Aug
17

Yanks top Royals, crickets for third straight win

By

Slugfests are always fun, only because there’s maybe two or three teams that can really hang with the Yankees in games like this. The Royals have a sneaky good offense, but the difference in this game was that one rookie pitcher completely imploded while the other was just touch better than that.

Robbie Goes BOOM!!!

This game was a classic back-and-forth affair; the Yankees responded with runs pretty much every time the Royals pushed a few across, and the Royals threatened every time the Yankees scored some runs. Robinson Cano singled in his team’s first run on a breaking ball at his eyes in the third, then two batters later Russell Martin drove in two more to give the Yankees a short-lived 3-2 lead. Kansas City answered right back with three off Ivan Nova (more on him in a bit), but the Yankees were not fooled by rookie southpaw Danny Duffy the second and third time through the order.

The five-run fourth inning started innocently enough, with a Brett Gardner drag bunt single to the second baseman. Derek Jeter tied the game on a double down the line and into left (he look, he pulled the ball!), and for some reason Curtis Granderson and his 33 homeruns squared around to bunt. The Royals bailed him out though, because catcher Salvador Perez threw to third but Jeter slide in behind (or maybe under, I didn’t see the replay) the tag. That put men at the corners with none out. Mark Teixeira singled in the go-ahead run after taking what looked like strike three, bringing Cano to the plate. This is where it got interesting.

Before the at-bat started, Royals manager Ned Yost went out to the mound but not to take out his struggling starter out, but to give home plate ump Kerwin Danley a mouthful about the non-strike three to Teixeira. He got tossed, but Duffy remained in the game. The first pitch to Cano was a fastball in the dirt for a ball, then came a high curveball that Robbie fouled off. The 1-1 pitch was a curve in the dirt, the 2-1 pitch a fastball down and away from the zone. Three balls and one strike is a total hitter’s count, but Cano just fouled off the 92 fastball to run the count full. Five pitches into the encounter, these two weren’t even halfway done yet.

Fastball, foul. Fastball, foul. Fastball, foul. Slider, foul. Slider, foul. Fastball, foul. Seven straight foul balls followed the 3-1 count, and it was clear that the Royals’ battery had no idea what to do next. They threw fastballs in the zone, out of the zone, sliders in the dirt, basically everything in the arsenal.The 12th and final pitch of the at-bat was a slider that hung up and in the zone, and Cano put his best Home Run Derby Champion swing on it for a three-run homer. The Yankees had taken an 8-5 lead and there will still no outs in the inning, but Duffy was on his way out of the game before Robinson even touched home plate. It was a no-doubter off the bat and a fantastic plate appearance, backing a young and overmatched pitcher into a corner until he mistake pitched his way out of it.

(Photo via Ben Kabak)

Revenge Is A Dish Best Served … With A Better Start Than This?

Ivan Nova has faced the Royals twice in 2011, and they’re the two worst starts of his career. This game wasn’t quite as bad in the start in May, but yeah, nine runs and seven runs in 5.1 IP is pretty awful. Kansas City tagged him for two runs in the first, three runs in the third, and two more runs in the sixth, and frankly he’s lucky he held them to that. There were a lot of pitches left up in the zone and a lot of hitter’s counts, and through the magic of hindsight I can say that Nova was left in an inning too long. Trying to squeeze another inning out of him wasn’t the wisest decision given how rested the middle relievers are. Oh well, didn’t come back to hurt them, though it almost did.

Nova threw a total 87 pitches, only 20 of which weren’t fastballs. Four of his seven swings and misses came on the heat, two on curves, and one a change. The 8-5 GB/FB is still pretty good but not what we’re used to seeing from Nova. With a Game Score of just 23, it was in fact the second worst start of his career, better than just that start against KC in May (Game Score of 15). He was due for a stinker, so I’m glad he got it out of the way on a night when his offense nearly hung double digits on the scoreboard.

Tablesetters

Jeter was technically the leadoff hitter tonight, but Eduardo Nunez and Gardner did a fine job of getting on base at the bottom of the order and ahead of the big bats. Both had two hits, all singles except for Gardner’s two-out triple in the seventh. Jeter singled him in for a rather big insurance run. The top four hitters in the lineup combined to go 6-for-18 with one walk and a hit-by-pitch, and seven of those eight baserunners came around to score.

