Game Nine: Rubbah Match

Pffft, and they say the Yankees are desperate for pitching. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

These Yankees-Red Sox series seem to follow a pattern. The first game is a wild, back-and-forth affair and the second a blowout, but the third is usually a close game. With CC Sabathia on the mound and both Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera well-rested in the bullpen, I like New York’s chances if that pattern holds true. Here’s the starting nine, which is missing a sick Alex Rodriguez (flu-like symptoms)…

Brett Gardner, LF
Derek Jeter, SS
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Curtis Granderson, CF
Nick Swisher, RF
Jorge Posada, DH
Eric Chavez, 3B
Russell Martin, C

CC Sabathia, SP

It’s a Sunday night game, so you know what that means: ESPN has the broadcast at 8pm ET. Hooray for no Joe Morgan though, he’s been replaced by Orel Hershiser and Bobby Valentine. Enjoy the game.

Heathcott keeps hitting, but River Dogs lose

Triple-A Scranton (7-5 win over Rochester)
Greg Golson, CF, Jorge Vazquez, 1B, Brandon Laird, 3B & Justin Maxwell, LF: all 1 for 4 – Golson walked & scored … JoVa homered & drove in three … Laird scored a run … Maxwell stole a base and whiffed
Chris Dickerson, DH: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K, 1 SB
Jesus Montero, C: 2 for 5, 1 R – hitting a cool .400 in the early going with a ten-game hit streak that dates back to last season … made a nice diving defensive play as well
Jordan Parraz, RF: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI – second straight game with a jack
Kevin Russo, 2B: 0 for 4, 2 K – 0 for 15 with 7 K so far
Ramiro Pena, SS: 2 for 3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 SB – hitting .462 so far
Adam Warren, RHP: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 5 BB, 1 K, 4-5 GB/FB – just 54 of his 93 pitches were strikes (58.1%) … ugly AAA debut, and frankly I’m not 100% sold on him being here yet … yeah he’s polished, but 54.1 IP in AA is nothing
George Kontos, RHP: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 2-2 GB/FB – just 11 of 24 pitches were strikes (45.8%)
Andy Sisco, LHP: 2 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 1-2 GB/FB – 15 of 22 pitches were strikes (68.2%) … very nice
Kevin Whelan, RHP: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 0-1 GB/FB – 12 of 19 pitches were strikes (63.2%) … rebounded from yesterday’s blown save quite nicely

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Mo: ‘I have another year, and after that, there won’t be any more’

Via Buster Olney, Mariano Rivera recently said flatly that the 2012 season will be his last. “I have another year, and after that, there won’t be any more,” said Mo, who signed a two-year deal this offseason. Or course, he qualified it by saying “That’s me talking [now].”

Mo has indicated many times in the past that the end was near, but yet he’s still here with that new contract. He’ll turn 42 years old after the season, so he’s already way past the point where he should stop being effective. “My will is one thing,” he said, “and the good Lord’s will is another. And I will follow his will.” Mo has defied he odds for so long that it seems like he could do it forever, but who knows what will happen over the next two seasons. Just make sure you appreciate whatever’s left of his career.

Medical Updates: Cervelli & Feliciano

Via George King, Francisco Cervelli has increased his rehab work since having the boot removed from his fractured left foot, but Joe Girardi says a realistic return date is early-May. “He has been running under water, doing agility drills and hitting but he is still a few weeks [away],” said the skipper. “He has yet to run on the field.” The schedule has been favorable when it comes to not playing Gustavo Molina, but that will change next week. Oh well.

As for Pedro Feliciano, he’s scheduled to see a doctor next week when the team returns to New York. With any luck, he’ll be cleared to throw and be able to start his rehab work. The good news is that the injury is not to his actual rotator cuff, but a muscle close by. Given Boone Logan‘s early struggles, I think we’re all looking forward to Feliciano’s return to health.

The poetic stylings of John Sterling

With new Yankees on the team, one rite of spring involves John Sterling’s home run calls. We wait to hear what the announcer dubbed Pa Pinstripe can come up with, and invariably it will make us groan. We’ve heard “Russel has muscle” and “Andruw Jones makes his bones” already this year, and Eric Chavez has yet to homer. As part of The Sports Section’s coverage of Opening Week, New York Magazine writer Joe DeLessio explored the seven types of Sterling’s home run calls. It is, well, something.

I’m pretty sure DeLessio hit on the entire oeuvre. He talks rhymes, plays on players’ names, alliteration, foreign languages (that make little sense in English), the ever-popular Granderson cultural references, references to Babe Ruth and, of course, made-up words. At least it’s not Hawk Harrelson.

Yankees pound Red Sox for 9-4 win

Order has been restored to the universe. The Red Sox won their first game of the season on Friday, but the Yankees reminded them who was boss on Saturday by taking batting practice off their prized young pitcher and revamped bullpen. The end result was a 9-4 win and Boston’s seventh loss in eight games.

(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

The Bottom Third

A lot of jokes were made at the Yankees’ expense as they signed guys like Bartolo Colon, Eric Chavez, and Andruw Jones this winter, but right now they’re the ones doing the one laughing. Jones has a pair of extra base hits in his two starts against southpaws, Colon shoved it down Boston’s throat for four-plus innings on Friday, and Chavez led an offensive assault by the bottom third of the Yankees’ lineup on Saturday.

(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

The party started right in the second inning. Seventh place hitter Curtis Granderson worked a walk off Clay Buchholz to put men at first and second with one out and the game still scoreless. Eighth place hitter Chavez jumped all over the first pitch fastball, driving it off the wall the other way for double and and the game’s first RBI. Ninth place hitter Russell Martin followed up a five pitch at-bat and a run scoring ground out.

