Jun
05

Yanks pummel Rays to take series opener

By

There’s nothing quite like beating the tar out of the first place team in the division, is there? It’s games like this that make me appreciate how fans of other teams feel when they whoop the Yankees. Despite their sometimes sluggish play during the first third of the season, the Yanks are just a half game back of first place and not that far back (either 1 or 1.5 games, depending on the outcome of the Texas-Oakland game) of the best record in the AL. Good times are ahead.

Age don’t mean a thing

(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Ten days from his 40th birthday, Andy Pettitte threw was what debatably his best start of the season. He used 103 pitches to retire 22 Rays, striking out 10 of them and allowing just two hits. Of those two hits, only one reached the outfield. At no point during the game did Pettitte make us feel uncomfortable. In fact, there were times when I’d glance down to read a paragraph or two, and look up to see he’d retired a batter and was two strikes deep on the next one.

There was certainly an uneasy feeling surrounding Pettitte’s return in May. I was excited as anyone — it’s Andy freaking Pettitte, after all, my absolute favorite Yankee of my lifetime — but there were legitimate questions about his ability to succeed at age 40 after a year away from the game. Add to that the Yankees’ absolute need for starting pitching at the time, and it seemed like a tall task. Yet Pettitte has shown he’s up to it. Even his rough starts haven’t seemed all that bad.

RISP when they need it

(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

With eight hits and four walks, the Yankees inevitably saw plenty of situations with runners in scoring position. While they did manage to raise their season average, they did so only slightly, going 3 for 12. Yet they got the one hit they needed, exactly when they needed it. With one out in the fourth they loaded the bases off James Shields, bringing Russell Martin to the plate. And oh boy did Russell deliver.

He went up there looking for a pitch to hit, taking aggressive swings at the first two pitches and pulling them foul. After going inside with the first two pitches Shields worked away from Martin on the 0-2 pitch, but it got enough of the plate that Martin put the fat part of the bat on it. Away it went, clearing the fence in right for a much-needed grand slam. Believe it or not, despite their horrific overall results with the bases loaded, the Yankees are tied for the league lead in grand slams.

Finally figuring out Shields

For the past two seasons, James Shields has gotten the best of the Yankees. Sure, he’s 4-4, but many of those losses came on the strength of the Yankees pitching staff. In 76.1 innings from 2010 to 2011 Shields pitched to a 2.83 ERA, striking out 71 and walking just 22. This year, though, it seems they have him figured out.

Even with the two unearned runs in the first inning, Shields still yielded five runs in five innings, bringing his total to 14 earned runs in 16 innings this season (7.88 ERA). He has struck out just nine while walking 10 and surrendering four homers. Shields hasn’t been performing well overall this year, but he’s been at his worst when facing the Yankees. Given his previous results, it’s quite satisfying.

Leftovers

(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Russell Martin raised his average 17 points with his 3 for 4 performance, taking the exit off the interstate and landing at .211.

After terrorizing the Yankees in the season opening series (6 for 12 with two homers and a double), Carlos Pena has gone 2 for 15 with no extra base hits against them.

Raul Ibanez drew two walks, after having not drawn one since May 17th in Toronto, a 51-PA walkless stretch. (Yet he managed seven extra base hits in that span.)

Freddy Garcia lives! He got into his first game since May 21st, when he gave up two runs in 2.1 innings against Kansas City. Last night he allowed two hits but allowed no runs in 1.2 innings of relief. Since his ouster from the rotation he has allowed two earned runs in 9.1 innings, though he has struck out four and walked three. That’s mop-up duty for you.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings

You know the drill: MLB.com for basic box score and video highlights, FanGraphs for all the nerdery you can handle, and Mike likes ESPN for the standings and I’m not going to interrupt his usual thing.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next

Game 2 of this three-game set pits Ivan Nova against Alex Cobb. Maybe the ball stays inside the ballpark this time, hmmmm, Ivan?

Categories : Game Stories
  • Havok9120

    This was a fantastic win and one I needed far worse than the team did.

    And the Game Thread was nice as well, if somewhat deserted. This is me, loving it.

    Now for a bike ride.

  • Get Phelps Up (formerly Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat)

    It’s so nice to have a stress free win against a division rival.

    It’s also nice to see Embedded Yankee Alfredo Aceves paying dividends again.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Missed the game completely, but have a pretty funny story to share.

    I was at a fundraising event for my job tonight, which included an auction. There were three big-ticket items.

    The first, 50 yard-line seats and VIP treatment for Jets/Pats on Thanksgiving went for $3500.

