out, and he served a 94 mph fastball on the outer half into the rightfield corner for a game tying double. His plate appearance in the 4th lasted five pitches and ended when he took a curveball off his back foot. Leading off the 6th against Manny Delcarmen, Swisher took the first three pitches for a 2-1 count, then fouled a pitch off and took another off the plate to work it full. Two more foul balls later, he roped a double off the wall. In his final turn at the plate. Swish fouled off four 0-2 pitches and seven total (seven!) in an 11 pitch at-bat. The Yankees’ 7th place hitter saw 30 pitches by himself on Tuesday, seven more than anyone else on the field.

Considering how much attention his defense received after Sunday’s game, I suspect we won’t hear a damn thing about Jorge Posada‘s fine work behind the plate tonight. He blocked several curveballs in the dirt with guys on base, and even called for a 3-2 curve with a runner on third, knowing if it got away from him it would cost the team a run. Yeah, he threw the ball into center on Jacoby Ellsbury first inning stolen base, but he shouldn’t have been on base in the first place. He was though, and that’s because…

The Marcus Thames Experiment got off to an inauspicious start when he misread a fly ball that led to a run in the first, and then he later compounded the damage by striking out looking to end the fourth. Needless to say, I was glad to see Girardi give him the quick hook and pinch hit Brett Gardner in the 6th inning. Although they didn’t score in the inning, it was the right move. Thames has a very limited skill set, so getting a more useful player into the game once Jon Lester was out of there increased the team’s chances of winning.

Faced the challenge of hitting in the fifth spot on the lineup, Robbie Cano continues to smoke the ball. He singled in the 2nd, walked to lead off the 4th, drove in a run with a sac fly in the 5th, and pushed a big insurance run across the plate with a solo jack in the 9th. Cano’s hitting a cool .500 on the young season.

Photo Credit: Elise Amendola, AP

Joba Chamberlain’s fist pump. I still think he should be a starter, but man, those are always fun. Two batters faced, two swinging strikeouts. It was good to see someone slam the door in a sticky situation after Sunday’s debacle.

Annoying Moments

Even though they won, the Yankees squandered more than their fair share of opportunities. They leadoff man reached base in the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th innings, yet they only scored runs in two of those innings. As a team, they went just 3-for-14 with men in scoring position, though that doesn’t include NJ’s bases loaded free pass. Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, and Curtis Granderson went a combined 0-for-8 in those spots. That’s three guys in the span of four lineup spots leaving ducks on the pond.

It’s probably just a small sample size thing, but damn, Jeter’s hitting a ton of grounders to short so far. He had three of them in the first game (one got through for a hit), and then three more this game. The Captain’s calling card is serving the ball into right, but he has yet to put a ball in play to that field in this young season, instead hitting everything back up the middle, shaded towards the shortstop.

Damaso Marte throwing over to with Kevin Youkilis on first. The guy has 19 career steals in close to 700 games. How necessary was that? If that wasn’t bad enough, he threw a sinker and Tex couldn’t handle it, putting the tying run on second with no outs late in the game.

Next Up

These two teams are back at it tomorrow night for the final game of the series, with first pitch scheduled for 7:10pm ET. That one will be on YES and ESPN2.

WPA Graph

Who doesn’t love these things? You can check out the individual player breakdowns at FanGraphs’ box score.

Categories : Game Stories

160 Comments»

  1. pat says:

    The pitch f/x graph for Johnson’s walk is a bit, ummmm interesting.

    http://www.brooksbaseball.net/.....8;s_type=3

  2. We’re only two seasons into Girardi’s tenure as manager, but haven’t we gone through these issues with him and his overmanaging of the bullpen before? It seems like we often complain about his in-game bullpen management, but by the end of the season we’re all marveling at how well he managed the bullpen, found everyone an appropriate amount of work, and put everyone into the right roles over the course of the season.

    All of which is to say… Maybe we need to cool it with microcriticizing, if you will, his micromanagement?

  3. WIlliam says:

    The Robertson micromanagement and the Marte pickoff attempt were quite frankly painful to watch, but in the end we won, and that, along with no one getting hurt, is all that matters.

  4. bexarama says:

    Good writeup. That bottom of the eighth gave me a heart attack, but we won and like WIlliam says, that’s all that matters.

    http://espn.go.com/blog/new-yo.....-different

    ESPN New York, ladies and gentlemen!!!

  5. Salty Buggah says:

    For one game, Nick Johnson made people forget about Matsui (well, somewhat). This lineup is beyond awesome. Is there any single AB you would miss? In some years, one could skip a Melky AB (thought not me, I was a Melky fan, just not as big as Drew) or even a Cano AB. Now it’s nearly impossible because everyone’s ABs are so enticing.

