Just a reminder, my weekly appearance on The Shore Sports Report with Mike Krenek and Joe Giglio is coming up at 4:05pm ET today. You can listen in on either FOX Sports 1030 AM or WOBM 1160 AM, and I’m willing to bet that you’ll be able to stream it online via one of those links as well.
It may or may not rain heavily in Detroit, and that’s both good and bad for the Yankees. It’s good because they can use the extra day off to rest up their injured players as well as avoid giving Sergio Mitre another start, but it’s bad because they aren’t scheduled to make another trip to Detroit this season. To make this one up, they’d have to return to MoTown on a mutual off day (June 7th and Sept. 16th appear to be the only realistic options for a makeup date), which is something neither team wants to do, or they’d have to wait until the end of the season and make it up only if impacts the final standings. That doesn’t happen very often and the league hates doing it, so expect them to lose a future off day if they can’t get the game in today.
Here’s the lineup that’ll face Justin Verlander…
And on the mound, Carsten Charles Sabathia.
First pitch is scheduled for 1:05pm ET, and if they do start this one up, you can see it on YES locally or MLB Network nationally. Also, today is our weekly game chat, so join in at 1pm after the jump.
This one took a little longer to materialize than we originally expected, but Juan Miranda has in fact been called up, and is in the lineup at first base today. Mark Teixiera is getting a half-day off as the designated hitter, but I expect everyone to get a full day off given the weather forecast in Detroit. To make room for Miranda, utility player Kevin Russo was returned to Triple-A Scranton. Unsurprising, but still slightly disappointing. Hopefully Miranda gets regular at-bats, because this nonsense about a rotating DH needs to stop.
Meanwhile, Marc Carig reports that Chan Ho Park will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Scranton tomorrow. He’ll probably need two or three minor league outings before being ready to return to the big league team, so that puts him on target for a return next week. The bullpen sure could use him.
Since Nick Johnson hit the disabled list with a sore wrist last weekend in Boston, the Yankees have had the luxury of an open designated hitter spot. Never one to pass up an opportunity to mix-and-match, Joe Girardi has done just that, and the Yankees have used five different DHs in as many days. I’m beginning to think, however, that the team could use some stability at this offensive spot.
As we know, the Yankees are an old team. The left side of the infield features one guy who will turn 36 this year and another 35. Their catcher is a sprightly 38 and often runs as though he’s 83. Getting these guys some days off becomes an important consideration for Joe Girardi, and to that end, since Johnson left Friday’s game, Robinson Cano, Jorge Posada, Marcus Thames, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter have, in that order, held down the DH spot.
On the surface, it’s tough to bemoan these moves, but these lineup changes come at a price. With these guys DHing, we’ve seen both Ramiro Peña and Francisco Cervelli appear in three of the last five Yankee games, and while Cervelli is hitting well in the early going, neither player can caddy offensively for those he is tasked with replacing in the lineup. For what it’s worth, Ramiro Peña is hitting .138/.188/.172 in his 33 plate appearances with a WAR of -0.2 this year after hitting just .255/.315/.320 through parts of five years in the minors.
In the early going, at least, the Yankees had to deal with some nicks and bruises, and to that end, Girardi made good use of Nick Johnson’s absence. Robinson Cano took a fastball off the knee on Friday and played as the DH on Saturday. Jorge Posada sat out for four days nursing a sore calf before DHing on Sunday. But beyond that, Girardi needs to find a better solution.
Over at Baseball Prospectus yesterday afternoon, Christina Kahrl, in a subscriber-only piece, took the Yankees to task for getting sloppy with their roster and, in particular, the DH spot. She questions if “using the absence of a regular DH to feed additional playing time to Ramiro Pena and Francisco Cervelli (and [Marcus] Thames too)” is “really a good idea.”
Is that really such a good idea? It’s a way to keep the benchies fresh, of course, and it gives lineup regulars partial days off. Those are nice things to do if you’re talking about a temporary fix and a temporary absence. That’s probably not the scenario the Yankees are in, however. Losing Johnson until the end of the month—at least, given his horrendous track record—on top of losing Curtis Granderson makes this a situation where courtesy starts for Ramiro Pena in a lineup already stuck with Randy Winn shouldn’t fly. And no, Greg Golson is not an answer, at least not to a question you need to ask.
