Yanks fall to Indians in Jeter’s return

Ball game.

Hope you had a great Fourth of July, and to everyone outside of the U.S. … I hope you had a wonderful Monday. Let’s recap…

  • That foul ball by Lonnie Chisenhall in the seventh absolutely has to be caught, but it wasn’t. It’s the outfielder’s ball because he’s coming in on it, but for whatever reason (lack of communication?) it bounced between Alex Rodriguez and Brett Gardner. That should have been the third out.
  • I also don’t think A.J. Burnett should have faced Austin Kearns that inning because a) he hit two balls to the warning track earlier in the game and was obviously seeing the ball well out of his hand, and b) Burnett hung some curves to the previous batter and got away with them. He looked like he was tired as his pitch count climbed north of 110. You know what though? Chisenhall, Shelley Duncan, and Kearns came into the game with .300, .270, and .287 OBP’s, respectively. Just one of those guys needed to make an out, but instead four runs scored.
  • Other than that inning, Burnett was actually pretty good. Just two walks and two hits through the first six innings with five strikeouts. It looked like one of those classic games when A.J. pitched well and the offense wouldn’t bother to score.
  • Josh Tomlin managed to take a no-hitter into the seventh (!!!), but Mark Teixeira broke it up with a single back up the middle. Robinson Cano followed that up with an infield hit, and Nick Swisher drove in both of them with an opposite field gapper. Curtis Granderson hit his 23rd homer in the eighth, a solo shot.
  • Derek Jeter reached on an error in his first game back and hit one ball out of the infield in four at-bats, pretty much par for the course.
  • Cory Wade gave up his first run(s) with the Yankee, an opposite field two-run homer to Carlos Santana that gave the Indians some insurance runs in the eighth. Wasn’t even a bad pitch, a curveball on the outer half that Santana muscled out.
  • Here’s the box score and the depressing WPA graph.

CC Sabathia will try to stop the two-game losing streak when he takes the mound in his old stomping grounds on Tuesday night. Carlos Carrasco will go for the Tribe. That’s a normal 7:05pm ET start, and RAB Tickets can get you there on the cheap.

Staten Island’s win streak comes to an end

Jorge Vazquez was activated off the disabled list, he had apparently been dealing with some left shoulder soreness. Jesus Montero was a late scratch tonight because of tightness in his lower back/side. Also, Fernando Hernandez was released, which is entirely unsurprising.

Triple-A Scranton (5-3 win over Lehigh Valley)
Greg Golson, CF: 3 for 4, 1 RBI, 1 K – 12 for his last 37 (.324)
Mike Lamb, 3B: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI – taken out in the ninth for defense
Jordan Parraz, RF: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
Terry Tiffee, 1B: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K
Jorge Vazquez, DH: 1 for 3, 1 RBI, 1 K, 1 HBP
Brandon Laird, LF-3B: 2 for 4 – got shifted around late in the game
Gus Molina, C: 0 for 4, 1 K
Luis Nunez, 2B: 2 for 4, 1 R
Doug Bernier, SS: 4 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B – seven for his last ten with three doubles … gets to keep the job a little longer with Ramiro Pena not coming down
Shaeffer Hall, LHP: 6.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 7-6 GB/FB – 54 of 81 pitches were strikes (66.7%)
Eric Wordekemper, RHP: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1-2 GB/FB – 11 of 20 pitches were caught
Logan Kensing, RHP: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1-1 GB/FB – 11 of 18 pitches were strikes (61.1%)

[Read more…]

Game 83: Derek’s Back

Here’s the starting nine…

Derek Jeter, SS
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nick Swisher, RF
Jorge Posada, DH
Russell Martin, C
Brett Gardner, LF

A.J. Burnett. SP

The game starts at 6:35pm ET and can be seen on YES locally or MLB Network nationally. Enjoy, and have a happy and safe Fourth of July.

Roster News: Chris Dickerson has been optioned to Triple-A Scranton to make room on the roster for Jeter. I guess Eduardo Nunez‘s hamstring is still acting up and want to keep Ramiro Pena around as a spare infielder.

(h/t to Anthony for the link to the video)

Cano will participate in Homerun Derby

Via Mark Feinsand, Robinson Cano has accepted an invitation to participate in the Homerun Derby next week. AL captain David Ortiz asked him to join after Mark Teixeira declined the invitation to spend the break with his family. Adrian Gonzalez and Jose Bautista will also take their hacks. Cano was originally named to the Derby last year, but withdrew because of a minor back injury that may or may not have been real.

