Game Six: Rebound (Update: Rained Out)

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Last night’s loss sucked, there’s no way around it. The bullpen blew a gem of an outing by CC Sabathia and the offense went to sleep after the second inning. But the best part about baseball is that they play everyday, so the Yankees have a chance to put the loss behind them and get back to their winning ways tonight. On the mound is Freddy Garcia, making his debut in pinstripes. Expectations are low, and chances are the Yankees are going to have to score some runs for him while the patch-work bullpen holds whatever lead they’re given, if they’re given one at all. That all assumed the rain that is forecast for this evening holds up.

The Twins counter with former Yankee Carl Pavano. He’s been pretty tough on his former mates since being kicked out of town after 2008, allowing just ten runs in 26.1 innings (3.42 ERA) across four starts. Pavano got his ass kicked pretty good by another AL East team in his first start of the season (eight runs in four innings against the Blue Jays), so let’s hope that trend continues. Here’s the starting nine…

Brett Gardner, LF
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, DH
Robbie Cano, 2B
Nick Swisher, RF
Eric Chavez, 3B
Eduardo Nunez, SS
Gustavo Molina, C

Freddy Garcia, SP

Another 7:05pm ET start, another YES broadcast game. Enjoy.

Update: And we have out first rain delay of 2011. No work on when this one will get underway.

Update Part Deux: The game has officially been postponed. No makeup date has been announced, but this is the Twins only trip to Yankee Stadium this season. If they don’t play a doubleheader tomorrow, at least then they’ll have to come to New York and not the other way around.

So use this as an open thread in the meantime. The Extra Innings package is still in a free preview, so there’s plenty of games on television.

Update Again: The game will be made up at an unspecified date in September according to Kelsie Smith. The two clubs have two common off-days that month: the 8th and 15th. The problem for the Yankees is that those dates bookend a west coast trip, so they’ll lose out on a precious travel day.

As the Soriano turns

Following Rafael Soriano‘s eighth inning meltdown last night, the Yanks’ high-paid set-up man made himself some unwanted headlines when he left the clubhouse before talking to reporters. In New York City, where sports writers are the arbiters of a newly-minted Yankee’s personal character and the tabloids don’t take kindly to snubs, this move was met with outrage from the usual suspects. It seemed, in fact, worse that Soriano, upset with his pitching, hadn’t give a rote apology than that he had blown the game.

When the clubhouse opened today and reporters ambled in, Soriano was ready with his apology. He apologized for not speaking with reporters and said he was upset for blowing CC Sabathia‘s stellar start. In fact, he was too upset to speak with his mother who asked if it was too cold for him last night. He also said that he couldn’t find his balance on the mound during that fateful eighth inning. (For a more complete transcript of his apology, check out this ESPN NY piece.)

Clearly, as CBS Sports’ Danny Knobler noted, the Yankees’ Front Office and Scott Boras told Soriano to speak with reporters, and Joe Girardi said Soriano’s quick clubhouse exit last night is not a clubhouse issue. Yet as another high-priced star pitching in the Bronx, Soriano has the responsibility to answer to the media after his failures. It might just be part of the same old song and dance, but that’s what happens under the New York microscope. I’m sure Soriano has learned his media lessons; hopefully, we won’t see too many more late-inning meltdowns either.

Freddy catches a break

His YMCA needs work. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

I’m not sure too many Yankees fans have much in faith in Freddy Garcia, but I think that pretty much every fan base can say that about their favorite team’s fifth starter. So, naturally, you want to have every advantage possible whenever the last guy in your rotation takes the mound. You want the A+ lineup out there and a rested bullpen, but this is baseball and that’s not always possible. No matter what the score is late in the game tonight, it’s unlikely Garcia will be able to hand the ball off to Rafael Soriano or Mariano Rivera for help given their recent workloads. such is life.

Thankfully, Ron Gardenhire threw Garcia a little bit of a bone tonight. Here’s the lineup he’s sending out there this evening, courtesy of Kelsie Smith

  1. Denard Span, LHB
  2. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, SHB
  3. Delmon Young, RHB
  4. Justin Morneau, LHB
  5. Jason Kubel, LHB
  6. Michael Cuddyer, RHB
  7. Danny Valencia, RHB
  8. Drew Butera, RHB
  9. Alexi Casilla, SHB

It doesn’t really matter who is playing where (Kubel’s the DH), but the important thing is that neither Joe Mauer or Jim Thome is in the lineup. Mauer is a .419/.486/.774 career hitter against Garcia, the second highest* OPS against any pitcher in his career (min. 30 PA). Thome hasn’t hit for much power (relative term) against Sweaty Freddy (just a .174 ISO vs. .281 career), but his .471 OBP is his highest against any pitcher ever (min. 30 PA again). Yeah, Mauer’s a catcher and he needs to rest, but Gardenhire took his two best weapons against Garcia right out of the lineup.

