Montero hits walk-off HR as SWB ekes out a win

Got a few notes, so let’s bullet point it…

  • Jason Hirsh was named the Triple-A International League Pitcher of the Week. I believe that’s the fourth SWB pitcher to win the award in the last five weeks. Melky Mesa took home High-A Florida State League Offensive Player of the Week honors.
  • Jon Albaladejo was voted as the best reliever in the IL according to Baseball America (subs. req’d). Eduardo Nunez was dubbed the Best Defensive Shortstop and as having the Best Infield Arm.
  • Gary Sanchez got a mention from Kevin Goldstein in today’s Minor League Update (subs. req’d). “He’s got a plus-arm, but his release is long and slow. The difference between him and Jesus Montero—another Yankees’ catching prospect that competes to be ‘the next Jorge Posada—is that Sanchez has more athleticism. That’s good, but there’s work to be done.”
  • Unsurprisingly, the Yankees continue to talk with fourth round pick Mason Williams. He’s reportedly looking for a $2M bonus, basically top ten money, even though he is far from that kind of talent.
  • Tim Norton is done for a season with a lat injury. Poor guy has no luck when it comes to health, but at least it’s not his shoulder again.

I don’t think I’ve updated the standings at all this year, so let’s do that now (these do not reflect today’s games)…

Triple-A Scranton (2-1 win over Pawtucket, walk-off style) 68-47, lead the division by 7.5 games
Kevin Russo, 2B: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 K
Colin Curtis, CF: 0 for 4, 1 K
Jesus Montero, C: 3 for 4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI – walk-off two run shot off a guy who was in the bigs earlier this year … the legend grows
Juan Miranda, 1B & Chad Huffman, LF: both 1 for 3 – Huffman K’ed twice
Jorge Vazquez, DH, Eduardo Nunez, SS & Eric Bruntlett, 3B: all 0 for 3 – JoVa K’ed twice, Bruntlett once
Greg Golson, RF: 0 for 2, 1 BB, 1 SB – threw a runner out at second
The Ghost of Kei Igawa: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 4-6 GB/FB – 60 of 75 pitches were strikes (80%) … he didn’t go to a three ball count all night … I must say, what a freaking performance
Zack Segovia: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1-2 GB/FB – 16 of 20 pitches were strikes
Royce Ring: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 1-1 GB/FB – six of his eight pitches were strikes … if he was in another organization, he’d probably have been called up already
Jon Albaladejo: 1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1 HB, 1-1 GB/FB – 11 of his 20 pitches were strikes

[Read more…]

Teixeira may miss part of Texas series

Mark Teixeira supplied the Yanks with their lone run in this afternoon’s affair against Boston, but he’s not set to travel with the team to Texas this evening. Instead, as Marc Carig reports, Teixeira stayed in New York to be with his wife Leigh as she prepares to give birth to the couple’s third child. Mrs. Teixeira’s due date is tomorrow, and so Mark could conceivably be back with the Yankees before too long. He doesn’t, however, know how much time he’ll miss. “This is not an exact science,” he said.

With two lefties on the mound during the Texas series, the Yankees will mix and match with Marcus Thames and Austin Kearns. Lance Berkman will probably play first until Teixeira returns. And just for fun: Game 6 of the 2009 World Series was on November 5, 2009, five days and nine months before Leigh’s due date.

Open Thread: Lefty, lefty, lefty, lefty

That close.

The Yankees fell to Jon Lester and the Red Sox today, which isn’t all that surprising because he is one of the three or five best pitchers in the league, but I sure hope the Yanks are ready to face some more lefties. Tomorrow they get C.J. Wilson (who’s holding lefties to a .102/.190/.133 batting line this year), the next day it’s Cliff Lee (who’s awesome), and the day after that it’s Bruce Chen (who stinks). Brace yourself for a whole lotta Austin Kearns and Marcus Thames over the next few days, I suspect they’ll play in each of the next three.

Anyway, here’s tonight’s open thread. The Cardinals and Reds are on ESPN in a matchup of the two NL Central contenders, but you can also kill some time with this. I got 180 out of 188, didn’t miss any obvious ones though. You guys know what to do, so have at it.

A wider strike zone and quicker game

Back in June, Dave Cameron caught a lot of crap for an idea he expressed regarding the length of baseball games. “The only way to shorten a Major League game is to make the strike zone bigger,” he wrote. The comments poured in, many of them critical of Dave’s take. Of course there are other ways to speed up the game, they said. And yes, there probably are. But no one thing would speed up the game to the level that widening the strike zone would.

In yesterday’s New York Times, Stuart Miller writes a column dedicated to this very topic. It’s a worthy read, with plenty of reactions from former and current players about how umpires call balls and strikes. It seems that everyone quoted in Miller’s article agrees with Cameron. Games will not only be shorter, but paced more quickly, if umps call the high strike. There was even one former ump who called for a 22-inch, rather than a 17-inch, wide plate.

