Yeah, that doesn’t look so good. I figure the catcher had to have said something to him, maybe about yesterday’s article. Stuff like that about a first round pick gets around pretty quickly. Not making excuses for him, because that is total garbage right there and has no place in the game. Heathcott’s going to be suspended for a while, I just have no idea how long. My money’s on 5-10 games.
There’s just not much to be happy about in Yankeeland right now. They lost yet another frustrating game full of sloppy play and a limp offensive attack that started rallies but just didn’t finish them. There’s really not much more to say than that, that’s been the script for close to two weeks now.
Off The Hook
Nine. Nine of the Yankees’ 39 batters had a three ball count tonight. Do you know how many reached base? Three. Nick Swisher and Alex Rodriguez drew walks, and Derek Jeter reached when Kevin Youkilis booted a rather routine ground ball. So really it should have been just the two walks and seven outs. Coming into today, American League batters have reached base in 56.2% of the plate appearances in which they had a three ball count. Furthermore, the Yankees had four 3-0 counts and got on base exactly zero times. AL batters have a
.956 .737 OBP (!!!) in 3-0 counts this year. Clay Buchholz threw a first pitch strike to three (!!!) of the first dozen men he faced, and just two reached base (including Jeter on the error).
Seriously, no one can say the Yankees didn’t have their chances on Friday. They had another crappy game with men in scoring position (1-for-7), and they left the tying run on base in each of the last two innings. They also stranded the go-ahead run in scoring position in the fifth, but that was still kinda early. The offense has been in a funk for what, two full weeks now? It’s frustrating beyond belief, especially when it comes to all those runners left on base. I mean, Buchholz got 17 swings-and-misses out of 110 pitches, which is ridiculous, but he keep falling behind in the count and the Yankees just didn’t make him pay.
Big Bad Bartolo
Bartolo Colon made one terrible pitch tonight, that’s really it. A fastball that was supposed to be down-and-in to Adrian Gonzalez sailed over the plate belt high before sailing deep into the second deck in right field. That happens, I’m not going to lose any sleep over a solo homer in the fourth inning. The next batter, Kevin Youkilis, reached base on a wild pitch after striking out, then David Ortiz drew a walk. J.D. Drew reached on a fielder’s choice after the out was made at second on an infield grounder. Another walk and an RBI ground out later, and bam, Boston was up two-zip.
Two runs in six innings is what you’d take out of Colon every day of the week, but why he was sent back out to start the seventh is beyond me. He was already at 100 pitches on a nose, the most pitches he’s thrown in a game in almost exactly three years (June 1st, 2008 was the last time he eclipsed the century mark), and then a single scooted beyond Robinson Cano to leadoff the inning. It wasn’t exactly a banner night for Cano with the glove either, there were a few of those singles just beyond his reach that looked like outs off the bat. But anyway, in comes Joba Chamberlain, a double play is muffed (by Cano, who botched the transfer), then a sac fly and homer lead to a three-run deficit.
Pure garbage. If you’re willing to bring Joba into the game that inning, bring him in with a clean slate to start the frame. The Yankees aren’t getting brownie points by squeezing another out or two our of Colon. The defense was pretty awful yet again, though give Bartolo credit for six good innings. That’s a performance that usually leads to a win.
Russell Martin hit a homer, so hooray for that. Curtis Granderson tripled to dead center, Swisher doubled to the opposite field, and A-Rod and Cano pulled off a gorgeous (and huge given the situation) double steal in the eight. That’s pretty much it for the good news, so let’s just leave it at that.
Bah, the Yankees suck right now. They’ve lost three in row, four of the last six, and seven of the last time. Since April 25th (an admittedly arbitrary endpoint), they’re just 8-10. Every team goes through slumps and what not, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be angry about it. If they’re running into bad luck and stuff, then fine. But fundamental mistakes and poor hitting when ahead in the count, I’m sorry, that’s on them. They need to play better.
WPA Graph & Box Score
Same two teams tomorrow night in the rare Saturday night game at home. Blame FOX, who will broadcast the game. CC Sabathia toes the rubber against Josh Beckett.
