Archive for Better than the Mets
Definitely a fan of the three-game sweep, but a three-game sweep of the Mets is always a little extra special. Things didn’t look so good for most of the game really, but the Yankees got some fortunate bounces and some bloops finally blooped before Russell Martin hit the team’s first walk-off homer since September 2010. That’s six wins in seven games and 13 in 17 games. Pretty awesome.
Anyway, here’s your open thread for the night. The ESPN Sunday Night Game is the Tigers at the Reds (Smyly vs. Bailey), and that’s all you’ve got as far as the major sports are concerned. Feel free to talk about whatever you like here, go nuts.
The Yankees have already won the series and while that is always the goal — two out of every three is a 108-win pace — it’s time to get greedy and finish off the sweep. There are bragging rights are on the line and in this age of the internet, bragging rights are worth more than ever. Here’s the lineup…
LHP Andy Pettitte
Today’s game starts a little after 1pm ET and can be seen on both YES and WPIX locally as well as TBS nationally. Enjoy.
Freddy Garcia Update: Garcia is back with the team after going home to Venezuela following his grandfather’s death. He’s been activated off the bereavement list and Ryota Igarashi has been sent back to Triple-A.
Hiroki Kuroda Update: Kuroda (foot) threw his regular between starts bullpen this afternoon. He’s expected to be good to go for his next start, but we won’t know for sure until Joe Girardi speaks after the game.
Another day, another win for the Yankees. They again rode their starting pitcher and some timely homers to a 4-2 win over the Mets to clinch the Bronx-end of the 2012 Subway Series. It was their fifth win in the last six games, their seventh win in the last nine games, and their 12th win in the last 16 games. That’ll do just fine. Let’s recap.
- Teixeicution: I don’t expect much from Mark Teixeira when he has two strikes against a changeup pitcher … mean the “changeup, strike three” meme practically created himself. Tex found himself in a 2-2 count against changeup specialist Dillon Gee with the Yankees down a run in the sixth, but Gee didn’t go to the changeup. He hung a breaking ball and Teixeira hung it on a line out to right field for a homer, turning a one-run deficit into a one-run lead. T’was unexpected.
- WonderPhil: Phil Hughes has made 23 starts since coming off the DL last July, and he’s now allowed two runs (earned or unearned) or less in 14 of them. His 6.1 inning effort against the Mets wasn’t nearly as pretty as his complete game victory over the Tigers, but he limited the damage to two solo homers (more on that in a bit) while striking out six and recording 12 of his 19 outs on the infield. The homers continue to be a problem, but Hughes has now pitched to a 3.50 ERA with a 3.64 K/BB ratio in his last seven starts. That’s pretty damn good. Keep it up, Phil.
- Other Runs: Alex Rodriguez singled in Derek Jeter for a quick 1-0 lead in the first inning, but — stop me if you’ve heard this before — they were unable to convert a bases loaded, one-out situation into any more runs because Raul Ibanez grounded into a double play. The Yankees didn’t pick up another hit until Teixeira’s homer in the sixth. Curtis Granderson‘s solo homer in the eighth plated an important insurance run.
- Bullpen: Gotta hand it to the mix-and-match setup crew, they took care of business in the middle innings. Boone Logan retired the lone lefty he faced (thanks to a great grab by Granderson), Cory Wade finished off the seventh and retired David Wright in a one-run game to open the eight, then Clay Rapada retired his two lefties to hand the ball off the Rafael Soriano for the Wetteland-esque save. Wade allowed a bloop single, but otherwise the setup trio retired five of the six men they faced. Bravo, fellas.
- Leftover: Hughes allowed the obligatory homer (Omar Quintanilla?!) and is now two starts shy of a) Dennis Rasmussen’s team record of 14 consecutive starts with a homer allowed (1986), and b) Bert Blyleven’s all-time record of 14 consecutive starts with a homer allowed to start a season (1987) … the top six hitters in the lineup each had exactly one hit while the bottom three each went 0-for-3 with a strikeout … the homers by Tex and Grandy were the club’s only extra-base hits of the night.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the nerd score, and ESPN the updated standings. The Rays annihilated the Marlins, so they remain tied atop the AL East in the loss column with New York. Andy Pettitte gets the ball in search of the sweep on Sunday afternoon. Fellow southpaw Jon Niese is on the bump for the Amazin’s. If you want to catch the series finale, check out RAB Tickets.
The Yankees got some more bad news about Brett Gardner and his sprained right elbow today as his latest minor league rehab game resulted in more pain. He’s headed to the doctor on Monday and Joe Girardi said he doesn’t expect him back until after the All-Star break. Gardner is no superstar but his presence has been missed, specifically his speed in the lineup and his defense in the outfield. Win this game for him Yankees, win it for him and clinch the series win over the Mets. Here’s the lineup…
RHP Phil Hughes
Tonight’s game is scheduled to start at 7:15pm ET and can be seen on FOX. Enjoy.
