Apr
21

Yankees unable to finish off sweep, fall 8-4 to Blue Jays

By

Winning two out of three each series is a great way to have a successful season, but losing the finale when you have a chance to sweep is always annoying. Feels like such a lost opportunity. Unfortunately the Yankees have made a bit of a habit of that of late, dropping the finale to the Diamondbacks last week and then doing the same against the Blue Jays on Sunday. Toronto walked away with an 8-4 win.

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

IvAAAn NovAAA
He needed the bullpen to allow some inherited runners to score, but Ivan Nova finished Sunday’s game with a line that was very representative of the way he pitched: four runs on four hits and four walks in five innings. Unimpressive, basically. Nova allowed the leadoff man to reach base in five of the six innings he started — the leadoff man has reached in eleven of the 16 innings he’s started this year — and threw only 39 of his 101 pitches from the windup. Thirteen of the 25 batters he faced saw a first pitch strike, including just one of the fist seven Blue Jays to bat. Typical, really.

Since last year’s All-Star break, Nova has now pitched to a 6.87 ERA with a near-.900 OPS against while averaging just 5.1 innings per start. It’s neither quantity nor quality at this point, he stinks when he’s on the mound and taxes the bullpen every five days. So what are the Yankees going to do about it? Probably nothing. Neither Michael Pineda nor Chien-Ming Wang is big league ready and David Phelps is basically the bullpen version of Nova right now. I guess they could stick Adam Warren or Vidal Nuno in the rotation, but I don’t see that happening. Nova can’t continue to live in this fantasy world were results don’t matter, however. At some point soon he either has to start pitching better or lose his rotation spot.

(Presswire)

(Presswire)

The Impatiently Patient Rally
The Blue Jays jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first two innings, but the Yankees battled back in innings three through six and actually took the lead. Chris Stewart started the team’s scoring with a solo homer (!), but it wasn’t until the fifth inning that they really got to right-hander Josh Johnson.

The Yankees loaded the bases with one out on the strength of three singles before Travis Hafner, pretty much the best non-Robinson Cano hitter on the team, popped up into foul territory. It looked like the rally was going to be wasted, but instead Lyle Overbay and Eduardo Nunez drew back-to-back walks to force in both the game-tying and go-ahead runs. Johnson threw Overbay a full count breaking ball with two outs, which is … I don’t get it.

So, anyway, with two runs already in and Johnson having thrown seven straight balls out of the strike zone, Ichiro Suzuki naturally swung at the first pitch. Why? Who the hell knows. I guess he was hunting a first pitch fastball, but the point is he swung at the first pitch after Johnson had already walked two with the bases loaded and thrown seven straight balls. Ichiro weakly grounded out to second and the inning was over. Odds are he would have made an out and ended the rally anyway given his performance this year, but that’s a no-brainer “make him throw strike one before you swing” situation.

(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)

(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)

Death By Bullpen
As I mentioned earlier, the bullpen gets an assist for Nova’s ugly line. Boone Logan came out of the bullpen and allowed a game-tying two-run single to the only man he faced (Colby Rasmus) before the oh so ordinary Phelps really let things get out of hand over the final few innings. He allowed a two-run homer to J.P. Arencibia and five runs overall — three of his own and the two inherited runners.

Phelps has now allowed a total of nine runs — seven of his own and two inherited runners — in five innings across his last two appearances. The bullpen as a whole has surrendered 14 total runs in its last 10.1 innings. Most of that is Phelps obviously, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an issue. It can’t be Mariano Rivera and David Robertson and pray the starter goes deep.

(Presswire)

(Presswire)

Leftovers
Hafner not only stole a base — the tenth of his career and first since 2010 — but he also laid down a bunt in an effort to beat the shift. It was a bad bunt and he was thrown out easily though, which isn’t terribly surprising. Bunting is hard and these sluggers who get shifted against don’t have much experience laying one day. Great idea in theory, not easy in practice.

