May
27

No-show offense sinks Yankees in Subway Series opener

By

Don’t look now, but the Yankees have suddenly lost four of their last six games. One of the wins took a miracle ninth inning comeback as well. Monday’s 2-1 loss to the Mets was just par for the course, meaning fine pitching but an invisible offense.

(Elsa/Getty)

(Elsa/Getty)

No Reward
It sure looks like that seven-run, two-out disaster two weeks ago was just a bump in the road for Phil Hughes. He rebounded to hold the Orioles to two runs in six innings last time out, and on Monday he held an admittedly feeble Mets lineup to one run on four hits in seven innings. Two of those hits were singles by opposing pitcher Jon Niese (!), the other two a David Wright triple to right-center and a David Wright solo homer to left. Phil struck out six and walked zero, throwing first pitch strikes to 17 of 24 batters (71%) and strikes with 68 of 101 pitches (67%).

Unfortunately, the Yankees do not leave their pitchers much margin for error these days, and seven innings of one-run ball is just good enough for a no decision. Hughes has allowed two or fewer runs six times in his last eight starts, yet the Bombers have only won three of those six games. Two runs in almost any number of innings from the starter used to be an auto-win, as recently as last year, but nowadays is just good enough to avoid a loss. Phil did his part, but no one else did.

(Elsa/Getty)

(Elsa/Getty)

Eighth Inning Guy
David Robertson picked a bad time for his worst game of the month. He was done in by a bloop ground rule double and a fat middle-middle fastball to Daniel Murphy in a hitter-friendly 3-1 count, but in between he walked the hackstastic Jordany Valdespin — career 5.1 BB% and 32.7% swing rate on pitches out of the zone — while Chris Stewart, Miracle Catcher™ committing a back-breaking passed ball.

It looked like the Yankees would escape the inning unscathed for a while thanks to Robinson Cano, who corralled Ruben Tejada’s hard-hit grounder to second and fired home for the plate at the plate and the second out of the inning. The replays I saw made it look like Stewart applied the tag on Mike Baxter in time, but apparently it was up for debate. Either way, the ump ruled him out and that’s all that matters. Robertson had a rough night, throwing only 14 of 27 pitches for strikes. What can you do.

Brett Saves The Day
Hughes has a homer problem, and it’s no secret. He serves up dingers like the best of ‘em, and when the season ends in a few months, his homer total will be one shy of what he actually surrendered on the season. Hughes gave up a two-run homer to Murphy in the bottom of the sixth inning of this game, a line drive rocket to left-center that would not have left the old CitiField dimensions. It wasn’t a homer though. It was an inning-ending fly ball according to box score because Brett Gardner did this:

Most homer-robbing catches involve high fly balls and short-ish fences, when it’s more about timing the jump than anything. That wasn’t most homer-robbing catches. Gardner had to showcase his elite range to get to the wall first, then use his hops to actually go up to catch the ball. There was no downtime there, Brett didn’t have time to sit back and size up the fly ball. It had to happen all at once and he nailed it. That’s an upper-echelon homer-robbing catch there. You won’t find many better.

Leftovers
Had the Mets played competent defensive outfielders in the corners on Monday, the Yankees don’t score a run. Gardner blooped a triple to left and Jayson Nix blooped a single to right in the sixth inning for the team’s only run. Nix’s ball might have been a tough play for any outfielder, but Gardner’s was damn close to routine for non-Lucas Duda-level defenders. They’re line drives in a well-earned run in the box score, of course.

(Elsa/Getty)

(Elsa/Getty)

I didn’t have a problem with Joe Girardi not pinch-hitting for Hughes with men on first and second and one out in the seventh. He was cruising and his pitch count had yet to crack 80, and it’s not like the bench was full of viable alternatives. If Phil’s pitch count was higher or if it was an inning later, I would have pinch-hit. The Mets have an awful bullpen though, have to figure even this lineup would get to them at some point.

Nice game for the Miracle Catcher™, who also grounded into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the second in addition to that big passed ball. He singled and had the fewest plate appearances among the eight position players starters in this game, yet still had the worst WPA (-.142). That doesn’t even count the passed ball, which doesn’t exist in WPA land.

Ichiro Suzuki drew a walk with one out in the ninth inning and stayed glued to first, never once attempting to steal. Girardi said afterwards it was a “pretty big risk” to try to take second base with Travis Hafner at the plate, which leaves out the entire Lyle Overbay at-bat earlier in the inning. He’s gotta go right after reaching base. Bobby Parnell is too good and they needed to have to shots to drive him in.

