How’s that for an April to remember for Chien-Ming Wang? Wang closed out his opening month in grand style today, throwing 7 innings against the Indians. He limited Cleveland to four hits — three singles and a double — while striking out a season-high nine. With Joba and Mo throwing an inning, the Yanks eked out a 1-0 win behind a Melky Cabrera home run.
For Wang, this start — his sixth of the month — really cemented his status as the Yankee ace. He’ll finish the month leading the AL in wins with five, and he has yet to lose a game this season. His ERA is a nifty 3.23, and his peripherals are great. He has 27 strike outs to 11 walks and has allowed just one home run all year in 39 innings. Opponents, meanwhile, are hitting .235/.292/.315 off the righty.
For Wang, today’s line is a departure from what we’ve come to expect from the sinkerball specialist over the year, but it is a welcome departure. Wang recorded five ground-ball outs and six fly-ball outs today while retiring nine by the K. We’re used to seeing few strike outs, few fly outs and many more ground balls, and as some fans in the game thread wondered, what has changed with Wang this year?
From watching him work, Wang seems to have a better idea how to keep hitters off balance. Last season, when October rolled around and the Yanks trekked out to Cleveland, the Indians hit Wang around because they knew what was coming. They knew he would throw mainly sinkers, and they knew they could him them. This year, Wang is going more to his slider and his splitters. Considering that he throws in the mid-90s, this diverse repertoire of pitches will keep hitters guessing. Wang is, in other words, really maturing as a pitcher.
On the other side of the ball, the Yankee offense continued to scuffle today. This time, however, the opposing pitcher was the AL Cy Young Award winner. C.C. Sabathia, perhaps auditioning for his future employer, threw a lights-out game, matching Chien-Ming Wang nearly inning for inning. He threw 8 innings, also allowing one hit while walking one and striking out eight. It was a vintage pitchers duel, one missing from the ALDS, and the Yanks emerged on top.
- Despite Joe Girardi‘s post-game comments, The Times story is true: Jorge will go to the DL, and he will go visit Dr. James Andrews. The Yanks’ erstwhile catcher says he doesn’t need surgery, but I would expect a lot of innings at first and DH for Jorge this year.
- To the Yankees’ center fielder: Who are you and what have you done with Melky Cabrera? The Melkman’s fifth home run — the only run of the game — tied him with Jason Giambi for the team lead in homers. He’s on pace to hit 33 this year. If Melky keeps this up, I will be very happy to admit that I was wrong about his future on the Yanks.
Sit down. Take a deep breath. And read the bad news on Jorge Posada. The Yanks’ catcher was a very late scratch today because his shoulder tear is not improving, and he will be visiting Dr. James Andrews this week. Posada, who seemed to aggravate his shoulder while throwing out Grady Sizemore yesterday, will end up on the disabled list, and the Yanks now have to pray that Jose Molina can shoulder the load. They have no true backup catcher right now as Chad Moeller has not cleared waivers yet. Doug Mirabelli is a free agent possibility. · (33) ·
We can bemoan the Yankee pitching as much as we want. We can blame bullpen management or poor starting pitching. We can blame bad weather and freak injuries. But all of that pales in comparison to the real problem.
The Yankees, folks, are just not scoring any runs. They are ninth in the American League — and 16th overall in baseball — with 113 runs scored. That figure puts them behind such power-packed offenses as the Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Dodgers and Oakland A’s. What is more mysterious, however, is that the Yankees are fourth in the AL with a .772 OPS. They’re just not getting their hits when it counts as we saw yesterday. That will change, but for now, we just have to grin and bear it.
Today, the Yanks face a familiar foe, one they saw last in the ALDS and one many think could be in pinstripes next year. C.C. Sabathia, who pitched a fairly pedestrian game 1 in the ALDS against the Yanks last year, will take the mound for the Indians. He’s 1-3 with a 10.13 ERA, but the numbers don’t tell the whole story. In his last start, he threw six shutout innings against the Royals, walking two and striking out 11.
