Yanks battle back to beat the Rangers

Brackman strong in Trenton win
Javy Vazquez and the lost fastball velocity
(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Sometimes a game feels like two games. Sometimes that’s because of the action. Other times it’s because of the length. Last night’s was both. The Rangers did all their damage in the first five innings, while the Yanks brought the drama in the final four. The game time was three hours, 45 minutes, which added to the dual-game feel. But two games or one, the Yanks came away with the victory and extended their lead in the AL East.

Biggest Hit: The Captain ties it

With so many important points in the game it’s tough to pick just one that stands out as the most important. But if we have to, it’s going to be the hit that ties the game in the ninth. That came off the bat of Derek Jeter. Though he had plenty of help setting up the situation.

After pitching two innings in Tuesday’s game, Neftali Feliz got the call to hold the Rangers’ one-run lead in the ninth. Lance Berkman got the first crack at him and put together his best at-bat to date as a Yankee. Feliz threw nothing but fastballs, but Berkman stayed on them. He fouled off the first, took the second, and then swung through the third. From there he took two out of the zone, fouled off two, and then finally took the last one for ball four. It was quite the effort by Berkman, and it resulted in the tying run heading to first base.

That tying run wouldn’t be Berkman, though, but rather Curtis Granderson. That changes the game in two ways. First, it gives the Yanks considerably more speed on the bases. Second, it can distract the pitcher. To the latter point, Feliz threw over to first five times, one before each of the first five pitches. Before the sixth, in a 2-2 count to Brett Gardner, Feliz declined to throw over. Instead he threw his 14th straight fastball. Gardner dunked it into left for a base hit.

This set up Jeter well, but not perfectly. The tying and go-ahead runs were on base, and they were the fastest guys on the team. It didn’t take long for the situation to become perfect. On the second pitch, Feliz’s 16th straight fastball, the ball sailed away, above Bengie Molina’s head and to the backstop. It bounced right back to Molina, but even a perfect throw couldn’t get Granderson. The double play possibility was off, leaving Jeter with even more wiggle room.

He used every bit of it on the next pitch, Feliz’s 17th straight fastball, as he chopped it towards the middle. With the infield drawn it it squeezed through and got into center, which allowed Granderson to score the tying run. Gardner held up for a moment to make sure the ball got through. Had he been going on contact I’m confident he would have scored the go-ahead run right there.

Feliz finally went to the slider against Nick Swisher. Unsurprisingly it worked out, as Swisher went down swinging again. For those who like the phrase, that was the Golden Sombrero for him. But, after having thrown two innings on Tuesday and 20 pitches in last night’s game, Feliz was done. The game was left to a lesser pitcher from the Rangers’ bullpen. I’m not sure what was less surprising, Swisher’s strikeout or the Rangers’ bullpen giving the Yanks the lead.

MVP: Marcus Thames

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Jeter might have been the hero with the tying run, but Marcus Thames did everything he could to help his team win the game. Normally he’d get a slot in the Miscellany section, but for his 3 for 5 night, which included a homer and the go-ahead single, he gets his own little section.

Thames’s homer in the eighth was what made me think the Yanks could come back. Frank Francisco is prone to the meltdown, and Thames’s leadoff homer made it seem like one was imminent. And it was. Austin Kearns bailed him out by missing a 3-1 meatball, which is a shame. But make no mistake: the Yanks had designs on this game in the eighth, and Marcus Thames led the charge. It’s fitting, then, that he drove home Gardner with a sharp groundball single.

Good things happen when Thames gets to hit but doesn’t have to play the field.

Ninth inning Leverage Index

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Mariano Rivera remains the same on the mound no matter the situation. Whether it’s the bottom of the order with a three-run lead or it’s the top of the order with his team ahead just one run, Mariano stands there like Seneca, poised and stoical. In the ninth inning last night he not only had to protect a lead of a single run, but had to face the top of the Rangers order to do so.

