Sep
18

A-Rod carries Yankees back into first place

By

We’ve seen this movie before, several times in the past week in fact. The Yankees push a run across early, but otherwise squander a fantastic opportunity or two to blow things open. The starting pitcher does his job, but can’t hold the opposition scoreless forever and the Yanks go into the late innings trying to find some offense. Thankfully, the movie had an alternate ending tonight. Alex Rodriguez pulled his latest Superman act to almost singlehandedly put the Yanks in the win column after eight borderline unwatchable innings.

He's got a big stick, and he carries it all day. (AP Photo/Rob Carr)

Biggest Hit: Just Get It To Alex

Those were my words when Mark Teixeira stepped to the plate with two men on and one out in the top of the ninth inning. Just get it to Alex, he will make everything okay. He already put the Yanks on the board with a solo shot in the second inning, but they needed him more than ever when Orioles’ closer Koji Uehara entered the game.

Jorge Posada led off the ninth with a single after monster at-bat (more on that in just a sec), and two batters later Curtis Granderson dunked a single into right. Tex did as I asked and merely popped out into foul territory to bring A-Rod to the plate as the tying run. Clearly, Uehara’s plan was to bust Alex inside with hard stuff, and he did exactly that with his first four pitches for a 2-2 count. The fifth pitch, a 90 mph fastball, was inside as well, but not as far as in the others. A-Rod jumped all over it, and everyone in the building knew it was gone just by the sound. Why they didn’t throw a changeup there, I’ll never know.

Just like that, the two run deficit became a one run lead, and all of the frustration from the last ten days was seemingly lifted off everyone’s shoulders. With that one swing of the bat, the Yankees went from their ninth loss in 11 games to first place in the AL East. Remember, just get it to Alex, he cures all ills.

(AP Photo/Rob Carr)

Honorable Mention: Jorge Works It

Of course, A-Rod’s ninth inning heroics wouldn’t even have been possible if it wasn’t for Posada’s huge, huge at-bat to start the inning. Uehara jumped ahead 1-2, but just couldn’t seem to find the put-away pitch. Jorge fouled off five of the next seven pitches to work the count full before going down and poking a changeup into shallow left-center for a leadoff single. I’m not convinced the pitch was even a strike, but it doesn’t matter. All Posada had to do was get on base, and he delivered.

Alex’s homer is clearly the most important play of the game, but there isn’t enough we can say about Jorge’s at-bat. Just a brilliant job by a brilliant player.

Oh Yeah, Good A.J. Showed Up

(AP Photo/Rob Carr)

It didn’t really feel like it when the game was going on, but the end result for starter A.J. Burnett was undeniably positive. Seven innings, three runs, six runs, five strikeouts, and 11 grounders against five fly balls. The first run was straight up manufactured by the O’s; hit by pitch, stolen base, grounder to the right side, sac fly. The second was an Adam Jones homer that Ben gets 100% of the blame for given the way he taunted Jones on Twitter all day. The third was Robert Andino’s first homer of a season, the only true WTF moment of A.J.’s outing.

Everyone wants to know how A.J. got his shiny new black eye, but if he keeps giving the Yanks outings like this, I couldn’t care less how he got it. He’s gone at least six innings in six of his last seven starts (ignoring the rain shortened start in Texas last time out), so lately he’s been giving them length, and the last three times out he’s even managed to keep them in the game. Burnett is definitely trending up at the right time, but there’s still more work to be done.

Still Wasting Chances

Ah yes, we can’t ignore those blown chances just because they won the game in dramatic fashion. The Yanks once again stranded double digit baserunners (11 this time), and their lone hit in nine at-bats with men in scoring position was A-Rod’s deciding homer. A bases loaded, one out situation in the second inning yielded zero runs, as did a first and second with two outs spot in the sixth. Hopefully Alex’s homer gets the monkey off everyone’s back and the team can just relax and loosen up a bit and start cashing in these opportunities. Honestly, I don’t know how much more of this I could take.

