Apr
16

Two Games, Two Wins: Yankees shut out Cubs 2-0 to sweep doubleheader

By

Every day should be like this. A few hours after shutting out the Cubs in the first game of the doubleheader, the Yankees did it again on Wednesday night, blanking Chicago by the score of 2-0 to sweep the quick two-game series.

(Elsa/Getty)

(Elsa/Getty)

Blanked By Big Mike
Even though he threw six shutout innings, I thought this was Michael Pineda‘s worst start of the season so far. He fastball velocity was down a tick or two and his stuff just wasn’t as crisp as it has been. There were a few cement-mixer sliders throughout the night. The career-low five swings and misses wasn’t much of an accident. Pineda was not as sharp as he was in his first two starts and Wednesday was more of a grind.

And yet, six shutout innings. Four hits, one walk, three strikeouts, and a bunch of weakly hit fly balls. That’s Pineda’s thing. He allows a lot of fly balls but they are usually popped up, not well-struck. With this outfield defense, those are close to automatic outs. Pineda’s biggest jam came in the fifth, when the Cubs put runners on second and third with one out. He stranded both with a strikeout and a weak fly ball. A runner was also stranded at third in the sixth.

Here is the PitchFX data from Brooks Baseball. I think it’s worth noting Pineda threw the same number of changeups as sliders (17 each) and also got the same number of swings and misses with each pitch (two). He’s really been using that changeup quite a bit so far, and some of them have been really good too. There are still a few hangers though. Pineda threw only 89 pitches in his six innings as the Yankees continue to take it easy on him following shoulder surgery. That this was his worst start of the season so far tells you how dominant he was the first two times out.

(Elsa/Getty)

(Elsa/Getty)

Two-Out Runs
The Yankees did not have a great offensive game — they left 12 runners on base, including five in the first three innings– but they did come through with two big two-out hits to score their only runs. Brett Gardner did the honors in the fourth inning, pulling a single through the right side to score Scott Sizemore from second base. Sizemore beat out an infield single earlier in the inning, then moved up on John Ryan Murphy‘s single to left. They were the first hits of the season for Sizemore and Murphy, both of whom were added to the roster just yesterday.

One inning later, Sizemore drove in the second run of the game with a soft little bloop single to left. I thought he broke his bat on the play. Alfonso Soriano scored from second after reaching on a single earlier in the inning. Yangervis Solarte also picked up a base hit in the inning to help things along. The Yankees really scattered their 12 hits — I was surprised to see it was that many after the game, to be honest — and they only struck out three times as a team. This could have been a real frustrating loss if the pitching hadn’t been so good.

Three Shutout Innings
Even with David Robertson on the DL, the bullpen has not allowed a run in the last six games now. The trio of David Phelps (1.1 innings), Matt Thornton (0.2 innings), and Adam Warren (one inning) chucked the final three frames on Wednesday, though they weren’t the easiest innings. Phelps put the first two men he faced on base before retiring the next three, then two of the first three batters in the ninth reached base. The tying run moved into scoring position on Warren’s wild pitch. Thankfully, the Cubs are just too futile and they were unable to capitalize.

(Elsa/Getty)

(Elsa/Getty)

Leftovers
This was the first time a team was shut out in both ends of the doubleheader since June 1988, when the Twins did it to the Athletics. The Yankees threw their first back-to-back shutouts since August 7th and 8th in 2009, against the Red Sox. I think that was the four-game series with the 15-inning game and the back-to-back homers off Daniel Bard. You remember that, right? Of course you do.

Carlos Beltran, Soriano, Ichiro Suzuki, and Sizemore all had two hits, though Beltran picked up the only extra-base hit of the night (a double). Gardner, Derek Jeter, and Solarte all had one hit apiece. Kelly Johnson went 0-for-4 and was the the only starter who failed to reach base. He’s still slugging .533, by the way.

The Yankees have won four straight games and five of their last six. Since dropping those first two games of the season to Astros, they’ve won eight of 12. Only the Athletics have a better record in the AL right now.

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


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees are heading out on a seven-game, eight-day road trip, which will begin in Tampa on Thursday. Former Cy Young winning left-handers CC Sabathia and David Price will meet in the first of four games.

Categories : Game Stories

102 Comments»

  1. Cuso says:

    We’ll take it.

  2. WhittakerWalt says:

    Worst start yet? IT’S BECAUSE HE DIDN’T CHEAT WITH PINE TAR HERP DERP DERP!!!

  3. TWTR says:

    On a very cold night like this, with the baseball probably very slick, I wonder if Pineda, unable to use pine tar given the increased scrutiny, dialed back his velocity in order to increase his command.

