Jun
12

A-Rod & Swisher bail out Sabathia in come from behind win over Braves

By

The Yankees didn’t just extend their winning streak to five on Tuesday night, they did it with a dramatic come-from-behind win in the late innings. Other than the 15-9 game at Fenway Park, I’m having a hard time coming up with a better win this season.

(Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

ClutchBall

More on this in a bit, but for the first seven innings the Yankees had absolutely no answer for Mike Minor. They were down four-zip heading into the eighth and it’s not just that they were unable to put together rallies, they weren’t even putting together quality at-bats or making hard contact. The young southpaw started the eighth with a pitch count in the 90s and left at exactly 100 after Derek Jeter sneaked a one-out single through the right side. It seemed like an innocent hit, another runner to be stranded at the later time.

That’s when Jonny Venters came in to put gas on the fire. To appreciate the magnitude of this meltdown, you have to understand that Venters came into this season as one of most dominant relievers in baseball. He’d pitched to 1.89 ERA with 9.95 K/9 and a 70.5% ground ball rate (!!!) in 171 innings over the previous two seasons, allowing just three homers total. Just insane numbers. Venters faced four Yankees on Tuesday and all four managed to reach base. Curtis Granderson singled, Mark Teixeira walked, and then Alex Rodriguez worked the count full before unloading on a sinker that didn’t sink for a game-tying grand slam.

It wasn’t a true big-fly, it was more a line drive that zoomed right over the left field wall. A Yankees fan caught it with his hat, which was pretty neat. Robinson Cano followed that up with a single to knock Venters out of the game, and two pitches later the Bombers had a two-run lead when Nick Swisher well, bombed a Cory Gearrin fastball out over the right-center field wall for a two-run dinger. After putting seven total runners on base in 7+ innings against Minor, seven consecutive batters reached base as soon as he was out of the game — Andruw Jones was hit by a pitch immediately after Swisher’s homer.

Shutdown

Like I said, Minor completely manhandled New York for the first 7+ innings. He came into this start as one of the two worst starting pitchers in baseball statistically, but he kept the right-handed batters off balance with a healthy diet of soft stuff away and generally stayed out of the middle of the plate. His performance was eerily similar to Doug Davis’ when the Yankees visited the Cubbies last summer, when a left-hander with bad numbers frustratingly shut them right down. Here’s that box score in case you’ve swept that one under the mental rug. After stranding men on first and second in the first, the Yankees put just three of the next 22 men they sent to the plate against Minor on base. The kid was on point.

(REUTERS/Tami Chappell)

C(an’t find) C(ommand)

CC Sabathia most certainly was not on point, at least not early on. He ran into the same command problems that have plagued him for most of the season, causing him to fall behind in the count to three of the first four men he faced. The bases were loaded with out in the first when Matt Diaz drove in three runs with a double to right, the first bases clearing double Sabathia has allowed to a right-handed batter as a Yankee. One out and five batters into the game, the ace had his team in a three-run hole.

Sabathia settled down a bit after that but still wasn’t sharp. He managed to fire off five scoreless innings after that but put six men on-base along the way, then the Braves tacked on an insurance run thanks in part to some intentional walk/weak ground ball funny business in the seventh. Four runs and ten hits in seven innings definitely isn’t a disaster start but the Yankees need CC to figure out this long-standing command issue and get back to being the guy they’re used to running out there every five days. During this recent stretch of strong play, Sabathia has been the weak link in the rotation and that is just weird.

RA! PA! DA!

Big, huge ups go out to Clay Rapada. With a short bullpen, the lefty specialist hung in to retire three of the four men he faced in a scoreless eighth, including one of two right-handers. He was pitching for the fourth — fourth! — day in a row and fifth time in six days, so give that man some serious props. Rapada went above and beyond the second lefty specialist call of duty to help secure this win. Teams need unexpected boosts like this throughout the season to win the division.

