Sabathia steals the show as Yanks’ pound Rays

Fresh off a drubbing at the hands of the Rays last night, the Yankees returned to the field this afternoon looking to get back in the win column. Joe Girardi handed the ball off to his ace, and CC Sabathia didn’t disappoint.

Photo Credit: Mike Carlson, AP

Si Si

Forget big hits and big outs, the story of Saturday’s game is clear. Coming off an outing in which he gave up five runs in 5.1 innings, Sabathia wasn’t about to be shown up by David Price, another fire-balling lefty who dominated the Yankees Friday night for close to eight innings. Less than 24 hours later on Saturday afternoon, CC was quite literally large and in charge.

The 4th inning ended just the like the three before it, with three outs recorded and no one reaching base. It was too early to start to starting thinking about a date with perfection, but it was apparent Sabathia had it all working. Evan Longoria walked to leadoff the 5th, and it wasn’t until the 7th inning that the Rays were able to muster another baserunner.

CC absolutely dominated the Rays across seven-plus innings, taking a no-hitter into the 8th and never allowing more than one batter to reach base in any inning. Just 69 of his 111 pitches were strikes, but home plate Wally Bell had a pretty tight strike zone. Apparently he didn’t get the memo from Joe West about speeding up the game. Fourteen of those 69 strikes came when Tampa batters swung and missed, a whopping 20.3%.

Joe Maddon’s lineup was stacked with righthanders, but Sabathia mowed through them with a fastball that topped out at 96 and a changeup that shined like justice. Kelly Shoppach, CC’s former catcher in Cleveland, broke up the no-hit bid with a 0-1 single in the 8th, which prompted Joe Girardi to go and get his starter without hesitation. Sabathia had thrown 111 pitches, most of them with little or no stress, but throwing that many pitches this early in the year isn’t exactly ideal. Girardi said Shoppach was going to be CC’s last batter one way or the other, but that’s something every manager says after their starter loses a no-hitter late in the game.

If true, I think he was just taking mercy on those poor Tampa hitters. They were simply no match for the Yankee ace.

Photo Credit: Mike Carlson, AP

Biggest Hit: Robinson Cano‘s two run homer

When you win by a score of 10-0, none of the hits are really all that big. In terms of WPA, it was Robbie Cano‘s two run shot off of Wade Davis that opened the scoring in the 4th inning. We had ourselves a good old fashioned pitching duel up to that point, but once Cano went deep, the Yankees never looked back.

Frankly, the biggest hit of the afternoon didn’t even come off the bat of a Yankee. It was Shoppach’s knock that ended CC’s chance at history.

Biggest Out: B.J. Upton’s fly out

Sabathia was in control all night, and there really wasn’t a moment where a hit would have swung the momentum into Tampa’s favor. B.J. Upton flew out harmlessly to end the 5th inning with Longoria on third, which was the biggest threat the Rays could mount against the Yanks’ ace. Still, the score was 4-0 in favor of the good guys at the time.

Things that made me smile

Photo Credit: Mike Carlson, AP

How about that defense? Mark Teixeira preserved the no-no with a diving grab of Jason Bartlett’s line drive to end the 5th, then A-Rod did him one better by making a diving grab of his own on a B.J. Upton line drive in the 7th, throwing out the speedy centerfielder with a few strides to spare. That’s the moment when the no-hit talk really got serious. The team was playing superb defense behind Sabathia, which is what you need to hold a big league team to zero hits over the course of a game.

Tex and A-Rod also did some good things with the stick as well. The Yanks’ first baseman broke out of a 0-for-17 slump by picking up a trio of hits, while A-Rod picked up his 1,000th knock in pinstripes. Part of me still feels like he just got here.

And what about this Brett Gardner character? He ever so quietly went 2-for-4 with a walk, two runs scored, two driven in, and his third stolen base on the season. The 27 total pitches he saw were more than any other player on the field, and he’s hitting a cool .385-.467-.385 in three starts and one appearance as a defensive replacement. Forget this Marcus Thames against lefthanders nonsense, let’s see what Brett The Jet can do with a full-time job.

Frankie Cervelli taking inside pitches. That exaggerated bend at the waist he does while throwing his open hands in the air gets me every time.

WPA Graph

Make sure you check out the individual player breakdowns at FanGraphs’ box score.

