Yanks take rubber game from Tigers behind CC

Marshall strong in Trenton loss
Fan Confidence Poll: March 30th, 2012

The toughest early-season stretch the schedule is officially in the rear-view mirror, as the Yankees took the rubber game of their series with the Tigers by the score of 6-2.

(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

The Ace

The starting rotation has been a mess all season, but once every five days we know CC Sabathia is going to give the Yankees a ton of high-quality innings. On Sunday against the Tigers, he made just two mistakes — hanging sliders to Prince Fielder (solo homer) and Miguel Cabrera (run-scoring double) — in eight excellent innings, striking out eight and walking just two. The only other hits allowed were a first inning double and a sixth inning single, both by Brennan Boesch.

Sabathia dominated Detroit with essentially two pitches, shelving his changeup for most of the afternoon. Ninety-six of his 106 pitches were fastballs or sliders, the other eight were changeups and curveballs. He threw a first pitch strike to 18 of 30 batters and only went to six three-ball counts. Sabathia never threw more than 18 pitches in an inning and only thrice needed more than a dozen pitches in a single frame. The big left-hander was highly effective and highly efficient, continuing the trend he showed in the final innings against the Twins and last week against the Rangers. It was exactly the kind of outing the team needed.

All Of The Base Runners

It was pretty disheartening that the Yankees put 14 runners on base against Max Scherzer in his 4.2 innings — exactly half of the batters he faced — but only scored three runs. One of those runs came on a bases loaded walk by Curtis Granderson and another on an infield single by Alex Rodriguez, so they weren’t exactly tattooing him either. Through six innings they’d left 14 of 18 possible runners on base, including the bases loaded in the second, fifth, and sixth innings. Scherzer walked seven (!) and allowed seven hits, though six were singles and three didn’t even leave the infield. The game was uncomfortably close.

Snow-coned it ... until he dropped it.

Almost Amazing

The third run Scherzer allowed came on a Curtis Granderson solo homer into the Yankees’ bullpen, though it was nearly a great catch by Austin Jackson. He scaled the right-center field wall and had the ball snow-coned in his glove, but he just couldn’t hang on. Had he made the catch, it would have been a legit play of the year candidate. Here’s video. Pretty amazing … almost.

Break It Open

The Yankees did manage to break things open in the later innings, after Scherzer had been replaced by the rookie right-hander Luke Putkonen. A former rotation-mate of Adam Warren at North Carolina, Putkonen was making his big league debut in long relief and he managed to pitch out of two bases loaded situations in his first two innings. The bend but don’t break act last until the seventh inning, when Chris Stewart singled and Derek Jeter walked to open the frame before moving up on Granderson’s fly ball to the warning track.

The first insurance run came on an A-Rod ground out to third, though Stewart deserves credit for sliding under the tag at the plate after going on contact. The throw had him beat, but replays showed that his foot touched the base before Gerald Laird applied the tag. It was a pretty sweet slide. Robinson Cano plated Jeter with a sacrifice fly one batter later, then Andruw Jones snapped an 0-for-19 skid with a long homer to left in the eighth. It almost made the second deck.

Come back soon, Swish. (REUTERS/Adam Hunger)


Granderson should never bunt, especially not in the first inning. I don’t care if it was called from the bench or he did it on his own, that first inning sacrifice today was not a smart play. Scherzer walked the first batter he faced and is pretty homer prone, which plays right into Grandy’s strengths. Even bunting for a hit is a sketchy play in that spot.

David Robertson threw a scoreless ninth inning once Sabathia had done his thing, and 13 of his 14 pitches were strikes. That’s very un-David Robertson-like, but I approve. CC and Robertson combined to strike out ten and walk just two while their lineup drew nine walks against just five whiffs.

Everyone in the lineup reached base at least once except for Mark Teixeira. That includes Nick Swisher, who drew a walk before being taken out of the game with a low-grade hamstring strain. Jeter (two singles and two walks), Andruw (single, homer, walk), and Eric Chavez (two singles and walk) all reached base at least three times.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings

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

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next

The Yankees welcome the Orioles to the Bronx for a three-game set starting Monday night. Hiroki Kuroda gets the start against Jason Hammel. Check out RAB Tickets for some ticket deals.

Marshall strong in Trenton loss
Fan Confidence Poll: March 30th, 2012
  • Clyde Barrow

    CC did what an ace needs to do when the rest of his pitching staff struggles. He ate up innings and got us the W. Best performance of the year for the big man.

