Cano and Mo lead Yankees to a win on Jackie Robinson Day

DePaula strikes out seven in third start
Thoughts on a random Wednesday

On Jackie Robinson Day, the Yankees won in a game 4-2 in which the big hit came from a player named after the Hall of Famer and the save was recorded by the last player who will ever wear #42. Baseball can be pretty cool sometimes.

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

One Too Many Changeups
When the Yankees offense was in its heyday a few years ago, they wore pitchers down and forced them to throw a ton of pitches early in the game. They used the same approach to the extreme on Tuesday, forcing Diamondbacks right-hander Brandon McCarthy to throw 30 pitches in the first, 57 pitches through two innings, 66 pitches through three innings, and 98 pitches through four innings. They were relentless, the poor guy couldn’t get a quick out to save his life.

Of course, McCarthy allowed zero runs through the first three innings, dancing out of a bases loaded situation in both the first and second innings. Things unraveled in the fourth, when Lyle Overbay and Chris Stewart opened the inning with seeing-eye singles through the left side of the infield. I was worried the Yankees would have Brett Gardner bunt in that spot, but they let him swing away and the result was a strikeout. Considering what happened next, the strikeout was actually a good thing.

Robinson Cano came to the plate next, and McCarthy immediately fell behind in the count 3-0. He ran the count full by feeding Robbie changeup after changeup, but the fourth straight changeup and sixth pitch of the at-bat was a total mistake. It hung in the middle of the zone and Cano did what MVP-caliber players are supposed to do with that pitch: he hit into orbit. Three-run homer in the right field bleachers …  no Yankee Stadium cheapie, no help from the wind, nothing. It was gone off the bat and the Yankees went from down two to up one just like that. Had Gardner bunted, Robinson almost certainly would have been intentionally walked to set up the double play. Hooray for not bunting.

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

Ivan No No Nova
I’ll take two runs in five innings out of my fifth starter every day of the week, but my goodness was Ivan Nova a chore to watch on Tuesday. He threw 94 pitches in five innings, including 72 pitches in the first three innings. Seventeen of the 24 batters he faced saw a first pitch strike, but 12 saw at least four pitches in their at-bats. It was basically the same stuff we saw against the Tigers a week ago, just against a much less potent lineup. Then again, not many teams can match the Detroit offense, so perhaps it’s not a big deal.

I do think the Yankees are starting to run out of patience with Nova, whose track record of success in the big leagues is basically the second half of 2011. I also don’t think he’s in imminent danger of losing his rotation spot, not with Andy Pettitte‘s back acting up and Phil Hughes looking like a pitcher who missed basically all of Spring Training due to injury. Nine base-runners in five innings is pretty darn awful regardless of how many runs scored, and we really didn’t see any improvement from Nova’s first start to his second. He’ll get another chance to raise my blood pressure to dangerously high levels in five days.

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

The Bullpen Formula
The middle relief crew has been very shaky early this season, but the bullpen picked up Nova with four dynamite innings to close things out. Boone Logan retired all four men he faced (including two lefties) before Joba Chamberlain finished off the seventh by retiring both men he faced. David Robertson allowed a single in the eighth but otherwise threw a stress-free scoreless inning. That put the ball in Mariano Rivera‘s hands, and as he’s done a couple hundred times before, he retired the final three batters of the game in order to secure the win.

Four innings of work, one base-runner (the single), three strikeouts. Damn near flawless effort from the bullpen in a close game, can’t really ask for much more. Considering how shaky the non-Robertson and Mo relievers have been so far, this was a very welcome sight. Hopefully it continues, I think we all know these guys are better than what they’ve shown the last two weeks.

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

Leftovers
The Yankees tacked on a rather big insurance run in the seventh, loading the bases with no outs before Eduardo Nunez lifted a sacrifice fly to left-center. Considering the two blown bases loaded opportunities earlier in the game, it sure was nice to see someone cash in a run there. New York went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position overall, but the one was Cano’s dinger.

Speaking of Robbie, his homer was part of a 2-for-4 with a walk night, meaning he has now gone 9-for-19 (.474) with four homers on Jackie Robinson Day in is career. Pretty great way to honor to man you were named after, no?

Gardner (double), Kevin Youkilis (two singles), Travis Hafner (two doubles), Ichiro Suzuki (single), Nunez (single), and Stewart (two singles) all had hits as well. Vernon Wells drew an unintentional walk while Cano and Ichiro (!) were given true free passes. They were put on intentionally.

Very nice gesture by the Yankees to play Sweet Caroline after the third inning in support of Boston. Sports rivalries mean nothing in real life.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
Same two teams on Wednesday night, when CC Sabathia gets the ball against NL Rookie of the Year runner-up Wade Miley. That starts a stretch of five lefty opposing starters in the next seven games. Check out RAB Tickets for any last-minute deals.

