Sabathia gives up five homers in loss to Rays

This was a weird one. It was the first time in a while, I guess since last September, that I watched a baseball game and honestly wasn’t bothered by anything on the field. I guess I’ve reached that point of the season where I’m just going through the motions, counting down the days on the calendar as the Yankees nurse their lead on a playoff spot. Let’s recap…

  • Solo homeruns usually won’t beat you, but they will when you give up five of them like CC Sabathia did in this game. Three of those five came in the third inning, the second time in his career he’s surrendered three homers in an inning. Two of them were hit by lefties (Casey Kotchman and Johnny Damon) in that third inning, after he’d allowed just two homers to lefties all season. The five homers are a new career-high allowed, which I’m sure you’ve already guessed.
  • The common theme of the night for Sabathia was location, or lack there of. All five homers came on pitches that missed their spots, several of them substantially. The pitch Kotchman hit out wasn’t even a strike, it was up at his eyes and he just tomahawked it out. None of them were Yankee Stadium specials really, maybe Evan Longoria’s in the eighth inning was borderline. This was just a case of homerun rate regression, more than anything. Sabathia came into the game with a 0.39 HR/9 and 4.9% HR/FB on the season, well below his career marks (0.76 and 8.2%, respectively). It was bound to even out at some point, good thing he got it out of the way all at once.
  • This is the fourth time the Yankees have faced David Price this year, and he’s gotten better and better each time out. This time it was eight innings of one-run ball, though he got a little help from a perfect relay by Sean Rodriguez to cut Nick Swisher down at the plate to end the fourth. One run had scored on the play, and if Swish was safe, then all of a sudden it’s a 3-2 game with Andruw Jones on second. Who knows.
  • Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Swisher, Jones, and Brett Gardner all had exactly one hit. Jones’ double was the only non-single. Swisher also drew a walk, and that pretty sums up the offense. Jeter grounded into a pair of double plays, something he hasn’t done in a while. In fairness, once was a really nice play by Rodriguez. Price struck out just four, but got 15 ground ball outs compared to just four in the air.
  • Luis Ayala manged to pitch into and out of a bases loaded jam in the eighth. He’s quite good at that, I’ve noticed. Hector Noesi, meanwhile, has thrown 2.2 innings in the last 16 days. He did start to get loose in that eighth inning, so that means he’s unavailable for a few days, right? Oh, and what’s the point of sending CC back out there for the eighth? Just because he can throw 110 pitches a start doesn’t mean he has to. Save some of those bullets!
  • The win brings Tampa to within 7.5 games of the Yankees for the wildcard, the closest they’ve been in two weeks. Here’s the box score, here’s the advanced stats, and here’s the updated standings.

The Yankees announced that they will have a pregame ceremony on the field before Saturday afternoon’s game to honor Derek Jeter’s 3,000th career hit. So make sure you get there early, if you’re heading out. If you’re not going but want to, RAB Tickets can get you there dirt cheap. Phil Hughes will be making what is likely his last start for a while, matching up against Jeremy Hellickson.

A-Rod’s rehab HR headlines big night in minors

Update: The Short Season Staten Island game is over and has been added to the post.

Mason Williams got some love in this week’s Prospect Hot Shot, getting ranked as the 13th hottest prospect in the minors. Meanwhile, Gary Sanchez has been placed on the DL according to the Low-A Charleston roster. I have no idea what’s wrong with him, but remember he left last night’s game for an unknown reason. Ray Kruml has been activated off the DL for Double-A Trenton.

High-A Tampa (6-4 loss to Dunedin)
Alex Rodriguez, 3B: 2 for 3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K – the homer came in a 3-1 count and was hit to left-center field, the double was an oppo shot into the right field corner, the strikeout was looking … not a bad start to the rehab, but don’t get too excited, he’s old for the level
Abe Almonte, CF, DeAngelo Mack, RF, Kelvin Castro, 3B & Mitch Abeita, C: all 1 for 4 – Almonte scored a run and struck out … Mack whiffed … Castro doubled, scored a run, and struck out twice … Abeita doubled, drove in a run, and struck out three
Walt Ibarra, SS & Luke Murton, 1B: both 0 for 4 – Murton struck out twice
Kyle Roller, PH-DH: 0 for 1, 1 K
Cody Johnson, LF & Emerson Landoni, 2B: both 2 for 4 – Johnson doubled, drove in a run, and scored another … Landoni got picked off first
Sean Black, RHP: 4 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 4-3 GB/FB – as hard is it is to believe, he’s been worse than Brackman this year
Ronny Marte, RHP: 3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1-3 GB/FB
Mike Gipson, RHP: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 0-1 GB/FB