The Yanks counter with their ace. Chien-Ming Wang is 4-0 with a 3.94 ERA. But his last two starts have been a bit rocky. Against the Red and White Sox, Wang threw 10 innings, giving up 11 earned runs on 19 hits. Over that stretch, he’s walked five and struck out seven as his ERA climbed from 1.23 to its current 3.94. A solid start from Wang against a team that seemingly took batting practice off him in October would do wonders for the Yanks.
Hideki Matsui sits for the second straight day. He’s 0 for 9 in his career against Sabathia. No word on any potential call-up for Darrel Rasner. He’s set to start today for Scranton in Syracuse, and if he goes today, he won’t be ready to pitch again for another four days.
Update 1:03 p.m.: As per Suzyn Waldman — what a lovely soundtrack to my shower, by the way — Jorge Posada is a scratch from the lineup today. After he gunned out Grady Sizemore yesterday, he seemed to be wincing a bit. I hope this isn’t a setback from his shoulder problems. Everyone moves up, and Molina’s hitting 9th.
No matter how frustrating it gets to watch Hughes and IPK nibble at the corners, just remember that it’s better than having Mark Redman in the rotation. Suddenly the kids don’t seem so bad, huh?
Triple-A Scranton was washed out, they’ll play two tomorrow. Darrell Rasner was the scheduled to starter, but maybe they’ll call him up to be the long man before the first game since he’s not in need of four days of rest.
Double-A Trenton (7-4 loss to New Britain in 13 innings)
Ramiro Pena & Reegie Corona: both 0 for 5 – Pena walked & K’ed … Corona K’ed twice
Austin Jackson & Matt Carson: both 2 for 6, 1 R – Ajax doubled & swiped a bag … Carson drove in a run & K’ed
Cody Ehlers: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB
Jose Tabata: 0 for 3, 2 K - came out of the game after striking out in the 7th … I recently heard that his swing is all messed up, and that he’s out of shape and playing like he doesn’t care … it’s time to send him down to Tampa to light a fire under his ass
Phil Coke: 6 IP, 11 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 5-6 GB/FB
David Robertson: 3.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K – 3.2 IP? wow
Eric Wordekemper: 0.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K - let an inherited runner score, hence the earned run on Robertson’s line
Mike Gardner: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 K
The Yankees are not going to win many games if they can’t score more than three runs off pitchers like Jeremy Sowers. We can blame Girardi’s decision to go with Ohlendorf over Rivera in the 9th. We can unfairly blame Ian Kennedy. But if the Yankees do not score runs, they obviously are not going to win.
The Yanks had 12 hits today and left nine runners on base. They hit into two double plays at key moments and managed to draw just one walk. The best pitching staffs in the world aren’t going to overcome these anemic performance.
Before wrapping this one up, let’s toss some credit Ian Kennedy’s way. He threw 105 pitches in five innings and walked four while striking out two. But he showed clear signs of improvement. He overcame a 35-pitch fifth inning to make it through five, and he allowed just one baserunner in his final three innings of work. I think Kennedy turned a corner today. Too bad the Yankee offense didn’t.
The Yanks wrapped up their weekend roster moves this afternoon and now find themselves with a righty-heavy bullpen. Billy Traber, after proving that a lefty can’t always get out other lefties, finds himself heading from Cleveland to Scranton, and Shelley Duncan makes his triumphant return to the Bronx.
For the Yanks, the bullpen now contains a bunch of hard-throwing righties and LaTroy Hawkins. While a few folks will be dismayed at the Yanks’ seemingly non-traditional approach to the bullpen — Where’s the lefty? Where’s the long man? — as long as these guys throw strikes they can get out lefties and righties. Plus, they’ve managed to survive without a strike-throwing lefty, and they haven’t really been burned by the lefties. It’s no different today than it was yesterday.
The Yanks, meanwhile, face back-to-back lefties, and I guess today’s the off-day for the lefty hitters. While C.C. Sabathia and his Cy Young Award go tomorrow, Jeremy Sowers will be making his 2008 debut against the Bombers. Bobby Abreu, Robbie Cano, Hideki Matsui and the switch-hitting Jorge Posada all find themselves on the bench today.