    The second, which was the same deal, but for Giants/Cowboys (don’t remember the date), went for $2000.

    The third was a private hitting lesson at the stadium with Kevin Long. Dead silence.

    Please provide your RISP joke below.

    Great win tonight. Just amazing to watch Andy look even stronger, and great to see Russell, hopefully, getting some stroke back.

    • pat

      Gotta think a lot of people would look at $3500 as a small price to pay to skip having Thanksgiving with the in-laws, heh.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        It was four seats. I think the in-laws would have to come along.

  • LiterallyFigurative

    Game Threads have regained some sanity since the Yanks have started winning.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Laundry night for Athenian, I gather?

    • pat

      And all Management had to do was-

      Fire Cashman
      Fire Girardi
      Fire Long
      Fire Rothschild
      Switch the lineup
      DFA Hughes
      Trade Tex
      Buy out Arod
      Promote Mustelier
      Promote Whelan
      Kill Clay Rapada

      Nothing. They’re professional baseball players and better equipped to handle a losing streak than 95% of their fans.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        You missed demoting Nova, demoting/trading/starting/tongue-kissing Phelps, and stopping spending so much time signing vets to fill the AAA roster.

        • StanfordBen

          I laughed at tongue-kissing. I’ll have to start using that joke.

        • mustang

          LMAO

          “stopping spending so much time signing vets to fill the AAA roster.”

          They don’t look so old anymore.

          WINING= the fountain of youth.

      • Bunt Gardner

        You missed Start Stewart.

      • Kosmo

        Demote Pat

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Promote Pat.

        • pat

          You know just how to cut to the core of me, Kosmo.

          • Kosmo

            LOL

  • Typical MIT Nerd

    Great to see Andy cruising. Love watching pitchers and not belly itchers.

    Two days off in the last five day seems to have helped freshen Martin.

    • Ted Nelson

      Martin was on base 5 times in 12 PAs before the last 5 days…

  • Kiko Jones

    Great win. Andy was superb: 7.1 IN, 0 R, 2 H, 10 SO, 2 BB. The old man’s still got it!

    Russell Martin looked good at the plate tonight; let’s hope he’s on his way to hitting .250 or higher.

    • Ted Nelson

      He’s at .241 BA, .341 OBP since May 1. At .279 BA, .380 OBP since May 15.

      Not sure why people are so reactionary to slow starts to the season. Slumps happen at any given point in the season.

      • hogsmog

        I dunno, there’s an understandable kneejerk reaction to the Mendoza line.

        • Ted Nelson

          It’s not understandable over a one month sample.

      • Havok9120

        Martin already had a hate club built up by not being Jorge Posada in his prime with the bat.

  • Kramerica Industries

    Alex Cobb is friggen horrible.

    Time to leap back in front of Tampa tomorrow night.

  • Paul VuvuZuvella

    Can you imagine if our boys are in first place later this week after what has seemed to be a horrible start? Geez.

    • Ted Nelson

      People were overreacting to the start.

  • RetroRob

    Still not used to seeing Pettitte back on the mound for the Yankees, but enjoying every moment. Even at his worst, he’s pitched into the seventh inning in the early going. Hoping he decides to stick around another year or two past 2012.

  • Kosmo

    The Yanks are more or less where they were last year at this time.
    Good to see Martin contributing on the offensive end.

  • Monterowasnotdinero

    A big night for our Russells.

    Andy and Raul are giving me hope that ARod could hit 20 HR’s as a 40 year old.

  • LarryM.,Fl.

    Obviously, very happy over the Yankee play in all departments during the past two weeks. Also, I wonder if the Rays are starting to show cracks in their makeup. The batting averages are dismal and lead the league in errors with 3 last night. Pitching can only get you so far without hitting and defense but these are their problems not ours.

    • Ted Nelson

      Lineup and defense will both be better when Longoria’s back. I would expect Zobrist to start hitting at some point as well.

  • Brian in NH

    Loving Pettite right now. the guy is just a machine out there. When he is on, he’s been amazing. When he’s off…well he’s not like when CC has an off night but he doesn’t look like he doesn’t belong (or even left for over a season) at all.

  • Bavarian Yankee

    wow, Pettitte is pitching like an ace right now. Some weeks ago I thought maybe he can still be better than Garcia or Hughes but he’s been sooooooooooo much better than I hoped. Good times. For sure won’t hurt his chances to reach the HoF.

