Garcia, Posada power Yankees to win in first game of doubleheader

Game one of today’s doubleheader: a success. Freddy Garcia pitched well, Jorge Posada hit a timely homer, and Mariano Rivera slammed the door in the ninth. Just like we drew it up.

If you watched the game, you could actually hear that pitch say "HIT ME!"

Jorge Takes A Leake (Deep)

It’s been a long, long time since Jorge Posada’s last homerun. We’re talking 60 days, 52 team games, 40 personal games, and 145 plate appearances since he took Jason Berken of the Orioles deep on April 23rd. Posada finally got back in the homerun column this afternoon, jumping all over a first pitch curveball from Mike Leake. It wasn’t a bomb, in fact it just barely snuck over the wall in right field, but they all count the same. The sixth run shot gave the Yankees back the two-run lead they had just blown because of…

Ramiro’s Bad Day

When you’re the backup backup infielder, the only thing you have to do is defense. If you can’t hit, that’s fine, you’re not expected to. Just turn everything that should be turned into outs actually into outs. Pena’s always been a strong defender, but the fifth inning of this game was not his finest moment as a big leaguer. First he threw away what should have been a routine throw from third and allowed leadoff man Drew Stubbs to reach, then a few batters later he threw a ball into the dirt trying to cut down the runner at the plate. He was maybe 50 feet away from home, yet he bounced it and the runner was safe. Pena also nearly threw away another ball one batter later.

The Reds picked up just one hit in that inning (a legit single by Brandon Phillips after Stubbs reached) but scored a pair of (unearned) runs thanks to a bunt, sacrifice fly, and Ramiro’s two gaffs (both scored as errors). Pena also let a hard hit ground ball get through his legs to leadoff the seventh (hard hit, but that’s a play a big league third baseman has to make), though it didn’t come back to hurt the team. Tighten that up, Ramirp. You’re better than that.

Votto’s Bad Decision

The Yankees scored their first two runs in the third inning thanks to a trio of singles, but they also got some help from the reigning NL MVP. Garcia grounded out to start the inning, but Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson followed up with singles to set up a first and third situation with one out. Nick Swisher worked a six-pitch at-bat before grounding sharply to first, and Votto stepped on the bag for the second out of the inning before trying to get out number three. Instead of throwing to second he went home, but the throw was high and Gardner slid in safe with the team’s first run. If he goes to second, it’s likely that Granderson intentionally gets caught in a run down to allow the run to score.

Instead of getting two outs on the play and ending the inning, the Yankees were still alive. Sure enough, Robinson Cano singled through the 5.5 hole one batter later to drive Granderson in for the second run. Fallacy of the predetermined outcome, yadda yadda yadda, but Votto’s throw home likely contributed to the second Yankee run.

Sweaty Freddy Makes The Reds … See Red

Garcia’s thing seems to be starting slow and finishing strong, which is exactly what he did last time out against the Cubs. Today’s game featured a double and a walk in the first inning, but Freddy settled down and retired the next eleven men in a row before Pena’s adventure in the fifth. The end result was the two unearned runs across seven innings of work, with three hits allowed and the one walk. He struck out four and got ten other outs on the ground. T’was a gem. Bravo, Freddy.

Yay Swish.


I’m initially didn’t like Joe Girardi going to David Robertson in the eighth since Garcia needed just six pitches in the seventh and had thrown only 89 on the day, but I’m fine with the move after thinking about it. I’d rather lift him too early than too late, especially with the lineup about to turn over and the big bats coming up. Ideally they would have been able to save Robertson for tonight, but winning this game is more important. Mo was flawless in the ninth, as usual.

The bottom three hitters in the lineup (not counting the pitcher), combined to go 1-for-10 with a double (Eduardo Nunez, a hustle double), two strikeouts (both by Frankie Cervelli) and a hit-by-pitch (Pena). Nunez promptly got picked off second after the double, so that’s a whole lot of outs after the fifth spot in the order. At least the guys at the top did what they had to do. Oh, and how about Gardner starting that third inning rally by beating out an infield single with a headfirst slide into the bag? I believe that’s the first time I’ve ever seen that actually work. Weird.

Four nice defensive plays in the game. First is that catch at the wall by Swisher (above), and the second was by (who else?) Gardner. He caught a Scott Rolen line drive then threw to second to double Jay Bruce off the bag to end the sixth. Cano made a barehanded play to get the runner at first an inning later, then Pena redeemed himself by robbing Rolen of a hit in the ninth with a nice diving stop.