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DePaula strikes out seven in third start
Thoughts on a random Wednesday
  • Eddard

    They’re now 2 games above .500 and have their ace on the mound tomorrow against an NL lineup. Nova wasn’t good but he limited the damage to 2 runs. Could have been a lot worse, and I’m talking Ubaldo worse.

    • MannyGeee

      Credit where it’s due…. You are 100% correct. Ubaldo Jiminez looks like the ULTIMATE dodged bullet in hindsight.

  • forensic

    A couple people (including John Flaherty, not sure if that’s where it started) mentioned that Nova seems to be showing a bit of a reverse split.

    In this game, lefties went 1-10 and righties went 6-10 off Nova.

    Might be something to keep an eye on and see if they try to do anything to battle righties a bit better.

    • JD

      I think Nova has more upside than Hughes and may be the better pitcher even now. I think Nova’s stuff is projectibly better and he has not been so injury prone as Hughhes. I realize I may have the minority position in this view and that reasonable minds may differ. Still, its not lopsided one way or the other. Yet, to read Mike’s posts it would appear that Hughes is head and shoulders above Nova. The constant rhetoric like Yankees “losing patience” with Nova fuels this. Its April. I hope we can avoid the hyperbole and bias. Over his career, Nova has pitched to a 4.41 ERA over 387 innings. Hughes is 4.46 over 642 innings. Nova had a better 2011 and Hughes had a better 2012. Hughes has a slightly better k-rate and Nova has a slightly better walk-rate. Am I missing something?

  • Improbable Island’s Dirty Midget Whores (Formerly RRR)

    This is mostly for Pat, just because:

    I just grabbed my book.

    First off the author, Handrinos, points out that Pittsburgh was a better team than they seemed, with a higher BA and lower ERA than the Yanks despite playing in the way tougher league, for what it’s worth.

    Anyway, Stengel was basing the starting assignments on 1960, not the past. Ditmar had a (slightly) lower ERA and pitched more innings. In September he had pitched to a significantly lower ERA than Ford despite pitching more innings.

    Think he should have picked ford because he was a proven postseason pitcher? Not so fast. Sure, this was true in Yankee Stadium. But in 5 road postseason starts he was 0 and 3 with an ERA over 6. Ditmar, meanwhile, was no postseason slouch himself, having pitched terrifically in the 57? and 58? WS.

    Sure, Stengel held Ford to two starts instead of three. But he also ensured that if the series went to 7 games Ford would only need to work in the pitcher unfriendly Forbes Field for one month, not two.

    The big reason we question the decision is that Ford was terrific and Ditmar wasn’t. 20/20 hindsight.

    • Bob Buttons

      From what I’ve read on Stengel (very little), he hated to pitch Ford in Brooklyn and Pittsburgh. Though result would show Stengel isn’t exactly wrong in his weird decisions. I mean, this is the guy who started Johnny friggin Kucks out of nowhere in game 7 in 1956.

      • Kosmo

        from what I´ve read Yankee players were pissed off at Stengel for not giving Bill Stafford a start. He did pitch 5 scoreless innings in relief in game 5 after Ditmar failed to survive the 2nd inning.

      • http://Riveravenueblues Marty lieberman

        I was 12 and watched on tv, no school, Columbus Day. Forbes field was not IMO a hitters park, deep to left and the power alleys, maybe a hitters right field. Ford should have pitched 3 games, one reason why Casey was fired. I cried my eyes out after the game. (Was a bigger fan then and we lived in a different world).

      • Kosmo

        Ford did pitch a shutout in Pittsburgh during the 1960 WS. Ford probably never pitched in Forbes field before or after the 1960 WS. Another thing to remember is the bad hop bounce that caught Kubek in the Adams Apple forcing him to leave the game which also led to a Pirates rally. If Kubek fielded the ball cleanly NY probably wins the series.

  • Pseudoyanks

    “baseball can be pretty cool sometimes”
    Um, Yeah!

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Nice win, only really memorable for me because Mo closed it out. Nova was able to not let his shakiness result in too much damage. Great HR by Robbie. It will always be the most confusing day of the year when I have to watch everyone wear the same number. Watching the last 42 left close it out, of course, was the highlight.

    • Pseudoyanks

      Cool, because I only got to see 3 outs of this game and those were them.

  • forensic

    Angels lose again! Worst record and run differential in the league. Still loving this.

    The final out was a grounder from Pujols, off the third baseman way up in the air, grabbed by the shortstop and still able to throw out Pujols at first. He was never fast in the first place, but he might as well be in a wheelchair out there now with his plantar faciitis right now.

    You have think something is gonna happen with that at some point this season.

    • FIPster Doofus

      Only eight more years to go on that contract.

