Yanks, Hughes right the ship in win over Royals

Tampa kinda plays two, loses in 18 innings
Fan Confidence Poll: May 7th, 2012

The forecast said they wouldn’t get the game in, and frankly a postponement didn’t sound all that bad given how the Yankees have been playing. Instead, they played all nine innings and the team put together their most satisfying win in what feels like an eternity.

(Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

Hughes Da Man

It’s been a very rough season for Phil Hughes and I’ve been pretty hard on him over the last few weeks, but he had his best start of the season (by far) against the Royals on Sunday. Ironically enough, it took him all of three batters to allow a run in the first thanks to an Alex Gordon walk and a Billy Butler double into the gap. Hughes settled down in a big way after that, retiring 12 of the next 14 men he faced before Kansas City pushed another run across in the fifth. His 115th and final pitch was a solo homer by Humberto Quintero with two outs in the seventh, though that doesn’t bother me at all considering the context of the game — late innings, Yanks up big, challenging a bad hitter, yadda yadda yadda.

Pitch efficiency has been a huge problem for Hughes this year, but he threw 15 pitches or fewer in four of his seven-ish innings and never more than 21 pitches in an inning. The PitchFX gun is notoriously hot in Kansas City, but it’s very encouraging that Phil was able to maintain his velocity through his start (pitch-by-pitch plot). Again, I wouldn’t read much into the exact readings — consistently 94-95– because of the PitchFX issues, just that he held it throughout. Hughes struck out seven and walked just one, generating a dozen swings and misses including eight on the fastball. That’s his most whiffs in a single start since August of 2010. It’s going to take more than one good start to show he’s the right guy for one of the club’s five rotation spots, but Phil took care of business against the Royals and I hope he can build on it going forward.

The Offense Returns

(Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

There’s nothing more frustrating than watching a team underachieve, but the Yankees’ lineup finally came back to life on Sunday. Coincidentally — or maybe not — Nick Swisher played in his first game since coming down with a low-grade hamstring strain last weekend. He hit a solo homer to cap off a six-run third inning, and inning that included a Robinson Cano grand slam. After swinging through a 2-0 changeup from Luke Hochevar, Robbie sat on the pitch in the 2-1 count and hit it just short of the fountains in right. That’s the guy we’ve been looking for.

Raul Ibanez started the scoring with an RBI single in the second and Alex Rodriguez ended it with a three-run homer in the eighth. He’s quietly on pace for 29 homers this year. Every player in the starting lineup had a hit except for Mark Teixeira (two walks instead) and Russell Martin (didn’t reach base). Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, A-Rod, Cano, and Ibanez all had two hits each to highlight a total team effort. The ten runs equaled the Yankees’ output from the previous four games combined and was just their third time scoring double-digits this season — the first time since the big comeback in Fenway Park. It’s been a while, so enjoy it.

Robbie finally has a reason to smile. (Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

Leftovers

Granderson’s third inning single to right was his 1,000th career hit, so congrats to him. Jeter went 2-for-3 with a double and two walks, raising his season line to .397/.439/.595. Teixeira’s walks were his first walks in 75 plate appearances and first unintentional walks in 83 plate appearances. That dates back to the home-opener series against the Angels. Crazy. He’s in a 7-for-49 rut (.143) but did hit a few balls on the screws in this game, including one ball to the warning track that I thought was gone off the bat.

The bullpen — Boone Logan (one out), Rafael Soriano (three outs), and Cory Wade (three outs) — weren’t perfect but didn’t have to be with a huge lead. Wade allowed the only run, though it was unearned. It was the his first run he allowed since the series with the Twins. Losing Mariano Rivera is going to hurt, but the entire cast has been consistently strong this year.

We can smile about this because the run didn’t score, but how about Irving Falu? Kid has spent nine years in the minors — all with the Royals — and he tripled in his first big league at-bat off Hughes. YES showed his family in the standings cheering, it was pretty awesome. Hard not to love stories like that.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings

Been entirely too long since we’ve seen a WPA graph like this. MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some more stats, and ESPN the updated standings.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next

The Yankees are off on Monday, then will open a three-game set against the Rays at home in the Bronx. I won’t call it a big series this early in the season, but it’s definitely more meaningful than your typical early-May series. Ivan Nova and Jamie Shields get the party started on Tuesday night. RAB Tickets has the latest deals on tickets if you want to attend.

