Can’t win if you don’t score …
How sweet would a win be right now? Seriously. At the very least it might back a few fans off the ledge. At best it sparks a little winning streak that carries the team through next week (and ergo the Sox when they come into town).
This is a pretty big start for CC Sabathia. Not only are the Yanks coming off a horrible sweep, but he’s coming off a couple of poor outings. It was at this time last year, in his fifth start, that he righted himself. Let’s hope for a repeat performance.
Being a former AL Central mainstay, Sabathia has racked up a considerable track record against the Tigers. In 161 career innings he’s pitched to a 4.70 ERA, striking out 128 to 47 walks. However, those numbers include his early career when he simply wasn’t the pitcher he is today. Unfortunately, his only start against them last year came in his fourth game, so we know he threw a stinker. He didn’t fare well against them in 2007 either, tossing to a 5.29 ERA over 32.1 innings. The five homers he surrendered certainly pushed up that number, as his K/BB was solid at 26:5. Clearly, though, he’s going to have to reverse his history against the Tigers tonight.
The Tigers send Justin Verlander to the mound tonight. He’s done little to alleviate the concerns he raised last year. In one-third inning less than 2007, Verlander struck out 20 fewer and walked 20 more. That’s definitely not a good sign for a guy who made a 56-inning jump between 2005 and 2006. In 21 innings over four starts this year he’s pitched to a 9.00 ERA, striking out 25 to 9 walks. Dave Cameron says not to worry, that Verlander’s fastball is back and so should his performance. Of course, the start after he wrote that, Verlander got bombed for 7 runs in 5 innings against the Angels.
Despite having been in the league for the past three+ years, Verlander has started just four times against the Yankees for a total of 19 innings. Yes, that’s a horribly low number of innings, resulting from the spanking the Yanks have administered. Verlander has allowed 14 earned runs in those appearances for an ERA of 6.63. However, there are also three unearned runs in there, making the damage even worse. He’s struck out 14 to 9 walks, another good sign for the Yanks. In his one start last year the Yanks absolutely thrashed him, scoring eight runs, five earned, in 1.2 innings. Boy, could we use that tonight or what?
Oh, and is if Girardi were tempting us, Jose Molina starts behind the dish tonight. Will that be what brings CC around?
And on the mound, number fifty-two, CC Sabathia.
Lots of injuries; lots of recovery. Let’s jump in.
- Brian Bruney is currently on the 15-day DL with what the Yankees are calling a strained flexor muscle in or near his elbow. Marc Craig at The Star-Ledger spoke to the Yanks’ set-up man, and Bruney blamed his intense workload between games. Apparently, Bruney really dials it up during his pen sessions and may be putting too much pressure on his arm. He will probably be activated when the 15 days are up.
- Alex Rodriguez‘s return is growing closer. The Yanks’ third baseman ran the bases again today and will soon take live batting practice. He could be in games by the end of this week and back with the Yanks sometime next week. I still think he’ll be back well before the May 15th day the Yanks continue to push. Marc Carig — a busy man apparently — wonders what happened to all the people who thought the Yanks were better off without A-Rod.
- Meanwhile, the Yanks’ Billy Connors says that Chien-Ming Wang is “doing great.” The Yankees say they’re trying to get Wang’s velocity and stamina back up to where it needs to be. I hope they’re focusing on his release point and mechanics as well.
When I started posting these Pitch f/x breakdowns three weeks ago, I received lots and lots of requests for a Mariano Rivera post. I wanted to have enough of a data sample from this year to look at, so I held off for a few weeks until Mo threw his 100th pitch of the season, which he did Friday night. Now, finally, we can take a look at The Sandman.
We all know that the cutter is Mo’s bread and butter, and that’s not an understatement at all. Of the 127 pitches he’s thrown this year, 117 were cutters, or 92.1%. Nine other pitches were four-seam fastballs, and there was one two-seamer mixed in for good measure. Mo has no need for an offspeed pitch. Let’s take a look at how the pitches actually move. Remember to click for a larger view.
