Jeter & Hughes carry Yanks to win over Royals

Mustelier & Ortiz lead Triple-A team to win
Catching up with A.J. Burnett

I’m not going to call this the biggest win of the season, but the Yankees got a much-needed win against the Royals on Tuesday night. It snapped a three-game losing skid and was just their second win in the last eight games.

Tie game. (REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)

And The Yankees Take The Lead

It had been 15 innings since the Yankees held a lead prior to the fifth inning of this game. Robinson Cano cut Kansas City’s two-run lead in half with a solo homer in the fourth before the club found itself in a dreaded bases loaded, nobody out situation in the fifth. Seriously, they’ve been brutal in those spots over the last few games. Dewayne Wise‘s gorgeous bunt single loaded the bases after Mark Teixeira‘s hustle double (scored a single and an error) and a ball grazed Russell Martin‘s jersey. I’m pretty sure Wise was attempted to sacrifice, but it was just perfect. Well done, Dewayne.

The Yankees were roughly zero for their last 10,259 with runners in scoring position (actually 0-for-15) before Derek Jeter dunked a single into shallow right to tie the game. Seriously, between Wise’s bunt and Jeter’s single, it felt like a minor miracle. Curtis Granderson plated the go-ahead and eventual game-winning run with a ground out one batter later, but the Yankees failed to tack-on because Alex Rodriguez and Raul Ibanez struck out following an intentional walk to Cano. Lineup protection means little over the course of 162 games but it can have a big impact in one individual game, and that intentional walk was a prime example.

(REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)

Another Strong Start

You gotta hand it to Phil Hughes, he’s really turned his season around following that brutal start. The two runs he allowed came on a double into the right field corner by Humberto Quintero — he homered off Phil to end his day in Kansas City two weeks ago — and a solo homer by Jeff Francoeur. Hughes struck out seven and walk two in his six innings, escaping a bases loaded jam in the sixth to end his night. He even got more ground ball outs (six) than fly ball outs (five).

One thing I noticed was that Phil went with his full arsenal right out of the chute. Usually a pitcher will be fastball-heavy the first time through the order, incorporate some breaking balls next time through, then break out the changeup the third time through the order, but Hughes used all three pitches in the very first at-bat of the game by Jarrod Dyson. Given all the left-handed hitters in the Royals’ lineup, it was probably a good idea. It worked, obviously. Bravo kid, keep proving me wrong.

Poor Boone. (Nick Laham/Getty Images)

The Eighth

The eighth inning seems to have taken on a mind of its own in recent years, but on Tuesday we saw the Yankees preserve a one-run lead using three pitchers to get three outs, two of whom were plucked off the scrap heap in the last 12 months. Boone Logan started the inning by allowing an infield single to Eric Hosmer, in part because he didn’t cover first. Looking at the replay, I’m not sure he would have beat him to the bag anyway. Hosmer was hustling out of the box and Logan falls off to the third base side as a lefty.

Anyway, the mixing and matching was underway. Joe Girardi called for Cody Eppley to face Billy Butler because the side-arming righty is a ground ball machine* and Butler leads the big leagues in double play balls over the last five seasons (97). So, naturally, Butler fly out to right field. Go figure. On came Clay Rapada to face Mike Moustakas, who lined into a double play at first base. Chances are that ball would have gone foul had Mark Teixeira not snagged it out of the air, but the double play is better. Considering that the middle of the order batted, those three outs were the three biggest of the game as far as I’m concerned. Big ups to Eppley and Rapada, they got those three outs on four total pitches.

* Seriously, Eppley had an 82% ground ball rate in Triple-A this season and is well over 60% in his minor league career. He’s the go-to ground ball guy whenever there’s a right-hander at the plate.

Leftovers

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Rafael Soriano slammed the door in the ninth, but not before allowing a ground rule double to Alex Gordon. We’re still waiting on that first 1-2-3 inning of the season. Alcides Escobar nearly tied the game on an infield single, but A-Rod showed off his arm to make the throw across the diamond just in time for the 27th out. This one really went down to the wire. Cory Wade (six pitches, two ground outs) and Logan (a strikeout to end the inning) did fine work in the seventh.

