Swisher homer caps comeback, Yanks take series

Girardi: A-Rod's been playing with an injured shoulder
Fan Confidence Poll: June 20th, 2011

It had a been a while since the Yankees visited the Cubs and it’ll be a while before they go back, but Sunday night’s game capped off an eventful but ultimately successful three game series in the Windy City, a series the Yankees won thanks to Sunday’s come-from-behind win.


Nick Swisher, Rally Killer

I think it’s fair to call Swisher the most disappointing regular this season, particularly when you consider his performance from the left side of the plate. He came into this game hitting just .173/.321/.280 in 187 plate appearances against righties this year, a big problem when you consider that roughly seven out of ten pitchers in the big leagues are right-handed. With men on the corners and none out in the eighth inning, I would have been happy if Nick grounded into a double play against the righty Chris Carpenter (not this one, this one) as long as it got the run in. He did managed to kill the rally, but not by grounding into a double play.

Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano led off the inning with singles against Sean Marshall, then the Cubs went to the rookie Carpenter in the biggest spot of the game. We saw him be wild and walk a guy on Saturday, and he looked the same on Sunday. The first two pitches to Swisher were mid-90’s fastballs high and away, but the third was a cookie, a 93 mph heater down the middle and over the plate. A classic get-me-over fastball in a 2-0 count. A tee wouldn’t have been any better. Swish jumped all over the pitch and did what he was supposed to do with that, he crushed it deep to right for a three run homer. It was gone off the bat, everyone knew it. Rally killed, three runs scored.

Now that's how you start a game.

Brett Gardner, Leadoff Hitter

Gardner came into this game having gotten on base in 70 of his last 163 plate appearances (43.8%), premium production regardless of batting order position. Randy Wells got him in a quick 0-2 hole to start the game, but after fouling off two pitches, Gardner yanked a knee high sinker into the right field seats for his first career leadoff homerun and fourth of the season. He also hit a two strike single next time up and helped create an insurance run in the ninth with a leadoff hustle double, and his season batting average is up to .294. Remember where he was in April? Yeah. If someone, anyone had a legitimate reason why this man shouldn’t be the Yankees full-time leadoff hitter when Derek Jeter comes off the disabled list, I’d love to hear it.

Right Where He Wanted Them

New Eighth Inning Guy™ David Robertson has a well-documented history of wiggling out of jams, so you didn’t really expect the eighth inning go smoothly, did you? Aramis Ramirez quickly struck out for the first out, but then Robertson walked Alfonso Soriano (on four pitches!) before walking Geovany Soto on six pitches. Just like that, the tying run was at the plate, and up came pinch-hitter and certified Yankee killer Carlos Pena. Robertson dropped a curve in for a ball before inducing a weak grounder to second for the second out, though the runners moves up. Pinch-hitter Blake DeWitt fouled off some tough cutters and curves, but eventually popped one up rather harmlessly to end the inning. Business as usual in the Robertson household.

Where’s The Pinch-Hitter?

Russell Martin had just tied the game at four with a sacrifice fly in the sixth, and a semi-intentional walk to Eduardo Nunez put men at first and second with one out. For some reason, CC Sabathia was allowed to bat for himself. Yes, he had thrown just 69 pitches up to that point, but he also wasn’t fooling anyone. The Cubs had eight hits (four for extra bases) and a walk in his five innings to that point. Of course, the second guessing seems rather stupid given the outcome of the game and the fact that Sabathia added two more scoreless innings, but at the time it was a huge moment in the game and having a real hitter at the plate could have changed things dramatically.

I don't think he'd be smiling if they were losing.


Speaking of Sabathia, he was not very good in this game, especially early on. The Cubs made a ton of hard contact in the first, even the outs, en route to taking a one run lead, and then CC made a huge mistake pitch to Soriano that he clobbered for a three run homer in the third. He pitched around a leadoff double in the fourth, but then he settled down and retired 12 of the final 13 batters he faced. If you go back to that ugly seventh inning against the Red Sox two starts ago, Sabathia has allowed 14 runs in his last 14.2 IP. Not worried, he’ll get through it, but yuck.

Once they were behind 4-1, the Yankees really did a good job of scratching their way back into it. Swish plated a run in the fourth on a seeing through the right side, Nunez beat out a relay throw on a fielder’s choice that allowed the second run to score later that inning, and then Martin tied things at four with the aforementioned sac fly in the sixth. Three insurance runs scored in the ninth when Gardner (hustle double), Curtis Granderson (triple into the corner), Mark Teixeira (lol bloop double into the corner), and Alex Rodriguez (double into the ivy) started the inning with four straight extra base hits.

