As Mo sits, Toronto walks off in the 14th

The Heathcott & Murphy Show is on in Charleston
Link Dump: Hyped prospects, Strasburg, Harper, revisiting Girardi's hiring

For 13.5 innings covering 81 outs, the Yankees and Blue Jays, with a few hiccups, put on a clinic in pitching. Yet, with the game tied in the bottom of the 14th, Joe Girardi opted to go with Chad Gaudin over Mariano Rivera, and two batters after a lead-off walk to the number nine hitter, the Yanks were heading back to the dugout, 3-2 losers in a contest marred by the ineffectiveness of the team’s heart of the order.

Credit: Adrien Veczan, AP Photo/The Canadian Press

Biggest Hit: Jeter goes yard

In a game marked by a decided lack of Yankee fan, the biggest hit of the game for the Bombers was clearly the captain’s fifth inning blast. Derek Jeter took a 2-0 pitch from Ricky Romero and deposited it 385 feet away into right field. The Yankees had their first lead of the series against the Blue Jays.

For Jeter, it was his sixth dinger of the year, and after hitting just one in all of May, he has matched that total through five games in June. More comforting though have been Derek’s numbers of late. After a strong start to the season that saw him end April with a .330/.354/.521 line, Jeter struggled in May. He hit just .204/.275/.247 over 21 games, and many started worrying that end of Jeter was night.

Yet, this old dog has a few new tricks up his sleeve. Since bottoming out on May 22, Jeter has gone 23 for 55 with five walks over 13 games. The home run today was Jeterian, and the Yanks’ leadoff hitter seems to have escaped the May doldrums. The same, however, cannot be said of other Yankees.

Biggest Non-Hit: Mark Teixeira and the middle of the lineup

Credit: Darren Calabrese, AP Photo/Canadian Press

While Jeter had the Yanks’ only RBIs of the game, the heart of the order was utterly abysmal. Mark Teixeira went 0 for 6 with five strike outs and appears lost at the plate. With one-third of the season behind us, his batting line — .215/.328/.370 — suggests that he needs a new spot in the lineup, a day off or both. I doubt Girardi would let him stew after a diamond-encrusted platinum sombrero performance, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Yanks’ first base take a breather later this week.

Beyond Teixeira, the Yanks’ 2-3-4-5-6-7 hitters combined to go 4 for 33 with 12 strike outs and nine runners left on base. Despite some late-inning choices which we’ll cover in a second, the Yankees lost the game when the bats fell silent. I know Ricky Romero has been a good pitcher of late, but the team’s offense just could not get the job done.

Prior to the 14-inning affair, the Yanks exhibited some shocking home/road splits. While in the cozy confines of Yankee Stadium, the Bombers hit .316/.394/.515. That’s an entire lineup of Alex Rodriguez in a down season. On the road, though, the team ekes out just a .258/.341/.395 line, and that doesn’t include today’s 8-for-47 debacle. The numbers are subject to a small sample size warning, but right now, the Yanks are a team built for their home stadium.

Biggest Out: Jeter lines into a DP

Unfortunately for Jeter, though, on a day in which everyone else struggled, his at-bat in the 7th defined the game for the Yanks. With Francisco Cervelli and Brett Gardner on second and third with one out, the Blue Jays brought the infield in, and Jeter lined the ball hard but right at Aaron Hill. Although Hill dropped the ball, the umpires ruled it a drop on the transfer. Jeter was out, and Cervelli, halfway down the line at third, was easily doubled up.

Had Jeter hit that ball elsewhere, the Yanks would have had a 4-1 lead. Had he hit it on the ground, the Yanks would have had a 3-1 lead. At that point, the Yanks needed Jeter to hit it where they ain’t, and though no fault of his, the rally was quashed. After that double play, Alex Gonzalez led off the 7th with a home run to tie the game, and the Yanks could never reclaim the lead.

