Archive for Game Stories
Remember when the Yankees were the only team in baseball without a three-game losing streak? Like 36 hours ago? They’re now riding a four-game losing streak after getting embarrassed by the Mets on their home turf Wednesday night. The Amazin’s walked away with a 9-4 win to officially clinch the 2013 Subway Series.
Thanks For Coming, David
Apparently David Phelps felt bad for Phil Hughes following his seven-run, two-out disaster two weeks ago, so he decided to join him in the sub-one-inning start club on Wednesday. The Mets hung five runs on the utterly ineffective Phelps, who recorded just one out before being lifted. He allowed those five runs on four hits and two walks, including the two-strike, two-run single to the awful Ike Davis that ended his night. Jayson Nix deserves an assist booting a routine would-be inning-ending double play when there were just two runs on the boards.
Phelps is the first Yankees starter to record just one out in a game without being injured since … wait for it …. Alex Graman in July 2004. Jeff Karstens and Darrell Rasner left starts after one out in 2007, but they were both hurt. Maybe Phelps still had some lingering soreness in his right forearm after being hit by a line drive last time out, but he came through all his usual between starts workouts just fine. Starts like this are usually just a fluky off-night, which is what I’ll consider it for Phelps unless word gets out that he’s still hurting. Would have been nice if the game wasn’t over before the line got a chance to hit, however.
Four Runs? Wow, They Broke Out
You knew the Yankees had mentally checked out for the night when the top three hitters in the lineup were retired in order on five pitches by Jeremy Hefner in the third. Brett Gardner and Travis Hafner popped up on the first pitch while Robinson Cano struck out on three pitches, the last of which was an 89 mph fastball at his eyes for a whiff. That’s when it seemed like everyone was playing just hard enough to get the game over and not embarrass themselves.
Joe Girardi ran the white flag up the pole in the sixth, when he let Chris Stewart bat with men on first and second with two outs. The Yankees had already scored two runs in the inning and Hefner’s pitch count was up around the century mark, so that was their best chance to get back into the game. Rather than use David Adams or even the slumping Vernon Wells, Stewart was allowed to hit. He flew out weakly to left, ending the inning and the team’s best (only) chance to get back into the game.
Preston Claiborne cleaned up Phelps’ mess in the first and retired all five men he faced. Adam Warren (three runs in two innings) and Ivan Nova (one run in five innings) did the long relief duties to spare the rest of the eight-man bullpen. Nova struck out the side on nine pitches in the eighth and looked very sharp overall. He really locked himself into that backup long reliever role. Claiborne, by the way, is the first Yankees rookie since 1916 to start his career with ten walk-less appearances.
Brennan Boesch hit a solo homer for the Yankees’ first run, then he beat out an infield single in the sixth to plate their second run. Nix singled in another run two batters later and Cano blooped in a garbage time run in the ninth. The 5-6-7 hitters went a combined 7-for-12 while the other six hitters went 5-for-27. The Yankees have now scored just nine runs in their last four games, and miraculously they were a David Robertson inning and a Mariano Rivera inning away from winning two of them.
I think my favorite part of the game was the YES booth — specifically Michael Kay, I don’t want to put this on David Cone and Al Leiter — trying to spin all the recent losing as a good thing because the soon-to-be activated injured players won’t have to feel the pressure of trying to maintain the winning. That’s a real thing that was said on television, poisoning the youth of America.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com is the place to go for the box score and video highlights. FanGraphs and ESPN have some more stats and the standings, respectively. The Red Sox lost and the Orioles won, so the Yankees are tied with Boston in the loss column atop the AL East (the Sawx are technically in first by percentage point) while Baltimore climbed to just two back in the loss column.
The Yankees have already been embarrassed this series, but they’ll try to avoid the ultra-embarrassment of being swept (!) in a four-game series (!!) by the Mets (!!!) on Thursday night. Vidal Nuno and Dillon Gee is your pitching matchup. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch the carnage live.
For the first time this year, the Yankees have lost three consecutive games. They were the final team to do so in 2013. It’s the latest into a season they’ve without a three-game losing streak (51 games) since … wait for it … 1955. Yeah, it’s been a while. The Mets walked off with their second straight 2-1 win on Tuesday night.
