Offense comes back to life in win over Halos

Open Thread: 9/11
Fan Confidence Poll: September 12th, 2011

After days of feeble ground outs and ugly swings, the Yankees offense returned to form in a hard fought win on Sunday. They’re not all the way back yet, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

(Harry How/Getty Images)

A Run!

It had been so long, the first one deserves its own section. After going down 1-2-3 in the first inning, extending their scoreless stretch to 16 offensive innings (one run in their previous 26 innings), Robinson Cano got things going in the second inning with a leadoff single to the opposite field. He moved over to second on a wild pitch strike three to Jesus Montero, proving that even Montero’s strikeouts are productive. The kid can’t be stopped! Eric Chavez jumped on a 1-1 fastball and shot a hard grounder back up the middle, squeezing through the infield and bringing Cano home for the first run the Yankees have scored on something other than a homer since Thursday.

Freddy Sez: Shaky At Best

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Last time out, the Orioles demolished Freddy Garcia for seven runs in just 2.2 IP. He was better this time around, but not much. Howie Kendrick hit a two-run homer in the first and Peter Bourjos did the same in the fourth, meaning Freddy has allowed five homers in 9.1 IP since his 69 IP homerless streak ended three starts ago.

The biggest moment of Garcia’s start was easily the fifth inning, his last. Erick Aybar singled back up the middle then stole second. Bobby Abreu drew a walk after a Kendrick fly ball moved Aybar to third, and he stole second as well. With men at second and third with just one out in a one-run game, Garcia was ordered to intentionally walk Torii Hunter. I’m generally not a fan of free baserunners, and I’m especially not a fan of leaving a pitcher in after he issues an intentional walk. It always seems like they have trouble finding the strike zone after throwing four wide ones.

Sure enough, Freddy fell into a 3-1 count on Mark Trumbo, but the hacktastic rookie let it rip and popped up weakly to shallow right, not deep enough for Aybar to tag up. Garcia again fell behind on Alberto Callaspo, but eventually the Angels third baseman grounded out harmless to second to end the threat. Five runs on seven hits and three walks in five innings isn’t good at all, but Sweaty Freddy really made some pitches when he had to in that fifth inning. Gotta love those veteran presents.

Clank.

The Offense Returns

That Chavez RBI single in the second was a good sign, and the rest of the lineup started to breakout soon thereafter. Two innings later, Cano belted a solo homer to right, and one inning later Curtis Granderson clubbed a two-run homer to almost the exact same spot. The game stayed at 5-4 until the seventh inning, when the Yankees made their move.

Ervin Santana was left in for the proverbial “one more batter,” allowing the first two men he faced in the inning (Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter) to reach on singles. The tying run was at third with no outs, but Granderson struck out for the 158th time this year, a new single season franchise record. A dubious record, but a record nonetheless. Mark Teixeira picked him up with a deep fly ball to center that would have been a sacrifice fly if Bourjos hadn’t completely muffed the catch. He’s arguably the best defensive outfielder in the game, right up there with Gardner, but he simply botched that one. Both Gardner and Jeter scored, and Tex would up on third on the three-base error.

You could kinda see the offensive rebounding taking shape. The at-bats were starting to get better, the number of ugly swings and misses were going down, and the number of well struck balls increased. They had runners on base every inning from the second through seventh, a welcome site after the previous night’s futility. Bourjos’ mistake was obviously a huge, huge part of the win for New York, but it wasn’t all luck. The offense looked much more Yankee-like in this one.

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Leftovers

The bullpen held the Angels scoreless for four innings after Freddy exited, but of course Rafael Soriano made it interesting in the seventh. A single by Kendrick and a perfect hit-and-run by Abreu put runners at the corners with one out, but Abreu wound up at second on a rather weird play. Hunter worked the count full and checked his swing on the 3-2 pitch, then started walking towards first. He got in Austin Romine‘s way (more on him in a bit), so Abreu (who was running on the play) was safe at second. There was no obstruction call because there was no throw, but there’s no doubt Hunter got in the way. Soriano managed to escape the inning on a ground ball, but it’s never easy with him. Never.