Leftovers

(AP Photo/Rob Carr)

Brett Gardner was back in the starting lineup for the first time since last Saturday after getting a cortisone shot in his wrist, and he promptly drew a walk in his first plate appearance. He didn’t reach base the rest of the night, though he did see 22 pitches in four trips to the plate. I love ya Colin Curtis, but I’m glad Brett’s back in there. Nick Swisher grounded out in his pinch-hitting appearance; hopefully he’s ready to go before everyone goes back to work on Monday.

Derek Jeter saw 24 pitches in his five plate appearances, but he got caught looking at strike three twice in the late innings to stall rallies. The Captain’s been swinging the bat much better lately, so I’m sure (hopeful) this is just a blip on the radar.

Yawn, Lance Berkman reached base three times in his four trips to the plate. Since coming off the disabled list, Fat Elvis is hitting a cool .455/.550/.515 with more walks (seven) than strikeouts (five). Love it. Meanwhile, Austin Kearns only struck out once in three plate appearances, so that’s progress.

Mark Teixeira had that beastly homestand a two weeks or so ago, but he’s hitting just .152/.298/.152 in his last dozen games. I know offense is down around the league this season, but I think we all expected a little more than .259/.367/.483 (his line after this game) out of Mark this year.

Two more perfect innings for the bullpen; one by David Robertson, one of course by Mariano Rivera. When rested, this relief crew is a force.

Tampa Bay fell to the Angels because of a late Brandon Wood (!!!) homerun, so the Yanks are back on top of the AL East by half-a-game. Boston lost to the Blue Jays, so the lead for the Wild Card is at seven games. Any combination of Yankee wins and Red Sox losses that total nine from here on out will clinch a postseason berth for the Bombers. There’s a very real chance the Yanks could clinch when the Red Sox come to the Bronx next weekend, just like they did last year.

WPA Graph & Box Score

Games like this are why I love baseball. That’s a .709 WPA swing right there. Point seven oh nine. It doesn’t get much bigger than that. MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the cool stuff like this…

Up Next

Oh yeah, CC Sabathia‘s pitching tomorrow. He gets the ball against Jeremy Guthrie at 7:05pm ET tomorrow night. I despise Saturday evening games, but what can you do.

Categories : Game Stories

78 Comments»

  1. ZZ says:

    From a fundamental standpoint this offense is concerning in regard to postseason baseball. Several of their hitters are having down years in regard to their BA and as a result they have been having trouble all season with pitchers with good command. For some reason they have also been very susceptible to offspeed pitches. I believe most of this has to do with Jeter, Teixiera, and Granderson due to the way they have hit this year and their swings in general, but the whole lineup seems to be having problems with these type of pitches. They are going to be thrown a lot of offspeed pitches and they are generally going to be facing pitchers with good command. Think about the way Teixiera and Swisher were pitched to last year in the playoffs, but to more of their hitters this season. In those games you can’t rely on walking. You have to be able to string together hits to score runs. Their hitters who have hit for a low average this season are going to have to step up in those games with timely hits. That is negative.

    The positive is that they have 3 players in their lineup that are literally able to carry an offense all by themselves. Teixiera, Rodriguez, and Cano. When any of those 3 guys are right they can take over a game or a string of games. Look at what A-Rod did last season in the playoffs. He put the offense on his back. If 2 of those 3 are right, they can generate a lot of runs and be in incredible shape.

