May
18

A-Rod homers twice as Yanks end losing streak

By

Aaaand exhale. Boy, as badly as the Yankees needed Tuesday night’s win, I think we fans needed it more. We were all starting to get a loony over here. It sure was fun to finally get to back putting one … wait for it … on the left side*.

He's still got it. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

A-Bombs From A-Rod

I think I might have to start writing posts about how players need rest more often. Just a couple of hours after I said that Alex Rodriguez needed a day or three off, the Yankees’ cleanup hitter went out and hit a game-tying homerun in the fourth and a go-ahead homer in the sixth against the Rays. The first came off one of Jamie Shields’ patented two-strike changeups, a no-doubter deep into the left-center field seats. It was classic A-Rod, turning around the pitcher’s best pitch for a shot that reminds you just how absurdly talented he really is. The second homer was a 1-0 fastball out over the plate, not quite a no-doubter but a well-hit ball to dead center.

Alex’s slump has been the center attention during this rough stretch, but he now has three homers in his last six games and has actually hit safely in nine of his last dozen games. Two homers aren’t enough for me to declare the slump over, not even close, but it’s certainly an encouraging sign. The offense has such a different feel to it when he’s hitting, it’s not even funny.

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Fireman

Holy cow David Robertson. Ivan Nova predictably worked himself into a one out, bases loaded jam the half inning after A-Rod gave the Yankees a one run lead, but in fairness the third baserunner was put in intentionally. Joe Girardi stormed out of the dugout to lift his starter and give the ball to the only man qualified to escape the jam, Fireman David Robertson™.

The first batter was B.J. Upton, the same guy that hit the go-ahead homer the night before, but Robertson showed him no respect with six straight cutters that PitchFX clocked at 93, 94, 93, 94, 94, and 95. The first three were either fouled off or taken for strikes, the next two taken for balls, but Upton swung through the final one for a strikeout. That brought the certifiably terrible Casey Kotchman to the plate, a and he took a cutter (94) for strike one, fouled off a curve for strike two, then stared at a 96 mph cutter inside for the called strike three. Fireman David Robertson™ at his best.

I would have pulled Nova earlier in the inning, but I give Joe Girardi some props for not slaving to The Formula and saving Robertson for the seventh just because it’s “his inning” with Rafael Soriano on the shelf. He was clearly the best option at that point, so good for him for being a little more relaxed with his innings assignments. In terms of WPA, the two strikeouts improved the Yankees changes of winning by 13.3% and 12.9%, respectively. The total WPA of the inning was +0.262, which would qualify as the second greatest escape job of Robertson’s career. Bravo young man.

Not So Super Nova

(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

The final line says one run on four hits and two walks in 5.1 IP, but I thought Nova was extremely shaky in this one. He needed 20 pitches to get through the first (just one baserunner, a Johnny Damon single) and another 22 to get through a 1-2-3 second inning. The third inning required another 24 pitches, though it featured a homer and a single (thankfully in that order and not the other way around). Nova was seemingly behind in the count all night, and Rays fouled off one out of every five of his pitches en route to extending at-bats and making life miserable for the Yankees.

It was a classic bent but don’t break performance, but those are pretty common with young pitchers. They make you sweat, but hey, Nova got the job done at the end of the day, and that’s all that mattered on Tuesday night. But boy would I love him to find a strikeout pitch, that would make life so much easier.

Leftovers

Insurance runs! That Yankees haven’t scored many of those lately, leading to a few blown leads and losses, but they took advantage of some Rays’ errors and well-placed balls in play to score an extra two runs in both the seventh and ninth. Chris Dickerson blooped an RBI single into center for his first hit in pinstripes and Brett Gardner slapped a grounder just beyond a diving Elliot Johnson for another run in the final inning. Derek Jeter also drove in runs with a fielder’s choice and an infield single. The Yankees had four hits in eight at-bats with runners in scoring position and are now 7-for-14 in those spots over the last two games. Hooray.

Not dead yet. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Just to quickly recap the rest of the offense: Curtis Granderson took an 0-for-5 (you are forgiven, Curtis), Mark Teixeira went 1-for-3 with a walk, Russell Martin 1-for-4, and Brett Gardner finished 3-for-4 (including a gorgeous bunt base hit). Jorge Posada went 2-for-3 with a double in his first start since Friday, and believe it or not he’s not reached base in eight of his last 13 trips to the plate. I’ll take it. Robinson Cano went 1-for-4 with a strikeout and saw a total of six pitches. Do the math. Hint: that’s a three pitch strikeout and three first pitch balls in play. Jack Curry says hitting coach Kevin Long had a “heart-to-heart” talk with Robbie about being more selective at the plate since Monday, but since then he’s seen a total of 15 pitches in eight plate appearances since. Cano can get the bat on almost any pitch, but my concern is that he’s swinging at strikes just because they’re in the zone. Pitches in the zone aren’t always good to hit, he needs to learn (or be reminded) that taking a strike is okay every so often.