Cory Wade, David Robertson, and Mariano Rivera were pretty flawless in the sixth, eighth, and ninth innings, respectively, save for a few infield singles. The Angels had nine (nine!) of those suckers in the three game series, creating perhaps the most unwatchable brand of baseball known to man. If I wanted to watch that stuff on a daily basis, I’d coach Little League.

Oh, and this was Mo’s 599th career save. One more for 600, two more to tie Trevor Hoffman’s all-time record, three more to break it. There’s 17 games left, seems like he’s got a pretty good chance to accomplish all three this year.

(Harry How/Getty Images)

Montero made his first career start behind the plate due to the injuries to Russell Martin (bruised right thumb) and Frankie Cervelli (concussion symptoms), and he was pretty much what everyone said he’d be. He did throw out one attempted basestealer, but two others were safe without a throw. Montero also allowed a wild pitch to get throw his legs (allowing a run to come in) but also blocked quite a few of Garcia’s splitters. Combined with his 0-for-3 (three strikeouts and an intentional walk) at the plate, it was easily the worst game of his young career.

Joe Girardi told us everything we need to know about Montero’s defense when he replaced him with Romine in the seventh inning, Romine’s big league debut. I wonder how many players have made their Major League debut as a defensive replacement behind the plate without an injury necessitating the move? Can’t be many, I’m sure of that. Romine looked fine but wasn’t really tested, just that weird play with Hunter walking in front of him.

Jeter had two hits, Granderson the homer, Tex a walk and the sacrifice fly/error, Cano two hits, Andruw Jones two walks, Eduardo Nunez one walk, and Gardner a hit and a walk. That last guy also got caught stealing. Like I said, it was a much better showing for the offense compared to the previous four games, hopefully something that gets them back on the right track. This lineup is too talented to be terrible for that long.

The Rays stomped all over the Red Sox and swept that series, moving them to within 3.5 games of Boston for the wildcard. The Yankees, however, moved to 3.5 games up (four in the loss column) in the division, their largest lead of the season. They also remain seven up for the wildcard. That’s a pretty awesome place to be at this point of the season.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs has some other stats, and ESPN has the updated standings.

Up Next

Off to Seattle for the last three games of the season’s final west coast trip. It’ll be Phil Hughes against Felix Hernandez on Monday night, a 10:10pm ET start.

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Open Thread: 9/11
Fan Confidence Poll: September 12th, 2011
  • ItsATarp

    I think Montero’s defense will be fine once he gets used to catching guys like Freddy and AJ who throw alot of balls in the dirt. Romine didn;t really have that problem with Soriano, Robertson and Mo.

    • mbonzo

      You also have to remember how old he is, not many 21 year old catchers are experts behind the plate. His hitting ability may be advanced, but his defensive ability is probably slightly below average for his age. He’s still got the tools, so hopefully being surrounded by ex-catchers will give him some support.

  • http://www.twitter.com/jordansmed JGS

    I wonder how many players have made their Major League debut as a defensive replacement behind the plate without an injury necessitating the move?

    Ironically enough, Posada did.

    • Brooklyn Ed

      hmm didn’t Posada came in as a pinch runner?

    • MikeD

      I was wondering if he might have brought Romine in to catch Soriano since I thought he caught him during his rehab. Looks like not, since Soriano never pitched in AA on his rehab.

      Might as well put the kid in right away to get his feet wet. Maybe that’s what Showalter was doing back then too. Get the new kid, Posada, into a game, although in that case it was a blowout. Not sure when Posada entered that game, but I do see that Joe Ausanio pitched the 9th, so Posada was probably familiar with him from catching him in AAA, which would be a nice, comfortable way to break in.