  6. Surprised there wasn’t mention of the umpiring tonight.

    • Salty Buggah says:

      I guess the standards for Angel Hernandez are so low that everything that happened today isn’t worth bringing up. The couple of plays at 1B maybe, but that’s all, no?

    • pat says:

      Peep that link I posted above. According to pitch f/x 4 out of Oki’s 5 pitches to Johnson were in the strikezone.

      • Yeah, I saw that. Even though we’re thrilled that NJ walked and that was the turning point, I’d rather they’d gotten the call right.

        Yes, we had a lot of questionable balls and strikes calls go against us, and some would argue that things even out, but I don’t think that should make a lick of difference.

        MLB should do all they can to get the calls correct. And that didn’t happen.

        It’s unfortunate and correctable.

        • poster says:

          I agree, though I would point out that if some of the bad calls from earlier went OUR way we may not have needed a go-ahead eighth inning Nick Johnson walk in the first place. We could’ve just, you know, been winning.

          Not that what you said isn’t true. Just clarifying that it DOES go both ways.

  7. Beamish says:

    I like it better when Mo takes the bases loaded walk to “bat in” the winning run.

    I could do with fewer fist pumps from Joba though. We get it, you are excited. Stop acting like a child.

    • Drew says:

      Come on man. What did you say when Lester jumped off the mound cursing and yelling(I forget what inning it was)? He’s not acting like a child. He’s not showing up the opponent. He’s acting like he’s got a gallon of adrenaline pumping through his veins.

    • PaulF says:

      If he saves it for games against Boston after protecting a 1-run lead with a runner in scoring position with a strikeout, then I’m fine with it. That was a pretty perfect place for a fist-pump-and-spin. When he does it against the Orioles (which he probably will) then I’ll agree with you

      • Drew says:

        Again, imo, it comes back to adrenaline. If he’s in the game and views an AB as a big situation, he’s going to have that rush. He’s going to have that big exhale of emotions. No matter what team he’s going against, if he’s hyped, he’s going to have that rush of adrenaline.

        It’s only natural. Some guys can contain it. Some guys never experience it. If you’re okay with it when CC screams into his glove after a big K, you should be okay with it when Joba does it in a big spot.

        Now, a big spot in Joba’s eyes may not be a big spot in your eyes. You’re viewing the game from the outside, he’s in it. So, if he gets that surge of emotions against the O’s, M’s or A’s, so be it.

        • If you’re okay with it when CC screams into his glove after a big K, you should be okay with it when Joba does it in a big spot.

          Restated for emphasis.

          • I hate even getting involved in this conversation, because I don’t think it’s a big deal… But I disagree. I really don’t think this is important enough to talk about, so I’ll bow out of this conversation after posting this comment, but I think Joba looks like a punk when he carries on the way he does, and I think it’s different than CC yelling into his glove as he walks to the dugout. And I’m not even going to get into why, other than to say that this is a totally subjective matter, and I think that the fact that a pretty large portion of the fanbase thinks it’s lame is evidence enough when dealing with such a subjective matter.

            That’s it… Hit and run style from me on this topic.

    • mbonzo says:

      When I play sports and the game is on the line and I do something to keep the team in it I usually get pretty excited. Sometimes without thinking about it I’ll yell, jump, and sometimes even fist pump. We’ve seen Mariano, Posada, and Jeter get excited too. Its something that happens in the moment when your head is in the game and all you’re thinking about is winning.

      If Joba did what he was supposed to do then he is entitled to show as much emotion as he wants. He said it best when talking about Aubrey Huff’s fist pump, “He did what he was supposed to do with the pitch — he hit a home run,” Chamberlain said. “If he wants to do a back flip, he can do a back flip. It really doesn’t bother me.”

  8. AndrewYF says:

    Edwar alert in the Mariner’s game.

  9. Biggest Hit: Nick Johnson’s bases loaded walk
    The biggest hit of the game wasn’t even a hit, it was a wimpy little walk. Nick Johnson – a.k.a. The OBP Jesus Larry Craig’s Wide Stance – stepped to the plate in the 8th inning with the bases loaded and two outs, sporting a .444 OBP on the young season but zero hits.

    Fixed that for ya.

  10. I’ve really been over the whole Joba conversation lately, but just one thing… Everyone seems to want to proclaim that we saw 2007 reliever Joba tonight, but I think what we saw looked much more like 2008 starter Joba.