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Tampa kinda plays two, loses in 18 innings
Fan Confidence Poll: May 7th, 2012
  • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com Mike E

    Just to clarify, pitchf/x doesn’t work on gun readings, it measures the velocity frame by frame. Indeed, it appears that calibration errors have results in about 3 mph increased velocity this year. So sitting at 94-95, is really 91-92.

    • CP

      What do you base the 3mph difference on?

      I definitely noticed that the numbers they were saying from the scoreboard were always about 2mph faster than the speed pitch f/x was reporting.

      • Plank

        I don’t know specifically how the technology in question works, but I know pitch speed can be measured leaving the pitchers hand (fastest), crossing the plate (slowest), or the average velocity (in between). Maybe that accounts for the different readings.

      • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com Mike E

        Looking at the pitchf/x velocity numbers at Kauffman compared to away stadiums for Royals pitchers you can see a difference of around 3 mph.

        In Danny Duffy’s start at Oakland he was averaging 93.1 mph on his fastball, in his 3 starts at Kauffman he’s averaging 95.9.

        Luke Hochevar is averaging around 91 mph on the road, meanwhile today he was averaging 93.7 mph.

        As I mentioned above, the way pitchf/x calculates velocity is based on math and not a gun, so it’s possible that a poorly calibrated camera could measure velocity differently based on different breaks of pitches. So just because one pitcher has a 3 mph difference, doesn’t mean they all will. For the most part, it seems the difference is pretty standard.

        • CP

          In Hughes last start he averaged 92.95 mph on his 4 seam fastball (95.3 max). Today he averaged 93.34 and maxed out at 95.6. So I’m not sure there is that big a difference. If I cared about the Royals, this would be interesting to watch as pitchers get more home and road starts.

          Also, I don’t think the break on the pitch Would have much impact since the reported velocity is the release velocity. The break shouldn’t impact the imaging much until it get farther in its flight.

          • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com Mike E

            I believe start velocity is taken 50 feet from homeplate, so there is some break taken into account, but even more so is the release point.

            And in 2012 thus far, he’s averaging 92.0 mph on his four-seam. The 93.34 is actually inaccurate, as gameday classified one changeup and 2 cutters as four-seams. When you subtract the two you get something close to 93.6. Not a huge difference, but I still stand on the fact that Hughes’ velocity was likely average today.

        • Voice of Reason

          Based on Yankee velocities this series, it’s about a 2 mph difference or less. Almost certainly no more than that unless the entire staff saved its softest throwing for the KC. Everyone knows their gun is fast at this point and people are starting to go overboard.

    • Ghost of Mariano Rivera

      It can’t really be that “hot” — otherwise Hughes was throwing his curveball as slow as 70 by the end of his outing. That doesn’t seem right at all.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Even I’d given up on Hughes the starter, and he’s proven me wrong these pasts two starts. I look forward to him proving me wrong again. Lord knows this team could use effective starters.

    Let’s see if some tough competition gets this team to play as we know it can.

    • Knoxvillain

      I wouldn’t count the last two starts, but tonight’s he did great. His last start was good for him, but it still sucked overall.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        It was a clear sign of progress from a guy who was throwing too many mistake pitches AND just plain too many pitches. The mistakes were still there that start, but he managed to pitch into the sixth, which was starting to seem impossible for him to do.

        I’m tempering my optimism as best I can here.

    • Jesse

      He is facing the Mariners the next time out, so don’t be too surprised if he proves you (and the rest of everyone else, including myself) wrong again.

      • jsbrendog

        cause the mariners are an offensive juggernaut on pasce for 1000 runs!!

  • Esteban

    Is Teixeira still a good hitter?

    Also Yankees have scored the 3rd most runs in the AL. I know, it’s early, but it’s funny that even with their struggles the Yankees offense has been pretty good.

