Archive for Game Stories
Don’t look now, but the Yankees are on something of a roll. Saturday’s 3-2 win over the Royals was their fourth straight victory and 11th in their last 15 games. Since the 1-4 start, they’ve gone 21-9. Pretty remarkable. Let’s recap…
- Dandy Andy: After two dud outings, Andy Pettitte rebounded to hold Kansas City to two runs in seven rock solid innings. He missed his spots a few times pretty badly — none worse than the pitch Billy Butler hit for a solo homer — but nothing like those last two starts. Pettitte struck out seven and walked just one, recording eleven outs on the ground compared to just three in the air. Needless to say, it was very good to see vintage Andy out there after that little hiccup.
- Shields’ Two Mistakes: The Yankees were down 2-1 in the fifth inning when Royals’ starter Jamie Shields made two mistakes. First, he hit nine-hole hitter Chris Stewart with a two-strike pitch to leadoff the inning. Second, he grooved a 3-1 fastball to Vernon Wells with two outs, a pitch that landed over the left field wall for a go-ahead two-run homer. Shields pitched very well aside from those two mistakes, but they ultimately cost him and his team the game.
- Leftovers: David Robertson struck out the side in the eighth and was absolutely disgusting. Just nasty stuff. Unhittable. Mariano Rivera allowed a double in the ninth but otherwise nailed things down for his 14th save in as many chances … Jayson Nix has reached base seven times in the series after picking up two hits and a walk in this game … the Yankees managed to win even though the one through five hitters went a combined 2-for-19 with a walk. One of those hits was the Wells homer, the other a Travis Hafner infield single … Lorenzo Cain walked on three balls in the fifth inning because apparently no one in the ballpark was paying attention. It was a long at-bat with a lot of pickoff throws to first, but still. How does no one catch that?
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. In case you’re wondering, the Yankees now lead the AL East by a full game. It’s early though, I wouldn’t get too excited just yet. They’ll go for the sweep on Sunday afternoon, when Hiroki Kuroda gets the ball against right-hander Ervin Santana.
The bullpen was short on Friday, so the offense did its part to make sure the Yankees would have enough breathing room in the late innings. The result was big 11-6 over the Royals in the series opener. They’ve won three of four to start the eight-game road trip. Let’s recap…
- Two Two-Run Shots: The Yankees jumped out to a four-run lead in the second inning thanks to two-run homers from Ichiro Suzuki and Lyle Overbay. Overbay’s was an absolute bomb with that no-doubt sound off the bat. Travis Hafner (walk) and Jayson Nix (double) deserve props for reaching base ahead of the homers. It was a fine start to the game.
- Phlopped: After four strong starts, Phil Hughes took a beating at the hands on Friday. He allowed six runs in his 5.2 innings of work, including a pair of homers. One of those homers was a three-run shot by Jarrod Dyson (!), a slap-hitting speedster. They were the first long balls Phil allowed in three starts. The good news is that he threw a first pitch strike to 23 of 26 batters faced, which is ridiculous. Still, six runs in 5.2 innings is six runs in 5.2 innings. Shake it off and do better next time.
- Lead Re-Taken: The game was knotted at five before the Yankees exploded for five runs in the sixth inning. Chris Nelson plated two with a single while Overbay (double off a lefty), Brett Gardner (triple), and Robinson Cano (single) also had run-scoring hits in the inning. Seven of the first eight batters in the sixth reached base. Overbay drove in another run with a single in the ninth, giving him five ribbies on the night. Well done.
- Whiffpen: How about Shawn Kelley? He struck out six of the seven men he faced in 2.1 perfect innings, raising his season strikeout rate to 14.73 K/9 (38.7 K%). Boone Logan struck out two in a perfect ninth, and overall the pitching staff retired the final eleven men they faced, nine on strikeouts. That is shutting it down.
- Leftovers: Vernon Wells and Hafner went a combined 0-for-9 with a walk while the rest of the lineup went 16-for-34 (.471) with five doubles, a triple, and two homers … the Yankees scored double-digit runs against a non-Indians team for the first time this season … last but certainly not least, this was Joe Girardi‘s 500th win as Yankees manager. Congrats to him.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights while FanGraphs has some other stats no one cares about. ESPN has the up to the minute standings. These same two teams will meet again Saturday night — yes, a dreaded Saturday night game — when Andy Pettitte gives it a go against Shields.