Instead, sorting out who should be the Yankees’ DH really ought to involve someone like Miranda now, and perhaps Jesus Montero eventually. Montero’s future still seems to be someplace other than behind the plate, but he’s not hitting much in Scranton; it’s understandable to not want to advance his timetable any until his bat starts setting the clock. With Miranda, there is no such consideration: the 27ish-year-old Cuban defector’s already on the 40-man, and the poor serf’s now in his third spin in Scranton—I’m sure it’s a nice enough place, but it’s probably not the paradise you defect from Castroland to achieve. Given his (questionable) age, Miranda has no future outside if not one in the present, and he’s a nice enough patch in that he has lefty power and some patience.
As the Yankees are amidst a stretch of the schedule where they are forced to play 27 innings of baseball within 27 hours, the team has tried to get creative with its roster flexibility. Brian Cashman and Girardi had to face the reality of back-to-back starts by Sergio Mitre and Javier Vazquez a few days after losing Alfredo Aceves, the team’s swing man in the bullpen, and a few days after a rain delay pushed the pen into 4+ innings of service on Saturday.
Yet, with Cano back on the field and Jorge seemingly healthy, the team has kept Kevin Russo around for bench decoration and have let Ivan Nova idle in the pen with a “break glass in case of emergency” sign taped around his neck. Now that this stretch of games has passed, the team should call up Miranda and let him DH against right-handers until Johnson’s back. Unless the club wants to commit to using Cervelli as an everyday catcher and Posada as the DH, Miranda is the guy to use unless he absolutely can’t hit. Ramiro Peña, 23rd man, is a solid defensive backup who just shouldn’t be getting too many ABs with better options in the wings.
Normally when you see an 8-0 final score you figure it’s a combination of offense and pitching that gets the job done. Yet for the first eight innings it was all pitching. The Yanks manufactured two runs early, and from there Phil Hughes took control. It wasn’t until the top of the ninth that the Yanks’ offense broke out and scored six runs. Hopefully that starts a variant of the O’Neill Effect and spurs the offense to another big day tomorrow.
Biggest Hit: Teixeira hits it where they ain’t
Many teams employ a shift against Mark Teixeira when he bats lefty. It makes sense. Just look at his spray chart against righties. With Derek Jeter standing on second, though, the Tigers couldn’t really afford to do this. They had to play him with just two defenders on the right side, and that left a hole ripe for a ground ball. Teixeira didn’t hit it well, really, but it was good enough to get past Miguel Cabrera and into the outfield. Jeter came around to score, giving the Yankees a 2-0 lead.
Teixeira has been heating up lately, though he hasn’t hit full breakout mode. Despite his poor numbers so far, he has actually been superb with runners in scoring position. Before the first game today he was hitting .321/.500/.536 when in position to drive home a run, which explains why he now has 23 RBI even while hitting far below his abilities.
WPA doesn’t consider external factors like the lineup or the pitcher, but if it did this hit would have been even more important. With Phil Hughes on the mound and cruising, the Tigers couldn’t afford to give up that run. Hell, the way things ended up they couldn’t really afford the first-inning run.
Biggest Pitch: Brennan Boesch loads them up
Only once did Phil Hughes run into a problem. In the fourth inning, not long after the Yanks spotted him a second run, he made his first mistake of the game by walking Johnny Damon with none out. Magglio Ordonez followed with a single of his own, and after Miguel Cabrera lined out to short Brennan Boesch grounded one to right field. It was hit hard enough that Damon couldn’t score from second, but it still set up the Tigers with an opportunity to get back in the game.
The Tigers have a potent offense, but it starts to tail off after Boesch. Hughes took advantage of the weak part of the lineup, striking out Alex Avila on three pitches and then getting Don Kelly to pop up. Hughes has certainly impressed with men on base this year. It seems like he always has the situation under control, which is a huge change from 2008, when it seemed like death every time he let a runner reach base.
Biggest Out: Hughes quells the minor threat
While Hughes rolled through the first six innings, the Yanks offense didn’t do a ton to help him. They scored two runs to that point, far below what we’ve come to expect from this crew. So when Boesch reached out and hit a bouncer up the middle, he gave the Tigers another chance. Unfortunately, though, that same weak bottom of the order that killed the fourth inning rally was again due up.
Hughes threw a cutter down and in to Avila, and he grounded it right to Pena at short. A flip to Cano and a throw to first erased both Tigers, killing a potential rally. It was the last trouble Hughes would face. Though Kelly blooped one to keep the inning alive, Hughes got Ramon Santiago to hit an infield pop up, ending the inning.