    • Knoxvillain

      He’s a very good hitter. Even though he’s probably going to hit .240 for the rest of his career, he still will hit 35 home runs and 115 RBIs. It’s just frustrating because he’s better than a .240 hitter.

      • Esteban

        RBIs, I’m not really going to worry about because most major leaguers hitting in the 5th spot of the Yankees order would be able to accumulate a large number of RBIs. His wRC+ has been dropping and I don’t think he’s an elite hitter anymore. I hope he can get to ‘good’ this season, because this start has been putrid.

        • Knoxvillain

          He usually starts slow, but this is pretty damn bad. I expect a .240/35/110 with a .345 OBP. It sucks, but I’m not going to complain like a lot of the other people do.

          • Esteban

            I suppose I could mention the low BABIP and weirdly his k% is down so far this year (as is his BB%). So TIME WILL TELL if Teixeira can get back to his (diminished) standards.

            • JobaWockeeZ

              The low BABIP has been the excuse for 2 years and going now. His BABIP has fell every year since 2007. In a few years we’re going to get Adam Dunn with less power.

              • jsbrendog

                he’s hit 39 hr 2 of the last 3 yrs….dunn hasn’t hit 39 since 2008 flapjack

            • V

              BABIP is expected to be very low on popups and soft grounders (for a slow runner).

      • http://riveravenueblues.com marty

        240 is is a VERY good hitter?? was dave kingman a VERY good hitter?

    • JoeyA

      IMO, he’s capable.

      Truly depends on if he rights the ship with his LH swing.

      He’s still an elite RH hitter IMO, but with there being more RHSP than LHSP, its hard to be an all-around good-great hitter with a putrid uppercut swing.

      But right now, he’s a good hitter, carried mainly by his power. Great, stretching it. Elite, not even close and for $180M, he should be, especially @ 32.

    • DM

      Guys without a trigger, who don’t stride and drop their back leg (like Kinsler too) have to be near perfect to hit for high average. A hair loss of bat speed — or the difference between being 28 and 32 yrs old — can be a problem. He gets beaten to the spot a lot, although not by much. I’ve seen so many drives of his where he just missed b/c he was a tad slow. I see him more as a mistake hitter now. Fortunately there’s enough bad pitching in the league for him to still do damage. From what I see of him, I’d be happy with .260 with his usual HRs and RBIs.

    • Brian S.

      No. Teixeira is an awful hitter. His wRC+ is probably lower than 75 at this point.

      • jsbrendog

        yeah dude, totes!!! cause he doesn’t have 2/3 of his abs left.

  • Ahinds

    does anyone else think jeter is on something?

    and , I was surprised that no one blamed mo for messing his knee up like they did with jobs for messing his leg up. I didn’t really believe it was Joba’s fault really. the double standard is annoyin

    • Knoxvillain

      It wasn’t Jeter’s fault he messed his knee up. That was on the field. Joba’s injury was his fault because he was on a trampoline. I don’t hold that against him because freak injuries to happen, but you can’t compare apples to oranges.

      And anyone who thinks Jeter is on something is just stupid. I just think he had a bad year in 2010 and was hurt the first half of last year. It’s just getting blown out of proportion. Clearly he’s not done.

      • Knoxvillain

        Whoops, thought you were talking about Jeter’s injury from last year. But still, freak injuries happen and at least Mo’s was on the baseball field.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Oh jeez. I missed the “Jeter is on something” part of the post. Unbelievable.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Mariano’s pregame routine has been to shag fly balls out there for years. It’s generally understood that there’s virtually no chance of him suffering the type of injury he did doing that.

      • Knoxvillain

        Out of all the damn guys that do that on the Yankees and all other 29 teams, it has to freaking happen to Mo.

        • Plank

          I don’t think the fact that he’s one of the oldest players in the league can be ignored when it comes to a freak injury like that.

          • Plank

            Second oldest to be exact. (Behind Omar Vizquel)

            • FachoinaNYY

              Moyer?

              • Plank

                I meant in the AL.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            Agreed.

            I’ll never forget when I was in high school and some friends wanted to go play football. My dad decided to tag along. On the first play, he broke his collarbone.

