Joba, Mo can’t finish off the Twins

Laird drives in seven as Trenton pushes winning streak to ten
Fan Confidence Poll: May 17th, 2010

No one likes to see a game like that. The Yanks seemed in control the whole time. Sergio Mitre did his job, and then David Robertson did his. To have it come apart in the hands of your two best relievers will certainly break hearts. We know that Joba can’t K ’em all, and we know that Mo has one of these hiccups once or twice a year. I hope that, by this point, everyone knows it’s not time to write a column about how Mo’s time has come. Sadly, you know it’s there.

Biggest Hit: Winn splits the outfielders

Photo credit: Seth Wenig/AP

The Twins got on the board in the second when Justin Morneau hit a solo homer, but that wasn’t the biggest deal. Morneau will do that from time to time, and the Yanks were sure to score a run at some point. It didn’t look like that would come in the second. The first two batters made outs, though Jorge did come through with a single up the middle. Marcus Thames drew a rare walk, but even then things didn’t look good, for Randy Winn was at the bat.

During Curtis Granderson‘s absence I’ve grown accustomed to seeing Winn swing over pitches. Even with fastballs it seems like his bat passes through the zone a good few inches above where the ball crosses. This time, though, he went down and got a low fastball and drove it into the gap. The Twins fielders seemed ill positioned for such a drive — it takes a special kind of hit to score Marcus Thames from first, even with two out. That put the Yanks up 2-1.

Winn picked up another big hit, though we’ll get to that later. I want to like him — he’s been a solid player throughout his career and would make a quality fourth outfielder — but it just hasn’t clicked for him this year. It might not at all.

Biggest Pitch: Duh

Photo credit: Seth Wenig/AP

After inexplicably walking Jim Thome with the bases loaded, Mo got another chance to finish the eighth, this time against the lefty Jason Kubel. He opened with a cutter low and in, which Kubel looked at for ball one. The next one was in a similar spot, just a bit higher, and Kubel crushed it into the right field stands. We were all crushed, though it’s not an unfamiliar scene. It actually reminded me of Mo’s early appearance against the Rays last season (the one in May, not the one during the summer).

The first sin, of course, was walking Thome, who just wasn’t biting on those cutters low and in. He took one way off the plate for ball one, but the next two were much closer. After getting one over middle-low, Mo went back to working inside, generating two foul balls before his errant seventh pitch. That one was up and away, which makes me think he completely missed. He got another chance, though, and just didn’t come through. I’m sure he will next time they call his name.

Still, it was on Joba

Photo credit: Seth Wenig/AP

Mo might have thrown the pitches that turned the game, but Joba put him in that position. He actually started off the inning well enough. Denard Span singled to lead off, which is never ideal with a runner of his speed. But those types of things happen, and good pitchers work around them. Joba did by inducing a ground ball, but not one that would allow the Yanks to double up Orlando Hudson. He then pitched around Joe Mauer, an understandable strategy, before striking out Justin Morneau. All seemed well.

It was not all well, of course. Joba threw four straight breaking balls to Michael Cuddyer, and found himself in a 2-2 count. He did go to the fastball, 96 mph and high in the zone, but not quite high enough. Cuddyer fouled it away. Joba, ever the predictable one, went back to his slider, and Cuddyer crushed it towards Teixeira, who couldn’t hold on. I thought going to Mo was a bit premature there, especially with the slumping Jim Thome at the plate, but it was by no means a bad move. Calling on Mo never is. I just would have rather seen Joba clean up his own mess.

When the bottom of the order hits…

Joe Girardi sure knows how to waste his bench. When Greg Golson, defensive sub for Marcus Thames, came up in the eighth, Girardi still had Nick Swisher off the bench to pinch hit. Because the lefty Brian Duensing was on the mound, Girardi could use Swish, who can swing pain-free only from the right side. Ron Gardenhire predictably went to his righty, so Girardi had to burn yet another pinch hitter, Juan Miranda. And Miranda predictably struck out. That meant Randy Winn and Ramiro Pena were set to open the ninth.

