Sunday Night Open Thread

He's just so, so good. (Leon Halip/Getty)

These three games against the Rays were terrible, awful, horrible, ugly, whatever else you want to call them. It could be worse though, we could all be Red Sox fans.Embedded Yankees Al Aceves and Mark Melancon are starting to pay some real dividends early on. By the way, the last time the Yankees and Red Sox both started a season 0-3 was 1966. They went on to finish that year in 9th and 10th place in a ten-team division.

Anyway, here is tonight’s open thread. The White Sox and Rangers are the ESPN Sunday Night game (Harrison vs. Floyd), and I’m pretty sure ESPN grabbed this one because they thought Yu Darvish was going to start. He’s pitching tomorrow, however. You folks know what to do here, so have at it.

Swept: Yanks shut out by Rays

The last time the Yankees lost their first three games of the season, they went on to win 114 of their next 159 games. Clearly, they’re planning a repeat … right?

(J. Meric/Getty)

No Answer

The Yankees must be really sick of Tampa. They’ve been there since at least mid-February, and it sure looked like they wanted to get on the plane out of there as soon as possible Saturday afternoon. They had no answer for Jeremy Hellickson, who was throwing changeups when they were sitting fastball and fastballs when they were sitting changeup. Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, and Nick Swisher all doubled off the young right-hander, but that was the only hits they got. None of his four walks came back to hurt, and Hellickson retired 16 of the last 19 men he faced.

Their two best chances came in the fourth and sixth, when they had two men on base. Swisher struck out and Raul Ibanez flew out to end the first threat, then Swisher popped up the end the second. The Yankees never had a runner passed second base in any other inning. Just no answer, they were completely helpless. Gotta give Hellickson some credit, he did a great job. Pretty nice 25th birthday present to himself.

Predictable

Ibanez is a terrible defensive outfielder. I know it you, you know it, the Yankees know it, and Ibanez knows it. And yet, there he was in right field on Saturday afternoon. He wasn’t just in right field, he was in right field with a fly ball pitcher on the mound and with a bunch of pull left-handed hitters in Tampa’s lineup. Naturally, the ball found him right away and it cost the Yankees a run.

I have no problem whatsoever giving Swisher a half-day off at DH — he did miss some time late in camp with a groin problem and played the last two games on turf — but you have arguably the greatest defensive outfielder in the history of baseball on the bench. I know Andruw Jones isn’t the gloveman he once was, but still. Use him instead of Ibanez in that spot, even if there is a right-hander on the mound. Like I said, fly ball pitcher with a lot of pull lefties in the lineup, it was only a matter of time before Ibanez’s defense came back to bite them.

[.gif via Mock Session]

St. Philip of Hughes

(J. Meric/Getty)

No Yankee threw the ball better than Phil Hughes this spring, but that doesn’t mean anything now. He’s got to show he can do the same thing multiple time through a big league batting order every five days, and he got his first chance to do it this afternoon. Phil’s biggest mistake was leaving a 2-2 fastball up to Carlos Pena, who smacked a solo homer to right in the third. One of these years the Yankees will come up with a decent scouting report against the guy. Otherwise he showed four pitches and was never really in a world of trouble.

I thought Girardi pulled Hughes at exactly the right time, with Matt Joyce coming to bat with men on first and second and two outs in the fifth. Joyce has smacked Hughes around pretty hard in his career — .400/.500/1.100 with two homers coming into this game (also took him deep this spring), and yes I know it’s a small sample — and he struggles badly against southpaws. Good time to get Boone Logan in there to keep it close, which is exactly what he did.

Hughes did look demonstrably better than he did at any point last year, generating a total of nine swings and misses — five on the four-seamer, two each on the cutter and changeup (via Brooks). Only three times in 14 starts last year did he get nine or more whiffs. Hughes also threw 15 changeups, including one set of back-to-back changeups to Pena in the first. He never did that in the past, regardless of year. Hughes was not efficient at all — 99 pitches to 21 total batters — but I didn’t think he pitched poorly or anything. Just needs to keep that pitch count down, which is much easier said than done.

(AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

Leftovers

Logan threw a 2-1 changeup to Ben Zobrist in the sixth inning, getting a swing and miss. Brooks says he threw exactly one changeup last season, but Boone said in camp he wanted to throw it a little more this year. Of course he gave up a homer to Jeff Keppinger — .077 ISO last year — two batters later. That’s the problem with carrying two lefty specialists, they get stuck having to face righties in games like this.

I think of Chris Stewart like a pitcher whenever he’s at the plate. The goal is just to see as many pitches as possible. The full count in his first at-bat was nice, but then he tried to bunt for a hit on the first pitch of his second at-bat before being lifted for a pinch-hitter. He also dropped like, five pitches behind the plate. None were costly in terms of runners advancing or anything, but still, I thought the guy was supposed to be a defensive stud. I guess that’s nitpicking.

I hope David Phelps goes into the Hall of Fame as a Yankee. Nice little debut for the right-hander, who threw a first-pitch curveball to Elliot Johnson with men on first and second and one out in the eighth. Can’t imagine many pitchers have thrown a curveball for a strike with their first ever big league pitch. Phelps whiffed Johnson then coaxed a ground ball out of Reid Brignac to escape the jam. It wasn’t exactly Mantle and Maris, but it was solid work out of the kid in his debut.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the more advanced stuff, and ESPN the updated standings.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next

After nearly two months, it’s time for the Yankees to finally get out of Tampa. They’re headed up to Baltimore for a three-game set against the undefeated Orioles. It’ll be Ivan Nova against personal fave Brian Matusz at 7pm ET on Monday.

