Swept: Yanks shut out by Rays


The last time the Yankees lost their first three games of the season, they went on to win 114 of their next 159 games. Clearly, they’re planning a repeat … right?

(J. Meric/Getty)

No Answer

The Yankees must be really sick of Tampa. They’ve been there since at least mid-February, and it sure looked like they wanted to get on the plane out of there as soon as possible Saturday afternoon. They had no answer for Jeremy Hellickson, who was throwing changeups when they were sitting fastball and fastballs when they were sitting changeup. Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, and Nick Swisher all doubled off the young right-hander, but that was the only hits they got. None of his four walks came back to hurt, and Hellickson retired 16 of the last 19 men he faced.

Their two best chances came in the fourth and sixth, when they had two men on base. Swisher struck out and Raul Ibanez flew out to end the first threat, then Swisher popped up the end the second. The Yankees never had a runner passed second base in any other inning. Just no answer, they were completely helpless. Gotta give Hellickson some credit, he did a great job. Pretty nice 25th birthday present to himself.


Ibanez is a terrible defensive outfielder. I know it you, you know it, the Yankees know it, and Ibanez knows it. And yet, there he was in right field on Saturday afternoon. He wasn’t just in right field, he was in right field with a fly ball pitcher on the mound and with a bunch of pull left-handed hitters in Tampa’s lineup. Naturally, the ball found him right away and it cost the Yankees a run.

I have no problem whatsoever giving Swisher a half-day off at DH — he did miss some time late in camp with a groin problem and played the last two games on turf — but you have arguably the greatest defensive outfielder in the history of baseball on the bench. I know Andruw Jones isn’t the gloveman he once was, but still. Use him instead of Ibanez in that spot, even if there is a right-hander on the mound. Like I said, fly ball pitcher with a lot of pull lefties in the lineup, it was only a matter of time before Ibanez’s defense came back to bite them.

[.gif via Mock Session]

St. Philip of Hughes

(J. Meric/Getty)

No Yankee threw the ball better than Phil Hughes this spring, but that doesn’t mean anything now. He’s got to show he can do the same thing multiple time through a big league batting order every five days, and he got his first chance to do it this afternoon. Phil’s biggest mistake was leaving a 2-2 fastball up to Carlos Pena, who smacked a solo homer to right in the third. One of these years the Yankees will come up with a decent scouting report against the guy. Otherwise he showed four pitches and was never really in a world of trouble.

I thought Girardi pulled Hughes at exactly the right time, with Matt Joyce coming to bat with men on first and second and two outs in the fifth. Joyce has smacked Hughes around pretty hard in his career — .400/.500/1.100 with two homers coming into this game (also took him deep this spring), and yes I know it’s a small sample — and he struggles badly against southpaws. Good time to get Boone Logan in there to keep it close, which is exactly what he did.

Hughes did look demonstrably better than he did at any point last year, generating a total of nine swings and misses — five on the four-seamer, two each on the cutter and changeup (via Brooks). Only three times in 14 starts last year did he get nine or more whiffs. Hughes also threw 15 changeups, including one set of back-to-back changeups to Pena in the first. He never did that in the past, regardless of year. Hughes was not efficient at all — 99 pitches to 21 total batters — but I didn’t think he pitched poorly or anything. Just needs to keep that pitch count down, which is much easier said than done.

(AP Photo/Brian Blanco)


Logan threw a 2-1 changeup to Ben Zobrist in the sixth inning, getting a swing and miss. Brooks says he threw exactly one changeup last season, but Boone said in camp he wanted to throw it a little more this year. Of course he gave up a homer to Jeff Keppinger — .077 ISO last year — two batters later. That’s the problem with carrying two lefty specialists, they get stuck having to face righties in games like this.

I think of Chris Stewart like a pitcher whenever he’s at the plate. The goal is just to see as many pitches as possible. The full count in his first at-bat was nice, but then he tried to bunt for a hit on the first pitch of his second at-bat before being lifted for a pinch-hitter. He also dropped like, five pitches behind the plate. None were costly in terms of runners advancing or anything, but still, I thought the guy was supposed to be a defensive stud. I guess that’s nitpicking.