I don’t get upset when Mariano Rivera blows a save and takes a loss. The other team beat the best and they deserve some credit. David Wright and Lucas Duda had solid game-tying and game-winning singles following Daniel Murphy’s bloop-ish ground-rule double, so a tip of the cap to them. Mo was a perfect 18-for-18 in save chances coming into this game, and as Joe Girardi said afterwards, “you knew at some point (a blown save) would probably happen.”
This was the first time in his career (!!!) that Rivera failed to retire a batter in a save opportunity. First time ever! It’s the third time he’s done it overall, with the other two times coming in 1995 and 2008. The Yankees had been a perfect 28-0 when leading after eight innings coming into this game. Like I said, it happens. Mo has earned a perpetual pass in my book.
At Some Point You Have To Score More Than One Run
Eighteen innings in the series, two runs scored. The Yankees needed an outfielder miscue to score their only run for the second straight game, as Marlon Byrd misplayed Brett Gardner‘s leadoff single and allowed him to advance to second. Lyle Overbay plated him with a two-out single later in the inning. That was it, there’s the run.
The Yankees actually had some chances against Matt Harvey, stranding runners at first and second in the third, a leadoff runner at first in the fifth, and runners on the corners in the eighth. Their offense consisted of seven singles and zero walks, and yes, I know Harvey is excellent, but this lineup sucks. Especially now that the blush is off the Vernon Wells rose and Ichiro Suzuki has to play everyday.
Gardner (Temporarily) Saves The Day, Again
This one wouldn’t have left the yard, but for the second straight night, Gardner made a brilliant running catch in left-center field to rob Murphy of an extra-base hit. This one came after a real tough at-bat with no outs and a man on first in the sixth inning, so at the very least the ball would have put men on second and third with no outs had it dropped. More than likely, it would have scored the runner (Ruben Tejada) from first. To the video:
That is every bit as good as Monday’s homer robbery. Maybe it won’t get the same recognition because hey, robbing homers is cool, but the degree of difficulty is basically the same. Gardner had to run full bore with no time to slow down and settle under the ball. He caught the ball towards the end of his glove as he was twisting around and crashing into the wall. Pretty spectacular.
Ho hum, another day another stellar effort from de facto staff ace Hiroki Kuroda. The veteran right-hander limited the Mets to four singles in seven shutout innings, walking zero and striking out seven. He threw 72 of 110 pitches for strikes (65%), including first pitch strikes to 20 of 25 batters. Sixteen of his 21 outs were recorded on the infield. Kuroda deserved better.
Another gem of a game for Chris Stewart, Miracle Catcher™. He took a nice 0-for-3 with two strikeouts at the plate (willing to give him a pass because of Harvey) while committing his second passed ball in as many nights. It didn’t cost them in this game. What did cost them, however, was Stewart’s inability to corral Gardner’s throw home on Wright’s game-tying hit, allowing the go-ahead run to move into scoring position. As Girardi said after the game, that ball “has to be stopped.”
I thought Reid Brignac quietly had a nice game. He went 1-for-4 at the plate and made a handful of nice, rangy plays at shortstop. Balls Derek Jeter, Eduardo Nunez, and Jayson Nix couldn’t dream of getting to. Brignac also made a nice tag on a pickoff play at second to end the sixth inning — he blocked the bag and Tejada didn’t get his hand on the base until well after the tag. The ump initially ruled him safe too, but then changed it up and correctly called him out. Nice little game for Brignac.
David Robertson rebounded from Monday’s rough outing to throw a perfect eighth with one strikeout between Kuroda and Mo. Gardner was the only Yankee with two hits, and he hit the ball hard in all four plate appearances against Harvey. He’s been playing very well on both sides of the ball of late.
Oh by the way, Mariano Rivera passed Dennis Eckersley on the all-time appearances list in this game. He has now appeared in more games than any right-hander in baseball history. Think about that.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
One thing I hate about WPA is the lack of context. At the highest point, the Yankees had an 85.2% chance of winning according to the stat. That doesn’t account for Rivera being historically great, however. I feel like the win expectancy, even with the little one-run game, was like 95%. Oh well. MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. Both the Red Sox and Orioles lost, so the Yankees remain tied atop the AL East in the loss column (percentage points behind Boston) and three up on Baltimore.
Technically, this series is over and the Bombers got swept. In reality, it’s just moving across town. The Yankees and Mets will play game three of this makeshift four-game series on Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium, when David Phelps gets the ball against fellow right-hander Jeremy Hefner. For last-minute deals to that one, check out RAB Tickets.
