Nunez & Romine keep on raking

In case you missed it, Chris Garcia had his second Tommy John surgery. Also, scroll down for tonight’s open thread.

Triple-A Scranton (5-4 win over Lehigh Valley)
Kevin Russo, 2B: 2 for 4, 2 R, 1 3B, 1 BB, 1 K – just his fourth extra base hit of the year … all the others are doubles
Colin Curtis, RF: 1 for 3, 2 R, 1 RBI, 2 BB
Eduardo Nunez, 3B: 4 for 4, 2 2B, 3 RBI – he’s 16 for his last 33 (.485) with more walks (fours) than strikeouts (one)
Juan Miranda, 1B: 0 for 2, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
David Winfree, LF: 1 for 4, 1 K
Jesus Montero, C: 0 for 4, 2 K – he’s just 2 for his last 19 (.105) … don’t worry, Jesus’ bat with resurrect soon enough
Jon Weber, DH & Reegie Corona, SS: both 0 for 3, 1 BB – Corona scored a run & committed a throwing error
Greg Golson, CF: 0 for 4
Romulo Sanchez: 6 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 2 WP, 7-2 GB/FB – 54 of 88 pitches were strikes (61.4%) … picked an old friend off first … finally brings his season K/BB ratio up over 1.00
Kevin Whelan: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1-1 GB/FB – seven of his ten pitches were strikes
Royce Ring: 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K – six of his 11 pitches were strikes
Mark Melancon: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1-3 GB/FB – 13 of 17 pitches were strikes (76.5%)
Jon Albaladejo: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 0-2 GB/FB – 12 of 22 pitches were strikes (54.5%)

[Read more…]

Open Thread: Escape from LA Anaheim

Photo Credit: Chris Carlson, AP

Well I’m glad that’s over with. The Yankees don’t have to go back to Anaheim again this season, unless they happen to meet the Angels in the playoffs yet again. I’m not going to complain about a 3-3 west coast road trip, but I’m sure plenty of people will. Next up is a stop at the White House and a date with the 3-16 Orioles. I can’t wait.

Here’s your open thread for the evening. The Mets and Braves are your late ESPN Sunday night game (Pelfrey vs. Hanson), and you’ve also got NBA and NHL playoff action on as well. Talk about whatever your heart desires, just be nice to each other — and Javier Vazquez too.

Garcia undergoes second Tommy John surgery

Via Josh Norris, Chris Garcia had his second Tommy John surgery in four years last Tuesday. He missed the entire 2007 season the first time he had the procedure. Apparently the doctors had a little trouble when they took the replacement ligament from his knee. With any luck, Garcia will be throwing off a mound by Spring Training and ready to return to game action by May.

Whenever the Yankees need a 40-man roster spot this season, the first thing they’ll do is call up Garcia and place him on the 60-day disabled list. There’s no point in doing that now because he’ll accrue service time while on the DL, and there’s no benefit to starting his clock before it’s absolutely necessary.

Game 18: One more win in Anaheim

If the Yankees can pull off a victory in this afternoon’s game they’ll finish 4-2 on their mini West Coast trip. That seems to be the theme of the season so far: two out of three. It would also give them a 9-3 record during their recent tour of the AL West.

Their chance will come against a familiar face, the lefty Scott Kazmir. It’s hard to believe that this is his sixth full season in the majors. He originally got the call in 2004, just after his trade to the Devil Rays, and since then has pitched at least 144 innings in each season. Things went well until last year, when his ERA ballooned to 4.89 and the Rays traded him to Anaheim in August.

Kazmir, who has generally pitched well against the Yankees, struggled during his first start against them this year. In four innings he allowed eight hits and walked three, leading to six Yankee runs. The three home runs did not help his case. He recovered a bit with a good start against Detroit, but even then he had to leave the game after 5.2 innings and 99 pitches. His seven strikeouts to no walks in that game bode well, but the Yankees feature a lineup much more patient than the Tigers.

It has been a tumultuous return trip to the Yankees for Javy Vazquez so far. With each start he’s gotten a little bit better, though, so maybe today he puts it all together. We know what Vazquez can do — he’s been a solid, durable starter throughout his career, second half of 2004 notwithstanding. Part of his problem has been with command, particularly with his fastball. It seems like Jorge has to move the mitt on every one of them. This has led to eight walks in 16.1 innings for Vazquez, a mark far above his normal rate.

