Apr
14

Homers, Burnett drive Yanks to win over O’s

By

It had been a long time since the Yankees last played a game, at least in baseball terms. Monday’s off day was followed by Tuesday’s rain out, which was then followed by the Yankees pounding Chris Tillman and riding A.J. Burnett‘s right arm for six-plus innings. The final score (7-4) made this one seem a lot closer than it really was.

A-Rod's in the ass whoppin' business, and business is a boomin'. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Biggest Hit: A First Inning A-Bomb

A number of Yankees’ hitter came into this game slumping, but apparently Tillman cures all ills. Brett Gardner came into the game hitless in his last ten at-bats, but he slapped an 0-2 fastball into left to leadoff the first inning. He later got thrown out trying to steal second, but that had more to do with a perfect throw from Matt Wieters than something Gardner did wrong. Derek Jeter, two for his last 13 coming into the game, worked a full count and inside-outed a single through the right side of the infield. Mark Teixeira then came to the plate and ended his 0-for-18 streak with a single back up the middle.

Alex Rodriguez hasn’t been slumping, he was just sick over the weekend. With men on first and second with one out, A-Rod worked Tillman for a quick 2-0 count before seemingly flicking his wrists and driving the ball to right field for a three-run homer. It was probably a Yankee Stadium special, but they all count the same. At .191 WPA, it was by far the biggest play of the game for New York.

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Better than the line indicates

Four runs on seven hits in six-and-a-third innings isn’t anything special, yet that’s the line Burnett was saddled with after six very strong innings. He certainly bent but didn’t break in the early going, throwing 53 (!!!) pitches in the first two innings but allowing zero runs. A six-pitch third inning followed. Then a 13-pitch fourth inning. Then a ten-pitch fifth inning. Then a 14-pitch sixth inning. Before you knew it, A.J. cruised right through the third through sixth innings, allowing just a single to Vlad Guerrero and a single to Wieters at various points. At that point, his pitching line stood at six shutout innings with just four hits mixed in.

When he went out for the seventh inning, Burnett’s pitch count stood at a manageable 91 pitches, and with a seven-run lead, there was little reason to be concerned. Adam Jones grounded out on the first pitch, but then the trouble started. Mark Reynolds shot a 1-1 curveball over Curtis Granderson‘s head for a double, which was followed by a two-run Wieters homer. It happens, but with that lead who really cares. A walk to Robert Andino followed, and by this point David Robertson was warming up. Burnett was left in to face Brian Roberts, who yanked a 1-1 curveball into the Yankees bullpen for Baltimore’s second two-run homer of the inning, ending A.J.’s night.

All the damage came in what amounts to garbage time. The Yankees had a big league and Burnett was just trying to finish off the seventh inning in what had otherwise been a strong outing. So Roberts hit a homerun, big deal. I don’t see why A.J. wouldn’t challenge him in that spot, he’s not exactly a big time power threat. Before that seventh inning ugliness, Burnett was everything the Yankees hope we will be this season. I’ll have more on it tomorrow, but A.J. threw 14 changeups tonight, which is a freaking ton for him. He might have thrown two or three in a given start last year. So bravo, the right-hander did fine work tonight.

Say your prayers... (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Leftovers

The bullpen was nearly flawless in 2.2 innings of work; the lone mishap was a Luke Scott single off Rafael Soriano. David Robertson wiggled out of that seventh inning, then Mariano Rivera slammed the door in the ninth. Soriano didn’t throw a single pitch over 89 mph, by the way. I wouldn’t worry about it until a) he does, or b) he starts sucking.

Jorge Posada broke out of an 0-for-20 slump with a fourth inning solo homer. He also chipped in a seeing-eye single back up the middle later in the game. Posada has six hits on the season, and four of them are homers.

Both Jeter and A-Rod picked up a second hits on infield singles, moving the former into a tie with Barry Bonds for the 31st most hits in history (2,935). Alex’s three runs driven in moved him into a tie with Ted Williams for the 13th most RBI in baseball history (1,839). That’s a brand name right there.

Everyone in the lineup had a hit except for Granderson, who opted for a walk instead. Russell Martin and Robinson Cano chipped in doubles. The Yankees knocked Tillman out of the game in the second inning, so the Orioles had to go pretty deep into their bullpen. I suppose that’s good for tomorrow.

