Game 139: Off their feet

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

You know what the Yankees could use today? A nice big blowout. Big enough so that Freddy Garcia could go five and fly while some September call-ups mop up the last four innings. Big enough that both Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira can get off their banged up knees for a few innings.  Big enough to get everyone off their feet. You know I mean, that kind of game. Here’s the starting nine…

Derek Jeter, SS
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Andruw Jones, RF
Russell Martin, C
Jesus Montero, DH
Brett Gardner, LF

Freddy Garcia, SP

It’s not raining in New York, but it looks like it might start at any minute. Apparently there’s enough of a window to get the game in, so hope for the best. They don’t need another doubleheader. Both YES and MLB Network will carry the game. Enjoy.

Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles

Man, the Orioles again? All these games against the Fightin’ Showalters would be annoying if they were any good. But they’re not, so I’ll live. I suspect there aren’t many of you out there reading this on the holiday, plus we’re all familiar with the Orioles by now, so I’ll keep it short.

What Have The Orioles Done Lately?

Since splitting that impromptu four-game series around Hurricane Irene with the Yankees last weekend, the Orioles have lost two of three to both the Blue Jays and Rays. They got spanked 8-1 yesterday and have allowed six or more runs in four of their last five games. Baltimore is 55-83 on the season with a -150 run differential, second worst in baseball behind the Astros. To make matters worse, they’ve already been eliminated from playoff contention. Not even a glimmer of hope anymore.

Orioles On Offense

Their two best hitters over the last two weeks or so have been Matt Wieters (.268/.331/.439 on the year) and Mark Reynolds (.221/.320/.476), who are both sporting .400+ wOBA‘s over the last two weeks. J.J. Hardy (.269/.308/.499), Nick Markakis (.279/.339/.397), Nolan Reimold (.230/.297/.399), and Ryan Adams (.261/.320/.319.) have each chipped in as well, but they’ve hardly been stellar. Vlad Guerrero (276/.307.396) and Adam Jones (.286/.324/.476) have both been slumping big time, and Jones has been banged up as late. It’s the same below-average offense we’ve seen all year, but they do have a few guys that can really hurt you if you make a mistake.

Orioles On The Mound

Monday, LHP Jo-Jo Reyes Brian Matusz (vs. Freddy Garcia): The Yankees, especially Andruw Jones, have simply crushed Reyes this year. We’re talking a dozen runs in 8.1 IP across two starts, and Jones has taken him deep four times total (twice in each game). That’s what happens when you can’t miss bats (5.29 K/9) and come at the Yankees with a high-80’s fastball and two offspeed pitches (change and slider) that don’t fool anyone.

Apparently Matusz is starting, not Reyes. The Yankees bombed him for three homers and six runs in 5.1 IP last week, and he doesn’t throw as hard as he once did. Boom.

(Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Tuesday, RHP Tommy Hunter (vs. Phil Hughes): We all know Hunter from the various Yankees-Rangers battles last season, and last week he held New York to a four runs (on three homers) in seven innings. His underlying performance this season is … interesting: 3.91 K/9, 1.19 BB/9, and 44.3% grounders. Hunter works with a low-90’s fastball, a mid-80’s cutter, and a high-70’s curve.

Wednesday, LHP Zach Britton (vs. A.J. Burnett): Britton has either been really really good against the Yankees, or really really bad. He held them to one unearned run over seven innings in his first start, gave up nine runs in a third of an inning in his second start, and then held them scoreless over seven innings last time out. Britton’s a big-time ground ball guy (53.3%), getting them with his low-90’s sinker, a mid-80’s changeup, and a low-80’s slider.

Bullpen: The O’s have ten guys in their bullpen thanks to September call-ups, so Buck Showalter has plenty of options to work with. Two guys he doesn’t have anymore are dynamite setup man Koji Uehara and top lefty Mike Gonzalez, who’ve been traded in recent weeks. Jim Johnson (2.80) is still as good as it gets in the setup role, but other than him, they don’t have a single guy in their bullpen with a sub-4.00 FIP in more than 20 IP. That includes closer (and perpetually shaky) Kevin Gregg, who recently told reporters that “The bottom line is you obviously haven’t acquired my taste in pitching yet.” How awesome is that?

Recommended Orioles Reading: Camden Crazies.

Fan Confidence Poll: September 5th, 2011

Record Last Week: 6-1 (35 RS, 27 RA)
Season Record:
85-53 (754 RS, 549 RA, 90-48 pythag. record), 1.5 games up in AL East, 9.5 up for wildcard
Opponents This Week:
vs. Orioles (three games, Mon. to Weds.), @ Orioles (one game, Thurs), @ Angels (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 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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Yanks hammer Blue Jays to finish off sweep

We play today, we win today, das it. Mariano Duncan’s mantra still holds true 15 years later, and the Yankees sure are doing a whole lotta winning these days. Sunday’s 9-3 beat down of the Blue Jays gave them the series sweep and pushed them even further out in front of the AL East.

