Apr
20

Yanks spoil Fenway celebration with homers, win

By

The Red Sox celebrated the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park with a great pregame ceremony on Friday afternoon, but the Yankees spoiled the day with a homerun-filled 6-2 win.

(Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Homers For Everyone

I gotta say, I’ve missed the #toomanyhomers narrative this season. The Yankees rely on the long ball too much … they’re never going to win hitting that many homers! That was fun last year, but we haven’t heard much of it this month. Clay Buchholz was nice enough to change all that on Friday.

Already staked to a one-zip lead, Nick Swisher got the homer brigade started by driving a 2-2 fastball to the opposite field and over the Green Monster in the second inning. It was no cheapie, he got all of that one. Two batters later, Eric Chavez laid into an 0-2 changeup and hooked it into the Boston bullpen for another solo shot and three-run lead. Two innings later, Chavez did it again. He led off the fourth with homer, this one on a full count cutter. He crushed this ball, hitting it out to dead center. Chavez matched his homer output from a year ago in his first two at-bats of this game.

The Yankees weren’t done though. Alex Rodriguez drove a ball over the monstah in the fifth inning, a leadoff shot on a first pitch cutter. One inning later, Russell Martin snapped an 0-for-16 skid by hitting his first homer of the season on a 1-0 fastball. After being robbed of a double by Jason Repko a few innings earlier, Russ got a little revenge with the dinger. He’s had a rough start to 2012 outside of all the walks, and his two hardest hit balls of the season came in this game. Hopefully he’s starting to come around.

The old saying is that solo homers don’t beat you, but I think that only applies if you give up one or two. Five solo homers will beat you as the Yankees showed today. Buchholz threw 103 pitches in the game but generated only three swings and misses. He had nearly twice as many homers allowed as swings and misses. Think about that.

15-0 in his last 19 regular season starts. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Standing Tall

The Yankees haven’t even gone three full turns through the rotation this early in the season, but Ivan Nova has consistently been their best pitcher. While the offense was busy playing Homerun Derby with Buchholz, Nova was doing his best to pitch around trouble and keep the Red Sox’s offense at bay. He had just one 1-2-3 inning in his six innings of work, but the only two runs he allowed came on a David Ortiz solo homer and on a play in which Swisher lost a fly ball in the sun.

The biggest moment of the game for me came in the bottom of the sixth, after Martin’s homer made it 6-2. Boston had the heart of order due up and Nova’s pitch count was starting to climb, so if they were going to mount a comeback, that was probably their best chance. Adrian Gonzalez struck out to open the frame, but Ortiz snuck a single through the shift before Nova hit Kevin Youkilis in an elbow. All of a sudden the tying run was on deck, but Ivan fed Jarrod Saltalamacchia three curveballs in a four-pitch encounter to get the inning-ending double play. Whenever he needed to make a pitch, he went to the breaking ball. At .086 WPA, the double play was actually the second biggest play of the game behind Swisher’s homer (.087 WPA).

The most impressive thing about Nova so far has been his command of the strike zone. He struck out five batters and walked zero in this game, giving him a 20/2 K/BB ratio in 19 IP so far this season. The strikeouts are coming at the expense of ground balls and it continues to show — five of the seven hits he allowed went for extra bases — but so far he’s been able to wiggle out of jams by making pitches when needed. Hopefully he finds a way to marry his typically high ground ball rate with his newfound strikeout ways in the future.

(Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The Bullpen of Doom

The starting pitching has been underwhelming and the offense has been inconsistent, but the Yankees’ relief corps has been dynamite all season long. Joe Girardi lifted Nova at 93 pitches after that sixth inning, which I thought was just a tad early since the bottom of the order was due up. Oh well. Cory Wade threw a scoreless seventh inning, David Robertson blew through the middle of the order in a scoreless eighth inning, and the duo of Cody Eppley and Mariano Rivera combined for a scoreless ninth.

The Eppley thing was weird. The Yankees were up four and bottom of the order was due up, but Girardi lifted him after Salty reached on a worm-burning ground ball single to open the inning. He said after the game that he wanted to see if he could essentially steal three outs with the recently recalled right-handed specialist, but he was only giving him one baserunner. He didn’t want to wait until things got really messy to bring in Mo, which makes sense. It was a weird sequence, but I’d like to think Eppley could navigate through Cody Ross, Nick Punto, and Mike Aviles with a four-run lead. Either way, the bullpen lowered their league-leading ERA to 1.71 with the three scoreless frames.

