Warren continues getting grounders in Tampa win

Triple-A Scranton (5-1 loss to Louisville)
Greg Golson, LF-CF, Reid Gorecki, RF & Reegie Corona, 3B: all 0 for 4, 1 K – Corona committed a fielding error
Curtis Granderson, CF: 1 for 2, 1 BB, 1 K – he was scheduled to play only five innings, which he did … he apparently was running well in the outfield … faced a lefty on the Reds’ 40-man roster, so today was a nice test after a few weeks off
P.J. Pilittere, 1B: 0 for 1, 1 K
Eduardo Nunez, SS: 2 for 4, 1 RBI, 1 K
Jesus Montero, DH: 0 for 3, 1 BB
Chad Huffman, 1B-LF: 1 for 4, 1 K – 7-for-16 (.438) during five game hit streak
Rene Rivera, C:  for 4, 1 2B
Jeff Natale, 2B: 1 for 2, 1 R, 1 BB – doing what he does best, get on base
Jason Hirsh: 5 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 3-9 GB/FB – 68 of 92 pitches were strikes (73.9%) … gave up three homers after allowing one in his last 24.1 IP
Kevin Whelan: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 0-1 GB/FB – nine of 13 pitches were strikes (75%)
Grant Duff: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 0-2 GB/FB – 14 of his 21 pitches were strikes (66.7%)
Royce Ring: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1-0 GB/FB – 11 of his 15 pitches were strikes (73.3%)

[Read more…]

Game 44: What could have been vs. what is

Photo Credit: Paul Sancya, AP

We never try to make too much of a big deal about one game in these parts of the interweb, but we’re going to make an exception today. Not that tonight’s game means more than yesterday’s or tomorrow’s, but because of the theater involved. It’s Johan Santana vs. CC Sabathia, the ace the Yankees passed on to get the ace they wanted.

Rewind back to the 2007-2008 offseason, when the Twins make a 28-year-old two-time Cy Young Away winning lefthander available on the trade market. It was a natural fit for the Yankees – a star player who could front what was then a patchwork rotation – and they were willing to trade the prospect version of Phil Hughes. The three of us even started a campaign to keep all of the Yanks’ young pitchers in pinstripes.  After a winter of he-said-she-saids, Santana finally landed in New York at the end of January, but with the Mets. Ironically enough, that was less than two months after the lefty declared he would only accept a trade to the Yanks or Red Sox. Funny how that works.

So Johan went off to Queens, and quite simply had a stellar season. He threw 234.1 innings of 3.66 xFIP ball and finished in the top three of the Cy Young voting for the fourth time in the five years. The Yanks, meanwhile, missed the playoffs for the first time in what seemed like an eternity, and the second-guessing of the non-trade started before the season was even half over. Santana’s declining peripheral stats (his BB/9, K/BB, AVG against, and xFIP all dropped for the fourth straight year) be damned, the was the guy the Yanks were supposed to have, and his absence is why they missed the postseason.

But, to be mind-numbingly cliche, GM Brian Cashman had an ace up his sleeve. Granted, it was a gamble of epic proportions, but passing on Johan was all by design. Another 28-year-old, Cy Young Award winning lefthanded ace was soon going to be available, except not in a trade, on the free agent market. CC Sabathia, the long-time Cleveland Indian was unlikely to return to the team given the fortune awaiting him on the open market, so Cashman decided to hold onto one set of assets (players) while using the team’s greatest resource (dollar dollar bills, y’all) to bring in a frontline starter.

Out of the race by mid-season, the Indians sent Sabathia to the Brewers for four prospects, and the fans in Cleveland thanked him for everything he’d done. Milwaukee, also unlikely to retain the big lefty beyond the season, rode CC right into the franchise’s first playoff berth in a quarter-century. He took to the mound 17 times and threw 130.2 innings for the team overall, but that’s not what he’ll be remembered for. Sabathia’s time in Cleveland will be remembered for taking the ball four times in the Brewers’ final eleven games with complete disregard for his health and impending free agency. With the season literally on the line in Game 162, CC threw a four hit complete game shutout against the Cubs, the National League’s best team by six games. The entire city of Milwaukee climbed about Sabathia’s broad shoulders, and he carried them right into the postseason.

