Fan Confidence Poll: June 18th, 2012

Record Last Week: 6-0 (28 RS, 12 RA)
Season Record: 40-25 (309 RS, 253 RA, 39-26 pythag. record), 1.5 games up in AL East
Opponents This Week: vs. Braves (Mon. to Weds.), Thurs. OFF, @ Mets (three games, Fri. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?
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Nova makes it nine straight with win over Nats

For the first time since 2009, the Yankees have won nine straight games. For the first time since 1998, the Yankees have swept three straight three-game series. The hottest team in the game beat the Nationals by the score of 4-1 on Sunday, a fantastic Father’s Day gift if you ask me … even though I’m not a father.

So crushed. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Not A Homerun Hitter

If you ask Curtis Granderson if he’s a homerun hitter, he’ll tell you no. They just come he says, and yet Curtis leads all of baseball with 62 homers since Opening Day of last season. That 62nd homer broke a one-all tie in the fifth inning on Sunday, a sweet little hanging changeup in a 1-1 count that landed in the home bullpen down the right field line. Granderson is on the exact same long ball pace — 21 homers in the team’s first 65 games — as last year, which I find to be downright amazing. He’s not a homerun hitter though, just ask him.

No Hits

The Yankees went 0-for-12 (!) with runners in scoring position but they managed to score two non-homer runs anyway. Mark Teixeira plated Derek Jeter with a sacrifice fly in the first, though getting just one run out of a bases loaded, one-out situation always feels like a disappointment. Teixeira came across to score the team’s fourth run on a wild pitch in the seventh after doubling and moving to third on a ground out. I had no idea he was even on third. There were a bunch of pitching changes and whatnot and I had lost track of the baserunner. As you can imagine, I was quite surprised when I initially thought Tex was about to score from second on a wild pitch.

Tip that cap. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Second Half Nova

After racking up just 14 quality starts in their first 50 games, the Yankees have gotten 14 quality starts in their last 15 games. Quality starts aren’t the best way to evaluate pitching, but I definitely consider them winnable games for a team with an offense and bullpen like the Bombers have. Ivan Nova was the latest starter to toss a gem, holding the Nationals to just one run — a second inning solo homer by Adam LaRoche — in 7.2 innings on Sunday. He struck out four, got ten ground balls against just five fly balls, and recorded 18 of his 23 outs on the infield overall. With men on the corners with one out and the score tied in the fourth, Nova coaxed a big inning-ending double play out of Danny Espinosa. He also had a four-pitch inning against Washington’s 3-4-5 hitters.

The beginning of the season was a little rough, but Ivan has really started to settle in these last few weeks and looks a lot like the pitcher we saw in the second half of last summer. His strikeout rate has started to come down a bit while the ground ball rate has climbed upward, a result of him getting his fastball down in the zone. He was leaving it up earlier in the year and hitters were just tattooing him for extra-base hits. Nova seems to have corrected that problem to a certain extent and has really stepped up to solidify what has been a powerhouse rotation in recent weeks.

Leftovers

Jersey untucked. (Greg Fiume/Getty)

Rafael Soriano fired a perfect ninth inning — his second true 1-2-3 inning of the season — to record his 13th save of the campaign. He’s the first non-Mariano Rivera pitcher to save that many games in a single season for New York since John Wetteland in 1996. Steve Karsay had been the previous leader with a dozen in 2002.

Between the end of Saturday’s game and the start of Sunday’s, Robinson Cano drew walks in four consecutive plate appearances. Three of them were intentional, but I can’t imagine the four straight walks thing has happened many times in his career, if at all. Robbie came into the series with a 7.5% walk rate and left with a 9.3% walk rate because Washington wanted nothing to do with him at the plate. Judging by his opposite field solo homer in the seventh, they had the right idea.

Alex Rodriguez and Raul Ibanez combined for an ugly 0-for-10, but every other non-pitcher in the starting lineup combined to go 10-for-23 with five walks. Granderson, Cano, Teixeira, and Chris Stewart (!) all had multiple hits, including at least one for extra bases. Andruw Jones went hitless in three at-bats but did draw two walks, one to start a rally by leading off an inning — RISPFAIL snuffed it out — and another while Teixeira’s scored on the wild pitch.

I don’t want to make a big stink about it, but I didn’t like the call to sacrifice bunt with Nova in the sixth. The Yankees had men on the corners and none out, let him swing the bat. It was a one-run game at the time and you’ve got three chances to get that run in, don’t forfeit one. The Yankees didn’t score after Nova got the bunt down — Jeter flew out to medium center field and Granderson grounded out — but it really didn’t matter given the final score. Just irked me at the time.

As I said earlier, the Yankees have now won their last nine games. They’ve also won 12 of their last 13, 14 of their last 16, and 19 of their last 23. New York has had the best record in the AL for a few days now but had the Dodgers not managed their ninth inning comeback against the White Sox, the Yankees also would have had the best record in baseball (by winning percentage).