Don’t look now, but the Yankees have suddenly lost four of their last six games. One of the wins took a miracle ninth inning comeback as well. Monday’s 2-1 loss to the Mets was just par for the course, meaning fine pitching but an invisible offense.
It sure looks like that seven-run, two-out disaster two weeks ago was just a bump in the road for Phil Hughes. He rebounded to hold the Orioles to two runs in six innings last time out, and on Monday he held an admittedly feeble Mets lineup to one run on four hits in seven innings. Two of those hits were singles by opposing pitcher Jon Niese (!), the other two a David Wright triple to right-center and a David Wright solo homer to left. Phil struck out six and walked zero, throwing first pitch strikes to 17 of 24 batters (71%) and strikes with 68 of 101 pitches (67%).
Unfortunately, the Yankees do not leave their pitchers much margin for error these days, and seven innings of one-run ball is just good enough for a no decision. Hughes has allowed two or fewer runs six times in his last eight starts, yet the Bombers have only won three of those six games. Two runs in almost any number of innings from the starter used to be an auto-win, as recently as last year, but nowadays is just good enough to avoid a loss. Phil did his part, but no one else did.
Eighth Inning Guy
David Robertson picked a bad time for his worst game of the month. He was done in by a bloop ground rule double and a fat middle-middle fastball to Daniel Murphy in a hitter-friendly 3-1 count, but in between he walked the hackstastic Jordany Valdespin — career 5.1 BB% and 32.7% swing rate on pitches out of the zone — while Chris Stewart, Miracle Catcher™ committing a back-breaking passed ball.
It looked like the Yankees would escape the inning unscathed for a while thanks to Robinson Cano, who corralled Ruben Tejada’s hard-hit grounder to second and fired home for the plate at the plate and the second out of the inning. The replays I saw made it look like Stewart applied the tag on Mike Baxter in time, but apparently it was up for debate. Either way, the ump ruled him out and that’s all that matters. Robertson had a rough night, throwing only 14 of 27 pitches for strikes. What can you do.
Brett Saves The Day
Hughes has a homer problem, and it’s no secret. He serves up dingers like the best of ‘em, and when the season ends in a few months, his homer total will be one shy of what he actually surrendered on the season. Hughes gave up a two-run homer to Murphy in the bottom of the sixth inning of this game, a line drive rocket to left-center that would not have left the old CitiField dimensions. It wasn’t a homer though. It was an inning-ending fly ball according to box score because Brett Gardner did this:
Most homer-robbing catches involve high fly balls and short-ish fences, when it’s more about timing the jump than anything. That wasn’t most homer-robbing catches. Gardner had to showcase his elite range to get to the wall first, then use his hops to actually go up to catch the ball. There was no downtime there, Brett didn’t have time to sit back and size up the fly ball. It had to happen all at once and he nailed it. That’s an upper-echelon homer-robbing catch there. You won’t find many better.
Had the Mets played competent defensive outfielders in the corners on Monday, the Yankees don’t score a run. Gardner blooped a triple to left and Jayson Nix blooped a single to right in the sixth inning for the team’s only run. Nix’s ball might have been a tough play for any outfielder, but Gardner’s was damn close to routine for non-Lucas Duda-level defenders. They’re line drives in a well-earned run in the box score, of course.
I didn’t have a problem with Joe Girardi not pinch-hitting for Hughes with men on first and second and one out in the seventh. He was cruising and his pitch count had yet to crack 80, and it’s not like the bench was full of viable alternatives. If Phil’s pitch count was higher or if it was an inning later, I would have pinch-hit. The Mets have an awful bullpen though, have to figure even this lineup would get to them at some point.
Nice game for the Miracle Catcher™, who also grounded into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the second in addition to that big passed ball. He singled and had the fewest plate appearances among the eight position players starters in this game, yet still had the worst WPA (-.142). That doesn’t even count the passed ball, which doesn’t exist in WPA land.
Ichiro Suzuki drew a walk with one out in the ninth inning and stayed glued to first, never once attempting to steal. Girardi said afterwards it was a “pretty big risk” to try to take second base with Travis Hafner at the plate, which leaves out the entire Lyle Overbay at-bat earlier in the inning. He’s gotta go right after reaching base. Bobby Parnell is too good and they needed to have to shots to drive him in.