      • forensic

        Yup. Four straight years of declining OPS on top of it, though it’s back up a bit this year mostly thanks to being pitched around to get to Hamilton. He’s still a good hitter, but just a shell of his former self and that contract has to really be scaring them.

    • Get Phelps Up

      I love that the Angels, Rays and Blue Jays have the 3 worst run differentials in the AL after everyone was slobbering all over them in the offseason.

      • FIPster Doofus

        I’m especially taking joy in the Jays’ struggles, as I find that their fans have an unwarranted cockiness to them. That franchise has been irrelevant for about 20 years and I hope it stays that way. Two things I’m doing fervently this baseball season: rooting for the Yanks and rooting against Toronto.

        • forensic

          Completely agree with all of this.

          For me, the Angels are right there too. Being out here and having to hear from their fans and always being stuck with their terrible announcers and even the sense of arrogance from the organization, manager, and even some players just makes their start to this season all the more sweet.

          I’m still a little apathetic about the Rays, though their scattered fans can sometimes be annoying, overall there isn’t much I can really hate about most of their players. Maddon is probably the most annoying thing there. Though I will say their terrible offense to start the season has been kind of cool. At or very near the bottom in the league in just about every offensive category.

          • FIPster Doofus

            The only thing I dislike about the Rays is their eyesore of a stadium. I like Maddon and a lot of their players. Their offense is definitely a mess, though, which tends to happen when you dont replace Upton and a scrub like Loney is your first baseman. That’s supposed to be an easy position to fill, but they’ve had a devil of a time with it. Pretty sad when your best recent 1B season came from Casey Kotchman.

            • forensic

              Yeah, and it’s never good when your 3rd highest BA and 4th highest OBP are coming from Jose Molina!

              Some of their guys will get better, but I don’t know if they’re going to get better enough to make enough of a difference, especially if they dig themselves a little bit of a hole.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          I think fans of teams who live in the shadow of big market teams tend to suffer from “small penis” syndrome a bit. Whatever. It must suck to be them.

          When they actually do beat us, give them a polite clap but know that, while they may have won the battle that season, the Yankees always win the war.

          I find “Yankees suck” sentiment annoying, but it really isn’t limited to one city, so I can’t say one city is truly worst than the rest. As a matter of fact, the only fans of any team I find specifically annoying are New York Knicks fans.

          *ducks*

          • Robinson Tilapia

            *avoids MBW on the way out*

  • trr

    and we bitch about A-rod

  • Kramerica Industries

    Sweet Caroline is actually a very addicting song when taken out of the context of drunken Red Sox fans at Fenway.

    I thoroughly enjoyed that. Rag on the city as much as we want, but the significance of Boston, past and present, is a large part of what makes America what it is today.

    • Anthony

      +1, especially the first bit.

      • The Real Me

        Personally, I can’t stand that song, nor Neil Diamond. However, I am 100% with Kramerica on the second part of his post (after “I thoroughly enjoyed that.”). Boston is a great city that I enjoy visiting and played a significant role in American history.

    • Bob Buttons

      As long as they don’t play Cotton Eyed Joe.

      Seriously. The song makes me die a bit inside every time.

    • Pseudoyanks

      Oh hell yeah. Boston is a great city. I spent four college years there. While I would say the people are xenophobic, the city is among the 5 best in the country….not quite the Hub of the Universe but still Top 5 in the USA.

      • Bob Buttons

        I’m not saying Boston is or isn’t nice, since I’ve never been to MA, but I honestly don’t see why a xenophobic place would be a good place.

        • WhittakerWalt

          It’s mostly just Southie that’s that way. It’s like a whole different country there.

          • Bob Buttons

            Yeah, never been to the South (other than famous tourist spots) so I wouldn’t know.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          There’s xenophobia in every city on this earth. Boston gets a bum rap in that regard.

          I’ve spent minimal time there, but I love our great classic cities.

          That being said, I found the “Sweet Caroline” thing to be the equivalent of changing your FB profile pic. The song still makes me gag, and I hoped for something more meaningful there. A couple of minutes of “feel good” just doesn’t do it for me. Focus on those first responders, who were just awesome in their response, people still in hospitals, and those struggling to get back to their lives.

          • MannyGeee

            I live outside of the city, but I can testify… Boston is not xenophobic. Problem being, you would not know it by watching a Sox game, but it is a pretty diverse town. It gets a bum wrap and compared to Knoxville in the 1950s, but all told its a great town.

            All that aside, fuck the Red Sox.

            • Robinson Tilapia

              Every city has its shit. Maybe we can cite some more overt stuff over in Boston (or not), but so what? Is that really better than the institutionalized and hidden classism and racism that goes on in NYC?

              The problem isn’t when we point the finger at the other guy and call him a racist. The problem is when we refuse to point it at ourselves.