The first batter, Elvis Andrus, came to the plate with a Leverage Index of 3.60. He didn’t feel the pressure, though, as he smacked one into the right-center gap, not only splitting Kearns and Granderson, but also hitting it to a deeper part of the park. That allowed him to take third base, which gave the Rangers an excellent chance to tie the game. That actually brought Texas’s win expectancy above 50 percent.

Michael Young batted next, and he actually faced a lower LI. Mo jammed him on the first pitch, and young popped one up to shallow right. Austin Kearns, making up for his rally killing double play in the eighth, sprinted in and made a shoestring catch to record the out. Andrus probably wouldn’t have scored in any case, but the out was big. It also increased the leverage dramatically.

The Rangers’ best hitter and MVP candidate Josh Hamilton batted next. This time the LI was 5.76. Mo did not feel the pressure. He just does what he normally does, which is to pump cutters. The first two crossed a bit too far inside, but on the 2-0 pitch Mo hit his spot. Hamilton tapped it weakly right back to Rivera for the second out. That left just one more batter.

Again the pressure was high. The Rangers’ win expectancy had fallen all the way to 17.2 percent, but they still had that tying run 90 feet away. Mo delivered a cutter, and again missed. He didn’t with the next. Guerrero pulled the thigh-high cutter right to A-Rod at third, who threw across the diamond to end the game.

On Javy

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

I’m torn on how to evaluate Javier Vazquez‘s start. On the one hand, he allowed six runs in 4.1 innings, which is never good. On the other hand, he got some bad breaks along the way. There was no way anyone could rate this as a good, or even decent, start. But it was something less than the disaster that the scoreboard suggested.

The first run, a solo homer by Michael Young, just barely caught the foul pole in right. That’ll happen. No biggie. Even Cliff Lee will give up a run from time to time. But then in the fourth Javy gave up two more, and with Lee on the mound the game felt bleak. But I wasn’t killing Javy. The runs scored on a ball that Cano nearly fielded. And in any case, the Yanks shouldn’t have been in that situation. Why they thought it appropriate to walk David Murphy with two outs is beyond me. Javy got him to pop up in his first AB. Let him face the guy. It’s not like they were setting up the double play or anything.

(Still, can’t give Javy a complete pass here. He did walk Bengie Molina, which is hard enough on its own, but he did it after being ahead 0-2. Poor form, Javy. Poor form.)

He allowed another run in the fifth, this off the bat of Josh Hamilton. It’s a forgivable offense, but Javy was running out of rope there. Thankfully he rebounded, getting Vlad to bounce right back to him and then Nelson Cruz to hit one towards A-Rod. That prevented the run from scoring, as A-Rod threw home. But Jorge Posada botched the rundown and allowed Young to return to third safely. That became huge, because Murphy then singled and drove in two.

Yay bullpen

Sergio Mitre came on in relief of Vazquez and got Molina to fly out. For some reason Nelson Cruz thought it appropriate to tag up. With a break-even rate of roughly 100 percent, there’s no excuse for getting thrown out there. Cruz did, and he let the Yanks off the hook.

Mitre came out to pitch a scoreless sixth, and then Kerry Wood followed with two scoreless innings. Clearly, they’re stretching him out to be a starter down the stretch.

The Yanks offense did the coming back, but without solid work from Mitre and Wood they wouldn’t have gotten there in the first place. Hats off to them. I’ve noticed far fewer people complaining about the bullpen these days.

Miscellany

Any time you score four runs off Cliff Lee you can pat yourself on the back. Good job by the offense.

After the Rangers broke it open in the fifth, the Yanks immediately fought back. Or, should I say, Jeter fought back. He tripled to lead off the sixth and eventually scored on a wild pitch. He’s damn lucky on that one, since the next three batters struck out swinging. That was Lee’s first wild pitch of the season.

Lee had an odd line. He gave up eight hits, four for extra bases, but struck out 11. And, of course, he walked none. Anything more would be unsuitable.