Vernon Wells snapped an 0-for-17 skid with a solid sixth inning single, but his descent to mediocrity continues and has his batting line at a robust .264/.315/.462 (106 wRC+). Every starter except for Hughes had a hit tonight, but Nix was the only one with two. Their nine hits were the definition of scattered.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, check out MLB.com. For some other stats, check out FanGraphs. For the updated standings, check out ESPN. The Red Sox pounded the Phillies, so they are now tied with the Yankees atop the AL East in the loss column. Boston is technically in first by percentage points. The Orioles also won and are three back in the loss column.
Same two teams on Tuesday night for game two of this makeshift four-game series. It’ll be a battle of aces between old Hiroki Kuroda and young Matt Harvey. That figures to be a blast. RAB Tickets is the place to go for last minute ticket deals if you want to head out to Queens to catch the game live.
The Yankees are going to have to wait a little longer for that first three-game sweep at Tropicana Field since September 2005. At least they won the series, I guess, their first at the Trop since April 2010. Let’s recap this mess…
- Rocked Again: CC Sabathia‘s last three starts have gotten progressively worse, and on Sunday he delivered a nightmare seven-run, seven-inning outing that makes you wonder just what the hell is going on in that left arm. He gave up two-run homers to noted power threats Sean Rodriguez and James Loney even though his fastball topped out at 94.2 mph according to PitchFX, a season-high by nearly two miles an hour. The gun has seemed hot all weekend though — same as it was during the previous series at Tropicana Field — so I’m not sure if I believe that. Either way, Sabathia is a problem right now. He showed some serious frustration on the field for the first time in basically forever, so you know this is wearing on him too.
- Corn Cobb: Don’t be fooled by the six hits and three runs, the Yankees put up little fight against Alex Cobb. It wasn’t until Robinson Cano led off the seventh with a single that they recorded their first legitimate hit — their first was a blown call by the first base ump (surprise!) — and it wasn’t until the eighth that they had a man reach second base. That required an ill-timed dive by Desmond Jennings. Brett Gardner hit a solo homer in the ninth, but by then it was too little, too late. Cobb just dominates the Yankees. One of these years they’ll get around to figuring him out.
- Leftovers: Lefty David Huff pitched exactly like you would expect someone just claimed off waivers to pitch (one run on a hit and two walks in one inning), and I’m sure he’ll be back on waivers within ten days or so … Vernon Wells went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and is mired in a 6-for-41 (.146) slump … Gardner and Cano went 3-for-8, everyone else 3-for-25 … David Adams is responsible for the team’s only offensive highlight, a two-run double off lefty Cesar Ramos in the ninth. Like Gardner’s dinger, it didn’t really matter.
MLB.com is the place to go for the box score and video highlights while FanGraphs brings some more stats. ESPN has the updating standings, which show the Yankees up one and four games over the Red Sox and Orioles in the loss column, respectively. The Bombers head home to New York for four games against the Mets now, starting Monday with Phil Hughes against Jon Niese at CitiField. Check out RAB Tickets for tickets to any of the four upcoming Subway Series game.
The Yankees had no business winning this game, and that’s not the first time I’ve written that this season. Maybe it’s just confirmation bias, but this team seems to have a knack for these dramatic, late-inning, come-from-behind wins. They looked helpless for the first eight frames before rallying late and walking away with their first series win in Tropicana Field since April 2010, nine series ago. Let’s recap…
- Shoot Dem Arrows: A first-inning Travis Hafner single produced the only run the Yankees scored against Matt Moore and various relievers until Fernando Rodney entered the game with a two-run lead in the eighth. He retired the first two men he faced before walking Lyle Overbay in a full count. After he took second on a
defensive indifferencebalk, Brennan Boesch poked a double into the left field corner on an emergency hack, plating one run and putting the tying run in scoring position. Brett Gardner singled him in one batter later. The bases were empty with two outs and two strikes, but the Yankees turned it into a game-tying two-run rally. Incredible.
- Numero Nuno: In his second big league start, Vidal Nuno held the high-powered Rays to two runs on five hits and one walk in six innings. He held them scoreless until the fifth, and frankly I didn’t think he should have started the seventh. Tampa seemed to have his stuff timed the third time through the order. James Loney led the inning off with a single before the bullpen coughed up two runs. Nuno wasn’t great but he was solid. Remember, we’re talking about the team’s seventh starter, maybe eighth depending on how your faith in Michael Pineda. Can’t ask for much more.