    Le sigh.

    • Yep. He wasn’t as overpowering and was pitching, not throwing and with control.

      Joba of 2007 was less refined but his stuff was just so incredible it couldn’t be touched.

    • What you say is just impossible. He can’t have been Joba the 2008 starter tonight, because he wasn’t starting. He’s in the pen. Clearly, that means he’s not 2008 Joba, he’s 2007 Joba.

      Similarly, Nick Johnson is a DH and Brett Gardner is an LF, so they’ve replaced Matsui and Damon, and there’s no other way to look at this.

      There’s just no other way. You’re wrong, Mondesi, you’re wrong. Joba was in the bullpen before and was good. He was good again tonight and was in the bullpen. This means that his goodness and his being in the bullpen are linked to each other.

      Correlation equals causation. Always. Each and every time.

      • Salty Buggah says:

        Correlation equals causation. Always. Each and every time.

        That reminds me. I wanted the Yanks to lose tonight because I saw this fact earlier today:

        Yankees have started 0-2 just twice since 1985 — in 1998 and 2009. Both times they won World Series

        If they had lost, they would have been guaranteed to win the World Series. But they unfortunately lost so now they have to find another way win to #28.

  11. YankeesJunkie says:

    So I was think about the lineup today and I realized that the three worst hitters in the lineup are Gardner and LF (Winn and Thames), Granderson, and Johnson. That is ridiculous. This offense could easily get close to 1000 runs and if the pitching is anything like last year the Yankees will have the division in hand.

  12. AJ says:

    Weird, in today’s Oakland vs. Seattle game, Edwar Ramirez got the win and Kanekoa Texeira got the loss. Oh well.

  13. Hughesus Christo says:

    Can’t wait to see a mediocre pitcher try to get through this lineup.

  14. James says:

    While Thames didn’t go deep or anything…he was able to get on base with a walk in his 1st AB. and the K looking in the 4th was on a pretty good hook.

    If indeed this is a platoon situation, which i don’t know you can say it won’t be when Thames gets a start in the 2nd game of the season, it was nice to see him get on base in 1 of his 2 ABs vs the tough lefty.

  15. Rey22 says:

    We are now on pace to win 82 more games than we were a day ago!

    /SSS FTW

  16. Meat Loaf says:

    Meat Loaf’s 3 Things, Game 2.
    1. Joba fistpumping is passion. As a fan of another team, sure, I might be pissed because he’s rubbing it in. But if you are going to be angry at Joba fistpumping you need to learn to deal with it. Have you screamed “Yes!” When he has mowed someone down before? Yes. He is DOING the mowing, shouldn’t he have a right to be excited? Passion should never be attacked, especially on a Yankee’s blog.

    2. Gardner is growing on me. He doesn’t look as patheic in his at bats, and if he can keep slicing them to left and beating out the occasional grounder, I’ll take him over clearly-clueless-Thames. I still don’t understand taking him over the Hoff.

    3. I really like this game summary style. Keep including those charts, too. This new thing is working.

  17. Omar says:

    Regarding questioning bullpen management, while it’s okay to question some moves (like bringing in Veras against KC last year when it resulted in a loss, as opposed to Rivera) not many of the moves he made were THAT crazy. It’s early, he wants to know what he has in some relievers, obviously he didn’t give the Ho Train a second shot but he showed confidence in relievers with great histories and Aceves looked like the Alfredo of old…I’m okay with him toying around with relievers to a certain extent. I hope Robertson grows on him as the season progresses. He seems to be better at bullpen management than the last guy was and so far hasn’t Proctored anyone.

  18. pete says:

    I lovelovelove these wrapup formats. But one thing re: teh pen management: I hesitate to call it micromanaging. Considering the fact that we knew going into last night that Robertson was pitching better than Marte or Joba, it would have made more micromanagerial sense to leave him in, or have aceves throw one inning, Robertson the next, Joba the next or something like that.

    I think Joe’s bullpen style is actually more macromanaging than micromanaging. Consider this: Marte and Chamberlain sucked two days ago and hadn’t pitched in between. How was Girardi to know they wouldn’t suck again? He didn’t, he just knew that if they were going to be effective long-term, then they had to start pitching regularly. I think one of his primary goals going into last night was to get Aceves two innings, and another was to give Robertson, Marte, and Joba each another go-round. And on that note, I’d be willing to guarantee that we’ll see Chan Ho Park tonight, whether or not it’s a close game. And whether or not we lose the game because of that move, I’d say that right now it’s probably the right one.

    • Accent Shallow says:

      I lovelovelove these wrapup formats.

