Swisher wins one for Pettitte

Laird cycles Trenton to a walk-off win
Mariano Rivera and the two-seam fastball

Last time the Yankees faced the Twins, they were coming off a minor losing skid, having dropped three of four to the Tigers. For the first two games the Yankees had it together, and they clinched a series win before melting down on Sunday. This time the Yanks were coming off two straight series losses, including losses in six of their previous 10 games. Once again they’ve used the Twins as a prop. They finished what they started earlier in the day, and then came back to win a whole game, played all at once.

Biggest Hit: Swisher goes where few have gone before

Photo credit: Andy King/AP

Andy Pettitte kept the Twins’ offense under control for most of the game. After allowing a run in the first he worked through the Twins lineup with aplomb, throwing 72 of his 94 pitches for strikes. Heading into the bottom of the seventh he had a lead, but one pitch changed that. With a 2-0 count on Delmon Young, Pettitte delivered a fastball outside. Young smacked it over Brett Gardner‘s head. Running from first base, Michael Cuddyer read it all the way and came all the way around to score. That tied the game and put pressure back on the laboring Yankees’ offense.

Photo credit: Andy King/AP

As Justin Morneau displayed on Tuesday, hitting the ball to right at Target field is not like hitting the ball to right at Yankee Stadium. Not only is the fence 20 feet deeper, but it’s probably four times as high. It must be tough for a lefty to hit one out there. Morneau might agree, as nine of his 11 home runs have come on the road. The Yankees needed a run in the ninth, especially after what Pettitte had done in the eighth. With Brett Gardner and then the top of the order due up, the Yanks stood a decent chance.

Gardner worked the count full before popping one up right around second base. Jeter saw a hanging breaking ball high in the zone and had the right idea. The pitch was just a bit too high for him, though, and he just got under it. That brought up Nick Swisher with none on and two out.

Jon Rauch stayed away from his fastball when dealing with Swish. His first-pitch curveball crossed the top of the zone for strike one. The next pitch, another curveball, fell a little low, though it was a well-placed pitch. Rauch went to the changeup next, and he left it right out over the plate. Swisher took a swipe at it, and a few seconds later it had landed in the seats. It was Swisher’s eighth home run on the season. He also hit his seventh double in the first.

Biggest Pitch: Pettitte bests Mauer

Photo credit: Andy King/AP

Heading into the eighth it looked like Andy Pettitte was on pace for a complete game. He’d thrown just 83 pitches in the first seven innings. He’d need only 14 pitches to get through the eighth, but it they were a stressful 14 pitches. Drew Butera made it tough right from the start, doubling on Pettitte’s second pitch of the inning. The ball actually hit a running Brett Gardner in the glove, but he couldn’t hang on. Denard Span tried to bunt him over, and after a foul on the first pitch he got one down towards third. A-Rod overpursued a bit, flubbing the ball and allowing Span to reach and Butera to advance.

The situation could not be more dire. First and third, none out, and only Orlando Hudson standing between Pettitte and the heart of the Twins’ order, Mauer and Morneau. Pettitte’s teammates were partly responsible for the baserunners, but Pettitte himself had to work out of the jam. He got off to a good start by getting Orlando Hudson to line right back to him. The baserunners froze, leaving no chance of a double play, but Pettitte still had an incredible task ahead of him.

Last year, during his MVP run, Joe Mauer stepped to the plate 125 times with the possibility of a double play. He hit into only 13 of them. This year has treated him a bit differently. In 46 double play opportunities coming into last night, Mauer had hit into nine of them, or about double his rate from last season. Even so, it didn’t seem probable. When Joe Mauer comes to the plate, I always envision him getting a hit.

Pettitte worked the corners, throwing his first to pitches low and away before coming inside with the next two.With the count 3-1, Pettitte threw a cutter that probably would have ended a little off the plate. But Mauer swung, grounding it to Jeter who was playing up the middle. He flipped to Cano, who flung to Teixeira to complete the double play and get Pettitte out of the jam. At that point, the Yankees had to win the game for him.