    I think we came out of this rough stretch in our schedule just fine. Even with poor pitching from the #4 and 5 starters we were able to go 12-9. Now we’re done with Texas, Boston and Detroit and get to feast on Baltimore, KC and Seattle.

    • mt

      I know we should feast against Baltimore, KC and Seattle but we will not unless starting pitching improves from the good one, bad one Kuroda(he is “due” for a bad one tomorrow), Hughes and fifth spot (was Garcia, it’s now Phelps) – also need to see what we do with our outfield defense with Swisher down. Ibanez is due to lose us a game out there.

      For example, lowly Seattle just swept 3 from Detroit at home so I am always wary of thse “should fatten up” projections.

      • CP

        How is Kuroda due for a bad one?

        • https://twitter.com/Mattpat11 Matt DiBari

          If you believe he’s alternating good and bad, I guess.

        • Mykey

          It is known as the “gambler’s fallacy.”

  • Charles R.

    Man! That Grandy HR that AJax almost caught was unreal! Athleticism!

  • OMG! Bagels!

    Baltimore is in first place. That needs to end. Soon.

    • http://twitter/TheRealJeromeS Jerome S.

      They’re gonna hit the floor faster than a caveman opening the door at a dinosaur disco.

      • jjyank

        Or Bartolo Colon at an all you can eat Chinese buffet.


        • Robinson Tilapia

          …..or Miguel Cabrera missing Prince Fielder calling him off on a pop-up…..


    • Robinson Tilapia

      Just as the sun will shine tomorrow, the Orioles will find themselves in last place soon enough.

  • Tom Q

    So, yeah, it was frustating to watch them leave all those men on base, especially with CC pitching so much better and having only that miniscule lead for show for it till quite late. The simplest thing was to scream RISPFail. But…

    I’m wondering if this was one of those “effectively wild” performances by Scherzer. He was obviously all over the place, walking a ton of people. But that worked against the Yanks ever getting solid wood on the ball…which is why even their early runs were largely a product of those infield dribblers. The only truly solidly hit ball while Scherzer was in there was Grandy’s home run, and that damn near got them nothing.

    I’m remembering a few other games like this in recent years — at least one against Baltimore — and while the baseline response is mostly to moan about how the team is failing in the clutch, it strikes me as at least possible that the same thing that put all those tantalizing runners on base also played a part in the failure to drive them home.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      That’s what I thought as well – he was all over the place, but never really giving them anything to hit. He may have been “effective” only as that goes, but his pitch count made him anything but.

      A lot of good pitchers off to rough starts.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    You never doubt the big man. He always takes a few starts to get there, but he gets there. 2 out of 3, with the team winning both games I predicted they would – I rarely get stuff like that right.

  • https://twitter.com/Mattpat11 Matt DiBari

    5-3 against the Sox, Rangers and Tigers aint so bad.

    • jjyank

      Not at all. If you had asked me before all those games if I would take 5-3 in that span, I’d have said hells yes. Considering our starting pitching so far, 12-9 overall is actually pretty game good.

      I fear for the rest of the league when everything clicks. Not really though, I don’t fear for them. I will simply laugh in the face of their unborn children while I dance upon the AL East standings and mock their own RISPFAIL and whatnot.

      That is all.

      • Betty Lizard

        You left out “and drink their tears.”

      • Brian S.

        If you told me we would go 5-3 I would say that you are bad at math because we were supposed to play nine games.

  • Duh Innings

    Here’s my assessment of the 2012 Yankees rotation:

    1/5th great (Sabathia)
    1/5th very good (Nova)
    1/5th ehhh (Kuroda)
    1/5th awPhil (Hughes)
    1/5th replaced after just four starts / a month of starts by a kid with 0 MLB starts (Garcia)

    Sabathia has to keep being great, Nova very good. Kuroda has to do better than ehhh, Phelps has to be much better than Garcia, Hughes has to outpitch Phelps to keep his job and possibly keep his job on the Yankees period as Pettitte is arriving soon, Pettite has to be #3 good for the Yanks to have any chance of going to the World Series, and Pineda has to have the mindframe that he can and will come back as the 173 strikeouts in 171 innings pitched force he was last year or as close to that as he can be.