Not for nothing, but three runs in 6.2 innings against Luke Hochevar kinda stinks. That’s a guy the Yankees should pound into submission when things are going right, but they obviously aren’t at the moment. Jeter’s game-tying single was their final hit of the night and last eleven men they sent to the plate made outs. A win is a win, but sheesh. You gotta start somewhere though, and this game was definitely a positive step forward.

No one in the lineup had multiple hits and only Cano (homer and the intentional walk) and Martin (walk and hit-by-pitch) reached base twice. Jeter, A-Rod, Ibanez, Teixeira, and Wise all have some kind of single. Alex also stole a base, his team-leading fifth of the season. Well, technically Eduardo Nunez leads the club with six steals, but he’s in Triple-A (and on the DL).

The homer by Francoeur means Hughes has allowed at least one dinger in all nine starts this season, the longest season-opening homer-per-start streak since Runelvys Hernandez in 2006. It’s the longest streak by a Yankee since Jack McDowell allowed a homer in ten straight in 1995. That’s just who Phil is, he’s going to give up a bunch of long balls and we just have to hope they’re solo shots.

Raul Ibanez was left in to face a left-handed pitcher in the late innings yet again. I understand that he’s been crushing the ball this year, but that doesn’t change the fact that he can’t hit lefties. Andruw Jones has to be given a chance to run into one in that spot, a one-run lead with two outs in the eighth.

The win coupled with the Red Sox’s loss to the Orioles — big ups to former Yankee Wilson Betemit, he’s still fightin’ the good fight by hitting a big two-run homer late in that game — means the Yankees are no longer in last place. Hooray for that.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings

Finally, one where the green line ends up on the good side of the graph. MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some additional statistics, and ESPN the updated standings.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next

Ready for some bad news? The Royals are likely to call up 22-year-old left-hander Will Smith to start tomorrow instead of Luis Mendoza. It will be Smith’s big league debut. They might as well be facing Cliff Lee. Ivan Nova Andy Pettitte will be on the bump for New York. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch the game before the Yankees head to the West Coast as part of a nine-game road trip later this week.

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Mustelier & Ortiz lead Triple-A team to win
Catching up with A.J. Burnett
  • http://fendersonandhampton.com Cuso

    I know it’s easy to point to the pre-game BP disaster in KC as the turning point for when things began to unravel.

    I kinda feel like the rainout where the Sox got a break from playing the 3rd game in the series as when our momentum was voodooed.

    Much needed win tonight. Need another before the off day for it to mean something, though.

  • Craig

    Phil Hughes’ last 4 starts: 2.86. ERA, 23 Ks in 25.1 IP. Too soon to say the first half 2010 Phil Hughes is back?

    • http://fendersonandhampton.com Cuso

      Yes. Way too soon.

    • Havok9120

      Way, way, way, way, way too soon.

      That was a different starting pitcher than he’s been at almost any other point in his career, major or minor leagues. We wait a looooong time before we declare that that’s who he is right now.

    • radnom

      How about we wait until he has at least one start this season without giving up a jack?

      • FIPster Doofus

        That’ll be hard to do with his ridiculous FB rate. He got 50% grounders against Kansas City, though, so hopefully it’s a sign of things to come.

      • Jorge Brosada

        He leaves too many pitches over the meat of the plate… his biggest problem by far, not his 3rd pitch… IMO

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Hughes is going to be HR-prone no matter what. Not the best measuring stick for him.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

      Too soon, but it’s been a promising few weeks.

  • http://none Ton Lon ton

    Hughes = cy young?

  • Brian S.

    Pettitte is going tomorrow. And I’m expecting an encore performance.

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

    The game ended and the Yankees were celebrating on the field.

    I’m confused and frightened.