After the season, Cashman put on the full court press. He had passed on Santana by choice, but he couldn’t let CC get away, so his opening bid was $140M on the very first day of free agency. It was a message to the rest of the league: don’t even think about it, he’s ours. Cashman dragged Reggie Jackson to dinners, wore his World Series ring(s) to meetings, flew coach to California in the middle of the night, he did everything that needed to be done to get Sabathia in the pinstripes. In the end, it took the largest contract ever given to a pitcher, but we know that was coming regardless of who he signed with.

One year and one World Championship later, Santana and Sabathia meet tonight for the first time as a Met and Yankee, respectively. It’s your guy, the one who wasn’t good enough for us, versus our the guy, the one with the ring and three fan bases in love with him. As far as May baseball goes, this is as good as it gets.

Here’s the starting nine…

Jeter, SS
Gardner, CF
Teixeira, 1B
A-Rod, 3B
Cano, 2B
Swisher, RF
Cervelli, C – seventh game in seven days
Kevin Russo, LF – yay
Sabathia, SP

First pitch is scheduled for 8:05pm ET, and the game can be seen on ESPN. Enjoy.

Pregame Notes: Vazquez, Granderson, Teixeira

The main topic of Joe Girardi‘s pregame press conference was Javy Vazquez and his bruised finger, as you can imagine. The news is basically all good: Javy feels better and is scheduled to make his next start. They did decide to push his regular side session back from Monday to Tuesday just to give the finger that extra day, but Girardi was adamant that Vazquez was his starter for Thursday. The only thing that could derail it right now is trouble during his bullpen session.

Here’s the rest of the good word…

  • Girardi spoke to Curtis Granderson and said he felt good after playing in his first rehab game yesterday. He did not, however, speak to him after he went 1-for-2 with a walk while playing five innings in centerfield today. You’ll read more about that in DotF later on, of course.
  • When asked if he was concerned about Mark Teixeira and the mother of all slumps, the Yanks’ manager said he was worried about him getting frustrated more than anything. He basically chalked it up “that’s baseball, and people go through slumps.”
  • Chan Ho Park is still rusty after spending a month on the DL, so right now they’re just trying to get him back on track. Girardi did say David Robertson‘s command has come together, “he’s pitching on the corners (of the plate) rather than the middle.” Who knew it was that simple?
  • Someone asked Girardi about the whole interleague thing, and he gave a stock answer: it’s good for baseball, good for the city when he Yankees play the Mets, etc. He did say that he likes having the DH in one league and not the other, but he would like to see NL pitchers bat while they’re in the minors. All of minor league baseball uses a DH.
  • Girardi said the best hitting pitcher he’s ever seen is Micah Owings, but he couldn’t remember his name. “The guy from Arizona that went to Cincinnati,” was his response. He also mentioned Don Robinson and Carlos Zambrano.

In case you missed it, I took some photos during batting practice and posted them on our Twitter feed. This one’s my favorite.

AA prospects: a status report – what Trenton makes

Last week I took a look at how some of the better AAA prospects were doing over the course of the season, but more importantly, how they’d performed over a 10 game sample, their long-term prospects of helping the big club and some things they need to work on. One important thing I learned: for some inexplicable reason, people just love Eduardo Nunez. He’s sort of like Michael Cera to me. Nice potential and has some good strengths but ultimately is overhyped and inconsistent.

Anyway, this week we head down to lovely Trenton, New Jersey to check in with Austin Romine, David Adams, David Phelps, Hector Noesi and D.J. Mitchell. We’re going to leave out Jeremy Bleich, who’s likely getting shoulder surgery, but I’ll simply note here that he’s been a huge disappointment this year. Feel better, Jeremy!