In case you missed it, the Yankees got some bad news on Pedro Feliciano, who has significant damage in his shoulder and could need surgery. That’s a shame, but when you sign 30-something relievers with that kind of recent workload to the multi-year deal, you’re asking for trouble.

WPA Graph & Box Score

See? The O’s were never really close to getting back into it. MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the nerd score.

Up Next

This rain-shortened series concludes tomorrow evening, when Phil Hughes attempts to resemble a Major League pitcher against Jake Arrieta. Interested in going? Make sure you check out RAB Tickets.

Categories : Game Stories

45 Comments»

  1. A-Rod's Wingman says:

    Over all a pretty good game, sure there were some downsides but as usual here’s my take on tonight’s action

    Postitives: FIRST PLACE BITCHES!!!!!!!! Alex, Derek, and Posada got going it was nice to see Posada get that mile stone and pass Scooter, Jorge’s kind of a dick and is prone to do some dumb shit behind the plate but I’ve always loved the guy. Robbie was Robbie, Martin had a good day despite the GIDP, Teixeira’s looking better and the bullpen was lights out.

    Negatives: AJ kinda blew up in the seventh inning, Matt Weiters is going to take you deep occasionally because he’s Matt Fucking Weiters…but after that he kind of lost it. He threw a few wild pitches, but that was about as encouraging as a shit start will get. Gardner, my god…he looks lost at the plate, the one time he reaches base he gets caught stealing. I was worried about him coming into the year worried that because of his absolutely anemic power that pitchers would eventually start throwing him meat and dare him to do something with it. There’s about 150 games left so he has plenty of time to improve, but this is not encouraging.

    • NJ_Andy says:

      Sorry, what milestone did Jorge pass?

    • NJYankeeFan says:

      I Can’t get on AJ since he pitched 6 excellent innings. I think he just ran out of gas in the 7th.

      Gardner on the other hand is making last year look like a fluke. He’s coming off wrist surgery so it may take some time but the Yankees need to consider plan B in left field if this continues. I don’t know if Andruw Jones is the answer and all the guys in AAA are probably AAAA caliber players.

      • Monteroisdinero says:

        Should the red Sox replace Crawford and Youkilis? Their results are about the same right now-and they are costing a ton more money.

        Posada has 6 hits and makes 13M a year. Swish ain’t doing much. Too early to judge everyone.

        • A-Rod's Wingman says:

          A bit different, Crawford and that Ugly Cunt have a long history of performing at a high level. They’re pretty much in their physical prime and there shouldn’t be any reason why they wouldn’t perform at least close to their career norms. Brett Gardner on the other hand, had one good year last season that caught everyone by surprise. The book on him was that sure he’s patient, but he strikes out a lot and doesn’t have any power. Not very many people thought he’d be a productive big leaguer, and while it’s certainly possible that he turns it around and has a good season, it’s equally possible that the scouting reports and the book on him as a minor leaguer is true. Derek Jeter, on the other hand, is an aging middle infielder with very little power and slowing bat speed. He’s definitely a top five shortstop of all time, and special players age differently so it’s definitely possible that he puts up two more respectable years.

          Jorge Posada is a different case entirely, he’s on pace to hit 65 HRs, and realistically the only thing that ins’t there is the walks, I have a feeling they’ll come and the batting average will straighten out and he’ll have a good season. Age is my only concern with Jorge.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            “Brett Gardner on the other hand, had one good year last season that caught everyone by surprise.”

            He’s not Carl Crawford, but this also isn’t entirely accurate. You’re ignoring everything before 2010.

            No one expected him to be THAT good offensively (his wOBA matched Jorge’s) and he had a really superb year defensively which added a lot of value, but his 2009 numbers are really pretty similar. He was at 5.4 fWAR in 2010, but if you extend his 2009 numbers over the same PAs he would have been at 4.2 fWAR.

            “it’s equally possible that the scouting reports and the book on him as a minor leaguer is true.”

            He posted a .414 wOBA in High A, a .372 wOBA his second go round in AA, and a .389 wOBA his second go round in AAA… People didn’t expect him to have a .358 wOBA like he did in 2010, but it would have been unreasonable to act like the guy was Cesar Izturis (career wOBA .274, only one season above .300) just because neither has power.

