Yanks hold on to take rubber game from Astros

Yankees acquire Chris Nelson from Rockies
Poll: Which injured player do the Yankees miss the most?

This three-game series against the Astros was a lot more difficult than it needed to be. The first game was a blowout loss while the two wins that followed were both unnecessarily close. Wednesday’s final was 5-4 in favor of the good guys.


Great Start, Bad Finish
In a not-so-shocking turn of events, David Phelps really struggled once the lineup turned over. Coming into Wednesday’s start, opponents posted a 96 OPS+ (2.76 K/BB) against Phelps the first time they faced him in a game and a 105 OPS+ (2.24 K/BB) each time thereafter during his young career. The Astros went 1-for-9 against the New York starter the first time through the lineup on Wednesday before locking in and going 7-for-13 with a walk for the duration of his outing. That’s an extreme case of struggling after the lineup turns over, but it’s not uncommon for the right-hander.

Those struggles led to Phelps blowing a four-run lead in the fourth inning, a rally that included a bases loaded hit-by-pitch and two run-scoring balls that didn’t leave the infield (infield single, fielder’s choice). Only one of the nine Astros to bat in the inning saw a hitter-friendly 2-0 or 3-1 count while three of the seven base-runners reached in two-strike counts, so Phelps was getting ahead but failing to put guys away. Four runs in 5.2 innings from the sixth starter is fine, but I do think the Yankees should at least consider starting Vidal Nuno the next time this rotation spot comes around. Barring something unexpected, I expect them to continue to run Phelps out there as Ivan Nova‘s replacement though.


Go-Ahead Rally
The game remained knotted up at four until the sixth inning, when the Yankees weirdly manufactured a run. It all started with an Eduardo Nunez double into the left field corner, and a pitch later he was at third base thanks to a wild pitch. Lyle Overbay walked to put men on the corners.

Contact and speed-machine Ichiro Suzuki was the plate with one out, so the chances of an inning-ending double play was basically zero. The inning did indeed end on a double play though, but not before the run came around to score. The slow grounder to second allowed Overbay to get caught in a run down long enough for Nunez to trot in home well before the tag was applied for the final out. Not exactly a conventional way of producing a run, but you gotta do what you gotta do.


Of course, Phelps couldn’t blow a four-run lead if the offense hadn’t actually scored four runs first. They were all over starter Erik Bedard, plating one run in the first (Jayson Nix single), one run in the second (Chris Stewart sac fly), and two runs in the third (Robinson Cano and Ben Francisco solo homers). Bedard put ten men on-base in four innings of work and the left a pair of runners on-base in both the second and fourth innings. They had opportunities to put this one to bed super early.

It took a month, but Brett Gardner finally has more stolen bases (four) than homers (three). He swiped both second and third base in the eighth inning, but the Yankees were unable to push across an insurance run. Not coincidentally, Joe Girardi let Stewart bat in an obvious pinch-hitting situation only to watch him make an unproductive out. He grounded to third with the infield in and men on the corners with one out, two innings after striking out on three pitches with men on the corners and no outs. There are lefty bats on the bench for a reason, you know.

Ichiro was the only Yankee with multiple hits (triple and single), but Nix (single and a walk), Francisco (homer and a walk), Nunez (double and a walk), and Overbay (double and two walks) all reached base multiple times as well. The 3-4-5 combination of Cano (homer), Vernon Wells (single), and Travis Hafner (walk) each reached base once. Stewart was the only player who failed to get on-base.

Big ups to the bullpen. Boone Logan cleaned up Phelps’ sixth inning mess before tacking on a scoreless seventh, then David Robertson and Mariano Rivera did their thing to record the final six outs. The three relievers combined to allow two singles — both runners were erased on double plays — while striking out four in 3.1 innings. Great job both those three.

Robertson appeared to roll his left ankle on his final pitch — he limped off the field — but after the game he said he tweaked something in his left knee. He got some treatment following the game and is fine. Exhale.

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
The Yankees have an off-day on Thursday, their first in 16 days. That dates back to before the start of the Diamondbacks series. The Athletics are coming to the Bronx for a three-game weekend set starting Friday night, and the series-opening pitching matchup will be CC Sabathia against right-hander A.J. Griffin. RAB Tickets is the place to go for the latest deals on tickets for that series.

Yankees acquire Chris Nelson from Rockies
Poll: Which injured player do the Yankees miss the most?
  • Havok9120

    A very good win as far as I’m concerned. Mo is racking up the conventional stats.