Derek Jeter apparently does not appreciate it when people say he shouldn’t be the leadoff hitter.

Box and graph

The graph gets kinda crazy there towards the end.

More at FanGraphs. Traditional numbers here.

Up Next

The Yanks travel north to Kansas City to battle the Royals. Bruce Chen vs. CC Sabathia, Same CDT start of 8:10.

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Brackman strong in Trenton win
Javy Vazquez and the lost fastball velocity
  • Esteban

    I feel like the Yankees did this to the Rangers:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4En5DeEcLQ (safe)

    • http://ballcraft.blogspot.com Zanath

      This might be my favorite video of all time now.

  • Meat Loaf

    Reason number #188,192 why I am a Yankee fan.

  • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime-Jesus & Maquinito FTW

    Wheeeee leverage wheeeeee

  • Esteban

    This might have been my favorite win of the season. Even more so than the Dodgers game

    • http://www.thesubwayconnection.com/ Newbie

      I agree. It rivals the Thames walk-off vs Papelbon for me, probably beats it. That was awesome.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        All these amazing signature come-from-behind wins, and yet I’m told ceaselessly that this team doesn’t have the spirit, the magic, the joie-de-vivre of last year’s squad.

        And that we can’t repeat, because we don’t have heart or passion, that we don’t care, that we’re not clutch.

        Huh.

        • Esteban

          Go with what your eyes tell you. They have no heart and no passion.

        • http://www.thesubwayconnection.com/ Newbie

          Well, didn’t you know? It only counts if guys like Melky, Matsui or Damon are the ones winning the games! Those guys had grit, they had a love of the game, and they were clutch!

    • http://www.twitter.com/jordan_smed JGS

      Disagree. I lump this in with the Papelbon game as awesome games that were really ugly early but were redeemed by late-inning awesomeness. Dodger game is still #1 for me

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

        That Dodger game wasn’t ugly early too? Andy threw like five bunts away.

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

          I went to bed after the second blown bunt. It was 4:30 a.m. and they were already down by several runs, and I foolishly thought there was no way they were winning that one.

          Biggest mistake I made all vacation.

  • Zack

    Imagine how good this team would be if they had any passion…

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    Whether it’s the bottom of the order with a three-run lead or it’s the top of the order with his team ahead just one run, Mariano stands there like Seneca, poised and stoical.

    CHECK OUT THE BIG BRAIN ON JOE! You a smart muhf#$%a, that’s right! Greco-Roman stoicism!

    • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime-Jesus & Maquinito FTW

      Yo, TSJC, you’re a great commenter and I’ma let you finish, but Plato was one of the best thinking guys of all time! Of all time!

      • http://www.thesubwayconnection.com/ Newbie

        /bringing back an old yet still funny meme’d

    • pat

      I fail to see what the Browns backup QB has to do with anything.

  • http://www.twitter.com/jordan_smed JGS

    Giant kudos to Thames of course, but also to Mitre and Wood for their efforts, Derek Jeter for some huge hits, and Brett Gardner as well. He finally came up with some big hits as well as a stolen base

    • Esteban

      RAB has some sort of magical power. Just like last year with Melky, negative articles seem to boost Brett Gardner.

      • Brian in NH

        Maybe someone put up a Gardner Watch on their website somewhere. It was starting to make him do poorly, then the negative comments come in and BAM!! You have a productive player again!

    • Am I the only Kevin?

      Jeter was more lucky than good in this one. The triple was really a 3 base error, and the RBI single should definitely have been fielded.

  • BigBlueAL

    The 2010 Yankees have just matched the 1994 Yankees final record of 70-43.

    • YankeesJunkie

      Anything short of 113-0 is a disaster dammit!

  • http://twitter.com/simmonsclass Sam

    That. Was. Awesome.

  • Apollo22237

    I am calling for the bricks behind home plate be removed. They almost screwed us.