Can someone get the following stat for me: Yankee pitcher’s ERA with Posada behind the plate (and # of innings) vs. when Molina catches?
Always up for a run through Baseball Reference, I obliged. The findings were not pretty. Counting last night’s game, Jorge Posada has caught 105 innings, and Yankee pitchers have a 7.97 ERA in those innings.
There is one caveat though. Posada has caught all six of Chien-Ming Wang‘s innings. Since Wang has been epically bad, it’s not fair to Jorge to saddle him with those runs. So Jorge has caught 99 non-Wang innings and has seen his pitchers surrendered 70 runs. That’s an ERA of 6.36.
On the other side of the ball is Jose Molina. The Yanks’ defensive specialist has caught 58.1 innings this year, and pitchers are throwing to the tune of a 3.09 ERA. That’s a rather stark difference.
Now, these numbers suffer from an obvious sample size problem. Jorge’s 100 innings are far to small a sample to judge his catching, and Jose’s numbers in fewer innings are equally as suspect.
Right now, though, with the Yanks’ pitchers going as they’ve been going, it’s hard not to notice the difference. Pitching to Jorge Posada, the Yanks’ staff has been absolutely horrible; pitching to Jose Molina, the Yanks have among the best ERA in baseball.
What this means right now for the Yankees is nothing. The Yanks need Jorge’s bat in the line up, but they also need him to draw some semblance of success out of his pitchers. For now, is too early to draw any conclusions, but this is certainly a trend worth watching.
Toronto Blue Jays
Note: Still no Jays blogger. Anyone know someone? Anyone want to just write the recap weekly? Better from a Jays fan than a Yanks one. Hit me: josephp at riveraveblues dot com.
The Jays continued to roll through the season’s third week, taking two out of three from each of their opponents. Their week started and ended with Roy Halladay, who had an uncharacteristic performance on Tuesday, surrendering five runs over eight innings. This is why we need a Jays blogger to take this. Halladay had allows three through six innings, and then another two in the seventh. He tossed just 104 pitches in those eight innings, and struck out nine with no walks. The start didn’t seem all that bad, but it’s still five runs and a loss in the box score. He came back to win on Sunday, but his line, other than the earned runs, doesn’t look as impressive: 7 IP, 3 ER, 6 K, 1 BB, 118 pitches. So he used more pitches in fewer innings, struck out fewer, walked more, and allowed fewer runs. This baseball is an odd game.
Following the Halladay loss, the Jays took an 11-inning affair 8-7 on a Kevin Millar walk-off single. The Jays were actually up 7-4 heading into the top of the ninth, but B.J. Ryan hit a guy and issued a walk to lead off the frame, and it all came unraveled from there. An error and a Michael Young home run later and the game was headed to extras. Thursday was another good start for Kevin Millwood, though he did allow three home runs. The overall damage was limited to four runs over seven innings, and the Jays finished taking two of three from the Rangers.
In Chicago the Jays opened by simply massacring the Sox 14-0 on 21 hits. Lyle Overbay was the only starter to go hitless in the affair. The Sox turned the tables the next day, defeating Brian Burres and the Jays 10-2. Then finally, in the aforementioned Halladay start on Sunday, the Jays took the game 4-3 on a go-ahead single by Scott Rolen in the eighth. Few expected the Jays to play like this, but their offense has been clicking and the pitching staff has been doing the job, despite the flurry of injuries (McGowan, Marcum, Litsch, now Romero and Ryan).
Week’s record: 4-2
Season record: 14-6
Injuries: LHP B.J. Ryan (15-day DL, soreness between shoulder and back), LHP Ricky Romero (15-day DL, strained muscle on right side).
