Phelps, Swisher & Lowe slam Rangers in series opener

Nuno gives up three homers in AA loss
Eric Chavez, fill-in superstar

I have to say, I didn’t think Monday’s game would go that smoothly. David Phelps was coming in with a 75-80 pitch leash while Derek Lowe and his 8.80 ERA over his last dozen starts backed him up as the long man. Instead of collapsing against a powerhouse Rangers’ offense, Phelps and Lowe carried the Yankees to an easy 8-2 win.

(REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)

That’s Mr. Phelps To You

Early on, it looked like the highlight of this game would be Phelps’ pickoff move. The young right-hander picked a runner off first in the second and a runner off second in the third, and that came after he nearly caught Elvis Andrus a little too far off the bag in the first. Seven of the first 14 hitters Phelps faced reached base, including a David Murphy solo home on a pitch that wasn’t all that bad bad. It was a breaking ball down and in, and he just golfed it out. The other run Texas scored came after an infield single, a walk, and a broken back bloop. It happens.

Phelps shook the rocky start off to finish very strong, retiring seven of the final eight hitters he faced to complete five full innings for his first time as a big leaguer. Had his pitch count not been limited, he almost certainly could have completed six innings and maybe even record an out or two in the seventh. Phelps struck out three, walked one, and threw 51 of 78 pitches for strikes (65%). I’m glad to see he made me look foolish merely hours after publishing this post. Good job kid, we’ll see you again in five days.

(REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)

Swisher Slam

Trade deadline pickup Ryan Dempster held the Yankees down with two very efficient innings to open the game, but it all unraveled in the third. Russell Martin and Raul Ibanez led the inning off with singles, then advanced to second and third on Ichiro Suzuki‘s sacrifice bunt. It looked like he was trying to bunt for a hit, but they call Adrian Beltre the best defense third baseman in the game for a reason. He made a nice barehand play and got the out at first.

Dempster was in trouble and Derek Jeter worked him hard, fouling off a few pitches to turn a 2-1 count into a walk that loaded the bases. Nick Swisher saw a first pitch ball and a second pitch meatball, a little cement mixer that hung up in the strike zone. He clobbered it for a go-ahead grand slam into the second deck in right, a no-doubter off the bat. Because that wasn’t enough, the Yankees immediately reloaded the bases against Dempster (walk and two singles) and tacked on another run with a Curtis Granderson sacrifice fly. Dempster managed to complete six innings, but he got hit really hard. Those five second innings runs were all New York would need.

This Derek Lowe can stay. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Lowe Rider

Phelps threw his five innings and the Yankees had a three-run lead, so Joe Girardi handed the ball off to the recently signed Lowe. The long-time starter agreed to return to his bullpen roots, and he looked mighty comfortable pitching in relief. Showcasing three very distinct pitches — upper-80s sinker, low-80s changeup, low-80s slider — the 39-year-old right-hander struck out four and allowed just two dinky singles in four scoreless innings of work. He and Phelps combined to retire 19 of the final 22 batters Texas sent to the plate.

Because he threw more than three innings, Lowe recorded a save in his first appearance in pinstripes. It was his first save since 2001, back when he was an All-Star closer with the Red Sox. Thirty-three of his 44 pitches were strikes (75%), 11 of 14 batters faced saw a first pitch strike, and half of his eight ball-in-play outs were on the ground. It’s one appearance, but it certainly looks like Lowe can be of some use going forward. He and Phelps were pressed into duty and they did a phenomenal job against a great team. Bravo, you two.


(REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)

Eric Chavez missed this weekend’s games with a sore back but he showed no ill-effects on Monday, clobbering a solo homer over the bullpen and into the right field bleachers off Dempster. He also chipped in a single and now has five straight multi-hit games, which is a new career-high. Chavez has been nothing short of amazing this season. This is some swan song.

Swisher and Raul Ibanez were the only other hitters with multiple hits, though Jeter (double), Mark Teixeira (single), Martin (single), and Ichiro (triple) all had a knock. Both Robinson Cano and Granderson took 0-for-3s, but Robbie walked and Grandy had the sacrifice fly. Dempster wasn’t fooling anyone, especially the second and third time through the order.

The grand slam was Swisher’s 200th career homer, giving the Yankees seven players with 200+ career homers — Swisher, Teixeira, Jeter, Ibanez, Chavez, Alex Rodriguez, and Andruw Jones. That is tied with the 2008 Yankees for the most 200+ homer guys on one team in baseball history, and Granderson is sitting on 197 career dingers. Safe to see this team will have eight 200+ homer guys in short order.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some additional stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Orioles were idle on Monday and the Rays are out playing the Mariners on the West Coast, so at worst, the Yankees will wake up on Tuesday with their five-game lead in the AL East intact. The magic number at the moment is 43.