Hughes kept a rollin’, all night long
No recap would be complete without fawning over the performance of Phil Hughes. His seven-inning shutout lowered his ERA to 1.38. He added to his gaudy strikeout total by fanning eight, and walked only one Tiger. Only Miguel Cabrera connected for an extra base hit, which is always excusable. Dude could be the AL MVP this year.
The best part about Hughes’s performances is that his peripherals justify his results. No, he’s not going to sustain a 1.38 ERA. Pitchers just don’t do that these days. But if he keeps up his current strikeout, walk, and home run rates — and even if the home run rate increases — he’ll be just fine so long as the defense doesn’t revert to 2005 form.
After the game he sports a 2.61 FIP, which certainly bodes well for his future starts. His xFIP sits a bit higher because he has allowed just one homer all year, but I do wonder how much of that is skill-based. He has used the cutter later in the count, preventing hitters from squaring up pitches. He’ll hang a curve or let a fastball get too much of the plate from time to time, but the way he’s pitching now I expect his home run rate will remain below league average.
Other than Hughes? A-Rod‘s single in the first was quite nice. He hasn’t hit for much power this year, but he can still knock home a runner on second with a well-placed single. It’s not the height of his value, but it will do for now.
Teixeira hitting right into where the shift would have been.
Greg Golson‘s first major league hit was pretty sweet. He had a nice looking looper in his next at-bat, too.
Seeing Mariano for the first time in what feels like all season.
Starters in the double-header: 14 IP, 10 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 15 K. Bullpen: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K. How the hell did they split?
Swisher day to day? Seriously? These nagging injuries happen, so under normal circumstances it wouldn’t be annoying. I suppose having Park, Aceves, Granderson, and Johnson on the DL makes it sting a bit more.
Really, though, was there anything to be annoyed with in this game?
WPA Graph and Box Score
I could totally dirtbike down this WPA graph.
I could not, however, dirtbike down the boxscore.
They keep saying that tomorrow’s game will be rained out, but I’ve never trusted a weatherman before, and I don’t plan to start now. Game’s at 1, and it’s CC vs. Verlander. In one way, I hope they get it in. In another, I’m going to the games on Friday and Sunday, and I’d rather see CC and Pettitte rather than Burnett and Mitre.
I’ve been meaning to mention this for two days now, but I inexcusably kept forgetting. Mike Ashmore was able to trick talk the Yankees’ seventh best prospect and Double-A Trenton lefty Jeremy Bleich into answering questions from us lowly fans. All the details are available here, so head on over and ask something that’ll make us look intelligent. I’m curious to know what his first big purchase was with his $700,000 signing bonus.
Meanwhile, check out Matt from Fack Youk’s first hand report from Bleich’s start last night.
Game One (4-3 loss to Columbus in 7 innings) makeup of yesterday’s rain out
Reegie Corona, 2B & Eduardo Nunez, SS: both 1 for 4 – Corona doubled, scored a run & K’ed … Nunez K’ed twice
Matt Cusick, 3B: 0 for 2, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 E (throwing)
David Winfree, 1B: 2 for 3, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 K – quietly having a nice year
Jon Weber, RF & Jesus Montero, C: both 0 for 3 – Weber K’ed twice … Montero allowed a passed ball
Chad Huffman, LF: 0 for 2, 2 K
Robby Hammock, DH & Justin Snyder, CF: both 1 for 3 – Hammock scored a run & K’ed … Snyder’s up from Trenton because SWB doesn’t have a true CF with Colin Curtis on the DL & Greg Golson in the bigs
Dustin Moseley: 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 11-6 GB/FB – 58 of 101 pitches were strikes (57.4%) … the pitching staff has been a wreck will the recent callups, so I’m sure the bullpen appreciates the six innings
Royce Ring: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 0-2 GB/FB – just 12 of his 26 pitches were strikes (46.1%)
Via Marc Carig, Nick Swisher left tonight’s game with soreness in his biceps, and is listed as day-to-day. An injury to another outfielder is the absolute last thing the Yankees need, so let’s all hope this isn’t too serious. For what it’s worth, Swish has never had a biceps injury before, and in fact he hasn’t missed more than seven days with an injury since 2005.
Nagging injuries happen all the time, but the recent injury bug makes this seem worse than it really is.