Leftovers

(AP Photo/David Goldman)

Fresh off Monday night’s blister problem, Rafael Soriano threw a perfect ninth inning to nail down the win, his first true 1-2-3 inning of the season. He had come into a game in the middle of an inning to retire all three guys he faced a few weeks ago, but this was the first time this year he started and finished an inning without allowing a baserunner. He struck out a pair, including the powerful Brian McCann and Dan Uggla.

Sabathia became the first Yankees’ hurler to allow four earned runs in a start since Ivan Nova allowed five in the series finale out in Anaheim. All three starters allowed five or more earned runs in that series but the rotation had pitched to a 1.76 ERA in the ten games since.

Jeter, Granderson, and Swisher all had two hits apiece while A-Rod, Cano, and Chris Stewart chipped in one each. Mark Teixeira drew three walks and now has 19 free passes against just 15 strikeouts in his last 31 games. That, as they say, is quite good. The RISPFAIL was limited to 1-for-5 this time around, with the one being A-Rod’s grand slam.

Speaking of that, the grand slam was was the 23rd of Alex’s career, tying him with Lou Gehrig for the most in baseball history. Coincidentally enough, Tuesday was also the anniversary of the Iron Horse’s final game in pinstripes, though it was just an exhibition. Still neat though.

It’s not often that one player makes two outs in an inning, but how many do it as a pinch-hitter? Russell Martin pinch-hit for Sabathia to lead off that six-run eighth, and he flew out to start the inning before striking out to end it. How does that get scored, is he a pinch-hitter for the first at-bat and the pitcher for the second? He can’t be the pinch-hitter for both, right? Ah the quirks of baseball.

With the win, the Yankees have now won five in a row, eight of nine, ten of 12, and 15 of 19. The Mets wrecked the Rays so the Yankees have sole possession of first place in the AL East for the first time since April 21st, after that big 15-9 comeback in Fenway Park.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings

Now that, my friends, is a WPA graph. MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the advanced stats, and ESPN the updated standings.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next

The Yankees will try to complete the sweep on Wednesday night, hopefully sending us all into Thursday’s scheduled day off on a high note. Hiroki Kuroda will give it a go against Tim Hudson, and both pitchers are coming off minor foot injuries — Kuroda took the comebacker off his foot last time out and Hudson received a cortisone shot for some soreness recently.

Categories : Game Stories

70 Comments»

  1. JGS says:

    I was wondering this when they showed that tidbit about this being the anniversary of Gehrig’s final game–what the heck were the 1939 Yankees doing playing an exhibition game against their AA affiliate in the middle of June?

    • forensic says:

      I wonder if they scheduled it as a way to give Gehrig one more game on his way out. He only played the first 8 games of the season, so he was clearly done.

      Maybe it was a spur of the moment thing though. The schedule looks like maybe they had some weather issues and just wanted to get another game in. They played the 8th, then 2 on the 11th, then not again till the 14th, so I’m just spitballing here.

      Or, maybe since that’s one of the best teams ever, they were just tired of beating up on the same teams over and over and wanted a new victim.

      • Will (the other one) says:

        It doesn’t seem like the exhibition was scheduled especially for Gehrig–in fact, several articles mention that he apparently didn’t even expect to play because he’d been so sick. But it looks like the game had been on the books for quite a while before it took place, so maybe this was just a summertime tradition back in the thirties.

        • Kosmo says:

          If my memory serves me correctly the Yanks as well as a few other teams played one of their affiliate teams for an exhibition game during the regular season. I´m not sure when this practice stopped but I recall NY playing in the 1960s their AAA team every year. Was it the Syracuse team ? Maybe I´m wrong.

          • jim p says:

            Don’t remember if it was Syracuse, but absolutely. It used to be an annual thing at least through 1964 or so, when playing the Mets in the Mayor’s Trophy Game was deemed enough exhibition baseball for the season.