The two hour and seven minute rain delay didn’t exactly mix well with my schedule, so I was only able to watch the first four innings of the Yankees 3-1 win over the Rockies on Thursday afternoon. CC Sabathia allowed just one hit in the four innings before the rain, striking out a pair and throwing a first pitch strike to 12 of 14 batters faced. He allowed a run in the first inning but retired the final 11 men he faced.
The Yankees scored a run in the first when Vernon Wells singled in Jayson Nix, and three innings later Chris Stewart plated Chris Nelson with a sacrifice fly. Robinson Cano hit a solo homer for the third run, which was also his 1,501st career hit — an infield single in the third inning was career knock number 1,500th hit of his career. He is one of five Yankees — Mickey Mantle, Derek Jeter, Lou Gehrig, and Don Mattingly are the others — who recorded his 1,500th career hit before their 31st birthday according to Katie Sharp. That’s some company.
Five relievers combined to pitch five shutout innings following the rain. The tying run seemed to be on-base at all times in those five innings, but Adam Warren (1.2 innings), Boone Logan (0.1 innings), Preston Claiborne (0.2 innings), David Robertson (1.1 innings), and Mariano Rivera (one inning) closed it out. Cano and Wells had two hits apiece, the rest of the team two hits total. This was the first time a visiting team scored six total runs in a series at Coors Field and took two of three. It was the fourth time the Rockies were held to two runs or fewer in all three games of a home series. There definitely was a lot less offense than I expected this week.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees are off to Kansas City for a three-game weekend set against the Royals. Phil Hughes and Wade Davis will open the series on Friday night, which is fitting since both right-handers are former top prospects who have failed to live up to their full potential despite being competent big leaguers.
The Yankees are undefeated when the pitcher bats eighth this year. Joe Girardi is a genius. They used a ninth inning rally to beat the Rockies by the score of 3-2 on Wednesday night.
Boesch Comes Through
It seems silly now, but batting the pitcher eighth actually played a pretty big role in this win. The Yankees and Rockies were knotted at two in the top of the ninth when New York loaded the bases with one out — the rally started with an infield single and a stolen base where the infielder dropped a perfect throw that would have had the runner by a mile — allowing Girardi to go for the kill with his two top pinch-hitters.
First, Travis Hafner came to the plate in place of third baseman Chris Nelson even though Eduardo Nunez is injured and the team doesn’t have a backup infielder at the moment. Hafner has the highest OBP on the team and a walk is as good as a hit in that situation, but he struck out on five pitches to set the stage for Brennan Boesch. Boesch, by the way, was pinch-hitting for the pitcher. Had the pitcher batted ninth, it would have been Austin Romine at the plate and maybe Girardi doesn’t pinch-hit. Who knows.
Anyway, Boesch managed to beat out an infield single to plate the go-ahead run, sliding (flopping?) feet-first into first base to beat third baseman Nolan Arenado’s throw. It was a bang-bang play and Todd Helton tried to sell it by starting towards the dugout, but the umpire ruled safe and the Yankees had the lead. Jayson Nix was thrown out at second base on the plate, so they didn’t get a chance to add to the lead, but they got a run and that was the most important thing.
Phelps’ One Mistake
Hiroki Kuroda made one mistake on Tuesday night, which is exactly what David Phelps did on Wednesday. Helton hit a 3-1 fastball like he knew it was coming in the second inning, driving the pitch out to right for a two-run homer. It was gone off the bat, total no-doubter. Those two runs were the only runs Phelps allowed on the night, as he held the Rockies to just three hits and one walk in his six innings of work. He struck out four despite throwing a first pitch to strike to only seven of 19 hitters faced.
The biggest at-bat of his outing was his last, when Carlos Gonzalez batted with a man on first and two outs in the sixth. It was pretty much the same situation Kuroda got burned on the day before — Josh Rutledge singled with outs to get CarGo to the plate in a tie game — but Phelps used two fastballs and two filthy changeups to retire the former batting champ. First pitch fastball for a whiff, second pitch changeup for a whiff, third pitch inside fastball to straighten him up, fourth pitch changeup for a whiff and the end of the inning. Textbook. Phelps held up his end of the bargain. Nice job.
