Chavez steps in, buries Rangers in rubber game

Girardi: A-Rod MRI came back 'clean'
Fan Confidence Poll: April 18th, 2011

The Texas Rangers have proven to be quite a pain in the ass over the last year, but that doesn’t make them unbeatable. Sunday night’s rubber game was a reminder that the Yankees are never quite out of any game because of their power, their bullpen, and their deep bench, all of which they used to secure the series win.

Tex is pointing to the guy that got that game winning hit, who the AP didn't bother to photograph. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Back From The Dead

Over the last few years, the drop-off from Alex Rodriguez to his replacement has always been massive. It didn’t matter if it was Cody Ransom or Ramiro Pena or Morgan Ensberg or whoever, it’s always been a huge loss of production. The Yankees sought to deepen their bench this past offseason, and although it’s still extremely early, it looks like they hit the nail on the head with Eric Chavez. The former Athletic stepped in for Alex on Sunday night and although he’ll never fully replace him, the Yankees didn’t miss a beat.

When Chavez stepped to the plate in the eighth inning against the Rangers on Sunday, a back-and-forth affair that featured homers and errors and thunder (literally) came down to essentially one at-bat. The Yankees had runners on first and second with two outs against noted Yankees’ whipping boy Arthur Rhodes, someone Chavez had already faced 25 times in his career. He took two straight sliders for a 2-0 count, but then Rhodes went after him with fastballs. The first was fouled back, the second on the outside corner for strike two. Chavez, standing at his locker with his throwing shoulder wrapped in ice after the game, said he was looking for the slider all at-bat, but that 2-2 count brought a fastball, and A-Rod‘s fill-in adjusted to the pitch and took it right back up the box. Mark Teixeira did his puffy faced hustle around third to score the go-ahead run on Chavez’s single, which may have earned him True Yankee™ status. At +.265 WPA, it was the biggest play of the game for New York.

As if the game-winning hit wasn’t enough, Chavez also turned a sweet 5-4-3 double play in the third and assisted on the game-ending ground out. Zombie Eric Chavez, back from the dead and raising hell. Hooray for a deep bench.

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Too Many Homers!

If you watched and listened to ESPN’s broadcast of the game, then I’m sure you heard their announcing crew bemoaning the fact that the Yankees have hit a lot of homeruns. They acted like it was a bad thing; creating runs with one swing is ruining baseball, apparently. Well the long ball kept New York in this game before Chavez had a chance to do his thing whether ESPN liked it or not.

Robinson Cano got the got the party started right in the second inning, pulling an inside slider deep into the second deck in right for the Yankees’ first run. Russell Martin followed up three innings later with a two-run shot, his fourth of the season. He had five all of last year and seven in 2008. Curtis Granderson went deep an inning later, putting two more runs on board. It was his first homer off a right-handed pitcher this season, believe it or not. Alexi Ogando allowed two dingers all of last year, but he paid dearly for being a pure two-pitch pitcher facing this lineup multiple times.

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Leftovers

CC Sabathia wasn’t great tonight, but really it was only Michael Young and Adrian Beltre that cost him. Those two combined to go 5-for-6 with two doubles and a homer off the Yankees’ ace while the rest of the Texas lineup went 3-for-19 with two walks with six whiffs. The big guy took the ball into the seventh and although four runs in 6.1 IP won’t win him any Cy Young Awards, it was enough to keep his team in the game. More often than not, they’ll win those contests.

Joba Chamberlain, working for the second day in a row and the third time in four days, relieved CC and immediately walked Ian Kinsler on four pitches. Young drove him in two batters later, which is annoying because that guy really isn’t as good as he looked this weekend. Joba escaped the inning without further damage, and Rafael Soriano did a nice job of redeeming himself for Saturday’s debacle with a scoreless eighth inning in a tie game. Mariano Rivera, of course, was his usual self in the ninth, nailing down the 6-5 win.