- Death, Then Life By Bullpen: Shawn Kelley and Boone Logan each allowed a hit to the only man they faced in the seventh, contributing to two runs that gave theRays a 3-1 lead. Preston Claiborne came in to bail them out before throwing another scoreless inning, then David Robertson and Ivan Nova first scoreless innings in the ninth and tenth, respectively. Nova made a big mess, loading the bases with one out before escaping the jam with a strikeout and a ground ball. It was an ugly outing, but give him credit for the zero in the run column.
- Loverbay: It seems like every time the Yankees have one of these big comeback wins, Overbay is in the middle of it. After drawing the two-out walk to spark the game-tying rally in the ninth, he hit the go-ahead solo homer off rapist Josh Lueke in the 11th inning. It was gone off the bat, a no-doubt blast to right. It probably would have landed in the second deck in Yankee Stadium, though I can’t be sure. Either way, it was a huge homer. Huge.
- Leftovers: Mariano Rivera struck out two for his 18th save (in 18 chances) in the 11th and looked especially nasty. Like four swings and misses out of nine total pitches nasty … underrated moment of the game: Ichiro Suzuki‘s sliding catch of Yunel Escobar’s line drive with one out in the ninth. If the ball drops in, it’s game over since there was a man on second … Robinson Cano and Vernon Wells went 0-for-8 while the rest of the lineup went 9-for-32. Any time those two want to snap out of their slumps is cool with me … Gardner had two hits and a walk and is quietly on fire of late, though he did get thrown stealing second to end the ninth. He needs to stay put so Cano can hit with a man on in a tie game.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. Both the Red Sox and Orioles won, so they remain two and four back in the loss column, respectively. The Rays fall to six back. The Yankees will try to finish off their first series sweep at Tropicana Field since April 2008* on Sunday, when CC Sabathia gets the ball against Alex Cobb.
* That sweep in April 2008 was only a two-game series. Their last sweep of a three-game series at the Trop came in September 2005 (!).
The Yankees stomped the Rays by the score of 9-4 on Friday night — the score makes it seem a lot closer than it felt — but more importantly, they lost Curtis Granderson for an extended period of time after a pitch broke his left pinky in the fifth inning. It’s a win in the standings and a loss in the big picture. Let’s recap…
- Three-Run Second: It started with (another) blown call at first base. David Adams was incorrectly ruled safe on an infield single, putting two men on-base for Lyle Overbay. He took a big hack at a 3-0 fastball and doubled in the first two runs of the game, then Jayson Nix singled him in for a three-zip lead. The call at first would have only been the second out of the inning, but it changed everything. The Yankees took advantage of the gift call.
- Blown Open: It’s been a while since the Bombers put a crocked number on the board, so it was nice to see them so some serious damage in the middle innings. Brett Gardner sabotaged a first pitch fastball for a two-run homer in the fourth, which is exactly what he’s done for three of his four homers this year. Nix (bases loaded walk), Chris Stewart (single), and Robinson Cano (bases loaded hit-by-pitch) each drove in a run in the fifth to make it eight-zip.
- Job Security: Ivan Nova is going to have to get comfortable in the bullpen. David Phelps retired the first 13 men he faced on Friday and finished the night with four runs allowed in a career-high 7.2 innings, a line that looks a lot worse than he actually pitched. He threw 63 of 98 pitches for strikes and was very efficient, never once throwing more than 15 pitches in an inning. Phelps’ night came to an unfortunate end when a line drive hit him in the right forearm — there’s a chance he was going to be removed at time anyway — but x-rays came back negative and it’s just a bruise. Once again, the right-hander was rock solid. Nova ain’t taking this rotation spot back anytime soon.
- Leftovers: The bottom four spots in the lineup went a combined 8-for-18 (.444) and scored six of the nine runs … replays showed Cano was not hit by the pitch in the fifth, it hit the bat and he was awarded first base anyway … Nix had a very strong game, with a single and a triple to go along with the bases loaded walk … Boone Logan struck out the only man he faced while Shawn Kelley worked a scoreless, strikeout-less ninth … the Yankees went 5-for-9 with runners in scoring position and remain undefeated (22-0) when leading after seven innings … the Rays had to get 15 outs from their bullpen, which could impact the rest of the series.
Check out MLB.com for the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs for some more stats, and ESPN for the updated standings. Both the Red Sox and Orioles won, so they remain two and four back of the Yankees in the loss column. The Rays dropped to five back. These same two teams will play game two of this three-game set on Saturday afternoon, and the pitching matchup features a pair of very different southpaws: Vidal Nuno and Matt Moore.