    • Pat D

      Well…you see, son, when a group of men known as a baseball team come together and outscore the other team…

      • jjyank

        …and they happen to pop bottles of champagne…

  • jjyank

    Will Smith is only 22? He must have been really young when he made the first Men In Black!

    Buh-dum-bum-psshhhhh.

  • Mainer

    Hey Mike, isn’t AP going tomorrow?

  • http://thecarsboneblog.tumblr.com Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

    So…watching the encore…I’m happy we won the game, and even though I know we won I got upset when Alex and Voldy struck out back to back with the bases loaded.

    • Pat D

      The secret to not letting that upset you is to just be upset all the time.

      Works for me. When it comes to the Yankees, that is. I mean, the rest of things in life, it’s a bit of a hindrance.

      • http://thecarsboneblog.tumblr.com Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

        So your out look on watching the Yankees is a lot like Bruce Banner? Just be angry all the time?

        • Pat D

          No, you don’t have to be angry. Just upset.

          And not just when watching the Yankees. All the time. That way there’s no difference between watching the Yankees and not watching the Yankees.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            Just act as if they were building a nursing home in your hood, but it was really a titty club for convicted criminals.

            • Pat D

              Ha!

  • jjyank

    SSS I know, but I was all about the “Hughes to the pen” stuff after his disastrous 2011 and start of 2012. But He’s looked good, despite having his last few starts against less-than-stellar offenses. His curveball has looked significantly better of late, and has done a much better job of keeping it down than early in the season from what I can tell. Here’s to hoping he keeps this up.

    • Bo Knows

      Kansas can hit, they don’t pitch for shit, but they can swing the lumber

      • http://thecarsboneblog.tumblr.com Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

        Yeah, Moose Tacos and Billy the Butler are definitely above average, the rest of the line up is good too.

  • Tony

    I’m starting to trust Phil Hughes as a starter again. I’m just worried he’s going to revert back to 2011 Phil Hughes at some point. Please prove me wrong Phil!

    • Jesse

      I feel the same way. I defended him through and through up until his disaster start against the Rangers, but since then he’s pitched well.

  • pat

    Russel Martin flashes three fingers to the pither on the mound.

    Phil accidentally throws a changeup.

    LHB harmlessly flails at pitch, striking out.

    “OHHHHHHH so that’s what the three finger sign thing means”

    /fin

  • Bartolo’s Colon

    ugh…even our wins are depressing these days.

    i saw the score in the bottom of the eighth after walking off a plane and was convinced soriano was going to blow it. the next time i checked my phone he gave up a double. i was convinced, once again, i was right. glad i wasn’t. sounded like ardo had a nice throw to end the game??

    • http://thecarsboneblog.tumblr.com Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

      How can you be depressed with this win? Phil Phucking Hughes pitched very well, Cano went yard, and Derek Jeter got a bases loaded hit!!!

      • Jesse

        Love me some Phil Phuckin’ Hughes.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

      How can you be depressed about a game that you didn’t get to watch? And yes, Arods throw to end it was a nice one.

  • Hummingbird S.

    it wasn’t pretty but they got it done, and that’s all that matters. Also, it was great to see Phil doing good again, hopefully this streak is the sign of a bright future.

  • http://thecarsboneblog.tumblr.com Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

    Question, Does MFIKY ever look happy?

  • http://thecarsboneblog.tumblr.com Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

    Question, Does MFIKY ever look happy?

  • Kevin

    Yes,we had RISP fails again in this game. But in this game,Hughes and the bullpen did what CC didn’t too in Sunday’s game adn that was to protect the lead given to them,no matter how small it was.

  • Who’s Your Daddy
  • Scout

    Strictly speaking, the streak of no hits with runners in scoring position ended with Wise’s bunt single, not Jeter’s hit.

  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    Ugliest victory I have ever witnessed. Hope this is the beginning of a change in fortunes.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      We’ve seen uglier than that, Jose. MUCH uglier.