The Vernon Wells Show
So apparently any time a Yankee slumps, all I have to do to wake them up is write a post. A few hours after saying Wells’ recently slump came at a terrible time for the team, he broke out by going 3-for-4 with a two-run homer in the first and the infield single that started the ninth inning rally. He also stole that base in the ninth, but it looked like a botched hit-and-run — Lyle Overbay never bothered to swing, so maybe someone missed a sign. If that wasn’t enough, Wells took over at third base (!) for Nelson in the bottom half of the inning and made a splendid play on the only ball hit his way. Well done, Vern.
I was hoping Girardi would pinch-hit Hafner for the pitcher when there was a man on third and two outs in the seventh inning, but he opted for the right-handed Ben Francisco against the lefty Josh Outman. Needless to say, it didn’t work. Can’t complain though, Girardi went for the kill two innings later by using Pronk with the bases loaded and one out in the tie game.
The Yankees had six hits total, three by Wells. Boesch (infield single to score the go-ahead run), Nelson (single that turned into a triple thanks to Dexter Fowler’s error), and Brett Gardner (regular old single) had the others. They drew three walks, including an intentional walk to Nix (!) to load the bases in the ninth. You won’t see that very often.
Preston Claiborne will get to tell all his buddies at the yacht club about the way he retired the first nine big league batters he faced. He pitched a perfect seventh, which included his first career strikeout — a four-pitch number against Helton to end the inning. David Robertson hit a batter in an otherwise uneventful eighth — it was his first appearance in a week due to the hamstring issue, and the rust was evident — and Mariano Rivera closed things out in the ninth. Solid work by the boys in the ‘pen.
The Yankees have been shutout three times this year, and each time they rebounded with a win in the next game. Love to see them bounceback like that, though not getting shutout would be preferred.
The Yankees and Rockies will wrap-up this three game series with a Thursday afternoon matinee. CC Sabathia will get the ball against fellow left-hander Jeff Francis.
Left-hander on the mound, NL lineup with no Travis Hafner … the Yankees didn’t have a prayer. The offense put up nothing in support of the pitching staff on a rainy Monday night, and the Rockies waltzed to a stress-free 2-0 win in the series opener. The Yankees have now lost three of their last four games.
Kuroda’s One Mistake
As the game progressed, I got the sense the only way the Yankees would win was if Hiroki Kuroda pulled a Clayton Kershaw by throwing a complete-game shutout and hitting a homer. Unfortunately, he did neither. The veteran right-hander had a splendid outing spoiled by one mistake, a middle-middle fastball to Carlos Gonzalez with a full count and two outs in the sixth. CarGo put the ball over the fence and into the bullpen for a two-run homer. Those were the only runs of the game and all Colorado would need.
Outside of that two-run homer, Kuroda was outstanding. He allowed six hits — four in the fifth inning — and one walk in seven innings of work, striking out three and getting 14 of his 21 outs on the infield. This was reminiscent of last year, when Kuroda would consistently pitch well but get little run support. Given the lineup around him, the lack of offense is a little more understandable this time around. Hiroki deserves better.
Now that Vernon Wells has crashed back to Earth, the lineup is basically Robinson Cano and a bunch of guys who might start for Triple-A Scranton. I guess we should cut Brett Gardner and Travis Hafner some slack, but neither started this game because matchups!!! and rules say the Yankees can’t use a DH against the Rockies, respectively. The offense put up very little fight on Monday.
The Bombers had four hits total — bloop singles by Jayson Nix, Ichiro Suzuki, and Chris Stewart plus an infield single from Nix — and their best chance to score came in the third, when Ichiro stole second and third bases with two outs. Nix struck out looking to end the inning and the threat. That was that. Just two of the final 14 hitters they sent to the plate reached base safely, and that was a walk and the infield single. Weak.
About the only thing the Yankees did well on offense was steal. They ran wild on Jorge De La Rosa, stealing four bases in his six innings of work. Ichiro stole two in that one inning while Nix and Stewart stole one apiece. Of course, Gardner was anchored to first in the seventh, which led to a Chris Nelson inning-ending double play. So it goes.
