Jul
30

A close game early gives way to a blowout late

By

For a few hours, tonight’s 11-4 route of the Indians had a tense feel to it. Tampa Bay had downed the Tigers earlier in the afternoon, and for the Yanks to head into their AL East showdown with a comfortable lead, the Bombers had to beat Mitch Talbot and the hapless Indians. Through five innings, the two clubs were locked in a 1-1 tie, but then the Yanks busted out for seven runs in the seventh. Even an adventurous ninth inning meant little for the Indians, and the Yanks walked away winners of three of four in Cleveland and six of eight against the AL Central bottom feeders.

Moseley mows ‘em down

AP Photo, Amy Sancetta

Before we delve into tonight’s offensive orgy, we start on the mound with Dustin Moseley. The 28-year-old righthander drew the start in place of Sergio Mitre who pitched poorly five days ago in place of Andy Pettitte. Moseley didn’t start as a direct response to Mitre’s results over the weekend, but he started because the Yanks realized they hadn’t adequately prepared Mitre for a role as a starter. He rehabbed as a short reliever and didn’t have the stamina to start.

So tonight was Moseley’s night, and at first, it appeared as though he would break long before Mitre did. Although he recorded an out on a fielder’s choice, the first four Indians reached base against Moseley, and a sac fly made it 1-0. With runners on 2nd and 3rd, Moseley struck out Matt LaPorta to halt the damage, but he had thrown 30 pitches in that first inning. He was not, it seemed, long for the game.

But then it all clicked for Moseley. Over the next five innings, he allowed no runs on three hits and a walk and struck out three. He used just 53 pitches for the final five frames and would have returned to the mound for the seventh but for the Yanks’ endless top of the inning. It’s true that the Indians are not a strong offensive club, but Moseley shut them down while the Yanks’ bats went to work. If anything, he’ll draw a start against Toronto next week and should be able to hold down the fort until Andy Pettitte returns.

Jeter breaks the dam

As Moseley kept the Indians at bay, the Yankees couldn’t get much of anything going. Through the first five innings, the enjoyed ten baserunners and plated but one solitary run. Up on that scoreboard at Progressive Field, it was the loneliest number until Number 2 knocked in a row. With two outs in the 6th, Jeter ended the Yanks’ 0-for-10 span with runners in scoring position and as the Yanks had their 2-1 lead, the game quickly became a blowout.

In the seventh inning, everyone hit. After two quick outs, the next 10 batters went a combined 4 for 5 with four walks and a hit batter. Cano hit a booming home run to left — his 20th of the year; Francisco Cervelli knocked in a run; Derek Jeter walked to force in a run; Curtis Granderson singled in two; A-Rod, homerless again, singled in two. By the end of the game, the Yanks were 7 for 21 with runners in scoring position, a far cry from that 0-for-10 stretch.

In truth, the big blow always seemed just around the corner. Mitch Talbot had to leave the game in the third with a stiff back, and the Indians had to rely on their bullpen to get 21 outs. It couldn’t, and the Yankees, as good times are wont to do, took advantage of the parade of lesser pitchers who passed through the mound.

They told me to walk this way

Relief ace Andy Marte shut down the Yanks. Credit: AP Photo, Amy Sancetta

Despite the 11 runs, the Yanks could have scored more quite easily. In addition to their early-game struggles with runners in scoring position, the Yanks eked out 12 free passes from Indians’ pitchers. In total, the Yanks had 25 baserunners, and all of the starters except for Francisco Cervelli reached base at least twice. This Cleveland club is a far cry from the near-AL Champion 2007 squad.

Amusingly enough, the only Indians pitcher who didn’t issue a free pass was a position player pressed into service. Andy Marte came on to pitch The Eighth Inning. He induced a grounder from Cano, struck out Nick Swisher and got Marcus Thames to line out to third. It was a job well done by the best hurler on the Cleveland staff.

Adventures in CHoP-land

Finally, we arrive at the Chan Ho Park Ninth Inning Debacle. With the game so firmly in the Yanks’ pocket that Joe Girardi thought it clever to put Marcus Thames at third base, Chan Ho Park came unglued. He recorded three quick outs in the 8th and two outs in the 9th before he just lost it. He walked Chris Gimenez and Austin Kearns, and then after running the count full, he allowed an RBI single to Matt LaPorta.

Then, the real fun began. Jayson Nix hit a hot shot to third that Marcus Thames gloved. But when he tried to make the long throw across the diamond, he airmailed it into the stands. It was a toss worthy of Keith Olbermann’s mom, and all of a sudden, Girardi’s cute idea seemed costly. Park gave up another walk before Luis Valbuena sent Nick Swisher back to the warning track as he hauled in the final out of the game.

I can’t fault Park for this performance to the extreme I usually do. He threw over 50 pitches and would have gotten out of the inning if not for Thames’ fielding. Still, at one point, he had thrown 11 straight balls in what was a 10-run game. That’s not pitching to inspire confidence. All’s well that ends well though.

Looking closer than it was

You’ve got your Fangraphs box and your ESPN box.

Up Next

The Yanks take their two-game lead into the Tampa Bay area later tonight. Phil Hughes will face Wade Davis to start a key three-game match-up with the second-place Rays. After a week of the Indians and Royals, the intensity will ratchet up a notch during this weekend’s sold out set.

Categories : Game Stories

31 Comments»

  1. Apollo22237 says:

    The baseball gods are funny the way they work. They found Thames at 3rd pretty quick.