Speaking of stolen bases, Brett Gardner finally stole his first of the season in game number 17. I get that you want to have men on base for Cano, but I don’t think that should mean abandoning the steal all together. When you’ve got an easy to steal against battery — like Johnson and Arencibia in this game — Gardner needs to run wild, especially in the early innings. If they pitch around Cano, so be it. The more base runners the merrier.

The wrap-around 8-9-1-2-3 portion of the lineup went a combined 10-for-21 with a double and a homer. The other four lineup spots went 1-for-13, including 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position, and that’s where the rallies went to die.

Vernon Wells wore out his former team this weekend, and in addition to two hits he also made a great jumping catch against the wall on Sunday. He grabbed the Edwin Encarnacion rocket and got the ball back to first in time to double off Jose Bautista. Have yourself a weekened, Verndog.

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


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees are off to Tampa, their home away from home. CC Sabathia kicks off the three-game series against fellow left-hander Matt Moore on Monday night.

Categories : Game Threads

53 Comments»

  1. Winter says:

    #BigGameDavidPhelps

    • Laz says:

      I don’t think it’s Phelps. Just he has the starter mentality and always seems to struggle when you bring him in with guys already on base. He did give up more afterwards, but joe should be bringing in more shutdown relievers when guys are on base.

      • WhittakerWalt says:

        This excuse was used in one of the other threads, and it didn’t make sense then either. Relievers are almost always guys who can’t succeed as starters, so this idea that a pitcher would be more successful starting is… questionable, to say the least.
        Your point about Girardi is good, though: Phelps is just a guy, just an average pitcher. Probably OK in a mop-up role or as a spot-starter, but not the guy you bring in to put out a fire.

        • qwerty says:

          Except Phelps didn’t become a reliever because he was unsuccessful at starting; he’s a reliever because the yankees like Nova more.

          • Improbable Island's Dirty Midget Whores (Formerly RRR) says:

            Well said. And if we think the Yankees were wrong about Nova, which is a concept that we need to consider more and more seriously each start he bombs, then there’s no reason for us not to think that Phelps may be the guy to go with.

            • Preston says:

              This is backup QB syndrome. Everybody loves the guy sitting on the bench when the starter is sucking. The Yankees weren’t wrong about who is better. It’s just that neither is very good.

              • WhittakerWalt says:

                I think that’s true. Remember Glenn Foley? Jets fans used to be begging for him to start. “Why isn’t Kotite giving Foley a chance? Let’s see what Foley can do.”
                History has shown this to be misguided enthusiasm.

              • Improbable Island's Dirty Midget Whores (formerly RRR) says:

                Right. But we’re not trying to find one “Very good”. We’re trying to figure out which one is better. And like the backup QB, eventually you reach a point where you say “Hey, maybe we WERE wrong and perhaps should try out the backup QB.”

                There’s nothing wrong with that.

          • Bob Buttons says:

            #fixedcompetitionincamp

  2. Bob Buttons says:

    Naturally, Wells goes on a tear after I dropped him for Cervelli.

    And of course Cervelli barely does squat.

    Now I suppose Rendon won’t do shit for the next two weeks because I dropped Cervelli for him.

    I suppose I should drop my entire team. Should I pick up Jays, Rays, Sox or Orioles?

  3. Pat D says:

    Mo and DRob and…pray we don’t sob?

  4. Eddard says:

    I’d put Youk in that 2 hole to break up the two lefties at the top of the lineup. Youk is a patient hitter anyway so Gardner would have plenty of pitches to steal. With Wells hitting the way he is put him 4th, Hafner 5th, Cervelli 6th, Boesch 7th, Nuney 8th, Overbay 9th.

    If they can take 2/3 in Tampa they’ll be in great shape heading back home vs Toronto and hapless Houston. They’re 3 games above .500 and .500 is the baseline we had set for them. With CC and Andy on the mound they can take 2/3 in Tampa who has a worse offense than our depleted one.