Austin Romine, C

Much has been written about Romine’s hot start. It’s easily one of the best developments of our higher-end players in the system. From what I’ve read, Romine’s defense has already been called “big league ready” and has improved in each of the past three seasons. He has a very strong arm and he’s improved his footwork and receiving skills. This isn’t very shocking – he already had a good defensive reputation, so enough of that. Let’s get to the offense. Romine was considered to be a good-contact hitter with a solid eye but more of a gap power hitter than someone expected to pop over 20 home runs a year. In 2010, he’s increased his contact skills, hitting .323, far above last year’s mark of .273 in Tampa. Unfortunately, his BABip this year is an Austin Jacksonian .392, or close to 90 points higher than last year’s mark. That won’t continue, but there are promising signs. Romine, not fleet of foot, is knocking in a line drive rate of 20% (up from 12.8 last year) and decreased his groundball rate to 38%.

But it would be nice to see Romine bring his walk rate up and his strike out rate further south. On the year he’s striking out 21% of appearances and walking 9% of the time, but overall, it’s hard to have much to complain about Romine’s season. His power is again looking pretty good (.512 slugging percentage) and he’s sprayed 6 doubles in his last 10 games. The Yankees can afford to take things slowly with Romine, and if he hits this well and continues to improve his defense at catcher, we could very well be watching the team’s future backstop sooner than we might expect, perhaps as early as 2012.

AA Season: .323/.386/.512

Last ten games: .308/.341/.462

David Adams.

David Adams, 2B

Aside from Austin Romine, Adams is easily my favorite player to keep tab on in Trenton. According to Mike’s Prospect Profile of Adams, the second baseman was rated as the top prospect in Virginia and the 102nd best overall in the 2008 draft (per Baseball America’s list), eventually signing with the Yankees as their 3rd round pick. He started 2009 off in Charleston, where he hit .290/.385/.393, displaying a good approach at bat but not showing much in the power department. A promotion to Hi-A Tampa quelled power issues – he knocked in 7 home runs in 67 games, posting a slugging percentage of .498.

Interestingly, it seems Adams may have changed his hitting approach with the move up to Tampa (or simply went back to his old approach in Virgina – couldn’t find college splits to see GB/LD/FB numbers). His ground ball rate dropped from 46% to 38%, his line drive rate from 22% to 16% and he knocked fly balls at a 44% rate, which explains the uptick in home run. It looks like he went from a gap-to-gap hitter to a swing with a bit more loft, and it was largely effective. He also maintained a solid walk rate and lessened strikeouts.

In Trenton – a jump that usually weeds out guys who took advantage of less advanced pitchers – it’s been fun seeing Adams continue his success. His power has remained (.510 slugging percentage) and his on-base skills still look good (.395 OBP), though he’s benefited from a high BABip rate of .373 (his career rate is .339). I’m a bit concerned he isn’t hitting line drives at a percentage you’d like to see (it’s at 11% currently) and striking out 21% of his plate appearances against right-handers is a tad high. But it’s still early and these are knit-picky things. Adams is mauling lefties (.400/.489/.650) and might already be prepared for Scranton offensively. The question is if he’s progressed with his defense. Adams should have the defense to stick at 2B, and his contact and on-base skills certainly make him the best middle infielder in the high minors with a good chance to contribute to the (or a) big league club. I’d put him above Kevin Russo, whom he has a higher ceiling than, though less versatility. Adams was recently injured sliding into a base but assuming this is a minor thing, he should be back in no time. He’s struggled a bit of late, but he’s looking every bit the possible 1st round pick he was hyped to be after finishing his sophmore season at UVA.