            • A-Rod's Wingman says:

              Well as a minor leaguer he came out as a college player and was fairly advanced for the levels he was playing at. I mean, don’t get me wrong I’m not saying he’s Cesar Izturis, but he was a low power high K guy in the minors. The most optimistic projection from scouts and the systems was a Juan Pierre that walks. I think you’re being a bit too high on Gardner.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        Even if he’s never as good as 2010 again, Gardner is a lot better than his .243 wOBA so far. In 2009 he had 284 PAs and his .337 wOBA wasn’t far behind his .358 mark from 2010. His BABIP is well below his career mark and his K% is well above his career percentage. Perhaps this will end up being an off year for him, but even still those numbers should correct themselves. It’s hard to imagine him going 500+ PAs with a .171/.256/.257 line.

        Even at a .320-ish wOBA (where Jeter was last season), Gardner’s defense makes him a solid contributor. He’s been way above average defensively all 3 seasons he’s played. To the point where he was a 1.1 fWAR player in 141 2008 PAs despite a .283 wOBA. In 2009 he was a 2.1 fWAR player in 284 PAs. So… he may not be the 5.4 fWAR player he was in 2010, but over 500 PAs it’s easy to assume he’ll be at least 3 fWAR.

        • A-Rod's Wingman says:

          A few problems with that, defensive numbers are volatile and that effects WAR so it’s a bit imperfect (like anything else) and if he can’t get his OBP above .300 he won’t get 100 PAs let alone 500. His whiff numbers are up and he’s got a 4/10 K/BB and for a player with such little power that’s somewhat of an issue.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            I don’t think you point out any problems with what I said.

            His defensive numbers have been consistently strong across 3 seasons. They have been volatile, but while someone else’s might fluctuate between above average and below… his have fluctuated between very, very good and very good. 2008: 42 games, 12.3 UZR. 2009: 108 games, 9.3 UZR. 2010: 150 games, 21.9 UZR.
            Certainly that doesn’t mean he can’t decline, or have an off-season or statistical glitch this season, but I think it’s fair to call him a strong defender from whom you expect well above average defensive value.

            “if he can’t get his OBP above .300 he won’t get 100 PAs let alone 500.”

            Yeah, the point is that over a large enough sample his line will not be .171/.256/.257 even if he does have an awful season. Ramiro Pena got 167 PAs last season, so it’s hard to imagine Gardner not getting 100 even if he were to lose his starting job.

            I said he’s a solid contributor at a Jeter-esque .320 wOBA… a OBP above .300 is implied there. If he’s at a Cesar Izturis level, then I would call him a contributor with his defense but not a solid one. It’s a tiny sample so far this season. It’s not reasonable to expect a guy with a career .338 wOBA to suddenly drop to .243 without some physical explanation. It’s not impossible, it’s just very unlikely. Even if he has an awful season, it’s unlikely he doesn’t at least get better than .243.

            “His whiff numbers are up and he’s got a 4/10 K/BB and for a player with such little power that’s somewhat of an issue.”

            Again… sample size. I specifically mention his k% in my original comment.
            It’s hard to point to the k% and just ignore how low his BABIP is so far. Both are out of line with his career numbers, but the BABIP more so.

            • A-Rod's Wingman says:

              His defensive numbers have been consistently strong across 3 seasons. They have been volatile, but while someone else’s might fluctuate between above average and below… his have fluctuated between very, very good and very good. 2008: 42 games, 12.3 UZR. 2009: 108 games, 9.3 UZR. 2010: 150 games, 21.9 UZR.
              Certainly that doesn’t mean he can’t decline, or have an off-season or statistical glitch this season, but I think it’s fair to call him a strong defender from whom you expect well above average defensive value.

              I wasn’t saying that he isn’t a strong defender, but defensive numbers are volatile, and that effects WAR. Plus it’s left field, not exactly SS in terms of defensive value.

              Yeah, the point is that over a large enough sample his line will not be .171/.256/.257 even if he does have an awful season. Ramiro Pena got 167 PAs last season, so it’s hard to imagine Gardner not getting 100 even if he were to lose his starting job.

              Yeah, but Pena was the only player that could play the MINF positions and 3B…the Yankees have Golson and Jones to play the OF. I think it[‘s a but different.