Cervelli gets another start behind the plate while Posada moves into the DH spot. Brett Gardner gets a day off, which is kind of baffling after his last couple of days. I’d be more inclined to catch Jorge and DH Thames, but apparently Girardi wants to get Cervelli in there against Vazquez, whom he has not caught yet this year.

Lineup:

1. Derek Jeter, SS
2. Nick Swisher, RF
3. Mark Teixeira, 1B
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Robinson Cano, 2B
6. Jorge Posada, C
7. Marcus Thames, LF
8. Curtis Granderson, CF
9. Francisco Cervelli, C

And on the mound, number thirty-one, Javier Vazquez.

Breaking News: Cody Ransom gets his World Series ring

I know you were all worried, but our long national nightmare is over. Conor Foley reports that before last night’s Triple-A Scranton game, manager Dave Miley presented Cody Ransom with his 2009 World Series ring. Ransom was in town with the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, Philadelphia’s Triple-A affiliate. Last year’s Opening Day third basemen put up a sparkling .265 wOBA for the Yanks, and prior to the season some people actually thought he was a better option than Alex Rodriguez. I can’t seem to find that article online anymore, though.

So, how long until it ends up on eBay?

Johnson out until Tuesday with a stiff back

The Yankees won convincingly with their regular designated hitter and number two hitter on the bench yesterday, but they thought they would have him back in the lineup today. Turns out that Nick Johnson‘s stiff back was a little worse than he originally let on, and he’s going to be out of the lineup until Tuesday’s series opener in Baltimore. Apparently he thought a little whirlpool action would loosen things up, but alas.

Johnson isn’t concerned about this being a long-term issue, but everyone’s going to hold their breath when dealing with a guy with his injury history. He’s stuck in a little 1-for-23 slump (the hit came Friday), but NJ has also drawn nine walks and gotten hit by a pitch during that time, so he’s still getting on base.

Pettitte cruises as C-lineup powers Yanks to 7-1 victory

Photo credit: Chris Carlson/AP

Every time the Yankees head out to Anaheim we can be sure to hear two things. First, that the Yankees, during their decade-plus run of success, haven’t fared very well against the Angels, especially at Angels Ballpark. Second, that Alex Rodriguez has hit a lot of home runs there. To the second, of course he did. He spent the first nine years of his career on two teams in the AL West. Of the two remaining, one plays in a Stadium that has campouts in its foul territory. Of course he hit more homers at Angels Ballpark than any other stadium. To the first, well, it’s true.

A-Rod did not hit a home run yesterday, but the Yankees did score a victory in Anaheim. Andy Pettitte was the real story, going eight strong while striking out eight in a dominant start. The Yankees, owned by Pineiro just last week, apparently learned something and ran up the score in the middle innings. It ended with a decisive victory for the Yanks.

Biggest Hit: The No. 9 hitter comes through

Part of the reason the Yankees’ offense is off to such a hot start lies at the bottom of the order. They’ve gotten some clutch performances from their 7-8-9 hitters, which has helped make up for struggles from Nick Johnson and Mark Teixeira atop the order. Yesterday the Yanks got a big boost from the bottom of their order, as the No. 9 hitter slapped the biggest hit of the game.

I wasn’t a huge fan of how they got there, though. A-Rod and Cano both managed singles off Joel Pineiro to set the Yanks up for a big inning. With runners on first and second and none out up came Nick Swisher, who had doubled home the Yankees first run just two innings earlier. This time, though, he didn’t get a chance for another big hit. Instead he laid down a successful sac bunt, if you consider giving away a run a success.

With Ramiro Pena and Francisco Cervelli due up, Mike Scioscia had a no-brainer of a decision. Walk Granderson and deal with the bottom two hitters in the order — both reserve players. Pena’s ensuing strikeout came as no surprise. It actually represented the biggest negative WPA swing of the game, -.073, because it took off the sac fly. That brought up Francisco Cervelli. While he’s not as bad a hitter as Pena, he’s still not the guy you want up with the bases loaded and two out. Yet he came through, grounding one under Brandon Wood’s glove and into left for a two-run single.