  2. Carlosologist says:

    I love how the WPA graph slowly flatlines after the seventh inning. Also, Thames at third may have been Girardi’s best decision all season.

  3. Mister Delaware says:

    My final game in Little League, my manager finally let me move from the infield to CF, where I always wanted to play. I imagine Thames at 3B is the same, except on a professional level and Thames probably didn’t want to play 3B. And I hosed a kid at the plate.

  4. Esteban says:

    LOLThames. When I saw the replay, I could not figure out who the hell was playing third. How did Girardi think of putting Thames at third?

  5. Captain Jack says:

    Sabathia: 7 IP 4RA 3BBs 5Ks
    Mosley (against a better line up): 6 IP 0 RA 2BBs 4Ks

    Clearly, Mosley is the new ace of the staff.

  6. YankeesJunkie says:

    Fun Fact: They were showing the best records in the baseball in baseball tonight since July 28 to show how good the Padres were. The Padres were 97-65 approx. Too bad they were in second to the Yankees by about ten games who have been 107-57 since July 28, 2009.

  7. Cecala says:

    I don’t understand why Cleveland just didn’t throw out a rookie pitcher every game. Really what do they have to lose…

  8. Pat D says:

    2 can be as bad as 1, it’s the loneliest number since the number 1.

    The original, Harry Nilsson version of that song came on my iPod on my way to work today, and then it’s referenced in the RAB game post.

    Coincidence? Surely not!

  9. forensicnucchem says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I want Park gone as much as anyone, but I almost feel bad for him after this one. Yeah, he walked the guys and brought some of it on himself, but Thames at 3rd is even crueler than Thames in the OF for a pitcher, and Girardi left him out there for over 50 pitches.

    It’s a tough appearance to balance.

    • Chris says:

      Thames’ defense didn’t help, but he had nothing to do with the three walks and two wild pitches.

      On the other hand, Park did say he was probably too amped up after facing Choo, which is somewhat understandable (particularly in a blowout).

      • Brian in NH says:

        its a big deal in korea!

      • Wil Nieves #1 Fan says:

        I’m sorry, but I cannot feel bad for Park. I felt bad for Dontrelle earlier this year when he literally could not throw a single strike, but Park’s 1-0, 2-0, and 3-0 breaking balls in the dirt are completely uncalled for (I also don’t understand what Cervelli was doing at this time). He gave up more walks than hits with a 10 run lead in the bottom of the 9th.

        Like is this d00d 4 realz?

  10. Rose says:

    Jeter breaks the dam

    With two outs in the 6th, Jeter ended the Yanks’ 0-for-10 span with runners in scoring position and as the Yanks had their 2-1 lead, the game quickly became a blowout.

    Not only that, Jeter had been mired in his own 0-13 slump (2 for his last 28).

    After hitting .330/.354/.521 (.875) in April, Jeter declined to a .281/.343/.359 (.702) in May then took another big jump down to .243/.339/.379 (.718) in June and while his average is hovering around the same for the month of July (and not that that’s even good whatsoever – it’s just not sinking any further), everything else has significantly declined as his line has been .245/.315/.306 (.621).

    Has the “walk year” phenomena effected Jeter in the opposite fashion as it has with most others? Did he really just decline this much in the matter of one season and not gradually? Is it a combination of both? Why would Jeter randomly change his approach at the plate immediately as the season began after having such success using his same old approach last season?

    Not only is his batting average dropping but it seems that he can’t even see the pitches well anymore as his OBP has been exponentially declining month after month. One can only hope that it’s his mind racing about his state with the Yankees (which still isn’t like Jeter) and not that he just abruptly had a drastic decline after a solid year.

    • Ross in Jersey says:

      I don’t think any of it is a mental issue with Jeter. The Yankees are going to take care of him because of who he is, I don’t see how he’d be unsure about that.

      I think he’s just declining. Let’s face it, he’s a 36 year old shortstop. He’s not supposed to be good anymore. He’s going to have to recognize that his aggressive approach isn’t working. Swinging early in the count worked last year, it isn’t now. He’s going to need a reinvent himself a little bit. I’m sure he still has something in the tank, but it’s clear age is finally catching up to him.

      • RL says:

        Let’s hope Jeter realizes this as well, adjusts his approach to be the best he can be at this point in his career, and negotiates a deal that will work for the Yankees. A heavily incentive-based deal with option years. And let’s hope he’s not too proud to walk away when it’s the appropriate time. I’d hate to see his great career remembered for a few poor ones in his later years.

  11. B-Rando says:

    I was impressed with Moseley. That first inning was a little rough, but for him to work through the next 5 innings on 53 pitches was pretty impressive. That is all we need out of our 5th guy until Petitte returns. If Mitre can provide some depth in the bullpen, while Moseley continues to fill in like this, we will be in fantastic shape.

  12. vin says:

    I expect Moseley will get at least 1 more start in place of Andy, and will probably be in the rotation come September when Hughes is up against his innings limit. I wonder how far the Yanks want to push Hughes past 160 innings, especially considering his drop in velocity and overall effectiveness.

    I’m looking forward to seeing him pitch tonight though. He’s a beast on the road.

  13. SK says:

    tex would have saved that throw from thames. i don’t think anyone has ever mentioned his defensive abilities at first base. (kidding.)

  14. pat says:

    Simple explanation is often the best. Girardi has Thames on his fantasy team, wanted to get him some INF eligibility.

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