Yet, by some stroke of luck, both singled off Jon Rauch, giving the Yankees three opportunities with the tying run at the plate. But Rauch got his bearings and struck out the next three batters he faced, the top of the order. It’s quite disheartening to see the scrubs give you a chance, only to see your best blow it. I don’t know what to say after that, other than that’s baseball.

WPA Graph and box score

Yes, you can make the joke about falling off a cliff.

More WPA info at FanGraphs and the box score at

Up Next

The Red Sox come into town for a pair. Phil Hughes and Daisuke Matsuzaka kick off the series tomorrow night at 7. The RABbis will be in attendance.

Laird drives in seven as Trenton pushes winning streak to ten
Fan Confidence Poll: May 17th, 2010
  • Rebecca-Optimist Prime (Optimovelist Primus)

    Whoa. I don’t remember seeing those red leverage bars before.


    Winn picked up another big hit, though we’ll get to that later. I want to like him — he’s been a solid player throughout his career and would make a quality fourth outfielder — but it just hasn’t clicked for him this year. It might not at all.

    For what it’s worth (SSS alert), Winn is now batting .267/.389/.433 in May which is generally in line with his career .285/.344/.417.

  • bexarama

    It was personally an awful game because I really love Mo and I get all sad on the rare occasions when he doesn’t come through, but it’s not the kind of loss you get worried about because it says anything about the team. The guy had either 51 or 52 straight home saves (I’ve heard both) and it was bound to end some time.

    If they need/use him tomorrow, Mariano probably deals with the heart of the Sox order in five pitches.

  • pat


  • EvoLuTioN

    this game was pretty bad, won’t lie

    but now are we making javy vazquez into our version of carlos zambrano?

    I really don’t get the javy to the pen idea, quit fucking with his rhythm he finally had a good outing

  • Luis Sojo

    I have been saying this for a while Girardi sucks. Put him in another team and he will have a losing record. I miss Joe Torre. Can someone tell cashman to make the manager?

    • Tom Zig

      I don’t miss Joe Torre. How is this one Girardi’s fault though? Mariano Rivera was on the mound when the Twins took the lead.

    • bexarama

      I have been saying this for a while Girardi sucks.

      Really? Where? Because you haven’t been saying this here.

      Also, while Torre wasn’t horrible, I think the game’s passed him by now. Have you seen his decision-making recently? You shouldn’t miss him. We won the World Series since he left.

      • bexarama

        Also: Put him in another team and he will have a losing record. I miss Joe Torre.

        the Joe Torre Mets: 286-420
        the Joe Torre Cardinals: 351-354

        That’s not really Torre’s fault, of course, those teams were either bad or mediocre, whereas the Yankee teams he had were mostly pretty awesome, and there’s only so much a manager can do. But it’s silly to cry about missing Torre because Girardi would hypothetically have a losing record on another team when Torre was pretty well-acquainted with managing to losing records himself.

        • boogie down


        • pete


    • Benjamin Kabak

      You miss Joe Torre because Girardi burned a bench player? That’s a little over the top. Torre was done after 2004, and his track record in Los Angeles shows he hasn’t learned anything about bullpen management over the past few seasons. Pass.

      • whatever

        “I have been saying this for a while Girardi sucks. ..”


        “Torre was done after 2004″…


    • lenn23

      Girardi did win a World Series last year. It was really not that long ago.

    • John

      Correct me if I’m wrong…but didn’t Girardi win NL manager of the year award while managing the Marlins?

    • Jammy Jammers

      Torre was terrible, but I don’t understand why a manager would bring in ANY pitcher with the bases loaded after he hasn’t pitched in 2 weeks. You know how it’s going to end. He’ll at least walk in one run.

      • Chris

        Mo pitched on the 12th then had one day off. Then he pitched on the 14th and has one more day off. Then he pitched on the 16th (yesterday) and gave up a walk and a grand slam. I would agree somewhat with your statement that you shouldn’t bring in a pitcher that hasn’t pitched in two weeks with the bases loaded, but that’s irrelevant in this case.

        • Jammy Jammers

          Good point.
          Also, isn’t Mo usually at his worst when he comes in with runners on base?