Next Up

These two teams are right back at it tomorrow afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 1:40pm ET, and it’ll be nationally broadcast on TBS if you’re outside the NY market. A.J. Burnett will try to one up Sabathia, getting the ball against Jamie Shields. Good luck with that.

Bleich & Warren shine as Garcia gets bad news

It’s a torn elbow ligament for Chris Garcia, so that all but guarantees that he’ll have his second Tommy John surgery in the last three years. For shame. Expect the Yankees to call him up, then stick him on the 60-day DL to free up a 40-man spot. It’s just a procedural move. As an added bonus, it’ll save an option since he hasn’t been down for 20 days, but he’ll pick up a year of service time.

Meanwhile, Alan Horne is putting off shoulder surgery, and instead is going to try to rehab plus PRP route. Good luck to him.

Triple-A Scranton (2-1 loss to Buffalo in 11 innings)
Kevin Russo, 2B: 1 for 5, 2 K, 1 SB
Greg Golson, CF: 0 for 5, 2 K - tough to score runs when your top two hitters combine to get on base one time all game
Juan Miranda, 1B: 1 for 4, 1 2B, 1 BB – the walk was intentional
David Winfree, LF: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 K
Jesus Montero, C: 1 for 5 – in case you didn’t notice, the Montero Watch is up on the sidebar … sorry for the delay
Eduardo Nunez, 3 B & Colin Curtis, RF: 3 for 5, 1 BB – Nunez doubled & K’ed … Curtis drove in a run & played his third different outfield position in the first three games of the season
Robby Hammock, DH: 1 for 3, 2 K
Reegie Corona, SS: 0 for 4, 1 K – he’s been on base once in the three games
Romulo Sanchez: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 1 WP, 1-8 GB/FB – 47 of 86 pitches were strikes (54.7%) … I guess effectively wild would be the term to use here … love the strikeouts, but the fly balls are going to be a problem if he doesn’t get that under control
The Ghost of Kei Igawa: 2.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 3-2 GB/FB - 24 of 35 pitches were strikes (68.6%) … he was the last reliever on the staff to get into a game … no respect
Mark Melancon: 2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 2-3 GB/FB – 19 of 27 pitches were strikes (70.4%) … served up a solo jack to Mike Hessman, just the tenth homer he’s given up in his three-plus year career
Jon Albaladejo: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2-3 GB/FB – 19 of 28 pitches were strikes (67.9%)

[Read more…]

Open Thread: A near no-no

Photo Credit: Mike Carlson, AP

What a performance. Reminisce about it here, or talk about whatever else you want. DotF and the game recap will be along a little later tonight.

Game 5: Turning over the rotation

The off-days have been frustrating for us, but they’re a boon for the pitching staff. Because the team didn’t play Monday and Thursday, they can skip the No. 5 starter and head right back to the top of the rotation. Heck, CC’s even getting extra rest here, five days instead of the regular four.

Meanwhile, the fifth starter, Phil Hughes, pitched in his final extended spring training outing today. I’ll spare you the stats, but everyone seems pleased enough with his performance. He’ll pitch Thursday in the series finale vs. the Angels.

Rookie Wade Davis takes the hill for the Rays. The 24-year-old will make his seventh career start. His sixth career start, incidentally, was also against the Yankees. He pitched five innings on the season’s final day, allowing five runs, three earned, on six hits and two walks while striking out five. All three came on A-Rod‘s first home run of the inning. He then allowed two more batters to reach, both of whom scored. It was on an error, though, so he wasn’t charged. This, I think, helps illustrated the absurdity of the earned run.

Posada predictably sits on a day game after a night game. Swisher leapfrogs Granderson into the No. 6 spot, and everything else looks pretty much the same. The Rays have a bit of a different look, playing Zobrist at second and Gabe Kapler in right field against the lefty Sabathia.

Lineup:

1. Derek Jeter, SS
2. Nick Johnson, DH
3. Mark Teixeira, 1B
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Robinson Cano, 2B
6. Nick Swisher, RF
7. Curtis Granderson, CF
8. Brett Gardner, LF
9. Francisco Cervelli, C

And on the mound, number fifty-two, CC Sabathia.

In the end, City saves part of Gate 2

Three balconies similar to these will be incorporated into Heritage Field. (Photo via Demolition of Yankee Stadium)

Early last week, crews at work on the southwest side of 161st St. and River Ave. pulled down Gate 2 at old Yankee Stadium. The long-time target of historians and preservationists, Gate 2 was believed to be the oldest, untouched, original part of the 1923 Yankee Stadium still standing, and although the Yankees originally promised to include part of the old stadium in the Heritage Field park plans, the Parks Department opted not to.