Due to the rain delay on Thursday, Phil Hughes threw just two innings and 23 pitches. The three of us speculated that the Yanks could make Hughes available out of the pen today if Kennedy should struggle. The Yankees, however, would rather not disrupt the routine of their young arm. Hughes will, as PeteAbe notes in the last line of his Yankee notebook toady, stay on his regular rest and next appear in a game on Tuesday. · (1) ·
The going rate these days for historic World Series rings seems to be around $55,000. At least, that’s how much Southeby’s raked in for auctioning off Darryl Strawberry’s 1998 World Series ring. The ring was estimated to sell for between $20,000-$30,000, but the final tally, obviously, far exceeded those guesses. No one knew if Strawberry himself would take in the dough or if he had already sold it to another buyer who was now putting the ring up for auction. · (4) ·
With Jon Alabaladejo’s and Chris Britton’s promotions to the major league team, Scranton needed another bullpen arm. Steven Jackson got the nod. He’s struck out 18 and walked three in 16 innings for Trenton. It appears the Yanks want to see what the 26-year-old can do at a higher level. David Robertson, three years Jackson’s junior, will get his chance in due time.
To take Jackson’s place at AA, J.B. Cox has been promoted. Happy day. · (4) ·
Consistency, thy name is not the Yankees.
Tonight’s game was one that, on paper, the Yanks win. They had Andy Pettitte — who, before tonight, was something like 71-33 when pitching the day after a Yankee loss — facing off against the maddeningly frustrating Paul Byrd. I can’t stand watching Byrd pitch against the Yankees; they just can’t get to him despite his array of 82 mile-per-hour fastballs.
Well, tonight seemed a bit different. The Yanks seemed to have overcome an early unearned run and were up 3-1 when Pettitte ran out of gas in a four-run fifth. He exited the game after that inning with a Hughesian 99 pitches — only 56 were strikes. Tonight’s outing was not one of Andy Pettitte’s finest.
Meanwhile, in came Billy Traber, and he did what Billy Traber does best: one inning pitched, one run on one hit and two walks. It would matter little as the Yanks lost 6-4. I have to believe at this point, if the Yankees feel they can survive without a token lefty in the bullpen, they will send down Traber when Shelley Duncan is activated later today. To those of you flipping out at this idea, ask yourself this: Haven’t the Yankees survived so far without an effective lefty? They haven’t been killed by lefties, and they don’t need to waste the roster space.
But all the harping on pitching is moot. The Yankees bats were once again largely silent. Take Jason Giambi‘s 2-for-3 performance out of the equation, and the Yanks were 4 for 29 (.138 BA) with only Hideki Matsui mustering much in the way of offense. It was just one of those nights when consistency from this maddeningly inconsistent Yankee team was nowhere to be found.
- The Yanks are 1-12 when trailing after six innings this season. Wake up, folks. Game’s not over until the 9th.
- Jason Giambi is 6 for his last 13 with 3 home runs. He’s been on base 9 times over his last 16 plate appearances, and his ISO power — a measure of his extra-base hit prowess — is an off-the-charts .306. While his fielding is terrible, we can’t write off his offense yet at all.
- Derek Jeter is 2 for his last 18. Look no further than Derek for a reason why the Yanks have been struggling offensively recently. He’ll snap out of it.
- Congrats to former Yankee and one-time RAB whipping boy Wil Nieves. He hit his first Big League home run last night, and it was of the walk-off variety. Wil will be forever remembered as going 10 for 71 in three seasons in the Bronx and for being a completely inadequate backup catcher last year. He’s doing well with the Nationals in limited duty while Paul LoDuca is injured.
- As the Indians did tonight, teams that are not the White Sox will run off of Jorge Posada until he starts throwing guys out. It’s tough to blame his shoulder for tonight’s stolen bases; Sizemore is a legitimate threat. But Jamey Carroll had no steals prior to tonight, and both runners scored after their stolen-base attempts.