Also, is it just me, or does Garcia seem to catch an inordinate number of line drives? I feel like he catches at least one per start, like he did today in the second inning. Of course, the other side of the coin is that he gives up more line drives than anyone in the American League (25.2%), so…

WPA Graph & Box Score has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs everything else your heart desires.

Up Next

The Yankees are a season high 14 games over .500, and will shoot for 15 over later tonight. Brian Gordon starts against Johnny Cueto at 7:10pm ET.

The RAB Ottoneu Pick Six Group

Wednesday: The group filled up rather quickly yesterday, but they upped it from 100 to 500 spots for us. So if you missed out yesterday, there’s plenty of openings now.

Tuesday: Just a heads up for all you fantasy baseball players out there, I created an official RAB Ottoneu Pick Six group for everyone to join. What the hell is Pick Six? It’s a daily fantasy game held a FanGraphs where you get $120 a day (fake money, in case it wasn’t obvious) to buy one catcher, one corner infielder, one middle infielder, one outfielder, one starting pitcher, and one reliever, and then whoever has the most points at the end of the day wins. It’s simple. The scoring is explained here, achievements here. There are no prizes, just daily bragging rights. It takes two minutes a day and is highly addictive, you are forewarned.

All you have to do to join the group is log in with your FanGraphs user id (create one here), click join groups, then look for River Ave. Blues. The password is simply: riveraveblues. There are 100 total spots in the group (that’s the max) and one is me, so 99 are up for grabs. It’s a lot of fun and the game itself is great, so I recommend playing even if you don’t join the RAB group. (thanks to former weekend site ruiner writer Steve H. for the idea)

Game 72: Let’s play two!

(Photo Credit: Flickr user mfillhart via Creative Commons license)

Doubleheaders are always fun, at least in theory. The first game is never a problem, it’s the second game when we all start to get a little grumpy and ready to move on with our lives. Thankfully we don’t have to worry about that just yet, since the Yankees are Reds are about to kick off game one of today’s double dip. Here’s the lineup…

Brett Gardner, LF
Curtis Granderson, CF
Nick Swisher, RF
Robinson Cano, 2B
Jorge Posada, 1B
Eduardo Nunez, SS
Ramiro Pena, 3B
Frankie Cervelli, C
Freddy Garcia, SP

First pitch scheduled for 12:35pm ET and this game can be seen on YES and heard on WCBS 880. Enjoy.

Soriano’s latest throwing session went well

Via Chad Jennings, Rafael Soriano played catch yesterday and “the reports were good,” according to Joe Girardi. Last week’s session didn’t go so well and the right-hander had to be sent for more treatment, so this qualifies as progress. Soriano is in Tampa after spending a significant amount of time with a physical therapist for his inflamed elbow ligament, but he isn’t eligible to come off the disabled list until after the All-Star break. So either way, he’s a month away at the very least.

The obvious and non-obvious problems running the bases

This was supposed to be a full article about the Yankees’ base running woes this season. We see them all the time: the pickoffs, the slow jumps, the horrible decisions to attempt the extra base, the rundowns, etc. But there are other aspects that aren’t as easy to see. For example, did you know that the Yankees rank among the worst for their base runners taking two bases on a single and three on a double? It’s not as easy to see, because it’s something that doesn’t happen, rather than something that does. In any case, as I was writing this I was reading through my favorite Yankees blogs, and I found that Moshe at The Yankee Analysts had already covered the topic. It’s a fantastically comprehensive view of the Yankees base running troubles, and it gets RAB’s highest recommendation.

A Leadoff Hitter Compromise

(Photo Credit: Flickr user Keith Allison via Creative Commons license)

With Derek Jeter on the shelf for the last week, Joe Girardi has employed a Brett GardnerNick Swisher leadoff hitter platoon with great (small sample size) results. Yankees leadoff hitters have put together a .423/.559/.654 batting line since Jeter got hurt, which is both awesome and unsustainable. After Tuesday’s game against the Reds was called due to rain, Joe Girardi told reporters that Jeter will return to the leadoff spot once he’s healthy. As far as I know, he didn’t give a reason or explain his thinking, though if he did I imagine it went something like this…

Jete is our shortstop and our leadoff hitter, that’s why he’s here. Gardy and Swish have done a great job, but it’s still Derek’s job and he’ll get it back. We feel our best lineup has Derek leading off. We trust all of our guys.