            This, of course, has little to do with Mariano, but I was just reminded of that.

            • Plank

              I’m probably getting some facts wrong here, but the gist is true.

              Nolan Ryan was still a fireballer in his final season at age 46. He threw a pitch, knew he injured something, and walked off the field knowing he would never pitch again. Old people can’t do what young people do. They break down and things snap.

              • RetroRob

                He threw a pitch, tearing a ligament in his elbow, although he wasn’t sure what he had done. He threw one more pitch after he tore the ligament, his final pitch ever in a MLB game, which hit 98 mph on the gun, yet he knew on that pitch his elbow was seriously injured. He retired, but it was in September and he had already announced he was retiring at the end of that month. His retirement started two or three starts earlier than was expected.

                • CP

                  Countless young pitchers have blown out their elbows. In fact, in some cases they are higher risk for injuries because the ones with weak ligaments, etc get weeded out and only the pitchers that are physically built to stay healthy make it through a long career.

                  • RetroRob

                    I wasn’t making a statement either way if the injury was age related since there is no way to determine that. Just providing some additional info.

                    What I was implying that he didn’t decide to retire because of the injury or that he couldn’t make it back. He was within weeks of his announced retirement, something he had confirmed numerous times throughout that summer, including before that last start. The blown ligament ended his career maybe three starts earlier.

                    If we’re looking for evidence that age was finally catching up to Ryan that year than look at his overall injuries that year. There were a number of them, including his groin. He had a very injury prone year, culminating in the blown ligament.

                    Age? Randomness? I certainly think age played a part in it (not the ligament necessarily), and I think even Ryan himself said he wasn’t bouncing back from start to start and from injury to pitch another year at the level he was accustomed to.

    • rek4gehrig

      “does anyone else think jeter is on something?”

      What a ridiculous question…..

  • Knoxvillain

    If Jeter finished at .335 with 18 home runs, 85 RBIs, 110 runs, 215 hits and a .390 OBP, would I be the only person not surprised?

    • Plank

      That’s an insane line. I would be very surprised.

    • Plank

      You expect him to turn into Ichiro! in his prime?

      • Knoxvillain

        Ichiro had that average, but nothing else really. Personally, I think Ichiro has always been very overrated. Don’t get me wrong, when he was in his prime, I would love to have him on the Yankees.

        He might be the only person in the history of baseball who could go 35 for 100 with RISP and have six RBIs.

        • Plank

          Ichiro’s 162 game average for the stats you used are:

          .325 BA, 9 HR, 56 RBI, 104 R, 225 H, .369 OBA.

          That includes part of his peak (since the other part was in Japan), and all of his decline.

      • RetroRob

        Looks more like a Jeter-in-his-prime line than Ichiro. In fact, looks similar to Jeter 2009.

        I don’t expect that over the course of a full season, but I can no longer discount it based on how he’s hit since late June 2011.

    • Ed

      That’s basically 1998 Jeter, almost exactly.

      • Plank

        In a much lower offensive environment.

    • Jesse

      I would be pretty shocked. I thought he would hit around .285 with a .350 OBP.

      • RetroRob

        …which, I should note, many thought were numbers out of his reach. I was hoping for a .290/.350/.400 line, and wasn’t sure myself if he could still reach that over a full season.

        We still don’t know until the year is done, but he’s obviously been driving the ball quite well since his return from the DL last summer.

    • V

      I’m absolutely shocked at Jeter’s current numbers. However, you can’t take away the hits and walks he already has. Would I expect him to have a massive slump? No. Is it possible? Definitely.

      I’ve noticed his biggest slumps are when he’s hurt (if he gets HBP in the wrist, etc.).

    • TLVP

      The most unrealistic part is probably 13 more home runs and 70 more RBI’s.

      Another 88 runs is clearly plausible

      As for the slash stats… you are expecting him to hit 167 more hits (high!) in 521 AB’s (low unless he gets hurt) for an average of .321 going forward?

      Assuming you throw in 27 doubles in thos 167 hits and no triples you’d get a slash line going forward of

      .321/.378/.825… Good but not insane – actually a bit worse than post injury last year (0.333/.384/.834).