Leftovers

(Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Both teams got some help from the sun. Dustin Pedroia dropped the most routine of routine pop-ups in the very first inning, leading to a run when A-Rod singled in Derek Jeter two batters later. Swisher lost an Aviles line drive in the sun in the fifth, allowing a run to score. Stuff like that happens in these weirdly timed late-afternoon games, but at least it evened out and hurt both teams equally.

Every player in the lineup had at least one hit except for Mark Teixeira, who had five straight two-hit games coming into the day. He is forgiven. Swisher walked, doubled, and homered. Raul Ibanez singled off a lefty when I didn’t even thing he should have been batting. Swisher doubled to open the eighth, so Bobby Valentine brought in the left-handed Justin Thomas to face Ibanez and Chavez. That seemed like the perfect spot to pinch-hit with Andruw Jones, who would have faced the lefty and also improved the late-inning defense. Eh, whatever.

I don’t think there’s much more to add. It was just a rock solid, all-around win. There usually aren’t many of those between these two teams.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings

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


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next

Game two of this three-game set will be played tomorrow afternoon as part of a FOX broadcast. Freddy Garcia gets the ball against the southpaw Felix Doubront.

Categories : Game Stories

76 Comments»

  1. Gonzo says:

    The Nova vs. Noesi watch is heavily in favor of Nova tonight.

  2. pistol pete says:

    Nova’s now 3 and 0 and has won 15 straight regular season games. Imagine the Yankee brass didn’t have him penciled in as one of their five starters for sure until Pineda went down with a bad shoulder. He Freddy and Pineda were battling it out for the final two spots. However the Yankee brass had Phil Hughes penciled in at number 3 based on 19 spring training innings, unbelievable. The Yankee brass scare me with their pitching choices. I love this kid all he ever does is win.

    • Steve (different one) says:

      Yes, those “choices” you “imagined” ARE scary.

    • Plank says:

      Starting Nova last year and keeping him this year are choices the Yankees made.

      • pistol pete says:

        They also named Hughes the no 3 starter over Nova after Nova was 16 and 4 and won 12 straight.

        • sangreal says:

          I thought we were beyond using wins and losses as a metric on this site. Honestly, I think even the eye test is better and Nova was great in the second half last year, but only decent in the first. Pretty much any stat you choose to base your evaluation on is better than wins, however. I’m not justifying the free ride for Hughes, who didn’t do anything productive last year. Just saying that basing the decision on Wins would be crazy.

          • Havok9120 says:

            Not only had I thought we were beyond the Win stat, I thought we were beyond using the Opening Day rotation as some sort of barometer for success. And if we’re beyond those things because of more advanced statistics, why do we assume that the teams and their decision makers are not?

            I love how so many people prefer to assume the stupidity of their (and most other) front offices and coaching staff, as if we know better or have access to better information.

          • .zip file says:

            OK, how about this metric then? Since Nova came up in August, 2010, the Yankees are 27-10 in games he has started. Wins do matter; in fact, they are the only metric that matters. And Nova has done a very good job of pitching well enough to give his team a chance to win.

            • NYinTX says:

              And the Yankees also averaged 6.5 runs per game when he was a starter last year.

              http://www.baseball-reference......ng_starter::none

              They were 22-11 in games CC started when he received “only” 5.4 runs per game.

              http://www.baseball-reference......ng_starter::none

              By your measure, Nova is a better pitcher than CC.

              • .zip file says:

                A pitcher’s only job is to get hitters out and give his team a chance to win. Nova does his job very well. As does CC. No matter how you feel about the relative worth, or lack thereof, of a pitcher’s won loss record, the fact that he has 15 consecutive winning decisions to his credit is still an impressive accomplishment. All this from a guy who is supposed to be no more than a back of the rotation starter at best.

            • Sweet Dick Willie says:

              Wins do matter; in fact, they are the only metric that matters.

              Team wins matter; pitcher wins do not.