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next

It’ll be the Yankees and Rangers once again on Tuesday night, the second game of this four-game set. Hiroki Kuroda gets the ball against first-time All-Star Matt Harrison. Make sure you check out RAB Tickets for some last minute details if you want to catch the game.

Nuno gives up three homers in AA loss
Eric Chavez, fill-in superstar
  • 28 this year

    There isn’t one thing that was wrong with this game other than how it seemed the Rangers kept getting bloop hits. But honestly, that is the nitpickingest of nitpicks cause honestly the pitching did the job, the offense did the job all around and the team is set up with everyone ready to go tomorrow including the entire bullpen. Straightforward solid game against the 2nd best team, that is how its done.

  • Bob Buttons the Cat

    Those pick-offs were sure awesome, but at the same time made me miss Andy even more.

  • Heisenberg’s Hat

    I wonder if Derek Lowe is getting vilified in the Boston media right now for signing with the Yanks.

    • Kiko Jones

      Hmm…he kinda hinted that it felt kinda funny for him being a Yankee. But at this point in his career he just wants to prove he can contribute. Welcome aboard!

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Of course…..if they’re even capable of remembering that far back at this point.

      • Heisenberg’s Hat

        He was the winning pitcher for game 4 of the 2004 WS. I hope even those idiots can remember that much.

        • Evan3457

          Also, and perhaps more importantly, the winning pitcher in game 7 of the ALCS in 2004.

          • Heisenberg’s Hat

            I’ve blocked that memory out for good.

          • vicki

            what the hell are you talking about? they played baseball in 2004?

    • jon

      I live in the heart of Red Sox nation and I think that the Sox have been such a disappointment they dont care. WEEI which is the Red Sox radio station kept talking about Lowes performance last night, but in a positive light.
      They said he was a fun guy to be around, a good teammate and a gamer. They did say they wish they picked him up and took Beckett out of the rotation, since Josh has taken a total nose dive.

      • MannyGeee

        hindsight being 20/20, as D Lowe has been OK (nothing that would blow your dick off) for the past 5-7 years and Beckett has had some reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally good seasons in the middle there.

  • Brian S.

    Dempster got bombed today as did Anibal Sanchez. Grienke has not been good so far either. lol trade deadline.

    • vicki

      i traded greinkles for the UNIVERSE in my keeper league, soon as he went to laa. point, me.

    • Steve (different one)

      It’s almost as if pitching in the AL is much harder than the NL (I do realize Grienke can pitch in the AL..)

  • Rey22

    So if on opening day I told you the Yankees would beat the Rangers on August 13th, the winning pitcher was our starter David Phelps, and the save went to Derek Lowe (!) , would you have guessed the Yankees would have the best record in the AL? Funny how things go.

    • MannyGeee

      Funny thing about baseball… Try as you might, you just can’t predict it.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Easily in my top five wins of the season. Phelps finally gets through five and earns a W as a starter, a MIGHTY grand slam by Swisher, and a great story in and of itself in Derek Lowe’s first appearance in pinstripes. Smiles all around tonight.

    • Betty Lizard

      Russell Martin got a hit!!! Nick Swisher hit a grand slam! Chavez homered! Itchiro tripled! And how about Phelps and Derek Fucking Lowe! Plus I read that Little Feat was in the stands and Dixie Chicken played between innings.

      Happy, happy, happy.

      • rek4gehrig

        +1 and I was at the game (I guess it’s +2 then)

  • Kiko Jones

    Phelps wasn’t supposed to pitch Monday night and Lowe wasn’t even a Yankee until today, but together they pitched a masterful game. Meanwhile, on the anniversary of The Mick’s passing, another switch-hitting Yankee outfielder acquitted himself quite nicely: Swisher’s grand slam was a sight to behold. Also, Ichiro hit his first triple as a Yankee and Chavez is STILL on fire. 8-2 win against a dangerous division leader with the second best record in the AL. (The Yankees are no.1) Feeling pretty good right now.

  • Pat D

    If only Johnny Damon had been over 200 home runs in 2008, they would have had 8 that year.

    Of course, the Yankees only had those 7 200-home run hitters for about a total of two weeks, from the time IRod was acquired to the time Richie Sexson was released.

    • vicki

      that pudge trade was gross.

      chicks dig kyle farnsworth.

      • pat

        I had never really liked Farnsworth, but when he started crying I felt terrible for him.

      • MannyGeee

        chicks dig Rays Farnsworth, everyone wanted to massacre Pinstriped Farnsy.

  • Buhner’s barber

    Two thoughts

    Phelps reminds me of Mussina because of his poise, command, and pickoff move. I’m very excited for him to be a part of the Yankee rotation.