Vernon Wells snapped an 0-for-17 skid with a solid sixth inning single, but his descent to mediocrity continues and has his batting line at a robust .264/.315/.462 (106 wRC+). Every starter except for Hughes had a hit tonight, but Nix was the only one with two. Their nine hits were the definition of scattered.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, check out MLB.com. For some other stats, check out FanGraphs. For the updated standings, check out ESPN. The Red Sox pounded the Phillies, so they are now tied with the Yankees atop the AL East in the loss column. Boston is technically in first by percentage points. The Orioles also won and are three back in the loss column.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
Same two teams on Tuesday night for game two of this makeshift four-game series. It’ll be a battle of aces between old Hiroki Kuroda and young Matt Harvey. That figures to be a blast. RAB Tickets is the place to go for last minute ticket deals if you want to head out to Queens to catch the game live.

Categories : Game Stories
  • Eddard

    Throughout the course of a season the manager is going to lose you some games with poor strategy and tonight was one of those nights. Stewart was a big contributor to the loss as well. I don’t even blame Phil or Robertson.

    You do not pitch to David Wright in that situation. Either bounce a curve or throw high heat and see if he chases. Don’t even risk throwing it low and inside. That’s the last place I’d throw a fastball to him. If he doesn’t chase you walk him and pitch to the seven dwarves.

    So now our ace has to beat their ace to get the split at Citi. I thought they might be able to take 3/4 but it’s more likely a split now thanks to Girardi’s poor strategy and Stewart’s poor catching ability. Of all the guys waiting to come back I think Frankie is the most important. Frankie keeps that 1-0 lead and maybe makes it bigger with his bat.

    • mustang(The Has Been & Wannabes Bunch 2013)

      Wright is their only hitter he should NEVER see anything hittable.
      With that said I still think 3 out 4 are reachable as bad as the Yankees offense can be the Mets are worse.
      Kuroda no hitting them would truly not shock me at all.

  • Pudge

    Gonna pray for an offensive minded catcher tonight

  • JohnnyC

    Stewart sucks. That is all.

    • Bob Buttons

      That’s like saying WNBA is boring compared to NBA.

    • mustang(The Has Been & Wannabes Bunch 2013)

      Stewart 2013: 274/.313/.397/.710

      Stewart Career: 226/.286/.318/.604

      So yes he is 2013 “Miracle Catcher™

      • mustang(The Has Been & Wannabes Bunch 2013)

        BTW- I know he had a bad game, but if someone can come up with a better realistic catching solution feel free to call Brian McGuire Cashman.

        • Manny’s BanWagon

          Russel Martin.

          • mustang(The Has Been & Wannabes Bunch 2013)

            Just give it up.

            You missed the word “realistic” or maybe I should be more to the point realistic as of 5/28/13.

        • MannyGeee

          I might play Romine more. That is a realistic option.

          I know, I know… shine on the prospect, regression to the mean, unproven entity, prospect hugging, yadda yadda yadda…

          HOWEVER, if this were any other ballclub that didn’t have a man-rection for Chris Stewart, Romine would be getting the majority of starts in Frankie’s absence.

          • Dr. TJ Eckelberg

            This.

            I would rather watch a rookie struggle at the plate with the hope of him figuring it out than Stewart who just plain sucks.

            And, any player who still wears a turtleneck to play baseball should automatically be DFA’d.

          • Slu

            Am I the only one who thinks Romine looks overmatched in the Show? Perhaps he just needs some time to get used to the game at this level, but when I watch he just looks lost to me.

            • The Real Me

              You are not alone. I still have hope he’ll figure it out, though.

          • mustang (The Has Been & Wannabes Bunch 2013)

            I can with Romine, but give it a week of him struggling and even Mike would want Stewart back.

  • mustang(The Has Been & Wannabes Bunch 2013)

    First thing this game was BORING fell asleep twice during the early innings. I’m all about pitching, but damn someone has to score to win and both teams seem to be afraid of the bases.

    Definitely seeing the overachieving thing starting to run out Tex and Youk can’t get here fast enough for my taste.

    • mustang(The Has Been & Wannabes Bunch 2013)

      CHANGE:

      Definitely seeing Cano and Wells not hitting. Tex and Youk can’t get here fast enough for my taste.

  • Deathstroke Heathcott

    That’s what we get for all saying that anything less than 3 out of 4 would be unacceptable. Sure the Mets are an awful team but it’s hard to expect a team to win 3 out of 4 consistently against any team unless you are elite or they are Marlins-esque awful. Despite being 10 games over .500, this Yankees team currently is not that good. The reinforcements cannot come soon enough, the luck may be wearing off and we need to replace that with actual talent.

    • mustang(The Has Been & Wannabes Bunch 2013)

      If Cano and Wells aren’t hitting no their not good enough hopefully the reinforcements can make up that.

  • trr

    Do I have to say? Let pick ourselves up snf get ready for the game tomorrow.

  • forensic

    They’ve done it so far. Hopefully they again figure out a way to avoid their first 3-game losing streak of the season.