  4. Cool Lester Smooth says:

    BIG MIKE!

  5. Winter says:

    He guys, you think it was the pine tar? I think it might have been the pine tar. I’m interested in hearing your thoughts about the pine tar. Would Pineda have been better with the pine tar? Maybe if Adam Warren were using pine tar he wouldn’t have thrown a wild pitch. Perhaps not being able to use pine tar is why Brett Gardner hasn’t been stealing.

    • lightSABR says:

      This blog has sucked since the readers stopped using pine tar.

    • hogsmog says:

      Later we’ll have Martha Stewart on to talk about a few fun and easy pine tar cocktails you can use to spice up any party or gathering.

    • Dalek Jeter says:

      I think the Pine Tar thing would go away if people would just stop talking about it. But you have to ask yourself if Pineda lost that zip on his fastball because of the lack of pine tar. Or if his slider hung because of too much of some replacement of pine tar. What I’m basically saying is we cannot rule pine tar out as a reason for pine tar related pine tar. I don’t get why people are still talking about the pine tar, such pine tar like events would just go away if we stopped talking about Michael Pineda having pine tar on his pine tar coated throwing hand in his last start against the Red Sox, where he might have used pine tar or not used pine tar. We aren’t sure, but it was probably pine tar. -Michael Kay every time Pineda is mentioned for the next month.

  6. Fin says:

    Its not looking good for tomorrow night. Little faith in CC out pitching Price.

    • nycsportzfan says:

      Seems St Pete is one of the, if not the toughest place for CC to pitch, and the Yanks overall aren’t that good in St.Pete since the Rays became quality team.

      Still though, CC always has a chance, as hes been really good for most of his last 2starts. He just ran into a couple tough innings. He’ll have his days things will go all the way, his way.

  7. lightSABR says:

    So, I get that it was cold out there and all, but I hope those neck/face warmers the Cubs were wearing never catch on with the Yankees. They looked like idiots.

  8. stuckey says:

    Pretty fascinating how Joe Girardi always seems to luck into having an effective bullpen.

    • mustang says:

      Probably more then luck if it happens that often.

    • Preston says:

      He’s just better at utilizing the bullpen he has than his predecessor (not to bash on Joe T, he had many strengths).

    • pat says:

      Are you attempting to insult Girardi here? I don’t quite understand the context of this comment.

    • nycsportzfan says:

      I’d say its better then luck, its just the Yanks have done very well with identifying good pitching throughout the draft and international market, and not early rds, i’m talking at finding real talent in rds, theres not many players making the pros , let alone being really good.

    • Joe says:

      Creating a strong bullpen is probably his biggest strength as a manager. Always has been.

  9. Gerge Jefferson says:

    We Are very happy with the Pineda – he’s not a piñata

  10. mustang says:

    After dropping 2 out 3 to O’s I will take a 6 and 3 home stand. I think Tex will probably come back Tuesday for the Sox series can’t see them playing him in Tampa. I think Anna will probably go down.

    Team Sizemore had a great night cap!!!!

  11. Gerge Jefferson says:

    Have no faith in CC -dump him and trade for Burnett – come on have a little damn faith you dogheads

  12. Dalek Jeter says:

    Girardi is usually very good at managing bullpens but I find his absolute faith in Phelps slightly disturbing. Phelps threw a lot of pitches that a better line up would have done some damage on. With that said, a win is a win, and 2 wins are even better, so all told an excellent day in Yankee land.

    • V says:

      Girardi’s MO seems to be ‘see what I have in my bullpen in April, start making changes in May’. He’s showing all the confidence he can in Phelps, but if something doesn’t change, soon, he’ll be demoted.

      As is, Warren, Kelly, DRob should be the 7, 8, 9 guys.

      • stuckey says:

        Huh?

        Last 4 appearances: 4.1 2H, 2BB, 6K OER

        It DID change.

        He’s not getting sent down the the premise the 1.1 scoreless he threw was because it was against a poor team.

        That’s not how ML clubhouses are managed.

        • MartinRanger says:

          Yeah, that 2.1 inning save against the bosox probably bought Phelps a long leash from Girardi. Hopefully he doesn’t hang himself.

          • nycsportzfan says:

            A few more good outings in a row by Betances will probably put him in the late inning mix as well, so Phelpsy might not be asked to get as many outs to often, if that does end up happening.