This game was not nearly as close as the 6-3 final score indicates. The Yankees were down three runs after the first inning, a deficit that feels close to insurmountable these days.
This was an unfortunate time for Kuroda to have his first bad start of the year. The Orioles were all over him even before he took a line drive to the calf, as four of the first six batters they sent to the plate hit the ball to the warning track or beyond. Two of those four hit the ball over the fence for homers, resulting in a three-run first inning deficit. Kuroda allowed two more runs before being removed in the third. His night ended with eight hits allowed (four for extra-bases) and 14 batters faced.
The good news is that Kuroda is apparently fine after the line drive. We saw Andy Pettitte go down for three months with a leg fracture on a similar play last year, so it was definitely a fingers crossed moment. Thankfully, it’s just a bruise and he’s expected to make his next start. Kuroda has been awesome this year and I consider this start just a bump in the road, nothing to be concerned about. Everyone will throw a dud now and then. Shake it off and do better next time out.
Daily Dose Of Runs (Three)
For the ninth time in the last 16 games, the Yankees scored no more than three runs. It was exactly three runs on Wednesday night, two from solo homers (Curtis Granderson and David Adams) and one from an RBI single (Robinson Cano). Granderson was the man on offense, going 3-for-3 with the solo homer and a walk. He was a triple away from the cycle. You could see he was on the verge of breaking out on Tuesday, when he hit a few rockets right at people. The Yankees really need his bat.
Other than that, there’s not much to talk about offensively. Non-Granderson players went 4-for-30 with two walks, both drawn by (who else?) Travis Hafner. Only two of the final 17 players they sent to the plate reached base, so they went out without a whimper too. Did you know the Yankees have the lowest OPS (.675) and wRC+ (79) in the AL over the last 30 days? They also have have the lowest ERA (3.22) during that time, but it goes to show how dreadful the offense has been. When a starter has a bad start like Kuroda did on Wednesday, they have little chance of winning.
Preston Claiborne finally allowed his first run as a big leaguer — the first batter he faced (Matt Wieters) clubbed a three-run homer to break the game open. The first two runs were charged to Kuroda. Claiborne allowed just the one run in two innings, then Adam Warren followed with four scoreless to close the game out. He’s been outstanding as the long man.
That’s … probably it, right? Not exactly an eventful game. No news is good news, I guess.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the nerd score, and ESPN the updated standings. The Red Sox beat the White Sox, so they are just one game back in the loss column now. The Orioles climbed to within three back.
The Yankees are off on Thursday, then they’ll head to Tampa for a three-game weekend set with the Rays.
Fausto Carmona Roberto Hernandez and David Phelps will kick that series off on Friday night.
For the first time this season, the Yankees lost despite scoring first. The Orioles snapped their six-game losing streak with a tenth inning walk-off win on Wednesday night, taking the second game of the series 3-2.
I’d call two runs in six innings a successful rebound from last week’s seven-run, two-out disaster for Phil Hughes. There was nowhere he could go but up after that nightmare, really. Tuesday’s start against Baltimore featured two solo homers by former Yankee Chris Dickerson — I didn’t think the decision to cut him in favor of Ichiro Suzuki would look stupid this quickly, but here we are — and five strikeouts in six innings, including 70 strikes out of 102 pitches. Of the 25 men he faced, 19 saw a first pitch strike.
For the most part, this was a typical Hughes outing. Some solo homers, some jams escaped, aggressive early in the count, stuff like that. That return to normalcy is a net positive, because it showed there wasn’t something seriously wrong following that last start. No underlying injury or major mechanical flaw. Phil gave the Yankees an opportunity to win; two runs in six innings from the fourth starter is plenty good enough.
Death By Line Drive
Maybe it was just me, but it sure seemed like the Yankees hit a lot of balls right at people, no? The play-by-play says there were only four line drive outs, but that only includes the infielders. There were a few hard-hit balls right at outfielders or close enough for them to make a play. Nick Markakis did make a diving catch in the seventh that may have saved a run. If nothing else, it at least saved a first and third situation.
Anyway, the Yankees scored their two runs thanks to Travis Hafner, who plated Brett Gardner with a single in the first and Vernon Wells with a single in the fourth. Gardner was on third following a double and a fly ball, Wells was on second following a double. Both of Hafner’s hits were ground balls to the right side that probably would have been scooped up for outs had the Orioles employed the shift. Instead, one snuck through and the other bounced off the second baseman’s glove.
