It’s 9:30 a.m. on the East Coast. Most Yankee fans are only now just getting into work. They’re sliding into their desks, turning on their computers and finding — you guessed it — an article about beer at Yankee Stadium. Is it ever too early for that?
The story comes to us via The Times’ Dining In/Dining Out section, a Wednesday specialty. Eric Asimov, a Times reporter paid to drink wine, beer and liquor as his job, journeyed to the city’s new stadium to sample the brewskis available at each. He is not too impressed with what he found at Yankee Stadium, and as a beer connoisseur myself, I don’t blame him.
Here’s how Asimov puts his look at the latest and greatest American Pilsners:
The new Yankee Stadium has a problem. No, it’s not all those home runs, it’s the beer.
The stadium pushes the usual mass-market brews, which is to be expected of any big venue. It also has a beers-of-the-world stand that sells brews like Heineken, from the Netherlands; Beck’s, from Germany; and Stella Artois, from Belgium — all from nowheresville, if you ask me.
It has a retro-beer stand that sells — give me strength — Pabst Blue Ribbon and Schaefer. If you look really hard, you can find Guinness, which is an acceptable fallback. But with all the great craft beers available nowadays, why aren’t any of them at Yankee Stadium?
Citi Field, the new home of the Mets, sells a selection of beers from Brooklyn Brewery. That’s encouraging — and frustrating to a Yankees fan.
Look, I don’t even know if I can afford to go to these two fancy new ballparks, much less pay for the beer. I have children about to go to college, and paying $9 for a can of Pabst, even the 16-ounce can at Yankee Stadium, is one of the least enjoyable ways I can think of to blow their college fund.
But if I do go to Yankee Stadium, I want some beers worthy of the team. I offer you now my solution to the big beer wasteland in the South Bronx: American pilsners.
Asimov’s column goes on to review a mostly innocuous bunch of beer. That is, after all, what makes a pilsner the perfect ballpark beer. Served cold, it’s refreshing on a hot summer day, and unlike other craft-brewed higher alcohol beers, it doesn’t demand too much of the beer-drinker’s attention.
Living in Brooklyn, I’m spoiled. I live a few blocks from The Gate, around the corner from Bierkraft and a short subway ride away from Bar Great Harry. It’s not a stretch for me to say that the beer offerings at Yankee Stadium just don’t cut it.
So what’s the solution? Like Asimov, I’d urge the Yanks to take a look at Victory’s Prima Pils or the Brooklyn Brewer’s pilsner offerings. Tröegs and Lagunitas have pilsners that American baseball fans should be able to stomach as well.
I know Budweiser pays a lot to market itself as the King of Beers, but in a stadium with a steak house, a Hard Rock cafe and sushi, can’t we get a decent beer too?
Baseball is a tricky game sometimes. Take last night for instance. Was the Yankees offense horrible, or did Justin Verlander bring his A game? I thought it was mostly the latter, with a smattering of the former. In any case, he mowed down the Yanks with precision, tossing 79 of his 110 pitches for strikes. He lasted only two batters into the eighth, which seems strange for a guy who had pitched a shutout to that point, but striking out nine guys tends to work up the pitch count.
Yet the offense still had its faults. The Yanks put the leadoff runner on in four of the nine frames, and managed to score only in the ninth. The worst of the failings was in the fourth, when Teixeira and Matsui hit back to back singles. After a Cano fly out, Verlander struck out Nick Swisher and Melky Cabrera, thus ending the threat. It happened again in the eighth, with back to back singles by Ramiro Pena and Derek Jeter which chased Verlander from the game. On came Bobby Seay, he of the 1.491 WHIP last year, who took out Johnny Damon, Mark Teixeira, and Hideki Matsui to preserve the shutout.
On the bright side, the Yankees saw a far more efficient version of CC Sabathia last night. Four runs over 8 innings doesn’t look too pretty in the box score, but for anyone watching the game it wasn’t bad at all. The run in the first was an unfortunate one, but easily forgivable. Placido Polanco hit a double on a pitch at his shins, and Cabrera hit a sharp liner that I thought that Jeter would have had for sure. Still, it was just one run. The Yanks had time to recover and they didn’t capitalize. Meanwhile, CC continued to cruise.
His only other blemish came in the sixth, which started with a Curtis Granderson bunt single — one which CC made every conceivable effort to field and make a play on. Polanco’s subsequent double wasn’t exactly a torched ball; it kind of fell in between Melky and Damon and rolled slowly for a bit. It bought enough time for Granderson to score from first. And then came the Mags homer which, judging by his expression after hitting it, even he didn’t think was going out. Oh well. It happens.
It took CC just 99 pitches to finish off eight frames, giving the bullpen a much-needed day off. Moreover, he threw 70 of those pitches for strikes, a far better mark than he’d seen even in his other good outing against the Royals. The six hits, seven strikeouts, and especially the zero walks were also encouraging. It seems CC was done in by the home run. Otherwise it was a solid outing, and a good sign that CC is over his early-season shakes.
Finally, let us take another minute to appreciate Robinson Cano. Dude has been on fire to start the season. He’s quickly put 2008 behind him, which is all you can hope for.
They’ll do it again tomorrow, same time, with Phil Hughes making his 2009 debut against Edwin Jackson. The Yanks could really, really, really…really use a win.
Update (11:03pm): Unconfirmed, but apparently Kennedy left the game with a blister. No biggie.
Triple-A Scranton (7-3 win over Rochester) beat an old friend for the second time in two weeks
Doug Bernier, Eric Duncan & Chris Stewart: all 0 for 4 – Bernier drew a walk & K’ed … E-Dunc drew a walk & K’ed four times (there’s the Eric Duncan we all know and love) … Stewart drove in a run
John Rodriguez & Shelley Duncan: both 3 for 4, 1 HR, 1 K – J-Rod’s was a solo shot … Shelley drove in 2, scored a pair of runs & committed a throwing error … he leads the International League with 6 homers
Todd Linden: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 BB
Juan Miranda: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 K
Austin Jackson: 1 for 5, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 SB – hitting .340 in 53 at-bats … but with 15 K
Luis Nunez: 3 for 4, 1 BB
Ian Kennedy: 4.2 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 6-3 GB/FB – 50 of 82 pitches were strikes (61.0%) … picked a runner off first … left the game with an unknown injury after walking a batter in the fifth … I’ll update this post if I find out what’s up, but it could just be a precautionary thing
Zach Kroenke: 2.1 IP, zeroes, 3 K, 3-1 GB/FB – 20 of 25 pitches were strikes (80.0%) … now that is some damn fine relief work
Anthony Claggett: 2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 2-2 GB/FB – 19 of 30 pitches were strikes (63.3%)
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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