    • Rob

      You got that right..I’ll take it. the wins aren’t prorated depending on who you beat and by how much. So what if our number 6 starter didn’t pitch great today? Is anyone surprised that he gave up 4 runs. And it’s not like they were screaming liners either that resulted in the runs. A hit batter, a couple infield hits…I mean pretty much Phelps had them nailed down besides the control issues. I don’t have a problem with this win at all..

  • Havok9120

    Plus the Rays lost and the O’s are down. Be nice if that score would hold up.

    • forensic

      And in that O’s game, Jesus Montero hit his first career triple. Without seeing it, I can only assume all three outfielders collided with each other, and an infielder had to retrieve the ball, giving Montero time to reach third.

      • Get Phelps Up

        Adam Jones just flubbed a fly ball to center. Very similar to what he did in the triple play game.

  • forensic

    Wednesday’s final was 5-4 in favor of the good guys.

    The good guys? You guys employing Hawk Harrelson now? :-)

    Anyway, yeah, it was a pretty frustrating series. They won two of three, so it’s not terrible, but it shouldn’t be so difficult against such a terrible team like them. That’s going to happen with this offense though unfortunately. It’s amazing that it’s gotten to the point where Chris Stewart and Jayson Nix are full-time starters. That is so ugly.

    • Huh?

      Yeah, I know what you mean.

      17-10… but what I REALLY want are style points.

      • mustang

        Yes agree 100%.

        17-10 on May 1st with half the starting line-up on the DL but their Yankees they have to shot fireworks out their ass as they touch home plate.

        Give me fucking break.

        • Havok9120

          C’mon, that’s hardly what he’s saying. Would you really argue that Stewart/Nix are good enough to be MLB starters?

          • mustang

            No, but the putting down of a team that’s doing great under difficult circumstances is annoying. Houston sucks yes but they’re still a MLB team and Andy had his first bad start.
            Not only do they have to win, but they have to win in a certain way with certain kind of player.
            No wonder other fans think Yankees fans are spoil.
            BTW they took 2 out 3.

            • forensic

              How did I put them down? By saying it’s not a very good offense? That’s not exactly a secret at this point.

              And Houston is barely an MLB team considering their roster, which is almost more like a AAA team.

              Analyzing the team is not being spoiled, it’s just not wearing pinstriped glasses and turning everything into cheery and perfect Yankeeland.

              Sorry if I’m not thrilled with Jayson Nix and Chris Stewart being starters here now. That’s also not spoiled, that something just about every baseball fan wouldn’t like to see on the team they root for.

              It’s tough with what they’ve been going through but that doesn’t mean you have to stop looking at the team realistically and try to see good or bad signs for the potential future.

              • mustang

                No disrespect but I read many of your comments and you seem to focus more on the bad then the good which of course you have every right to do.

                And I’m not one that looks at things “wearing pinstriped glasses and turning everything into cheery and perfect Yankeeland”. I just find it very difficult to find fault with a team that I didn’t think would even be at .500 at this point yet they are 17-10

              • Jim Is Bored

                You know why the negativity gets on people’s nerves?

                It’s because of every time we’ve read something like “wearing pinstriped glasses and turning everything into cheery and perfect Yankeeland.” insinuating that we’re being irrational if we’re not doom and gloom.

                You know what? It’s not always “just being real” to be negative.

                • Havok9120

                  Spoiled, too. Don’t forget spoiled.

              • Huh?

                “Sorry if I’m not thrilled with Jayson Nix and Chris Stewart being starters here now. That’s also not spoiled, that something just about every baseball fan wouldn’t like to see on the team they root for.”

                But there is a REASON they are starters right now, and that’s because of injuries. That’s part of baseball.

                Unless you’re indirectly making the point the Yankees should be 3 deep at all positions and have above replacement level players as their third string (which you may well be) then you’re shouting at the rain.

                You say it shouldn’t be so “hard” against the Astros. Again, your “analysis” is focused not on the result, but what you perceive as the statistical probability of what will happen tomorrow.

                And that’s what “analysis” for fans have become. It’s clear some fans are much less interested in games played, and fixated their personal comfort level for games YET to be played.

                Its understandable Yankee fans don’t have much experience with overachieving, but it should be intellectually recognized.

                Yankees are overachieving right now, and it’s actually pretty enjoyable if you let yourself appreciate what’s happening rather than fretting over what has yet to happen.