There is also an accompanying Bats blog post that contains some more quotes, specifically from Curtis Granderson. It also cites John Walsh’s study that shows umpires widening the zone on 3-0 and shrinking it on 0-2.

Game 111: Going for the kill

Alex and some high school kids. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The Yankees have already accomplished the bare minimum in this series by not getting swept, and yesterday they guaranteed at least a split, something I think most of us would be cool with this series. Today though, I’m getting greedy and I want the Yanks to take three of four and bury the Red Sox.

It won’t be easy with Jon Lester taking the ball for the Sox, but he’s allowed at least four runs in every start since the All Star break, and opponents are hitting .292/.339/.481 against him during that time. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but it makes me feel slightly better. Phil Hughes, meanwhile, hasn’t allowed more than three runs in four of his last five starts, so he’s starting to come out of that little funk from mid-season. The bullpen should be pretty rested for this one, no one really had to over-extend themselves last night.

Remember when the Yankees were 0-8 vs. Boston last year? They’re 16-5 against them since (h/t Kiertsen). Good times, good times. Here’s this afternoon’s lineup…

Jeter, SS
Swisher, RF
Teixeira, 1B
A-Rod, 3B
Cano, 2B
Posada, C – day game after a night game? head explodes
Thames, DH
Kearns, LF
Granderson, CF

And on the bump, it’s St. Philip of Hughes.

This afternoon’s matinee starts a little bit after 2pm ET and can be seen on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game, y’all.

Moseley’s odd pitch locations

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

It is clear from the first pitch you see that Dustin Moseley won’t overpower anyone. His fastball averages around 88 mph, topping out at 90, 91, depending on the night. A pitcher like that requires precision with his pitches. If he leaves one of those over the plate, major leaguers are going to hit it hard. Since the Red Sox didn’t hit him hard last night it might seem like he located balls in favorable spots. But after looking at the data this does not appear to be the case.

This chart, supplied by Brooks Baseball, looks odd for a guy who doesn’t blow pitches by hitters. It looks odder still for a pitcher who got 12 grounders out of 19 balls in play. Normally when we see a flurry of ground balls we also see pitches, particularly two-seamers, low in the zone. Moseley, it appears, worked in the lower half, but generally didn’t hit the bottom quarter of the zone with his groundball-inducing pitch.

Instead, we see a belt of two-seamers that crossed around the middle of the zone. Thankfully only three of them were above the mid-point. The rest were below, though not by a lot — again, in one of the middle quarters. For a guy who requires groundballs to perform his job well this might seem like a hindrance. But the Red Sox hitters seemingly could not connect with the two-seamer no matter its location. When they did, it was mostly on the ground. Of the 26 batters Moseley faced, 15 saw a fastball with the final pitch and they broke down like this:

2 walks
4 strikeouts (3 looking)
2 liners (1 base hit)
7 ground balls

Not bad for an 88 mph fastball that crossed, for the most part, near the middle of the zone. The key, it appears, is the movement he puts on the pitch. In 2003, when he ranked No. 4 on the Reds prospect list, Baseball America noted that, “he has plus movement and manipulates the ball to both sides of the plate with a cutter and a two-seamer.” The cutter, it appears, has been scrapped in favor of a slider, but the movement on the two-seamer remains.

Baseball America also notes the effectiveness of his 12-to-6 curve and his changeup, both of which remain in his arsenal. Last night he threw 18 changeups, 10 of which were strikes. According to PitchFX it traveled about 5 mph slower than his fastball, with about half the horizontal break and obviously a lot less on the vertical axis. He didn’t generate any swings and misses, but he did get five batters to put the ball on the ground weakly, one to pop up, and the other to gently fly out. Otherwise he used it to set up batters, and it was quite effective in that regard. According to linear weights it was by far his most effective pitch of the evening.

What I find most odd about Moseley’s start is that despite the lack of a power fastball he still relied on the pitch. PitchFX separated the pitch into four-seamer and two-seamer, but the movement and speed on both seem identical, so I’m sure he wasn’t doing much different with them. All told he threw 50 fastballs, 18 changeups, 14 curveballs, and five sliders. It was an effective mix, as the results showed. The Sox hardly made quality contact, as even the bulk of their base hits came on ground balls. If Moseley can continue attacking opposing offenses like that he’ll have some kind of role on this team.

Last night the Yanks got all they could have expected out of Dustin Moseley. He took advantage of a slumping offense and pitched six and a third strong innings. It came in a strange way, getting groundballs on pitches that were near the middle of the zone. But it worked. He might not be Andy Pettitte, but in his place Moseley has thrown 24.1 innings to a 2.96 ERA. Not bad for a guy who this past off-season was non-tendered by the pitching-shallow Angels.

Fan Confidence Poll: August 9th, 2010

Record Last Week: 3-3 (28 RS, 27 RA)
Season Record: 69-41 (591 RS, 452 RA, 69-41 Pythag. record), 2.5 games up
Schedule This Week: vs. Red Sox (one game, Mon.), @ Rangers (two games, Tues. and Weds.), @ Royals (four games, Thurs. to Sun.)

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