    • mustang(The Has Been & Wannabes Bunch 2013)

      OMG!

      Now have no doubt that they’re going to do it.

      :)

    • your mom

      First 3 game losing streak coming up. This offense is a joke and we haven’t faced Harvey before = doomed.

      • WhittakerWalt

        Reverse jinx.

        • Deathstroke Heathcott

          Reverse Lock*

          • MannyGeee

            Reverse Cowgirl…

            • Robinson Tilapia

              We’re fucked.

  • sddc

    Ichiro has to go for the steal in that situation; i don’t care if girardi gave the sign or not because i doubt he would ever give ichiro the red light; these are simple things that shitty offenses have to do.

    • WhittakerWalt

      Yeah. We have practically no offense, especially if Cano and Wells are going to continue slumping. With Hafner on the bench, where the fuck are the runs going to come from? Unless Gardner and Ichiro create something with their legs, we’re stuck hoping that our pitchers might drive in some runs. You would think Girardi would love the idea of stealing and moving runners over, all the horseshit NL-style stuff he always says is the real way you play the game. But now, when it’s the only kind of offense we’d be able to muster, he’s got the fast runners anchored at first base.

      • Need Pitching & Hitting (but mostly hitting)

        he’s got the fast runners anchored at first base

        I’d be very surprised if Ichiro had the red light.

        • WhittakerWalt

          I sure hope not. Ichiro brings nothing else to the table these days. If he gets on he should be stealing every time he can make it.

  • stuart a

    THE DP’s killed the Yanks tonight.

    Robinson Cano 8 year contract(insanity) is hitting 290 or so… He is a good player, superstar? not even close. 8 year deal is pukols and arod insane…

    Cano is 30, on the big side for a 2b, not a speed burner, and not a 100 mile an hour engine guy.

    our standards have fallen so much a guy who hit 304 with a 360 obp is now a superstar…..

    the Yankees pitching has been phenomenal… there offense is so limited especially with no DH… Need some reniforcements fast…

    • WhittakerWalt

      2nd baseman who hits 30+ homers, leads the league in XBH, and wins Gold Gloves = superstar player.

      • Wheels

        He’s so damn inconsistent though. Superstars get it done on a regular basis. Prove me wrong, Robbie.

      • DI Banned

        Um, he’s hit 30+ HR in a season only once and hasn’t driven in 100 runs in a season yet.

        He turns 31 in November so you don’t give him even six years. Five years tops.

        • DI Banned

          Fact:

          Mike Axisa stole my idea for the Yankees to re-sign Granderson to a one-year contract I posted on Yankees Lohud.

          I called for one year and $6M with $1M for every 50 PA after 499 PA for Granderson and explicitly stated Granderson would make $10M total if he collected as little as 651 PA ($1M for 500-550 PA, $1M for 551-600 PA, $1M fo 601-650 PA, $1M for 651-700 PA) and he posted “one year $10M” on here!!!

        • DI Banned

          Correction:

          Four years $100M ($25M a year) to Cano so he’s paid a million more than Sabathia / any Yankee through 2017 (including A-Rod) if Sabathia’s 2017 vesting option kicks in and A-Rod doesn’t collect all his homerun milestone bonuses.

          $100M would be the second-highest contract for a homegrown Yankee money-wise and $89M less than Jeter’s record contract for six less years of work. Cano would be 35 at contract’s end.

          Cano will not be worth $25M at age 36 on so four years, so no way you overpay him for the last 4-6 years for the first 4 years of his contract.

        • WhittakerWalt

          “Um, he’s hit 30+ HR in a season only once”

          Yes, last season. That’s pretty relevant. Because his power is improving all the time. And thanks for acting like 29 and 28 homers the two previous seasons don’t count for anything. And how many is he on pace for this year?

          “and hasn’t driven in 100 runs in a season yet.”

          I assume you mean other than 2010 and 2011, when he drove in 109 and 118 respectively. Unless you mean he’s never driven in exactly 100 runs in a season, but I don’t think you mean that. And his two other seasons of 97 and 94 RBI are nothing to sneeze at.

          Critical research failure.

    • Bacon swag and cheese

      That just shows how pitcher friendly this world has become. Ten years ago, .300/.350/.500 seasons were the norm, now we’re willing to dish out monster contracts for them :/

  • Tom

    A starting pitcher with a career ERA of 4.7 as a starter is…

    A) Hanging on to a rotation spot in most rotations and a somewhat serviceable #5 starter
    B) Worth resigning for 10+mil per on a multiyear deal
    C) Named Phil Hughes and for some reason, perceived as a pretty decent #4 pitcher.

    Hughes has a higher career ERA as a starter than Ivan Nova. His ERA this year is half a run higher than the guy he faced tonight (Niese). I know he’s young, but…so what? Is there something to suggest he’s going to shave a run, or even half a run, off his ERA (short of moving parks)? He’s thrown I think 7 changeups to righthanded hitters this year, so it’s not like his secondary stuff is evolving evolving over time or getting any better.