    • nsalem says:

      In season exhibition games between franchise minor league teams and major league league rivals were very common in the past. The games against the minor league teams were a huge event in small towns across America and it was there opportunity to see the stars. In those days there was no cable and very little chance for small town America to see televised baseball. The Saturday afternoon game of the week was probably the only chance someone out of range TV range from a MLB franchise got to see major league baseball. Until 1957 there was no baseball west of the Mississippi and chances to see big league baseball in that part of the country were few and far between save for the WS and All Star Games. The NY teams usually televised 100 to 120 games a year in the 50′s and 60′s but many other teams limited there TV schedule to 20 or 30 games. Radio was a prime source of baseball for many. From the 1940s to the 1980s the Yankees also played there local NL rivals in a charity event called the Mayors Trophy game. It was a pretty big deal through the 1960′s but it lost it’s popularity in the 70′s and was discontinued probably in the early 1980′s.

      • Bobtaco says:

        In 1939, the only TV was at Philo T. Farnsworth’s…

      • Strat says:

        I remember, as recently as the late 1990′s, seeing the Twins play their AA affiliate near where I live. It was an exhibition game on an off-day for the Twins. The AA team played their real game afterward. It was a lot of fun as I remember.

    • mr.mojo says:

      Might have been a gap in the schedule, or something similar to what they sometimes do during spring training where you play a college team or your AAA affiliate. Another question, will this event propel Arod into a better light with the fans. I don’t think so, as much as I want to accept him, he’s tainted.

      • nsalem says:

        A-Rod has always been in a great light with me. He admitted his PED usage and that is now in the past. To pay someone 30 million a year for 5 decline years whose ceiling seems to be low 30 in home runs and 100 or so is pure lunacy no matter what the circumstances. The blame should be put on whoever decided to offer him the contract not Alex for accepting. What was he supposed to do? Turn it down? He is one of the 10 greatest and most intelligent players in the history of baseball who is currently about 70 or 80% of what he used to be. Hopefully for Yankee fans it won’t get to much worse over the next 5 years. It has been a pleasure to watch him everyday over the last 9 years I don’t understand why some people hold it against A-Rod, Jeter and Soriano and obsessively bemoan their contracts. These are employer not employee mistakes. I don’t think these three or anyone else should ever be blamed for taking what was offered.

        • bpdelia says:

          Exactly. I stand by my previous belief that parody will have a relatively productive next 3 years with probably one very good surprise year. Seems like he has four more years at third. In great shape moving well. I’m thinking. 280/370 28 hr Avg year with one 290/380 35 thrown in for old times sake. By the end probably a 260/340 17 hr player. Point being Alex finishes this contract at worst as a slightly below Avg player. Im less worried about him than texiera frankly.

      • Steve (different one) says:

        I agree that A-Rod is tainted, and it’s just a shame that the fan base can’t bring themselves to forgive either A-Rod or Pettitte for initially lying about then admitting PED use. Oh wait….

  2. Will (the other one) says:

    I half-expected this recap to be titled “Unclutch Yankees Kick Ass, Take Names.”

    After just about giving up all hope the lineup would ever solve the underwhelming Mike Minor, it was fantastic to see A-Rod make history in the clutch. And then Swish…well, the huge smile on his face said it all.

    Great win and an awesome way to keep the bus rolling.

    • Cris Pengiucci says:

      After just about giving up all hope the lineup would ever solve the underwhelming Mike Minor …

      Well, actually they never did figure him out. Besides Jeter’s one out single in the 8th, the other hits came off of the relievers. So maybe you were right to give up all hope. :-)

  3. Dino Velvet says:

    First!

    first place, that is!

  4. Dela G says:

    What a great win. Second most satisfying since that 15-9 game

  5. jim p says:

    “Oh no!” I said aloud as the Yankees loaded the bases with one out. With A-Rod up, it was inevitable, I expected that we’d see a DP. Or worse a pop up followed by a Cano K.

    What a relief, what a joy when A-Rod came through!. But scary that I’ve been conditioned to cringe when we get runners in — what one RABer wrote — stranding position.

