Bullpen carries Yanks to win in finale over Tribe

Sunday Night Open Thread
Fan Confidence Poll: September 27th, 2012

The stench of getting swept by the White Sox still lingers, but the Yankees did what they had to do this weekend by taking two of three from the Indians. Sunday’s win was yet another close game — just two of their last dozen games have been decided by more than three runs — and Joe Girardi leaned on his bullpen to get it done.

(AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Small Ballin’

The Yankees often get accused of not playing enough small ball, but they play-the-game-the-right-way’d to three runs in the second inning against Ubaldo Jimenez. It all started with an Eric Chavez ground ball single to left and a Raul Ibanez walk, allowing Ichiro Suzuki to lace a run-scoring single off Ubaldo’s glove and into no man’s land. With one run already in, men on first and second with no outs, and a bad pitcher struggling, the Yankees did the sensible thing — Chris Stewart forfeited an out and bunted the runners up to second and third.

Thankfully, the club’s two most productive hitters capitalized. Derek Jeter put together a real hard-fought five pitch at-bat before grounding out to third, allowing the second run to score. Nick Swisher plated the third run with a solid two-out single to shallow left-center. Robinson Cano hit the ball hard but flew out to end the inning, but otherwise four of the first six men the Bombers sent to the plate in that second inning reached base while the two exceptions were productive less-damaging outs.

(REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk)

Four-Inning Freddy

These last two starts haven’t been great for Freddy Garcia, who’s labored both times out and failed to complete five innings of work. He pitched around a bases loaded jam in the third on Sunday, an inning in which he basically had to record six outs because Cano muffed a probably double play ball (instead getting zero outs) and a 2-2 pitch to Carlos Santana was called a ball when it should have been a strike. Here, look. Garcia retired Santana one pitch later to end the threat.

The fifth inning rally that took Freddy out of the game started with two outs. Jason Kipnis doubled to right to get it all started with two outs, then Garcia plunked Asdrubal Cabrera in the behind. A walk to Shin-Soo Choo brought Santana to the plate with two outs and bases loaded again, and this time he jumped on a first pitch fastball for a two-run ground ball single back up the middle. After 90 pitches and 14 outs, Freddy’s afternoon was done. He allowed just the two runs on four hits, two walks, and the hit-batsman while striking out six. Only one of his eight ball-in-play outs was on the ground.

Garcia is a fine fifth starter, but the middle relief isn’t good enough to keep picking him up if he’s going to be a five-and-fly guy. He’s completed six or more innings in five of his eleven starts since return to the rotation, and at least five innings nine times. The two exceptions are these last two starts.

(AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Long Relief

It was pretty obvious that Girardi wanted to win this game based on his bullpen usage. He went right to Boone Logan in relief of Garcia, using his top left-hander to record five outs in the middle innings. Only one of the six men he faced reached base, and that was the final one. Girardi went to David Robertson with one out in the seventh, and he escaped the inning with just four pitches. After sandwiching two outs around a single in the eighth, Rafael Soriano came in for the four-out save. You’d think it was a playoff a game. Matt LaPorta flew out to really deep left to end the inning.

The ninth inning didn’t go all that smoothly, especially since leadoff man Jack Hannahan singled to bring the tying run to the plate almote immediately. Soriano retired the next three men to end the game, but not before Kipnis lined a comebacker off the base of his right hand. It looked like it got some glove and some forearm on the replay, but Soriano stayed in and said he was “a little sore” after the game. He expects to be fine. Twelve outs from Logan, Robertson, and Soriano isn’t something we’re going to see very often, but those three were excellent — allowed one single apiece with four total strikeouts.

Leftovers

.335 OBP in year four of an eight-year contract. (REUTERS)

Curtis Granderson gave the Yankees a little bit of breathing room with his sixth inning solo homer, though he slammed his bat in disgust because he thought it was a pop-up. They weren’t even in Yankee Stadium! It was a nice response a half-inning after the Tribe scored the two runs, and it was also the 200th homer of Granderson’s career. The Yankees now have eight guys with 200 career dingers on the roster, the most in baseball history. The 2008 Yankees were the only other club with seven.

