Andy excellent again as Yanks take opener

I went out to the Stadium tonight, but it didn’t really feel like I was there. The place was tame, though I kind of expected that given the time of year and match-up. The game also went as quickly as we’ve seen a Yanks game, just two hours and 19 minutes. That’s what happens when the teams score in bursts and the pitchers otherwise roll. The Yanks got to Brett Myers early, and it was enough for Andy Pettitte.

Biggest Hit: Cervelli opens it up

Photo credit: Bill Kostroun/AP

Things seem to be breaking Brett Myers’s way this year. His peripherals are good, not great, though his ability to keep the ball in the park, a problem for him during his days with Philadelphia, have certainly helped him out. In fact, nearly all of his other peripherals are right in line with his career. That includes strikeout rate, walk rate, hit rate, batting average against, and OBP against. His SLG against, however, is a puny .398, down from .443 for his career.

The Yanks took care of business early, putting Myers on the ropes right at the start. Curtis Granderson got it started with a one-out double, and then the Yanks kept the pressure on. Teixeira walked, and then Cano singled to load the bases. Swisher worked a 3-2 count before taking a walk, bringing home Granderson and opening the scoring. Jorge Posada struck out, but one batter later Francisco Cervelli grounded one up the middle to score two. The hit was huge. The Yanks will feature a weak bottom of the order this weekend, and for one of them to come through when the top of the order has done its job can, and probably will, be the difference in these games.

The hit was big for Cervelli, too. When Jorge Posada took a foul ball off his foot on May 16th, Cervelli was hitting .393/.460/.500. Clearly that wouldn’t last. Full-time exposure caught up to him, and he’s hit .188/.306/.217 in his last 86 PA. He’s better than that, I’m sure, and if he ends the season at .280/.372/.344 I think we’ll all be pleased. Still, huge hit. Turned out to be the difference maker.

Biggest Pitch: We’ll just give it to Pettitte

Photo credit: Bill Kostroun/AP

Normally the starting pitcher has some kind of impact situation where he comes through heroically, setting down his opponent and putting his team back on offense. Pettitte didn’t really run into much of that last night. He had a little trouble in the second, but even then it was a bloop, a walk, and a double. After that he cruised. Even in the eighth he was all but out of the inning until Jeter and Cano failed to connect on a double play. So even though there weren’t any big swings for Pettitte he still has the biggest pitches of the night.

Photo credit: Bill Kostroun/AP

There were a few instances where Astros’ hitters made solid contact off Pettitte. For instance, in the sixth Jeff Keppinger, Lance Berkman, and Carlos Lee all hit decent outfield flies. But they weren’t scorchers. In fact, if you follow the FanGraphs link below you’ll see that while they’re classified as fliners — something that’s between a liner and fly ball — all three fall further under the fly ball category (hence the fliner, fly designation). In other words, they weren’t rockets at luckily positioned players.

In terms of WPA, Joba’s strikeout of Berkman was the biggest negative swing of the game. With the tying run on third that’s understandable. The biggest positive swing for the Astros was Manzella’s double. Again, the Yanks had the lead and the two runners came on a walk (after a tough AB) and a bloop. Again, well-pitched game for the Yanks.

Just as a quick side story. When Joba delivered ball one to Keppinger, the guy in front of me turned to his girlfriend and said that it was an unintentional intentional walk. Yeah. Because when you can walk Jeff Keppinger to load the bases for Lance Berkman, you have to do it.

This, that, and the other

It looks like Teixeira is back in turn-it-around mode. He hit well in the Baltimore series and he continued that last night, going 1 for 3 with a walk, RBI, and run scored. I have a feeling that this time his turnaround is for real. Then again, I said that at the beginning of May.

Good to see Jorge pick up a hit. It’s only his fourth since coming back, and he has yet to hit for extra bases. With his two strikeouts last night he’s whiffed 11 times in 37 PA since June 2. After the layoff I expected he’d go on a rehab assignment, just go get back in the rhythm. Hopefully he’s getting there now.