Jorge Posada‘s assault on the three true outcomes continued with a pair of walks in four plate appearances, and now 22 of his 50 trips to the plate this year have ended with ball four, strike three, or a slow trot around the bases. Derek Jeter picked up a hit and even hit another ball with authority to the opposite field, his third hard hit ball in the air over the past two days. Progress! Chavez and Martin each had two hits, and Nick Swisher chipped in a single as well. It was a total team effort offensively tonight, the six runs were scored by six different players.

The Yankees sent 108 players to the plate in this series, and just nine struck out. Nine! Nine others walked and six homered. Everyone else had a .226 BABIP. If you’re not missing bats against a lineup like this, well you’re not going to win games. It’s that simple. Texas, if you’re wondering, sent 110 batters to the plate. Eighteen struck out, 12 walked, one homered, and everyone else had a .253 BABIP.

How about that thunder and lightning? It felt like my entire building shook, so yeah, that was pretty intense.

WPA Graph & Box Score

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other neat stuff.

Up Next

The Yankees are off on Monday, then they’ll head to Toronto for a quick two-game series against the Blue Jays. A.J. Burnett squares off against Kyle Drabek on Tuesday.

Chavez, standing at his locker with his throwing shoulder wrapped in ice after the game, said he was looking for the slider all at-bat, so give him credit for adjusting to the fastball with two strikes and taking it right back up the box.
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Girardi: A-Rod MRI came back 'clean'
Fan Confidence Poll: April 18th, 2011
  • Shaunheiser

    Favorite part of the game was Bobby V saying “the Yankee mystique is gone to the Texas Rangers” right. Okay.

    • bakekrukow412

      I miss Jon Miller and Joe Morgan :(

      • http://www.twitter.com/jmhs Jake S

        Let’s not say things we can’t take back.

      • AC

        Ohh please. Morgan the biggest Yankee hater there is. No matter how good Yankees are they were never better than his 75-76 reds team. He would always bring it up all the time. Bye Joe don’t miss you 1 bit.

        • YanksFan in MA

          Yea but he loved Robbie. He’s going to win a batting title some day you know.

      • toad

        I don’t know about that, but these guys are awful.

    • http://kierstenschmidt.com Kiersten

      Really? My favorite part was him saying Mariano Rivera is the sole reason for the Yankees’ success over the past 15 years.
      And a close runner-up was him saying the game wasn’t really tied because the Rangers had more relievers left than the Yankees, even though the Yankees had two extra outs at the time (not that that would make the game not-tied either).

      • Esteban

        I think Bobby V’s problem is that he speaks before he thinks. Honestly. Sometimes he starts to correct himself mid sentence, other times he finishes talking before he’s realized what he said.

        • Jonathan

          I think his problem is he’s a drunk fuckin idiot who’s in over his head and isn’t intelligent enough to think on the spot. But at least he isn’t Rick Sutcliffe.

        • Jorge

          Those two things did drive me a bit batty. However, everything else those guys said, including the more baseball nerd stuff, makes them a massive improvement over Morgan and the Fat Man, and still better that Buck/McCarver.

      • Ted Nelson

        Yeah, the two extra outs thing really struck me… Both pretty good ones.

        I generally found the announcers totally tolerable, though.

    • A-Rod’s Wingman

      My idiot friend Matt texted me this during the game: I’m astonished Bobby Valentine knows light travels faster than sound.

      I found that funny.

  • http://www.twitter.com/jmhs Jake S

    I was at this game and CC pitched better than his statline indicated. On any other night, the Beltre HR is a flyout. In the upper deck near first base, I could hear the flags ratting their stands and snapping out to left. It felt like gale-force winds, and if it’s just a little calmer, I’m writing “7” on my scorecard.

    Major props to Beltre for being a one-man wrecking crew. I was just waiting for him to hit for the cycle.

    • http://kierstenschmidt.com Kiersten

      Also, that pitch was 93 mph and at Beltre’s shoulders. It’s not like CC hung one over the plate. Gotta give props to Beltre there. And his next hit was a bloop pop up.

      • Jonathan

        my biggest problem was Beltre is a known hacker and swung at EVERYTHING but we didn’t try and exploit that with breaking stuff in the dirt etc.