Double-A Trenton manager Tony Franklin is resting comfortably at home after being taken to the hospital with chest pains prior to yesterday’s game. He was in critical care for a while, but doctors eventually game him a clean bill of health. He’s going to take a few days off an rejoin the team shortly. Glad he’s doing well, Franklin’s beloved by pretty much everyone.
Triple-A Scranton (2-1 win over Pawtucket)
Chris Dickerson, CF: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B, 3 K – 11 K in his last 20 at-bats
Kevin Russo, 2B: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 SB, 1 HBP
Jesus Montero, C: 0 for 1, 1 BB, 1 K – got ejected after arguing a called strike three, apparently he put his hand up to his collar to show the ump where the pitch was … good way to get tossed right there
Gus Molina, C: 0 for 2, 1 K
Jorge Vazquez, 1B: 1 for 1, 2 RBI, 1 BB
Justin Maxwell, DH: 0 for 4, 3 K
Brandon Laird, 3B, Jordan Parraz, RF, Dan Brewer, LF & Doug Bernier, SS: all 0 for 3 – Parraz and Brewer each whiffed
Lance Pendleton, RHP: 3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 1 HB, 2-2 GB/FB – 39 of 50 pitches were strikes (78%) … Hector Noesi was supposed to start tonight, but Pendleton’s a fine fill-in
Ryan Pope, RHP: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 2-2 GB/FB – 26 of 33 pitches were strikes (78.8%) … very nice outing, he should be up before long
Eric Wordekemper, RHP: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER0 BB, 1 K, 4-1 GB/FB – 11 of 15 pitches were strikes (73.3%)
Kevin Whelan, RHP: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1-1 GB/FB – ten of 11 pitches were strikes
Yankees, Red Sox, rivalry, blah blah blah just win dammit. Here’s the lineup…
Bartolo Colon, SP
Yankees-Red Sox means national coverage, so you can watch tonight’s game on MLB Network if you don’t get YES. Enjoy.
* Is that not the worst Kay-ism of them all? Yuck.
Via Erik Boland, Phil Hughes officially started his throwing program today, playing catch with pitching coach Larry Rothschild for all of five minutes. Yeah, it’s going to be a slow process. Like I said when Hughes first hit the disabled list, whatever they get out of him this season is gravy. Expect nothing. For shame.
In a completely unsurprising move, the Yankees have shored up their bullpen by calling up Hector Noesi. He was scheduled to start for Triple-A Scranton today, so he’s good for 100 pitches if needed. Buddy Carlyle was send down in the corresponding move, and I’m pretty surprised that he has options left after all these years. I figured that Amaury Sanit would be the guy since he threw 80-something pitches yesterday and won’t be available for a few days. Anyway, perhaps we’ll actually get to see Noesi pitch this time, preferably in a blowout win.
Things aren’t as bad for the Red Sox now as they were the last time the two teams met. Of course, it was difficult to get any worse for them at that time. Even through their struggles they managed to take two of three. While they’re not out of the woods, it is now the Yankees who are struggling. Perhaps we’ll see a reversal of fortune this weekend. Given the way the Yankees have played lately, it’s tough to see them doing any worse.
What Have the Sox Done Lately?
The Sox haven’t exactly been on fire, but they haven’t struggled too badly either. They did drop their last two to the Blue Jays, but before that they won three straight against the Twins. Of course, they dropped the three before that, but won the three before that. Yeah, they’ve been doing the up again, down again thing, and it has them at 17-20 currently, and 5-5 in their last 10. It’s tough to read too much into that, of course, since they’ll have their three best starters going this weekend, whereas they had Matsuzaka, Lackey, and Wakefield sprinkled throughout those 10 games.
Red Sox on Offense
At all times there must be at least two Red Sox players who absolutely crush the Yankees. These are usually the better players anyway, and they crush other teams. But as with Miguel Cabrera, it seems that they give that little extra and really punish the Yankees. It used to be Ortiz and Manny. Now it’s Pedroia and Youkilis. It’s hard to remember a series from the past few years — in which they both played, of course — where they didn’t scald the ball and make life tough on the Yanks.