When the gate came down, I thought we had lost a part of baseball history for good, but the Daily News today reports otherwise. According to Larry McShane, three original balconies from Gate 2 may be a part of Heritage Field. Two of the three sustained just minimal damage during the destruction of old Yankee Stadium last week, and the other was heavily damaged. The Parks Department, prompted by the Committee to Commemorate Old Yankee Stadium, opted to salvage them and will work to restore these historic balconies which feature terra cotta medallions of the interlocking NY.

“We are currently exploring the possibility of incorporating the balconies into our landscape plan for Heritage Field, where they could be identified as part of our overall package of interpretive elements,” Joshua Laird of the Parks Department said in a letter. “Although no final decisions have been made, we want to be clear that we will make every effort to find appropriate locations to display these items, whether within the park, or off-site at a museum.”

For baseball historians and those who feel New York City too easily discards its rich history, this move is but a small victory. When the Yanks gained original approval for the new stadium, the city’s park plans were significantly more robust. The city originally said it would use, according to a 2005 Times article, the “baseball field, the dugouts and the first level of the stands for Little League and high school use.” Now, we know that will not come to pass, but a part of old Yankee Stadium will live in after all.

Step 1: Leave Yankees. Step 2: Grow beard

The Yankees organization prides itself on class and professionalism. Whether or not it lives up to its self-image is a source of constant debate, though they do take measures to ensure that their players represent the team well. One infamous policy they’ve had in place since George Steinbrenner took over is a ban on facial hair below the lip. You wanna grow a pencil-thin mustache? Go for it. But you can forget about a fu manchu. Sal Fasano learned that first-hand.

After years of having an organization tell them what they can and cannot wear on their faces, it’s natural for former Yankees to immediately sport beards. This year’s crop of departures are no exception. Leave Yankees, grow beard. I’d do it, too.

A few of the departed Yankees rocked beards before coming to New York. Here’s Johnny Damon, who started to grow one in spring training with the Tigers, but has since shaved. Maybe the wife doesn’t like it. In any case, it would take a lot to top the beard he’s sporting in the second picture. Oh, what luck. There’s a french fry stuck in my beard.


Photo credits, left: Charlie Riedel/AP, right: Bizuayehu Tesfaye/AP

Chad Gaudin also rocked a beard when he pitched for the A’s, Cubs, and Padres before heading to New York. His beard is not very remarkable, which makes me sad. I wanted to include a wiseass remark with each beard.


Photo credits, left: Jeff Chiu/AP, right: Lenny Ignelzi/AP

I always forget about Brian Bruney. I’m not sure what that says about him, or me, other than I don’t miss him in the bullpen. Great potential, just couldn’t put it all together. But he can grow one mean beard, which should certainly help his future earnings potential once he can’t throw a baseball 95 mph.


Photo credits, left: Rob Carr/AP, right: Duane Burleson/AP

Two more bearded former Yankees never got a chance to rock the facial hair before. Take Phil Coke for instance. He spent his entire career in the Yankees’ system, so he’s always had to keep a razor nearby. Once traded t the Tigers, though, he went all out, growing a mullet, a beard, and picked up the beer gut to go along with it. He kinda looks like Rod Beck, though I’m pretty sure no one will write a song about Coke when he passes away.


Photo credits, left: Eric Gay/AP, right: AP file photo

Finally, we get to Melky. He showed up to Braves camp with a beard, but it appears he has since shaved it. That’s a shame. Melky looks slightly more badass with the beard. Slightly. Which is an improvement upon not at all. I wonder, then, why he shaved. Maybe the women don’t like it.


Photo credits, left: Rob Carr/AP, right: Darren Calabrese/AP

The only one who didn’t grow a beard, it seems, is Hideki Matsui. He should rock the Chan Ho beard this year.

Rays rally in fifth to spoil Javy’s return

Tonight’s game felt a bit familiar. Not completely familiar — when the Rays blew out the Yanks in early 2009 they hit Chein-Ming Wang in the early innings. It took until the fourth to rough up Javy Vazquez, though the Rays did a pretty good job of it. David Price was on his game, looking strong until his pitch count crept up to and then over 100.