      Agreed.

    • Rose says:

      And on that note, I’d be willing to guarantee that we’ll see Chan Ho Park tonight, whether or not it’s a close game. And whether or not we lose the game because of that move, I’d say that right now it’s probably the right one.

      I disagree. If the game is close there’s more of a chance you don’t see Chan Ho Park tonight. There will be plenty of time to throw Park out there. If the Yanks are killing it or the Sox are killing them – I think you’re more apt to see Park again.

      I believe what you are saying is correct though. He’s clearly not going to just never put Park in a crucial situation again or whatever…I just don’t think it’s necessary for that to be immediately right now. It’s the 3rd game of the season and there’s plenty of time to correct things…but at the same time…every win is important. Every game is important. Sacrificing losses for the chance that the pitcher MAY be able to help you win a equally as important game later. IMO anyway.

      • pete says:

        I dunno. I doubt Andy goes much more than 5 innings tonight, and if he doesn’t, who are we going to throw out there. Ace threw two innings yesterday, he might be good for an inning today but probably no more, Robertson’s fine I’m sure, but Joba’s probably got tonight off.

        My guess: 5.1 IP for Andy, .2 for CHoP, .2 for Ace, .1 for Marte, 1 for Robertson, 1 for Mo

        • Rose says:

          You’re forgetting about the “Midnight” Mitre…he’s good for the long haul should something go wrong. Then you can mess around with the Marte/Robertson/Mo combo. Aceves could be good for an inning if necessary but I wouldn’t expect more.

          But I guess you’re right. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Park in there tonight. I just would rather not lol

          • pete says:

            oh right forgot about Mitre. Yeah he’s probably going to get an inning in tonight as well. Andy for 5, Mitre for 1, Park for 1, D-Mart, Mo?

            • Rose says:

              Joba could essentially go again. Let’s not forget that they had an off day in between. He didn’t even pitch a full inning last night and threw only 9 pitches (6 for strikes!) although he did throw 33 pitches on Sunday. Aceves only threw 23 pitches in his 2 innings of work (would have been significantly less had Jeter not had that error too). Robertson only threw 4 pitches last night and only 6 pitches on Sunday lol.

              I’d say almost anybody is still ready to go.

              The Sox on the other hand, Atchinson threw the same amount of pitches as Aceves in 2/3′s less innings, Bard threw 16 pitches in 1 inning, Delcarmen threw 20 pitches in 1 inning. They probably have anybody they want too though.

              Should be a full stacked bullpen. The results may not compensate however…

        • Rose says:

          What about the Sox pen tonight?

          That Atchinson looks like they plucked him from the 3rd Base Coach position…

  19. Rose says:

    The best is my fantasy league doesn’t have BA or OBP but OPS and Nick Johnson without getting a hit last night had an OPS of .500 lol. Arod had a big RBI double and his OPS was .600.

    Nick Johnson’s been doing exactly what he’s being paid to do. Exactly what we want him to do. I’m very excited about him in the 2-hole and if he stays healthy I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t repeat (well, as long as everyone stays healthy that is…)

  20. A.D. says:

    pumped his fists like drunken pledges on initiation night.

    and the Krukster was pro-fist pump on BBTN

  21. Rose says:

    but the other Nick put on an absolute clinic tonight.

    Swish “The Dish” absolutely LOVES April…

    .267/.386/.530 (.915) – these career numbers ain’t never lie…

    When you look even further its amazing to see just how consistent Swish “The Dish” really is…(doubles, HR, RBI, BB, even SO are all very comparable.)

  22. Mike F. says:

    Joba clearly belongs in the pen where he can show his true personality.

    But cut out that fist pumping. It’s not the Yankee way.

  23. Coach6423 says:

    The whole fist pump vs. non fist pump thing is so lame. Who cares.

  24. Wait, did I miss something, or was there another major flare-up in the never-ending Fist Pump debate?

  25. ChrisS says:

    Annoying Moments

    Michael Kay trying to manufacture controversy for two and third innings. I think Al and Ken were even getting a little peeved with him.

    Michael, you’re there to call the game. If you want to drum up something to talk about, then do it on your pissant radio show.

  26. Ed says:

    Two exciting games to start the season and hopefully we’ll get a good one tonight. I stumbled across several instructional hitting videos by Don Mattingly on LockerBlogger.com. In the videos, Mattingly breaks down his routine at the plate. They seem to be very informative and useful for anyone looking to enhance their hitting technique. I’ve posted a link in case anyone is interested. http://www.lockerblogger.com/v.....proach-bat

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