  • Esteban
  • Burt Bondy

    Once the Rangers tied it at 5 I was worried that we had hit one homerun too many and that we’d lose the game. Ultimately, though, it was a good old fashioned single that gave us the W. Singles > Homeruns

    • http://kierstenschmidt.com Kiersten

      Only if they’re not hit by like likes of Adam Dunn, Ryan Howard, etc., who just clog up the bases when they get on first.

      • http://facebook.com/andrewjcalagna Drew

        or Posada

    • Shaunheiser

      Losses can never be blamed on “hitting too many home runs,” singles are not better than home runs. I’m convinced u trollin’

    • Esteban

      Eh C+, you almost had me.

    • http://www.twitter.com/jordansmed JGS
    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      “Good old fashioned single” really makes me think that you are definitely just doing this to get a rise out of us.

      • YankeesJunkie

        Did you not read that part in “The Book” where it statistically verifies that a single, especially as Tango describes “one of the good old fashioned singles” such as Derek Jeter opposite field single is worth five times as much as a HR.

    • JerseyDutch

      Yeah, and a kiss is better than getting laid. Riiiiiight.

  • squishy jello person

    That was an interesting game to listen to while driving home from CT.

  • Noseeum

    So nice to have a great bench. Much more fun to watch when you like something about every option in the dugout

    • YankeesJunkie

      No kidding. Chavez and Jones add great offense from the bench. It will be a lot nicer when Brett Gardner can start hitting, at least he still provides defensive value.

      • Neil

        Joe must have thought he was due when he let him hit with Martin on 1st and no outs!

  • a plethora of pinatas

    I can’t stand Elvis Andrus and his dinky singles….or in tonight’s case, near-singles.

  • http://twitter.com/stophamm3rtime dela g

    great game, great series

  • Dino Velvet

    Grit >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Home Runs

  • Monteroisdinero

    We do great (wins-losses) with ARod out of there. Imagine how good we would be with Derek out. Would we really miss all those groundouts and one bloop to RF and the dynamic range at short?

    • bexy on another computer

      The Yankees are 1-1 this season with A-Rod not in the starting lineup. Before he came back in 2009, the Yankees were 14-15. AMAZING!!!! GREAT!!!!!

      Everyone knows you hate Jeter. Shoo.

      • Monteroisdinero

        Don’t hate him. Not gonna shoo.

        Everyone?

        Interesting.

  • First time lawng time

    Lol I like the caption for that first Tex photo.

    And what exactly did Bobby V say about the yankee mystique and aura? Didn’t quite catch that.

    • Shaunheiser

      He basically said the Rangers are no longer intimidated by the Yankees, and that they have confidence to beat the Yankees whenever they want.

  • paul

    gotta be careful with joba’s workload…why not throw robo there? I know-joba’s my 7th inning guy…hahaha..great series! Gotta love the bench though!

    • Jericho Spade

      I agree about Joba’s workload, and the whole bullpens for that matter. However, if my count is correct, I have seen Robertson warm up in literally every game this season and sometimes twice in a game.

  • RL

    “although four runs in 6.1 IPnot picking up a win won’t win him any Cy Young Awards”

    FTFY

  • mike

    valentine’s comment about “the reason for Yanke success is Rivera” is spoken from the heart – remember he had Benitez (sic) in 2000…….

  • Ted Nelson

    I don’t remember them bemoaning the HRs. 99% of what I remember them saying was just that the Yankees were hitting a ton of HRs. I don’t personally remember any references to that being a bad thing.

  • Nom Chompsky

    Including Chavez, the Yankees have 10 (!) hitters who have had 5+ WAR seasons (Martin, Tex, Cano, Jeter, A-Rod, Jones, Gardner, Granderson, Posada and Chavez).

    That’s a lot. Of those, 7 have had 6 win seasons, 5 have had 7 win seasons, 2 have had 8 win seasons and 1 has had (multiple) 9 win seasons.

    That’s a professional lineup.