May
04

Winn powers Yanks to win over O’s in series opener

By

With the bitter taste of Saturday’s loss out of their mouths, the Yankees came back to work on Monday night, ready to feast on bottom-feeding Baltimore. The Orioles were coming off a three game sweep of the Red Sox, but New York had their ace on the bump. Almost everything went according to plan. It was a fairly clean win for a Yankee team that is rolling, but injuries to two important players put a damper on it.

Photo Credit: Kathy Willens, AP

Biggest Hit: Welcome to New York, Randy Winn

Over the first four weeks of the season, fifth outfielder Randy Winn looked nothing but overmatched. He was 1-for-13 at the plate with a -57 OPS+ (yes, -57), and other than the occasional late-inning defensive assignment, he was mostly the forgotten man on the roster.

Photo Credit: Kathy Willens, AP

Needless to say, you can imagine the surprise when Winn came up with the biggest hit of the night. It wasn’t some dinky single to the opposite field either; he turned around a 91 mph Jeremy Guthrie fastball up in the zone and sent it about 410 feet to right-center, beyond the fence and into the Yankee bullpen. Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner had been on base thanks to a pair of singles. So Winn’s bomb turned a tightly-contested (and tied) game into a much more comfortable three-run Yankee lead.

It was Winn’s first homer in 491 at-bats, dating back to last April when he took Max Scherzer yard. He might never do anything more productive in pinstripes, but for one night, Randy Winn was the hero.

Biggest Out: Nolan Reimold makes two outs on one swing

Much like his start last week, CC Sabathia wasn’t his usual dominant self on Monday, but he was more than effective into the late innings. With that three-run lead still intact, Garrett Atkins led off the top of the 7th with a single to center. With CC’s pitch count approaching 90, the bullpen started to stir.

Instead, Reimold did the Yankees a favor, hacking at Sabathia’s first pitch, a 92-mph heater on the outer half that probably would have been called a ball. The grounder bounced down to Derek Jeter at short, who took it to the bag himself to start the 6-3 double play. Instead of having the tying run on deck with one out, all of a sudden Baltimore had that potential fourth run in the hole with two outs. It wasn’t a big play to end a rally; it was a big play to prevent the rally from even starting.

All CC, All The Time

The Yankee ace was good but not great last time out, when he faced these same Orioles at Camden Yards. Sabathia improved upon that performance on Monday, firing eight innings with just one blemish – a solo homer to Matt Wieters and his facts. Using a variety of two-seamers and changeups, CC pounded the bottom of the zone and induced 16 groundballs to just six in the air. The strike zone was a tad inconsistent, but that’s something everyone will have to deal with at some point during the season.

It was a relatively uneventful outing for Sabathia, which for him means eight innings of one run ball while battling his control at times. The guy is a machine.

Photo Credit: Kathy Willens, AP

Posada Exits Early

The Yankees have experienced a mini-rash of injuries over the last few days, losing Curtis Granderson to a Grade II calf strain and Alex Rodriguez to some knee pain. Another important Yank went down on Monday night, as Jorge Posada had to exit the game in the 5th inning with tightness in his right calf. He went off to get an MRI, and is day-to-day with a calf strain.

Enduring the loss of Granderson will be hard enough, but if the Yankees lose Posada for any length of time … well, just look at what happened in 2008.

Mowhere To Be Found

The last three or four games have been especially taxing on the Yanks’ bullpen, but two guys who hadn’t worked all that much were Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera. Neither had pitched since Friday, so they were well rested and ready to record the last six outs should the Yankees have the lead.

With Sabathia going eight strong, only one of the Yanks’ end-game arms was going to be needed. With a three run lead in the 9th, everyone expects to hear Enter Sandman. Instead, Mo was nowhere to be found, and it was Joba who trotted out to the mound for the save opportunity. He pitched a scoreless and uneventful frame, but no one seemed to care. Everyone wanted to know what was going on with the greatest relief pitcher who ever lived.

After the game, Joe Girardi revealed that Rivera had been dealing with a sore non-throwing side, which was further described as a twinge in his flank. He said it was something Mo first experienced after his appearance on Friday, and at the moment we don’t really know when he’ll be available again. Could be tomorrow, but Girardi said he’d like to give him another day. It’s just one injury after another lately.

Photo Credit: Kathy Willens, AP

Happy Moments

How about this Nick Swisher character? The dude went 3-for-3 in this game, and is now eight for his last 12 with a couple of doubles and a couple of homers. The Yanks have only played ten games at home, but it appears Swish’s massive home-road split from 2009 has stayed in 2009.

Brett Gardner reached base two more times, bumping his on-base percentage up to .424, the best on the team. In fact, the bottom three hitters in the order combined to go 5-for-8 with a walk, three runs scored, and all four runs driven in. Gotta love that circular lineup.

Photo Credit: Kathy Willens, AP

Annoying Moments

I sure hope Joe West was watching this game. Home plate ump Bill Hohn was certainly in no rush to signal balls and strikes back there. Furthermore, CC Sabathia had some trouble with Hohn’s strike zone, verbally sparring with him in the 7th inning. Not often you see the big guy do that.

I mentioned that the bottom of the lineup did some major damage already, but the one through six hitters combined to go just 1-for-23 with a walk and three strikeouts. On most nights, the Yankees lose when that happens.

WPA Graph

Individual player breakdowns are available at FanGraphs’ box score.