AA Trenton this year: .311/.395/.510

Last 10 games: .212/.366/.333

David Phelps, SP

Not considered one of the team’s high-impact pitchers down the farm, Phelps has continued to throw up really impressive numbers. A groundball-inducing extraordinaire, Phelps isn’t afraid to throw any of his pitches in any count, keeping hitters off balance, according to a scouting report at Yanks Daily. He doesn’t give many walks, issuing only 11 in 42 innings, and has pretty good strikeout rates for a finesse pitcher with 37 in 41.2 innings. A 14th round pick out of Notre Dame in 2008, Phelps has been one of the best players of the class (a class that includes Jeremy Bleich, David Adams, Corban Joseph, Kyle Higashioka and Brett Marshall), and 2010 is no different.

Hitters have been stymied by an FIP of 2.80 (and a corresponding ERA of 1.73), a groundball rate of 46.5%, and as already mentioned, an improved K-rate. Unfortunately, Phelps is outpeforming some of his peripherals. Hitters are unlikely to continue hitting only 2.8% of flyballs for home runs and his .256 BABip is significantly lower than last year’s mark of .317, though there’s certainly a correlation with his grounball rate from a year ago being 52%, compared to this year’s 46.5%. Phelps will need to work on his off-speed pitches to compliment his low-90’s fastball and some of his peripherals seem unustainable, but he’s been a very good find and hasn’t had any problem with AA hitters.

AA Trenton this year:

41.2 IP, 1.73 ERA, 29 hits, 37 K, 11 BB, 1.34 GO/AA

Last two starts: 12 IP, 3.00 ERA, 9 hits, 9 K, 5 BB

[Update: Phelps pitched today and threw 7 innings while giving up 6 earned runs. He had 5 strikeouts and 2 walks.]

Hector Noesi (Photo Credit: Ashley Stephenson)

Hector Noesi, SP

After blowing through Hi-A Tampa in eight starts this year, the brass decided to jump Noesi to Trenton, where he’s received one start. Noesi definitely has the stuff to succeed; the question has always been about his health. He’s been sidelined by injury a few times but rebounded to slice up Sally League hitters with a SO/BB rate of 7.09. He then hit Tampa and worked in an eye-popping 10.00 SO/BB rate and an FIP of 2.69. Frankie Pilliere, scout for AOL Fanhouse thinks Noesi has the chance to be a #3 in the big leagues, noting that Noesi had an improved curveball that could develop as a true out pitch. He’ll still need to work on his changeup and stay healthy, but he’s an unheralded guy with good upside (although he’s a bit old even for AA at 23).

His first start in Trenton wasn’t fantastic (he gave up 5 runs in 6 innings), but Noesi may move quickly if he resembles the guy we’ve seen in 2009 and 2010. There’s not a whole lot of data I can pore through that will really expose issues Noesi has had this year or last. His peripherals were all very encouraging, his BABip wasn’t freakishly low, his FIP and ERA were reasonable. He was just really good, though his HR/FB rate was low at 4.9%. So, instead, I’ll simply stress that the key to Noesi will be working on his off-speed pitches and not injuring himself. Otherwise, he could be a good edition to the team sometime in 2011 or 2012, probably the bullpen if he can’t develop a changeup that will keep big league hitters honest. His command and good-but-not-great stuff would be quite welcomed in such a role.

Hi-A Season: 43 IP, 2.72 ERA, 35 hits, 53 K, 6BB, 1.08 GA/AA

AA Season: 6 IP, 7.50, 7 hits, 4 K, 2 BB, .075 GA/AA

D.J. Mitchell, SP

Mitchell was one of the arms the Yankees took in the 2008 draft out of Clemson University. While Mitchell can certainly hold righties’ heads below the water, he gets decimated by left-handers. They hit .287/.381/.316 against Mitchell last year and took 20 walks in 58 innings. D.J. didn’t get enough strikeouts on lefties to limit the damage, either, knocking 5.59 per nine down on strikes. So here’s where it gets weird. Remember how I just said that Mitchell can’t get lefties out but he’s really good with righties? You should, it was mere lines ago. Here’s a fun one, guess which side Mitchell has thrown this line against: 19.1 IP, 2.79 ERA, 15 hits. Ok, how about this one: 22.0 IP, 7.36 ERA, 32 hits. The former is against left-handers, the latter against righties. I don’t understand. It’s just…what? Anyway, his numbers against lefties aren’t really that fantastic beyond the surface. He’s issued 11 walks to them with 9 strike outs and not a single fly ball has gone for a home run. So there’s no reason to get too optimistic – he won’t be a LOOGY out of the bullpen.