In the annoyances department, Tommy Manzella drove in the first two Astros runs and scored the third. Kid has an OPS below .550. Yes, it happens. It’s baseball. Doesn’t make it any less annoying. Thankfully, it’s the kind of thing we’ll forget by the time Javy Vazquez throws out the first pitch tomorrow. Probably before that, even.

And, in the best news of the night, Andy Pettitte picked up his 200th win as a Yankee. That makes 237 for his career. He’ll need quite a few more seasons like this if he’s going to flirt with 300. The odds on that have to be pretty long.

Also, if the outfielders keep doing that, I’ll keep posting the pic.

Chart and box

The line never crosses into Astros territory. I approve.

Traditional box at .com. More green lines at FanGraphs.

Up Next

Yay for Saturday afternoon games. It’s Javy Vazquez against Wandy Rodriguez.

Heathcott does it all in Charleston win

Lots of notes, so let bullet point…

  • 1B Kyle Roller (8th round) has signed, ditto RHP Connor Mullee (24). LHP Trevor Johnson (22) is expected to stay in school.
  • For what it’s worth, Paul O’Neill said during tonight’s broadcast that his nephew Mike (42nd rounder) is probably going to follow through on his commitment to Michigan. He apparently injured his shoulder right before the draft and needs surgery. It was a nepotism pick anyway.
  • The Yankees will follow the progress of these players during the summer before deciding whether or not to offer a deal (all courtesy of Robert Pimpsner’s Twitter feed): RHP Dan Burawa (12), LHP Cameron Hobson (37th), OF Mike Gerber (40), and LHP Kyle Hunter (43).
  • LHP Evan Rutckyj (16) has signed with a Florida junior college, which slightly increases his negotiating leverage since he can just re-enter the draft next year. He’s reportedly looking for a first round pay day.
  • Absolutely zero Yankee draft picks are still playing in the NCAA Division I postseason, in case you’re curios. No College World Series section in DotF this summer. Lame.
  • Joel Sherman heard the Yanks were “talking about trying to re-sign” Chris Garcia, presumably to a minor league deal. He’ll be out until next spring after having his second Tommy John surgery in April.

Triple-A Scranton (9-5 loss to Charlotte) got beat by an old buddy
Reid Gorecki, CF, Reegie Corona, 2B & David Winfree, RF: all 1 for 5 – Gorecki scored a run, K’ed & committed a fielding error … Winfree doubled, drove in a run, scored another & K’ed
Eduardo Nunez, SS & Chad Huffman, 1B: both 2 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B – Huffman drove in two & K’ed
Juan Miranda, DH: 2 for 4, 1 BB – hasn’t played the field since leaving a game after being hit by a pitch a few weeks ago
Jesus Montero, C: 2 for 4, 1 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K, 1 PB – five for his last 17 (.294) … last three hits have been doubles … progress, people
Greg Golson, LF: 1 for 4, 2 K
Zach McAllister: 2.1 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 2-4 GB/FB – 31 of 53 pitches were strikes (58.5%) … first game back from a minor triceps issue, so he gets a mulligan
Jason Hirsh: 4.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 3-7 GB/FB –46 of 66 pitches were strikes (69.7%)
Royce Ring: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1-1 GB/FB – 13 of his 19 pitches were strikes (68.4%)

[Read more…]

Injury updates on A-Rod, Posada, Gardner

Update by Mike (9:51pm): Brian Cashman confirmed that A-Rod will not play before Tuesday.

Just a few injury updates:

  • Mark Feinsand reports that A-Rod has tendinitis of the hip flexor. Girardi thinks it’s good news that it’s not a muscular issue. A-Rod is day-to-day. He could pinch hit tonight, but Girardi would like to avoid that. The Yanks have an off-day on Monday as well, so they could use Sunday to give him two days off in a row, including three off in four days.
  • Via Chad Jennings, Tony Pena led Jorge Posada in some more catching drills today. I can see him back behind the plate Tuesday against Philly, but that’s just a guess.
  • Also from Jennings, Gardner will take BP of some sort today. He is not in tonight’s lineup.