  5. Wheels says:

    It seems like it would be good if Alfanso Soriano was still with us. Perhaps he could have been used as a middle reliever this year?

  6. Robinson Tilapia says:

    Perhaps we don’t need three “Multi-inning” guys? My hope here is that Rapada and Cabral come back healthy and ready to assume/earn spots, with Montgomery working his way in there somewhere as the season rolls on. This would leave either Warren or Phelps in the spot starter/long man role, where either would be best.

    Bullpens are always a work in progress. The guy who ends up being the right fit might not even a guy I mentioned above.

  7. mike myers says:

    “So what are the Yankees going to do about it? Probably nothing”

    -Start Joba

    sorry…had to do it

    • Preston says:

      I know you’re joking. But Joba doesn’t even look good out of the pen lately.

      • forensic says:

        Joba’s been terrific his last 4 appearances, and scoreless his last 5. He was only terrible in his first two appearances of the season.

      • Long-Past-His-Day-Rod says:

        Yeah, Joba’s actually been prety decent his last few times out.

        Idk if he just drank too much Red Bull before his appearance Saturday, but he was showing signs of vintage Joba. 98 with the fastball and 90 with a nasty slider. I hope he keeps that up.

  8. WhittakerWalt says:

    Any word yet on whether Nova thought he pitched great today?

    • Steve says:

      If Ivan Nova started, he pitched great.

    • forensic says:

      He’s actually be appropriately critical of himself after the last couple of starts. Maybe he’s finally getting a little better on that.

      • WhittakerWalt says:

        Oh I sure hope so. One Ian Kennedy is enough.

        • I'm not the droids you're looking for... says:

          IPK used to really grate on me. I understand trying to find silver linings and keeping a positive attitude but it really used to bother me the way he seemed so completely tone deaf about his performances , accountability, etc. I wonder what his post game comments are like this season, wherein he’s sucked so far (at least last time I saw).

  9. Barry says:

    So Vernon Wells has been playing so well that he actually found his way onto my fantasy team. He’s actually been starting over Giancarlo and it’s been worthwhile to do so. Hope he continues.

  10. forensic says:

    It’s getting harder and harder to keep track of who’s numero uno on Mike’s most hated hit list.

    It seems like at this point Phelps has snuck past Ichiro with his last two appearances. Meanwhile, Nunez seems to have dropped to third by just sort of going out there quietly.

  11. forensic says:

    Johnson threw Overbay a full count breaking ball with two outs, which is … I don’t get it.

    It’s certainly odd, but considering how often and terribly they were hacking at every one of his curveballs in the dirt and out of the zone, especially Overbay, it’s not overly surprising.

  12. natcol says:

    Wang was stellar in his first 3A outing two days ago.

    Even in his worst year(2009), he did a good job for Yankees as a long man in three relief outings. It seemed that Yankees was quite accommodating back then, for he was notified in advance, started with a fresh frame. But it worked, the results were great.

    Even in 2012, his ERA for the first 2 innings of all 5 starts he had was 1.8, as apposed to the yearly 6.68 ERA.

    Why not give it a try?

    • Preston says:

      Well Wang’s Yankee stats have very little to do with the player he is today. Years and injuries have taken their toll. He might be a better option for the fifth starter spot and I’m rooting for him but the front end guy he was prior to breaking his leg is long gone.

  13. forensic says:

    Chris Stewart’s teams are 16-2 when he doubles but only 2-3 when he homers (one win is double-counted as he actually hit 1 of each).

    Obviously there are TOO MANY HOMERS!

  14. Barry says:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/standings Crazy how much teams have changed and how weak Boston and NY appeared, yet the powerhouse still seems to be the East.

  15. FIPster Doofus says:

    “Oh so ordinary” is a complimentary way to describe Phelps these days. I entered this season figuring he’d be a solid long man and eventually a good back-end starter, but I’m rather fed up with him going back to last year’s playoffs. It really sucks that he’s terrible now, because Nova needs to GTFO. The summer 2011 “Super” Nova is long gone. Pineda can’t get healthy soon enough, though it’s anyone’s guess what he’ll provide.