Despite the positive result, I don’t like taking the bat out of Swisher’s hands there. He’s been swinging it well all season, making a lot of outs on well-hit baseballs. He had a homer on Friday and a double already in the game. Why sacrifice him when Scioscia can walk the next hitter and deal with the bottom of the order?

Biggest Pitch: Uh, Napoli’s single

Photo credit: Chris Carlson/AP

When a pitcher is as flat dominant as Andy Pettitte was yesterday, there tend not to be many big dings on his register. From the fourth on the Angels were pretty much out of the game, so their biggest hit clearly came in the early innings. That would be the third, when Mike Napoli singled to lead off the inning. Seriously. In the context of the game, that was the most grievous hit Pettitte allowed. The game was still 1-0 Yanks at that point, so it put the tying run on base, but not much else.

While it was a well-earned hit — Napoli worked a seven-pitch at-bat — he ruined it one batter later. Brandon Wood singled to left, a bit towards center. Napoli, by no means a fast guy, tried to sneak in the extra base, but Brett Gardner was having none of it. He actually took his time and made an accurate throw, giving Ramiro Pena enough time to apply the tag and get Napoli at third.

Pettitte finished the inning, but it was certainly his shakiest. After the Wood single Erick Aybar lined out to Cano and Abreu singled. Pettitte then caught a break on a 2-2 fastball to Torii Hunter, which just caught the inside edge. PitchFX did not like it. Nor did Hunter. But the home plate ump did, and that’s all that matters. It was the last time Pettitte had to worry about anything.

Pettitte again mixes it up

Photo credit: Chris Carlson/AP

Part of Pettitte’s success this season has been his even mixing of pitches. While he clearly goes back to the four-seamer most often, he’s used four secondary pitches, including a two-seam fastball, to retire hitter after hitter. In this game he not only went to his secondary pitches, but also threw them for strikes with consistency. Of his 114 pitches, 75 were strikes. Even more impressive, of his 65 non-four-seamers, 45 were strikes.

He also went to his secondary stuff pretty democratically, using 21 curveballs, 21 cutters, and 16 two-seamers (only seven changeups, but he always uses that less frequently). Here’s something, too. His two-seamer actually looks like an excellent complement to his four-seamer. I’d like to see what happens when he starts working it in more — but only after what he’s doing right now stops working. I like to break down baseball to its core, but never would I suggest someone like Pettitte change what he’s doing right now.

His four-seam fastball averaged 88.19 mph and maxed out at 90.4, breaking horizontally 0.30 inches and vertically 10.07. His two-seamer averaged 88.4 mph and touched 91. It broke horizontally 7.06 inches and vertically 7.39. According to FanGraphs’ pitch type values Andy’s fastball has been a positive for him so far this season, after being negative for the past three. The two-seamer, I think, is a big part of that.

Joys

Cervelli coming through again. It’s impossible to not like the kid, and although I think that some fans are starting to overhype him, he’s still a quality backup catcher. I love his antics behind the plate, and I love his attitude. The Yanks couldn’t ask for much more from a backup catcher.

That Derek Jeter guy just knows how to hit, doesn’t he. Another 2 for 5 day for the Captain. One of these days he’ll slow down, but I don’t think that’s coming soon.

Cano just keeps hitting. It’s still early, and we’ve urged caution when writing off certain players (::cough:: Nick Johnson ::cough::), but Cano has fit perfectly into the five hole.

Swisher was 2 for 4 with an RBI double. I still don’t get why he bunted in the fourth.

Few things make me happier than an excellent Pettitte start.

Brett Gardner’s extended announcement that he wants the left field job full-time.

Annoyances

I wasn’t going to mention the sac bunt again, but what the hell? Just not a move I’d ever favor. I’m glad it worked out, of course, but letting Swisher swing there would have been the preferred move.

That’s about it. Hard to complain about a decisive win.

WPA Graph

Booooooooring.

Full breakdown at FanGraphs.

Up Next

Rubber game tomorrow afternoon. It’ll start a little earlier, 3:35, this time on YES rather than Fox. Javy Vazquez tries for redemption against the Angels, while Scott Kazmir tries for the same. My money is on Vazquez.