Joba Chamberlain, working for the third straight day, still ran his fastball up to 96, and although he didn’t strike anyone out, he also didn’t walk anyone and recorded all four outs on the ground. I’ll take it. Amaury Sanit was shaky with a five-run lead in the bottom of the ninth, so Girardi turned to Mariano Rivera for the final out to make sure the losing streak came to an end.

I’m so happy about the win that I won’t even make a big fuss over the latest stupid sacrifice bunt in an early inning, this time the third. Of course it didn’t work and the runner was stranded at second. They’ll learn one day, I hope.

WPA Graph & Box Score

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the nerd score and no highlights.

Up Next

The Yankees are heading to Baltimore for another quick two-game series starting Wednesday, when Bartolo Colon takes on Jeremy Guthrie.

* Michael Kay’d

Categories : Game Stories
  • Bob Stone

    Finally. A win. I forgot what that feels like.

  • dkidd

    let’s go streaking

  • Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat

    Don’t the Yankees face Britton tomorrow instead of Guthrie?

    • Rory

      Unfortunately yes, because of the rain out in boston.

      • FIPster Doofus

        His .219 BABIP and 82 percent strand rate won’t last forever. Tomorrow’s a good time to start the regression.

    • Bob Stone

      Britton got moved back a day due to the rainout in Boston so they will face him tonight (Wednesday) and Guthrie on Thursday.

  • Chairman Mao

    It was a good win but they still need to make major changes to the lineup. Here is the ideal lineup-

    Gardner
    Martin
    Cano
    A-Rod
    Granderson
    Teixera
    Posada
    Swisher
    Jeter

    There is no justification for a man with a .300 OBP to be hitting lead off. Girardi and Cashman have to go to Derek and put him in his place like they did Jorge.

    And poor D-Rob and Joba’s arms are gonna fall off. They shouldn’t be available tomorrow so we’ll need length from Bartolo. Hopefully with Bartolo and CC pitching we can rest them for 2 days.

    • Rory

      Granderson is well placed at the two spot, and Teixeira hasn’t hit poorly enough to be moved down to 6, especially given Cano’s slump.

      Gardner
      Granderson
      Teixeira
      Rodriguez
      Cano
      Martin
      Swisher
      Posada
      Jeter

      Though there’s no chance Jeter will hit 9th this season, especially after the Posada incident.

      • Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat

        You should put the teams best hitter in the 3 spot. I’d love to see something like this-

        Gardner
        Martin
        Granderson
        Cano
        ARod
        Tex
        Posada
        Swish
        Jeter

        Unfortunately Jeter is not man enough to move down in the order.

        • NJ_Andy

          Actually, the best hitters should go in the 1-2-4 spot.

        • http://deleted Total Dominication

          Actually the best hitter should be in the 2 spot, soooo

    • MikeD

      So let’s see…you want to put a streaky, dead pull hitter in Martin at #2, and a guy, Cano, with a .286 BA and a .320 OBP and put him third, while dropping the guy with a .370 OBP all the sixth?

      Good luck.

    • David, Jr.

      He is our Captain Harmless Grounder, going along at about a .150 clip since his lucky game.

      • Monteroisdinero

        As I said, Jeter is like the coach’s son in little league. He won’t bat 9th until he is 39.

        I like a lefty bat after Gardner. Harder for the catcher to throw him out at second and a bigger hole through the right side. Martin is a pull hitter-NEVER hits a grounder to the right side and should not bat second.

        Jeter 8th after the next mammoth slump. he was lucky to get on last night.

        • David, Jr.

          That is great – like a coach’s son in a little league game. It will get even better next year. They will likely move him to DH, with the justification that he is better than Posada. We will have a DH that hits the softest .242 in history, including about 3 homers.

  • China Joe

    In other words, David Robertson is the balls.

    I hope he slapped Soriano after the game.

    • A-Rod’s Wingman

      Hopefully with his balls.

  • BigBlueAL

    “Two homers aren’t enough for me to declare the slump over, not even close, but it’s certainly an encouraging sign.”

    Tell that to Jeter.

    • FIPster Doofus

      Jeter pretty much sucks, though, whereas A-Rod still has the ability to be a very good producer. They’re not really comparable.

      • http://twitter.com/JoeRo23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        Just to back you up a bit… Jeter hit his homers off of Dave Bush and Arthur Rhodes. A-Rod hit his off of James Shields.

        • FIPster Doofus

          Great point.

        • BigBlueAL

          I just said it as a joke basically since Jeter had 2 hr’s and of course it didnt mean anything since he has been back to hitting like crap since.