    I can’t see the Yanks making a trade for a starting pitcher as they already made a trade for one and got burned by it in the worst possible way a team could get burned by a trade (Pineda out for year without throwing a single regular season pitch.) If they have to go outside the team, I would prefer it if they signed Roy Oswalt as Oswalt would cost only money.

    A word of caution re: the Yanks record. Yeah 12-9, not bad considering how bad the rotation after Sabathia and Nova has been (only two good starts both by Kuroda), but 8-8 / .500 outside of starts Sabathia makes mainly on Nova and the offense. That isn’t happening all year. CC will hit a wall for two starts least once maybe twice as he’s only human (or maybe he’s not LOL.)

    The Yanks really, REALLY need to 11-4 or 12-3 feast on the Royals (7 games), Orioles (5 games), and Mariners (3 games) who have only one ballbuster of a starting pitcher between them: King Felix. Hopefully the Yanks could counter him with CC or Nova if not CC.

    • Bunt Gardner

      You should write a blog for ESPN.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I think we all expect Kuroda to improve. Did he not see us singing his praises on here for months before he signed?

      They’ll do their due diligence on Oswalt, especially if Pettitte doesn’t look like he’s making it back all the way. I’d love to see one of Phelps/Mitchell never see AAA again.

      Every starting pitcher in the majors began as a kid with 0 MLB starts.

    • jjyank

      Well most teams will win more games for their ace than everyone else, I don’t see how that’s unsustainable. Especially because outside of the last couple of weeks, CC hasn’t been that great. He’s rounding into from now, but he started slow.

      Also, they got burned on the Pineda trade so now they’ll never trade for a pitcher again? I hope Cashman isn’t that dumb. True, I doubt we’ll see another move so high profile for awhile, but if Cashman feels that a pitcher on the trade market would be the best way to improve the team, he damn well better be able to pull the trigger.

      I don’t see how being 12-9 is at all a bad thing. It’s not ideal, but CC started slow, Kuroda has been trading good starts with bad starts, Hughes and Garcia have been pretty much unwatchable, and Nova has been pretty good. Gardner is on the DL, and the lineup outside of Jeter, Granderson, and Swisher has been slumping. That’s 2/3 of our lineup. And yet we’re 12-9 and only a game and a half out of first place. Like I said in a comment above somewhere, that’s pretty impressive, and should make you feel really good about the tear this team can go on when everything clicks.

      • OMG! Bagels!

        I think that trying to predict a team’s success in April is tough. Just 4 weeks ago none of us could have foreseen a hurt Pineda, a sucky Hughes and Garcia. And a returning Andy? None of us saw it. Freak accidents happen (CMW anyone?) and injuries happen. Cash makes good pickups and bad.

        There was no way to see a burn on the Pineda trade. People NOW say there was, but I maintain there was not. Cash was trying to throw $$$ at Andy who was acting like a girl at a high school dance in the 50s. (maybe yes, maybe no). At the time, the move was solid.

        Kuroda was lights out on Opening Day in the Bronx and that was a lot of pressure. I expect him to wax on and wax off. He’s a question mark, to be sure. Hopefully he plays to the pressure and does well.

        CC could have, but did not, opt out. He could have held out for more money. He could have caused some bad blood somewhere depending on how far it went. No one seems to remember the drama we were spared and I credit both CC and Cash for that.

        CC will be CC so long as he doesn’t break. But any team would go down if their ace goes down and no matter how great everyone else is, the Yanks probably would not be able to overcome no CC. So thanks for being here big man!

        Hughes is broken and I highly doubt he can be fixed.I hope I am wrong. I think comparisons to IPK are unfair and saying we got rid of the wrong one is unfair, as IPK couldn’t pitch in NY or the AL East as he does in Arizona.

        Nova has an impressive record but is still a question mark in my mind so far as longevity goes.

        And Andy, I trust, will be Andy. He locks in when he’s given up a hit or walked someone and I think he thrives under pressure and New York is pressure. No matter how long you do it here. And I think Andy will be fine.

        Gardner needs to come back as Gardner. I hope this injury has no effect on him.

        I expect Tex, Arod and Robbie to get going offensively. They’re all good on defense (save a Robbie mind melt now and again). Tex is an incredible first baseman and I think that when his hitting is cold, people forget that.

        The Yankees have what it takes every year. How far they go depends on a lot of things but we normally are better off talking about this the last week of August.