    More negative and then some big positives. Unfortunately, Teixiera right now looks to be reverting back to early season form. For him to be on, his timing has to be perfect. This is because of the nature of his swing and how short a time period his bat stays in the zone. Meaning that, the plane of his bat is only actually in the strike zone for an instant. So, he only has that instant to put his bat on the ball. Other hitters can either be out in front or be late, but because their bat is gliding through the zone longer, they can still make solid or semi-solid contact. When Teix is right, you see him muscle pitches low and away. He is so strong and his timing is so perfect that he can take a pitch low and away and yank it for power. When his timing is off those low and away pitches are going to be weak groundouts or popups. His toe may have a slight impact, despite both him and Long asserting otherwise, but this is who Teixiera is in his whole career. His timing goes and the production goes. If the toe was the main culprit or even a significant culprit, they would have given him time off and hoped it would heal. At the very least, they would keep him off the field more with Dhing, because that is where the primary pain is and would come from . But they aren’t. Why I am particularly frustrated with him right now is that the major reason he was brought to the Yankees was to protect against age and injury on this ballclub, as a younger player in his prime. Yet, he is doing the exact opposite and actually making the situation worse when they need him. His swing is very concerning right now. He has a couple of weeks to try to get his timing back and I really hope it does, but there is a good chance it won’t happen given his career trends to date. Off to more positives though.

    A-Rod and Cano are both looking fantastic at the plate. This is the best A-Rod has looked in a year. He is generating the incredible torque through his hips that has made him such a great player in his career. A lot of A-Rod’s HR’s this season have been more upper body power shots on mistake pitches. Now, he is back to just launching pitches with incredible backspin on the ball. His leg kick timing is perfect and his hip looks very strong. He is poised to take over the postseason again. Then his buddy Cano looks to be coming out of his slump. He has looked much, much better at the plate the past few games. Much more balanced. Those two when they are locked in literally have no holes in their swing. Cano is such a balanced hitter who will just go with any pitch that there is nowhere in the zone you can beat him. A-Rod at times you can bust him inside, but when he is locked in like now, he pivots, gets his lightening fast bat through the zone, and just crushes those pitches like he did tonight.

    There is no way a pitcher can get through a lineup unscathed with a locked in A-Rod and Cano. Those two can own this postseason and it looks like they are ready to do so.

    • All Star Carl says:

      I ain’t reading all that man damn

    • Johan Iz My Brohan says:

      TLDR?

    • Dream of Electric Sheep says:

      You may need to hit your way on in the post season.

    • Dream of Electric Sheep says:

      ZZ, what’s your take on Thames and Berkman. Especially Thames, consider he might take on a pivotal in facing Lee or Liriano.

      • ZZ says:

        Can you be more specific?

        • Dream of Electric Sheep says:

          Can Marcus Thames hit good lefty pitching with his pull happy swing . He looks like a dead red and mistake hitter to me. Do you think he can succeed against Liriano and lee .

          • ZZ says:

            Thames is a very streaky hitter. If he is hot he can be very productive against any LH and even RH sometimes, as we recently saw. When he is cold, which we saw also this season, he won’t do much. He tends to hit HRs in bunches. So, the biggest thing with him is hoping he is in one of those streaks when the playoffs start.

            There is benefit to being a mistake hitter though. I agree he does tend to be one. Pitchers like Lee and Liriano make so few mistakes that when they do, you really have to capitalize. Thames tends to be very good at that when he is right. He doesn’t miss many pitches when they are mistakes or he is looking for them. I don’t know how better to phrase this, but he is a high percentage mistake hitter.

            At the very least he will put together competitive at bats against those two. There is a possibility he can do some real damage, but really don’t know how to tell when he will run hot or cold. Nothing jumps out at me.

          • Dream of Electric Sheep says:

            To add to that note, I think Matsui’s bat will be missed coming playoff. He is professional hitter who grinds out every ABs. Plus , he also killed lefty last year. The only achilles heel in his offense was the fact he can be overpowered by a blazing fb (see Price) which neither Liriano and lee possesses. I think Berkman can do that, though, his sapping power has mystified me to an extent. Question is, can Thames offer similar protection from the right side.

    • Kit says:

      Way too long.

      • ZZ says:

        Didn’t you get made at me tonight for posting obvious things? ; )

        • Kit says:

          I didn’t get made at anyone. =P

          Also, that was Bex who pointed out your post was obvious. I just backed her up.

          You know I admire your thinking, ZZ, I just happen to think you’re wrong sometimes. No hard feelings. We just happen to disagree.