    When the playoffs start, if their current performance levels hold, you would almost have to start Ibanez in LF and Chavez at DH right? I just don’t think you can reasonably say that you give yourself the best chance to win with Ichiro replacing either one of these guys in the line-up, I think you just have to live with the defensive drop off and maybe just use Ichiro as a defensive replacement.

    • forensic

      At current performance levels?

      Sit Granderson…


      • jon

        I was thinking the same thing, it seems completely insane to not want to play granderson…but is is K-ing almost 33% of the time this season.

        Its pretty ugly!!

  • Rich in NJ

    I was sooo glad that Theo wasn’t able to pawn Dempster off on Cashman.

    • FIPster Doofus


    • Bob Buttons the Cat

      Ryan Dumpster.

    • MannyGeee

      Buyers remorse! Nolan Ryan face!!!

  • Gonzalo Hiram

    Nice to see good words for Phelps,good post, this kid won’t be an ace but he isn’t afraid of failing and takes advantage of whatever talents he has. I really like his attitude and the performance numbers speak by it self.

    So good Cashman didn’t trade Phelps for Anibal, Dempster, Victorino or one of those.

  • FIPster Doofus

    I’ve taken quite a liking to Phelps, and I hope he’ll prove capable of being a full-time starter sometime soon.

  • Dave

    “Lowe’s almost certainly going to get pounded regardless of role”

    Mike from yesterday. Ouch. Not one of Mike’s finest moments as a blogger.

    Yes, Lowe’s numbers stunk, but there was more to the story. Lowe reworked his mechanics after getting cut by Cleveland. Cashman and other GMs probably got good reports on him which is why so many clubs were interested. GMs simply have more info than bloggers who only have their stats and reports from the media.

    Lowe clearly looked like a different pitcher than the one we saw with Cleveland. The movement on sinker being the most notable. So signing someone like Lowe made no sense to a stat based blogger/fan like Mike Axisa. But to Cashman it made perfect sense based on what he knew.

    • Betty Lizard

      Regardless of what Mike Axisa thought might happen to Lowe in today’s game, he never wrote anything to suggest that he felt Lowe’s signing didn’t make sense. Just the opposite. This is what Mike wrote:

      “Lowe was a free agent with a fixed price (practically free), and a guy who could soak up some innings without issue — he’s thrown at least 180 innings every year since 2001. Adam Warren figures to remain in Triple-A for the time being, but he was the other alternative for Monday’s start and Sabathia’s roster spot. Lowe’s signing is a depth move, another example of an older and accomplished player accepting a reduced role with the Yankees.”

    • Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

      “Lowe clearly looked like a different pitcher than the one we saw with Cleveland.”

      I’m going to tell you the same thing I tell cliff jumpers during game threads: One game a season does not make. Let’s remember Corey Wade was GREAT in the bullpen all of last year and for a good chunk of this year too, before falling off a cliff. Just because Derek Lowe had 1 good game against a good team (half of it in garbage time) doesn’t mean that he’s all of a sudden a new pitcher. That’s like saying “Ichiro’s been terrible this season and last, but he had a triple tonight, so I’m just going to just forget all the evidence of him being horrible and say he’s a different hitter.”

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I’m not happy about how well Lowe pitched tonight, I’m as ecstatic as anybody. However, there is a reason he was available for the league minimum from a team that has pitching issues to begin with. Let’s not just expect Lowe to be great for the rest of the season. I in fact expect him to be gone by the time CC is healthy and ready to go again, and for Lowe to be used as Phelp’s and Nova’s garbage time safety net until then.

      • RI$P FTW

        Stop being rational. Phelps and Lowe will not surrender ONE run the rest of the year.

    • Kosmo

      To some extent it might have helped that Russ Martin caught Lowe for 3 years while they were with the Dodgers 06-08.

      • vicki

        yes, thank you.

        (and he came in with a lead.)

      • Steve (different one)

        I was wondering why nno one had mentioned this angle. Not saying its worth a ton, but it’s something.

  • Nathan

    Swan song? Has Chavy said this would be his last year?

    • MannyGeee

      no but he has made indications that he was not physically ‘up to’ the rigors of getting ready to play…

      all signs point to retirement.

    • RI$P FTW

      He wasn’t even going to play this year.

  • Kramerica Industries

    It’s kinda annoying that the Rays don’t lose games anymore.

    I mean, playing the crippled Jays and then woeful Twins and M’s helps, but still.

    • Bob Buttons the Cat

      If we had Cust back in our AAA lineup we might have more recognizable names than their Major League lineup (for the time being anyways)

      • Bob Buttons the Cat

        “Their” being Jays’, Twins’ and Mariners’, not Rays’.

  • RetroRob

    Kay briefly mentioned this Phil Rizzuto story late in the game. The article is much better than the slightly butchered, and much shorter version from Kay. Nice read and seems totally in charcter for the Scooter.