          Arod does have 3 hr’s in his last 6 games since he homered in his final at-bat vs KC. Thats 3 hr’s in his last 21 at-bats but only 2 other hits in those at-bats and many brutal looking at-bats thrown in there.

        • Monteroisdinero

          in a game that Cervelli hits a grandslam to dead center….nuff said.

  • RollingWave

    At least we can all Agree that Jeter should bat 9th.

    • Cris Pengiuci

      Not all agree. I’m still not sold on Posada or Swisher hitting ahead of him. Nothing needed to be said about Posada. Swisher, while he still may turn around, is not hitting well, has about the same slugging % and while his OBP is better, I feel that works out better in the 9 slot as the top of the order is approaching. And, since Jeter WON’T be moved to 9th, this allows you to make signiificant changes to the lineup that actually could be implemented (maybe. Not sure Jeter would even be moved down to 7th.).

  • Bla Bla

    A-Rod is definitely the most impact player we have in our line-up. Tex, Cano and Granderson are great in their own right but the offense has a different feel to it when A-Rod is hitting. The pressure he takes off the hitters around him is immense, IMO.

    • http://procrastinationperfected.tumblr.com/ BigDavey88

      Totally. When A-Rod got hurt its no coincidence that our offense started to cool down from that point on.

  • mbonzo

    Robertson has now thrown 119 pitches in the last week. He desperately needs time off. Its looking like the new Scott Proctor.

    • Barry

      Gotta figure both he and Joba aren’t available tonight, I wonder if they’ll send down Sanit to bring up either Pope or Kontos.

  • Barry

    “Two homers aren’t enough for me to declare the slump over.” Agreed, but I think what was almost as encouraging as the homers themselves was his leg kick, it didn’t look nearly as exaggerated as it has in the past couple of weeks.

  • Nick

    Reid Brignac sat today I believe. You had in there that he played short.

  • Rookie

    Sorry, Mike, but you can’t take credit for ARod’s sudden apparent resurgence at the plate. Although you called for him to get a couple of days off, I called for him to get a couple of WEEKS off. I am prepared, however, to give you part of the credit — say 2/9s worth….

    Like you, I’m not yet convinced he’s back. I will be more convinced when he hits a pitch or two with authority that’s traveling at least 93 mph. I believe the fastest pitch he’s hit for a home run lately has been 89 mph. And I think he was very intelligently using psychology and sitting fastball last night after his first home run came on an off speed pitch.

    Hopefully, it’s a sign of more good things to come for Alex — and not just on off speed pitches and not-so-fast fastballs, but against relatively hard stuff, too.

  • Rookie

    My bad (math). You only get 2/16s worth of the credit, Mike.

  • Rookie

    Wow. I guess it’s easy to be so focused on your team’s problems that you don’t even notice it when your primary rival’s having huge problems of their own. I didn’t realize that Lackey and Matsuzaka were both on the 15-day Disabled List:

    http://soxanddawgs.com/redsox/.....ed-up.html

    • Spaceman.Spiff

      With how Lackey’s pitched, I’d say that’s a good thing for them.

    • Monteroisdinero

      Hopefully with Wakefield on leave from the nursing home and Aceves and his tricky back, the Sox will cool off a bit.

      • Foghorn Leghorn

        The sox have won but it hasn’t been pretty….the pitching hasn’t been that good…even superstar Jon Lester is getting roughed up. They are starting to hit better…but even then, its not like the whole lineup is crushing the ball each game. You look at the box score and its one or two guys getting key hits. A win is a win, but its not like the sox are showing any signs of a dominant team.

        Its fair to say that their staff has at least the same or even more issues than the yanks.

    • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com bexarama

      Beckett and Lester on the DL? Huge problem for the Red Sox.

      Lackey and Dice-K? Probably gonna help ‘em, actually.

  • Ed

    David Robertson is Houdini

    • Foghorn Leghorn

      gotta love his demeanor also..guy looks like a banker and what does he do?…just goes out there and slams the door!

  • Yank the Frank

    Last night was the best sleep I’ve had in a week.

  • Klemy

    That game took away a lot of the pain from the last week. Hopefully they take off form here and run off a good streak of wins.

  • MICKYEGGS

    UNFORTUNITLY 1 BATTLE DOES NOT A WAR WIN. THE YANKS HAVE DEEPER PROBLEMS THAN ANY OF US KNOW. FOR POSADA TO WANT OUT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH BATTING 9TH.THERE ARE MORE THAN A FEW OTHERS WHO COULD DESERVE THAT SPOT IN THE BATTING ORDER.MAYBE THERE’S TOO MUCH PRESSURE ON THE ROOKIES TO PLAY LIKE DEREK- JORGE-AND MARIANO DID IN ’96. I DON’T KNOW WHAT;S WRONG BUT IT’S TEARING THIS TEAM APART