Swisher continued his torrid streak with three singles while Cano singled, doubled, and walked (intentionally). He’s been slowly climbing out of his slump as the road trip has progressed. Those two combined to go 5-for-7 with the other seven hitters in the lineup went 6-for-27. The Yankees drew just two walks as a team, the 11th time they’ve done that in 24 games this month. In the other 103 games this season, they drew two or fewer walks just 14 times. That has a lot to do with Alex Rodriguez being gone.

The Indians ran wild on Chris Stewart, specifically Kipnis. He stole three bases in three attempts. Stewart did manage to gun down Michael Brantley, but overall he’s thrown out just seven of 32 attempts base-stealers this season (21.9%). The league average is about 27%, so the supposed defense-first backstop hasn’t exactly stood out with his arm.

David Robertson’s wife is due to give birth to the couple’s first child very soon — apparently the due date was last week sometime — so I wonder if Girardi was willing to use him earlier than usual knowing he’s going to spend a few days this week on paternity leave. Then again, that wouldn’t explain using both him and Soriano for four outs. Eh, whatever.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. Both the Rays (Republican National Convention in St. Petersburg) and the Orioles (rain out) were off on Sunday, so the lead in the AL East remains four games in the loss column over both clubs. The magic number to clinch the division is down to 32.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next

The Yankees are coming back home to open a three-game series against the last place Blue Jays. David Phelps and Henderson Alvarez will kick the series off on Monday night. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch the game in person.

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Sunday Night Open Thread
Fan Confidence Poll: September 27th, 2012
  • Frozen Ropes

    Much needed win. Glad we got it. Hopefully, Freddy gets some of his mojo back for the stretch.

  • Pat D

    The Yankees should sign Johnny Damon for one day next month just so they have 9 guys with 200 homers on the roster. And convince Bernie, Jorge and Paulie to come out of retirement so they have 12. And try to swing deals for Giambi and Abreu to make it 14.

    Why not?

    • Feijoddity

      They should sign Jorge for a day just so Joba can shake him off to throw a 3-2 slider one last time.

  • Eddard

    Here’s what needs to happen over the next 3 days- Yanks sweep a depleted sinking ship at home. Tampa is at Texas and drops 2/3. Baltimore is at home vs CWS and drops 2/3. We go into September with a 6 game lead which is a pretty big lead with a month left. I don’t think even the Red Sox could blow a lead that big.

    • Kramerica Industries

      Baltimore and Chicago play a four game set.

      That’s going to be a very interesting series. Two overachievers, one (much) more legit than the other, both in divison races and wild card races.

      For Chicago’s sake, I hope this isn’t simply a case of the Tigers toying with them, lingering just a couple games back almost the entire season, only to swipe the division out from under them in the final month. Chicago’s been in first place, almost uninterrupted, since at least May.

      • Jim Is Bored

        Run Differential is extremely limited when evaluating a team with as many personnel changes as the Orioles have had. The current iteration of that roster is better than RD would imply.

    • Sweet Dick Willie

      I don’t think even the Red Sox could blow a lead that big.

      Think again. They blew a 9 game lead last year.

      http://espn.go.com/mlb/standings/_/date/20110901

      • Wil Nieves Number 1 Fan

        How the hell did the Yanks have a ~+200 run differential at that time last year??? Holy schnikes, they’re about 100 runs off this year.

    • CS Yankee

      Yeah, I want best record in the AL except if the WC contains Tampa or LAAoACAWUSAWHE…which case lets tear apart the Central winner in the first round instead.

  • forensic

    At least they’re almost halfway through that Tex deal you mention, as he sets or approaches new career lows every season now it seems.

    • Rocky Road Redemption

      For the Yankees’ sake, I hope the O’s get their asses kicked.

  • Rocky Road Redemption

    Mike, I fucking HATE bunts, probably as much as you do, but Chris Stewart buning there made perfect sense.