Game 61: Houston, you have a problem

"Aw dang, I really miss New York y'all." (Photo Credit: Pat Sullivan, AP)

The Astros are bad, like really really bad. As a team they’re hitting .237-.290-.339, which is like having nine Randy Winn’s in the lineup. It’s that bad. Houston’s rotation is sneaky good, but it’s just not enough to overcome that putrid lineup. I’m sure former ‘Stro Andy Pettitte is glad he decided to come back to the Yankees when he did.

Here’s the tonight’s lineup…

Jeter, SS
Granderson, CF
Teixeira, 1B
Cano, 2B
Swisher, RF
Posada, DH
Cervelli, C
Pena, 3B
Russo, LF

And on the mound, Andrew Pettitte.

Make sure you check out all the injury updates from earlier in case you missed them. The game starts at 7:05pm ET, and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.

NoMaas interviews Mark Newman

The gang over at NoMaas scored an interview with Mark Newman, the Yankees’ Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations and a 22-year veteran of the organization. The discussed a wide range of farm system related topics, from the organizational hierarchy to the team’s plans for Slade Heathcott and J.R Murphy to the draft. There’s a ton, and I really mean a ton of great info in there, so it get my highest level or recommendation. Hit it up, yo.

A no-hitter most strange seven years later

Photo credit: Osamu Honda/AP

Once upon a time, the best team in the American League — the team destined for a first place finish, a classic ALCS and, unfortunately, a disappointing World Series loss — found itself no-hit by a motley bunch of Houston Astros. Now, these Astros were no schlubs. After all, they entered the game 36-28, in first in NL Central, just half a game worse than the Yanks. Plus, as Dallas Braden and countless others have shown, no-hitters can come from the unlikeliest of unlikely pitchers. But this nine-inning effort was unique in that it took six pitchers, each throwing harder than the last.

On paper, the original pitching match-up looked every bit the lopsided affair this game would turn out to be. Astros’ ace Roy Oswalt would face off against the Yanks’ Jeff Weaver in one of those painfully unexciting Interleague games that have come to dominate the mid-June schedule. Weaver, as was his pinstriped wont, had nothing from the start, and Oswalt had everthing. The Astros took a 1-0 lead after a Craig Biggio leadoff double, a flyball and a wild pitch, and Oswalt struck out Derek Jeter and Jason Giambi.

And then the Yanks caught a break. Oswalt left the game with a groin injury, and the Yanks could feast on 8 innings of bullpen work. Even with Jeff Weaver on the mound, the Yanks had 24 outs against pitchers not as good as Oswalt.

The break, it turned out, was anything but. Peter Munro took over for Oswalt and was effectively wild. He walked three — the only three Yanks to reach base — and struck out two in 2.2 innings of work. Kirk Saarloos took the ball for 1.1 hitless innings, and then the Astros brought the heat.

Over the final four innings of the game, the Yanks had to face Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel and Billy Wagner, each throwing harder than the last. The trio combined for eight strike outs over the final 12 outs of the game, and the game ended when Hideki Matsui grounded out to first. No runs, no hits.

Overall, the Astros’ pitching line was one for ages. 9 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 13 K. What made it confounding, though, was the sheer number of pitchers the Astros used. Houston seemed even more confused than New York. “I kind of expected him to hug me,” Billy Wagner said after the game, referring to first baseman Jeff Bagwell. “It was kind of a weird situation.”

Weird indeed. The 2003 Astros became the first team to use six pitchers in a single no-hitter, and the Yanks, who hadn’t been on the wrong end of a no-hitter in decades over a span of 6980 games, found themselves in the record books for all the wrong reasons. Sometimes, you lose, and sometimes, you lose historically.

Tonight, the Astros return to the scene of the crime seven years and one new stadium later. Lidge, Dotel, and Wagner have moved on to greener pastures, and while Oswalt has stayed with Houston through thick and thin, the Astros are engaged in a race to the bottom with the Orioles. One team will be crowned worst in baseball four months for now.

For now, the Astros and Yanks will just have to look back on that odd June 11 no-hitter and laugh. “Whatever kind of history it was,” said then-manager Joe Torre at the time, “it was terrible. It was one of the worst games I’ve ever been involved with.”