              • .zip file says:

                Correct, and that is exactly what I meant in that post. Pitcher wins had much more meaning years ago when they regularly completed their own games. The advent of the bullpen has cheapened the win stat and made it less useful, but pitchers with good to gaudy won loss records, especially those who can routinely repeat it year after year, generally are good pitchers. I agree there are much more useful stats to compare pitchers to other pitchers.

                • .zip file says:

                  Of course, Nova is only in his second full year, so we will see how he continues to develop, but I like what I’ve seen so far.

          • Dummies Playing With Balls (formerly Rainbow Connection) says:

            RAB only likes Wins if it means helping CC’s Cy chances.

  3. Tony says:

    Thats a great looking chart

  4. Plank says:

    Since the teams wanted to go for mock authenticity, they should have gone a little further. They should have banned breaking balls, thin handled bats, airplane travel, and non-white players.

  5. SevenAces says:

    I know this is small sample size, but Chavez is (might be inaccurate) 4 for 4 with 2 doubles and 2 HRs lifetime against Clay Buttholez.

    If I was Joe G, I’d pencil Chavez into the lineup every single time Yankees are up against Clay Buttholez.

    • Havok9120 says:

      I think once we get to seeing the normal proportion of RHP starters as opposed to the lefty-stacked schedule we’ve seen so far, Chavez will play more. And that’s probably a good thing.

  6. Dela G says:

    #homerunderby

  7. Manny's BanWagon says:

    So glad the Yankees could play their part ruining the 100th anniversary of that sewer in Boston.
    The Yankees throwback uniforms were hideous. I thought they made everyone look fat. If I don’t see them for another hundred years I’d be more than happy.

  8. Monterowasdinero says:

    Nova Neva Loses. Swish’s first row over the monster was no cheapie? I think Martin’s and ARod’s were the no cheapies.

    I mentioned Chavez’s power when I saw him take bp at Camden. The man is strong.

    • forensic says:

      I think there are very few things in baseball that are prettier than an A-Rod homerun swing. Just amazing everytime he gets it.

      • jjyank says:

        I would say Robbie’s home run swing is the prettiest, but that’s just my own bias talking. No doubt that A-Rod’s is also a thing of beauty. Maybe it’s the Yankee homer in me, but I’d say Cano and A-Rod’s home run swings are the two prettiest I’ve seen since Griffey Jr.

    • Countryclub says:

      The Swisher HR was an opposite field shot. Hard to call an opposite field homer over that ridiculous wall a cheapie.

      • Monterowasdinero says:

        Surely you jest. There are pop flys that would never see the warning track at Yankee Stadium and elsewhere that are HR’s at Fenway.

        • Countryclub says:

          Yup, I agree. I hate that joke of a park. But when you the ball the other way high enough to go over the wall, it’s not a cheap HR.

  9. forensic says:

    Great pregame ceremony? Granted, I haven’t watched most of it yet, but some of what I saw were two drunken schmucks on top of a dugout basically babbling incoherently. Basically the lowest class thing I’ve seen a baseball team in a long time. They might as well have set-up a trailer park on the infield to spruce it up a bit.

    • sangreal says:

      That Pedro and Millar scene on the dugout was embarrassing. Apparently they were trying for a world record for most people toasting at once, but they were too drunk to get that point across.

    • forensic says:

      Ok, watched the whole YES pregame and it’s still far from great. Obviously, not as terrible as the ending of it, which will sadly for them be the part I think most people remember. Blah might be the best word to describe the whole thing. The PA announcer couldn’t shut up at the beginning and then everyone comes out with no announcements? Just showing them on the one video board seemed pretty cheesy to me. While driving and listening to part of the game the Sox broadcaster called it a ‘magical’ ceremony. Sure, I’m sure it was nice for them to see some of the players out there, and he has to say that, but geez, tone down the absurd exaggerations a little bit.

      Hell, I thought the best part of the whole thing was John Williams and his Boston Pops brass section, though that’s a personal preference and all.

    • jjyank says:

      Agree completely. I couldn’t believe how poorly done that ceremony was. You think the Yankees would pull crap like that on such a historic event? No way. Boston is just so easy to hate.

  10. Dannyc says:

    That schmuck millar said today,” what we had u cant buy, the yankees have been trying for years”. Does that buffoon know the yankees won it all in 09, im so happy to see those shanty pricks had their celebration ruined today

    • Knoxvillain says:

      I like Millar. He’s a good commentator and much better than most.