The utter collapse against right-handers is perhaps more interesting. He’s helped his strikeout rate against them a bit with 18 in 22 IP, but the walks are still persistent. He’s issued 11 to righties, and they’re hitting him for an average of .344. Good news is the BABip is .423 and that will almost assuredly go down, plus the stats are skewed a bit by one really poor outing (4.1 IP, 9 earned runs and five walks). He’s still getting guys to hit the ball on the ground at a very impressive rate (60%) and he’s limited the big fly. Armed with a fastball that sinks more than Derek Bell’s houseboat, a Nardi-fied curveball and a poor changeup, with only four years of total pitching experience, Mitchell has had a very strange season, full of great luck and terrible luck. How he does against left-handers with his changeup will be very interesting to watch as the season progresses.

AA Season: 41.1 IP, 5.23 ERA, 47 hits, 27 K, 22 BB, 2.07 GA/AA

Last two starts: 10.1 IP, 5.80 ERA, 17 hits, 8 K, 6 BB

More foul balls for Hughes

After Phil Hughes‘ start against the Red Sox last Monday, Joe observed that the young righty was having trouble putting Boston’s hitters away with two counts, and I noted all the pitches the Red Sox were able to foul off (17 total). Well that problem continued again last night, when the Mets were able to spoil a whopping 41 pitches, the most by any pitcher in nearly five years. 41! They swung at just two of the nine curves Hughes threw, so book might be getting out on his fastball heavy (85.3% four-seamers and cutters thrown this year) ways, and the hitters are just sitting on it.

I’m far from an expert in this stuff, but maybe it’s time to start incorporating the curveball a little more, and maybe even (gasp!) the changeup.


The Yankees three game losing streak this week brought out the worst in Yankee fans.  After blowing a 5-1 lead to the rival Red Sox, and getting swept (in a 2 game series) to our main competition the Rays, bridges were crowded all over.  I’m just trying to figure out why.  Hell, twitter seemed to blow up as soon as the Rays jumped to a 3-0 on Andy Pettitte, and my guess is that it was Yankee fans discussing how much their team sucked that overloaded the servers.  Friday night’s win and strong Javy performance saved some lives but last nights loss have the bridges crowded again.  I’m here to just remind you all of a few important things. (stats as of Saturday morning)

Record:  After 42 games, the Yankees have a 26-16 record (and a 27-15 Pythag), good for the 3rd best record in all of baseball.  They have played just 19 games at home, where they have a .684 winning percentage (and .704 in 2009). Last year after 42 games they had played an even 21 games at home and on the road.   After 42 games in their World Series season of 2009 (had to remind everyone) they were 24-18 and it took winning 10 of 11 just to get there. On May 22nd last year they were in 3rd place and had the 9th best record in baseball with a +1 run differential.  This year their run differential is +69.  Wow.

One run games:  The Yankees finally won a one run game Friday night.  They are now 1-4 in one run games, which should continue to improve.  For the most part all teams will win roughly 50% of their one run games with good teams winning a little more than 50% and bad teams winning a little less than 50%.  They are almost truly a tossup.  Last year they were 22-16 in one run games for a .579 winning percentage with an overall winning percentage of .636.  The 2003 Tigers, who won just 43 games were above .500 in one run games. They are due for improvement here.