I think that about covers it. Of course you know that Jeter shouldn’t be leading off if you’ve watched the Yankees with any regularity this season. He’s hitting just .260/.324/.324 overall and a slightly better.270/.336/.345 from the top spot in the order. The average leadoff hitter is batting .264/.328/.387 this season, so the Cap’n isn’t even meeting that modest standard. There’s no logical reason why someone performing like that should get more plate appearances than anyone else in the lineup. None.

Obviously Jeter’s legacy is coming into play here, and that’s a dumb reason to make a decision. But it is what it is, and we’re stuck dealing with it. Perhaps there’s a compromise though, one that maximizes the team’s chances of scoring (and by extension, winning) without bruising Derek’s ego, since that is what this is essentially all about. The solution: platoon him with Gardner. A straight platoon, Gardner leads off against righties while Jeter leads off against lefties. That’s it.

As unimpressive as his overall stat line is, Jeter is still hitting a stout .299/.405/.403 against left-handed hitters, continuing last year’s trend (.321/.391/.481 vs. LHP in 2010). He’s unusable against right-handers though (.246/.294/.297 this year, .246/.316/.317 last year), and that’s where he’s really killing the team. Gardner does his best work against righties (.294/.366/.465 this year, .279/.362/.396 career), which is why he should leadoff against them. Jeter will be on the short of the platoon since he’s the righty, but you know what? That’s life. At some point he has to step up and face the reality of the situation. He hasn’t hit righties for 15 months now, it’s not just a slump anymore.

Not that I would know anything about it, but the old saying is that the toughest thing for a world class athlete to do is accept when they can no longer do thing they used too. That’s what Jeter is going through now, whether he realizes it or not. If they want to bat him leadoff until he gets his 3,000th hit, fine. Hopefully he does it sooner rather than later. After that though, the Yankees have to put their foot down and start doing what’s best for the team. Platooning Jeter and Gardner atop the lineup is step one of that process.

Phelps, Betances get rocked in losses

Hector Noesi was one of seven non-top 100 prospect evaluated by Keith Law today (Insider req’d), and here’s a snippet of what he had to saw…

I don’t get the Yankees’ desire to stuff Noesi — who has long had success as a starter in the minors — into a limited bullpen role … Noesi lacks a plus pitch, and his control is well ahead of his command right now, but there are four roughly average or better pitches there with a fastball in the 92-94 range and both the curveball and slider will flash better than average … at least has the stuff to hold his own in a major league rotation, even if it’s just as a fifth guy for now with a chance to be more of a four or a fringy No. 3.

Meanwhile, here’s some more news, which I’ll bullet point for simplicity’s sake…

  • Kevin Whelan was placed on the disabled list with who knows what. He warmed up last night, but didn’t make it into the game for whatever reason.
  • Both Buddy Carlyle and Damon Sublett were activated off the disabled list.
  • Rob Segedin was promoted from Low-A Charleston to High-A Tampa, which is completely unsurprising. Now there’s a reason to pay attention to the team.
  • Rich Martinez was demoted from Charleston to Short Season Staten Island while Corey Maines went the other way.
  • The 2012 Low-A South Atlantic League All-Star Game will be played in Charleston, which is pretty cool.
  • Penn League Report has some scouting info on a quartet of Short Season Staten Island prospects, so check it out.

And finally, the games…

Triple-A Scranton (8-1 loss to Norfolk)
Austin Krum, LF & P.J. Pilittere, DH: both 0 for 4 – Krum struck out twice
Greg Golson, CF & Jordan Parraz, RF: both 0 for 3, 1 BB – Golson scored a run and threw a runner out at second … Parraz also threw a runner out at second
Kevin Russo, 3B & Jesus Montero, C: both 1 for 4 – Montero drove in a run and struck out
Brandon Laird, 1B & Luis Nunez, 2B: both 0 for 2 – Laird drove in two and struck out twice … Nunez walked
Doug Bernier, SS: 1 for 2, 1 BB
David Phelps, RHP: 5 IP, 12 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 5-1 GB/FB – 55 of 83 pitches were strikes (66.3%) … picked two batters off first … he allowed seven straight hits at one point, which is pretty nuts … a dozen hits allowed might actually be a DotF record, I don’t remember seeing many totals that high
George Kontos, RHP: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1-2 GB/FB – 15 of 26 pitches were strikes (57.7%)
Andrew Brackman, RHP: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1-1 GB/FB – a dozen of his 23 pitches were strikes (52.2%)
Buddy Carlyle, RHP: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1-0 GB/FB – 11 of 14 pitches were strikes (78.6%)

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