Everyone in the lineup reached base exactly twice except for Andruw Jones, who got hit by a pitch before giving way to pinch-hitter Jorge Posada, who walked. So the DH spot got on base two times anyway. The Yankees had half a dozen hits in their dozen at-bats with men in scoring position. The top and the bottom of the order did the majority of the heavy lifted, but all nine (really ten) guys contributed in this one.

(Photo via Ben Kabak)

Leftovers

Remember WWWMW™? That’s always fun. Mariano Rivera threw a perfect ninth inning for the second straight day, this one with two strikeouts and a ground out. Pretty much vintage Rivera right there. There’s never a reason to worry about the guy, how many times do we have to tell you?

The entire bullpen was perfect, 11 up and 11 down. Boone Logan got three outs with some help from a great diving stop by Tex, then Rafael Soriano recorded two outs before David Robertson chipped in a perfect eighth. Soriano, Robertson, and Mo have each appeared in the last two games, and I’m willing to bet Rivera gets Wednesday’s game off. No reason to push him at this point of the season. Figure some Cory Wade action in the seventh with the other two sliding up an inning. Yay assigned innings!

Holy hell, how annoying were the crickets? Apparently enough people complained about them that the YES booth had to acknowledge that yeah, they were making the broadcast unbearable. Thankfully they’re only in Kansas City for one more night.

The Red Sox split a double header with the Rays on Tuesday (Tampa got complete games from Jamie Shields and Jeff Niemann, how about that?), which means the Yankees lead the AL East by half a game. They also lead by 39 runs in run differential (+180 vs. +141), but they don’t care give out division titles based on that. Anyway, the Yankees control their own destiny from here on out, as long as they lose the same number of games as Boston (or fewer, of course) the rest of the way, they’ll win the division. Pretty neat huh?

Oh by the way, the Yankees have now faced a pitcher they’d never seen before 18 times this season, and guess what their record is in those games. Hint: it’s 14-4. Didn’t see that coming, did ya?

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings

MLB.com has the box score and video, FanGraphs some nerdy stuff, and ESPN the updated standings.

Up Next

Bartolo Colon will look to wrap up the sweep against Bruce Chen on Wednesday night, when he happily say goodbye to the crickets. Hooray for that.

Categories : Game Stories

62 Comments»

  1. Ivan Nova is resilient as hell, even after striggling early he came back and punched the royals

    • Midland TX says:

      Uh, he was removed immediately after letting up a 2-run double, giving him a line of 5.1 IP, 9 H, 7 ER. He struggled, early, and he struggled late. He gave up more than twice as many runs as AJ Burnett did last night in 5.2 IP.

      He may be resilient in general but he was just lousy tonight.

      • Ana says:

        ^^

        Only here is a 5.1 IP, 7 ER outing >>> 5.2 IP, 3 ER outing.

        Keep going though, it’s funny.

      • Roger says:

        I loved that Nova did not blame his results on getting squeezed by the the home plate ump, who seemed to be doing a rookie hazing trick on both young pitchers.

        Both pitchers were forced to throw middle-up BP-quality cannon fodder because everything at the knees or on the corners was a ball.

        Duffy imploded. Nova kept plugging away. The relievers got some relief–the ump started giving them the low strikes he wouldn’t gibve to the rookies.

      • Dave M says:

        Yeah, he pitched like shit. Part of it was the home plate umpire not giving him the low strike. But he was able to give them 5 plus so I can qualify for a gift win.

    • David, Jr. says:

      He was terrible. He didn’t punch anything. After seven good games, this was a mess from him.

  2. Craig says:

    Who has the best throwing arm outta Grandy, Gardy and Melky? And idk about you Mike, but Milwuakee’s offense looms pretty legit; I’m assuming the two teams you referred to were Texas and Boston.

  3. Boston….

    2-10 vs Yankees.
    Down a half game in the standings to the Yankees.

  4. Jesse says:

    This is a little off topic, but worth asking. But did Freddy Garcia have his bullpen session today? If so, how did it go?

    • mbonzo says:

      He did, couldn’t throw the splitter, Girardi said they’d give it another shot sometime during the week and see if he can start Saturday but didn’t sound optimistic. No big rush anyway with the 6 man rotation. Source is Suzyn.

      • Jesse says:

        Although Suzyn said it, she’s still a credible source since she talks to the guy. Thanks for the update btw. And this means Phil Hughes should make the start on Friday then. Yay!

  5. Rey22 says:

    The bullpen has been beyond lights out lately (Rare Mo meltdowns aside). Fantastic job when it has mattered.