Miguel Gonzalez, as he tends to do, kept the Yankees off balance and held them to just those two runs in six innings in his first start off the DL. He dominated them last year, and this was more of the same. The Bombers didn’t have a single runner make it beyond first base after Hafner drove in Wells, and 21 of the final 22 men they sent to the plate made outs. When this offense is bad, man is it ugly.
The bottom five hitters in the lineup went a combined 1-for-19 with four strikeouts, the one being a solid David Adams single to center. Pronk was the last line of defense in the cleanup spot. Robinson Cano took an 0-for-4 and is stuck in a 13-for-60 (.217) slump. He ain’t getting no record-breaking contract like that. Oh who am I kidding, yes he is.
I don’t know what it is about the first base umps and Camden Yards, but they really suck there. There was the Jerry Meals episode last year, the two blown calls on Monday, and another on Tuesday. This time first base ump Paul Scrieber incorrectly ruled Jayson Nix out on a would-be infield single. Replays showed he cleared beat the relay throw, by alas. Oh well, Yankees weren’t winning if they got that call anyway.
Outside of Vidal Nuno, who needed all of three pitches to serve up the walk-off solo homer to Nate McLouth, the bullpen was pretty nasty once again. Boone Logan recorded two outs, Shawn Kelley retired the only man he faced, David Robertson struck out the side — he threw nine curveballs and got seven (!!!) swings and misses — and Preston Claiborne tossed a scoreless ninth. They gave the offense a chance to re-take the lead.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Red Sox lost to the White Sox again, so they remain two games back in the loss column. The O’s and Rays climbed to within four back. I hate that I’m keeping track of the standings in May. I guess that’s a function of lowered expectations.
These same two teams will wrap up this three-game series on Wednesday night. Hiroki Kuroda gets the ball against Jason Hammel in the rubber match.
The Yankees were very close to losing their first game after scoring first on Monday night, but some late-inning heroics from a pair of scrap heap pickups gave the Bombers an unexpected come-from-behind win over the Orioles. New York won 6-4 in ten innings.
Jim Johnson’s shook. The Orioles All-Star closer has now blown three saves in his last three appearances, this time coughing up a one-run lead when Travis Hafner slugged an opposite-field solo homer on a sinker that didn’t sink enough. In his 16 years as closer, Mariano Rivera has never blown three consecutive save opportunities. Johnson did it in his second full season on the job.
Pronk only tied the game, however. The Yankees and Orioles went to the tenth inning after David Robertson wiggled out of a mini-jam in the bottom of the ninth, and that’s when Ichiro Suzuki started the game-winning rally with a leadoff double into the right field corner. He was cheating fastball like a mofo and the extra-base hit was unexpected given his sub-.600 OPS coming in the at-bat. Vernon Wells doubled him in one batter later, then Hafner plated an insurance run with a two-out single off lefty Brian Matusz. After scoring three runs in the first eight innings, the Yankees score three runs in the span of ten batters in the ninth and tenth innings.
Two things stand out about CC Sabathia‘s outing. One, Baltimore’s left-handed hitters went 4-for-7 with four two-strike (!) hits against him. That never happens. Sabathia usually eats up same-side hitters, but Nick Markakis and Chris Davis looked mighty comfy in the box. Three of the four hits came off sliders — including a total hanger Davis crushed for a solo homer — a pitch lefties have whiffed on with 48.3% (!!!) of their swings during the PitchFX era.
I don’t know this for sure obviously, but I do think Sabathia’s reduced fastball velocity has something to do with that. The fastball and slider are not mutually exclusive, one works off the other, and if hitters only have to gear up for 89-91 instead of 93-95, it becomes a little easier to hang in on the breaking ball. For what it’s worth, PitchFX says Sabathia averaged 91.3 mph and topped out at 93.1 mph against the O’s. Lefties came into the game hitting .191/.261/.293 (.248 wOBA) with a 39.1% strikeout rate against CC this season, so this isn’t a long-running problem. It was just a problem on Monday night.
Secondly, Sabathia should have been out of the game after Markakis doubled to tie the game in the seventh. He was approaching 100 pitches and righties have tagged him for a .276/.320/.442 (.329 wOBA) line this year, plus three right-handed hitters in Manny Machado, J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones were due up. That’s on Joe Girardi; Shawn Kelley was warming up and his super-high-strikeout ways were better suited for that spot.
