Yankees drops Tigers for third straight win

Golson, Pena hurt in SWB win
A trip through Baseball-Reference.com

Ace versus ace, or at least that’s what it felt like coming into the game. Bartolo Colon had pitched that well in his first two starts of the season, and he was strong again in the series opener against the Tigers on Monday, but it took a late rally to secure the win.

Ninth Inning Heroics

Valverde doesn't like being on the other end of the fist pumps, eh? (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Let’s start at the end and work our way forward. The ninth inning started with a beast of an at-bat by Curtis Granderson, who fouled off seven Jose Valverde pitches before drawing a leadoff walks. The only problem was that he was erased a few pitches later when he over-slid second on a steal attempt. At -.141 WPA, it was the most damaging play of the game for New York. Sure enough, Mark Teixeira drew a four pitch walk (one of the balls went to the backstop) as the next batter, then moved to second on an Alex Rodriguez single that was more of a botched defensive play than a hit. Valverde was clearly wild, and he fed Nick Swisher three consecutive 94 mph fastballs. The first was up out the zone, the second was a little further down and Swish swung through, the third was in his happy zone and the Yankees’ right fielder sent it back up the middle to drive in the go-ahead run. It was the biggest play of the game for the good guys at +.306 WPA. An insurance came around to score on a wild pitch one batter later.

This inning, along with the first, was really the only time the Yankees’ offense looked like itself. They wore Valverde down and let him work himself into trouble, capitalizing on a mistake pitch to regain the lead. Jim Leyland left his closer in to throw 35 pitches but just 19 strikes (about 54%) in the inning, and the middle of the order made him pay. I can’t imagine Valverde will be available tomorrow, but it’s pretty clear that Leyland has no trouble running his pitchers into the ground.

"Which NL strategy should I employ today, Robbie?" (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

The Airing of Grievances (Part One)

The Yankees had a chance to retake the lead in the eighth inning, when Secret Weapon Al Alburquerque™ walked leadoff man Russell Martin. Since the team is oh so desperate for runs these days, Brett Gardner bunted him over to second on the very first pitch. Nevermind that Gardner a) had reached base in each of his five previous plate appearances and in eight of his last nine, or b) that SWAA™ had walked the first batter and just may have been wild, or c) that the two worst hitters in the lineup (Eduardo Nunez and Derek Jeter) were due up, gosh darn it, the book says you should bunt and bunt they did. Nunez grounded out on the drawn in infield and Jeter struck out, stranding the runner in scoring position. The bunt was completely and utterly asinine (-.025 WPA). I’m sorry. there’s no other way to describe it. When small ball attacks, part too many to count.

"Are you deaf? Yes, I said two meat lover's." (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Big Bad Bartolo

Someone’s going to have to make a compilation video of all these called strike threes on the two-seam fastball inside to lefties and away from righties at some point. That thing is gorgeous. Colon made basically two mistakes all night, leaving a pair of pitches out over the plate that Alex Avila drove over the fence to the opposite field. They were impressive shots, that’s no gimme in Comerica Park. Bartolo struck out seven and walked none in seven innings, getting ten ground balls against just two air outs. He was efficient (97 pitches) and held his 92-94+ mph heat into the late innings. The Yankees hit the scrap heap mega-millions jackpot with Bart, regardless of what happens from here on out.

The Airing of Grievances (Part Two)

The Tigers did score one other run off Colon aside from the two homers, and for the life of me I can’t figure out why things went down the way they did. It was the third inning, so early in the game, and the uber-annoying Ramon Santiago was standing on second base after a one out double. Miguel Cabrera, the one guy you look at in Detroit’s lineup and say “we can’t let him beat us,” came to the plate with Santiago still on second with two outs, and for whatever reason Colon pitched to him. I mean, that’s an obvious don’t pitch to him spot, if not an outright intentional walk. But nope, Bartolo threw Miggy two fastballs, and sure enough the second wound up in right field for an RBI single. I don’t get it, pitch around the guy and take your chances with Brennan Boesch (who went 0-for-4  on the night). There’s still three more games left to be played in the series, so hopefully they learned from this (painfully obvious) mistake.

