Isn’t it funny how baseball works sometimes?
Until tonight, the Yankee bullpen had been fairly stellar this season. In 46.2 innings (yikes), the bullpen as a whole was sporting a nifty 3.09 ERA. They had allowed 41 hits and just four home runs while striking out 43 and walking 13. The starters on the other hand had a 4.34 ERA in 66.1 innings while sporting an ugly 3:2 K:BB ratio.
So tonight, the Yanks got a solid six-inning outing from their starting pitcher while the bullpen imploded. Billy Traber — on what was actually a pretty good pitch — gave up a two-run home run to Carl Crawford, and Brian Bruney gave up two solo shots to allow the Rays to tie the game. In less than an inning, the Yanks’ bullpen nearly doubled the number of home runs allowed this season.
But a few minutes later, Robinson Canó, coming off the bench, made the point moot. His home run — a no-doubter into the right field seats — secured the Yankee win. Bruney settled down in the 8th, and Mariano Rivera nailed down his first four-out save of the season. The Yanks went back to their hotels at a happy .500.
While for one day, the stay in Yankeeland is no longer falling, tonight’s game provided us with a few interesting observations. First, we see Brian Bruney emerging as a trusted arm in the bullpen. Bruney blew the game but was allowed to stay in. He settled down and got the outs he needed. In 10 innings this year, he’s struck out 10 and walked just three. That is a promising start.
Relatedly, Kyle Farnsworth was nowhere to be found tonight. He can’t — or won’t — pitch on back-to-back days, and after his appearance yesterday, he’s safely in the Yankee doghouse. I know the team would be better off with Jonathan Albaladejo or Chris Britton instead of Farnsworth, and even teams — such as the Tigers — need bullpen help. Farnsworth just should be gone.
It’s also worth pondering the weather. The Yanks’ bats came alive during warm weather in the dome. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Anyway, here’s to a solid win after a rough weekend. May Pettitte deliver the start of a streak later today.
Game Notes: Ian Kennedy has a bruised hip but is otherwise fine. Basically, he’ll have a nasty black-and-blue mark for the next few days but is not expected to miss any time…At what point do the Yanks give Alberto Gonzalez the job currently held by Wilson Betemit? It’s almost tempting to ponder a Yankee infield with Jeter at first, Gonzalez at short and Jason Giambi relegated to his DH/bench spot. You have to believe the team would be better.
I’m not kidding. NASA astronaut Garrett Reisman with throw out the first pitch before Wednesday’s game against the Red Sox from the International Space Station. The Parsippany native has a Yankee banner, some dirt from the pitcher’s mound at the Stadium, and a George Steinbrenner autographed hat keeping him company as he spends the next 3 months up in the final frontier. Only the Yankees. · (10) ·
Triple-A Scranton (9-1 win over Durham)
Brett Gardner: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K – played LF … his foot isn’t bothering him anymore, so me thinks the Yanks are trying to increase his versatility a bit
Bernie Castro: 1 for 4, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB
Juan Miranda: 1 for 4, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K – 9 walks, 4 K this year
Shelley: 3 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 BB – hitting .500-.560-1.136-1.696 in 5 games since being sent down
Jason Lane & Cody Ransom: both 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 K – Ransom doubled & drove a run in
Chris Stewart: 2 for 3, 1 R, 1 BB
Justin Christian: 0 for 3, 1 R, 1 BB – played CF … he’s already versatile, he’s played all over the outfield plus the middle infield spots in his pro career
Dan Giese: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 6-6 GB/FB – started for Steven White, who was pushed back to tomorrow … this was Giese’s first professional start, and it looks like he’ll hold down Alan Horne’s rotation spot for the time being
Scott Strickland: 3.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
Edwar: 1 IP, zeroes – what, no K’s?
Scranton’s game was over by the third inning; they batted around in the second before a single out was recorded. Here’s how the inning played out: single, single, double (1 run scores), single (1 run scores), wild pitch (1 run scores), single, walk, single (1 run scores), single (1 run scores), single (1 run scores), walk (1 run scores), pop out, strikeout, wild pitch (1 run scores), strikeout. Phew.
The Yankees are 6-7 right now, a whopping 1.5 games out of first place. In 2007, they started 7-6; in 2006, they started 6-7; in 2005, they started 5-8; and in 2004, they started 6-7. The sky, in other words, is not falling.
Tonight, a dubious era in a Yankee history begins. While Derek Jeter takes over at short stop and Alberto Gonzalez spells Robinson Cano at second base, behind the plate will be none other than Chad Moeller. Moeller is 33 with a career batting line of .224/.284/.346. Luckily, Jorge made a series of throws today and seems to be on the mend. Considering that Posada was under strict orders not to throw to second yesterday, who knows how serious his injury really is?
The Yankees lineup features Moeller, Gonzalez and Morgan Ensberg. It’s like Spring Training all over again. A six-run first inning would be fitting.
On the mound today as the Yankees face the Tampa Bay Rays is Ian Kennedy. Kennedy is a RAB favorite; just check out his Baseball-Reference page. But this year in 5.1 innings, he’s been rocked. Hopefully, he’ll right that ship today.
The Unemployed Former Attorney General 2B
Game Notes: We’ve just installed a new threaded and paged comment system. Hopefully, that’ll keep site performance at normal levels. Expect some more changes there over the next few days, and if there are any problems, our e-mail addresses are on the left…Thirteen games into the season, and we’ve raised a pledged $93.70 as part of our Big Three K Craniosynostosis fund drive. Please consider donating. Every amount helps.