  6. PaulF says:

    The Yankees have now score one fewer run than the Red Sox in one fewer game so the Yankees now have scored the most runs/game in the league.

  7. Alfredo says:

    I would take that risk Because Martin is hitting 227 i doudt Montero would do worst.

  8. Midland TX says:

    Maybe it’s time to work the MFIKY nickname back into circulation.

  9. Alfredo says:

    In the next 2 year the yankees will have a hell of a team build in from behind i can’t wait!

  10. Dino Velvet says:

    What’s Ben doing in KC?

  11. Dino Velvet says:

    First PlacE!

    I just love how the media has been trying to bury New York all year, crowning Boston’s ass as the greatest team ever, and here the Yanks are, in the middle of August, without ARod and after enduring various injuries, possessing the best record in the AL.

    • Kiko Jones says:

      The Yankees are done. Put a fork in ‘em.
      /ESPN’d

    • Dropped third superstar says:

      And with hughes giving us nothing, having colon, garcia pick up the ball every five days since april, and with posada DHing we still are the beast of the AL east…. Oh and going 2 – 10 vs those jackass’s and were still on top imagine if we just play .500 ball with them the rest of the way?

  12. Kibbitty says:

    What does MFIKY mean?

  13. baravelli says:

    I can’t have been the only one to try to figure out where that stupid cricket was hiding in my room while watching the game, only to realize a couple hours in that it was on the broadcast.
    Anybody?

    • MikeD says:

      I remember the same thing happening last year when the Yankees were in Kansas City and there were a lot of comments on the board here. It was worse, because it was the sound of a single cricket. I was walking around my home trying to find it, then realized it was the TV, which made me quite happy, because having a cricket in your home is a pain in the ass. They’re impossible to find, because just as you get near it, it shuts up, moves, and then starts chirpping again.

      This year there are tons of crickets, so I didn’t go searching, although for a second I was thrown.

      Not sure where they have positioned their mic’s. KC is the home of steak and crickets!

    • Joel says:

      Are you sure those were crickets and not cicadas?

      http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/walker/buzz/i00dis.htm

  14. Brian S. says:

    That Cano at-bat was one of the best I have seen all year. Robbie is amazing.

  15. Evan3457 says:

    In the 4th inning according to Brooks, not a single pitch that Duffy threw that was called a ball was not, in fact, in the strike zone. In fact, there were two strikes on Jeter, one inside, and one marginal inside (possibly the edge of the black) that were called strikes, before he got his single to right.

    In the 3rd inning, a ball in the zone to Jeter was called a strike, but he grounded out. In all, according to Brooks K zone, there were 5 pitches that were in the zone for Duffy that were called balls, plus a marginal one, and 2 outside the zone that were called strikes, plus a marginal one. But in spite of his visible upset, and Yost’s ejection, there was only one pitch in the 3rd or 4th that could be complained about, and Jeter made out later in the AB anyway.

    • Mickey Scheister says:

      The crickets were alittle more bearable on the KC feed, they also had the FoxTrac pitch locator. Via that, the ump looked pretty on point, while the My9 feed looked liked the pitchers were getting squeezed the FoxTrac showed the two inside to Jetes that were both called strike, and those one or two on the outside corner that could’ve gone ether way but some of the pitches KC was bitching about were in fact balls. Duffys body language was terrible on the mound, reminded me of a child not getting their way, and I’m pretty sure that led to the close pitches being called balls.

  16. Monteroisdinero says:

    Infield defense was superb. Strong accurate throws from Nunez, sure handedness as usual from Jeter, smooth stuff by Robbie and run saving dives by Tex. Martin has been great throwing out runners the last 2 games as well.

    Have you noticed how Robbie is always tossed the ball on the 3rd out of an inning as the team runs in to the dugout. I guess he likes giving it to a fan-whatever makes him happy.

  17. Bartolo's Colon says:

    I find it interesting that the yanks started yesterday tied for the lead in the division, started the game in second place in the division, and were in first place after the final out of the game. i bet that hasn’t happened in a while

  18. Artie DeVanzo says:

    Did anyone else notice the movement on those two-2 seamers from Mo to escobar?

  19. Greg Golson's Laser Rocket Arm says:

    Two random corrections: Jeter’s double in the 4th cut the Royal lead to 1, and Nova had 7 runs on 9 hits, not vice versa

  20. rek4gehrig says:

    Cano is the coolest cat :-)

  21. Adam Parker says:

    So where are the people who crucify Hughes and pump up Nova as the second coming of Ian Kennedy?

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