    On the bright side, if we are to finish the year at our accustomed .340-.350/RISP we’ll be hitting about .450/RISP for the rest of the year. And who would be surprised?

    • mt says:

      It is funny- when Yanks load bases these days, I do the same cringing and lower my mental expectations.

      I also joke that there are 3 true outcomes when Yanks load bases – strike-out, infield or foul popout, or double play groundout.

  6. forensic says:

    Rapada shouldn’t even be forced to go to the ballpark tomorrow. Dude earned himself a nice night out getting wasted tonight or tomorrow drinking with his right arm since he probably won’t be able to lift his left arm for a day or two.

    • Cano fan #1 says:

      +1

      • the Other Steve S. says:

        Somehow the combination of the starters going deep every game and the bullpen being exhausted at the same time doesn’t make a lot of sense. Was the bullpen exhausted when the starters were going 5 innings?

        • V says:

          Mostly caused by the loss of Rivera and Robertson.

        • Steve (different one) says:

          4 semi-close games in a row, in 2 games the starter got hit by a comebacker and left a little early, in one game the closer was pulled for ineffectiveness, and in another he was unavailable because of a blister.

          Some odd combination of events in there. Would like to see Phelps in there more but I don’t blame Girardi for not using him in the 2 Mets games.

  7. mt says:

    Tonight’s one of the few times I can’t get too disgusted with a Mets win.

    I really must give props to Rapada for pitching 4 days in a row. Logan was warming up too – it would also have been his fourth night in a row.

    Girardi has been so careful with his bullpen the past few years that I am surprised at the recent daily “over-use” – points to Garcia and Phelps not being used in any type of short relief situation at all (hopefully they will send Phelps down when Robertson gets back, not Eppley. I am assuming they will still hold on to Freddy.). Also a hidden impact of all the recent RISPFail is that we do not have as many blow-outs as we should. If we did have more blow-outs, we could use Phelps/Garcia more.

    Venters also looked as horrible as Minor looked good – I liked that we did not let Venters off the hook with his wildness. Soriano’s sliders also looked nasty – the strikeout pitch to McCann was wicked.

    • Dino Velvet says:

      The Mets never got my competitive juices following. And not because they’re in a different league and had a horrible stadium, but they were just a bunch of bumblers.

    • RetroRob says:

      I suspect that Eppley will not be sent down. Girardi loves the idea of having a side-arming righty and side-arming lefty in Eppley and Rapada. They just may send Phelps down until they can move Garcia. Just a guess.

      • Havok9120 says:

        I think its more that Girardi really sees Logan as a general purpose reliever and not a lefty specialist. If that’s the case, we still need a lefty specialist (or so the thinking goes), and Rapada seems to be our best option.

  8. pat says:

    If Rapada actually turns into a useful reliever who gets the credit? Cashman for plucking him off the scrap pile? Girardi for sticking with him and putting him in positions to succeed? I’m gonna go with nobody gets the credit because that’s how Yankees fans roll.

    • mt says:

      Also will never know whether Cabral would have won competition if he had stayed healthy in spring training.

      Cashman should get some credit.

      • RetroRob says:

        Both Cashman and Girardi. Since Torre’s exit, Cashman has worked to bring in useful arms, and Girardi has been the willing user. They’ve had a solid bullpen every year under Cashman/Girardi. Rapada and Eppley are just the latest examples.

    • JMK says:

      Pedro Feliciano gets the credit.

    • Kosmo says:

      Rapada gets the credit otherwise he´d have walked a long time ago.
      BTW Juan Cedeno has pitched well for Scranton. He´s plan B or plan 9 depending on how you view it.

    • MannyGeee says:

      obviously A-Rod gets the credit for talking to him once on the team bus and ‘fixing’ him.