Russo the run creator

Photo credit: Andy King/AP

Francisco Liriano was good, not great, last night. He had quality stuff, and it led to seven strikeouts and 10 groundouts, which is right around where Liriano wants to be. It might sound like a recent call-up like Kevin Russo would be overmatched, and during his first at-bat that did appear to be the case. Liriano threw him two fastballs and then buried two sliders inside for a swinging strikeout. The next two battles wouldn’t go so well for Liriano.

Robinson Cano singled up the middle to lead off the fourth, but neither Marcus Thames nor Francisco Cervelli could follow him. Cervelli ended up hitting into a fielder’s choice, just beating out the double play, and replacing Cano at first. Russo then came up with two outs. Liriano attacked him similarly, keeping almost everything inside. The last slider didn’t get quite far enough inside, and Russo pulled it down the line to left. Once it got to the wall Cervelli was almost guaranteed to score and tie the game at one.

With two outs in the sixth, Russo faced Liriano again, and for the second time manufactured a quality at-bat. He fouled off a fastball and then a slider, and on the sixth pitch of the at-bat he got a changeup low and away, which he pulled into left for a two-out hit. Brett Gardner followed by smacking a first-pitch fastball to right, sending Russo all the way home for the go-ahead run. Once again, the Yankees got some serious production from the bottom of the order, which compensated for the slumping middle of the order.

Positive sign for Teixeira

Mark Teixeira went 2 for 5 today, which was especially nice given his 0 for 4 performance the game before. His first hit was a bit of a cheapie, a pop up that found a hole in the defense. But as you’ll hear many a former player profess, sometimes those are the ones that help you break out. If that really was the magic potion that broke his slump, he showed it in the ninth.

After giving up the homer, Jon Rauch did to Teixeira what he would not do to Swisher: he threw a fastball. It caught the outside corner for strike one. He then went to the slider, which missed outside for ball two. It was slider again on the third pitch, and this one appeared to break below the zone. The ump never got a chance to call it, as Teixeira took a Teixeira-like swing at it, driving it into right field for what looked like a double. He got thrown out at second on a good throw and relay, but that’s not really the point. The pitch wasn’t particularly good, yet Tex still hit it on the screws.

Maybe, just maybe, that will get him going. Nobody needs it now more than Tex.

WPA Graph and box score

More at FanGraphs. Official box score at MLB.com

Up next

It’s another CDT game, 8 p.m., when Javy Vazquez goes for the Yanks against Nick Blackburn for the Twins.

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Laird cycles Trenton to a walk-off win
Mariano Rivera and the two-seam fastball
  • ROBTEN

    Here are some pictures from the game tonight. I didn’t realize that Flickr had a bandwidth limit and I don’t feel like paying to upgrade, so I hit a limit before I could finish.

    Anyway, Target field is nice. The stairs are wider and it is easier to get in and out of the stadium (including security, which basically waived everyone through). But, having said that, it’s no new Yankee stadium.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/r.....7775/show/

  • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

    I am still mega psyched from the bottom of the eighth.

    • Tom Zig

      Giddy is the correct term I believe?

      • poster

        That was such a fucking awesome moment.

        I love baseball.

        • Tom Zig

          i love lamp

      • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

        Totally, totally giddy.

        Like poster said, it was amazing and I love baseball.

    • http://richardiurilli.wordpress.com/ Richard Iurilli

      http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play......id=8382407

      Watch the last five second again… and again… and again.

      • pat

        Heh, at the end of the Mariano clip that follows you can hear Sterling yelling through what I assume are supposed to be the sound proof walls of the broadcast booths.

        • Salty Buggah

          So I wasn’t alone. I kept hearing a bunch stuff during yesterday’s game.

        • Across the pond

          hahaha – yeah can hear the yankees win call. Great catch

      • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

        was that a fist-pump I spy? Andy really needs to learn how to respect the game.

        (UNNNNFFFFFFFFFFFFF.)

    • ROBTEN

      When Mauer came to the plate, the entire stadium (well, all of the Twins fans, as there were also a lot of Yankee fans there) was standing and screaming. When he hit into the double play, all of the sound went out of the air. It was awesome.

      At the end of the game, someone near me said “Will we ever beat these guys?”

      Nope.