        I’m glad they’ve done this well this early with all the injuries and question marks and hot/cold performances.

        And that Jeter kid might be a keeper.

        • jjyank

          Right, that’s basically a long way of saying “The Yankees will be fine.”

          Also, I didn’t mean to imply that the Yanks got burned on the Pineda trade. It sucks that he got hurt, but I agreed with the move at the time, and hindsight can’t change that. Still, a lot of people will see it that way, and I hope Cashman is smarter than getting all gun-shy about trading for pitchers.

  • sangreal

    Andruw Jones snapped an 0-for-19 skid with a long homer to right in the eighth.

    Not that it matters, but Jones’ HR was to left

  • Kosmo

    12-9 after an 0-3 start not bad considering how awful the SP has been.

  • Dino Velvet

    With Swish out, do bring back Bobby Abreu?

    • hogsmog

      This team does not need a third borderline geriatric outfielder (though that’s a little hard on Jones, I suppose).

      • jjyank

        Well they do need another outfielder. I’m pretty ambivalent about it, but I don’t feel like Dewayne Wise or someone of his ilk is vastly superior to Abreu. On defense sure, but at the plate, I think it’s worth looking into Abreu.

        • Havok9120

          At this point, if someone else needs to come into play, I want a D first guy. 3 of our 4 current options (if Swish is out for most of this week) are bat-first, and only 1 of those can do more than fake it in the field. Gimme someone with a marginal-average bat and strong D.

          • jjyank

            I actually agree with you. I’d rather see Wise called up than sign Abreu, but I don’t think its a slam-dunk decision. Just suggesting the Yankees should (and I’m sure they will) do their due diligence.

            Get well soon, Gardner and Swish.

            • Cris Pengiucci

              I’d rather see Wise or another D first guy as well. Hate seeing Ibanez in the field every day, even if it’s only 2 weeks. However, if they intend to send Wise down when Swish returns, he’d have to clear waivers, as he’s out of options. I’m sure that will figure into their decision.

  • Kevin

    The pitching has to improve though. If it doesn’t,we will be out of this race for the division by the end of the summer

  • Kevin

    The pitching has to improve though. If it doesn’t,we will be out of this race for the division by the end of the summer. Our bullpen simply can’t cope with bailing out 3/5’s of our pithcing staff

    • Robinson Tilapia

      The Yankees will again field a solid rotation in 2012. Don’t ask me what the hell they’re going to do in 2013, though. :)

    • jjyank

      I’m pretty confident in saying that 3/5 of the rotation will not suck for the entire year. They’ll be fine. Once everyone settles in, CC-Kuroda-Nova-Phelps-Pettitte isn’t that bad at all.

      • YankeesJunkie

        It is not that far of a stretch to see CC, Nova, and Kuroda give the Yankees a lot of very solid innings combined. Once Pettitte, is back he can hopefully show same form he has his entire career and it appears that the fifth spot is going to be a crap shoot of pitchers since Pineda is out and Hughes will be relegated to the pen sooner rather than later. At least with Hughes in the pen where he has shown quite a bit of success the Yanks pen is pretty much set and slated to be the best in baseball. With outside of Soriano was home grown, or filled with minor pick ups (Wade, Rapada) or scrap in a trade (Logan). Hopefully Mitchell, Phelps, and Warren can show something at the majors because their time is now or possibly never.

  • Across the pond

    Anyone know why Granderson doesn’t seem to do the celebratory jump with the other outfielders anymore?

    At least it seems as though he’s the reason they’re not doing it.

  • Manny’s BanWagon

    Can’t wait for the fan confidence poll today.

    Should be interesting given the shit storm the Yankees have been through over the last week.

  • ADam

    Tex looks dreadful at the plate. He’s playing like hes 42 not 32, In another year or two we’re probably looking at 23 million dollars of absolute dead weight.

    • Bo Knows

      He’s had a ton of loud outs, more than a few have been opposite field. He doesn’t looks fine me, especially considering he’s never great in April (this might be one of his best Aprils actually) Also he still plays great defense.

      • Bo Knows

        *does look fine to me

  • CC

    I could not love Carsten Charles Sabathia anymore if I tried. He is just so big and so dominant you just can’t hit him. Guy absolutely holds this team together. It’s funny to think how absolutely screwed this team could be if they made the Johan trade and never signed CC. #CCTheBest