David Robertson Update: Robertson (oblique) will make his first minor league rehab appearance with Triple-A Empire State tomorrow. He could return in time for next weekend’s series in Washington.
One day after failing to complete a sweep of the Rays, the Yankees got right back on the horse and blew out the Mets in the first game of the 2012 Subway Series. The win was their fourth in the last five games, the sixth in the last eight games, and 11th in the last 15 games. Let’s recap…
- Cano-han: Robinson Cano put any thoughts of back-to-back no-hitters for Johan Santana to bed pretty quickly. He jumped all over the first pitch he saw for a two-run homers in the second, then followed it up with another first pitch, two-run dinger the very next inning. Alex Rodriguez (walk and single) was on base for both. Those are only Cano’s second and third homers off a southpaw this season, but he has plenty of time to hit a few more.
- Back-to-Back-to-Back: A pair of two-run homers from Robbie wasn’t enough. Nick Swisher and Andruw Jones followed up Cano’s third inning blast with solo shots of their own for New York’s first set of back-to-back-to-back homers since last August. Coincidentally enough, it was those same three players in that same order that time as well. Pretty neat. The four dingers made it six-zip Yankees before Johan was able to get his ninth out.
- My Kuroda: Of course, it didn’t matter how many runs the offense piled on because Hiroki Kuroda gave the Mets nothing. He took a no-hitter into the sixth and it would have been a perfect game had Derek Jeter not booted a routine grounder in the fourth. Kuroda struck out seven and got 18 of his 21 outs on the infield because he was unpredictable — threw at least 14 four-seamers, sinkers, sliders, and splitters with some curves mixed in (Brooks) — and only threw three of his 91 pitches from the stretch. Three! The only reason Kuroda was unable to go the distance was because he took a comebacker off his left foot in the seventh, but thankfully x-rays were negative. Following an rocky start to the season, he’s now allowed two earned runs or less in seven of his last nine starts. Well done, Hiroki-san.
- Leftovers: Ryota Igarashi made his Yankees debut in the ninth and became the 113th player to play for both modern New York teams, though he ruined the one-hit shutout by allowing an RBI double to Lucas Duda … believe it or not, the Yankees got two consecutive hits with runners in scoring position (2-for-6 overall) to widen the lead in the seventh … everyone in the starting lineup had a hit except for Jeter and Curtis Granderson, the guys who are supposed to set the table … the four through nine hitters went a combined 9-for-17 with four homers, two doubles, and four walks … Granderson was replaced by Dewayne Wise in the eighth inning of the blowout after playing every inning of every game this season.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the nerd score, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees and Rays are tied in the loss column atop the AL East, though the Bombers have a sizable advantage in run differential (+37 to +16). Phil Hughes and Dillon Gee will square off in game two of this three-game set, a Saturday night game that will be broadcast on FOX. If you want to head up to Bronx to catch the game, check out RAB Tickets.
I’m not sure how often this has happened or even if it has ever happened before, but the Yankees open the 2012 edition of the Subway Series with fewer wins than the Mets. They come into tonight’s game with a 31-25 record while the Amazin’s are 32-26. Of course, winning percentage (.554 vs. .552) and run differential (+29 vs. -8) still favor the Bombers. Johan Santana is coming off his 134-pitch no-hitter and has had a full week to recuperate, plus he’s thrown back-to-back complete game shutouts. Let’s hope his scoreless streak ends soon. Here’s the lineup…
RHP Hiroki Kuroda
Tonight’s game starts a little after 7pm ET and can be seen on both My9 and SNY locally as well as MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.
Joba Chamberlain Update: Joba (elbow, ankle) threw 25 pitches off a full mound in the batting cage down in Tampa this afternoon. He’s also resumed running full sprints in the outfield. “Is that even a question?” he replied when asked if he’ll pitch this season. Just remarkable.
David Aardsma Update: Aardsma (elbow) threw 40 pitches in his third live batting practice session today and he could throw a simulated game as soon as early next week. Reinforcements … they are coming.
The Yankees welcome the Mets to the Bronx this weekend for the first of two home-and-homes they’ve played against each other every season since 1999 — though there are rumblings that the annual six games against the Mets could be a thing of the past with Houston moving to the American League next year. The Yankees are 49-35 all time against the Mets during Interleague Play, though despite this relative dominance I certainly won’t miss playing the Metropolitans six times a year if changes do come to pass.