Martin took an Aramis back swing to the helmet in the middle of the game and was seen with an icepack on his head in the dugout. He was laughing and stayed in the game, but between that and the collision at the plate on Saturday, it was a rough two days for Russ. Since everyone was okay, we can also laugh at Ramiro Pena for catching a bad hop on a grounder in the ninth, taking it up high around the chest. The ball ricocheted to Nunez at short and he threw it straight into the ground, like a quarterback spiking the ball to stop the clock. Hilarious.

A total of 126,283 fans took in these three games this week, a record for a three-game series at Wrigley Field. That’s pretty nuts considering the park has been around since the dawn of time. But, you know, the Yankees are bad for baseball. They’ve now won 20 of their last 30 games, by the way.

WPA Graph & Box Score

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the other stuff no one cares about.

Up Next

It’s off to Cincinnati for another interleague series in an NL park. Ivan Nova will kick things off against Johnny Cueto on Monday night. If you’re in the area, RAB Tickets can get you into the game for dirt cheap.

Girardi: A-Rod's been playing with an injured shoulder
Fan Confidence Poll: June 20th, 2011
  • themgmt

    I wouldn’t have pinch hit for CC in the 8th with 89 pitches and a 3 run lead, and definitely not earlier in the game with a 2 man bullpen.

    • CC’s third leg

      wtf was girardi thinking?

  • nsalem

    CC now 49-19 as a Yankee with a .721 WP. Not that it means anything.

  • nycsportzfan

    man, i was waiting for the explosion, i kept getting more frustrated as WELLS would wiggle outta any real big trouble, all though he was throwing waist high, dead center meat beetween 80-90 MPH all night long, and we were just missing em. I kept saying, were gonna kill this guys, hes got nothing, and eventually we killed em all right, just his teammates, not him, which is fine by me…lol

    Since the yanks were in SEATTLE, swisher has slowly turned his season around, and what can u say about gardner? I’m gonna have to say, i’m a believer in him, fully, not just as a FILL IN FOR A COUPLE YR TYPE, but possibly more… And the BULLPEN has been just flat out amazing!

  • nsalem

    How could your 4th outfielder be your lead off man?.
    To the north the DL’d Mr. Carl (career OBP .334) Crawford is making 36 times more than our guy.

  • Rey22

    “Blake DeWitt fouled off some tough cutters and curves,”

    Robertson throws cutters now? I thought he was strictly fastball-curveball.

    (Legit question)

    • mbonzo

      Sort of, his fastball has so much movement on it that you can easily call it a cutter. So yea he’s a cutter-curveball guy, but he’s also got a changeup which he very rarely uses.

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

      Yeah, he’s been throwing a ton this year. Said in ST that he added it in the offseason

      • thumper

        That’s interesting because the Sunday Night Baseball crew had a discussion about how D-Rob has been throwing cutters since college. Fangraphs logs it as a fastball (for whatever that’s worth). It sure looks like a cutter though to the naked eye.

    • Ellis

      It’s funny how the snark level in the comments section has gotten so high that you need to add the disclaimer: “This is a legit question!”. Kind of a shame.

  • Dino Velvet

    I hope JEter can read the writing on the wall.

    • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

      We might have to put it on the ceiling for him. If you know what I mean.

  • tom

    Swisher’s overall BA/OBP are actually getting close to his career standard (accepting that last year was an unexpected high). But he’s still way shy in slugging. Given the number of home runs he’s hit recently, you can maybe see him closing that gap as well over the next few weeks, and ending up with a not-that-subnormal season.

    Sort of off-topic but not entirely: everyone’s making a big deal that the Marlins have lost (after today) 10 straight 1-run games. The part folks don’t mention? That makes the team now an even 14-14 in 1-run games. The fluke is not they’ve lost so many in a row; it’s how extraordinarily lucky they’d been in winning so many earlier. It shows that you really don’t want to get too bent out of shape by alot of close losses (as the Yankees have suffered); in most seasons, that will correct itself over the long haul.

    • Pat D

      Yea I made that comment when I saw it flash on the bottom line. Of course I didn’t bother to check their overall record in 1-run games. So, yea, there’s a definite correction going on.

      And the Yankees are still just 9-11 in said games.

    • hogsmog

      On the bright side his OPS+ is finally over 100.

  • iloveyoubartolo

    Yes. Given the outcome of the game.