    • Andy In Sunny Daytona

      I bet there were certain people bitching about Andy Pettitte. “This guy sucks. He has a 4.40 ERA, he will never get any better than he is right now.”

      /Nova’d

  • Pat D

    I will say this: Just when my hate for the Angels was starting to wane, this series happened.

    Thank you for reminding me why I hate you, Angels! I’ll still wear my late 80’s/early 90’s hat of yours, though. After all, then you were the California Angels, were owned by a decent man, and not managed by a fucking gerbil-cheeked crybaby.

  • Tyrion Lannister

    Thank God we’re out of Anaheim. They just kept hitting slow hit grounders away from our fielders and we either had to make a great throw to 1st or it was a hit. Very frustrating. I think I’d rather face Texas.

  • Tyrion Lannister

    And now Boston faces Toronto while Tampa gets Baltimore. If Tampa can pick up another game in the next 3 days they’ll just be down 2 going into their four game weekend series. Ideally, they’d win 3/4 and tie Boston. Then it’s in our hands whether or not to let Boston into the playoffs.

    • Dan

      As much as I hate Boston, if the Yankees can control Boston’s fate at the end of the season I think they should try to help Boston get into the postseason. Despite the problems that the Yankees have had versus Boston earlier in the year, Boston is very banged up and if Beckett and Bucholz are going to be out for a significant period of time I would like the Yankees chances. Tampa seems to be getting hot, and I would not want to face that rotation in a playoff series.

  • forensic

    Ugh, Hughes vs. Hernandez…

    http://www.baseball-reference......7270.shtml

    • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse
      • forensic

        I was at this one, their best job against him since 2008. Any way they can do it twice in one season?

        http://www.baseball-reference......5280.shtml

        • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

          I saw Felix dominate the Yankees in person last year: http://www.baseball-reference......7100.shtml

          They had him on the hook for the loss, and surprisingly Javy Vazquez was really strong in this game. But, can I just give a big “Fuck you” to Joba Chamberlain? A Grand Slam to Jose Lopez? WTF???
          And the Mariner fans were terrible after the game, but good for them they beat the Yankees in a game they thought was big.

        • Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat

          I was also at that game. I was about to murder someone when that game ended. That was also the game where 4 freaking fans ran on the field, and where Jeter became the Yankees stolen base leader. and I got autographs from Joba and Logan.

          • forensic

            I don’t know what was up with the fans that game, especially the one naked guy who did it.

            I did get a ball tossed to me by A-Rod during BP so that was awesome.

            I also remember some dumbass Yankee fan talking about how they thought the bullpen was supposed to be good, but wasn’t in this game because they put some guys on base, nevermind the 8 1/3 scoreless innings they threw until Mo blew it.

          • Brian S.

            Do half of the people on RAB live in Seattle?

            • forensic

              I’m in Vegas. We usually try to go to a series in LA each year but none of them worked with our schedule/situation this year, but that Seattle series did, and we had never been there before, so we went.

    • Karl Krawfid

      Big ballpark should help him.

      I hope.

      • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

        It helped the last time he was there: http://www.baseball-reference......7090.shtml

        I was at that game btw.

        • Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat

          Ha. I was at that game too…

          • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

            Awesome man! Where did you sit? I sat about 15 or so rows up between home plate and third base. And I remember throughout the entire day there was Cliff Lee to the Yankees rumors buzzing and it was this close to being completed. I remember hoping the deal would fall through because I didn’t want to lose Jesus.

            • Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat

              About halfway up between 3b and the LF foul pole. I just remember being thrilled that the Yankees didn’t have to face Lee haha. I actually wasn’t even aware until after that game that there were any rumors about Lee going to the Yanks.

              And then the next day, I had a $250 dollar 2nd row view of this game. Blegh…

              • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

                Hahaha, I was at that game as well. I usually go to see two Yankee games a year. That year we went to Seattle. We actually got tickets at the box office before the game for $75 and we were just a section back and more towards left field compared to the night before.