  • http://twitter.com/YanktheMike yankthemike

    you got me with seneca- everything else was gravy-

    and thanks RAB for getting GGBG off the schneid

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

    I seriously spent about 15 minutes rereading the Game Thread for this game (and I would just like to say Kit is fucking awesome). Wow. What a game. I fully admit I basically gave up on the game when it was 6-1 after five with Cliff Lee on the mound. But I kept watching. Because… baseball.

    Mo is freaking amazing (I actually had very little doubt he’d strand that leadoff triple – really), and the bullpen has really gotten their shit together as of late. And of course, fantastic job by the no-heart, tail-between-their-legs-when-they-fall-behind offense.

    This one’s probably right behind the Broxton game and the walk-off against Papelbon game for me.

    • jim p

      Mo. Right? I’m thinking “okay this isn’t pleasant, but he could well get the next three.”

    • Kit

      Thanks Bex, I think you’re awesome too. Don’t exactly know what I did to warrant being called awesome, but I appreciate it. =)

      I’m not going to lie, I also kind of gave up on the game, but I thought it was with good reason since Lee had a CG victory against the Yanks earlier in the year, and they seem to have difficulties scoring runs against him, and he’s just generally a great pitcher. I can’t wait to see him in pinstripes. And Mo is always amazing. After that Arizona game with the bases loaded no-out jam that he got himself out of, I swore I wouldn’t question him ever again, but I was worried tonight. Blown saves from Mo make me feel a little shell shocked because they don’t happen that often. I’m just glad he came through.

      The bullpen has been impressive as of late. I haven’t been screaming “Noooooo!” at the sight of Joba, which is always good. My only gripe is that David Robertson better be rocking those high socks next time he pitches.

  • http://twitter.com/simmonsclass Sam

    Am I a bad person because I missed Yankees runs 2 3 and 4 due to watching Hard Knocks?

    • Cecala

      I missed them because I was watching Tosh.0

      • Apollo22237

        Oh crap, I missed it tonight. Oh well, they show it 50 times during the week anyway.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          I was watching “Freedom Week” on Fox Business.

  • http://twitter.com/dpatrickg Dirty Pena

    2009 Yankees through 113: 70-43. From now til Sept 8th: @ KC, Det, Sea, @ Tor, @ CWS, Oak, Tor, Bal. That team won 21 of 28 after the 113th game, let’s do the same this year.

  • Rey22

    I completely forgot Javy even started tonight. Seems like a tale of two completely different games.

  • http://twitter.com/dpatrickg Dirty Pena

    This is all because Posada started!

    /something Wally Matthews would write if he took up the “Cervelli sucks” cause’d

  • Meat Loaf

    What is with Kerry Wood and the multiple inning appearances?

    • Esteban

      He’s effective in them?

      • Meat Loaf

        I knew I was forgetting something.

  • sangreal

    Andrus probably wouldn’t have scored in any case

    Really? He was playing halfway to home before the catch. How does he not score if that drops in shallow right?

  • aRX

    Awesome win. Glad I didn’t go to sleep early, even though my headache is 3 times worse now :)

    Trying to wrap my head around how the Leverage Index went down with a runner on third and then shot back up again for the next 2 ABs, but in my current state, trying to read the LI article made my head explode, so I’ll try again in the morning.

  • RKelly39

    For all the talk about a weak bench, Thames is pretty good.

    I even think Thames deserves more ABs. He’s def. not an everyday player … but .321 .406 and numerous clutch hits this year … that counts for something in my book. LHPs — he should be in the mix when possible.

    • MrJigginz

      JUST DON’T PLAY HIM AT THIRD!!!

    • kosmo

      I have to hand it to Thames .He surprises me.I thought .250 with a little pop.He´s far exceeded expectations.

      Vasquez is another story.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Javy’s got a 3.78 ERA over his last 16 starts (100 IP, 6.25 IP/S), and that includes last night where he got a very unlucky 6 ER.

