Sanchez keeps on hitting in GCL Yanks win

Make sure you scroll down for tonight’s game thread.

Triple-A Scranton (10-7 win over Buffalo)
Justin Christian, LF: 1 for 5, 1 R, 2 K
Reegie Corona, 2B: 2 for 5, 2 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI – seven for his last 20 (.350)
Eduardo Nunez, SS: 2 for 5, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 SB, 1 E (throwing) – just his third start at short in his last seven games … playing a lot of third base recently
Juan Miranda, DH & Jesus Montero, C: both 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
Jorge Vazquez, 1B: 1 for 4, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 K
Chad Huffman, RF: 1 for 4, 1 RBI, 1 K
Eric Bruntlett, 3B: 3 for 4, 3 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI – heh, maybe he wants Ramiro Pena‘s job
Greg Golson, CF: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 K
Zach McAllister: 4 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 4-6 GB/FB – 47 of 71 pitches were strikes (66.2%) … 110 H allowed in 95 IP
Romulo Sanchez: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 3-1 GB/FB – 20 of 27 pitches were strikes (74.1%)
Boone Logan: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 4-2 GB/FB – 16 of his 27 pitches were strikes (59.3%)
Eric Wordekemper: 0 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 WP – just half of his 16 pitches were strikes … that’s going to kill his trade value
Jon Albaladejo: 1 IP, zeroes, 3-0 GB/FB – seven of his eight pitches were strikes

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Game 85: Hello, Seattle. We meet again

A seafaring Moose. Credit: AP Photo, Ted S. Warren

When last the Yankees met the Mariners, it was a different time. The World was more innocent and care-free. We knew nothing of LeBrons and All Star Votes. We had only an inkling of the days and wins to come against Oakland and Toronto. Ah, last week, how I miss you.

Due to the idiosyncrasies of the schedule, the Yankees and Mariners are squaring off for a four-game set this week to rush headlong into the All Star Break. The two teams met each other in a three-game set in the Bronx that wrapped up one week ago today. Unfortunately, Cliff Lee is still a Mariner, and he’s set to pitch tomorrow.

Before we get to Lee, though, All Star Andy Pettitte and the Yanks’ starting nine have to get through Jason Vargas. On the surface, Vargas has some good numbers. He’s 6-4 with a 3.22 ERA, but those mask a low strike out rate and a .263 BABIP that’s a good .030 lower than league average. He’s found success by limiting the walks (2.3/9 IP) and home runs (0.7 HR/9 IP), and the one-time member of the New York Metropolitans relies on a good change to keep hitters off balance.

The Yankees, off a sweep of the A’s, will look to keep their winning streak alive. Number 46 takes the mound, and he’s 10-2 with a 2.82 ERA. Lately, Pettitte hasn’t limited the long ball, giving up 6 HR over his last 40 innings, but most haven’t caused much damage. He’ll have the spacious Safeco outfield — and the Yanks’ steller outfield defense — behind him.

Derek Jeter SS
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada C
Curtis Granderson CF
Brett Gardner LF
Ramiro Pena 3B – His 2-for-4 last night raised the OPS+ all the way to 32.

Andy Pettitte P

First pitch is at 10:10 p.m. ET, and this one’s on the YES Network.

Nick Johnson feels pain in surgically repaired wrist

From the no one should be surprised department, Nick Johnson felt pain his wrist taking swings today, and has been sent back to New York for test. You really didn’t think that NJ would get through his rehab without a setback, did you? It’s a shame, the Yankees could really use a productive (and set) designated hitter right about now. Anything they get out of Johnson the rest of the season is just gravy, zero expectations.

Open Thread: But can he hit a curveball?

Photo Credit: Amy Sancetta, AP

So LeBron James is going to announce his long awaited decision tonight. All indications are that he’s going to join the Miami Heat, who have pulled a Yankees and signed everyone this offseason. I’ll be perfectly honest, I’m not much of a basketball fan at all, but if LeBron came to the Knicks, I probably would have watched some games this year. Definitely at the start of the season, at least. But now I still don’t have any interest in the sport, who wants to watch a league with all the best players on one team? That’s not sport, that’s not competition, it’s a video game set to rookie difficulty with force trades on.

Yes, that probably sounds hypocritical coming from a Yanks fan, but baseball and basketball are such different sports. Three great players can win you a title in basketball, but an All Star baseball team can absolutely get beat by one or two hot pitchers in a short playoff series. Anyway, LeBron’s making his announcement at 9pm ET on ESPN, so talk about that or whatever else you want here.

Men on base stand no chance against Andy

Photo credit: Kevork Djansezian/AP

Part of Andy Pettitte‘s first half success has been his defense’s ability to turn balls in play into outs. He surely has something to do with that himself — he sets ’em up, the defense knocks ’em down — though we’re not really sure to what degree he controls the results of balls in play. His .268 mark is currently the lowest of his career, though he did have a .270 BABIP for all of 2005. Yet that’s not where all of Andy’s success lies.

A low BABIP means Pettitte is doing a good job keeping runners off base. But once they do reach base they still don’t stand a great chance of scoring. On the year Pettitte has allowed 115 men to roam the bases. That counts hits, walks, reach on errors, and hit by pitches, but subtracts home runs. Of those 115 baserunners, only 26 have come around to score (37 runs allowed minus 11 home runs). That’s good for a 77.4 percent strand rate (I ran this a bit differently than FanGraphs does their strand rate, which has Pettitte at a 79.7 percent strand rate).

How is he doing this? Usually pitchers can achieve high strand rates by striking out runners with men on base, but Pettitte actually fares worse in strikeouts with men on base than he does with the bases empty. He also walks more batters with men on base. The answer is that hitters fare even worse on balls in play with men on base than they do with the bases empty. Hitters currently have a puny .184 BABIP with men on base against Pettitte, and have grounded into double plays in 17 percent of their opportunities.

Some of this has to be luck, but part of it, I’d like to think, involves some veteran savvy on Pettitte’s part. He knows he doesn’t have the stuff to overpower hitters, so he bears down and gets the guys he has to. The question, of course, is of whether he can continue this favorable trend for the rest of the season.

For what it’s worth, Pettitte doesn’t notice a difference. In an excellent story by FanHouse’s Jeff Fletcher, Pettitte is quoted as saying, “I feel like I’m pitching exactly the same.” We’ll take it.