                That’s what fans call “analysis” these days – enumerating the reasons why they don’t feel comfortable anticipating why the Yankees should win their next game.

      • forensic

        I don’t want style points, I just would like some signs that it’s not possibly a fluke and that they can continue to play at that level.

        I know it’s tough given their roster at this point, but a little bit better playing wouldn’t kill them, especially against the worst team in the league.

        17-10 is nice considering their situation and the pitiful first 5 games, but almost all of those 7 games over .500 are from the two worst teams in the league (meanwhile, it’s so nice being able to include Toronto as one of the worst teams in the league still).

        • Havok9120

          On the other hand, one could quite easily argue that “beating up on weak teams while the schedule allows and the roster is banged up” is exactly what they need to be/should be doing. It’s exactly the kind of thing we tend to praise our competitors for without extending that same level of respect to the Yanks when they do it.

          • mustang


          • forensic

            Yes, beating up on weak teams is what they should be doing, and the end result of a win is great, but the process can also be looked at too, and that’s not quite as pretty.

            It also doesn’t necessarily bode well that they haven’t had the same success against better teams, which is part of the result of that process not being so great right now.

            • Havok9120

              We’ve not _played_ better teams since the first two series, where we still took one game apiece.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          You may never get that sign, though. Sometimes, Aubrey F’inf Huff is hoisting a World Series trophy at the end of the season.

          The only guarantee in life is that it eventually ends. Good morning! :)

        • toad

          almost all of those 7 games over .500 are from the two worst teams in the league

          Huh? What do you want? 100% against bad teams and 70% against the others?

          And what will it take to prove it’s not all a fluke? Hafner and Wells tie for the triple crown?

          a little bit better playing wouldn’t kill them, especially against the worst team in the league.

          Go to the locker room and tell them to stop slacking off. See what they say. Might work.

    • mustang

      “Chris Stewart and Jayson Nix are full-time starters. That is so ugly.”

      Their 17-10 that’s a .630 winning PCT!

      If they keep it up its Kate Upton type of ugly.


  • PFOJ

    Wonder if they skip Phelps in the rotation this round with Thursday and Friday as off days. I certainly would.

    • Havok9120

      That’s usually there MO in this kind of situation, at least anecdotally.

  • Huh?

    “but I do think the Yankees should at least consider starting Vidal Nuno the next time this rotation spot comes around.”

    Dude is making his 12th career start and had a bad inning.

    You either think the guy is a ML starter or you don’t. Expecting any pitcher to be fully formed after 120 career innings is ridiculous. To have any rookie you believe in on a “your next bad inning/start is your last” program is worse.

    It’s really disheartening when who position themselves as professional analysts with knowledge and perspective live inning-to-inning and game-to-game like your average worry-wart fan.

    • Havok9120

      Mike has never really positioned himself that way. So you’re kind of off base. And he’s made it quite clear that he never thought Phelps looked like a long term starter. Or if he ever did, it’s been a long time.

      • Huh?

        Alixa, Marchand, it’s all the same drumbeat.

        Marchand: “For a guy that Hal Steinbrenner constantly references as a pillar pitcher for the $189M dream, Phelps has to eventually show more consistency.”

        True, how about we give him a rookie season worth of starts before we expect fully-formed ‘consistency’.

        The move toward uniform alarmism in sports reporting EVERYWHERE is alarming.

        • Havok9120

          You need to refine your schtick some before you try and compare Mike and Marchand.

          Patience is a lost art in these kind of things. It’s a shame.

          • mustang

            “Patience is a lost art in these kind of things. It’s a shame.”

            How about giving Phelps the same patience so many wanted for Joba the starter?

            Oh! Sorry no fist pump or middle 90’s fastball he can’t be a starter.

            • Havok9120

              Or, you know, his most consistent trait being that he seems to implode on the second or third time through the lineup and doesn’t have any overwhelming pitch.

              I’m not calling for his replacement, but don’t act as if Mike has no valid reasons to think as he does.

              • Jim Is Bored

                There are valid reasons, but we’ve also seen a ton of starters have trouble with the order the 2nd or 3rd time through and then figure it out.

                If we had a guaranteed better option, obviously we’d all prefer that. But in the absence of one, I’d like to see Phelps get 4-5 starts.

  • Get Phelps Up

    I’m not so sure Coors Field is the best place for Nuno to make his first MLB start.

    • Havok9120

      This is a pretty good point.