Unlike the Brooklyn Dodgers, the New York Giants were good at baseball. Unlike the Dodgers, they weren’t the heart and soul of a borough struggling to carve out an identity for itself during times of change. Unlike Brooklyn Dodger fans, old New York Giants fans don’t carry fifty-year-old grudges on their sleeves. And while Ebbets Field is often represented as the ideal embodiment of sepia-tinged nostalgia, the Polo Grounds don’t evoke the same feel of history in New York sports culture. Today, Richard Sandomir catches up with a few old Giants fans who still pine for the team of their youth. It’s a fun read of an oft-neglected part of New York baseball histroy. · (5) ·
Chad Jennings notes that career journeyman catcher Chad Moeller was called up from Triple-A Scranton today to help ease the catching burden. There is no word on any accompanying roster moves, but it’s likely that M(VP)olina will hit the 15-day to clear a spot on the 25-man roster, and either Frankie Cervelli or Humberto Sanchez could be placed on the 60-day DL to clear up a 40-man spot.
I was just thinking about this whole catching mess, and I had an idea so ridiculous, so crazy it just might work. Why not sign sign this readily available free agent to not only catch a few days a week, but to provide a little offense? Not a bad idea, no? · (36) ·
As we all know, Fox dropped the ball on Saturday night. With the Yankees-Red Sox game rapidly nearing a conclusion, Fox bounced baseball to FX, its cable entertainment network, so that a NASCAR race could start.
The transition was far from seamless, and fans were none too thrilled with the News Corp. network. From the AP:
The teams didn’t begin playing again until 8:30 after a delay of more than two hours. Announcer Joe Buck repeated several times that the game was being simulcast on cable channel FX and Fox would have to switch to the race at 8:53.
It appeared the network might be able to show both events in their entirety, but with two outs and two strikes in the top of the ninth, the Yankees’ Robinson Cano fouled off several pitches. At 8:55, Fox switched to the race in the middle of Cano’s at-bat.
The final two pitches of the 4-3 Red Sox win were shown only on FX, which is available in about three-quarters of the nation’s homes with televisions.
Bell said Fox hoped to show all of Cano’s at-bat instead of switching to the race earlier so the change would occur between hitters. “It wasn’t the smoothest transition, but our intentions were to try to finish on the network,” Bell said.
For Fox, this move was a simple business decision. NASCAR races receives ratings well above those for mid-afternoon baseball games. But that doesn’t excuse the fact that the network cut away from a one-run game with one out remaining. Fox apologized, but it rings a little false.
It doesn’t take much digging to find out why development plans and Yankee fans don’t mesh. Take a look through the comments on our Game Thread Overflow post, and you will be greeted with a lot of Yankee fans who are ready to throw in the towel on the 2008 season.
Of course, we’re only 13 games into the season, and the bats haven’t come alive yet. There’s really no need to panic, but such are Yankee fans. The FAN — while not bemoaning the Mets’ crappy start tomorrow — will be a-twitter with Yankee fans ready to throw themselves off of the Willis Ave. Bridge. While some people are already calling for one of Darrell Rasner, Steven White, Jeffrey Marquez, Kei Igawa, Jeff Karstens, Whitey Ford, Ed Figueroa or Dick Tidrow to replace Phil Hughes in the rotation, in reality, the Yanks are better off with their 21-year-old stud pitching in the bigs. You can take that to the bank.
Tonight’s problem for Phil was of course location. His stuff was as electric as it’s been, but he couldn’t buy a strike. A 40-pitch first inning was a harbinger of things to come, and he couldn’t make it off the third inning. Maybe it was the cold; Daisuke Matsuzaka couldn’t locate many of his 116 pitches tonight either. In fact, he barely managed to throw more than half for strikes. So we’ll see how Hughes fares in five days. In the meantime, we can’t expect a 21-year-old with great stuff to bear the weight of the world on his shoulders.
If we’re going to nitpick this game, it’s the same old, same old for the Yankees. It’s watching Joe Girardi, a Joe Torre disciple, making the same mistakes that his mentor used to make. The idea that Joba Chamberlain can’t pitch while the Yankees are losing a close game is one that should be thrown out the window along with Kyle Farnsworth. The idea that Johnny Damon shouldn’t be bunting with two on and no out late in the game should go out the window too.
At some point, the bats will come alive; the Yanks would pound out 10 runs; and everyone will calm down. For now, it’s just 13 games. They’re 6-7, a whopping two games out of first place. Nothing is ruined.
Nothing, that is, except for Jose Molina’s hamstring. This is in fact worse news than anything we saw on the field tonight. Molina’s been a God-send so far this year. He’s hitting .364 with seven doubles and has more than adequately filled in for Jorge Posada behind the plate. But now he’s out for a few weeks, and the Yanks’ catching situation just grew dire.
As we saw tonight, Jorge cannot throw yet, and his eventual replacement tomorrow night — Chad Moeller — has a careeer OPS+ of 60. He was filling a roster spot in Scranton; now he has to catch at the Big League level and fill in a lineup spot, something for which he is ill-equipped.
The beginning of the season is a tough time for Yankee fans. We tend to find the cloud in every silver lining, but at 6-7, two games out, the Yanks may be down, but they’re far from out. Give them a chance. We’re all fans after all; let’s cheer for our team instead of killing ourselves over them. Save that for August and September.