Mariano Rivera’s Road Woes

Mariano Rivera blew his fourth save of the season yesterday, nearly as many as he blew last year (five) and more than he blew in 2008 and 2009 combined (three). All four blown saves have come on the road and three of the four have been one-run leads, the other a two-run lead. Unsurprisingly, Rivera’s home/road splits are pretty drastic this season…

Of course stats like ERA and opponent’s AVG/OBP/SLG don’t tell the whole story. Those are output stats, they just tell us about the results and not what led to them. The process is what is really important, and Rivera’s underlying performance shows us there’s nothing to be concerned about…

The sample size is essentially the same in terms of batters faced, and Mo’s strikeout and walk numbers on the road are for all intents and purposes identical to his career numbers (8.21 K/9 and 1.80 uIBB/9). His ground ball rate is right in line with his rate since 2002 (53.4%), when the data started being recorded. The only significant difference between his home and road performance this year is the number of balls that are dropping in for hits, an astronomically high 43.9% away from Yankee Stadium. That’s almost 18% higher than his career average.

Furthermore, let’s look a little deeper at those four blown saves. Other than the first one against the Blue Jays on April 19th (a legit blown save that featured a double into the gap and some hard-hit singles), they were all of the death by a thousand cuts variety. The ninth inning on April 24th went walk, strikeout, strikeout, bloop single, ground ball past a diving Mark Teixeira into the corner for a double. The tying run scored but the second runner was thrown at the plate by several steps. One hard hit ball, and it was beat into the ground.

The May 18th blown save went ground ball out, single up the middle, single on a ground ball through the right side, sacrifice fly to tie, pop-out to end the inning. And then there was yesterday, which went strikeout, ground ball out, walk, single off the handle of the bat, single on a ground ball through the right side, ground ball through the shortstop’s legs, runner out at the plate. If Mo was giving up rockets all over the field and balls over the fence, I’d be concerned. Right now it’s just a case of sample size and dumb luck with ground balls having eyes more than anything.

It’s worth noting that Rivera’s trademark cutter is completely unchanged this year. The velocity is the same as it’s been over the last few seasons, comfortably in the low-90’s, and the pitch is still getting three-plus inches of horizontal break and just north of five inches of vertical “drop.” Batters are swinging and missing at Mo’s cutter 7.8% of the time this season after whiffing at it 8.0% of the time over the last two years. There are no red flags here, so don’t bother worrying.

Series Preview: Cleveland Indians

(Photo Credit: Flickr user leadenhall via Creative Commons license)

It feels like the Yankees just got done playing the Indians, doesn’t it? That four-game series ended three weeks ago today with a 1-0 win for the Tribe, but that was a little easier to swallow after the Yankees won the first three games.

What Have The Indians Done Lately?

Their molten hot start is a distant memory, but Cleveland has rebounded to win four of their last six games, all against NL competition (Diamondbacks and Reds) in NL parks. They’re six games over .500 at 44-38, and their +16 run differential is actually one of the better marks in the league.

Indians On Offense

(Photo Credit: Flickr user Keith Allison via Creative Commons license)

The Tribe were struggling big time with the bats the last time these two clubs met, scoring just nine runs in the six games before that series started. The offense has come back to life though, and Cleveland has scored four or more runs in five of their last six games and five-plus runs in four of six. Travis Hafner is now off the disabled list, and he adds a huge bat (.341/.419/.563) to their middle of their lineup at designated hitter. The Indians lost the underperforming Shin-Soo Choo (.244/.333/.353) to a long-term thumb injury and benched the underwhelming Jack Hannahan (.213/.303/.333), replacing them with a Travis Buck (.272/.312/.398 vs. RHP)/Austin Kearns (.236/.286/.261 vs. LHP)/Shelley Duncan (.241/.293/.389 vs. LHP) platoon and top prospect Lonnie Chisenhall (.300/.300/.400 in five games), respectively. Otherwise it’s the same cast of characters we saw three weeks ago.