        He’s been a great pitcher for us after his April struggles when his mechanics were off.

        • kosmo

          The Yanks are 22-22 in games Burnett and Vasquez start you´d expect more for the approx 30 mil NY per has locked up between these two.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            The fact that we’re 22-22 in Burnett and Vazquez’s starts doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve pitched poorly.

            It just means for the full duration of the game, our team scored fewer runs than the other team 22 times and scored more runs than the other team 22 times. You can’t oversimplify. Some of those losses are on the bullpen, some are on the offense, etc.

            • kosmo

              No one is oversimplifying.They both sport ERAs near 5.00.

              When you spot a team 5 runs it puts far to much pressure on the offense to bail out the starter.Burnett is the number 2 SP and his record is below .500 on a team that leads the majors in RS.Hmmmmmm. Granted Vasquez is nothing more than a .500 SP to begin with.

              and you no well enough they have both pitched poorly for extended periods.Vasquez had a nice run of 6 weeks or so.Burnett is a very streaky pitcher.

  • Mariano’s Pimp Hand

    If the Yanks win 3 out of 4 in KC they will be at 29 games above .500, tying their season high.

    Over the last 22 games (102 PAs) the Cap’n is hitting .333/.392/.452. His career number are .315/.386/.455 so (finally) about on par with what we would expect.

  • Sleepykarl

    That last at bat for Hamilton was so terrible. It appeared as if Mo was going to pitch around him to set up the double play with the shell of Vlad on deck, but Josh would have none of hit. Chases a 2-0 cutter way in, gets jammed and all but sealed the game.

  • Pete C.

    Mo as Seneca, is that the Roman senator? Now I know why he has the Canali deal.

  • gooback

    “Derek Jeter apparently does not appreciate it when people say he shouldn’t be the leadoff hitter.”

    Too bad, Derek. Fact is you’re hitting at a career low and are being outshined by a slumping Gardner. Gardner is supposed to lead this team off. He’s in the top 5, or was last I checked, in pitches per plate appearance, hits .300+ (with 2 strikes too), has 33 SB, and has a very impressive OBP. For a group of stat freaks it’s amazing why you guys don’t, bring this up more….oh wait, can’t criticize the ol’ Captn, huh? We lose this game and it really boils down to Jeets big K with men on 2nd & 3rd and one out in the 7th (I think). He should be the goat today, not the hero who used all his intangibles to push yet another slow infield hit into the OF.

    Don’t get me wrong, great game and one of the best wins of the season to stop the mini-slide, but it certainly had little to do with Jeter and the rabbit’s foot he carries up his ass.

    • http://twitter.com/YanktheMike yankthemike

      are you kidding? the guys here are the first to call jeter out on his lack of plate discipline propensity to GIDP. if you feel the need to point out a goat maybe you should go after swisher- he had the hat trick. as far as BG, no one could be more a supporter of him than I, but lets face it, he’s gone off a cliff the last month or see. didn’t you read yesterdays article here? no need to hate on the capt. at least not for last night

    • CS Yankee

      Jeter is one of the leaders in flak on this site…in fact the only guys I can recall that get the “pass” (in no order) are the following;
      1) Arod
      2) Cano
      3) Swish
      4) Mo
      5) CC
      …and 4 of those 5 are having great a great year.

      Jeter hasn’t looked like himself this year (has had two bad months stacked together for maybe the first time in his career) and a lot of people are saying father-time has caught up to him.

      He has only 4 errors this year butthey (Arod/Jeet) aren’t getting to enough balls-in-play. He has hit above his career average over the last few weeks but still is having his worst year at the plate.

      Maybe age, time with Minka, contract year pressures, or just bad luck is to blame but I’ll extend him more slack then a Grit (who i also like), Winn (old & new) or Colin Curtis (young & unproven).