The Bombers went 4-2 last season against a bruised and battered Mets team, winning both series and marking only the 7th time in 15 seasons that the Yankees won the season series (the teams have split the season series six times). This year’s Mets team entered the season with almost no expectations — though I told anyone who would listen during the offseason that I thought their starting pitching would be very good, and while it hasn’t been lights-out it’s still been plenty effective (top seven NL in K/9, BB/9, ERA and FIP) — and to the surprise of everyone, have considerably outplayed expectations to the point of being 32-26 and only 1.5 games out of first place. I’d wager most Mets fans would’ve looked at you as if you were crazy if you told them they’d not only have a winning record on the morning of June 8 but also be within shouting distance of first place.
The staff has been led by a resurgent Johan Santana — still riding high after authoring one of the most important moments in franchise history last Friday after finally breaking the team’s 51-year no-hitter drought — who has come back from shoulder surgery looking every bit the pitcher the Mets gave one of the richest pitching contracts in history to, putting up a 2.38 ERA/2.72 FIP, striking out 9.0 per nine and as usual, limiting the walks, all contributing to him currently residing in the top 10 most valuable starters in the NL by fWAR.
Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey has continued what has to be one of the quietest runs of sustained success in the Majors — he actually has the 11th-lowest ERA of all qualified starters in MLB since joining the Mets in 2010. If that weren’t enough, Dickey also has — believe it or not – the lowest ERA against the Yankees, minimum two starts, of every starter the Bombers have faced since the beginning of 2010. Granted, it’s only across two starts, but the Yankees should be very happy they don’t have to see Dickey this weekend. Saturday’s starter Dillon Gee has also been effective if a bit unlucky on the season (4.48 ERA/3.59 FIP, 8.32 K/9), while Sunday’s starter Jonathon Niese has probably been the least-effective hurler in the Mets’ rotation thus far but that’s not saying much, as Niese boasts a 4.11 ERA/4.26 FIP and 8.95 K/9.
However, the pitching hasn’t been the entire story for the 2012 New York Mets. The offense currently ranks 5th in the NL with a .318 wOBA/99 wRC+, and much of that is due to David Wright, currently perhaps the hottest hitter in all of baseball, with a .438 wOBA and 182 wRC+ that both clock in at 2nd-best in the NL. That said, if you can navigate around Wright there isn’t a whole heck of a lot of firepower surrounding him. Lucas Duda (122 wRC+) is a threat at cleanup; recently called up journeyman shortstop Omar Quintanilla (141) has hit well above his head in limited duty which means he’ll almost certainly get a key hit or two this weekend; and rookie Kirk Nieuwenhuis (110) and even constantly injured Jason Bay (108) are also providing above-average production, so the Mets aren’t without their weapons, although none of these names instill the level of fear that Wright does.
Unfortunately it hasn’t been all champagne wishes and caviar dreams for the Mets, as their bullpen has been the team’s worst-performing unit, with a worst-in-the-NL 5.38 collective ERA. Righties Bobby Parnell and Jon Rauch set up closer Frank Francisco, while Tim Byrdak and Miguel Batista hold down the fort in the middle innings.
The Pitching Match-Ups
Friday, June 8, 2012 at 7:10 p.m. LHP Johan Santana vs. RHP Hiroki Kuroda
You already know about Santana’s season — who had his most recent start pushed back to this game in the aftermath of his career-high 134 pitches used to secure the no-no — and stuff-wise he’ll attack hitters with his 89mph four-seamer 46% of the time and knock them out with one of the best changeups (2.38 wCH/C) in the game. Santana also chucks an 81mph slider 18% of the time and a sinker 14% of the time. Despite a career 4.18 ERA vs. the Yanks, Johan has always been a tough assignment for the Bombers, who haven’t seen him since they beat him behind a Mark Teixeira grand slam on Father’s Day in 2010.
HIROK! has historically fared rather poorly against the Mets, pitching to a 5.75 ERA in 36 innings across seven career starts.
Saturday, June 9, 2012 at 7:15 p.m. RHP Dillon Gee vs. RHP Phil Hughes
The groundballing (54.6%) Gee throws a 90mph sinker 28% of the time, four-seamer 26%, 83mph changeup 23% and 74mph curve 10% of the time. Though he primarily relies on the sinker, his changeup is actually one of the better weapons on the team, as it currently ranks 11th-most effective by wCH/C in the National League. Gee has one career start against the Yankees which came last July 2, and he started out strong before they rallied for four runs in the 6th inning en route to a 5-2 victory.
Hughes missed the subway series last year, and has two career starts against the Mets, both coming in 2010. In the first, he got hit around at Citi Field for four runs in 5.2 innings, and was much better a month later, holding the Mets to three runs over seven at Yankee Stadium.