Getting to the end of the game

In a certain sense, the early-game struggles were overshadowed by the end game. After coaxing 4.1 scoreless innings from his often-shaky bullpen, Joe Girardi had but three relievers left in the pen: Chad Gaudin, Sergio Mitre and future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera. If ever the team needed Al Aceves, it was yesterday.

Mitre had just thrown a few innings yesterday and was unvailable, and the game had not yet entered that situation to end all situations: The Save Situation. So Chad Gaudin came into the game. Released a few weeks ago by the Oakland A’s, Gaudin walked Edwin Encarnacion, the Blue Jays’ struggling nine hitter, on four pitchers, got an out on a sacrifice bunt and gave up a walk-off single to end the game.

I was apoplectic even before this disastrous 14th inning unfolded. How could Joe Girardi not use Mariano Rivera, the greatest reliever of all time, before Chad Gaudin, an Oakland reject? Girardi later said he would not use Rivera in a tie game on the road unless Mo can go two innings and that it’s still “too early in the season” to use Mariano for that length. Instead, Gaudin got the ball and the loss.

I understand the counterargument. I understand wanting to use your closer for a save situation. But at some point, it simply becomes necessary to save the game from being a loss. At some point, Rivera has to pitch in extra innings, and if the game is still tied after he’s out of gas, at least the Yanks went down firing their ace. It is a lesson Yankee managers have not learned since Alex Gonzalez took Jeff Weaver deep during the 2003 World Series. The loss ultimately rests with the offense, but the bullpen management in the 14th did not help.

Very Honorable Mention: Andy Pettitte

Credit: Darren Calabrese, AP Photo/The Canadian Press

By the time the 14th inning rolled around, Andy Pettitte was but an afterthought. I’d be remiss, however, if I didn’t give a big tip of the cap to Number 46. Facing a lineup that leads all of baseball in runs scored, Pettitte threw 7.2 masterful innings. He gave up just two solo home runs, struck out 10 and issued just three free passes. While he didn’t get a W, it was not for lack of trying, and Pettitte’s outing today continues his amazing run to start the 2010 season.

The WPA Rollercoaster

Up and down and up and down.

Up Next

Javier Vazquez (4-5, 6.06) will look to stop the bleeding in Toronto. He takes a recent hot streak into the 1:07 game against Brandon Morrow (4-4, 6.00), and after today’s long affair in which everyone but Mo pitched, the team will rely on Javy for some innings.

The Heathcott & Murphy Show is on in Charleston
Link Dump: Hyped prospects, Strasburg, Harper, revisiting Girardi's hiring
  • forensicnucchem

    I know it’s terrible, but I have zero faith in Javy giving us innings, especially quality ones, tomorrow. Homer prone pitcher vs. homer prone lineup. Not a good thing when the pitcher part hasn’t done much against good offenses this year and the lineup part seemingly keep hitting it out.

    I sure hope I’m wrong and look like an idiot tomorrow though.

    • Mike Axisa

      I’m not sure what to expect. I think it’ll be something on the extremes though. Either 2.1 IP & 6 R or 8 IP & 1 R, something like that. I can see him carving them up with his offspeed heavy approach, or get getting his brain mashed in.

      • bexarama

        This very much. If Pettitte can get 10Ks against the Blue Jay lineup, if Javy’s on, he’s going to be ridiculous. If not, uh, hold on to your butts.

        • JGS

          You can say the same thing about Morrow though. He leads the majors in both K/9 and BB/9. Hopefully the patient Yankees will be out tomorrow

  • wilcymoore27

    I have no problem with Girardi using Gaudin in that situation. I think you have to keep Mariano available for the bottom of an inning in which the Yanks score. Unfortunately, they never needed him.

    Regarding Teixeira, this season has emphasized for me the degree to which he tries to pull everything. He’s like Giambi … Teixeira will never go to the opposite field on purpose, not even against the shift when he’s hitting lefty.

    Teixeira will probably hit better the rest of the way, but don’t look for back-of-the-baseball-card numbers for him this year. He’s going to have an off season.

