Hafner carries Yankees to third straight win

Saturday Night Open Thread
DePaula strikes out six in latest start

Source: FanGraphs

For the seventh consecutive game, the other team scored first. The Yankees have made an unfortunate habit of falling behind relatively early over the last week, but they’ve also made a habit of battling back and winning those games as well. That’s exactly what happened on Saturday afternoon, as they overcome both a three-run and then a one-run deficit to win their third straight game against the Blue Jays. That’s pretty awesome. Let’s recap…

  • A Battle For Sabathia: It was another laborious start for CC Sabathia, who averaged 91.0 mph and topped out at 93.2 mph with his fastball according to PitchFX. He got touched up for two solo homers (Jose Bautista and Brett Lawrie) and two other runs (one earned) in his eight innings of work, and those eight innings are again a testament to his ability to battle. Sabathia threw 112 total pitches (80 strikes, 71%) and generated a healthy 13 swings and misses, but he also gave up nine hits to go with only four strikeouts. He did retire the final nine men he faced following Lawrie’s homer. It wasn’t pretty, but it did the job, especially with a short bullpen.
  • The Man They Call Pronk: Travis Hafner started just three of the last ten games heading into Saturday because of all the lefties the Yankees have seen of late, but Joe Girardi penciled him into the lineup against southpaw J.A. Happ anyway. The reward? A game-tying three-run homer in the fourth and a go-ahead triple (!) in the seventh. Rajai Davis got turned around a bit in center and had the ball clank off his glove for the triple, in case you were wondering. Hafner drove in four of the team’s five runs and raised his early season line to .309/.433/.727. Girardi will have to make sure he’s rested given his injury history, but it really hard to take Hafner out of the lineup right now.
  • Saved By Joba: Both Mariano Rivera and David Robertson were unavailable due to their recent workloads, so the ball went to Joba Chamberlain in the ninth inning with a one-run lead. He struck out the first man he faced despite falling behind in the count 3-0, but the next two reached base (solid single to left, infield single to third). The tying run was in scoring position, but Joba rebounded to get the second out on a pop-up and the third on a ground ball to third. It was nerve-wracking for sure, but it goes down as the righty’s first save since 2010.
  • Leftovers: Chris Stewart was responsible for the unearned run after dropping Ichiro Suzuki‘s throw home on a sacrifice fly. The throw was right on line, well ahead of the runner and on a perfect one hop right to Stewart’s mitt, but he muffed it and the runner was safe. He’s a classic Nichols Law catcher … Jayson Nix may have saved a run in the ninth by snagging Emilio Bonifacio’s hard-hit ground ball. If the ball gets by him and heads into the corner, the Blue Jays would have tied the game at worst and put the tying run at third at best … Robinson Cano had two hits including a double, and Vernon Wells singled him one batter later to tie the game in the seventh. Kevin Youkilis was the only player in the lineup who failed to record a hit, but we’ll cut him some slack since he missed the last week with back trouble.

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the nerd score, and ESPN the updated standings. You can’t win or lose a division title in April, but the Yankees have a chance to really bury the Blue Jays on Sunday by completing a rare four-game series sweep. If they do finish that sweep, they’re going to earn it because reigning NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey will be on the bump for Toronto. New York will counter with Phil Hughes. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch the game.

Saturday Night Open Thread
DePaula strikes out six in latest start
  • Improbable Island’s Dirty Midget Whores (formerly RRR)

    Hmmmm, so I’ll be that douche who says that an 8 inning four run game from CC disappoints me. I know he starts slow in general, but with the drop in velocity coming into the picture as well I really hope he starts pitching dominantly again soon, and not like this.

    • Angie

      So the 7 inning, 0 runs performance against Detroit means nothing? Or the 8 inning, 2 run performance against Arizona? And only 3 of those runs today were earned (Stewart), and 8 innings, 3 runs is good by me.

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

        Ah, I forgot about that. Glad one of the runs was unearned.

        I didn’t say they meant nothing. But these “grind it out” performances, while impressive, are something I hope he starts getting sorted out and turning into his typical dominance, with the occasional hiccup naturally, soon.

        • Rick

          Try to look at the positive and recognize that even when the ace doesn’t have his best stuff, it’s still better than 95% of the pitchers in the league. 8 innings, 3 earned on an off day. Feel lucky to watch a future HOF (if he maintains his pace) take the mound every 5 days. You won’t be so fortunate all of the time.

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

            Oh, you’re right. I hope he becomes a future hall of famer.

    • hogsmog

      Though it’s somewhat good news that he topped out and averaged higher than any of his other five starts.

  • mitch

    lots of timely hitting and gritty pitching performances so far this year. The offense has been ugly at times, but i’ve had a lot of fun watching them battle through this first month.

    • forensic

      It’s amazing what expectations can do to someone’s outlook sometimes.

      In terms of just BA, they actually 10th with runners on, 13th with RISP, 10 with RISP and 2 out, and 9th with the bases loaded.

      So, though it’s somewhat dependent on your definition of timely hitting, they actually haven’t been very good in these situations.