              Again… sample size. I specifically mention his k% in my original comment.
              It’s hard to point to the k% and just ignore how low his BABIP is so far. Both are out of line with his career numbers, but the BABIP more so.

              Given Gardner’s skill set I think maybe if “the book gets out on him” so to speak his past numbers aren’t as relavent. I’ve always been worried about his strikeouts considering his power level. If he even had Melky’s power he’d be an all star.

    • The209 says:

      Is this parody?

  2. squishy jello person says:

    Monster year A-Rod

  3. CBean says:

    I was proud of AJ getting through tonight like he did. i knew keeping him in the 7th was a bad idea but nothing actually failed and it’s more impressive that he made it to the 7th after the start he had. If he can continue to grind through it, we have hopes of a decent year, which we need everything we can get with the worries about the rotation right now. (Also, AJ has won all his starts so far! Who’d have thunk?)

    • bexy on another computer says:

      AJ has more wins than the Red Sox and as many wins as the Rays.

    • Marshall Brown says:

      Absolutely no upside in trotting A.J. out for the 7th. Cold night in April. He’d already pitched a couple of long innings. Rested bullpen.

      So he gets dinged for 4 runs. Girardi should have just let A.J. book his 6 inning shutout and let him build on that. But no, he has his 8th and 9th inning guys, so A.J. had to pitch the 7th.

      • CBean says:

        he has an official 7th inning guy!

      • Ted Nelson says:

        I see what you’re saying and it would have been fine to take him out, but if he comes out and the reliever gives up 4 runs… people would be posting “Absolutely no upside in removing a cruising AJ from the game at only 91 pitcher.” Hindsight is 20/20.

        There wasn’t much downside in putting him out there with a 7 run lead either… It doesn’t change the 6 shutout innings he threw and it doesn’t change the outcome of the game. Mostly, it impacts his ERA. Perhaps his confidence, but that’s way too touchy feely for me… Burnett hasn’t been a MLB starter for a decade with as weak a psyche as the MSM paints him to have. He’s bounced back from adversity and poor innings before, and he’ll do it again.

        If AJ had stepped up and could be counted on to pitch late into games, that would be huge for a pretty shaky rotation. That was the upside to leaving him out there. As well as building his stamina a bit by getting his pitch count up.

  4. LI Kevin says:

    Leiter’s voice is annoying. Plus he says that “AJ should have been bearing down with the lead to put them away”. With the lead, he should be throwing strikes, which he did. Sometimes they get hit. What, he should have been nibbling? I miss Katt.

    • danimal says:

      I don’t know if you remember Leiter’s time with the Yankees. Seems thats all he did… try to nibble at the corners and get through 5+.

      • RollingWave says:

        no, that was his career outside of the yankeee, his career with the Yankee (early on) was basically walking 5 guys in 2+ inning and then get pulled and then traded.

    • Klemy says:

      To be honest, I don’t mind Leiter at all.

  5. Ross says:

    If Mo has a 1-2-3 inning his next time out, his career WHIP will drop to 0.999

    Can I get a witness from the congregation?

  6. How Ya Doin says:

    Anyone with tickets from last night’s game – hold onto them whether or not you even went. The Yanks are offering free tickets in the grandstand or terrace for anyone with a ticket from last night’s game to any non-Red Sox, Mets, or Old Timer’s Day games. Suzyn Waldman announced that in the 7th inning and my friend at the game confirmed it (b/c who believes anything she says?).

  7. Monteroisdinero says:

    As mentioned in the recap, the fact that AJ threw 14 changeups-most of which were effective was the most encouraging part of the game. Kudos to Rothschild and Martin, I guess, for this as well.

  8. Brian in NH says:

    Anybody else in love with that Russell Martin signing? Had another good day at the plate, and by accounts he’s been excellent behind it. I’m excited to see what a kid like Montero can do, but I’ll take this every day from Martin.

  9. Yank the Frank says:

    It’s going to take awhile to get that ugly Minnisota game out of the system. When it quickly became 7-4 it was uh-oh.

  10. Lancer says:

    Ginned Burnet’s history I think Girardi needs to pull him out after the first home run. He gave up 10 total bases and left lookin lost. Also, 3 wild pitches. I love when we win , but this didn’t leave me feeling safe when AJ has the ball.

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