  • Eduardo (My Left Nunez)

    I hope you fans are enjoying my comedic performance every night at shortstop while the Captain is away. I have to admit, it’s getting more difficult to come up with funny things, but I had a good one there in the ninth, at least I thought. Joe told me we were the national game, so I had to go above and beyond a run-of-the-mill error, or mindless base-running gaffe.

    Tune in over the coming days. I’ll come up with something good. Promise.

    • David, Jr.

      Right. Better get Jetes back in there so we can win some games.

    • Cris Pengiuci

      Nunez is an acceptable fill in. Provides adequate defense (wouldn’t say it’s worse than Jeter’s. Added range may negate the throwing issues) and some pop with the bat. Yes, Jeter’s better on the base paths, but that’s one of the few areas he’s better than Nunez. And, I love the Captain. Just being a realist.

      • Ted Nelson

        Is Jeter a better baserunner than Nunez?

  • whitey

    Great question nsalem!

  • http://johnsterling.blogspot.com/ Xstar7

    Nick Swisher really needed a day like this from the left side of the plate. Also props to CC for hanging tough after getting knocked around early. It’s so cliche to say this, but he battled on a day where he didn’t have his best stuff and found a way to win which is what aces do.

  • http://facebook.com/andrewjcalagna Drew

    For the record, I don’t think the absolute bomb that Swisher hit was emphasized enough. I mean holy shit, he completely and utterly annihilated the baseball. It was a double win for me, that blast won me the HR category in fantasy this week.

    • David, Jr.

      You mean you didn’t take Greg Golson?

    • Klemy

      “He got all of that one.”


  • FIPster Doofus

    I do nothing but gush about Brett Gardner these days, but here goes another one…

    He should be upgraded from “very good/underrated player” to “star player.” Look at the WAR he has amassed since becoming a full-timer last season (both B-Ref and FanGraphs acknowledge his awesomeness). The dude’s a fucking tank.

    • Ellis

      Agreed, he deserves way more credit.

      If he can remember how to steal bases then he becomes arguably the Yanks’ most productive player. Highest OBP + great UZR + mayhem on the basepaths = star.

      • Ellis

        …on second thought, he’s not out-producing Granderson. But still, Gardner is a star player.

  • Jimmy McNulty

    Nick Swisher to the Cubs: “Tell me how my slump tastes.”

    <3 That guy, not too sure whether he'll fully come out of it this year but I am positive last that next year he'll have .250/.360/.460 line.

  • dkidd

    highlight of the night: mariano talking to a young fan

    lowlight of the night: bobby valentine going on and on about baserunning angles

    • http://www.youcantpredictbaseball.com bexarama

      lowlight of the night: bobby valentine going on and on about baserunning angles

      oh my God what was that

      • mbonzo

        Theres a reason no one wants to hire him as a manager. He’s becoming delusional over all this rejection.

        • Pat D

          We don’t know exactly what happened when he was supposedly the front-runner for the Marlins job after last year.

          But I wouldn’t be surprised if it was he realized working for Jeffrey Loria would be insanity.

          • Clay Bellinger

            I wanted him to get that job so bad just to take him off of ESPN. I can’t stand listening to the guy talk. He’s brutal. Somehow, I’m starting to miss Joe Morgan.

            • Klemy

              Yeah. This is spot on.

      • rek4gehrig

        Unreal. I couldnt believe he talked aboout that for at least one full inning.

  • El Anonimo

    I would have kept CC at the plate in the 6th. I mean, who are we going to replace CC with if the pinch hitter doesn’t do anything at the plate. CC is the Yankees ace, and for no good reason he is not coming out of the game. CC is better than Noesi/Marquez/Ayala w/e.

    • Will

      I disagree. Not much to complain about since keeping CC in the game worked out, but he should not have been allowed to hit there. I often get on Girardi for not trusting starters when they are clearly pitching well (Burnett, mainly, but also Colon this year), but he has the opposite problem with CC—he’ll leave him in no matter how much he’s getting crushed. And make no mistake, CC was getting crushed tonight. He wasn’t missing any bats, and many of the outs he did get were solidly hit. I’m glad he was as lucky as he was, and that he once again got bailed out by the offense.

    • Ted Nelson

      You have to weigh how much better CC is pitching than those guys against how much better a pinch hitter is hitting than CC. I don’t know what the answer is, I’m just saying that you are only looking at 1/2 of the equation.

  • nunez fan

    fuck off jeter

    • http://www.youcantpredictbaseball.com bexarama

      Your name is “Nunez fan” but you never, ever, ever say how good Nunez is, just how bad Jeter is. Hmmmm.