Astros claim Justin Maxwell

Via Brian McTaggart, the Astros have claimed Justin Maxwell off waivers. The Yankees designated him for assignment last week when they had no room for him on the Opening Day roster. Maxwell had a nice spring, so it’s not a surprise that he was claimed. At least the Yanks got to keep Chris Dickerson for outfield depth. Both guys were out of minor league options and I figured they’d lose both.

Game Three: Beat the shift Rays

"Praise the Lord, I beat the shift." (REUTERS/Craig Litten)

It’s been a frustrating two games, but a win today will make everything all better. Phil Hughes gets the ball for the first time after a dazzling Spring Training, which we all hope carries over into the regular season. I don’t like that Raul Ibanez will be patrolling right field — fly ball pitcher and a bunch of pull lefties in Tampa’s lineup — but what can you do. I guess they’re just going to have to pitch those guys away. Here’s the lineup…

SS Derek Jeter
CF Curtis Granderson
2B Robinson Cano
3B Al from Miami
1B Mark Teixeira
DH Nick Swisher
RF Raul Ibanez
LF Brett Gardner
C Chris Stewart

RHP Phil Hughes

Today’s game starts at 1:40pm ET and can be seen on YES locally and TBS nationally. Enjoy.

Pineda scheduled for long toss this week

Via George King, right-hander Michael Pineda will remain in Tampa and not travel with the team to Baltimore as he works his way back from shoulder tendinitis. He will throw long-toss today, tomorrow, and Tuesday after playing catch on Thursday and Friday. If that goes well, there’s a chance he could get back on the mound and throw a bullpen session reasonable soon. He’ll need a few of those before throwing in a minor league game, I imagine.

Yanks drop second game to Rays


Source: FanGraphs

I suppose the good news is that the last two times the Yankees dropped their first two games of the season, it was 1998 and 2009. Those years were pretty cool. This is also the first time both the Yankees and Red Sox have both been 0-2 since 1980. Anyway, here’s a quick recap…

  • Eduardo Scissorhands: Sheesh, it really didn’t take long for Eduardo Nunez to make his presence felt, eh? That ball was as routine as it gets, the play has to be made no questions asked.
  • Hi-rocked: Not a good Yankees debut for Hiroki Kuroda, who was up in the zone all night and gave up a lot of hard-hit balls. The error didn’t help in the first, but at some point the pitcher has to pick his fielder up. Just forget about it and get ready for the home opener.
  • Shift Happens: You really have to hand it to the Rays, they employ the shift better than anyone. It’s one thing to align the fielders in certain spots, but the pitchers also have to get in on the act. How many times have to you seen the Yankees shift on David Ortiz only to pitch him away, away, away? Too many to count.
  • LNOGY: Clay Rapada was fantastic in camp and earned his roster spot. Someone should now tell him he has to continue to pitching well to keep that roster spot. Not going to blame him for the Evan Longoria double or the Ben Zobrist walk, but he can’t walk Carlos Pena and/or give up a hit to Matt Joyce (even if it was a bloop). The Pena walk was inexcusable.
  • The O’Neill Theory: The Yankees did put together a late rally — thanks to Nick Swisher‘s monster three-run homer — but they didn’t complete the comeback. According to Paul O’Neill, they’ll carry that momentum into tomorrow’s game and put some runs on the board early. I sure hope so.
  • Leftovers: I totally thought Andruw Jones‘ fly ball in the sixth was long gone … Cory Wade had a terrible spring, so naturally he retired all five batters he faced in his season debut, including three strikeouts … Derek Jeter is wearing out the middle of the diamond; everything’s been hit back up the box these last two days, and that’s good … three walks by Russell Martin and two by Swisher, giving the Yankees 14 walks and just 12 strikeouts as a team in these two games … Curtis Granderson is still awesome, two knocks tonight including a triple.

MLB.com has the box score and video, FanGraphs the nerdy stuff, and ESPN the standings. The Yankees will try to salvage the series behind Phil Hughes tomorrow. He gets the ball against reigning Rookie of the Year Jeremy Hellickson at 1:40pm ET.

Banuelos rocked; Trenton makes history

Make sure you check out Mike Ashmore’s feature on Brett Marshall, it’s a must read.

Triple-A Empire State (4-0 loss to Syracuse)
CF Chris Dickerson & LF Cole Garner: both 1-3 — Dickerson walked and whiffed … Garner struck out twice
C Frankie Cervelli, DH Jack Cust & 3B Brandon Laird: all 0-4 — Cervelli & Laird each struck out once, Cust twice
1B Steve Pearce & RF Colin Curtis: both 1-4
SS Ramiro Pena: 0-3, 1 K
2B Doug Bernier: 2-3
LHP Manny Banuelos: 3.1 IP, 11 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 7/0 GB/FB — 46 of 81 pitches were strikes (56.8%) … right-handed batters went eight hits in 14 at-bats against him (.571) … can’t imagine this is how he wanted to start the season
LHP Mike O’Connor: 2.2, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 3/2 GB/FB – 23 of 36 pitches were strikes (63.9%)
RHP Cody Eppley: 1.1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 0/1 GB/FB — a dozen of his 16 pitches were strikes
LHP Juan Cedeno: 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1/0 GB/FB — only four his ten pitches were strikes

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