Jorge Catches Up To The Heat

Let’s face it, there have been times this year when Jorge Posada has looked completely done. I mean done done, and as recently as last week. But Posada has showed some signs of life lately, doubling on Sunday and having another hit taken away by a diving second baseman in the same game. It’s not much, but it’s something. Jorge came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the first inning, and frankly I don’t think many of us expected him to do anything productive against the flamethrowing Justin Verlander. The first pitch of the encounter was a changeup out of the zone for ball one, but Posada got no respect after that. He saw nothing but fastballs the rest of the at-bat, and here’s the velocities according to Gameday: 98 (called strike), 99 (ball), 99 (swing and miss), 99 (foul), 99 (foul), 99 (ball). The eighth pitch was a heater clocked at 100, but Posada caught up to it and drove it over Austin Jackson’s head for a ground-rule double. Two runs scored but it should have been three if not for the unfortunate hop, but damn, looks like Jorge might have something left to offer after all. He went 2-for-5 in the game and has three hits in his last seven at-bats, not counting the hit he should have had if not for that great defensive play on Sunday.

This dude can't be human. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)


Verlander … man that guy is a freak. Look at his velocity graph, his hardest fastballs came after he’d already thrown 110 pitches, including his hardest at 100.3 mph. He’s simply a physical marvel, a pitcher just isn’t supposed to do that, not with his workloads in recent years.

Everyone in the lineup had at least one hit except for Granderson, who drew a pair of walks. A-Rod and Nunez were the only guys to reach base just once, though the latter hit a ball off the left field wall for a double (he got thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple). Gardner went 1-for-1 with two walks and has managed to get his season OBP up to .325 thanks to his hot week. Overall, the Yankees drew eight walks as a team, but they went just 2-for-14 with men scoring position. The two hits were Swisher’s single in the ninth and Posada’s double in the first.

Joba Chamberlain did some fine work in the eighth with the score tied, allowing just a single to Cabrera (forgivable) and retiring the other three men he faced. We even got our first fist pump of 2011. Mariano Rivera was flawless in the ninth for his 11th save. That was his third appearance in as many days, so you have to figure Rafael Soriano (who pitched on Saturday and Sunday) will get the call in the ninth inning on Tuesday. Joba and David Robertson will be the setup men with a little Boone Logan mixed in. Of course, CC Sabathia‘s a fine candidate to handle all nine innings himself.

The Yankees now have 13 steals in 22 attempts this year after getting caught two more times in this game. There was the Granderson over-slide in the ninth, and Jeter got thrown out trying to take second base in the first inning. In fairness, I’m about 90% sure that was a hit-and-run gone wrong. Grandy swung at a pitch well out of the strike zone and Jeter kept looking in to see if/where the ball was hit. But still, a 59.1% success rate on stolen base attempts is completely unacceptable; that has to be better, otherwise don’t bother running.

WPA Graph & Box Score

It got a little dicey, but that happens sometimes. MLB.com has your box score and video highlights, FanGraphs everything else.

Up Next

Same two teams tomorrow night, when Sabathia gets the ball against Brad Penny.

Golson, Pena hurt in SWB win
A trip through Baseball-Reference.com
  • mike c

    bartolo colon, best pitcher on the team

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


      • mike c


      • It’sATarp

        in all fairness…He’s actually pretty close

        • Comrade Al

          All Colon needs to do is avoid pitching to guys named Alex.

  • RalphieD

    decent chance we wont have to worry about close and late situations tomorrow…at least thats how it should be with CC going up against the The Penny

  • iloveyoubartolo

    Number of line drives allowed in his last two starts: 2

  • Dan

    Man the Cap’n has been killing us.

    2nd and 3rd, 1 out… all we need is one of his dribblers to get by the mound… -strikes out

    guy on 3rd…. -dribbles to Alburquerque.

    1st inning.. on first.. count 2-0.. steals and gets thrown out(don’t think it was a hit n run)

    best hit of the night – nobody on.

    a lot of negatives today for Jetes.

    man i really hope he turns it around

    • It’sATarp

      It’s amazing how jeter had two hits tonight and still managed to look terrible at the plate…

      • mbonzo

        Not that the team is clicking on all cylinders, but how the hell are we complaining about Jeter going 2-4 in a game started by one of the best pitchers in baseball.

        • whozat

          because it continues a trend of poor contact against pitchers of all stripes? And 11 of his hits are infield singles? And that means that his current numbers are being BOOSTED by luck on balls in play.