          • ZZ says:

            I would never post on here if everyone agreed with me. Now, that would be boring. Disagreement is one of the purposes of this place.

        • bexarama says:

          That was me, and you just said something like “We really need Tex to come through here/for the rest of the season, he really hurts us when he’s not hitting” which, duh. This above post, while long, isn’t that, it’s a really well thought-out and written analysis.

          My response was probably snippy, so apologies.

    • Zooboy says:

      I got a black eye reading all that copy. Ouch.

    • Januz says:

      I happen to agree that Tex is not having a good season, but he is far from the main culprit. It begins with the starting pitching. Awful seasons from Burnett & Vazquez, as well as the Petitte injury. Throw in Jeter’s season (He basically looks like a guy who is at the end of his career), injuries to A-Rod & Posada, and bizarre managing by Girardi, and this team is an underdog to win Title #28 (I think right now, the Phillies must be favored (Of course, Lidge could be their Achillies heel, and could cost them somewhere down the line)).
      As for Tex, even in an off-season, he is still 30/30/100, which is what he is supposed to put up. Here is an amazing number: Right now, he is at 272 Home Runs, which puts him in the Top Ten All-Time Homer Leaders for Switch Hitters. When his career is over, he will be regarded as one of the best switch-hitters ever. Currently, the only guys who should be rated above him are: Rose, Mantle, Chipper, Alomar, Frankie Frisch, George Davis, and Eddie Murray (By the way, Murray is one of the biggest compilers in history. ex: 504 Home Runs, but only five years of 30 or more).

    • Poopy Pants says:

      Edit yourself. Or get your own blog.

  2. Ben says:

    There are obviously still issues, but between the win and AJ’s performance (and the BOS and TB losses), it was a good night in Yankee Land.

  3. Wait. Wait. Wait.

    Brandon Wood hit a home run?

    He can…do that?

  4. Johan Iz My Brohan says:

    That toe must really be bothering Tex =(

  5. Kit says:

    The fact that Adam Jones predicted a Baltimore sweep and was denied in the most painful way possible is enough for me to love this game. I’m guessing he wasn’t around when Jimmy Rollins learned his lesson last year?

    • Dream of Electric Sheep says:

      Adam Jones for Gardner and Nova , you do the deal?

      • Johan Iz My Brohan says:

        I like his bat bat over Gardner’s, particularly the power. However, Gardner is much more patient at the plate and provides speed and stolen bases, which Jones hasn’t shown yet. Gardner has 41 stolen bases and got caught stealing 8 times, to Jones 5 stolen bases and 7 times caught stealing.

        Gardner plays a more important role on this team than Jones would.

      • Kit says:

        I’m not good at these games, but I’d say no. Brett alone is more valuable defensively, and with the Yankees line up (when it’s right on point, clicking on all cylinders), they just need someone who can get on base (which Brett can do better than Jones).

    • Pat D says:

      You assume people continue to learn as they got older.

      I admire your youthful optimism.

  6. BigBlueAL says:

    I saw Robert Andino in high-school rip a triple off my younger brother. Seeing him take infield before the game too was frightening with the bullets he was throwing to first from SS. I believe he was a 2nd round draft pick by the Marlins out of high-school in 2002.

    Anyway I got home right when the Top of the 9th started so it was a great game to watch for me.

  7. Pat D says:

    http://www.nbc.com/The_Office/.....n/1249915/

    ARod’s new theme song:

    Nobody can do (CLUTCH!) like I do.
    Nobody can do (DRAMA!) like I do.
    Nobody can do (HOME RUNS!) like I do.

  8. nsalem says:

    Uehara is now the favorite to win the ninth annual Byung-Hyun Kim
    award.

  9. viasistina says:

    You are correct when you say Jeter saw pitches. He either saw them right into the catchers mitt or missed them with his bat. He had a chance to open it up with the bases loaded early and was a clear liability in later innings killing rallies or not starting them. Where have you gone Derek Jeter?