                But before the game, and this is a true story I swear, my dad and I were about to get onto the hotel shuttle to go back to the hotel after we had lunch at this bar. And while we were waiting I saw Nick Swisher and I ran up to him and got to shake his hand and take a picture with him. And when he left I told him to hit a homer off King Felix and he chuckled and said he’ll try. Well sure enough he did. And this year when the Yanks were in Wrigley, on my birthday no less, I got him to sign the picture although I had to sneak past the ushers to go down by the tarp down the first base line to get his autograph.

                Certainly two memories I’ll never forget the rest of my life, and most definitely one of the reasons why I try not to get too pissed at him when he makes mental errors (See the sac bunt in Fenway).

                • Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat

                  That is the epitome of awesome.

      • MikeD

        Big ballpark should help Hughes with his fly-ball tendencies, and oh yeah, the anemic Mariners’ offense should help him too.

        Now as for the Yankees solving King Felix….

  • Karl Krawfid

    Yankees and Jets win today!

    Giants and Mets fail :(

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

    Jose Valverde is a fucking clown. That is all.

    • Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat

      I can’t wait to see him blow a save in the playoffs.

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

        That’s how it’s setting up, he’s going to his first save in Game One of the ALDS. It’s going to be awesome.

        • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

          But as of now it would be against the Red Sox if his save chance occurs in the ALDS. So if that’s the case I hope he holds it off for a potential save chance against the Yankees in the ALCS.

          • JT

            I rather we win in lopsided fashion and not have to worry about mounting comebacks.

            • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

              True, but we’re just talking about the end result of wins.

    • forensic

      It’s like he’s completely oblivious to the fact that he put two guys on base, allowed a run, allowed the tying run into scoring position, and threw over 20 pitches, all against maybe the worst team in the league.

    • mbonzo

      I’d love to see Cervelli, Valverde, and Joba in a fist pumping competition. Also, Saltalamachia would be forced to watch it Clockwork Orange style. (SFW)

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

        Ha! He’ll be scarred for life and just the thought of of all the young excitable Latin players that are ruining the game will induce vomiting.

        • Kevin

          Indeed, I remember one game where the announcers (I think it was the Cleveland ones) that said he very seldom has an inning where he doesn’t allow one or two people on base.
          That’s a nice thought for the post season.

  • Rey22

    Ugh, is there any doubt Wade would be the 7th inning pitcher if Soriano didn’t have his ridiculous contract? I have zero confidence in Soriano, not looking forward to seeing him in a one run game in the playoffs…

    • mbonzo

      I’m not so sure he gets the nod in the 7th at this point. Depending on the offdays, it might be 2 innnings of Robertson.

    • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

      To be honest I still have confidence in Soriano, although the confidence is shrinking.

  • Dale Mohorcic

    A Boston collapse would be extra fantastic this year after all the pre-season fellating of that team.

    • Cy Pettitte

      TB gets Baltimore for 3 games, then the Sox for 4
      Boston gets the Jays for 2 and they face Morrow and Romero while starting Wake and Lackey before playing TB.

      Sox could be in 3rd place this time next week.

      • mbonzo

        Whats even more interesting to me, is that the Yankees can have a huge impact in who ends up taking the other playoff position. The Yankees play the Rays 7 more times and the Red Sox 3 more. It might come down to the Yankees putting out a D-Grade lineup on September 28th to let the Rays overtake the Red Sox, or vice-versa depending on the injuries to the Red Sox.

        • JT

          Let’s worry about making the playoff first. A lot can happen, especially with all the injuries we are facing.

          • dkidd

            agree

            17 games is an eternity

            always be closing

            • Dale Mohorcic

              Spoken like AA reformed mets fan

            • Woodrow Sweats

              coffee is for Mo… he’s got brass balls…

  • Ed

    I wonder if the game being in Anaheim had anything to do with Romine being put in. He’s from just outside of Anaheim and his brother is on the Angels, so there’s a good chance his friends and family were in attendance. It would be a really nice time to make his debut.