  • CC’s Capt Crunch Addiction

    Longtime reader, first time writer. I was at the game tonight, and a group of Yankee fans started the roll call and were acknowledged by all Yankee of’s.(even given a half assed swish salute) Not sure if this is normal but it was awesome to see in another teams park.

  • Wil Nieves Number 1 Fan

    We win our FOX broadcast, then we win our ESPN broadcast the very next night. Shit’s fucked up, bro.

    Good game. Tip of the cap to Gardner and A-Rod for getting on base 3 times and 4 times, respectively.

  • ramez hanna

    i think jeter should accept batting 6 th or 7 th for the team sake
    he is a team player and he should handle it well
    no way a double play machine with an obs around 300 to bat first
    look at the results now
    goe should look after what is best for the team

    • Monteroisdinero

      The grounder Nunez hit to third for a force out with the bases loaded is a gidp with Jeter. Little things that don’t show up in the boxscore..

      Speed is good.

  • LarryM.,Fl.

    I saw no reason to remove for a pinch hittter considering CC’s ability to swing the bat and our talent level to get three innings worth of relief from our bullpen.

    On another note I don’t disagree that Gardner has been playing great baseball lately and Jeter should be moved to 8 or 9 spot in the lineup due to his poor power numbers and on base percentage. As we watch every night Nunez is a younger more potent athlete but Jeter for all his faults make pitchers feel comfortable that he will make the plays as opposed to exploding the innings. As I indicated before Nunez should get at least 3 starts a week for our infielders for Arod, Jeter and Cano. When Chavez comes back I can see the same amount of starts with Jeter and Alex working 5 days a week on alternating weeks to keep them fresh. The kid needs to develop and Arod and Jeter need to stay fresh.

  • http://theredlegsreview.blogspot.com/ Redlegs Review

    Looking forward to the series against you guys….it should be a good one!

    • Xstar7

      The feeling is mutual.

  • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/ Matt Imbrogno

    The Ramiro/Nunez play, courtesy of Richard Iurilli:


    • Captain

      thats just wacky.

      • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/ Matt Imbrogno

        I could not stop laughing for a minute straight.

  • Frank

    I realize Nunez has had his problems throwing the ball, but that play going into the hole to throw out Castro was sweet.

    • ramez hanna

      jeter wouldnt make it
      it will end as an infield single

      • http://twitter.com/AnaMariana42 Ana

        Who taught you punctuation?

      • steve (different one)

        Garth, I think that was a haiku

  • http://twitter.com/AnaMariana42 Ana

    Gardner once again proving what an underrated star he is. Give this 2.9 WAR man an All-Star berth!

    • David, Jr.

      Absolutely deserves it. He is also the best fielder on the team by miles. So many spectacular plays this year and last year that it would take a 20 minute YouTube to show them all.

      Also, when The Coach’s Son returns Gardy will be easily the best #9 hitter in baseball!

    • Hester Prynne

      And I don’t know how anyone can justify taking Gardner out of the lead off spot and you certainly cannot justify sitting Gardner two straight days in favor of Andruw Jones. He’s one of our top 5 hitters and that’s saying a lot in this lineup.

      • gc

        Against lefties, I’ll still take Jeter in the leadoff spot for the time being. And I agree, unless he’s nursing some sort of injury, Gardner should be playing every day.

  • Monteroisdinero

    Jeter will bat first until he gets 3,000. After that, he should bat 10th.

  • JamesNeuf

    So it seems pretty obvious now that Gardner should be leading off every day. However, if he is leading off that most likely means that Jeter will be batting second once he returns. That would mean that Granderson would probably be bumped down to sixth. I’m not sure whether I’d rather have Jeter 1, Granderson 2, and Gardner 9 or Gardner 1, Jeter 2, and Granderson 6. Obviously the lineup we’d all prefer is Gardner 1, Granderson 2, and Jeter 9 but there’s no way THAT will be happening. What do you guys think?

    • LarryM.,Fl.

      I agree with Gardner, Granderson and Jeter 9th. It could happen becuase Girardi and Cashman are usually on the same page. Team is first.

      Good players have a healthy dose of arrogance/confidence but its my opinion Jeter would move if presented in a manner that shows benefit for the team. He needs a ring on his other hand. But, if the Yankees cannot secure another SP to strengthen the rotation plus a lefty of some worth for the bullpen. There is no concern where Jeter or Gardner hit.

  • Charlee

    Gardner is supposed to get on base, not hit HRs. Gardner fail !