    • bexarama says:

      Did you see how he hit the ball in that inning? He scorched it, just right at a guy. It wasn’t some lame groundball out or what have you. Not that he’s been very good this season, obviously far from it, it’s just weird to criticize him for that.

  10. The second was an Adam Jones homer that Ben gets 100% of the blame for given the way he taunted Jones on Twitter all day.

    Guilty.

  11. Jonathan says:

    WARNING COMPLETELY OFF TOPIC BUT HAD TO BE RELAYED!

    Edited by RAB: If this indeed the case, please use the off-topic thread. Posts that aren’t on topic will be deleted per the RAB commenting guidelines.

    • Jonathan says:

      oh, you mean that open thread you guys don’t have for today? what a paradox that you guys are so liberal with language and letting people verbally abuse each other with no problem, but off topic posts that are still about baseball are deleted. Overkill, and ridiculously anal. You guys could be a GREAT blog but you constantly shoot yourselves in the foot with contradictions.

      • No. Not the off-topic post we didn’t have tonight. We’re talking about the perennial off-topic thread that’s linked in your edited comment. We have a few rules, and we ask people to keep off-topic comments there. If you care to discuss this further you can e-mail us, but this isn’t a place for you to (a) post whatever you want or (b) air your dirty laundry. End of subject.

        And just to be clear, the link for the off-topic thread is below and in the menu bar underneath our header. It’s been there for over seven months now. As we’ve explained in the past, we have the off-topic rules so that the comments don’t turn into a mess as they do on other sites. If you don’t like it, I don’t know what else to say, and if you feel someone is being verbally abusive, tell us. We’ll put a stop to it.

        http://riveraveblues.com/off-topic-7/

  12. PeePee Hands says:

    Post of the day from bigjoeny at MLB.com…

    bigjoeny wrote:
    Why is everyone giving A-rod so much credit.I know he had 2 homeruns and all 4 RBI’s but Jeets came through with the clutch strikeout in the 9th,if he hits into a doubleplay, A-rod never gets to the plate.Jeets deserves all the credit for being a true team player and taking the stikeout with true class.A-rod is just a showoff,hitting homeruns with people on base. Last year hitting in the playoffs and now this ,Iam disgusted.

  13. kosmo says:

    “Thats what I´m talking about“if I read Arods lips correctly in the dugout after hitting the HR. Good stuff.

    • bexarama says:

      Between the smirk after the 1-2 pitch, the bat throw, and the super long trot around the bases, he’s so getting plunked tomorrow. That’s fine, give us free baserunners.

  14. Brad Toughy says:

    I think I’m going to have to be Team Jones on this one. Ben was kind of a dick to him. Jones might have phrased it strangely, but he wants his home park filled with home fans and it’s understandable.

    Telling him his team blows is kind of an immature and juvenile response.

  15. Jonathan says:

    man, i would have sworn there would have been almost now way swish/cano wouldn’t hit 30 jacks a month or two ago, but now i’m not so sure either will make it. crazy. I thought we’d have at least 3 and maybe 4 with arod of 30/100. those aren’t the most significant numbers but it would still be cool if the 2-5 hitters had it. I had Nick/Tex/Arod/Cano/Granderson hitting 30 before the year started. ESPN has them projected to do this by the end of the year:

    Nick: 29 HR 91 RBI
    Cano: 30 HR 109 RBI
    Arod: 28 HR 125 RBI PS he’s slugging over .500 and I wouldn’t bet against 5 more for him.

    I also can’t believe how well Berkman has been hitting and still doesn’t have an AL HR. Crazy.

    Speaking of crazy (SSS warning) Jeter’s OPS is only 31 points higher than Javy’s. It just goes to show how talented we are overall that we still have the best record with stuff like that. Not to mention how much better our defense is vs 2008. Only Jorge and Jeter are below average I’d say.