Michael Brantley has come back to Earth a bit as the leadoff man (.266/.330/.361), but Asdrubal Cabrera has assumed number three hitter duties and is still hitting the snot out of the ball (.291/.341/.496). Carlos Santana has started to add some power (.352 ISO in his last 15 games) to his OBP skills (16.4% walk rate, third best in baseball), and he’s being protected by the powerful (.222 ISO) but suddenly undisciplined (5.5% walk rate, half his career mark) Grady Sizemore. Those four plus Hafner represent the meat of their order, the guys Manny Acta relies on to produce runs night after night.

Matt LaPorta is on the disabled list, so Santana has been playing first while Lou Marson (.226/.272/.302) handles catching duties. Cord Phelps (.200/.280/.333 in limited time) and Orlando Cabrera (.262/.292/.353) are sharing the second base job. Overall, the Indians are essentially league average with a .319 wOBA, and they rely more on power (.145 ISO) and patience (8.3% walk rate) than speed (just 48 steals). Hafner and Santana are a scary 1-2 punch in the middle of the order, and you can’t ignore Asdrubal and Sizemore either. The other five guys can be pitched to, though.

Indians On The Mound

Monday, RHP Josh Tomlin (vs. A.J. Burnett): The clock struck midnight on Tomlin last month, as he’s followed up the 2.41 ERA in his first nine starts with a 5.86 ERA in seven starts since. The Yankees contributed to that 5.86 ERA by tagging him for six runs and a dozen hits in five innings a few weeks ago, though it’s worth noting he’s allowed just six runs total in three starts since. Tomlin isn’t flashy (88-91 mph fastball with a changeup and curve) and other than his walk rate (1.05 BB/9), nothing about his underlying performance stands out (5.08 K/9, 1.23 HR/9, 37.6% grounders).

Tuesday, RHP Carlos Carrasco (vs. CC Sabathia): Carrasco was the author of that 1-0 win three weeks ago, stymieing the Yankees with his four-pitch mix (low-90’s fastball, slider, changeup, curveball) over seven shutout innings. His 3.54 ERA is right in line with his 3.46 FIP and 3.65 xFIP, though his strikeout rate is unimpressive (5.74 K/9) and he gets by on limiting walks (2.20 BB/9) and keeping the ball in the park (0.67 HR/9, 49.8% grounders). Carrasco has a pretty drastic platoon split, especially in terms of strikeouts and walks, and he’s on a nice little roll at the moment (more than one run allowed in just one of his last five starts). Hopefully seeing him for the second time in three weeks gives the Yankees a bit of an advantage.

(PHoto Credit: Flickr user Keith Allison via Creative Commons license)

Wednesday, RHP Justin Masterson (vs. Phil Hughes): Masterson is one guy the Yankees didn’t see three weeks ago, but they’re certainly familiar with him from his Red Sox days. He’s a low arm slot sinker (low-90’s)/slider (low-80’s) guy with a considerable platoon split, and he relies way more on ground balls (55.2%) than strikeouts (6.33 K/9). After a rough stretch at the end of May, Masterson has allowed no more than two earned runs in his last five starts, though high pitch counts kept him from going deep in the game.

Bullpen: Cleveland’s bullpen is sneaky good. Closer Chris Perez is actually their worst late-game reliever (3.64 FIP thanks to a K/BB ratio hovering around 1.00), and they just welcoming him back off the bereavement list. Right-hander Vinny Pestano (2.26 FIP, 12.62 K/9) and left-handed Tony Sipp (7.68 K/9, 4.77 FIP because of homer issues) are death on same-side hitters (.123/.240/.200 vs. RHB and .095/.191/.238 vs. LHB, respectively), and Rafael Perez gives them another solid option against lefties (.219/.250/.250). Side-arming righty Joe freakin’ Smith (.302 FIP) has a fluke reverse split this year (.293/.369/.320 vs. RHB but .138/.212/.172 vs. LHB) that is nothing like the rest of his career. It’s more sample size than anything, he spent some time on the disabled list earlier this year.

The rest of the pen is filled out with righties Chad Durbin (3.93 FIP), Frank “Pee Wee” Herrmann (4.22 FIP), and Josh Judy (just three innings so far). It’s a relief corps best used in matchup situations (especially late in the game) considering the platoon splits that Sipp, Smith, and the lefty Perez are rocking. Pestano is effective against everyone, and the righty Perez is the definition of a cardiac closer.

Recommended Indians Reading: The DiaTribe and Let’s Go Tribe