          • mbonzo

            He might look like he’s running into luck but he’s still rocking a .264 BABIP (.355 career BABIP). His linedrive rate is only 9.4% but that will change.

            His fielding has also been somewhat decent so far.

            • Thomas Cassidy

              Why will that change? I love Jeter, he has been my favorite player for ten years. The guy is done. He can’t get the ball out of the infield. He’s done.

              • Jess

                Yeah, it’s May 4th. He’s done! Let’s tar and feather him and run him out of town. The bum! That the Yankee fan way!

                • The Big City of Dreams

                  “That the Yankee fan way!”

                  And then when Nunez struggles they’ll do the same to him.

                • Thomas Cassidy

                  He’s been like this for a year. There is no reason he will change and he has looked worse and worse. Why will he get better? Because he used to hit .315? Because he’s Derek Jeter? He’s done.

            • It’sATarp

              With a 9% line drive rate his BABIP is actually around where it should be. Also since the second half last year he has been grounding out at a insane rate so it’s not like something that’s an anomaly right now.

      • RollingWave

        because one of them’s a infield hit and the other one’s a blooper

        • Jorge

          He got to first base, didn’t he? I understand the sentiment, but a hit is a hit.

          • Mike

            His ground ball rate is %75.3 percent last I checked, up from last year when it was somewhere in the high 60’s. He’ll find holes occasionally, but it’s very hard to hit for a high average like that. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt til the guy has 200 PA’s, but the trends are troubling.

      • David

        Because you look good when you hit the ball hard.

    • Teh Comp Pick

      As done as he looks at the plate he’s not lookin good on the bases either. Last year 18 for 23 in steals, the year before 30 for 35 in steals, so caught ten times in the two years combined. This year caught twice without a steal yet.

  • http://kierstenschmidt.com Kiersten

    Sabathia gets the ball against Brad Penny.

    I am looking forward to this.

  • iloveyoubartolo

    My favourite stat. Number of swinging strikes generated on his two-seam: 0
    It’s just not a good pitch.

    • whozat

      I hear cherries are at their most delicious just after they’re picked.

    • Plank

      Where do you find those numbers?

      • iloveyoubartolo


        • Plank


    • Tom Zig

      Who cares? He got at least 4 called strike 3s on that pitch. He also threw 33 of his 47 2-seamers for strikes.

      I think it’s a good pitch

      • iloveyoubartolo


  • Jake

    I was a little embarrassed by the Colon signing, but I’ve got to give the man his due. He’s been terrific and earned every penny he gets this year, no matter what he does from now on. And kudos to Cashman et al for seeing his potential, rather than opting for bigger names like Webb or Duchscherer.

    • pat

      Big ups go to Tony Pena especially. He’s the one who recommended the signing to Cashman after managing Colon during the winter.

    • YankeesJunkie

      Just spaghetti that stuck to the wall!

  • bonestock94

    Damn, missing a Valverde failure is pretty disappointing.

  • jorge brosada

    It would be funny if Bartolo got fatter as he continues to pitch well, causing him to pitch even better

  • RollingWave

    Colon’s 2 seamer right now is Wang esque.

  • Will

    The way Colon is pitching right now reminds me of back in little league, when there was always the one kid who had a growth spurt a year ahead of everyone else, so his coach would have him pitch and all he’d have to do is go out there and throw fastballs and no one could touch him. He’s making it look that easy.

  • First time lawng time

    Went to bed after Detroit tied it up. Glad to see we won.

    I thought our offense looked decent. We were getting on base which was good, the problem was that we weren’t getting the runs in.

    I’m sure we won’t leave as many on base throughtout the entire season though. It was just one of those poor RISP games. Luckily Colon pitched well enough to keep the game in hand.

  • BavarianYankee

    damn, is Bartolo Colon 4 real? Nice win.

    We can be so glad we traded A-Jax, seems like he’s nothing more than a 4th outfielder/pinch runner type of player. And last year he just had a ridiculous BABIP, good to see his average is where it has to be now ;)

    And Alex Avila? Boy, that dude impressed me. 2 opposite field homers? In that park? Good god, did he steal Miggy’s bat?

    • MannyGeee

      Avila was a fluke. He just has Colon’s number. you’ll agree when he goes 1-8 over the rest of this series…

  • Wandering Bear

    In a battle of aces Bartolo proved he was the best. Tonight’s pitching matchup is one of the most lopsided you’ll ever see so there’s no reason we can’t take 3/4. We didn’t have our best hitter last night and we still won. Their pen is awful and they have a 2 man lineup.

