This should keep everyone entertained for the next half hour or so. I hope they got that ball off the field after that play.
Record Last Week: 5-2 (42 RS, 21 RA)
Season Record: 41-29 (372 RS, 276 RA, 45-25 pythag. record), one back in loss column
Opponents This Week: @ Reds (three games, Mon. to Weds.), Thurs. OFF, vs. Rockies (three games, Fri. to Sun.)
Top stories from last week:
- Last week started with the final game of a four-game series against the Indians, which the Yankees dropped because of an utter lack of offense.
- The Texas Rangers came to the Bronx next, and the Yankees dismantled Alexi Ogando in the opener. The C lineup won in a blowout the next day, and then Brett Gardner finished off the sweep with a walk-off win on Thursday.
- The first trip to an NL park of the year took the Yankees to Chicago, where they got shut down by Doug Davis in the series opener. A great play at the plate preserved the win on Saturday, then a big Nick Swisher homer gave them the series win yesterday.
- Injury News: Derek Jeter suffered a Grade I calf strain on Monday and had to be placed on the disabled list. Rafael Soriano is “not quite there” in the rehab from his elbow injury, but Phil Hughes made a rehab start after a simulated game went well. Alex Rodriguez has been playing with a bum left shoulder. Both Pedro Feliciano and Damaso Marte have started playing catch. Minor leaguer Tim Norton has a torn labrum and Austin Romine is still recovering from a concussion. A slew of prospects hit the disabled list in Low-A.
- With Bartolo Colon on the shelf, the Yankees turned to minor league journeyman Brian Gordon to be their fill-in fifth starter. They officially signed him on Thursday, making room on the 25-man roster by demoting Lance Pendleton and room on the 40-man roster by releasing Amaury Sanit. They also called up and added Cory Wade to the bullpen after signing him (and Greg Smith) to a minor league deal.
- The Yankees prefer left-handed starters and rentals, but are not interested in Carlos Zambrano after scouting him last weekend. They also tried to tamper with Andrew Miller (reportedly) and will kick the tires on Scott Kazmir.
- The Yankees signed top pick Dante Bichette Jr. to a slightly above slot $750,000 bonus. Jesus Montero is still in Triple-A because the team want him to play everyday.
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It had a been a while since the Yankees visited the Cubs and it’ll be a while before they go back, but Sunday night’s game capped off an eventful but ultimately successful three game series in the Windy City, a series the Yankees won thanks to Sunday’s come-from-behind win.
Nick Swisher, Rally Killer
I think it’s fair to call Swisher the most disappointing regular this season, particularly when you consider his performance from the left side of the plate. He came into this game hitting just .173/.321/.280 in 187 plate appearances against righties this year, a big problem when you consider that roughly seven out of ten pitchers in the big leagues are right-handed. With men on the corners and none out in the eighth inning, I would have been happy if Nick grounded into a double play against the righty Chris Carpenter (not this one, this one) as long as it got the run in. He did managed to kill the rally, but not by grounding into a double play.
Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano led off the inning with singles against Sean Marshall, then the Cubs went to the rookie Carpenter in the biggest spot of the game. We saw him be wild and walk a guy on Saturday, and he looked the same on Sunday. The first two pitches to Swisher were mid-90’s fastballs high and away, but the third was a cookie, a 93 mph heater down the middle and over the plate. A classic get-me-over fastball in a 2-0 count. A tee wouldn’t have been any better. Swish jumped all over the pitch and did what he was supposed to do with that, he crushed it deep to right for a three run homer. It was gone off the bat, everyone knew it. Rally killed, three runs scored.
Brett Gardner, Leadoff Hitter
Gardner came into this game having gotten on base in 70 of his last 163 plate appearances (43.8%), premium production regardless of batting order position. Randy Wells got him in a quick 0-2 hole to start the game, but after fouling off two pitches, Gardner yanked a knee high sinker into the right field seats for his first career leadoff homerun and fourth of the season. He also hit a two strike single next time up and helped create an insurance run in the ninth with a leadoff hustle double, and his season batting average is up to .294. Remember where he was in April? Yeah. If someone, anyone had a legitimate reason why this man shouldn’t be the Yankees full-time leadoff hitter when Derek Jeter comes off the disabled list, I’d love to hear it.