    • Jimmy

      Great story. Thanks for the tip.

  • Darren

    Jeter is either hurt, or he was off tonight. never saw him loaf it like he did on his double.

    • Heisenberg’s Hat

      He was running hard all the way. Hamilton just made a really strong throw, so it looked like a close play.

      • Darren

        I don’t think so. The highlight on doesn’t show Jeter running, only sliding awkwardly into second, which I think he was forced to do because he was surprised at Hamilton’s throw. Which he wouldn’t have had to do if he ran hard (as he always does). I was at the game and the replay on the board showed an angle of him running to first and it sure looked like he was running a little slow.

        He’s probably banged up; he had three uncharacteristically bad plays in the field too. nd when did he start wearing the full arm wrap on his left arm?

  • vicki

    take care, derek lowe, and you can retire with a sub 4 era. as a yankee. you’re not dreaming.

    • Betty Lizard

      I hope so!
      The Yankees’ motto:
      “Give me your tired, your poor,
      Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
      The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
      Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
      I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

  • LarryM.,Fl.

    I know its one start but over the course of the year. I have wished that the Yanks went with Phelps over Freddie. My thinking has been if their equal in performance than you could benefit in development of Phelps. But you can’t argue with first place.

    Swisher as much as I believe Swisher is not clutch. He continually makes solid contact at the plate. Is he worth the gamble of a contract in 2013 over Granderson. Everyday I vacillate over this situation. 2014 will make for some tough decisions even prior to the year.

    Applause for the front office and their ability to squeeze out some talent from the scrap pile.

    Chavez is just amazing. He was always a good player for Oakland but our limited view of him, hid the star ability.

    • Jim Is Bored

      “But you can’t argue with first place”

      Have you been here long?

      • OMG! Bagels!

        My exact thoughts. We lose games in the first inning and plummet to the bottom of the standings and demand everyone be fired on a fairly regular basis. Arguing first place is what we do best.

        • Jim Is Bored

          Always better than arguing last place!

      • LarryM.,Fl.

        I have been a Yankee fan since ’56. I may not argue with stats as the younger guys do today. But I observe just like money ball. Old scouts got the boot and young guys with stats push the decisions. My basis for Phelps is all on observation and the desire to win and develop at the same time.

        • Jim Is Bored

          Wasn’t trying to imply anything about you or your yankee fandom; I was implying that tons of people on this site argue when we’re in first place.

          No offense meant.

    • MannyGeee

      funny, a month ago everyone would hve said you’re cray-cray… yet here we are

  • Steve (different one)

    Fun with arbitrary endpoints:

    Ichiro last 7 days: .313/.353/.500
    Ichiro last 14 days: .282/.317/.410

    No one is mistaking him for Jose Bautista, but the old man might have a little juice left. I would take that second line with plus defense hitting down in the order and sitting against tougher lefties.

    • MannyGeee

      and by the way, he trotted to a triple yesterday. didnt muscle out a triple, trotted to one. standing up.

      if you look at the replay, he got a bad jump on it, came out of the box slow, and didnt seem to break a sweat at any point in that run. dude is faaaaast.

  • MannyGeee

    Derek Lowe… True Yankee(TM)

  • JohnC

    I laugh now at everyone who was killing Cashman at the deadline for passing on the likes of Dempster, Grienke, and Sanchez. Thats justice!!!

    • Steve (different one)

      He didn’t really “pass” on Grienke. The Yanks just don’t have the type of prospect the Angels traded. And if they did, I don’t think we’d have wanted him to trade a SS prospect, close to the bigs, with all-star potential for half a season of Grienke.

  • Eddard

    I think we’re in really good shape. Girardi really turned things around when he got thrown out of that Detroit game. The offense has come alive. Swisher seems to be getting hot. Chavy has been a godsend, probably the best FA signing Cashman has ever made closely followed by Ibanez and Derek Lowe. Ichiro might be the best trade Cashman ever made. Martin is showing signs of life again. Phelps is an upgrade over 3/5th of the current rotation so those struggling starters better take notice.

    • The Raging Platypus

      Not for nothing, but the trade for Swishalicious is pretty hard to top.

      • Bob Buttons the Cat

        That trade was positively swishalicious!

        Three pieces of unwanted garbage for a fan favorite? Sign me up.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      “Chavy has been a godsend, probably the best FA signing Cashman has ever made closely followed by Ibanez and Derek Lowe.”

      Now that you’ve basically revealed yourself to be five years old, this makes a ton of sense.

      You’re one hell of a smart five year-old, though.

    • Get Phelps Up

      Who needs a recap when you can just read Eddard’s comments the next day and know if the Yankees won or lost last night.