    • Mister Delaware

      What was the cutoff for getting your numbers on the back of the baseball card?

      • wilcymoore27

        I’d say about .280, 30 HRs. I don’t think he’s getting there.

  • bexarama

    I’ve noticed the home/road offense splits and they make me very =/ but I figure it’s a SSS thing and it’ll even out.

  • Michael Kay but not THE

    tough day.

    also The Jesus Montero Watch is getting depressing now.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      Not only is this completely off topic, but the three of us are growing very sick of hearing this. It won’t be tolerated much longer. If you really think some pixels on a computer screen are impacting Jesus Montero and if you really can’t stand the thought of a 20-year-old at AAA struggling, I don’t really know what to say. End of discussion.

      • Michael Kay but not THE

        wow, you took an awful lot from that. No offense, but if you’re gonna operate a blog with the intention of high traffic either lighten up or maybe look into some medical solutions for your problem.

        • Gonzo

          I think this is where the frustration with Montero is coming from.

        • pat

          Maybe you should stop bitching about something so stupid.

        • Joseph Pawlikowski

          1) Clearly we’re getting a lot of emails about the “jinx” and we think it’s completely moronic, so please forgive us for the harsh reply. It just seems like it’s coming from all angles, and it’s completely ridiculous. You did not say anything about a jinx, but I can see how Ben interpreted it as such, since this comment came literally 5 minutes after we got an email to the “take it down, it’s a jinx” effect.

          2) If we had intentions of high traffic we’d just mimic the Post. We have never, nor will we ever, write anything with the intention of gaining traffic.

          3) If you thought Ben’s comment was harsh, fine. But your reply was just as bad. So you’re not all innocent here.

    • Richard Iurilli

      This is getting really silly and old. I don’t know if some people still think it’s funny, but believe me, it’s not.

      If you seriously can’t handle a slump, I really don’t know what to say to you. Even the best players go through slumps, and Montero is a twenty-year-old playing in Triple-A. And if you think that a baseball player can be “jinxed” or have his production impacted by a few stats on the sidebar of a website, maybe you should find another sport to follow.

      • Andy_C_23

        No disrespect, but he didn’t say anything about a jinx. All he did was say that Montero’s numbers are getting depressing to watch, which they kind of are. I’m not sure if ‘Michael Kay but not THE’ is a regular troll here (and if he is then disregard this post), but I saw nothing wrong with what he said in this particular post. He was simply stating a fact.

        • FIPster Doofus

          Agreed. Talk about harsh replies. Geez.

      • Dez

        Edited by RAB: Goodbye, asshole

        • poster

          I like lamp.

        • Tom Zig

          You’re a towel!

          • CNight_UP

            You’re the worst character ever towlie…

        • Esteban

          ban hammer?

  • Mister Delaware

    Those Mariano comments from Girardi don’t even make sense. What if Gaudin finishes the inning and the Yanks score? Mo to close, but if he gives up a run … what? Risk Mitre? Use a starter? Extend until you can’t then let someone ready to go long pitch until the game is over. Shaping a game around some bullshit save opportunity preservation rather than that is just awful, awful, awful bullpen management.

  • Kevin Bacon

    I would love if one of you guys could write an article going deeper into Tex’s struggles using all that fangraphs jargon and such.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      I’d imagine one of us will tackle that topic early this week. It’s getting to the point of being a problem in the lineup, especially if he continues to hit third.

      • Mister Delaware

        Unless you are able to see something I don’t, checking Fangraphs will only leave you more frustrated. Aside from maybe saying he’s not being aggressive enough, there’s nothing about the discipline numbers that stands out beyond end results. I guess you can’t quantify what it looks like when a guy is swinging between a fastball and a breaking ball or something. I have no doubt he’ll be fine, but that long, dragging swing lends itself to looking awful when things are bad.