    • sangreal says:

      I don’t know when he said that, but Millar was WASTED before the game.

    • gc says:

      Yeah, still obsessed with the Yankees after all these years. I love it. Even when celebrating one of their franchises greatest achievements, they can’t help themselves. They gotta bring up the Yankees, and Karim Garcia of all people. The guy is a nothing as far as Yankee history is concerned. I bet you they don’t even remember who they beat in the world series that year. It’s like they don’t even think about it as “we won the world series!” but rather “we beat the Yankees.” And that’s what happens when the Yankees are the standard by which all others measure their success. Let’s face it. For decades, Boston fans used to talk about a “curse.” They created that nonsense to ignore the fact that what was really going on was complete and utter organizational incompetence. And now that they have enjoyed some success in the past ten years or so, they don’t know how to deal with that either. The end of that ceremony was a farce. Even the fans were confused. I almost felt sorry for them.

  11. Pat D says:

    Great, weather forecast for Sunday is nothing but rain. Just what I want later this year: a Fenway doubleheader.

  12. sangreal says:

    I hope this is the last time we are forced to listen to the booth refer to the team as the Highlanders. No, the team was not officially referred to as the Yankees at that time, but they were never referred to as the Highlanders officially so that is a pointless distinction. Both were nicknames, and by 1912 when Fenway opened, Yankees was a common nickname, if not the most common nickname for the team. If you look at the papers for the Fenway Opener, you’ll find that the Boston Globe refers to them as the Highlanders, while the New York Times labels them them the Yankees. Then again, the Globe also referred to the Sox as the “Speedy Boys”. The Yankee nickname started around 1907

  13. qwerty says:

    A couple of more seasons like the one Austin is having and we could potentially trade him for an injury prone pitching prospect.

    • JohnC says:

      DUH! Look! Me made a funny!!!

    • jjyank says:

      …?? Pineda was not injury prone when we traded for him. For all we know, he still isn’t. Pitchers get hurt, it’s a fact of life. Pineda has had exactly 2 injury issues (including this one) and both minor ones, assuming this time is minor. Get over the Montero trade, it’s getting annoying.

  14. Havok9120 says:

    Has anyone else noticed that most of Girardi’s experimentation has been fairly well timed? We needed to test Logan and Rapada, so we did it against the O’s and, especially, Twins. We want to test Ibanez against lefties, and we’ve done it against poorly playing teams when we have a lead, etc.

    The only thing we haven’t done this with is Nunez. Well, and those early rest days in Tampa, but I maintain that those were reasonable even if you (like I) don’t necessarily agree with the move. I like that A) we’re testing the waters to see what we have instead of automatically assuming that outliers were aberrations or that recent stats paint the entire picture and B) that we’re doing the testing in spots where we have wiggle room.

    • jjyank says:

      I agree, I think Girardi doesn’t get enough credit around here. The first third of the season is for evaluation, right? So I have no problem with seeing what different players are capable of in certain situations.

  15. Clyde Barrow says:

    Nova’s a winner. He is going to break the consecutive win streak for the Yankees. Nova and CC are going to have to carry this pitching staff until Andy and Pineda arrive because we don’t have anyone else that can be consistent. Nova is our #2. He was robbed of ROY last year by Yankee management who sent him down to AAA for no reason. Nova > Hughes.

    • Countryclub says:

      Regardless of whether he should have been sent to AAA, he was told to work on his slider when he went down there. And to his credit, he did. And he’s a better pitcher because of it.

      • Steve (different one) says:

        Who cares if it made him better, it might have cost him the all important Rookie of the Year award!!!

    • Monterowasdinero says:

      But winning doesn’t matter. Don’t you read this site? Only stats count. Nova has been lucky to win all these games. A 30-8 won loss record over the last 2 years? Dude is just lucky!

      • Phil Hughes says says:

        IT’S TEH STRIKEOUTZZZ AND TEH SWINGING STRIKE PERCENTAGE!!!! HE CAN’T BE GOOD CUZ HE DOESN’T MISS ENOUGH BATZ!!!!

        Oh, he’s striking out 9.47 per 9 so far? Uh oh….

        • Strawman says:

          Hey guys, look at me!!