  • The Scheister of Doom

    Amazing game, despite the 3-12 RISP. Martin has a pulse, Andy has been defying age and we even caught a glimpse of the sweaty one. Good stuff!

  • jjyank

    Only caught the game from the 6th inning on, but ANDY FUCKIN’ PETTITTE! Awesome, just awesome.

    This is a little off topic, but I found this about Hensley. If he’s telling the truth, he seems likely to sign:

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/articl.....Id=rss_nyy

    • Erica

      Andy. Fuckin’. Pettitte. Cheers to that.

    • Erica

      Andy. Fuckin’. Pettitte. Cheers to that.

  • Mike Nitabach

    Anybody know, or know how to figure out, when the last time all of the AL East was above .500 this far into the season?

    • Kosmo

      Last year at this time all the AL East teams were .500 or above except Baltimore which was 3 games under .500.

  • Frank

    The win is the important thing but the fact remains the offense is still struggling. Pettitte is amazing. Right now, he’s the best starter on the team.

  • Erica

    I feel such a great sense of comfort when Andy is up on the mound. He just gets the job done and last night? WOW. It’s so great having him back. And it’s great to see Russell Martin hanging out above the Mendoza line – surely, Sterling must have lost it when he hit that grand slam.

  • Lord Tywin

    Right now Andy is our #2 starter in the playoffs. Hughes and Kuroda 3/4. Nova needs to start pitching better starting tonight. This is the time to do it, at home vs a weak offense minus its best hitter. The offense should be able to put some runs on the board for him against Bob Cobb.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Still a lot of baseball to be played before that’s set in stone. With the way he’s pitching, though, would it really be a bad thing to have Andy starting a Game 2?

    • Dick Gozinya

      Bob Cobb, Maestro.

    • Erica

      Errrrmmmm but it’s only June. Let’s focus on the now and not the playoffs?

    • Bavarian Yankee

      I think the Yanks would like to split their lefties so I guess right now CC would start game 1, Pettitte game 3 and one of Kuroda/Hughes game 2, the other one game 4.

  • OMG! Bagels!

    I loved the Rays shifting all over the place and coming out on the losing end of it. Shift this.

    • Erica

      My favorite is when Tex hits through the Rays’ shift.

      • Erica

        Like, he can hit through all the other shifts and that’s GREAT… but there’s something SO satisfying when he beats that Rays shift.

  • OMG! Bagels!

    And the game thread was quiet bc all of the ledge jumpers jumped apparently. Pineda went down, Mo went down, Joba went down again, DRob went down, Gardner went down, CC was unstable, Hughes sucked, Kuroda is inconsistent, no one was able to hit, Jeter said they would never hit again, and Teix and Arod are too freaking old.

    With each one of those, someone jumped off the ledge. Now no one is left.

    I hope.

  • Erica

    SLIGHTLY O/T but the coffee hasn’t yet kicked in — Andy pitches again on… Sunday, yes?

  • Ted Nelson

    I still don’t get why people are so shocked by Pettitte. You don’t suddenly lose the skill you’ve had for 20 years in 1 year off. It’s not like he was struggling in 2010.

    • Kosmo

      I think it´s more elation and being pleasantly surprised than shock.

      • Havok9120

        Its this for me. A lot went wrong in ST and to start the season and its become hard to expect the best case, which this clearly is.

      • Ted Nelson

        Just a week ago or something most people disagreed with my when I said that the odds were stacked in his favor. I don’t understand why so many people felt that way. He was productive without a long-term injury risk going out of the game and only took one year off.

    • Bavarian Yankee

      believe it or not but you can lose skills, you can even lose skills from one day to the other. It’s normal to lose skills because of age, injuries, mindset, whatever. He’s 40 years old. 40!!! Doing all this after an entire year off is even more amazing. As a major league pitcher it is such a fine line between being great and being useless. It even seems like Pettitte’s game is better in some areas, that’s what amazes me the most. He’s just an exceptional pitcher.

      • Ted Nelson

        I don’t follow your comment.

        Most guys who can do it at 38 can also do it at 39. A year off is just not a big deal to me. What was going to go wrong over that year other than an injury that would have kept him from returning with his stuff in tact? Guys miss a year with an injury all the time and come back fine if there are not lingering impacts. He wasn’t injured, so there would be no lingering impact.

        I am not saying his comeback was assured by any means. I just think that the odds were stacked heavily in his favor.

  • CBean

    Every time Andy takes the mound I just feel good. I know he’ll at least give us a winning effort. His return has been my favorite story of the year.