Two innings later, Granderson worked a ten-pitch walk off Buchholz to lead off the frame before Chavez banged another opposite field double off the monstah. With men at second and third with none out, Martin said to hell with the RBI ground outs and clubbed a hanging curveball to left for a three-run homer, his second of the season. That made it 5-1 New York, with the bottom of the order doing all the damage. Granderson cut to the chase in the fifth inning, wrapping a two-run homer around the Pesky Pole for a 7-4 lead. Chavez would follow with a bloop single but didn’t come around to score. Martin tacked on another run with a solo homer in the seventh, his second of the game. It was the second two-homer game of his career.

All told, the bottom three hitters in the Yankees’ lineup combined to go 6-for-12 with two doubles, three homers, seven runs driven in, and two walks. At one point they were 5-for-7 with two walks. All three guys had at least one extra base hit, and Grandy was the only one without two. We know that the big names hitting towards the top and middle of the lineup will be the guys the team relies on all season, but yesterday was a good reminder of how deep and powerful this offense is.

(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Nova Walks A Thin Line

Having watched Phil Hughes struggle mightily on Friday, the Yankees were looking for Ivan Nova to given them some length on Saturday. He lasted longer than Hughes but didn’t pitch deep into the game, walking the tight rope all afternoon long. Nova pitched around a pair of walks in the first and a pair of singles in the second, but the Sox scored a run after a Dustin Pedroia leadoff double in the third. A botched double play in the fourth extended the inning and ended up costing the team three more runs. After two of the first three runners reached in the fifth inning, Nova’s day was done.

Boston put the leadoff runner on in the second, third, fourth, and fifth innings, so Nova threw the vast majority of his 87 pitches from the stretch. The Red Sox bailed him out a bit by going 1-for-17 with runners in scoring in position, but more often than not, the pitcher is going to head for the showers early when he puts so many runners on base. Give Nova some credit for bending but not breaking, but I think today had more to do with Boston’s offensive struggles than his crafty pitching.

FOX fail. (Photo via Amanda Rykoff)


A good as the bottom third of the order was, that how as bad as the top of the lineup had been (/McCarver’d). Brett Gardner, Derek Jeter, and Mark Teixeira went a combined 1-for-14 with three strikeouts and a walk (Jeter had the hit and walk). Alex Rodriguez had a pair of singles while Robinson “don’t call me Robbie” Cano singled, doubled, and homered. That man loves him some Fenway Park. Nick Swisher drove in another run, something he’s done in six of the team’s eight games. The Yankees were again brutally patient, forcing Buchholz out of the game after just 3.2 innings because he’d thrown 92 pitches.

Big ups to birthday boy David Robertson (turned 26 on Saturday) for cleaning up Nova’s mess in the fifth by striking out Jed Lowrie and retiring Jacoby Ellsbury on a ground out. He then chipped in a 1-2-3 sixth inning. Joba Chamberlain grunted and farted his way to two strikeouts in a dominant seventh inning (topped out at 96.2 mph and averaged 94.98), and Luis Ayala wrapped it up with two sketchy but ultimately scoreless innings. Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera were tossing lightly in the bullpen in case things got out of control.

Based on WPA, the biggest play of the game for New York was Grandy’s homer at +.157. Martin’s first homer was second at +.114 WPA. The two biggest outs of the day came on Jarrod Saltalamacchia strikeouts, a second inning whiff with men on first and second and a fourth inning whiff with men on the corner. There were not outs in both situations, and both outs came in at +.059 for the good guys.

WPA Graph & Box Score has a box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the other stuff.

Up Next

ESPN is carrying the rubber game of the series on Sunday night at 8:05pm ET. CC Sabathia matches up against Josh Beckett, and Joe Girardi should be able to go nuts with Soriano and Mo if needed thanks to Monday’s scheduled off day.

Montero & Heathcott shine on Saturday

Triple-A Scranton (7-6 loss to Rochester in 12 innings, walk-off style) faced the Twins’ top prospect and a personal fave
Kevin Russo, 2B: 0 for 6, 2 K – 0 for 11 with 5 K so far
Chris Dickerson, CF: 3 for 5, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 SB
Jesus Montero, C: 3 for 6, 1 R, 1 HR, RBI – he hit another ball to the warning track
Jorge Vazquez, 1BL 1 for 6, 1 RBI, 4 K
Justin Maxwell, RF, Brandon Laird, 3B & Greg Golson, LF: all 1 for 5, 1 BB – Maxwell struck out three times & stole a base … Laird scored a run … Golson hit a solo jack, stole a bag, struck out thrice & threw a runner out at the plate with his rocket arm
Jordan Parraz, DH: 2 for 6, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 K
Ramiro Pena, SS: 3 for 6, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI – Ramiro hit a homer? I don’t believe it
Hector Noesi, RHP: 5 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 4-4 GB/FB, 1 E (throwing) – 62 of 90 pitches were strikes (68.9%) … a little too hittable, but it’s just his first start of the year
Eric Wordekemper, RHP: 2 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1-3 GB/FB – 16 of 30 pitches were strikes (53.3%)
Buddy Carlyle, RHP: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 1-0 GB/FB – eight of his ten pitches were strikes
Kevin Whelan, RHP: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB. 1 K, 0-1 GB/FB – 12 of his 13 pitches were strikes (92.3%) … blew the save by allowing a homer to a guy with some big league time … they’re going to miss having Jon Albaladejo to nail things down in the ninth
Lance Pendleton, RHP: 2.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 2-3 GB/FB – 23 of 39 pitches were strikes (59%)

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