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Derek Loves The Lefties

Despite all the struggles Derek Jeter went thought last year and the first part of this year, there’s one thing he never stopped doing, and that’s hit lefties. He tagged them for a .382 wOBA last year and came into this game with a .410 wOBA off southpaws, so he took care of business when Brett Cecil caught too much of the plate with an 87 mph fastball in a 1-1 count in the third inning. Jesus Montero (single) and Brett Gardner (hit-by-pitch) had reached base ahead of the Cap’n, so it was a three-run shot that landed not too far away from where his 3,000th career hit landed. It gave the Yankees a four-zip lead in the early going.

Sabathia Shows No Ill Effects

(Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)

Last time out, CC Sabathia threw 128 grueling pitches in a six-inning outing against the Red Sox, but the Yankees opted not to give him an extra day of rest before this start. He came out of the gate in this game and was a little wild at first, but he quickly settled down and chipped in his usual seven-plus strong innings. The two runs he allowed came in the fourth inning on a single, walk, double down the left field line, and an RBI groundout. Nothing too crazy.

Sabathia threw another 111 pitches (79 strikes, or 71%), struck out ten, walked just the one, and got six outs on the ground compared to two in the air. It was his fifth double-digit strikeout game of the year (compared to five total during his first two years in pinstripes), and he’s now just two whiffs shy of becoming the 65th member of the 2,000 career strikeout club. Over his last seven starts, the big guy has walked just six compared to 55 strikeouts in 49.2 IP. That’ll do.

F**k! Just Another Homer

It’s always fun when a batter shows some frustration after making contact and the ball drops in for a hit anyway, usually a bloop single or a ground ball with eyes or something like that. It’s not often that the hit is a homerun though, but that’s exactly what happened on Alex Rodriguez‘s solo homer in the sixth inning. Cecil busted him inside with a 2-0 sinker that Alex hit off the label, prompting a four-letter level of frustration. The ball looked like a pop-up off the bat, but it just kept carrying and carrying and carrying, and soon enough to dropped into the first row of seats in right for a solo shot. How about that?

Speaking of frustration, I enjoyed Paul O’Neill giving Cecil tantrum-throwing tips after he exited the game was caught on camera smashing various items in the dugout. Never use the pitching hand!

Dejected catcher is dejected. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Leftovers

Rafael Soriano took over for Sabathia and immediately gave up the obligatory solo homer to Jose Bautista, but kinda sorta settled down to record the final two outs of the frame. He’s been much better since coming off the DL, no doubt about it, but there have been a lot of loud outs in his last few outings going back to Boston. Cory Wade finished things off with a scoreless ninth inning.

Gardner basically created a run in the first inning with a walk and stolen base before coming around to score when the shortstop threw the ball away on Mark Teixeira‘s would-be ground out. Nick Swisher clubbed a two-run insurance homer in the bottom of the ninth, and Jeter plated two more with a single in the same inning. Andruw Jones was the only player in the lineup that failed to reach base, even pinch-runner Eduardo Nunez managed to pick up a knock later in the game. He ran for Jesus Montero after the starting DH reached base for the third time (two singles and a reach-on-error).

The Yankees swept Toronto for the first time in a series longer than two games for the first time since 2005, and they’ve now won four games in a row and seven of their last eight. They improved to 24-3 in day games at home and 37-9 in day games overall. The Rangers annihilated the Red Sox, so the lead in the AL East increased to 1.5 games and two in the loss column. The Rays beat the Orioles, so the lead in the wildcard race remained 9.5 games. The magic number to clinch a postseason berth dropped to 15 with the win.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stuff, and ESPN the update standings.

Up Next

It’s a Labor Day matinee against the Orioles, who are coming to town for a three-game series to close out the mini-homestand. Freddy Garcia gets the start against Jo-Jo Reyes Brian Matusz at 1:05pm ET. If you want to catch the game before the unofficial end of the summer, RAB Tickets can help get you there.

Betances & Brackman finish up their seasons

Just one more day of regular season minor league baseball left…

Triple-A Scranton Game One (5-1 loss to Buffalo in seven innings)
Kevin Russo, 3B, Ramiro Pena, 2B, Jorge Vazquez, 3B & Jordan Parraz, RF: all 0 for 3 – Russo and Pena each struck out
Mike Lamb, DH, Ray Kruml, LF & Gus Molina, C: all 1 for 3 – Kruml got caught stealing and struck out … Gus doubled
Greg Golson, CF: 2 for 3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI
Luis Nunez, SS: 1 for 2, 1 2B
Dellin Betances, RHP: 5 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 2 WP, 1 HB, 5-3 GB/FB – 61 of 101 pitches were strikes (60.4%) … finishes the year with 142 strikeouts and 70 walks in 126.1 IP, career highs across the board but just barely (previous highs: 141 K, 62 BB, 121.2 IP)
Andrew Brackman, RHP: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 3-2 GB/FB – 23 of 33 pitches were strikes (69.7%) … assuming he doesn’t pitch tomorrow, he’ll finish the year with a 75-75 K/BB in 95 IP, but 17-6 in his last 18.1 IP … at least he can go into the offseason feeling a little better about how things went

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