      • jjyank

        This. If that was the ugliest win ever, then the Yankees and we as fans lived extremely charmed baseball lives.

        RISPFAIL sucks, but Hughes pitched well and the bullpen ranged from decent to good. I’ll take it.

    • JohnnyC

      How’s it hanging in Mexico, Jose?

  • LarryM.,Fl.

    A win is a win. I will not give it back. But the Yanks looked far from the team that we know and love.

    Mike your characterized the game quite well except for the forgiveness of Logan not covering the bag. Logan’s mistake could have cost the Yankees the game. He finishes his pitch in a very poor fielding position and disregarded that the ball was hit to the left side. He may have beat the runner to first if he reacted properly. This just another case of a player making a bone head mistake. As Swisher did the other day trying to stretch a double into a triple down by 4 runs at the time.

    As far as Wise is concerned. Having him bunt was a good call for a team that is struggling to score runs and a guy who can’t hit his weight. I have watched him strike out at least 4 times in his last two games. Making solid contact once and the bunt single for the one hit. Girardi is in a tough spot and has to use him. I understand.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      It didn’t matter in the end. Point taken, but it’s safe to move on.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Things I liked:

    They’re trying to do something. They get it. There were moments of urgency with guys trying to get that extra base, etc. just to get themselves into a better position. It wasn’t a great offensive performance, but I saw a team last night that seemed to be a lot more in touch with how bad they’ve been offensively recently.

    Phil the Phucking Phoenix continues to rise from the giant vat of shit he’d been in to start the season. I’m not comparing anything to 2010, etc., but he looks like a pitcher I was convinced no longer existed….no, not Hideki Irabu (tip your waitress. thanks.)

    What I Didn’t Like:

    We still have a long way to go here. They could have done a ton more against Hochevar. They didn’t. They’re still pressing. Two K’s with one out and the bases loaded is bad, bad, bad.

    A win is a win. You take it. The Andy Pettitte Reunion Tour continues tonight and I feel good.

    • jjyank

      Good call on the things you like, I forgot about Tex’s hustle double and A-Rod’s steal. I appreciate that the players know that they need to make things happen to break out of this slump, and hopefully things like that will shut up the “they don’t care” people.

      The certainly could/should have done better against Hochevar, but like you said yourself in the game thread about Brian Matusz, first round picks like Matusz and Hochevar are going to flash that potential every once in awhile, whether they eventually put it all together or not. I’ll give them a pass on that one for now, but they need to start hammering other pitchers pretty soon. I hope Will Smith is too busy thinking about his day job tonight.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        What’s the Will Smith thing? I’m missing this joke.

        I actually would love to see every high-potential guy like Matusz, Hochevar, Hughes, etc., make it. These guys have talent. I’d hate to see that kind of talent selling insurance by their mid-30’s.

        you know, Brian Bullington WAS extremely highly regarded. Poor dead horse.

        • jjyank

          Will Smith, like the actor? The Men In Black guy? MIB 3 is coming out soon and they’ve been running commercials like crazy about it.

  • Bavarian Yankee

    finally a W.

    MLB should ask Hughes if he wants to pitch in the HR Derby, that HR Derby would probably never end :D

  • NYYROC

    Which is more rare, a photo of sasquatch or a photo of Soriano smiling?

    • Robinson Tilapia

      The moment I saw that he doesn’t have a face other than “aw, fuck” was the moment I knew I didn’t like him. It’s not even the contract. Honest. Dude always looks like he wants his mama.

  • DJ4K&Monterowasdinero

    AGon in rf last night and Carlos Pena bats leadoff for the Rays who pound out 8 runs on 14 hits with the crappiest of lineups while we struggle with a much better lineup. Time for this AL east ship to start turning….

    • j6takish

      Joe Maddon operates under the seldomly used…but probably correct school of thought that players usually don’t care where they bat in the lineup and you can shuffle them around with little to no objection. Pena had good numbers against Hutchinson, and Pena probably deserved the extra AB that comes with batting leadoff