It wasn’t the greatest homestand for the Yankees, but they beat the Mariners on Sunday afternoon to finish with a 4-5 record during the recent stretch in the Bronx. Again, not the greatest, but it could have been a whole lot worse.
All About Raul
The Yankees scored a run in the first (Mark Teixeira infield single), the second (Curtis Granderson reached on an error), and the fourth (Derek Jeter single), but it wasn’t until the fifth and sixth that they really blew things open. Raul Ibanez crushed a solo homer over the home bullpen and into the left field bleachers in the fifth, then tacked on a two-run single in the sixth. The second was a classic nice piece of hitting as they say, a 3-2 pitch away from left-hander Oliver Perez that Raul served over the shortstop’s head and into shallow right. Ibanez has just eight hits off lefties this year (41 PA), but he hung in well against the hard-throwing Perez and gave his club some breathing room.
Four of New York’s six runs scored with two outs, which is always nice to see. They still managed to go 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position but I don’t really care. The Yankees plated runs in five of their eight offensive innings and had at least least one baserunner in every inning. Heck, they had at least two baserunners in seven of eight offensive innings. Pretty solid job.
It looked like Freddy Garcia had a whole bunch of nothing in the first inning, surrendering a single on the very first pitch of the game and retiring just two of the six men he faced in the inning. One of those two exceptions was a sacrifice bunt, and the third out of the inning came when Jesus Montero was thrown out at the plate after running through the third base coach’s stop sign. It was not a confidence inspiring inning, let’s put it that way.
But, as he always seems to do, Freddy settled down and skirted through the next four innings relatively unscathed. He allowed a two-out run on a little poke single from Montero in the fifth, but otherwise held down the fort. Garcia walked four, struck out only two, and threw only 85 pitches in those five innings. The bullpen was pretty well rested; Joe Girardi did a good job of getting his fifth starter out of there before the Mariners started making noise. It wasn’t pretty, but it was the 150th win of Freddy Garcia’s career. Congrats to him.
Lock Down Bullpen
The bullpen really shined after Freddy exited, retiring 12 of the 13 men they faced with zero hits. The one baserunner was a walk by David Robertson. Boone Logan threw two perfect innings and Rafael Soriano threw a perfect ninth, his first game action in a week. Oddly enough, they only struck out one batter. Those three guys came into the game with a combined 11.5 K/9 and 30.3 K%. Won’t see that often.
Ichiro Suzuki extended his exactly-one-hit streak to an even dozen games, though this hit was a routine fly ball to center that Michael Saunders lost in the sun and played into a double. It really should have been an error, bright sun an all. Ichiro’s streak is the longest hitting streak to start a Yankees career since Don Slaught also hit safely in 12 straight back in 1988. I’m still playing around with the Play Index to find the longest exactly-one-hit streak in baseball history — it’s a pretty intense query and the system keeps timing out, so I’ve had to break it up into smaller searches — but the longest I’ve found so far is a 16-gamer by Ted Sizemore for the 1975 Cardinals.
The top five hitters in the order went a combined 8-for-21 (.381) with three walks, all by Teixeira. Chris Stewart had a great day at the plate, with a single, a double, and a walk in four trips. He also scored the team’s first two runs of the afternoon and stole a base, though that was a bit of good timing — he just happened to go at the same time as a wild pitch, so it was an uncontested steal.
The Yankees drew five walks as a team for just the third time in their last 18 games, or 16.7%. In their first 89 games, it was five or more walks 28.1% of the time. That’s a bit of a chicken or the egg thing — did the Yankees struggle offensive those few days because they weren’t drawing walks, or were they not drawing walks because they were pressing and trying to force the issue? Either way, more free passes please.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some additional stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Orioles beat the Rays, so the lead in the division remains seven in the loss column over Baltimore. Tampa and the Red Sox are eight and eleven games back, respectively.
The Yankees are off to Detroit for a four-game series against the scorching hot Tigers. Ivan Nova and Justin Verlander will open the series on Monday night, their second head-to-head meeting of the season. The first had an interesting ending.