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Yankees unlikely to make any trades this month

Via Dan Barbarisi, Brian Cashman said the Yankees are not expected to make any kind of waiver trade this month. “What you see is what you’re gonna get,” said the GM. If the Yankees were to make a trade through the waiver process, they’d have to do so before September 1st for the new player(s) to be eligible for the postseason roster. It’s not often that what the Yankees’ need, a legitimate number two starter, hit the waiver trade market anyway.

Game 117: Just Another Series

T'was a good time the last time CC pitch against the Rays at home. (Getty)

We’ve grown accustomed to these second half series against the Rays meaning something. I mean really mean something. The two teams (along with the Red Sox) were always bunched together in the AL East and games this like this one tonight would play a big role in determining who would go to the postseason and who would go home in early-October.

But now, this is just another series. The Rays have fallen back to Earth a bit, and currently sit 8.5 games back of the Yankees for the AL wildcard. Baseball Prospectus puts the Yankees’ playoff odds at 99.2%, but Tampa’s at just 0.9%. Now don’t get me wrong, the Rays are obviously still a very good team. At 63-54 (with a +41 run differential, fourth best in the AL), they’d be in first place in the AL Central and in second place in the NL West and NL Central by just one and two games, respectively. But as far as the Yankees are concerned, this is just another game, just another series without any major ramiifications in their pursuit of a postseason berth. Here’s the lineup…

Derek Jeter, SS
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nick Swisher, DH
Andruw Jones, RF
Russell Martin, C
Eduardo Nunez, SS
Brett Gardner, LF

CC Sabathia, SP

The game will begin a little after 7pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.

A-Rod will play two nine-inning rehab games before returning

Alex Rodriguez will officially begin his minor league rehab assignment with High-A Tampa tonight, but the team wants him to play two full, nine-inning games with Triple-A Scranton before they activate him off the disabled list. Alex will DH tonight, play five or six innings in the field tomorrow, then if all goes well, he’ll head north to join SWB early next week. It sounds like the target day for his return is, coincidentally enough, Thursday at Target Field against the Twins.

CC Sabathia, right-hander

CC Sabathia has been a legitimate Cy Young contender in each of the last five seasons, mowing down hitters with power fastball, slider, changeup arsenal. Just imagine if he was using his dominant hand. As a trio of Daily News scribes found out, Sabathia is actually a righty. “I’m right-handed,” said the ace lefty. “I do everything with my right hand, including write. I played one year of T-ball righthanded and couldn’t catch, was uncoordinated. My dad changed me over, gave me a lefty glove and it just took. But my right hand is my dominant hand.”

I’m a righty, but I can kinda sorta throw left-handed. Not great, or good even, but I can get the ball to the intended target from maybe 30-40 feet. It wouldn’t be chest high or easily catchable, but I can get it there. I can’t fathom how a right-handed person can throw a baseball like Sabathia can. It just blows my mind.

Food For Thought: World Series WPA Leaders

Beyond The Box Score ran a great post today looking at the career leaders in Win Probability Added (WPA) in World Series play. The graphic up top (which you can click for a larger view) is the pitcher leaderboard, and you can click through the link to see the position players. At 2.40 WPA, Mariano Rivera has helped improved his team’s chances of winning in the Fall Classic more than any other player in the modern era (pitcher or hitter), dating back to Red Ruffing in the 30’s and 40’s. That 2.40 WPA came in only 36.1 career World Series innings too. For some perspective, Rivera had a 2.24 WPA in 60 IP last season. That’s how big he’s been in the postseason.

Mike Stanton (the lefty reliever, not the Marlins’ masher) is the only other recent pitcher to crack the top 12 leaderboard (1.59 WPA), Yankees or otherwise. He just barely made it too. Hideki Matsui (1.18 WPA) is the only recent player in the position players top 12, tied with Tim McCarver of all people. Godzilla only has 41 career plate appearances in the World Series, so he sure did a good job of making his contributions count. That list features the greatest Yankees of all-time basically, guys like Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson … all those guys make an appearance. Check out the post for more info, it’s pretty neat stuff.