    • whozat says:

      Kelly had already been used in the first game, and Joe needed three innings. He wanted Warren to close, so that’s two innings from Phelps, Thornton, Cabral, Betances and Nuno. Cabral is crap against righties. Thornton isn’t great either, and I think Joe saw a higher leverage opportunity for Thornton against at least one lefty coming up later, so he wanted to save him for that.

      It was really between Betances, Phelps and Nuno. Out of Phelps or Nuno, I can understand wanting to see if Phelps can recapture the form he showed out of the pen last year, and also wanting Nuno in your back pocket in case the game gets tied and you go to extras.

      So, it’s really down to who you trust more between Betances and Phelps.

      • Dalek Jeter says:

        I probably want Phelps over Betances if my life depended on it. But if game 2 of a double header against the cubs in April depends on it, I’d rather see the wildcard in Betances than the bend-but-not-break highwire act of Phelps. The reason Robertson was able to get out of jams on a regular basis is because he has great stuff, Phelps lacks that true putaway pitch of a 95mph fastball or knockout curve so I think sooner or later that “bend-but-not-break” is going to turn into “bends-and-breaks-more-often-than-not.”

    • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

      I think we’re letting a couple of bad appearances make us forget a solid spring and some good outings.

      He didn’t earn the name BGDP for no reason.

  13. Derek Jeter says:

    Great Day for Yankee Baseball!!!!!

  14. V says:

    The thing I am most thankful about this season so far? No blown saves. I don’t think I could take NY media if the Yankees had blown a few 9th inning leads the season after Mariano’s retirement.

    • MartinRanger says:

      Really, the only time the bullpen has let them down was when Kelley melted down in the tie game in the 9th in Tanaka’s first home start.

    • Pineda Colada says:

      It’s cuz all our relievers use De pine tarz

      • Evan3457 says:

        No, it’s because they brought the closer into a tie game, and you never bring in Mariano for the 9th inning of a tie game!

        • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

          Aha! Since the team has no closer right now, we won’t blow any 9th inning ties! Girardi is a genius.

  15. Tom says:

    The way Tanaka pitched in the afternoon I don’t think it mattered who he was facing, but man the Cubs are awful.

    They missed a bunch of pitches pretty much right down the middle in this game. Warren (he grooved a couple of pitches in the 9th that were popped up/grounded out) and Pineda were probably the biggest beneficiaries. At least they were smart enough to challenge them. I’m not sure they get away with those mistakes against a competent offense though.

    • Cool Lester Smooth says:

      Hopefully his stuff is on against competent offenses.

    • Dalek Jeter says:

      Phelps got away with some meatballs too, but you’re right on both counts…Tanaka was fantastic in the afternoon game. He could’ve been facing the ’27 Yankees and he would’ve had a good outing. On the other hand, there’s a chance that Pineda, Phelps, and Warren all have very different outings if they had faced Detroit or Toronto, or even Tampa Bay and not The Cubs.

      • nycsportzfan says:

        So is baseball in the major leagues. Think about how many times Adam Wainwright and Johnny Cueto get to beat up on Chicago pitching every yr to bolster there stats.

        • Dalek Jeter says:

          That’s absolutely a valid point, you can only face who you’re facing and get them out. I’m just saying these guys need to be their best more often than not. Today they were not their best and they got away with it, and I hope they execute their pitches better next time out.

          • BigDavey88 says:

            “I’m just saying these guys need to be their best more often than not.”

            I’m sorry for being a dick but I can’t stop laughing at this. Haha, why does this need to be said? Isn’t that what we always want?

  16. forensic says:

    So, according to Mike Stanton, Tanaka is just a two-pitch pitcher and his slider is only mediocre on its best days.

    Um, yeah, sure…

  17. Dalek Jeter says:

    Watching the encore of the afternoon game. Man, if that’s the best Tanaka’s got, and he can throw that, or something close to it, a dozen or so starts a year….*drools*

  18. W.B. Mason Williams says:

    Man, we have such good young pitching, we oughta flip Pineda for an infield bat! (yes, I am being that)

  19. Evan3457 says:

    “Since dropping those first two games of the season to Astros, they’ve won eight of 12.”

    They’re 9 and 6, so, actually, the Yankees are 9 and 4 since the first two games vs. the Astros.

    The first-place Yankees are 9-4 since the first two games.

  20. Havok9120 says:

    The whole day was excellent for baseball.

    As an aside, and proof that it is still early days: a single 0-4 night at the plate dropped Cano’s batting average and OBP a full forty points. Early season stats, man.

  21. Jorge Steinbrenner says:

    I’m warming to this “Big Mike” thing.

    Those were still MLB players we shut out yesterday. Let’s not poop in it too much. It was a great day to be a Yankee fan.