Anyway, Sabathia allowed eleven hits in 6.1 innings of work, the third time in his career he’s allowed double-digit hits in back-to-back outings. It’s the first time he’s done it without going at least seven innings in one of the two starts. CC struck out only two batters and got nine swings and misses out of 102 total pitches. Is this the new reduced velocity Sabathia? Possibly, but I think this was a bad start more than the new normal.
The Yankees scored their first two runs on solo homers — Robinson Cano in the first, David Adams‘ first career dinger in the second — but it wasn’t until the sixth that they scored again. Lyle Overbay drove in that run with a solo homer off left-hander Troy Patton, which was very unexpected. He came into the game with five hits (.119 AVG) and one walk (.136 OBP) in 44 plate appearances against southpaws.
Once again, big ups to the bullpen. Kelley struck out three of the four men he faced — he owns an MLB-best 43.4% strikeout rate (min. 10 IP) — while Robertson and Mariano Rivera chipped in scoreless innings. Boone Logan recorded a pair of outs as well. Three and two-thirds scoreless from the bullpen is the backbone of any come-from-behind win. Outside of Brett Marshall biting the bullet last week, the relief corps has been crazy good in recent weeks.
In addition to the two big hits, Hafner also pulled a foul ball down the right field line and clear out of the ballpark in the sixth inning. Literally out of Camden Yards and onto Eutaw Street. Overbay and Adams had two hits apiece while Cano homered and walked twice. Freddy Garcia limited his former team to three hits and two runs in six innings on 66 (!) pitches. That was annoying.
Cano slid for a ball in the second inning and the YES cameras showed him flexing his right wrist afterwards, but he stayed in the game and was apparently fine. Reid Brignac clipped Garcia’s foot at first base while running out a ground ball and was fine, though he was walking gingerly at first.
Awful night for first base ump Eric Cooper, who incorrectly called a) Brett Gardner safe on a snap throw from the catcher, and b) Matt Wieters out at first on a bang-bang play. Both plays occurred in the sixth inning and the Yankees benefited both times, so hey I’m not complaining. Still, two awful calls.
For whatever reason, Buck Showalter was checking every ball in the dugout after it was removed from play. Either it was one of his control freak things or he suspected Sabathia of doctoring the ball. Maybe CC has lost velocity because the Vaseline-lubed ball is slipping out of his fingers?
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Solid graph right there. MLB.com has the box score and video highlights while FanGraphs has the other stats no one cares about. ESPN is the place for the updated standings. The White Sox took care of business against the Red Sox, so the Yankees now leads Boston by two in the loss column. Baltimore is five back.
Same two teams on Tuesday night, when Phil Hughes gets the ball for the Yankees. Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez is expected to be activated off the DL and make the start for the Orioles. If he isn’t … I have no idea what they’ll do instead.
The Yankees didn’t get a chance to complete the three-game sweep over the Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon because of the weather, but the rainout did allow the team to juggle their Andy Pettitte-less rotation. Following the postponement, Joe Girardi announced the team will skip Vidal Nuno‘s upcoming start and instead throw CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, and Hiroki Kuroda against the Orioles next week. Nuno will be available out of the bullpen.
Having a second left-handed reliever will be a big help next week against Baltimore, who has lefty-heavy lineup featuring Nate McLouth, Nick Markakis, Chris Davis, and former Yankee Chris Dickerson. Those middle two are the big concerns, so having a second southpaw won’t be insignificant for at least three games. There can be some serious mixing and matching later in the game if need be.
Girardi indicated they will slot Nuno back into the rotation following the series with the O’s. The Yankees are off on Thursday, so they can push the Nuno/Pettitte rotation spot all the way back to May 28th, nine days from today, when they’ll be across town playing the Mets. Pettitte is eligible to come off the DL on June 1st, so it’s possible he will only miss one start with his left trap strain. With all due respect to Nuno, that would be ideal.
It’s also worth noting Austin Romine will benefit from the rainout. He’s started the last two games and played in each of the last four, and there still isn’t a firm timetable for Chris Stewart‘s return from a day-to-day left groin problem. Romine gets a little break and will be able to catch all three games in Baltimore without much of a problem. Without the rainout, he might have started six straight games behind the plate heading into the off-day. That could be a dangerous for a young catcher with a history of back problems.
The three game series in Camden Yards opens on Monday night, when Sabathia starts against former teammate Freddy Garcia. The Orioles lost to the Rays on Sunday afternoon and will enter the series four games back in the division.