I don’t know what else there is to add, really. Stewart made a nice snap-throw to pick a runner off first base in the second inning and Shawn Kelley allowed a single in an otherwise uneventful and scoreless inning. That’s basically it. I wouldn’t call this the most interesting game in the world.
Weird little fact: the Yankees have scored a total of five runs in their last four games at Coors Field, dating back to the series in 2007. That’s … surprising.
The Yankees and Rockies will play game two of this three-game set on Wednesday night, when David Phelps gets the ball against Juan Nicasio. I’m guessing that one will feature a few more runs than this one.
Well, a 7-3 homestand is pretty awesome, but the Yankees were damn close to making it 8-2 instead. They mounted a nice comeback in the middle innings against the Athletics on Sunday before things got away from them late. The final was 5-4.
When Andy Pettitte struggled against the Astros last time out, a lot of blame fell on the shoulders of Austin Romine for his unfamiliarity with the pitching staff. This time around Andy had Chris Stewart, Miracle Catcher™ behind the plate, so there are no such excuses. Pettitte labored through five awful innings, walking four and giving up four hits, three of which went for extra bases (one double and two homers). He also hit a batter. Only 57 of his 100 total pitches were strikes and only nine of 24 batters faced saw a first pitch strike. Yuck. Five of the nine base-runners reached in two-strike counts. Double yuck.
After allowing two runs in 15 innings during his first two starts of the year, Pettitte has now allowed 17 runs in 22.2 innings across four starts since returning from his stiff back. Is the back still bothering him? Maybe. It was unrealistic to think he would pitch like an ace all year — remember, he was definitely ace-like in his 12 starts last season despite the leg injury — but the complete lack of control has me a tad worried. It could be a simple slump, it happens to every pitcher and the Athletics have mashed lefties this year, but the combination of age and the recent back trouble mean Pettitte’s recent struggles should set off some alarms.
Despite the poor effort from the starting pitcher, the Yankees still managed to rally and tie the game in the sixth inning. Robinson Cano got them on the board with a run-scoring single in the third — he was thrown out by a mile at second trying advance on the throw home, but that’s besides the point — then he started the sixth inning rally with a leadoff single to shallow right. Ichiro Suzuki plated Cano with a double into the right field corner two batters later, then two batters after that Lyle Overbay knotted things up with a bloop single.
Outside of tying the game, the Overbay hit stands out because it was a tough eight-pitch at-bat against a really good lefty specialist in Jerry Blevins. He fell behind in the count 1-2 before evening things at 2-2 and fouling off three pitches. Blevins followed every sinker he threw in the inning with a breaking ball, and it looked like Overbay picked up on the pattern and waited on a breaking ball after fouling off a sinker. The ball blooped into center and both runs scored. Overbay’s been dreadful against lefties this year — came into the game hitting .074/.074/.111 (-67 wRC+) against southpaws — but he hung in real well and tied the game. Nice job.
The Yankees were finally bit by the David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain-less bullpen. With no real usable right-hander reliever to face the middle of the Oakland order in the eighth, the ball went to Boone Logan because he was simply the best option. Mariano Rivera would never enter the game in the eighth, so Joe Girardi‘s choices were Logan, Shawn Kelley, and Vidal Nuno. Boone it was.
Unfortunately, when your best late-inning option against a bunch of power-hitting righties is a LOOGY, bad things tend to happen. Logan surrendered a solo homer to the right-handed hitting Josh Donaldson, a second deck shot that stayed just fair down the left field line. An inning later he allowed a leadoff double to the left-handed Josh Reddick, which was Reddick’s first career hit in 36 plate appearances at the New Yankee Stadium. The eminently hittable Kelley pitched out of that jam. The solo homer, unfortunately, cost the Yankees the ball game.
Despite the loss, the Yankees got exactly what they wanted in the ninth inning of a one-run game — they got Cano to the plate. Brett Gardner singled with two outs to extend the game, but as soon as he advanced to second on a wild pitch, the bat was out of Cano’s hands. Oakland intentionally walked him and closer Grant Balfour struck out Vernon Wells to end the game. For shame. Maybe Brett shoulda stayed at first on the wild pitch. I’m kidding … maybe.