          • Bob Buttons

            Huh. So I wasn’t being paranoid when I feel a bit uncomfortable when some local folks look at me and my family on road trips.

            • Robinson Tilapia

              That’s not going to be exclusive to Boston, though. That’s all I’m saying.

              Every large city in this country(I can’t speak for North Korea) faces some sort of class or ethnic tension.

      • Caballo Sin Nombre

        Xenophobic? I’ve been living in the Boston area for 30+ years, more or less straight since I came up here for college. If all you had was the college ecperience, you had limited contact with the locals, at best. It’s not particularly xenophobic. Provincial, yes.

    • Homan

      Living in Boston, going to Sawx games….Sweet Caroline makes everyone here look like an idiot. Really? The signage, the moment of silence – all good – but the stupidest, cringe-provoking Fenway absurdity (it’s not a tradition) should not have been included in any way. Did people really do that “oh…oh….oh?” OMG

      • Robinson Tilapia

        This.

      • Rick

        Youkilis disagrees.

  • dkidd

    rivera’s career whip remains at 1.00

    would love to see him get it below 1

    • forensic

      Before tonight’s game BR already had him at 0.999.

      After tonight he’s at 1223.2 innings and 1222 hits+walks.

      • forensic

        Though I did just notice that mlb.com still has him at 1.00 since they round at the hundreths place.

        Assuming they do their rounding correctly, it’ll take him almost 5 more consecutive hitless and walkless innings to reach 0.99.

  • BigBlueAL

    Would be pretty difficult to look up but would be curious to see out of Mo’s 611 saves how many of them were the result of a 1-2-3 9th inning like tonight. I know Mike just said a couple of hundred just to throw a high number out there but wonder what exactly that number is.

    • forensic

      217.

      Seriously, you ask and you shall receive. A little down time and it’s easy,I actually like this kind of research for some reason. I was tempted to hold it until a fresh thread tomorrow, but what the hell, people will see it in the morning.

      Those are one-inning saves (so none where he entered in the 8th) where he only faced 3 batters without allowing a baserunner.

      I have the year-by-year breakdown (easier to keep track of that way) if anyone is actually curious, but 2011 was far and away the highest with 25 such appearances.

  • Yu-Hsing Chen

    Cano has really perfected that Ken Griffy Jr. impression.

  • Mick taylor

    Do the yanks have to cut overbuy once Tex is back I wish they could keep him. I luv yuk hafner and wells have done. I do not want a tex arod or jeter returning messing that up

    • forensic

      You’re really going to be upset about having to dump Overbay? And yes, they do have to cut him when Tex returns.

      I’m as sad and depressed about Tex’s decline as anyone, but Overbay has a sub-.300 OBP and a sub-.400 SLG. He’s fine defensively, but that’s one spot that Tex actually hasn’t declined and Overbay won’t beat him there. Unless Tex chooses to turn June-September all into his personal April, he’ll easily outproduce Overbay.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      And we delve into self-parody.

      What a drag it is getting home indeed.

  • LarryM Fl

    I gave my opinion yesterday that Nova showed the inability to learn or replicate the positive aspects of his game. But last night I saw Nova make an adjustment. After throwing about 75 pitches during the first 4 innings he started throwing his fastball to the last batter in the 4th. He continued that approach in the 5th. He got good results with swing and misses. The fastball was down in the zone and the breaking pitches which are pretty good got some results. I hope he can continue in the next start.

    I like the way this team plays the game. Reminds me a bit as the teams in the late 90’s. Very good pitching,working the counts, defense, and productive at bats I like this. No big time HR hitters players who make contact.

    • LarryM Fl

      Sorry, I forgot Robbie Cano. His 3 run blast was dynamic. I guess it goes without notice because of his ability to play the game. He is a force in this game. But 7 years 175 million should be enough in my eyes. Long term contracts are not looking so good around the league.

  • mark

    “the poor guy couldn’t get a quick out to save his life.”? He got 3 outs on 9 pitches in the 3rd inning, no? :)

  • New Guy

    Nova was truly nerve racking in the first two innnings. Although, you do see that stuff and its pretty good. But I dont want to turn him into an AJ. He need to get ahead in counts, be agressive, and put hitters away quicker. It seems like when he gets to two strike everything is in the dirt. However, I think he did improve in the 4th and 5th. He looked much better, and was throwing strikes and attacking hitters. If nothing else, its a good point to build on.

  • Mscott

    Seems to me that in the 4th Nova got pissed and finally started to have a little bit of “Hit THIS Sucker!” mentality and actually pitched both aggressively and well.

    We can fine tune his release point and mechanics to a fare thee well but his real issue is between his orejas.

  • JLC 776

    Man, I was really worried when we went scoreless with the bases loaded (twice). It felt like one of those games where we let them off the hook and then would fade away… Thank God for Cano and an effective Nova. Let’s make it three in a row now!