One final note: big ups to the Nats and the Mets. Washington swept the Red Sox (in Fenway!) then got swept by the Yankees. The Mets got swept by the Yankees and then swept the Rays (in Tampa!). That’s some mighty fine work by those two clubs and I just want to let them know it was appreciated.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the advanced stats, and ESPN the updated standings.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next

The Yankees return home after a massively successful six-game road trip and will welcome the Braves to the Bronx for three games starting Monday evening. It’ll be a rematch of last Tuesday’s starters, southpaws CC Sabathia and Mike Minor. If you want to head up to the Stadium to catch the game, check out RAB Tickets.

Father’s Day Open Thread

Yay wins. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Happy Father’s Day to all of you dads out there. I know we have some long-time readers who became fathers for the first time within the last few months, so I hope you folks are enjoying the day. Hopefully all of you are spending the night with your dad and the family or have at least talked to him today; there’s a lot of us who can’t but wish we could.

Anyway, here is tonight’s open thread. The ESPN Sunday Night Game is the Red Sox at the Cubs (Morales vs. Maholm), a historic matchup between two last place teams. Game Three of the NBA Finals is also on (8pm ET on ABC), but talk about whatever your heart desires. Go nuts.

Joseph & Mustelier lead Triple-A to win

Triple-A Empire State (6-3 win over Syracuse)
LF Chris Dickerson: 1-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K — 8-for-29 (.276) with seven doubles and seven walks since coming off the DL
2B Corban Joseph: 2-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI — six homers in 175 PA this year after hitting five homers in 564 PA last year
RF Ronnie Mustelier: 2-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K, 1 SB — 12 hits in his last 29 at-bats (.414) and .333/.378/.536 on the season
DH Jack Cust: 2-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K
1B Russell Branyan: 1-3, 1 BB, 1 K
C Frankie Cervelli: 2-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K — has very quietly turned it around after the brutal April
CF Colin Curtis: 1-4, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 1 K
3B Kevin Russo: 0-3, 1 K
SS Ramiro Pena: 0-2, 1 RBI, 1 K
RHP Ramon Ortiz: 7.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 14/3 GB/FB — 59 of 92 pitches were strikes (64.1%) … as far as veteran filler goes, he’s been as good as it gets
LHP Justin Thomas: 0.1 IP, zeroes, 0/1 GB/FB — threw just two pitches, one for a strike
RHP Manny Delcarmen: 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 12 of 14 pitches were strikes (85.7%)

[Read more…]

Read: David Waldstein’s article on Russell Martin and catching

I can’t let the day pass without directing you to this great article by David Waldstein not just about Russell Martin, but about the rigors of catching overall. Martin, like Jorge Posada, is a converted infielder and doesn’t have as much wear-and-tear as most guys his age, but hearing him talk about taking a foul ball to the neck in Anaheim reinforces just how brutal the position can be. The article gets RAB’s highest level of recommendation, so make sure you check it out.

Game 65: Nine would be fine

(Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

It’s been a long time since the Yankees last won nine consecutive games. They’ve had eight-game winning streaks in each of the last two three seasons but you have to go back to May 2009 for their last nine gamer. It’s not easy to go a week and a half without a loss, especially in the AL East, but they have a chance to do just that against the Nationals today. Here’s this afternoon’s the lineup…

SS Derek Jeter
CF Curtis Granderson
3B Alex Rodriguez
2B Robinson Cano
1B Mark Teixeira
LF Raul Ibanez
RF Andruw Jones
C  Chris Stewart — no surprise after Russell Martin caught all 14 innings yesterday
RHP Ivan Nova

Today’s game is scheduled to start at 1:35pm ET and can be seen on YES locally and TBS nationally. Enjoy.

Nick Swisher Update: Swisher (quad contusion) arrived at the park carrying — but not using — a set of crutches. He described the injury as “the worst Charley Horse ever.” He is not available at all this afternoon, though it sounds like he’ll be able to avoid the DL.

2012 Draft: Yankees sign fourth rounder Corey Black

Via Jim Callis, the Yankees have signed fourth round pick Corey Black for $215k. Slot value for the 157th overall pick was $275k, so the team saved a little draft pool space. Four of their top ten rounds selections remain unsigned, including first rounder Ty Hensley. All of New York’s picks can be seen at Baseball America.

Black, a right-hander out of Faulkner University, is one of the most intriguing arms the Yankees selected this summer. He had Tommy John surgery a year ago and is a huge arm strength guy, running his fastball into the mid-90s regularly with a few 98-99s mixed in. His changeup is his second best pitch but he also throws a slider. Black is undersized — listed at 5-foot-11, 175 lbs. — but he has the stuff to start. If that fails, he could be a dynamite power reliever.