    • mustang

      but great place for Wang.


    • Jim Is Bored

      Especially for a team that doesn’t seem to have a lot of patience with new guys starting out with 1-2 bad outings.

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

    Style points or not, this team seriously just keeps on winning. It’s pretty fucking sweet to be a fan of them right now. And yes, it’s true – even more awesome than normal, this time they’re not even supposed to be good.

    Let’s see if the good times can roll to 95 games and the division, eh?

    • Havok9120

      That would be pretty incredible and awesome.

    • mustang

      Thank you Sir.

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

      They’re the Tim Tebow of the AL East! ALLTHEYDOISWIN!!

      I might still be drunk leftover from last night.

      Yes. Yes I am.

  • vicki

    loverbay’s virus still killing it. ops up another 35 points.

    hey, lyle, maybe give jayson nix a big wet kiss?

  • Mlk

    I tend to agree that Mike’s recent recaps have had generally negative tones, and while I understand the reasons, I also think 17-10 is far ahead of where I thought they would be at this point in the season. If you read this recap with no reference to record, you might think they were something like 10-17. It’s his prerogative, of course, and I’ll keep reading either way, but the occasional “wow I don’t know how they’re doing this but it’s pretty awesome” post might be fun. In other news, how awesome is Hafner?

    Also, any chance we can get some sort of a 1/5 through the season state-of-the-farm system post? Is Refsnyder the only real highlight thus far?

    • rek4gehrig

      Totally agree. Recaps are reading quite negatively lately and I wonder why that is, Mike? I, for one, am amazed that the Yanks are 17-10 given all the injuries.

  • Get Phelps Up

    I will say, I don’t get why people don’t think yesterday was an “easy” win against the Astros. The Yankees WE was above 70% from the 3rd inning on and above 90% from the 6th inning on.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      College football mentality. They think they should be a Top 25 team beating up on a local college. Baseball doesn’t work that way.

  • your mom

    Stewart sucks.

  • Eddard

    Ichiro’s back, Nuney’s back and the lineup is that much better for it. 7 games above .500 and if they take 2/3 from the not so Amazing As they’ll finish the homestand 8-2. The As are horrible against the East so let’s hope the trend continues this weekend.

  • Jim Is Bored

    Just win, baby.

  • Wil Nieves #1 Fan

    Robbie is on pace for 48 home runs. That’s cool.

    • pat

      Simultaneously very good, yet very, very bad.

  • Jimmy

    Phelps was dominant that first time through the lineup, really nasty stuff and the slider was working great. Second time through was rough, but that’s part of his learnig experience.

    Really nice to hear Cone and kaye have a discussion about BABIP and regression to the mean last night.

  • trr

    doesn’t matter who the competition is, these are all big league teams, and every team has to play ’em. Anyone who’s not thoroughly delighted with 17-10 from this team as presently constituted is being unduly negative, to say the least…


    Here’s hoping Chris Nelson turns into Scott Brosius redux. I believe this to be a good signing. Career .274 hitter.

    • B-Rando

      Yeah- but does he get on base?


  • Monterowasdinero

    The things you don’t see in the boxscore…..

    We won last night’s game because Nunez and Ichiro have speed on the basepaths. A hustle double, a hustle moving to 3B on a passed ball and a double play grounder that couldn’t be executed because Ichiro would have beaten it out.

    Nice way to win a ball game….

    • Rolling Doughnut

      Robbie’s ninth inning grab was the game winner. Otherwise, it would have been 1st and 3rd no outs. I know it was Mo out there but…

  • Rolling Doughnut


    1). 17-10 is better than anyone expected, so they actually did “beat up on the weaker teams”. Moreover, at least so far, they are much more fun to watch than they were last year, and not juast because of their record.

    2). Why is everone so ready to jettison Phelps? He hasn’t even had what might be considered a rookie year.

    3). Nix and Stewart do suck.

    4). Mixed feelings about the acquisition of Chris Nelson. .600 OPS this year but that’s SSS. Career numbers .279/.322/.416 but an 86 wRC+ which is arguably the best metric ti use in assessing overall offensive value.

  • mick taylor

    all the idiots on this website who bashed overbay, saying he is no replacement value for tex at his worst, when without lyle yanks do not win sunday game a gainst toronto and possibly last night due to his home run and baserunning

  • qwerty

    The yankees showed what having a 200+ million advantage can do against a team with a 24 million payroll!!