    1) Stewart sucks. With men on first and second, giving awayan out quite possibly, even probably, would have happened anyway WITHOUT the benefit of moving the runners up.

    2)Swisher and Jeter are easily our two hottest hitters. I’d rather get to both of them with two men in scoring position and one out than men on first and second and one out or worse, man on first and two outs (or man on third with two outs-better, but still bad).

    Basically, what changes the whole scenario in my mind is that Chris Stewart sucks. So I definitely like the bunt call.

    • forensic

      1 out plus two extra bases is much better than 2 outs. It also takes away the DP threat from Jeter.

    • Pat D

      That was my rationale. He’d probably make an out anyway, might as well try to guarantee the runners advance.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting

      I agree. Chris Stewart + 2 hottest hitters up next = bunt

  • MikeD

    Regarding Stewart’s steal percentage, it seems that all catchers on the Yankees suffer a drop. Cervelli had a good reputation, but put up some poor numbers; Martin’s caught stealing percentage dropped, and now so has Stewart’s. I wonder if there’s something else at play here.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting

      They do have some pitchers that don’t control the running game well, and I’m sure that factors in quite a bit.

      But still, it’s a bit disturbing to see so many bad throws from Stewart, even if he didn’t have much of a chance to throw out the runner.

    • Laz

      It’s not always the catcher that is to blame. Since alot of steals are really close, if the pitcher holds onto the ball a fraction of a second too long there is no way to catch it.

  • Kevin

    Once Garcia gets around a certain pitch count,he starts to labor. Stewart and the homeplate ump didn’t help him either.

    • MannyGeee

      He’s like Pedro…. The Philly version though…

  • MannyGeee

    Recaptioning time!

    Joe: “soooo, Werth money, huh… Have fun playing in Seattle or some shit…”
    Nick: “I think imma buy me a boat… Yeeeeeeah, a boat!”

    • OldYanksFan

      Joe: Looks like you’re in for a big contract. What are you going to do with all that money?
      Swisher: “Ninety percent I’ll spend on good times, women, and Irish whiskey. The other ten percent I’ll probably waste.”

      • Rooting for U.S. Steel

        Boy, that quote Tugs at the ol’ heartstrings…

      • CS Yankee

        Winner!

  • Rocky Road Redemption

    Who are the expected starters for tomorrow and Tuesday?

    • forensic

      Alvarez, Romero, Happ vs. Phelps, Hughes, Sabathia

      • Rocky Road Redemption

        Cool, thanks.

    • pat

      WHAT THE F*CK DOES THAT MATTER?? WHO CARES???

      -Bobby Valentine.

  • JohnnyC

    How Lori Rubinson has a radio talk show while sounding like she’s struggling to cough up a fur ball is mystifying.

    • Rich in NJ

      It’s a bar so low that a microbe couldn’t get under it, but she’s no worse than Neer.

  • Wil Nieves Number 1 Fan

    I’m not a fan of bunting, but why was the bunt by Stewart such a bad thing? He’s useless every other way, at least the runners advance with Jeter and Swish coming up.

    • FIPster Doofus

      The bunt was absolutely the right call. That’s what you do in that spot when the hitter is awful, and Stewart is.

      • Wil Nieves Number 1 Fan

        Lol Good, then it’s not just me.

  • Brian S.

    Put A-Rod on waivers. The Dodgers can play him at third and move Hanley to second base.

    • DT

      Who plays third for us?

      • Rich in NJ

        If this (13:$28M, 14:$25M, 15:$21M, 16:$20M, 17:$20M) magically came off of the books, they would have the financial freedom to find an adequate replacement, assuming Chavez couldn’t handle most of the PT, at least short-term.

        But it’s more likely that the Yankees will stop charging for tickets.

      • RetroRob

        I’d be fine if the Yankees could move that contract, although it does create a void now.