Congrats to Preston Claiborne for starting his Hall of Fame career. The right-hander made his big league debut in relief of Pettitte and retired all six men he faced. No hits, no walks, no strikeouts, no nothing. Six balls in play and six relatively easy outs. I mentioned this the other night, but I think Claiborne’s got a chance to take Kelley’s roster spot if he pitches well between now and Joba Chamberlain’s return from the DL.
The Yankees had nine total hits, and the top five hitters in the lineup went a combined 8-for-19 (.421) with four walks while the bottom four lineup spots went 1-for-16 with six strikeouts. The one hit was Overbay’s game-tying single. That sums up the state of the lineup very well right now, all the injuries have taken all the bite out of the bottom of the order.
Cano was one of three Yankees with two hits — Ichiro and Gardner were the others — but it’s worth noting that he’s now sitting on 1,499 career hits at the moment. Pretty crazy that he’ll turn 30 after the season and is just halfway to 3,000. That’s a mighty big number.
The Yankees are off on Monday and will travel to Colorado. They open a three-game series against the Rockies on Tuesday night, with Hiroki Kuroda getting the ball against left-hander Jorge De La Rosa.
The Yankees have lost consecutive games just once since the 1-4 start to the season, and they avoided the dreaded two-game losing streak on Saturday with an impressive 4-2 win over the Athletics. Good pitching and timely hitting, there’s your ballgame. Let’s recap…
- Philthy Phil: As I mentioned in the open thread, this was tied for the best start of Phil Hughes‘ career (by Game Score). He allowed three singles, one double, and one walk in eight scoreless innings of work, striking out nine and throwing a first pitch strike to 21 of 29 batters faced. Eighty-two of his 118 total pitches were strikes — including a ridiculous 19 swings and misses — the most strikes thrown by a Yankee and sixth most by any pitcher this season. Hughes retired the last ten men he faced and didn’t allow a single A’s player to make it to third base. He was awesome and has been for four starts now.
- Solo Homers & Singles: The Yankees built a bit of a picket fence against Bartolo Colon and the Oakland bullpen, scoring exactly one run in four of the first seven innings. Chris Stewart (!) opened the scoring with third inning solo homer down the left field line while Lyle Overbay followed with a bigger blast into the second deck in right two innings later. They tacked on ultimately important insurance runs in the sixth and seventh with singles from Travis Hafner and Brett Gardner. Both of those rallies started with extra-base hits and ended with soft hits — Hafner’s was a bloop off the end of the bat while Gardner’s was an infield single off the second baseman’s glove.
- Short Leash: I don’t understand why Joe Girardi bothered to send Shawn Kelley to the mound in the ninth if his leash was one base-runner. Mariano Rivera didn’t pitch on Thursday or Friday, plus the team is off on Monday. Rest isn’t an issue. If you’re willing to bring in Mo with a four-run lead after a man reaches, just send him out for the full inning so he can start it fresh. Eh, whatever. Two runs scored in the ninth, one charged to Kelley and one to Rivera. Four Athletics batted while representing the tying run that inning.
- Leftovers: The Yankees had eight hits, including five for extra-bases. Overbay was the only player with two knocks while Ichiro Suzuki and Chris Nelson went hitless. Everyone else had one hit apiece … the Bombers didn’t draw a single walk, which isn’t surprising. Bartolo Colon has walked one batter (!) in 37.1 innings this season … I have to think Preston Claiborne has a chance to take Kelley’s job if he pitches well between now and when Joba Chamberlain comes off the DL. Kelley has pitched poorly and he clearly doesn’t have Girardi’s trust.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees will send Andy Pettitte to the mound in the rubber game on Sunday afternoon while the Athletics will counter with rookie right-hander Dan Straily. If you want to catch the final game of the homestand in person, check out RAB Tickets.
The Yankees have made a bit of a habit of losing series openers lately, as Friday’s shutout loss to the Athletics was their second consecutive series opener loss and third in their last four series. Was that confusing enough for you? Good. Let’s quickly recap…
- Shaky Sabathia: CC Sabathia was in trouble all night — six innings, ten base-runners, only one 1-2-3 inning — but it was really just one bad pitch that earned him the loss. Adam Rosales hit the very first pitch of the game out into the left field seats for a leadoff homer and a quick 1-0 lead, and that was all Oakland needed.