  • Luis Sojo

    I’m referring to the part where Joe talks about Girardi and wasting a bench player.

    • Joseph Pawlikowski

      Wasting a bench player =/= manager sucking. If you think this loss had anything to do with the manager I think you need to reassess how you watch a baseball game.

  • pete

    Weird. I thoroughly enjoyed the off-day yesterday, and come here in the morn’ to read some made-up bullcrap about a loss to the twins at home where mariano rivera blew a save? It’s 5/17 guys, april fools was like a month and a half ago. You’re not fooling anyone!

  • larryf

    Tex really misjudged that liner. Didn’t seem “crushed” to me. Maybe that’s why he misjudged it. He thought it was crushed but it was a knuckler. He almost always makes that play. Weird game.

    • tommydee2000

      I think Tex got a free pass on that ball. It was right in the pocket of his glove, and should have been scored an error.

  • steve s

    For the non-believers this was simply a game that the Baseball Gods took over. With so many extraordinary streaks on the line (Yanks home winning streak over Twins, Mo’s save streak) a stunning reversal of fortune was more than due.

  • Frank

    How was Joba pitching around Mauer an “understandable strategy” with Mourneau on deck? Why not go after him? At worst,he could have only tied the game at 3 if he homers.

  • V

    I love how no one mentions the inexplicably shrinking/expanding strike zone. Jon Rauch got a wider strike zone than Mariano Rivera. End of story.

    • Chris

      According to Brooksbaseball, 4 of Mo’s pitches that were called balls were actually in the strike zone. He only threw three pitches that were out of the zone.

  • larryf

    Kubel hit a good pitch. Cutter low and inside. A game of inches. Rainout tonight? Lots of rain here in Virginia

    • Rose

      Seems like it will be a pretty decent night tonight until about 1am (then there seems to be some good chance of showers). Knowing the Yankees and Red Sox…they could very well still be playing at this point.

  • Rose

    The Red Sox come into town for a pair. Phil Hughes and Daisuke Matsuzaka kick off the series tomorrow night at 7. The RABbis will be in attendance.

    Where will the RABbis be? I’ll be there with my gf tonight…not sure where though.

    Hopefully they shape up a little bit. Having a handful of Thames, Miranda, Pena, Winn, Cervelli doesn’t excite me too much…but at least Hughes is in there and not Vazquez. Hopefully he continues his dominance.

  • Toki

    I wouldn’t say Robertson did his thing. The called 3 stike to Morneau was outside and he got lucky on that ball from Cuddyer. He was falling behind and couldn’t throw his curve for strikes.

  • Kiko Jones

    Three words: Mo is human.
    And it’s a shame he didn’t get the save for his personal stats: he’s tied w/Eric Gagne for most consecutive saves at home (51).

    • RL

      “Three words: Mo is human”

      I refuse to believe this.

      Also, this is the 2nd time I’ve seen Girardi take out Joba in a tough situation (I’m sure there have been one ro more others, but it’s tough to watch Yankee games in Colorado). I’d really like to see Joe leave Joba in and get more experience in these situations to see how he handles them. If he’s mentally tough, it’ll help not only in relief appearances (if he really is the “heir apparent”) or if he goes back (hopefully) to starting next season.

      • Tim

        Joe took Joba out because he had already thrown 23 pitches. Unlike the “other” Joe, this one doesn’t feel the need to grind his relievers, particularly his best relievers, to a nub just to win a game in May. The one thing I was surprised about a little was that he called on Mo for a four-out save. Now, I NEVER think it is a bad idea to use Mo, but I would have thought the greater than one inning save for Mo was an October phenomenon only these days. Marte, maybe? I know that he is no Mo, but two lefties were due up…

  • Riddering

    The failure on Joba’s part isn’t that big of a deal to me for future consideration. He had some trouble in the inning but all the runs came with two outs. While that’s not great, it isn’t as though he came in and couldn’t record an out while letting baserunners go wild and score. The guys following Mauer and Morneau got the job done. It happens. The loss was more shocking than crushing.

  • rek4gehrig

    Great writeup.

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