        Bottom line is the Dodgers would probably only take A-Rod’s contract if they could get something else to help them win now. The Yankees would probably have to also offer them CC Sabathia, just as the Red Sox had to offer Gonzalez to get them to take the risk on Crawford.

        • Laz

          The dodgers were looking at their biggest need and seeing that the best 1B is laroche this offseason. Sure they took on some big money, but agon is still very good, beckett could be good in the nl west, and crawford should still be healthy next year and beyond. They would have had to sign a lf anyways for next year, victorino maybe, but he still costs money.

          • Brian S.

            Good first basemen are hard to find. It didn’t seem like that long ago half the teams in the majors had an elite first baseman but now there’s what, six?

          • Steve (different one)

            The Dodgers now have a $60M outfield. And that doesn’t count the $42M they spent on Puig, who they have no spot for now.

            There is a good chance they have a higher payroll than the Yankees next year. Crazy…

      • MannyGeee

        For that kind of scratch coming off the books, any replacement 3B will work out…

    • Steve (different one)

      ARod has a NTC. It’s not happening.

      • OMG! Bagels!

        Exactly.

  • RkyMtnYank

    Love that picture of Joe and Swish, I’m sure he’s asking him to accept a 2yr 10mil contract with the promise of a bigger payday in 2015.

  • JLC 776

    Certainly a great win, but now we need to do at least the same to Toronto!

  • Elmgrovegnome

    A lot of people knew re-signing A rod was a big mistake. But that unreachable home run record was worth every penny!!!!!

    I wish the Yankees could re-incarnate a young Joe Carter. If men were on base he was guaranteed to drive them in….or so it seemed. Who was the last player the Yankees had that was like that? Mattingly in his prime? You know, the kind of guy that you knew was going to get it done.

    • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

      Matsui.

  • Eddard the Great

    Enough of this 2/3 garbage. We need to sweep these little sisters of the poor. We are now at home and Toronto doesn’t have its best player along with a host of other good players they once had so there’s no excuse. Jeter, Swisher and Robbie are gonna have to carry the offense cause it doesn’t look like anyone else wants to step up.

  • LarryM.,Fl.

    I like Swisher for the attitude and ability that he brings each dy to the field. Prior to the All Star break I was confused over his resigning for 2013. He helps the team in many ways moreso than Grandy on offense. Sure Grand plays CF well and hits big time HRs but Swish has been hitting with RISP both he and Jeter are our hottest hitters. With Teix. going cold than hot more toward cold. Swisher plays a decent firstbase. Its a big time issue with years remaning on the Arod and Teix. contracts. If I was to decide on who of the two would I sign at this point. It would have to be Cano and Swish.

    Not an easy decision when winning the WS is the only goal. Not much room for development or just plan playoff runs without success. Its a tough standard.

    • Eddard the Great

      Swisher will be back. He’s a fan favorite and a good hitter. If he has a great postseason they’d have to re-sign him. It’s Granderson that I don’t think will return. He’ll be past his peak years as a CF and wanting bigger dollars and more years than Swisher.

  • Jose M. Vazquez

    I hate to bring it up, but the inability to hit with men in scoring position which has haunted this team since last year’Another things playoffs, has me wondering if they can go far in the playoffs should we make it there. There just have been too many bad signs that the team overall cannot get it done when it needs to be done. On the other hand the rest of the division’s teams also have faults and we are in first place. Thus I am back at a 7. Another item is that they just cannot come back after trailing past seven innings.

    • Jose M. Vazquez

      Sorry about that “another things” slipped in unintentionally and I missed it.

  • http://stoogazzo@comcast.net Tom Morea

    How come this article doesn’t mention what a great game Teixiera had?

  • http://stoogazzo@comcast.net Tom Morea

    How come this article didn’t mention that Cano was intentionally walked with a runner on second base to pitch to our 22.5 million dollar a year clean-up hitter?

  • http://stoogazzo@comcast.net Tom Morea

    How come this article didn’t mention that our 22.5 million dollar clean up hitter previously struck out and popped up with runners in scoring position?