Sunday, June 10, 2012 at 1:05 p.m. LHP Jonathon Niese vs. LHP Andy Pettitte
Niese is a fastball-heavy lefty, with a 91mph four-seamer (42%), 87mph cutter (21%) and 90mph sinker (13%). He also has a 75mph curve that he’ll throw roughly one-fifth of the time to both righties and lefties. Like Gee, Niese has also only faced the Yankees once, and held them to three runs in 6 innings last July.
The Mets always seem to find ways to win games they shouldn’t when playing the Yankees, even during their bad seasons, and so with the Mets currently playing very good ball this is a fairly tough call.
It’ll be interesting to see if Johan shows any ill effects from the career-high pitch count from last Friday — if he’s anything close to the guy that threw the no-hitter, he’ll be a tough match-up. The Gee-Hughes game seems like a complete wild card, as who knows whether Hughes will come out roaring like he did against the Tigers or follow up a superb outing with a clunker for seemingly the 1,000th time in his career. I also don’t know how I feel about the Niese-Pettitte game, as the Mets’ starters of recent seasons seem to be very good at bending slightly against the Yankees but not breaking. Of course, Pettitte’s been mostly ageless thus far in his comeback, and it’s hard to pick against him right now.
I think the Yankees probably lose the Santana-Kuroda game (although in one of those random scheduling quirks, the Yankees are actually 8-1 on Friday this season, with their one loss coming back on Opening Day) and then bounce back to take the Saturday and Sunday games behind continued strong performances from Hughes and Pettitte.
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Believe it or not, today is the first time the Yankees and Mets will play each other in a Spring Training game since 1996. I guess that’s what happens when the two clubs play in the same state, but on opposite coasts. Here’s the lineup…
RHP Ivan Nova
Available Pitchers: RHP David Phelps and RHP D.J. Mitchell are both scheduled to pitch, their final chance to make an impression and win that last bullpen spot. RHP George Kontos, RHP Brandon Pinder, RHP Mark Montgomery, LHP Juan Cedeno, and SwP Pat Venditte are also available if needed.
Today’s game starts at 2:10pm ET and can be seen on YES, SNY, and MLB Network. Enjoy.
Via Ken Rosenthal, the Marlins and Jose Reyes have agreed to a six-year contract worth $106MM. The deal does not include a no-trade clause, and Jon Heyman says the plan is to move Hanley Ramirez to third base. I’d like to see them try him in center field, but that’s just me. To make matters worse for the Mets, they’re only going to get Florida’s third round draft pick as compensation (in addition to the supplemental first rounder). Ouch.
The Yankees were never serious suitors for Reyes, especially not that price. The first domino of the Winter Meetings has fallen though, and the next four days are sure to be fun.
With the Yanks’ crosstown rivals looking to free up money to keep Jose Reyes while attempting to restock their financially depleted system, a few Mets have flitted across the Yanks’ radar. The Flushing Nine delivered an All Star surprise when they shipped K-Rod to the Brewers last night, but they didn’t send away their high-priced closer before checking in with the Yankees.
According to numerous sources (Olney, Klapisch), the Yankees could have gotten K-Rod for simply money as well but opted against the move. As we noted in last night’s post on the trade, I was nominally in support of a move to acquire K-Rod, but the Yanks’ rationale for turning down the Mets’ offer seemingly rests on two grounds, one sounder than the other.
The first, I have to assume, concerns the dollars. K-Rod is owed around $5 million this year and with a $3.5 million buyout. Even with the Mets’ picking up some salary, that’s a hefty amount to pay to a late-inning guy for two and a half months. The Yanks were willing to pick up Kerry Wood’s hefty salary last year because they needed set-up help. This year, their pitching dollars are likely allocated to any potential starter or lefty relievers who may become available. Plus, Brian Cashman should know by now that sinking dollars into replaceable late-inning set-up men isn’t a good use of resources.
The other reason seems to concern the bullpen composition itself. Joel Sherman reported that, had the Yanks acquired K-Rod, either he or Soriano would have manned the 7th while the other secured the 8th. The team, he said, thought that “would be a problem with [the] emotional duo.” Both are used to closing; both would be in reduced roles. It’s worth remembering too that K-Rod’s demotion to the 7th or 8th will likely cost him a hefty 2012 salary. Valid reason for giving up the chance to upgrade the bullpen for only dollars, albeit a lot of them? Perhaps so.
In other Yankee/Met news, Buster Olney says that the Yanks are not interested in Carlos Beltran. The Mets have more leverage with regards to Beltran than they did with K-Rod and will ask for a steep package for the outfielder who would make a fine AL DH. I believe he could have a role on the Yanks as a DH/OF, but that would involve marginalizing Jorge Posada. As Beltran is the best bat available, the Yanks are sending signals that want to spend on starting pitching.