Up Next

Same two teams tomorrow night; rematch of last week’s A.J. Burnett vs. Brian Matusz duel.

Categories : Game Stories

50 Comments»

  1. Hangoverologist says:

    CC got pissed. I agree that he was frustrated because Hohn was inconsistent all night. Seriously, he was calling pitches that were right down the middle balls.

    • bexarama says:

      he was frustrated because the umpire called basically the same pitch a ball on 2-0 and a strike on 3-0. I can understand his frustration.

      • Marcos says:

        this.

        When I used to play in middle and high school there was NOTHING more frustrating than getting bad calls on pitches, and I wasn’t even the pitcher!

  2. pat says:

    According to pitch f/x, CC had nine strikes incorrectly called as balls one ball called strikes.

    http://www.brooksbaseball.net/.....revDate=53

    Guthrie had 6 strikes called balls, and 4 balls called strikes.

    http://www.brooksbaseball.net/.....revDate=53

  3. I’ll ignore the part where Axisa totally copied me =P

    Sabathia looked kinda like he didn’t have much early, and then went on to pitch 8 innings. If that’s not an ace for you, I don’t know what is.

  4. if the Yankees lose Posada for any length of time … well, just look at what happened in 2008.

    For what it’s worth, the Yanks went 14-8 in 2009 when Posada missed 22 games with a muscle strain. We forget that he was on the DL last year because of the team’s success, but the Yanks can weather a few days without Jorge.

  5. bexarama says:

    CC rules.

    Also, the fact that Posada is day-to-day as opposed to anything worse is soooo much better than I was fearing, so I can feel fully good about this win.

  6. Hey ZZ says:

    Annoying Moments:

    Watching 8 innings of ZZ with this face :)

    Then having to turn to this :mad: when Joba shook of his catcher and threw a 3-2 slider with the bases empty in a 3 run game.

    • Marcos says:

      At least he has confidence in his slider, although perhaps a bit TOO much confidence. I think the key to Joba being successful isn’t the “throw 100kajillion mph” but rather to throw his fastball without fear, kind of what Hughes is doing right now.

      • Larryf says:

        Throw the fastball down the middle in a 4-1 game and “risk” a hard hit single or a 60 foot slider and guarantee the walk. Bad choice going for the dramatic K. All part of the Joba growing pains..

      • A.D. says:

        Which is probably why the Yanks put Joba back in the pen. The pen seemingly did wonders for Hughes’s confidence along 1 MPH + on his fastball vs 07 & 08 (perhaps finally healthy and put together after the leg & rib injuries). I imagine they’re now hoping Joba can regain some of his form in the pen.

  7. Rey22 says:

    You know, those Matt Wieter facts were confusing me. Then I realized they kept misspelling Jesus Montero. Now it all makes sense.

  8. Seriously why does it take Hohn so long to decide if something is a ball or a strike? Maybe that’s why his zone sucks.

    They should have let CC just sit on him.

  9. BigBlueAL says:

    Brett Gardner currently has an OPS 98 points higher than Arod. WTF???? lol

  10. PaulF says:

    With all these injuries recently, the Yankees will have to make do for a while with only one layer of icing.

  11. dkidd says:

    is jorge the full-time dh in 2011?

    also, nick johnson looked good today

  12. Beef Hammerdong says:

    Brett Gardner this year: only player to have not missed a pitch in the strikezone. 3rd in EQBRR. More 400-ft HRs than Pedroia has in career.

    [@JeremyGreenhous]

  13. Larryf says:

    You just can’t predict Bretsky (gritsky). Throw him heat and he slices it to left or down the line. Throw him junk and he pulls it (rarely 415 ft). Throw him 4 balls and he’s on second.

    476K well spent

  14. pete says:

    once again, I’m forced to ask – why is it ok for calls to be wrong?

    • Camilo Gerardo says:

      that’s just the way it is, the way it’s always been

    • sleepykarl says:

      Because someone will say that the calls even out in the end due to law of averages, in which most nod in order to avoid actually looking something up.

    • MattG says:

      What call specifically are you referring?

      To answer the question, because 99% of people that want instant replay haven’t thought anything through, and haven’t put forth a solution that would work. Everyone seems to think the objective is to get the calls right–but it’s not. The objective is to make the game more fun to watch. Having a fair game with 100% accurate calls makes the game more fun to watch, but if you need to endure arguments that end in manager challenges that lead to 7 replays over 90 seconds from different angles that lead to “inconclusive” or call upheld 95% of the time, and an overturned call 1 in 20 times, you are making the game less fun to watch.

      The only thing that would work would be a fifth, unseen official that reviews plays in the flow of the game, coupled with a new rule that officially prohibits arguing calls. In that way, IR would be there, but we wouldn’t notice it until a call is overturned, and the games would continue in the manner to which we are all accustomed.

  15. MattG says:

    “Jorge Posada had to exit the game in the 5th inning with tightness in his right calf. He went off to get an MRI, and is day-to-day with a calf strain.”

    Most likely this is strain caused by crouching differently to alleviate the pain in his hurt knee? He’ll be all better to catch Hughes on Friday.

    And, if he’s not, here’s a Hughes fact for you: Hughes doesn’t need a catcher, he allows a catcher.

Leave a Reply

You may use <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> in your comment.

If this is your first time commenting on River Ave. Blues, please review the RAB Commenter Guidelines. Login for commenting features. Register for RAB.