    If this becomes a trend, then yeah, I think it really does tell us all we need to know about Montero’s defense. But maybe it was just picking a nice moment for Romine to make his debut.

    • Midland TX

      Sounds like it might have played a factor:

      http://www.ocregister.com/spor.....omine.html

    • Dan

      I don’t think it was the only reason they brought him in, but it was a nice moment for the Romines… They showed after the game him and his brother hugging their parents. His mother wore a Angels Romine jersey and a Yankee hat.

  • http://fendersonandhampton.com Cuso

    Granderson has struck out more times in a season than Reggie ever did as a Yankee?

    THAT is amazing.

    • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

      This is off topic, but when I click on your handle (or whatever it’s called) how come it says that a Trojan Horse has been detected???

    • MikeD

      Why is THAT amazing? Reggie never even led the league in strikeouts when he was with the Yankees, although he did five or six times during his HOF career.

  • Monteroisdinero

    Would definitely prefer avoiding the Angels in the postseason. They have great and potentially dominant starters with the kind of stuff to give our power hitters fits. Their small ball approach is tough on our poor fielding pitchers, our old and afflicted third basemen and their running game will take advantage of our pitchers who don’t hold runners on well.

    See you in 2012 Sciosia-big whiner.

  • Monteroisdinero

    I guess Romine will catch AJ and Montero will DH. As for the other pitchers-I have a feeling we won’t see Montero catch much either and that is too bad. He is going to have to overcome the label.

    • http://twitter.com/JimIsBored JimIsBored (Jim S)

      The label was earned in his entire Minor League career. You act like he was unfairly branded.

      I have faith, I think he can be Posada-like behind the plate which is acceptable given his bat. But his poor defensive reviews are not unearned.

      • Monteroisdinero

        We’ll see how Romine handles AJ’s low curveballs. If he can handle those-he can handle anything. I have a feeling we won’t be seeing Cervelli anymore this season and Martin will be out a week at least.

    • Paul Proteus

      I said during the ballgame that Jesus shouldn’t catch again in this year’s pennant race and it’s good to see management agrees with me. The kid is a great hitter but he’s got a long way to go before it’s a competent MLB catcher.

      • Jorge

        They pulled him for a defensive replacement in the seventh? How is that them agreeing that he shouldn’t catch at all? He’ll probably be back out there tonight.

  • MUIDATS EEKNAY

    From the highlights, it sure as hell looked like Romine tried to throw to second but stopped up short when Hunter walked in front of him, and then he did throw once he was out of the way. Should’ve been obstruction.

    • Dan

      I think it would have been obstruction if he had tried to throw while Hunter walked in front of him, but because he held the ball and waited there is no obstruction call. I am not sure of the rule, but that is just my guess.

      • JohnnyC

        A heady veteran would have just hit Hunter with the throw…forcing the umpire to call obstruction. It takes quick thinking to do that.

      • CS Yankee

        Your correct. A throw would have been a big gamble, if he throws he might either hurt his hand or air mail it to CF while risking the HP-ump gives him the correct call.

        In the end he did what he should have done… A close game, on the road where calls may not work your way, having a runner on third. They showed him in the dugout being talked to by the Joe/etc., but he did the correct thing and I’m sure they all agreed on the non-throw in the end.

        • Dan

          Right, especially against a team like the Angels that definitely wouldn’t hesitate to try to send the runner from 3rd as soon as the catcher throws it. I am pretty sure the only reason Aybar didn’t break for home was that he wasn’t sure what the ruling was either.

  • jb

    Mike-

    Your comment about Phil Hughes and needing to do more than “show” a third pitch is right on the money. But this has been going on now for three years. What the hell is he working on and why arent they making him do it in the off season and spring training?