    • http://twitter.com/riddering Riddering

      Jeter’s last 12 games: .327/.389/.449/.838
      Gardner’s last 12 games: .118/.167/.147/.314

      But Gardner’s 3 stolen bases in that time makes up all the difference, right?

      The RAB guys have been very critical of Jeter but he has picked things up recently. Last night he went 3 for 5 with a run scored, a RBI, and five total bases. Only Thames was more productive.

      • larryf

        Regardless, the Captain will Minka nice new contract. Wedding on for November? All quiet on that front. The Captain commands privacy and respect.

  • larryf

    Just read through this and the game thread. Sorry but I was tired and gave it up at 6-1 but my son watched it all and left a nice note for me when I woke up. I will enjoy his teasing me for giving up. I have taught him well….

  • Frank

    Most amazing thing about this game- the Yanks K 10 times in the final 4 innings yet score 6 runs.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Strikeouts are the absolute worst kind of out, right? They’re horrible. Horrible. Baby kittens die every time someone strikes out.

      • jsbrendog (returns)

        adam dunn has a neckalce made out of the skulls of kittens kept together by the tears of generations

  • bonestock94

    What an incredible game. I actually turned it off for an inning I was so annoyed. I hope this is the spark that catapults us into bulldoze mode.

  • Frank the Yank

    Last night was a statement game.

  • Jose the Satirist

    It’s funny how everybody allows loses faith in these types of games. In the words of Yogi, “it ain’t over till it’s over”.

  • Tim

    Stat of the night – Through first six innings, Cliff Lee throws 87 pitches and allows 2 ER. From inning 7 through 9, Cliff Lee and six relievers throw 91 pitches and allow 5 ER. Every batter (even the strikeouts) deserve a ton of credit for grinding Texas pitching to a nub over those last 3 innings.

  • theyankeewarrior

    Minor point that had very little to do with the game’s outcome:

    A-Rod had about 4 swings in his last ab (his third K) that looked like vintage HR cuts. He fouled a couple back, and even seemed to take a nice swing at the heater that struck him out.

    I think facing a bunch of fireballers in Texas is going to help speed up his swing. Possibly Jeter’s too. They just seem to be behind the ball this year.

    Hopefully they find some extra bat speed for the stretch run and October.

  • Doug Out

    What a game. A future “Yankee Classic” Texas threw everything they had at the Yanks. Texas was left with one reliever and the the W.B. Mason guy (oh wait, that was their pitching coach, Mike Maddux).

  • AndrewYF

    Yankee relief performance, month by month:

    April: 3.96
    May: 4.94
    June: 3.23
    July: 3.57
    August: 1.27

    Certainly doesn’t seem like it, but the Yankee relief core has really only had one bad month this season. I guess Aceves isn’t such a crucial arm after all.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Joba, DRob, and Logan have bounced back nicely from early struggles and Park has been replaced with Wood.

      Crisis: averted.

      • jsbrendog (returns)

        boone mustve read all the dfa boone logan threads and decided he didnt want a red x through his face anymore.

        and CHoP gave up a dinger in Pitt last night

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

          A dinger to Jerry Hairston. In San Diego. Three runs in one inning.

    • Sweet Dick Willie

      Not that there’s no meaning to it, but ERA is a very poor statistic by which to measure the bullpen.

      If relievers allow any inherited runners to score, those runs do not impact their ERA, but they sure as hell impact the game.

  • Daniel

    Good thing Tracy Morgan won MVP last night.

    • http://ballcraft.blogspot.com Zanath

      Wow…he does kinda look like him.

  • Jerome S

    Marcus Thames. I want to see more of him.

    • Klemy

      More of him only playing while he is allowed to hold a bat in his hands and not a glove.

      • http://ballcraft.blogspot.com Zanath

        You mean you are opposed to playing him at third again?

  • rek4gehrig

    What an awesome game? I’m STILL pumped up. Mo is simply the best there is.