- Blown Chances: The Yankees had opportunities to put some runs on the board, but they came up empty each time. They left a man on second in the first, men at second and third in the third, a man on first in the fourth, a man on second in the fifth, and a man on second in the seventh. Six scattered hits and one walk usually isn’t enough to win, even when the pitching staff only allows two runs total.
- Leftovers: Nice job by Adam Warren to throw three scoreless frames, though they weren’t the cleanest of innings … Brett Gardner and Jayson Nix both had a pair of hits … it’s become pretty obvious the Yankees need another bat. The 5-9 spots are just awful these days … apparently Sabathia had some kind of verbal confrontation with home plate ump Jordan Baker? I was at the game and didn’t see it.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. Former Yankee Bartolo Colon and future former Yankee Phil Hughes will be on the bump for Saturday’s matinee. Check out RAB Tickets for some last minute deals.
Minor League Update: No DotF tonight, but I will link you to the box scores: Triple-A Scranton (win), Double-A Trenton (win), High-A Tampa (loss), Low-A Charleston (win). RHP Rafael DePaula was the star of the night, striking out seven in five shutout outings to lower his season strikeout rate to 15.1 K/9. CF Mason Williams and SS Cito Culver both went deep, and it was Mason’s second homer in three games.
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.
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.
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.
I feel like games against the Astros should be a little easier than this. The Yankees labored to a 7-4 win on Tuesday night following Monday’s shellacking, but a win is a win.
Kuroda Walks A Tight Rope
Had he been facing a better offensive team that the Astros, I’m not so sure Hiroki Kuroda gets through four full innings in this game. He was very rough early in the game, putting a man on third base in each of the first three innings while workings at a snail’s pace. Everything was up in the zone, nothing was going where it was supposed to go … it was pretty bad. And yet, Kuroda managed seven scoreless frames on 108 total pitches with a season-high eight strikeouts. He also walked a season-high four.
The key for Kuroda appeared to be his slider, which he started to use heavily around the fourth inning. After putting seven men on-base during the first three innings, he allowed just one base-runner through the next four frames. He retired 15 of the final 16 batters he faced and the final nine overall. By no means was it pretty, but seven scoreless is seven scoreless. I’ll take it every time out no matter how stressful.
Four Crummy Runs
New York’s first four runs all came on crappy little scoring plays. I would be annoyed if the other team scored four runs like that against the Yankees. The first run came on Travis Hafner‘s single to left, which Brandon Barnes trapped rather than caught. The second run scored when Hafner grounded a single to the shortstop side of second base while Houston had the shift on. The third run scored when Brennan Boesch beat out an inning-ending double play by about a quarter of a step. The fourth scored when Jayson Nix reached on an infield single because the shortstop muffed a hard-hit grounder. They all count, but geez. Let’s not call them aesthetically pleasing runs.
Those four runs stood up for the first seven innings before the Yankees blew things open in the eighth, getting a cheap Yankee Stadium solo homer from Lyle Overbay and run-scoring singles from Chris Stewart and Hafner. Stewart’s was a solid line drive to center while Pronk’s was a bloop job to shallow left. There was nothing funny about those plays, no traps in the outfield or muffed ground balls. Conventional run-scoring plays.
A few hours after I said Eduardo Nunez needed to give the team more on offense, he went 3-for-4 with a pair of hustle doubles. It would be awesome if he started to chip in a little more from the bottom of the lineup. Ichiro Suzuki (three), Robinson Cano (two), Hafner (three), and Stewart (two) all had multiple singles. Nix had his infield single, Overbay the homer, Hafner an intentional walk, and Brett Gardner an unintentional walk to round out the offense. Ichiro and Gardner stole bases.
David Robertson allowed a two-run homer to Chris Carter in the eighth, which temporarily made it a two-run game before the offense tacked a few insurance runs on a half-inning later. Shawn Kelley allowed two runs on three hits in the ninth inning before giving way to Mariano Rivera, who recorded the final out without incident. Not exactly a banner night for the bullpen, but at least the offense gave them some breathing room.
The rubber game of this three-game set will be played on Wednesday night, when David Phelps makes his first start of the season in place of the injured Ivan Nova. Veteran left-hander Erik Bedard will be on the bump for the Astros. Check out RAB Tickets for some last minute ticket deals.