    • rek4gehrig

      I’m salivating and deliriously happy today

  • B-Rando

    mega props to MO for slamming the door(ish) twice today

    and how much can you say about andy petitte? when he has the control of all of his pitches he is one of the most elite pitchers in the game

    • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

      I don’t think I’d ever call Andy an elite pitcher outside of a few years in his career because I don’t want to be called a biased homer and I genuinely don’t think he is.

      One thing’s really clear this year, though: Dude knows how to pitch.

      • pat

        You know what the say, bex. Men age like wine.Women age like milk.

        That’s it, that’s all they say.

      • Ed

        While Pettitte did only have a few truly ace level seasons, I think people actually tend to under value him overall.

        While he’s obviously never been as dominate as a guy like CC or Halladay, a career like his still ranks in the top couple percent of MLB pitching careers.

        Pettitte – 116 ERA+, 1.359 WHIP, 6.6 K/9, 2.8 BB/9
        Glavine – 118 ERA+, 1.314 WHIP, 5.3 K/9, 3.1 BB/9

        Glavine will probably make the Hall of Fame. Pettitte’s stats are not that much worse. Even beats him in some peripheral stats.

        Not trying to say Pettitte is a HOF guy, but he’s probably in the next tier after that.

        • http://www.soxandpinstripes.net JGS

          I think the fact that he led the majors in wins for the last ten years despite clearly not being the best pitcher of the last ten years has led to a backlash against him to the point where he has become somewhat underrated

          Glavine beats the crap out of Pettitte in WAR, but a lot of that is a function of innings. To whit,

          WAR/200IP

          Glavine: 3.04
          Petitte: 3.27

          • http://www.soxandpinstripes.net JGS

            Pettitte, of course

          • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

            A lot of people in the media think he’s a first ballot HOFer. He’s not. He’s not in “lol buy a ticket” territory, but he’s not a HOFer. Oh, and after the 2009 postseason, I saw someone on MLBN calling him the greatest postseason pitcher of all time. That’s just insane. Andy himself would probably laugh at that, a lot. I loooove him but I can’t call him underrated.

            • http://www.soxandpinstripes.net JGS

              Well, once the postseason comes along, everyone loses their collective minds. Unlike most people, Pettitte was given a significant postseason sample and lo and behold he is exactly the same pitcher he is in the regular season.

              But he will get to 50 WAR. That’s pretty significant, even if HOF territory starts at 60

              • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

                Can’t disagree with any of this. He’s been a solid pitcher for a very long time. I just can’t call him underrated when there seems to be a serious push toward people putting him in the HOF.

    • Brian in NH

      I didn’t see the end of game 1, but in game 2 it looked like the twins were hitting the ball pretty hard off of Mo. He closed out the games today…but should we be worried about him?

      • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

        (yawn)

        No, Mo goes through his hiccup period every year and people go OMG SHOULD WE BE WORRIED?????. Said hiccup period was quite a bit worse last year, too. His control seems a bit off right now, or at least, it did in the first game. It’s probably the side injury leading to a lack of use so he’s not 10000%, but I am not worried.

        And FWIW I thought he looked totally fine in the second game. He looked like, you know, Mo – there was contact, but it was weak. I’m actually pretty surprised that you’re talking about the second game because if you saw his performance in the first game, that was genuinely a bit terrifying; again, it was clear his control just wasn’t there. I thought he was fine in the second game, though.

        I do think that if the lead was even just two runs, Girardi probably lets Pettitte go for the CG.

  • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime (Optimovelist Primus)

    Andy has a 2.62 ERA.

    Life is good.

  • Dela G

    man i just rewatched the game on mlb.tv

    great game by pettitte and the yanks

  • http://twitter.com/j_sprouse2213 (The Real) James

    A big time clutch hit for Swisher and you gotta love it! He has had his struggles in those clutch moments here so its great to see him come through and deliver a big win.

  • BigBlueAL

    When Granderson comes back on Friday, whats the roster move?? DFA Winn?? Cant see Russo being sent down and the same with Miranda.

    • pat

      As much as I really really want it to happen, I can’t see Cash DFAing Winn after a few good games from Russo. I want to be wrong, but it just doesn’t seem like Cash’s style.