    Also, #teamsizemore

    • I'm One says:

      Sizemore about to go on a tear. He’ll be batting .500 before we know it and he’ll carry that into the All-Star Break

  22. Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

    Watching those two pitch back to back was a freakin’ treat.

    Especially Pineda, actually, because of how many people thought we’d probably never get anything out of him in the majors.

  23. JLC 776 says:

    Thank God we were playing the Cubs! I loved our pitching yesterday, but I don’t think we win that second game if we’re playing a better team. Our offense had a lot of BABIP help and while it wasn’t pretty, we came away with a win.

  24. Mykey says:

    Wow, so Quick Pitch just said that the Cubs have never won at either Yankee Stadium in franchise history. Can that really be true?

    • lightSABR says:

      The Yankees have an all-time losing record against the Reds. Strange things happen in interleague play. Small sample size and all that.

  25. nyyankfan7 says:

    Anybody else see that the Tigers asked Omar Vizquel if he was interested in making a comeback to play SS for them? 46 years old and out of baseball for 2 years and they still preferred him to instead of Stephen Drew……

    • I'm One says:

      There’s obviously an issue with Drew to the point that NO ONE wants to touch him. Has to be more than the draft pick and salary demands.

      • lightSABR says:

        Either you’re right, or everyone just thinks they can make do until after the draft. We’ll see.

        • lightSABR says:

          I mean, the difference between signing him now and signing him then is probably only one win over a replacement player. One win really might not be worth the draft pick.

  26. Kosmo says:

    Does anyone know who pitches on Sunday for da Yanks ? Pineda or Tanaka or a spot starter (Nuno) ?

    • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

      Probably spot starter, I’d imagine.

      • nycsportzfan says:

        I’m gonna say Tanaka. He pitched in a day game yesterday, and it was fairly stress free start. Against a AL EAST foe on the road, is time to use your studs. Tanaka starts on sunday.

  27. qwerty says:

    Pineda’s changeup is less than 5 mph slower than his average fastball, 92 mph. I actually saw a lot of fastballs in the 91 mph range. I don’t see any point in his changeup. A 3-4+ mph difference is not effective. That’s nothing more than a slightly slower fastball. Pineda has to depend on his fastball and slider and forget that pitch.

    • lightSABR says:

      A changeup isn’t just about the difference in timing. It also has different spin on it than a fastball, so instead of breaking 3.2 inches away from left-handed batters the way his fastball does, it breaks 8.9 inches away from left-handed batters. There’s also a slight difference in upward motion: 7.7 inches for the fastball versus 6.0 for the change.

      Batters are swinging and missing on the changeup 20% of the time, hitting -100 wRC+ on the pitch. He’s only thrown 25 of them so far, so I’m sure those numbers won’t hold up long-term, but for now, there’s no reason even to think about scrapping the changeup.

    • lightSABR says:

      Also, his average fastball this year is 91.4 mph, and his average changeup is 85.9. So the average velocity difference is 5.5 mph, not the 3-4 you’re talking about.

      • qwerty says:

        The maximum speed difference in his last game was 3.9mph between his fastball and changeup.

        • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

          …if that’s the point you’re arguing out of everything else he said, you either didn’t read it or didn’t understand it. That’s like if I said that ‘dropping 2 nuclear bombs was the worst thing that ever happened on earth’ and you said ‘Oh I don’t know if you can lump both of those events together’ I fairly certain you’ve missed both the literal point and the intent.

        • lightSABR says:

          Huh. Interesting. I wonder why the last start was so different from the previous two. It’s almost like he stopped using pi….

          Just kidding. Totally not going there.

  28. fred robbins says:

    Nuno is up for Sunday as of now. What a great double header with the two best Yankee pitchers.
    It’s always bad news going into the Trop especially with CC taking the hill, but maybe the Yankees can score some early runs and grab a win or two.
    So happy for Sizemore. Hopefully he can show enough strength to take the 3r base job for a while and give the team some other options for second and short as the season goes on. Or is Sizemore slated for 2nd base?
    CC does not win in Boston or Tampa for a few years now. I think they would send a cab for him if the team bus got stuck.
    What are the Yankees going to do as the season goes on with CC?

  29. Kevin says:

    Mike, I shouldn’t admit it but I remember that August ’09 series against Boston vividly. As i recall the Yanks were 0 for the season against Boston coming into that series and made a pretty big statement with that 4 game sweep.

    I’m pretty sure we ended John Smoltz Red Sox tenure that series as well. They DFA’d him right after the first game of the series.

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