  16. Professorg says:

    I am sooooo tired of Tex’s act. Sure he’s terrific in the field, but he’s having the quietest 30/100 season I’ve ever seen. We’re paying him zillions of dollars and where is that bat of his when we need it most?
    No more excuses. We had to put up with his disastrous April and May and as we go down the stretch and into the post season, it looks to me like he’s going to treat us with one of those trade mark slumps, just like last year. This is our #3 guy in his prime. He can’t even move base runners over. I’d love to see his RISP stats. They must be horrible. Looks like we’ll once again have to ride in on the back of ARod, God bless him. Only this year we don’t even have Jeter to set the table. Father time has apparently caught up with the Captain. I don’t know how we’ll get past the first round. We need a full strength Andy back and maybe a miracle or two.

  17. Hughesus Christo says:

    Oh my god, I almost came to blows tonight (not really) with my dad over this Red Sox garbage.

    The respective records required for that to happen just aren’t going to happen. They’re never really been “catching up,” they’re just 35-32 since July 1. Even better, they’ve made up all of 2 games this month (now 1), despite the Yankees’ 2-8 stretch. Boston is worse than their record because half the team has been gone since July, making their tiny chance of a comeback even slimmer. Do you think they’re talking about the Red Sox every day in Tampa? The Yankees could be 145-0 right now, and there would be talk in the paper and on the radio about why they aren’t going to win the World Series. If there’s no story they will create one.

    This is just a sampling of remarks that were ignored, because logic/reason is no match for “3-0!” and “The Mets did this a few years ago!”

    /vent
    /I just woke up at 4:30am

  18. Tank Foster says:

    Just play .500 the rest of the way…..

    The bats will wake up in the playoffs.

    A-Rod is probably the greatest living baseball player. Kudos to joeny, by the way….must be channeling my older brother.

    • Januz says:

      A-Rod is not even the greatest ACTIVE player. That title belongs to Luis Pujols, who may be the greatest hitter since Ted Williams.

      • Guest says:

        Well, Pujols is clearly, undoubtedly the best player in the game RIGHT NOW.

        But if we were to look at their full careers to this point…I just don’t know.

        1. A-Rod has performed at an elite level longer than Albert has.

        2. A-Rod was an elite defender at a premium defensive poistion (shortstop) for eight years.

        3. A-Rod was an elite base-stealer/base runner for more than a decade.

        4. Finally, I know the following information is more quirky than a true measure of his talent but I personally find it insane: Alex is one HR behind Cal Ripken for most HRs hit by a SS. He is 259 HRs behind Mike Schmidt for most HRs by a 3B. With 7 seasons left on in his contract, if he averaged 37 HRs each year (highly unlikely, but Im not going to rule it out) he could break the record for most HRs hit by a 3B. He might finish his career 1HR behind the career leader for HRs at one position and then be the career leader for HRs at another position. That’s INSANE.

  19. China Joe says:

    I’m excited for the national media’s recap of the ninth inning:
    “And the noble Japanese hurler had but to throw one more strike to subdue the evil Yankees. He let fly with the pitch and behold! the ball split the centre of home plate in twain – no truer strike had ever been thrown in the history of Base Ball. Alas, Derek Jeter – dark lord of the Sith – waved his wicked hand toward the umpire and chanted “ball, inside.” The umpire, as if under the spell of some voodoo witch doctor, dared not to give the noble samurai thrower his well-earned strike three. The villainous Alex Rodriquez cast a cruel smile toward our proud heroes, and proceeded to send the following pitch into the right field seats. Ah, cruel fates, dare you deny victory to the proud warriors of Baltimore Towne? But the baseball gods continued to vex, for the assassin Mariano Rivera allowed naught in the bottom half of the ninth. Such a travesty of baseball justice has not been laid bare since the heady days of Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown!”

  20. AltaJoe says:

    BTW, Grandy’s hit in the 9th didn’t “dunk”, it was smoked. It had ferocious top spin.

    Also, to the Pujols lovers…just wait until all 103 names come out.

  21. Jstorm says:

    Hey, how come AJ’s black eye wasn’t even talked about? I love this site, it’s my homepage, but let’s be real here. The Yankees aren’t perfect and its good to read news that is more impartial.

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