This week: Mon – Thu @Kansas City; Fri – Sun BALTIMORE
Record Last Week: 2-3 (30 RS, 35 RA)
Season Record: 9-9 (100 RS, 122 RA), 4 GB
Opponents This Week: @ Detroit (3 games), vs. Anaheim (4 games)
Top stories from last week:
- The Yanks were swept in a three game weekend series at Fenway despite having the lead in every game. It seemed like everything that could possibly go wrong, did.
- Melky Cabrera led the team to a rain-shortened series win over the A’s at home by hitting a homer from each side of the plate, the second of which was a walk-off in extra innings.
- Chien-Ming Wang, CodyRansom and Brian Bruney all hit the DL. They were replaced by David Robertson, Angel Berroa and Mark Melancon. Phil Hughes assumes Wang’s spot in the rotation.
- Alex Rodriguez is close to returning to game action. Help us A-Rod, you’re our only hope.
- The Yankees are worth more money than ever.
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On Friday, the Yankees were three strikes away from doubling up the Red Sox 4-2 when a Mariano Rivera cutter strayed too far over the middle of the plate. On Saturday, the Yankees had a 6-0 lead against the Red Sox when A.J. Burnett and the Yankee bullpen came unglued and surrendered 16 runs over five innings.
Those two losses hurt. They were painful to watch for different reasons, and they were games that the Yankees could have — and probably should have — won. They left me in a foul mood and with the proverbial bad taste in my mouth.
Tonight, though, the Yankees were simply outplayed. They were out-fielded, out-hit and out-pitched in what turned out to be a crisp and relatively quick game. What made tonight’s loss worse were the last two losses. When the dust settled tonight — when Johnny Damon flew out to end the game — the Yanks walked away losers of three straight to a team that has won ten in a row, and they could have easily taken two out of three.
To nitpick this game, we would point to Angel Berroa and his two errors. Prior to yesterday, Berroa had played a grand total of 0.1 innings at third base in the Majors, taking nary a ground ball. Tonight, he made two errors that cost the team an unearned run and allowed the Sox to turn over the lineup. But Berroa is the back-up to the back-up third baseman, and until A-Rod returns, the Yanks are up a third base creek without a paddle.
We would also point to Andy Pettitte‘s and the Yankee infield’s lack of focus with the speedy Jacoby Ellsbury on third. Pettitte, who a few years ago, allowed Aaron Hill to steal home in Toronto, is masterful at holding runners on at first but not at third. Ellsbury scored the game’s third run with that steal, and while the ESPN announcers made much ado of it, it was rather superfluous. One batter earlier, David Ortiz swung late on a 90-mph inside fastball to plate Jason Varitek, and that second run would be all the Sox would need.
At the plate, the Yanks could do nothing all night. They left eight runners on and went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. For the weekend, they 7 for 42 (.167) with runners in scoring position. It’s tough to win with so many opportunities lost. Robinson Cano, Hideki Matsui and Melky Cabrera had two hits a piece, but a lone run would be all for the Yanks’ scoring.
The lone bright spot for the Yanks came in the 7th when Mark Melancon made his Major League debut. He retired the side on five pitches in that inning. When he came back out for the 8th, he allowed a walk, a hit and hit a batter before bearing down to retire three in a row. Not used to pitching from the stretch after dominating at AAA, he showed why the Yankees are high on him as a reliever and why he needs to be facing competition that will challenge him. Melancon could easily emerge as a bright spot in what has so far been a bad Yankee bullpen.
Right now, the Yankees are en route to Detroit where they will face a 10-8 Tigers team. The Bombers are 9-9 without their best offensive player and sure-handed third baseman, without a viable center fielder, without their erstwhile ace and without an effective bullpen. As the pieces fall into place, this team will become formidable indeed. For now, we’ll just lick those weekend wounds and move on. There is, after all, another game to play in 19 hours.
The last thread was acting up, so let’s start a new one.
Make sure you don’t miss tonight’s DotF.
ZOMG teh season is ovah!!!1!1!
Make sure you don’t miss tonight’s DotF.