    • Mike Axisa

      The real problem is against righty pitchers. He’s been doing pretty well against lefties so far, right in line with his career norms (these last two games notwithstanding), but he’s getting annihilated by righties for some reason. It’s ugly. Like Atlanta paying Melky $3.1M for a sub-.600 OPS ugly.

      • Dez

        Edited by RAB: Doesn’t fly

        • Andy_C_23

          Not sure why, but something tells me Dez is a member of Red Sox Nation.

          • Rob H.

            either that or he is seriously unhinged in the head.

            • Andy_C_23

              Can’t it be both?

              • pat

                I beleive the two go hand in hand.

        • dr mrs the yankee

          I’m pretty sure Mike isn’t paying Teix anything :)

  • bonestock94

    It’s hard dealing with this after the second half tear of last season. The occasional lack of hitting brings me back to the “dark ages” of several years ago. Which actually weren’t that bad by most team’s standards.

    • bexarama

      The occasional lack of hitting brings me back to the “dark ages” of several years ago.

      I was gonna say buhhh…. but then I read the last sentence you wrote and so I shall not.

    • JGS

      Which actually weren’t that bad by most team’s even the Yankees’ standards.

      Even the 2008 Yankees, with Rasner and Ponson 3rd and 4th in starts, won more games (in a much tougher division) than the 2000 championship team.

      • bonestock94

        Yea but like I implied we’re spoiled, and there used to be these stretches of stranding runners and just not hitting that murdered my soul.

  • (The Real) James

    Disagree with your stance on MO not being used, Ben. (at least as i pertains to yesterdays game)

    I think wanting to use MO in yesterdays game is really short minded. Unless you’re going to use him for 2 innings then its pointless to bring him in…and i see no reason to use him for 2 innings in a game on the 5th of June vs the 3rd place team on the road.

    Its a long season…and as we get into the fall nights i think we can talk about pushing MO for a couple of innings on the road. but not now…not in june. save your bullets.

    • dr mrs the yankee

      The way I look at it is this: Gaudin is the last man out of the pen for a reason. He’s got talents, but he’s limited and he’s been struggling this year. He should stay the last man out of the pen even when the team is on the road.

      I don’t really take a huge offense to this in the regular season so I’m not yelling at Girardi.

      I am however pretty much stabbing myself in the face everytime Teix guesses fastball and it’s a change. Against Romero this was especially barf.

    • Mister Delaware

      Why’s it pointless to use him for 1 inning? Gaudin is going long if someone has to; why not use Mariano to (in theory) give them one more inning to score?

  • bexarama

    Also, Pettitte has nine starts where he’s given up two or fewer runs. That leads the AL. Hughes has 8. Keep it up, old dude.

  • Dez

    Edited by RAB: I’m very disappointed in everyone who responded to this. If you don’t respond to trolls they go away.

    • Andy_C_23

      Wow. This, on the other hand, is another story.

    • dr mrs the yankee

      PEDs don’t make you magically really awesome at baseball.

    • bexarama

      This comment is *magical*

      If the easy solution to Tex’s woes would be to get back on TEH ROIDS!!!! (which he was ever so obviously on last year since he was very good last year) don’t you think he’d do that?

      • poster

        Isn’t it obvious? He’s stopped taking them because a year with teh awesomeness of Jeter w/o teh ‘roids just made him feel so guilty it was either kill himself or get off ‘roids. True story.

    • FIPster Doofus

      Take it easy, Champ. Why don’t you sit this next one out, stop talking for a while.

    • poster

      I nominate this post for worst post of the season.

      I know it’s still early, but it’s going to be tough to cap a post this mindnumbingly ridiculous.

    • Hova

      Wow dude. You’re crazy and obviously upset. He’s just in a funk and it’ll be alright. No worries.

      Hate to be sound dorky, but the season is a marathon, not a sprint. This team will come together by the end of the season and we’ll starting kicking ass and taking names.

    • JGS

      Not sure why I am bothering with the correction considering the rest of the comment, but Tex’s contract is for $180M, not 160

      • bexarama

        I was going to agree with everyone else and call this guy completely silly but now that I remembered his contract is for $180M and not $160M… MY GOD.