    At what point is he what he is – a guy with a career starter ERA closer to 5 than it is to 4. That is rotation filler that is a Cashman dumpster dive special, not a 10+mil, multi-year contract starter. I was on the fence at the beginning of the year, but I’m realizing this is just homegrown and past prospect potential bias… if you look at his stats without looking at the name or the history, would you say

    A)”How do we keep this guy around on a multi year deal at 10+ per” or
    B)”Is there any way we can upgrade this spot in the rotation long term?”

    • LarryM Fl

      B. if you can upgrade that is the problem. Nova may have a better ERA but his potential is slowly fading. If he (Nova) did not get injured my thoughts are he gets pounded.

      • Tom

        There is no upgrade right now. I’m not suggesting Nova is a better option (the trendline matters – and Nova’s trend is not pretty), just that when you look at a large sample and not the good starts, Hughes’ #’s are pretty lousy as a starter compared to how he is generally perceived.

        I’m not suggesting dump him from the rotation (there are no better internal options); I just continue to be amazed at people who view him as anything but a serviceable backend type starter or think he is worth considering on a multiyear deal at some relatively big bucks. At some point overall performance has to be meaningful and not the pockets of 3-4 good starts where he happens to have good command of his 2 primary pitches and people think that is sustainable.

        • Frank

          Agree with you on all points. If you didn’t watch this game, you’re led to believe Hughes was absolutely dominant when the truth of the matter is the ball park (and a great catch by Gardner) saved him from giving up 3 HRs. Not to mention how many other bad pitches he got away with. Prior to throwing the gamne tying pitch to Wright, Hughes threw a couple of hanging curves/off speed pitches that Wright happened to miss. Hughes has no secondary pitches to speak of. That’s why he’s often goes 2-2, 3-2 on batters with an elevated pitch count by the 5th inning. Wright knew this and was sitting dead red when the count went 2-2. Hughes’ “strong” outing was more the product of the team he faced and the ballpark he pitched in.

  • LarryM Fl

    A game that we should have won long before Stewart’s pass ball and the Wright HR. Robertson is good enough to get Wright out. If Robertson is the apparent successor to MO then my closer should be able to pitch without fear to anyone. $hit happens and we lost. Come back tomorrow. Think about the lineup we have gotten more out of this team than we could have expected.

    If we can hold on to most of these wins above .500 until Teix returns. We’ll be OK if he can stay on the field. I dislike being pessimistic but his injury has great potential for recurrence.

    • MannyGeee

      Less about fear, more about the tightrope walk that is David Robinson. He will pitch like this every outing… some days its 3 up 3 down, some days its a cardiac outing.

      • Robinson Tiapia

        Hell of a basketball player, though.

      • LarryM Fl

        We are spoiled by 8-15 pitches Mo is out of the inning.

        If Robertson is selected to close than the Yanks will need to have signed or develop a setup man with closer potential to fill in for Robertson after his 25-30 pitch innings which I agree will be more often than Mo every had.

        Houdini or tightrope both appropriate nick names for D-Rob.

  • mt

    This game shows you why as a free agent Phil Hughes will move to a bigger ballpark than YS3 for his home ballpark – he comes out of a game like last night looking pretty good in stat line but there were a couple of long shots that might have been homers in smaller ballparks.

    This win is the exception to our pretty good Pythagorean won-loss formula so far this year – normally we don’t score many runs yet have eked out victories. Annoying to be a one run loss where we lead after six innings (although Mets defense helped us score the one run.)

    I just wish Kuroda wasn’t coming in to pitch against Mets today with a bruised calf that was apparently still tight the last time I heard he threw a bullpen – normally he dominates Mets. I guess it is what it is.

    Also whether it’s the old-look Yanks or these new look Yanks we don’t score against Jonathon Niese. He bends but does not break.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    This was the first time the Yankees have lost a game in which they led after six innings. Perhaps not the regression to the mean which gets whined about on game threads, but you can’t keep that up. David Robertson, who already walks a tightrope when he’s out there, is not going to have it sometimes, no matter if it’s a bunch of nuns in the other dugout. Shit happens. Take the abuse from your Mets fan friends today. It’s part of life as a Yankees fan sometimes.

  • Vern Sneaker

    Not much new. We don’t hit much, have a really good pitching staff, and to date have pulled off some clutch wins in close games but couldn’t last night. Stewart is a back-up catcher playing first-string, Ichiro looks terrible and may well be toast though will probably have a bit of a streak some time or other, Gardner is a terrific outfielder, the Replacements have been all we could have hoped, etc etc. As someone said, it’s a long season and sometimes it rains.