      • Now Batting

        Well they were 15th, 17th, and 18th in those statistics last year.

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

          Heh, good point. After last year it’s as if they’re the 27′ Yankees in those situations.

        • forensic

          My rankings were AL only. Yours are MLB.

          This year in MLB they are 18th with runners on, 26th with RISP, 14th with RISP and 2 out, and 17th with bases loaded.

          That’s not better than last year.

          • Now Batting

            Fair enough.

            One other point I’d like to make though is that the lineup overall was much better last year, so they’d be operating from a higher baseline. I’m too lazy to look it up right now.

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

            I think it’s more that we’re coming from behind a lot with an inferior lineup. An inferior lineup making comebacks always seems clutch.

  • forensic

    I wonder if Romine might start tomorrow. Wonder if there’s some history with Hughes from some of his minor league rehab time or even from this ST when Hughes was doing most of his work without the big club. Though I guess a lot of that time Romine was still following around the big club as the back-up most of the time, so maybe I’m just making it up as I go.

    • SDB

      I heard Sterling/Waldman saying that Romine had caught bullpen sessions from Pettitte and Kuroda, so I’d expect him to start Monday/Tuesday to catch those two.

      If that happens, hopefully he can also show something at the plate against the Astros.

      • forensic

        I don’t know about Pettitte, but he did catch Kuroda’s today, but he’ll be doing that with all of them to learn as much about them as possible.

        Maybe that has something to do with when he starts, maybe it doesn’t. Guess we’ll see.

        I also wonder if him likely having never seen a knuckleball might at least keep him out tomorrow, which would also likely put him in line to start at least one of those Kuroda/Pettitte vs. Houston games.

  • Kramerica Industries

    Tomorrow is a bit of a gravy game, perhaps, but between a chance of putting serious distance up from Toronto, as well a chance to finally complete a sweep this season, it would be really nice to grab the W.

    Yankees are 14-9, and the Jays are 9-16. Kinda the opposite of what everyone expected coming into this season. Hahah. Hope this maintains itself, to a degree.

    • Jimmy

      No way a gravy game. Step on their throats now.

  • Kiko Jones

    14-9 for a team decimated by injuries; in 3rd place, 2 games out of 1st. Yeah, under these circumstances I’ll take it. Gladly, even. And once again, the guys Cashman scored from off the trash heap shine in the Bronx. Looking forward to a healthy team—as much as that will be possible this year—to take the reins later on and make a solid stab at reaching the playoffs. Keep calm and carry on, indeed.

    • CS Yankee

      1) I liked the Pronk signing.
      2) was fine with Youk’ signing.
      3) bummed with the catching tandem & letting Martin go.
      4) pissed about the Wells signing.

      YCPB, Susyn.

      • Jimmy

        YCPB. I love that. Long cry from Holy Cow, butI’m buying.

        • nsalem

          Waldman actually said Holy Cow last night in reaction to Cervelli’s injury. I thought that phrase was retired with The Scooter and never to be repeated again by Yankee announcers.
          She may get fined for this.

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

            I’d prefer she got fired. But fined would be good.

      • Kiko Jones

        Dunno if you’re just goin’ for the unnecessary snark w/ the Waldman dig, but I’m just thankful for what we’ve got, considering.

    • DInnings

      Hold up. Wells and Youkilis did not come from the trash heap. Cashman/the Yankees were fortunate enough to have the extra salary to spend on them. They’re spending $40M on the thirdbaseman this year (A-Rod’s $28M + Youkilis’ $12M) and an extra $14M on the outfield through 2014 with Wells. Hafner isn’t really a scrapheap pickup as Cleveland wanted him back, just not as badly as the Yanks. Overbay is the only legitimate scrapheap pickup as no one wanted him until the final three days of spring training.

      14-9 is fantastic considering the media’s negativity towards the offense, as if offense alone is what makes a contending team. I hope it’s 17-9 at month’s end. If they did that, they’d have to play only 76-60 ball the rest of the way to finish with 93 wins.

      • Havok9120

        Remember children: revisionism is fun.

      • Kiko Jones

        It’s not like their respective agents were juggling a motherlode of phone calls inquiring about ’em: Wells’ desirability was at an all-time low, which is why someone else is picking up most of the tab while he wears pinstripes. Meanwhile, Youkilis was certainly not worth $12m/yr. Still isn’t. And yes, the man they call “Pronk” is still awesome, but his being quite injury prone didn’t exactly make him a no-brainer.

  • Slu

    Hafner has really been huge. And I really like the personality of this team right now. Most games have been fun to watch.

  • Pseudoyanks

    Liked Ichiro’s throw. I know the arm used to be plus plus but we still calling it plus?

  • El Johnny D

    “Girardi will have to make sure he’s rested given his injury”

    He’s injured? I haven’t heard or seen this anywhere. Maybe you meant injury-prone? Or is he actually injured with something?

    • Havok9120

      I think he meant “injury history.” Left out a word. He isn’t injured.