          • Strawman 2 says:

            Read this site long enough, you’ll see props given to Nova are couched with what he isn’t doing. First, he couldn’t get through 5 innings, then he doesn’t strike out enough hitters, now, he’s striking out hitters, but giving up less ground ball outs and he’s giving up extra base hits.

            • Strawman says:

              No one said he CAN’T miss more bats. They said, he’s currently not missing enough bats to continue this success.

              Now, he IS missing more bats. So, if he keeps it up, the opinions will change.

              Implying that people said he was incapable of missing more bats in the future is called a STRAWMAN.

              • Strawman 2 says:

                Actually, that is exactly what they were saying. They were saying that he never missed enough bats in the minors, so there was nothing to suggest he would miss bats in the majors. Therefore, as you stated, he’s currently not missing enough bats to continue this success. So everyone was waiting for the big fall in his performance. And to be fair, it may occur. But, Barring an injury, I’m not going to bet against it. His success is more than a small sample size. We saw Chien Ming Wang have sustained success with the Yankees missing less bats than Nova, until he blew out his ankle. So this narrative that missing bats predicts success, especially with a team like the Yankees, needs to stop. If they continue to develop guys with good arms with some command, control and moxie, they will succeed with the Yankees. (I’m looking with hope at the SSS that is David Phelps).

      • Strawman 2 says:

        Only sabermetric stats count.”
        FTFY.

  16. Bavarian Yankee says:

    Nova looks scary good. The curveball and slider are just nasty. If he can control his pitches this way the entire season than I have no doubt that he’ll win 15+ games and have an ERA under 4.

  17. Electric Nunez aka the shocker says:

    Loved it
    Like being invited to your worse enemys speical day and shitting in their punch bowl.
    Big stein would have loved today.

    • bpdelia says:

      yeah and if they lost Girardi would have been fired. ACtually he would have been fired in 2008. I’m kinda sick of the lionizing of Steinbrenner who was a complete and total prick by any measure you choose. The yankees were nearly ruined by the man. THose of us a litle older rememebr that the (basically constantly empty) stadium saved it’s most harsh booing for Steinbrenner…and Koch…everyone hated Koch.

      Steinbrenner was an asshole.

      Nova is looking pretty good though. I’m very much pining for PIneda now because my patience with Hughes is finalluy becoming completely exhausted. HE simply does not have enough stuff to survive with his piss poor command. Damn shame but…..you know.,..tinstaapp

      • .zip file says:

        I’ll always remember Dick Howser’s 1980 team winning 103 games, then getting swept by the Royals in the ALCS and him getting fired that off season. And Yogi Berra getting fired 16 games into the 1985 season. Those were perfect examples of the Steinbrenner era.

      • Electric Nunez aka the shocker says:

        Things george would have done.
        Halladay would be a yankee along with lee santana
        Girardi and cash both gone after 2008
        Hughes joba montero nova cano robertson nunez phelps warren kennedy, ajacks all traded.
        Pujols manny bay soriano berkman and any big name FA would be signed
        Donny baseball would be manager after being fire once already.
        Aj burnett would be playing in japan
        Pinella would be gm waiting for donny to be fired again.

        A remember george too.

        • Steve (different one) says:

          George was alive and running the ship when Manny signed in Boston. Why didn’t he sign him then?

          Basically you are saying the Yankees would have a $300M payroll right now. Seems unrealistic.

  18. Kevin says:

    Enough of Montero. Yes,we’ll miss his bat and there is no doubt it could have brought us runs in some of the games the past couple of weeks.
    While you need offense,pitching wins championships,period. The Texas Rangers are proof of that.

    • Monterowasdinero says:

      And we await Pineda’s contributions. I want him to succeed and am anxious for Campos to do the same. Doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy a prized farmhand’s success with another team.

  19. PinedaColada says:

    The rangers have a nice young core of pitching but they haven’t won shit so how are they proof of pitching winning championships?

    • JohnnyC says:

      Good catch.

    • Sweet Dick Willie says:

      I could be wrong, but I think he was referring to the fact that despite their offensive juggernaut, they’ve lost that past two WS to teams that out-pitched them.

    • Havok9120 says:

      I think you have that backwards. They got outpitched and lost despite the much better offense.

      Sure, he could’ve phrased it better, but if that was his point, it stands.

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