        • poster

          Not only do I nominate this post for worst post of the season, I officially sponsor it with the trademarked name of poster. All rights reserved.

        • JGS

          Seriously. That 20M turned him from simply a bust and sunk cost (just like Giambi. /revisionist history’d) to a fcuking pu$$y a$$ b!tch

    • RKelly39

      Dude, look, relax. Even if Tex did PEDs — and if you include HGH I’m sure many players have (I frankly don’t care)– how is drug use the cause for his struggles? Do you even watch the games? He hits the ball with nasty authority sometimes. It’s not like he’s getting out with warning track flies. He’s just not making that kind of contact on a regular basis. He’ll hit a bomb. And then he’ll hit nothing but weak groundballs off the end of the bat for three days and k a bunch of times.

      Tony Mandarich could not hit .300. He couldn’t even hit .216 like Tex is doing. Steroids make skilled athletes — playing at the top of their game — perform better. Tex is not at the top of his game.

      The slump has added pressure onto a guy who strikes me as being a tad sensitive.

  • Bondarri

    I am beginning to wonder if the weird hitting mechanics that Tex has have finally caught up with him? I can’t accurately describe them but I’ve read that his mechanics are pretty unique in that he has way more weight on his back leg and doesn’t transfer weight forward when he strides to hit the ball. We are 1/3 through the season and his stats and his head are both completely screwed up.

    I don’t know enough about hitting mechanics to know what it would take for him to make major changes but I seriously doubt that could be attempted during the middle of the season.

    This is looking like Tex has caught the dreaded “Big Papi” disease?

    I agree with others that it’s probably 50/50 as to whether he will snap out of this during the current season. Pretty difficult situation for Girardi as Tex is the best fielding first baseman I’ve ever seen but they really need much better production from the middle of the lineup.

    • Rick in Boston

      I don’t think Girardi will ever sit Tex for an extended period of time, because he’s their best defensive option at 1B, and he’s walking at slightly about last year’s clip.

      I think it’s more possible that Girardi flip-flops Cano and Tex.

  • nsalem

    Don’t see this game as Gaudin’s fault (not his role) or Girardi’s fault
    (this game wasn’t that important enough to throw Mariano for 2). The fault was our bad offense and the management that is fielding a team that is 20% marginal major leagues.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      Marginal Major Leaguers? What are you talking about?

      • nsalem

        Russo, Moeller, Gaudin, Pena and Thames. When speaking of Thames I am referring to his career body of work and not his 2010 record. For the Yankees these players are at best 24th or 25th men. If we were healthy at least 3 of these five players would not be on the team. By marginal
        I mean all these players have very limited roles on a winning team. When these roles have to be expanded like they did yesterday things can get ugly.

        • Total Dominication

          Thames has always mashed lefties.

          • nsalem

            True but he can do little else and is a defensive liability. He should be an occasional dh and ph. Instead he is a fourth outfielder and to me that is a problem.

  • Carlosologist

    I honestly hope this is the absolute low point for Teixeira. Remember when Alex was sucking the place up last season? Joe made him sit for that final game against the Marlins and after that he started to hit again. I hope Joe makes Teixeira sit in today’s game. Maybe a day off is all he needs.

  • pat

    IMO flipping Cano and Tex is gonna hurt Tex more than it helps the lineup.

  • Angel

    I’m not sure what we’ll see today. All I know is that Blue Jay’s hitters have been hitting the ball extremely hard. Almost all of their outs are “loud outs” and their number 9 hitter (Gonzalez) is tied in home runs with our team’s top homer hitter (Cano). I know it’s the entire lineups job to get on base and score, but if ARod and Teixeira go 1 for 10, this team simply can’t win. Unless Vazquez throws a shutout, which is highly unlikely. Let’s hope the Yank’s bats come to life in this one so we can avoid being swept.