  16. Improbable Island's Dirty Midget Whores (Formerly RRR) says:

    Also, for those who care: First day of auditions for “Godspell” are tomorrow at 3:30. Director, music director, rehearsal, and performance places are all secured.

  17. wow says:

    “Nova” is pretty apt. No va. Spanish for “doesn’t go.”

  18. Guns says:

    It’s impressive just how bad the Yankees’ homegrown pitching “talent” is. No sense hating on the player. This organization desperately needs to change the way they draft and develop players because its simply not working, regardless of the excuses you’ll surely give them. That’s just the hard truth. Eric Duncan, Phil Hughes (glorified back end starter/reliever), Jeff Marquez, Carl Henry, Joba, Brackman, Bleich all say hello – all 1st round/supplemental picks. Perhaps we can hope for Slade, Cito and DBJ. But injuries and general ineffectiveness tell me not to hold my breath. Looking forward to the day this team brings in someone who knows what they’re doing in the draft.

  19. i like bacon says:

    nova stinks, so does phelps. i cant belive the answer to no jeter is nunez. HEY BRIAN!!!!! its on you.

    • Long-Past-His-Day-Rod says:

      Please, enlighten us with your master plan for the shortstop position in Jeter’s absence.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        Melky + IPK for Jurickson Profar, obviously.

        I don’t know why he’s blaming Brian S for this either. His only crime, in the end, is loving his prospects.

  20. Mick taylor says:

    Key call in game was on the 2-2 pitch Toronto batter did not check his swing but nova did not get the call and he then doubled and nova was relieved by Logan. The replay shows the guy blatantly swinging but the ump screwed the yanks. Of course Michael Kay was too busy gabbing with letter at the time to comment. If nova gets the call he may have gotten out of the inning with no runs.

  21. JLC 776 says:

    I’m sure it’s only a matter of time until Nova gets the old 15-day DL stint for “back stiffness” or something while Nuno gets a chance – he’s been pretty damn hot recently.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      I realize we’re not thrilled with Nova at the moment. I’m not either. I’m not sure two straight outings in which he gutted through five is enough to start messing with the 40-man in order to clear a spot for Nuno. Maybe the team feels like Eppley can slip through waivers or something. You’re going to need plenty of 40-man spots the next few months, though. I wouldn’t be surprised if the first one up to replace Nova is actually one of Phelps or Warren, however much that may not inspire.

      • JLC 776 says:

        I’m still hopeful that Nova turns into what we hope he can – I just never realized long-term that his ERA is nearly 7 since the All Star Game. I mean, wow…

        My comment was mostly aimed for sarcasm. A lot of times it seems like a pitcher who is having a tough time just needs a break (okay, probably not during the first month of the season!) and they’ll manufacture some retroactive DL stint for them to get just that.

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          I’m stuck on him. I think everyone could benefit from him having AAA time in order to figure it out, hopefully for good, in a less competitive environment. I also have to question whether these past two starts really merit that. He’s kinda sorta been a mediocre fifth starter who made five each start.

  22. John C says:

    The way Brett Lawrie carried on yesterday you’d have thought the Jays were winning game 7 of the WS. He was pulling a Swisher out there with his chest beating and yelling. Must have been alot of frustration building up from his injury and the Jays early season struggles

  23. Mike says:

    We need Chin Ming Wang like rap needs Biggie Smalls !

  24. firethescouts says:

    Big surprise, second-third year in the big league and the much coveted Yankee farm hands stink.

    We should bring the Vidal Nunos or whoever they think “highly” of, use him till the league figures out how bad they really are (hopefully that takes a year) and right before it reeks of rotten eggs, trade them after a year of good showing since the trend is pretty clear.

    Outside of the rare Ching Ming Wang, our scouting and developing pitchers suck.

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