Right Where He Wanted Them
New Eighth Inning Guy™ David Robertson has a well-documented history of wiggling out of jams, so you didn’t really expect the eighth inning go smoothly, did you? Aramis Ramirez quickly struck out for the first out, but then Robertson walked Alfonso Soriano (on four pitches!) before walking Geovany Soto on six pitches. Just like that, the tying run was at the plate, and up came pinch-hitter and certified Yankee killer Carlos Pena. Robertson dropped a curve in for a ball before inducing a weak grounder to second for the second out, though the runners moves up. Pinch-hitter Blake DeWitt fouled off some tough cutters and curves, but eventually popped one up rather harmlessly to end the inning. Business as usual in the Robertson household.
Where’s The Pinch-Hitter?
Russell Martin had just tied the game at four with a sacrifice fly in the sixth, and a semi-intentional walk to Eduardo Nunez put men at first and second with one out. For some reason, CC Sabathia was allowed to bat for himself. Yes, he had thrown just 69 pitches up to that point, but he also wasn’t fooling anyone. The Cubs had eight hits (four for extra bases) and a walk in his five innings to that point. Of course, the second guessing seems rather stupid given the outcome of the game and the fact that Sabathia added two more scoreless innings, but at the time it was a huge moment in the game and having a real hitter at the plate could have changed things dramatically.
Speaking of Sabathia, he was not very good in this game, especially early on. The Cubs made a ton of hard contact in the first, even the outs, en route to taking a one run lead, and then CC made a huge mistake pitch to Soriano that he clobbered for a three run homer in the third. He pitched around a leadoff double in the fourth, but then he settled down and retired 12 of the final 13 batters he faced. If you go back to that ugly seventh inning against the Red Sox two starts ago, Sabathia has allowed 14 runs in his last 14.2 IP. Not worried, he’ll get through it, but yuck.
Once they were behind 4-1, the Yankees really did a good job of scratching their way back into it. Swish plated a run in the fourth on a seeing through the right side, Nunez beat out a relay throw on a fielder’s choice that allowed the second run to score later that inning, and then Martin tied things at four with the aforementioned sac fly in the sixth. Three insurance runs scored in the ninth when Gardner (hustle double), Curtis Granderson (triple into the corner), Mark Teixeira (lol bloop double into the corner), and Alex Rodriguez (double into the ivy) started the inning with four straight extra base hits.
Martin took an Aramis back swing to the helmet in the middle of the game and was seen with an icepack on his head in the dugout. He was laughing and stayed in the game, but between that and the collision at the plate on Saturday, it was a rough two days for Russ. Since everyone was okay, we can also laugh at Ramiro Pena for catching a bad hop on a grounder in the ninth, taking it up high around the chest. The ball ricocheted to Nunez at short and he threw it straight into the ground, like a quarterback spiking the ball to stop the clock. Hilarious.
A total of 126,283 fans took in these three games this week, a record for a three-game series at Wrigley Field. That’s pretty nuts considering the park has been around since the dawn of time. But, you know, the Yankees are bad for baseball. They’ve now won 20 of their last 30 games, by the way.
WPA Graph & Box Score
It’s off to Cincinnati for another interleague series in an NL park. Ivan Nova will kick things off against Johnny Cueto on Monday night. If you’re in the area, RAB Tickets can get you into the game for dirt cheap.
Via Wally Matthews, Alex Rodriguez has been playing a left shoulder injury for the past few weeks. “It’s just a small issue that only bothers him when he dives for a ball,” said Joe Girardi, though another source called it a strain and said he’s “managing it as best as he can.” Remember, Alex did serve as the designated hitter on Wednesday before sitting completely on Thursday, which if nothing else seemed a bit odd. Also, it’s his left shoulder, so throws aren’t a problem. Anyway, A-Rod is hitting .325/.397/.556 over his last 30 games, so it’s not like the injury is dragging him down at the plate.