      Still he’s older and what your describing would even starting where we are be surprising to me – in particular the HR’s and the RBI’s

  • Tom Zig

    Swisher looks really skinny there.

    • Plank

      Low Grade Hamstring Strain is a euphemism for gastric bypass surgery.

    • FIPster Doofus

      He definitely dropped some pounds over the winter.

  • http://twitter.com/nomchompsky Nom Chompsky

    My friend, you have Jeter going 2-4, when in reality he went 2-3.

    Not that it matters, buddy, just thought it bore mentioning.

    bro

  • AarpYankees

    Hughes did well, specially considering how bad has been this season. Though there were an awful number of fastballs straight down the middle(he tried throwing it in but they leaked). Was it just a lot luck that he escaped or was he genuinely that good? Moreover if it is the 2 seamer that leaks to the middle, why did he stop throqing thw cuttwr to lefties?

  • AarpYankees

    Sorry for the iphone typos.

    • Havok9120

      Sorry isn’t good enough. YOU ARE EVICTED FROM THE COMMENTS SECTION.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        I must hit the “X” quickly when my phone suggests a different spelling.

        I must hit the “X” quickly when my phone suggests a different spelling.

        I must hit the “X” quickly when my phone suggests a different spelling.

        I must hit the “X” quickly when my phone suggests a different spelling.

        I must hit the “X” quickly when my phone suggests a different spelling.

        I must hit the “X” quickly when my phone suggests a different spelling.

        I must hit the “X” quickly when my phone suggests a different spelling.

        • jsbrendog

          just turn off predicted text like i do. because if you don’t jeter autocorrects to heterosexual.

          2 ppl told me this on separate occasions. i think he paid someone off…

  • Monterowasnotdinero

    Noesi pitched a nice game against the lowly Twins. Twins manager (not Gardenhire who was away) said Noesi reminded him of Nova.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Damn racists.

  • Monterowasnotdinero

    Both the Cano HR and the Swish HR were on difficult pitches. Cano to sit back on a changeup was very impressive and Swish hitting a high fb that was not inside and be able to pull it into the seats…

    Good stuff.

  • Mike HC

    It is nice to see Hughes get a good start. You know he couldn’t have been as bad as it seemed to start the season.

  • DJ4K&Monterowasdinero

    I could get Hughsed to this version. Phil’s me up.

    Who woulda thought that a 2 syllable name could be so entertaining and lend itself to the lowest form of humor?

    • jjyank

      Wait, I’m confused. There is DJ4K&Monterowasdinero and Monterowasnotdinero. Same person? Different person? I’m lost.

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

        Yeah, I thought they were the same dude as well.

        • DJ4K&Monterowasdinero

          One and the same. I use lots of computers. I kinda like having a few handles.

          • jjyank

            Okay, just curious haha. I just saw them both so close together a few comments above this so I wasn’t sure.

  • Bonnie Parker

    Swisher’s return was key. The team has looked lifeless since he got hurt. Then Mo tore his ACL and the team lost its soul. Going 3-4 vs the Os and Royals won’t cut it. It’s never too early to say we have a big series coming up. This series vs Tampa is BIG. We have to win it to keep pace. If we don’t win the division we might as well not make the playoffs at all.

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

      1) Well, technically they’re 6-4 vs. Balt and KC since you’re leaving out the sweep.

      2) This series is not all that big. Check your calendar. It’s May.

      3) “If we don’t win the division we might as well not make the playoffs at all” This comment is absurd. Of course they’d rather win the division, but as the wildcard they’d be just one win away from joining the division winners in the division series.

      • jjyank

        This. Sure, facing the Rays, considering the standings, is about a big a series as you can get in May. But that still isn’t very big. The Yankees could easily get swept by the Rays, then in the second half the Yankees could beat the Rays 6 times in a row and take first place. Baseball is a marathon.

  • JohnC

    Noesi with a 6.30 ERA. Not so impressive. Quietly, IBanez has been swinging the bat really well. Even when making outs he has been stinging the ball. Really can’t say Damon or Matusi would have been any better