I hope David Phelps goes into the Hall of Fame as a Yankee. Nice little debut for the right-hander, who threw a first-pitch curveball to Elliot Johnson with men on first and second and one out in the eighth. Can’t imagine many pitchers have thrown a curveball for a strike with their first ever big league pitch. Phelps whiffed Johnson then coaxed a ground ball out of Reid Brignac to escape the jam. It wasn’t exactly Mantle and Maris, but it was solid work out of the kid in his debut.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the more advanced stuff, and ESPN the updated standings.

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next

After nearly two months, it’s time for the Yankees to finally get out of Tampa. They’re headed up to Baltimore for a three-game set against the undefeated Orioles. It’ll be Ivan Nova against personal fave Brian Matusz at 7pm ET on Monday.

Categories : Game Stories


  1. Doug says:

    Looking forward to the confidence poll tomorrow.

  2. Kiko Jones says:

    I’ve got a feeling Ibañez is going to be a costly mistake…

    • Randi B says:

      I’m still optimistic.. the year is still early and we have a lot of baseball to play. There will be kinks the Yanks have to iron out but lets get through the first week of baseball before we make any judgements.

    • Plank says:

      Mistake – maybe, but I’ll give it a month or two
      Costly – impossible.

    • Roy says:

      I agree, but strike the word “costly”. This is what you get when you fill the DH position based on a $1M budget. Why is the DH position so unimportant?

      On that subject, Ibanez should not have played outfield in a domed stadium with artificial grass. Today, they are playing at Camden Yards, a much easier venue for a poor outfielder.

  3. Cuso says:

    First place O’s vs. last place Yanks…..

    Hooda thunkit?

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      Not the first time Baltimore’s looked great in the first week of April. It will change soon enough.

  4. Jimmy McNulty says:

    So, not signing Pena was a pretty dumb move huh guys?

    • Monterowasdinero says:

      Damon to the rescue! At least he may have an approach to Tampa’s pitching that works since he knows them all so well.

      I am going to Camden tomorrow. Hard to fathom we could be 0-4 and the O’s 4-0….

    • jjyank says:

      Yeah, I wanted to sign Pena. But it was pretty clear that the Yanks didn’t want to spend much on a DH.

    • Mike Axisa says:

      They never had a chance to sign him, he took less money to go to Tampa.

      • Jimmy McNulty says:

        Didn’t see that he took less, it was half tongue in cheek. I recall when Millar was a free agent, SG over at RLYW said he’d add like five wins just by not playing against the Yankees. At any rate shitty series shitty loss.

    • David K. says:

      Not signing Carlos Pena was the right move. He only hits the Yankees. Half of his 40 homers this year will be against NY.

  5. Now Batting says:

    I couldn’t catch the game, but were the Rays fouling off a lot of 2 strike pitches from Hughes? Seemed to be a problem in the past.

    • Monterowasdinero says:

      I only watched 2 innings and saw Pena’s HR but I liked what I saw of Phil. 74-92 mph with good offspeed stuff. He needs to have confidence to throw a 3-2 changeup to lefties. They are not looking for it.

  6. stuart a says:

    tex continues to get a pass. he is not remotely hitting like a big time middle of the order hitter. when does he start getting some heat? no adjustments, presses when it counts, pull crazy. same old same old and ditto for nicky boy…….

  7. jjyank says:

    Sigh. Not the way I wanted it to start, but I’m still going to play the optimist. Get those O’s, boys!

  8. Kevin says:

    So anyone still think we don’t need Montero’s bat? We looked plain OLD the past few games.

    • Monterowasdinero says:

      We have a 40 year old DH who can also play a position! Not to worry. Can’t wait for Ibanez to have to throw someone out at 2nd, 3rd or home.


      • jjyank says:

        We also have a 40 year old DH that can be benched or cut if he sucks without it being a big deal. We also have a 23 year old pitcher who could easily out WAR Montero over their respective careers if Montero is merely a DH.