Furthermore, four of the top five hitters in the lineup are left-handed (counting Nishioka, and it’s five of six if you count Casilla when the lineup turns over), which plays right into Freddy’s strength: the changeup. Joe broke the pitch down back in February, but the short version is that he pounds the outside corner with the pitch against lefties and generates a ton (more than 22% last year) of swings and misses with it. Whenever you’re throwing just 87, 88, 89, changing speeds is that much more important, and Garcia has done a fine job of adapting to that approach later in his career. That said, the changeup is a feel pitch, and it’s going to be cold in the Bronx tonight. It could get ugly if he hangs a few.

The Twins made life a little easier on Garcia tonight be removing what amounts to their two best hitters from the lineup, and also by stacking a bunch of lefties together. That certainly doesn’t guarantee success for Freddy tonight, but he needs all the help he can get and Gardenhire did him a slight favor. If that’s not enough, the Twinkies are 22-23 with Butera behind the plate since the beginning of last year. Hey, I’ll take it.

* The first? How about .500/.567/.885 against Felix Hernandez. Mauer’s good at this baseballing thing.

2011 Draft: Looking for some lefties

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Yankees history is littered with great left-handed pitchers, dating back to the days of Lefty Gomez and Whitey Ford and more recently Ron Guidry and Andy Pettitte. They have a stalwart lefty in the big league rotation with CC Sabathia as well as arguably the best left-handed pitching prospect in the minors in Manny Banuelos. After that though, the cupboard is pretty bare.

Jeremy Bleich, New York’s highest signed pick from the 2008 draft, was just so-so after signing (4.04 FIP in 188.2 IP) and is currently recovering from major shoulder surgery. Steve Garrison is interesting but hardly a cornerstone-type prospect, and youngsters like Evan Rutckyj and Nik Turley are years away in the low minors. The wealth of college pitching available in this June’s draft could help the Yankees rebuild some of that left-handed depth, and here’s a few notables…

[Read more…]

Double-A Trenton sets roster; Banuelos away from team

Via Mike Ashmore, Double-A Trenton manager Tony Franklin has set his rotation for the start of the season. Steve Garrison will start on Opening Day tomorrow night, and be followed in order by Shaeffer Hall, Graham Stoneburner, Dellin Betances, and Manny Banuelos. That’s pretty much the exact opposite of what I expected. Banuelos is away from the team right now to deal with a family issue, but he’s expected to rejoin the Thunder in time to his make his scheduled start in Portland (Maine, not Oregon) on Monday. Hopefully everything is okay.

The RAB Radio Show: April 6, 2011

We all know the story with the game last night. Our emotions were flaring. Now that it’s the morning after, Mike and I try to take a more sober look at the situation. We don’t like it, but there’s plenty more to the move than whether we like or dislike it.

Podcast run time 14:59

Here’s how you can listen to podcast:

  • Download the RAB Radio Show by right clicking on that link and choosing Save As.
  • Listen in your browser by left clicking the above link or using the embedded player below.
  • Subscribe in iTunes. If you want to rate us that would be great. If you leave a nice review I’ll buy you a beer at a meet-up.

Intro music: “Die Hard” courtesy of reader Alex Kresovich. Thanks to Tyler Wilkinson for the graphic.

Actual subways to return to Subway Race tonight

The Yanks' own subway trains are going the way of the dodo. (Photo by Benjamin Kabak)

The Great City Subway Race has been much on our minds lately. We were shocked when Opening Day brought about changes to the race, and with Yankee-themed trains replacing the MTA’s B, D and 4 lines, we learned how the Yankees and the MTA were at odds over the race’s sponsorship. For Yankee fans who enjoy the silliness of it all, this story has a happy ending.

As Mark Feinsand reported and MTA sources confirmed to me, the B, D and 4 trains will return to the scoreboard tonight. The Yankees and MTA have settled their differences, and the race will retain its sponsorship while featuring a public service announcement urging fans to take mass transit to and from the game. For its part, the MTA said it is “glad the B, D, and Jason Zillo’s beloved 4 train are back as part of the fan experience at Yankee Stadium. The Subway Race will continue to remind fans that taking the train to the game remains the quickest and least expensive way to get to the game.”

Thus ends our long national nightmare. RIP Road Gray, Pinstripe and Midnight Blue. We hardly knew ye.