Derek Jeter: Jeter, despite his (rather empty) 9 game hitting streak is struggling.  It’s been dissected so I won’t get any further into it, but Jeter has gone through struggles in the past.  While there is some concern that he could be slowing in his age 36 season, it’s still too early to have an major concerns over Jeter’s performance.  In 2004, when he was famously booed during a 0-32 streak he was batting .190/.253/.279 after 42 games.  There were questions then, as there are now about if he was slowing down at the age of 30, and while the slowdown is certainly more likely 6 years later, his .273/.316/.393 line doesn’t look quite so bad.

Alex Rodriguez:  While A-Rod’s season ended as perfectly as possible, it got off to as rocky a start as possible.  First he had the steroid scandal and there was concern about how a guy who was perceived to be weak mentally would concern the extra scrutiny.  Then, soon after showing up to Spring Training, he ended up under the knife having surgery on his hip.  There were articles proclaiming that the Yankees were better off without him.  Seriously.  That’s how bad it was a year ago for A-Rod.  Due to the injury, A-Rod got off to a delayed start and a (aside from 1st pitch) slow start.  Through May 22nd he had only played in 14 games.  As late as June 23rd he was hitting .207/.362/.443.  Again, as rosy as things ended, all was not well for A-Rod last year.

Red Sox: We all remember the 0-8 start against the Sox last year.  I was almost ready to jump off a bridge then, as living in Massachusetts for that was terrible.  This year the Yankees have a solid 5-3 record against the Sox, and have already played 44% of their season schedule against them, which is a good thing as the Sox have yet to hit their stride.  Last year the Yankees didn’t beat the Sox until August.  Think about that for a second.  The trading deadline had already come and gone, and the Yankees (and us as fans) had yet to celebrate a win against their bitter rivals.

Rays:  The Rays are a great team.  They are better than they were in 2009 and will provide more competition for the Yankees.  They aren’t, however, as good as they have played so far.  They have had an easy schedule and recently lost key reliever J.P. Howell to a season ending injury.  Unlike the Yankees and Sox, the Rays don’t spend the money (won’t vs. can’t) to upgrade when they lose a player to injury.  Injuries can certainly derail the Rays more than the Yankees.   They have also taken advantage of the struggling Sox (4-0), but still have 14 to play against Boston who will only get better as the season moves on.

I’m ok with getting pissed off at losses and celebrating wins, but no one game, one series, and one week of bad baseball should cause people to overreact.  The 2009 Yankees went through losing streaks and managed 103 wins.  The 2010 Yankees have gone through, and will go through more losing streaks and are on an early pace for 100 wins.   I have done my best to comply with Zen Baseball, here’s hoping more people can hope aboard the train.

For more of my work head over to Mystique and Aura.

Yanks fall behind, can’t catch up to Mets

Before last night’s game, the Mets had never held a lead during a game against the Yankees at Citi Field. Of course, that consisted of just four games to date. It wouldn’t last forever, but it was a bit disappointing to see the streak end in the first inning. The Mets put together a two-out rally, and then did the same in the third. In fact, all of the Mets runs came with two outs, the first three coming in bases empty, two-out situations.

Biggest Hits: Wright up the middle

Photo credit: Frank Franklin II/AP

It felt like the Yanks and Mets played the first inning twice last night. They both started off the same way, with Jose Reyes flying out and Luis Castillo grounding out. Then came a Jason Bay hit, a double in the first and a single in the third. It didn’t make much of a difference, because in both innings Ike Davis drew a 3-2 walk, putting runners on first and second with two outs.

David Wright came through for the Mets in both instances. In the first Hughes got ahead 1-2, but then threw a ball outside before coming back with a cutter. That was at the knees but was over the middle of the plate, and Wright shot it up the middle for an RBI single. The Mets got another run when Angel Pagan singled, but the Yanks caught a break when Francisco Cervelli threw out Wright, who was trying to sneak into third on the throw home.