  • Havok9120

    Vicki, I must again thank you for pointing out the Grantland Derek Jeter Diary thing. Here’s a great ‘graph from last September:

    “Then you have Ivan Nova.

    “It’s not that you don’t trust him, exactly, it’s that when you’re playing the most important game of the year, you’d be more comfortable with Pettitte pitching it on two days’ rest because there’d be a smaller chance that when you walk up to visit him on the mound, he’d ask you, “How many gallons are in the ocean, Cap? Like more than 50, right?” And then the next thing you know, he’s headed for the showers in the fifth with an empty plastic milk container because he really wants to get a handle on what 50 gallons looks like. There’s maybe a little bit of a focus issue sometimes. And you’re not gonna fix that in late September, quite frankly.”

    • vicki


      i went back and reread some old entries. from last april:

      “Yeah, I’m hitting .378 coming into the game and .389 after according to Scotty the ball boy — his name is actually Brian, but come on, he’s Scotty — but that’s not what I care about, so I had that kid scrub my locker with a Stay-at-Home Barbie Swiffer for telling me my batting average. I only pay attention to stats that begin and end with a capital W. And don’t tell me there’s some new nerd stat like WxRFSW or something like that. I’ll make you circle every “Hatteberg” in Moneyball. (I’m not even kidding.)”

  • pat
    • BrienTaylorsRookieCard

      that was very funny

    • Lester Bangs

      You can take the cheese-head out of Wisconsin but you can never ever take the Wisconsin out of the cheese-head. The Onion offices moved to New York but their adolescent sensibilities remain nailed to their sports martyrdom in the land of dairy and whine.

      • Lester Bangs

        Nunez is third from the bottom of the league in UZR so far this season…a very Jeterian performance according to their own thesis. Low hanging fruit for comic masterminds, eh?

  • jtb

    Jayson Nix has played extremely well since being put in the #2 hole. He even seems sharper at the plate. The FO should have signed Soriano to multi-year deal to be Rivera’s replacement in 2014 and beyone since he did an outstanding job last year. I wouldn’t trust anyone on this roster to be our everyday closer. They simply walk too many guys and dont know how to finish hitters with 2 strikes on them.

  • NoMaas

    Maybe Hafner’s day will result in fewer Ben Francisco appearances…even though Ben Francisco alone should result in fewer Ben Francisco appearances…

    • BrienTaylorsRookieCard

      Maybe Francisco will cut himself from the team.

    • http://www.penuel-law.com/ Cuso

      Francisco was A DH and batted 9th last night.

      I remember the whole Posada issue, but really. To have a DH actually bat 9th means it would be just as useful as having the pitcher hit.

      Francisco will be released as soon as Grandy comes back. Although I would prefer sooner….

      Best case scenario would be Musty getting healthy out of nowhere.

      Side note: since Boesch has an option left, you might as well send him down so he can play. He’s being wasted right now.

      • forensic

        Boesch already is kind of a waste to me anyway, whatever he’s doing. I don’t see any improvement coming just from playing in AAA.

        And when Grandy comes back, I think it’s more likely that Boesch gets sent down than that they release Francisco. Maybe that changes if he’s still hitting .100, but I’m not so sure.

      • Lester Bangs

        I suppose Brett Gardner was useless as well when he DH’ed and batted 9th several times.

        • forensic

          Brett Gardner has never started a game at DH in his MLB career.

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

    Does anybody else remember the 2011 article where 42 ESPN analysts predicted that the Yankees would lose the division.

    I remember posting it on Facebook the day we clinched. I really need to frame that shit, it was beautiful.

    • Lester Bangs

      Everyone knows you can’t buy a pennant…unless you’re the 2011 Red Sox or 2013 Blue Jays. Idiot ESPN haters.

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

        It was all 42 too. The Yankees didn’t even get a pity pick.

  • Mickey Scheister

    I’ve been impressed by Nix, not just some of his ABs but also on D. He’s been a bright spot in the line-up, IMO. I hope Nunez shakes off this drought and regains his stroke, he’s been better than advertised on D. The replacements are hanging in there. It’s been fun to watch, when they win.

  • Barry

    Is it possible that Jorge was a “Nichol’s law” catcher?

    • WhittakerWalt

      I always thought he was better defensively than his reputation, though he did lead the world in passed balls. And he had a pretty good arm for most of his caree.
      Honestly he seems about equal defensively to Chris Stewart.

      • Barry

        Yeah, having watched him since I was a kid I never remember him hurting the team as much as analysts said behind the dish. Admittedly; however, that career .367 wOBA may have blurred memory. Although I think he was also underrated as a hitter, historically that is.

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

        I thought Jorge was average offensively for the majority of his career, slipping to below average/bad only during the tail end. Offensively, though, he was such a beast that as long as he could stand behind the plate and catch the ball I didn’t give two shits. His 07′ season was just insane.

        • CUYanks

          I find Nichols’ Law to be pretty weak. I agree that a bad hitting catcher is assumed to be a defensive wizard (and this is usually true for other positions as well). I don’t think it really works conversely.