      #voodoochild

  9. dennyneagleshooker says:

    great win all around, every facet of the team contributed. CC off to a rough start but holding it down after a rough few, the offense only hitting homeruns and the bullpen coming in and figuring out how to get a few outs. Extremely satisfying, winning another series 2 games in!

  10. Gonzo says:

    I blame A-Rod.

    • forensic says:

      Yup, Mike probably had a nice start on his recap piece going wondering why the Yankees offense didn’t show up against a bad pitcher, more RISP failures, and how it was a reverse lock.

      Then A-Rod had to go and ruin it and make him rewrite it all.

    • BigDavey88 says:

      Well his slugging percentage isn’t good enough for some people.

      “wuT ajoKe.”

      Funny that for most of the game, the trolls were getting ready to have a field day, but they have to disappear for another night.

  11. BK2ATL says:

    Just got back from the game….Not sure what made me check the game thread. Things live were definitely different than what was felt by Yankees’ fans at the game.

    Minor pitched well. Gotta give it up to him. He had the entire lineup off-balance all game. Wasn’t a fluke. Kid made pitches. Regardless of his performance so far this year, he was a top MLB prospect coming into the year and this is what was expected of him coming out of ST.

    After the 1st inning, CC was CC. A hit here or there, a walk here or there, but never really in trouble. He came out cold in the 1st an just battled through it. He settled down and went 7.

    A-Rod had that place rocking!!! Swisher’s was great, but an afterthought, even though it won the game. Everyone was still buzzing at what A-Rod did.

    Just crazy to see the negativity here by some during the game. We were frustrated, but the game live seemed within reach at 3-0, and even at 4-0.

    Venters has been up and down this year, compared to last year. Until this recent calm streak (up until tonight), he was pretty rocky and almost lost his 8th inning spot last month. That he got lit up tonight, wasn’t shocking down here.

    I had so much fun clowning my Braves’ fan buddy. Talk about a frustrated fanbase!!!! Hahahaha!!!

  12. Bunt Gardner says:

    From baseballfarming.com:

    If a player acts as a pinch hitter and his team bats around in the inning, he may come to the plate a second time, and is still a pinch hitter since he has not played any position in the field. Thus, a pinch hitter may get more than one hit in a game in his role.

  13. pat says:

    Braves went from 98.4% chance of winning to 12.1% before an out was recorded. Lulz

  14. forensic says:

    Is it just me or does it seem like in these two games the Braves have hit a bunch of mammoth flyballs that appeared as though they would be long gone but have instead either come down just short of the wall or hit off the wall while the Yankees have hit low liners that seemed like they couldn’t get out and then did?

    Wonder if there’s a wind blowing in on the flyballs or maybe it’s even just Yankee Stadium’s tendencies playing with my mind thinking that all flyballs like that should be out.

  15. neo says:

    I love WPA graph’s with cliffs!! Too bad I missed most of the game because I’m traveling on business. Checked in at 4 zip, then checked in at 6-4, so missed the home runs live. Oh well, my pain of missing the game is nothing compared to my happiness of that WPA graph!!

  16. DT says:

    I usually don’t like to dabble in conjecture/rhetoric/narratives, but this win and the win over the last Mets game got me feeling like 2009 a bit =P.

    • forensic says:

      2009: The year of the walk-off win.

      These 2 were their first two (I believe) wins this season even just after trailing after 7 innings, so it’s understandable.

      Really, it almost feels like their first ones since 2009, but I’m sure we said the same thing in 2010 and 2011 too, but they don’t necessarily stick in the memory like all of 2009 did.

      • Get Phelps Up (formerly Freddy Garcia's 86 mph Heat) says:

        They’ve had 4 wins when down after 7 innings this year. The 15-9 game, April 27 vs Detroit, last game against the Mets and this one.

        • Havok9120 says:

          And a crapton of general come from behind wins and “come back to tie it/take the lead” moments. The offense has been very, very good at coming from behind this season, despite the RISPFail.

        • forensic says:

          Oh yeah, I was just going by what the postgame was saying and didn’t bother to check it myself. Oh well.