In the third Wright saw just two fastballs, the second of which was belt high and caught way too much of the plate. Again up the middle, again the Mets picked up a run. It looked like Hughes was sticking with the strategy of high fastballs there, but just missed with the pitch. With the cutter, I’m not sure what he was doing. As friend of RAB Fire Jerry Manuel noted, going with the cutter played to Wright’s strengths. Later, in the fifth, Hughes set up Wright with a first-pitch curveball for a strike, and then attacked him with fastballs high, eventually getting him to swing through strike three.

Wasted Opportunites: Gardner and Teixeira

Kevin Russo didn't waste his opportunity | Photo credit: Frank Franklin II/AP

The Yanks had a few opportunities in the late innings to get right back into the game, but in both fell a little short. The first came in the seventh, when the Yanks set themselves up right away. Kevin Russo, leading off after subbing for Winn in a double switch during the sixth, singled up the middle, and Derek Jeter followed by taking all five pitches he saw and walking to first. Gardner advanced them on a ground ball, which gave the Yanks the exact opportunity they needed. Two chances with with two men in scoring position and their two best hitters coming to the plate.

Mark Teixeira worked a long at-bat off Jenrry Mejia, going down 0-2 pretty quickly but extending it another five pitches. Unfortunately, he swung through the last one, a 97 mph fastball low and away. Tex has looked bad at the plate since the Rays series started, and it has only gotten worse in the past two days.

“For as good as I felt for two weeks there, I feel the exact opposite now,” said Teixeira. “I can’t get any worse right now.” He tried to elaborate a bit, saying, “I’m stuck between too aggressive and too patient.” He said that he’d cut down on his pregame swings, and perhaps his weight lifting, in hopes of turning things around.

Joe Girardi saw it, too. “It seems like he’s been having a hard time staying back.” He later added, “It seems like he’s not picking up the ball at times.”

In the eighth the Yankees finally struck. Kevin Russo drew a bases loaded walk after going down 0-2, and then Jeter brought in a run with a grounder. That last one hurt a bit, as it was the second out of the inning. Still, with a runner on third the team had a chance to bring it within one. Brett Gardner had the task of driving him in, and he did not succeed. A grounder to third ended the inning, leaving the Yankees still down two runs.

The Yanks had chances, but just couldn’t get anything going. Part of that is the top of the order 0 for 13. In fact, that’s a pretty big part of it.

“It’s no doubt that we’re struggling in those situations,” said Girardi.

Hughes brings the strikeouts, but still not sharp

Photo credit: Frank Franklin II/AP

While Phil Hughes looked better last night than he did in his previous start, he still wasn’t as sharp as we’d seen him in earlier efforts. As mentioned above, he caught the plate a few too many times, especially to David Wright, and that caused him trouble with the top of the lineup. He also had trouble finishing off some hitters, walking three of them — Ike Davis twice. When you walk or strike out 10 of the 27 batters you face, your pitch count will certainly climb quickly. Hughes ended with 117, a season high, 88 of which were strikes.

“I threw strikes, but not good strikes,” said Hughes.

Girardi agreed. “It’s not quite making your pitch.”

Hughes’s undoing came in the sixth. He and Angel Pagan were locked in a battle, with Pagan fouling off six of the first eight pitches. Hughes came back with a fastball on the ninth, only 91 mph and a bit outside. Pagan reached for it, though, and sliced it down the left field line. Randy Winn should have had it — he admitted as such after the game — and it fell for a double. Hughes got the next two hitters, but couldn’t retire pinch hitter Alex Cora, who grounded one between Teixeira and Cano, giving the Mets a 4-1 lead.

Winn took full responsibility for the play, saying in no uncertain terms that it was his fault. It stayed straight where he thought it would hook, which explains the misplay. Still, it was a costly error for a player whose primary value to the Yankees is his defensive play in the outfield corners.

WPA graph and box score

Not good when the line stays that far away from your side.

More at FanGraphs. Traditional box at MLB.com.

Up Next

It’s the New York Lefties, CC and Johan, to close the series tomorrow night on ESPN at 8.