      • BigBlueAL

        The fact that Girardi is playing him in LF even vs RHP lately to me might be a sign. Curious to see who plays LF tom night vs Blackburn since he is RH.

      • http://twitter.com/YanktheMike yankthemike

        you’re right about cash, but at this point Winn has shown himself to be utterly useless. we know we aren’t gonna get much from russo, but at least he can turn around on a fastball. i was impressed by him today. after being humiliated in his first AB, he really made adjustments and the results showed. he’s also shown the ability to flash that leather out there. fingers crossed that Winn is gone on Friday.

    • A.D.

      Still think its Russo, not because he deserves it, but because he deserves playing time.

  • dkidd

    great, great game. in terms of my screaming-at-the-television volume, mauer’s double play was right up there with thames’ walk-off

  • jim p

    Tex at 181 ab and .210. About a third of at-bats for a season, meaning he has to hit about .330 for the rest of the way to hit his usual .290s number.

    That would be most excellent, if he can do it, but…

    • whozat

      I don’t really care if he winds up where he normally winds up, I just care that he hits at his normal rates from here on out.

      • jim p

        yeah, it’d be a bad year for him, but it would help carry us from here on it if he were just his normal. Still, I’d like to see what a .330 clip would look like.

      • Rose

        Yup. Can’t change what’s in the past. I’d like for him to pick up his numbers as much as possible (have him in 2 leagues this year) but whatever he does from here on out is the most important. Getting his overall average up for the end of the year isn’t really my main concern. If he hits .290/.380/.510 from here on out I’ll be more than happy.

  • Rose

    Andy Pettitte’s last loss against the Minnesota Twins was in 2001.

    Pretty good.

    • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

      Yep, I saw that stat. Sure, he probably wouldn’t have faced them in 2004-2006, and with the unbalanced schedule he probably faces them twice a year at most now, but that’s crazy.

      He had a game against them that was pretty http://myfutureinfocus.files.w.....-myfnf.jpg last year (see what I did there???). Something like four runs in five innings. And he got the win because of the offense. Yaaaay W-L record. No, but seriously, I’m glad he got the win in this game, the man deserved it. I may or may not have yelled “SCORE RUNS, YOU ASSPONIES!!!!” at the television after Andy got out of the bottom of the eighth.

  • ADam

    so is Grandy Back Friday or Saturday?

    • A.D.

      I believe its suppose to be Friday, original plan is for him to play today, then rejoin the big club.

      • ADam

        Right… Forgot, I saw that SWB had yesterday off. Cool, hell have a much better 2nd half and hopefully this writes Winn’s Acela ticket out of the bx

  • JohnC

    Did anyone happen to go to the Bon Jovi concert? Have tickets for his added show July 9. Have never seen him in concert before.

  • dillon

    I know the guys at RAB have touched on this before. Kay keeps bringing it up and I forgot the percentages.

    With a guy on second and no outs, do u statistically have a better chance of scoring one run if u bunt the guy to third? I remember it being a small advantage. Plz give exact percentage if u know. Thx

    • Pete

      You might, but here’s why it’d still be strategically unwise (in most cases – if it’s, say, the #6 hitter in a bad NL lineup on 2nd, then it’s a different story):

      If you have a runner on 2nd and no outs, that means you’ve got three chances to score the runner on a base hit. What’s more, if the next batter gets a hit (which bunting would effectively prevent him from doing, and even in the event of a bunt single, the run won’t score), then you get a run and another baserunner all without the detriment of an out.

      Basically, if you play out all of the possible outcomes off of that situation, bunting will increase the chances of that runner scoring, but only marginally so – I think a runner on 2nd and no outs scores something like 50% of the time, and a runner on 3rd with one out scores like 70% of the time – and the team greatly decreases its chances of scoring multiple runs by giving away an out. So it’s playing for a ~20% greater chance of scoring one run while giving away an out that could have otherwise become another run. Naturally, there are scenarios that are game-situationally/team/opposing pitcher/lineup/-dependent wherein bunting the runner over is the right call strategically, but in general, you can’t predict when a two-run or three run home run is hit, nor who is going to hit it. That’s why it’s generally smarter to give every quality hitter in your lineup every possible chance. Even in the 8th inning of a tie game, two runs are better than one.