        • mustang says:

          You also forgot we have 40 year old DH with 1 HR and 5 RBI’s in 3 games and is hitting the ball hard. Rather than a 23 year old with 0 HR and 1 RBI who is hitting “lightning in his bat” ground outs to SS.

          Small sample I know but if we are going to throw dirt let’s get dirty.

        • mustang says:

          Well he is almost admitting that Montero might just be a DH so I guess that progress. Being DH every game thus far on a team going nowhere might be a clue.

        • David K. says:

          Yeah and your 23 year old pitcher, has he thrown a pitch yet in a real game for us? When is that going to happen? I can’t wait to see that blazing 96 mph fastball (last I checked a flat 88 or 89 mph).

  9. Gonzo says:

    I think I’ll be at the Wednesday game in Yankee Stadium South.

  10. Dino Velvet says:


    Avila hits 2 run walk off in Detroit off Melancon.

  11. Mike Axisa says:

    As I said before: it could be worse. We could all be Red Sox fans.

  12. Cuso says:

    Yanks just need to get angry in Baltimore. They’ll score 40-45 runs in this series.

  13. Rey22 says:

    So considerate of the Red Sox to keep us company in the cellar right now.

  14. Dino Velvet says:

    Well, atleast one of my favorite teams won today, the [who ever is playing Boston].

    • jjyank says:

      Haha the T-Shirt I was wore today:

      Front – Picture of a baseball upper left part with the words “New York” under it.

      Back – “I root for two teams. The New York Yankees, and whoever beats Boston.”

  15. Cuso says:

    So did Bobby V use Just For Men last year on BBTN? Or have the last 3 days just turned him that ghost-white?

  16. Monterowasdinero says:

    Watching the Ibanez play in rf in Tampa makes me long to see that Golson throw again.

  17. Plank says:

    Bryan Mitchell is rocking it in Charleston right now. 6 Ks (5 swinging) through 5 innings, 49 pitches, 1 hit. Nice.

  18. 28 this year says:

    I think Aceves and Melancon are still on the Yankees payroll.

  19. Mike Myers says:

    Fire Torre! Right?

  20. Kiko Jones says:

    If it’s any consolation, a) this is how the ’98 season started; and b) the Sux are also 0-3, with their pitching giving up 26 runs in that span.

  21. First time lawng time says:

    Whatevs I’m already over it.

  22. Plank says:

    I’m impressed at how few Chicken Littles there are.

    Starting the season 0-3 isn’t good, but losing 3 close games to the Rays isn’t the end of the world.

    158-3 here we come.

  23. eephus_pitch says:

    The Yanks should have signed Carlos Peña instead of Ibañez. We all knew this already.

    • Sweet Dick Willie says:

      He was a free agent, and could sign with any team he wanted.

      So he chose to sign with the team that offered him a full-time job playing first base instead of the team that was looking for a platoon DH.

  24. Tyrone Sharpton says:

    NOT a bad first start for Hughes at all. Far from a disaster! Kid will be fine this year

  25. RetroRob says:

    I missed today’s game, but did catch about two innings on the radio while driving. I’ve caught about four innings in total of the first three games on the radio, and John Sterling has had four — yes four! — “it’s far, it’s deep” calls, and none of the four balls left the park.

    I hope if the Yankees do move to a new station, or acquire their own, that they fire him. He’s just too much to take.

  26. Wil Nieves Number 1 Fan says:

    But the O’Neill Theory… :(

  27. Tim says:

    I hardly think you could say the Ibanez play cost them a run. With a speedy Longoria on second base and two outs, the chances of throwing him out at the plate with even Swisher or Dickerson in RF are not good. The only way that play cost the Yankees a run would have been if you think another RF would have caught the ball on a fly. And given where it landed, I don’t think that is really likely. Don’t get me wrong – he’s a terrible outfielder. And that play looks horrendous because the ball went past him. But it didn’t cost the team a run.

  28. ND Mike says:


Leave a Reply

You may use <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> in your comment.

If this is your first time commenting on River Ave. Blues, please review the RAB Commenter Guidelines. Login for commenting features. Register for RAB.