Biggest Hit: A-Rod‘s long double

Photo credit: Mike Carlson/AP

Through the first three innings David Price looked more like an ace than the Rays’ No. 4 pitcher. His only blemish to that point was a four-pitch walk to Nick Swisher, but he retired the next three with ease. In the fourth, though, he ran into trouble on the very first pitch. Nick Johnson pulled a pitch on the outside corner for his first base hit of the season, setting up a scoring opportunity for Teixeira and A-Rod.

After two curveballs, a ball and a called strike, Price delivered a fastball low and away, which A-Rod fouled off for strike two. He went to the changeup with two strikes, and left it high and away. A-Rod got his arms extended and smoked it over B.J. Upton’s head for what appeared to be a double. Nick Johnson chugged around the bases and scored, drawing a throw that allowed A-Rod to take third. An errant throw sent him home.

A-Rod was credited with .201 WPA for the play, though this is where individual player WPA breaks down somewhat. Should A-Rod get credit only for the double? Or should he get credit for creating pressure, taking third and drawing the throw, thereby provoking the error? I’m of two minds but lean towards the latter.

Biggest Pitch: Carlos Pena ties it

Photo credit: Mike Carlson/AP

Javy didn’t look quite sharp when he came out for the fourth. Ben Zobrist opened the inning with a four-pitch walk. After Evan Longoria flied to to center, Carlos Pena came to the plate. Javy seemed a bit focused on the runner, throwing over before each pitch. Perhaps he thought the chances of Zobrist running were greater with the lefty up.

None of the pitches to Pena was particularly good. The first pitch, a curveball, stayed high for ball one. He got the second pitch, a 90 mph fastball, on the inner half, and Pena fouled it off for strike one. The at-bat’s final pitch, a waist-high 89 mph fastball, went over the right field fence and tied the game. In itself it wasn’t terrible. The game was tied, there was plenty of baseball left. It’s what came net that sunk the Yanks.

Biggest outs: Aybar and Navarro

While Javy’s final line looked a bit ugly, he did impress by working out of a jam in the second. Longoria started things by grounding an outside fastball, the fourth outside pitch of the at-bat, to right for a single. Carlos Pena followed by drawing a seven-pitch walk, coming back from an 0-2 hole. B.J. Upton had an RBI opportunity, but instead grounded one to the right side. He cost the team an out, but set them up with second and third with one out.

After dropping a curve for strike one, Javy came back with two straight changeups to Willy Aybar to record the strikeout. He again worked exclusively with his secondary stuff, two curveballs followed by two changeups, to finish the inning by retiring Dioner Navarro. The Rays’ WE after the Pena walk was .644. Navarro’s ground out brought that back to the mid-inning .500.

The goat: Javy Vazquez

This was not the best way to celebrate a return to pinstripes. At first it looked like Javy might have gem in him. He set down the Rays 1-2-3 in the first, worked out of a jam in the second, and returned for a 1-2-3 inning in the third. Things fell apart in the fourth, and at that point he put a lot of strain on the Yankees’ offense to score runs off David Price, who, again, looked like an ace for most of the night. Even with his 1-2-3 fifth, Jazquez had already claimed the title of goat.

Even if you hadn’t watched this game, Javy’s line tells much of the story. 5.2 IP, 8 H, 8 R, 8ER, 3 BB 5 K, 2HR.

Defense saves runs

With the lefty on the mound, Joe Girardi once again started Marcus Thames over Brett Gardner. Quickly, Thames is showing that he might not be the best candidate to play the field. He did pick up a hit, but his defense cost the Yankees two runs. After Vazquez recorded the second out of the inning, the Rays were up 3-2 with runners on first and second. Jason Bartlett drove a liner to left. Thames tried to dive and catch it but could not. I imagine Gardner would have been there and would have stayed on his feet while making the play.

The question of platooning Gardner really comes down to the value of the player replacing him. Does the potential of Thames’s bat against lefties really outweigh his poor defense? Sometimes he might get a big hit where Gardner would have floundered, but I think it’s more often that he’ll cost the team with his glove. Joe Girardi will hopefully abort this experiment by the time the Yankees face the Angels next week.

Things that annoyed me

Everything after the Pena homer.

Things that made me smile

A-Rod’s double, Johnson’s two hits, the fight the Yanks put up in the eighth.

WPA chart

Which is not so awesome tonight.

Check out FanGraphs for the full box score.

Next up

The game is on FOX tomorrow afternoon. This is me being excited about that.