          • forensic says:

            Actually, maybe I just misheard and misremembered what they said. Maybe it was 2 in the last 3 days is as many as all season before that. That would make more sense.

  17. Tom says:

    That WPA graph is a thing of beauty – it shows just how big a collapse that was by the Braves pen or conversely if you flip it over the magnitude of the comeback.

    At some point though the Yankees need some more consistency with runners on…. yes they are winning, but you saw the less visible impact of it tonight.

    Last night they had a 3-0 lead and runners on 3rd with 1 out in back to back innings and failed to convert either opportunity which meant instead of Girardi potentially turning the ball over to Garcia or Phelps with a 4 or 5 run lead (or more), he ended up burning 4 of his top 5 arms to get 6 outs… This resulted in the 3rd day in a row for Wade, Logan, and Rapada on a night they could have potentially been off if the Yankees cash in any of their opportunities.

  18. RetroRob says:

    CC has been struggling with his fastball command for several starts, but like most top starters, he bends but doesn’t quite break. Same characteristic of Pettitte.

    I wonder, though, if it’s time to Martin to catch CC again. CC had his best year as a Yankee with Martin catching quite a few of his games.

  19. tim riss says:

    So if Martin was PH first AB, and then P 2nd at bat. Technically, should he have recieved the WIN? And props 2 Rapada, I cringe watching him face a righty but, 2 holds in a row is great!

    • Tcmiller30 says:

      Haha that would be funny! Unfortunately they already had the lead before he would have become the pitcher.

      Also someone posted earlier that since he never took the field he’s technically a PH twice, which is also odd.

  20. Wil Nieves Number 1 Fan says:

    First place by June 13, right on time. Which commenter made the June 15th prediction, again?

  21. MannyGeee says:

    Yankess in first, Red Sox somewhere near the cellar.

    All is right in the world again.

    #NowICanDieInPiece

  22. Bavarian Yankee says:

    best win of the season if you ask me.

  23. OMG! Bagels! says:

    Glad someone at the game checked in to give us a clue as to what it was like at the game. It sounded crazy after Arod’s slam. Sounded like everyone there enjoyed it. Thanks for giving us a report.

    I tried to stick around the game thread but gave up. Way too much stupidity in the first inning. Just one or two things over and over again. Arod sucks, CC sucks….blah blah. I know they’re trolling for responses but it’s annoying to wade through that crap. I used to enjoy re-reading the game threads after a win to see how many were jumping off the ledge during RISP fail or an error or a wild pitch, but it’s gotten old.

    Great win for the Yankees. Congrats Arod.

  24. Bartolo's Colon says:

    i love arod. and it does remind me of 2009. 2009 was such an unbelievable year, it seemed like nothing bad happened that year. even losing the first 8 games to boston almost seemed like a good thing, just so we could come back and win 9 out of the next 10. let’s have a repeat of that year. no one thought arod was going to get 30/100 and he ended up getting 2/7 in his final inning played to get it. isn’t he now practically on pace to get 30/100?

  25. Johnny O says:

    how great is that picture of swisher?? love that guy

  26. captain kiwi says:

    got home from the game around 2 am, and it was (for lack of a better word) epic! i went with a few of my buddies who are braves fans, and i’ll admit i wasn’t really feeling the first 7 innings… but man it was worth enduring their trash talk to see a-rod hit that slam. a-rod’s been my favorite player since he was a mariner, and to actually get to SEE his 23rd grand slam was just incredible. WHAT A GAME.

  27. Nice to see that people will still take any excuse they can for gratuitous A-Rod bashing. I only started reading this site due to the presence of Pinstriped Bible guru Steven Goldman, but he’s been gone for over a month, and this piece of crap by his replacement got me to finally remove them from my RSS feed.

    http://bleacherreport.com/arti.....rigs-class

    Sheesh. Talk about stupid straw-man arguing and focusing on irrelevancies….

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