Short Season Staten Island (5-3 loss to Brooklyn)
Mason Williams, CF: 3 for 5, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 SB – threw a runner out at third … have yourself a day, Mr. Williams
Cito Culver, SS: 0 for 5, 2 RBI, 1 K, 1 E (throwing) – still waiting on that first hit
Angelo Gumbs, 2B: 0 for 5, 2 K
Reymond Nunez, 1B & Ben Gamel, LF: both 1 for 4, 2 K
Cody Grice, DH: 0 for 3, 1 BB, 2 K
Casey Stevenson, 3B: 0 for 2, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP
Nick McCoy, C: 0 for 4, 2 K
Shane Brown, LF: 2 for 4, 1 R
Phil Hughes, RHP: 4.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 2-3 GB/FB – 41 of 61 pitches were strikes (67.2%), and he was scheduled for 65 … his fastball ranged from 89-95 (92-93 consistently) but there are conflicting reports are whether he held the velocity throughout the outing or it dropped off in the later innings … he allowed singled to the first two men he faced, then sat down 13 of the next 14 men he faced before a solo homer ended his day … this was a nice step forward, but he’s still got a long way to go
Wilton Rodriguez, RHP: 2.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HB, 4-2 GB/FB
Matt Tracy, LHP: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 2-0 GB/FB
Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there. Most of us wouldn’t care about baseball if it wasn’t for the old man. Let’s go Yankees.
It’s an ESPN Sunday Night Game, so first pitch is scheduled for a little after 8pm ET. Enjoy.
A quick question: If you didn’t enjoy part one of this series, why are you reading part two?
To quickly summarize before I get back into the nitty gritty of this extremely important topic, complaining is a key part of being a fan of any sports team, and a sports team as good as the Yankees requires a double-dose of this skill. There are a lot of different things to complain about, but the key is to know what to talk about when and what to complain about when. Generally, immediacy is key: complain about lineups when lineups are posted, complain about Francisco Cervelli when he throws the ball into center field, and so on. Yesterday I covered hitters and today I’ll round up the other important stuff.
Letting Runs Score
When you’re being paid as much as these guys are and you only have one job, you better do it damn well. If your job is to not let people score, you better not let them score. It doesn’t matter that the average ERA is around 3. No Yankees pitcher should ever allow any runs. To do so is to invite scorn on yourself. There is a notable correlation between money and scorn – all CC showings that are not shutouts are automatic failures, whereras giving Ivan Nova a couple runs of leeway before calling himself failure is okay.
This is an easy fallback for when the game is going slowly – every pitching change is wrong. Every. Single. One. There is never a right choice. It’s not like pitchers shouldn’t be taken out of the game, just that it should always be at a different time. Robertson with two on and no out? Leave the starter in to get out of it. Ayala to start the sixth? Should be Marquez. Mo in the ninth? Bartolo Colon should have stayed in. Burnett takes a hard loss? He should have come out earlier. Boone Logan at any point in time, ever? Wrong. Noesi? Why is he in the pen at all?
Developing Starting Pitching
Is Hector Noesi starting? No? He should be. He is? Don’t rush the starters! No matter what the front office does, it’s always wrong. No matter how successful things are, they could always be better. Brian Gordon gives a great start? Noesi should have started. Noesi throws a great start? He should have been called up earlier! This is a great topic because it is always relevant, even when CC or AJ is on the bump. Starting pitching is necessary for the current and the future of the team, so this is a great complaint for anytime. Off day? Offseason? Blowout win? This is the complaint of choice.
Throwing Balls During Blowouts
When you’re up 11-0 in the eigth, all you need is to get outs. When you can’t even get players to swing at your pitches, it’s enraging. The players are ready to shower, the fans have other stuff to do, and you can’t even get a guy to put a ball in play. Plus, the offending pitcher risks requiring the use of an important pitcher. Seriously. And that’s all I have to say about that.