It might scare you a bit, then, that Pedroia is on something of a cold streak. He’s hitting just .237/.355/.317 on the season, and that’s just .195/.313/.220 this month. Don’t be lulled, though. As I mentioned on the podcast, to me this makes it appear as though Pedroia is primed for a breakout in the series. We know he’s a good hitter, one of the best hitting second basemen in the league. He’s going badly now, and he’s going to turn it around. Considering how much he’s killed the Yanks, I’m having an easy time envisioning him with a 6 for 12 series with a handful of walks and extra base hits.
Adrian Gonzalez, Jed Lowrie, and Youkilis are leading the offense right now, with 22 doubles and 12 homers between them. In fact, Gonzalez has hit four of his seven in the last four games, during which he has gone 10 for 20 with a double in addition to the four homers. Youkilis hasn’t been quite as hot of late, though he’s still getting his singles and walks. Lowrie has slipped from his early season dominance but is still hitting .327/.360/.505 in 114 PA. I’m surprised he’s walked only six times all year, but that’s probably because he was hitting the ball so well earlier in the year. David Ortiz has turned around his recent history of poor starts and his hitting .291/.372/.488 in his first 145 PA, so he’s helping lead the charge, too. The surprising contributor here is Jacoby Ellsbury, who is at .292/.342/.451, which is nice for the Sox, because he helped compensate for Carl Crawford’s early season crawl. For his own part, Crawford has hit .356/.370/.467 since the calendar flipped to May.
The only trailers, really, are J.D. Drew (.242/.364/.364), Pedroia, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.200/.250/.267). Chances are we’re going to see Jason Varitek (.145/.241/.212) in at least one, and perhaps two, of the games this weekend. That’s a gain all around, as he can’t hit and has no arm. The only positive is that it seems he gets better performances out of the pitching staff. How much of that is skill and how much is chance — he does seem to catch the better pitchers, after all — is up for debate. Either way, the Sox have a light-hitting fixture at the bottom of the lineup.
Red Sox on the Mound
Friday, RHP Clay Buchholz. The last time the Yankees faced Buchholz they hit him around pretty well, racking up eight hits and scoring five runs while driving him from the game in the fourth. He’s had some better success in his subsequent starts, and in his last two his line goes: 11.2 IP, 10 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 8 K, 0 HR. The last start was the most impressive, no runs on two hits and six strikeouts in five innings, but it was shortened by rain. We’ll have to deal with his ultra slow approach, which makes for some bad baseball watching. But that doesn’t seem to affect his results.
One thing to watch with Buchholz is the ground balls. He did a great job in his first two seasons of keeping the ball on the ground, and he’s done a decent job of it this year, too. But his fly ball percentage is up a bit, as his home runs to fly ball ratio. That could play into the Yankees hands. Of course, how many times have I written that before, and how many times has it not come true?
Saturday, RHP Josh Beckett. After looking a bit shaky in his first start Beckett got back on track against the Yankees in his second one. He now has his ERA down below 2.00, and his peripherals go right along with that. The strikeouts are a tick lower than in the past, but just a tick. Everything else, including the low walk and home run rates, are right in line with his best years. The Yankees do have a history of knocking around Beckett, but when he’s on like this we just can’t expect it. That curveball is one of the most devastating pitches in the league, and when his back is strong and he’s throwing it well and often, few opponents stand a chance.
Here’s the thing, though: he’s not going to the curveball as much as he has in the past. In the past two years he’s gone to the changeup a bit more often. Thing is, at least this year it has been just as effective, if not more effective, than his curve.
Sunday, LHP Jon Lester. That’s the name you hope you avoid when the Sox are in town, and the first time through the Yankees did get that lucky. This time they rejiggered the rotation to slot Lester in. He’s coming off a very poor start, in which he walked five, including three in the first inning, against Toronto. Yet he’s not a guy I’m going to bet on having two poor starts in a row. Would you? We could be in for another one of those shutdown Sunday night performances we’ve seen from Lester in the past. This is the one game I’m not looking forward to, not only because Lester has a history of killing the Yankees (3.28 ERA in 74 career innings, including 80 strikeouts), but because Freddy Garcia is going for the Yanks. I love what Sweaty Freddy has done so far, but the Red Sox seem like a team that could knock him around a bit.
Recommended Red Sox Reading: Red Sox Beacon, written by friends of RAB Marc Normandin and Patrick Sullivan.