  • jason

    Don’t want to include Nunez getting thrown out at 3rd in the Airing of the Grievances?

    • JimAbbottFan

      Sure it stunk, but I don’t hold it against him during that play because it was a smart move by Verlander to intercept the throw to home and throw to third to get the out. Had the ball gone to the catcher as intended, Nunez would have been safe easily.

      When the two fastest runners on the team are on base, it was good to see some aggressiveness where only perfect/heads up plays could get them out.

      • dalelama

        Ironically Verlander was out of position not backing up home as he should have.

    • MannyGeee

      agreed, he held up and when he saw the throw going home he started back up. he shoulda held up there or round 2nd full tilt…

      no outs, man on second is a completely different inning than 1 out no one on…

  • Monteroisdinero

    Who would have thought in the off season that a Colon/Verlander matchup on the road would be fair?

    Jeter is terrible. Say what you want about Nunez but he played a good 2B and drove another ball over the left fielder’s head on an 0-2 Verlander curve! I liked his hustle. As soon as he saw there was going to be a throw to the plate he tried for 3rd-early in the game up 2-0. Verlander had no business cutting that off to make the play. Who did he think he was-Jeter?

  • Monteroisdinero

    Did Bartolo throw any curveballs? The guy is pure location.

    • Bpdelia

      Amazing isnt it. But his 2 seamer is almost moving like a slider. colon has always had pretty good breaking stuff he just hasn’t had to use it. The fact that he is going through the league once without even showing his breaking stuff leaves me very confident about his continued success. I pray he can stay healthy enough to make 25 starts.

  • Fairweather Freddy

    So glad we beat Valverde. Anyone see him go crazy after Granderson overslid the bag and got tagged out? Love premature celebrations, especially when they come back to haunt the guilty party

    • Epy0n

      Seeing that makes me dislike Valverde even more for some reason.

  • Jess

    I wonder if the Yankees should fire Girardi and hire fan blogger Mike Axisa as the manager? Even if he never played the game and is just a fan, he clearly would make a better manager based on his “Airing of Grievances”. Giraradi makes too many mistakes according to Mike. It’s clear the Yankees are not run well and need an expert like Mike to always make the right decisions. Brilliant idea, right?

    • Big Juan

      Maybe Jess should take Mike’s job. Clearly Mike makes too many mistakes in his post game writeup that you choose to read. We need a proven commenter like Jess.

    • bakekrukow412

      Axisa will destroy you.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Now you’re getting it!

  • Bpdelia

    Mike one quibble. I dont like ever bunting a man to second. But to me it seemed gardner was bunting for a hit there, and it was a pretty nice bunt. That was not called from the bench. If it had been s bench call gardner would have squared up early.

    • Captain

      this is my thought on the bunt too. looked to be a drag bunt from Gardner.

  • Fairweather Freddy

    Anyone else think that Nunez could fill Andrew Jones’s role? Love his bat and would love to see him get more playing time.

  • Bpdelia

    And mike I should add that while a sac bunt there isnt a good play, I have no problem with gardner bunting for a hit if h he feels he can make it

  • Fairweather Freddy

    Whats with the Airing of Grievances? Its much to soon for Festivus

  • the tenth inning stretch

    The pics/captions in this post are epic.

  • Bpdelia

    Very quietly the yankees have gotten off to the best start I can remember. Im too lazy to check but this is nice to be in first so early. And I dont think this team has even been on a roll yet. Im amending my preseason win guess up from 91 to 94.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      They’re 17-9 after their first 26 games. They were 18-8 after their first 26 games last year.

      • Rockdog

        RAB = bad place to be too lazy to check … anything.

    • MannyGeee

      it only feels that way because the Red Sox are in last place. if the Sox were 20-7, this season would be a travesty.

  • bakekrukow412

    Bob Lorenz calls a good game.

  • MannyGeee

    So here’s a question… does this make Colon trade fodder for a team desperate to shed payroll?

    cheap, seems to have the goods…high risk high reward, but if you are Atlanta and want to shed $12M of Derek Lowe…. you might consider taking Colon instead of a fringe guy like Noesi or Warren, right???

    • bakekrukow412

      I’d rather have Colon than Lowe at this point.