Just a disgusting outing by Felix Hernandez last night. I was much more caught up in that than the first few innings of the Yanks game. Grounders and strikeouts, grounders and strikeouts. The guy has let three balls leave the infield all year — and one of them was on the ground! · (1) ·
And the Yankees fail to complete the sweep. Winning two out of three obviously isn’t bad, but when you have a chance at a sweep, you’d like to see them come storming out of the gates. That goes doubly when Ramon Ortiz is on the mound, hef of the 5.57 ERA last year in Washington.
Focusing on the positive for one fleeting moment, Sean Henn has been stellar in this young season. He’s allowed just one run over eight innings, and his work in long relief has eased the burden on the rest of the pen. I could go on and note that his peripherals to this point don’t add up — just one strikeout to one walk and a 6/7 groundball to flyball ratio) — but I’ll stick with this positive while the positive is going.
As Ben noted, Moose may only miss one start, which could work under the current schedule. After the off day today, Igawa will start Friday at Oakland, followed by Pavano and Pettitte on Saturday and Sunday. Another off day on Monday helps, though it won’t keep Darrell Rasner from taking the ball Tuesday at the Stadium against Cleveland, Mussina’s scheduled start. So the Cleveland series will be Rasner, Igawa, and Pavano, lining up Pettitte to start Friday at Fenway. The hope from there would be to have Wang available for Saturday afternoon’s affair, and Moose ready to go on Sunday.
If Moose does end up hitting the DL, though, I’m going to come right out and advocate Phil Hughes for the job. I know many of you want to see him develop more in AAA, but I have to wonder how much that’s going to help. He looked more than solid in his first outing, and he pitches again tonight. If he’s dominating, I don’t see a reason not to challenge him at the big league level, especially since there’s now an excuse to do so. Give him the ball against Cleveland on Tuesday and then again against the Sox in Fenway on Sunday. That would also put him in line to start the following Friday night in the Stadium against Boston. Seriously, I cannot think of a better way to start off Phil Hughes.
Someone really ought to teach the Yanks how to stretch. First, Wang, then Hideki and now Mussina all go down to a hamstring bug. Mussina claims he’ll only miss a start, but that’s what everyone said last year about Robbie Cano before he missed 35 games.
Meanwhile, as Peter Abraham points out, you’ll be hearing Marty Miller’s name a lot over the next few days. He’s the new director of performance enhancing, and as The Times noted over the weekend, his new strenuous routine may be responsible for this rash of injuries. Check yourself before you wreck yourself, Marty.
(In case you’re wondering, Moose was a participant in Marty’s program. That voluntary involvement may have ended in the third inning tonight.)
Meanwhile, A-Rod went 1 for 3 with an RBI and continued his hot hitting. But outside of a 2 for 4 night for Johnny Damon, the Yanks’ bats were silent. A few nice plays in the field concluded the Bombers’ part of the highlight real. Derek Jeter turned a nifty double play on an over-the-shoulder catch, and Doug Mientkiewiczi made a nifty dive on a shot down the line.
The story tonight though, which Joe and I were discussing during the game, was the Big V: Velocity. Proctor didn’t have it, and Krazy Kyle â€” he of the leadoff walk, loss and 4 ER in 0.1 IP tonight â€” didn’t have it either. The gun readings showed these two power pitchers reaching the low 90s instead of their usual upper 90s. Maybe it’s a dead arm period after Spring Training; maybe it’s Marty Miller’s fault; maybe we could find a way to blame A-Rod. But it’s a concern.
Anyway, as long as Ron Villone doesn’t show up in the Bronx, and Fransworth and Proctor rediscover their heat, we’ll be ok. Two out of three in Minnesota is the way to go.
Image of Mussina leaving the field with Gene Monahan from The New York Times.
Yo, Felix flat schooled the Sawx tonight, in the Fens no less. Whaddya think, Hughes-Clippard-Tabata for The King? I’d do it, but I dunno if the M’s brass would…
Triple-A Scranton (10-3 loss to Richmond)
Alberto Gonzalez: 2 for 5, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 E (fielding)
Bronson Sardinha: 0 for 4, 1 RBI, 1 BB
Andy Phillips: 2 for 5, 1 R, 1 3B, 2 K, 1 E (fielding)Â - played second…
Eric Duncan: 0 for 3, 1 RBI, 2 BB
Andrew Beattie: 2 for 3, 1 R, 1 BB – meet the new career minor leaguer on the block…
Tyler Clippard: 4 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K – 61 of 92 pitches were strikes (66.3%)
Colter Bean: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1 HB – lowered his ERA to 6.35
Mike Mussina left the game with a strained left hamstring tonight. The left hamstring is his landing leg, and as John Flaherty just said, the Yanks will allow Mussina to fully heal. It could be three weeks or more for Mussina. Somewhere, Roger Clemens’ phone just rang, and somewhere else, a young pitcher who’s supposed to start tomorrow night may not take the mound for Scranton-Wilkes Barre. · (1) ·
SI.com’s Jon Heyman reports that Johan Santana has broken off contract extension talks with the Twins. Santana, who wants a Barry Zito-sized extension, has a four-year contract that ends after 2008. The Twins offered him two years at $18 million a season, but Santana is looking for long-term stability. I can only dream that one day Santana, Hughes and Wang will be the subject of some bad sexual pun on the back of the Post or Daily News. · (4) ·
Ex-Yankee Jaret Wright went down with shoulder pain yesterday. Surprise. Update by Joseph P.: From the article: “However, when Wright started warming up for the fifth inning last night, he was alarmed by a familiar feeling in the back of his right shoulder. Wright made it through one more inning before getting removed with shoulder stiffness…” I understand there’s a bit of personal pride in toughing out injuries, but there has to be a point where you say, “I’ve had two surgeries on this shoulder and it has placed me on the DL as recently as 2005. Maybe I should tell someone NOW.” Remember, back in April 2005, Wright “felt something” in his shoulder, and pitched until something popped in the fifth or sixth (maybe it was the fourth, I can’t remember). And then he missed nearly four months. I couldn’t be happier to have him on another team. · (0) ·
Now, the only question that remains: do we cut off Chicken Little’s head for the false alarm? Or do we let him suffer the same fate as the proverbial boy who cried wolf?
It appears all has returned to normal in Yankeeland, as they got their second straight “normal” start. Like with Pavano last night, there were a few things I didn’t like from Pettitte tonight. Thankfully, most of those concerns amounted to his control, which is surely the result of a shortened Spring Training. This really isn’t troubling, especially considering he’s still on a rough pitch count (though he kind of blew through that last night).
I must point this out 15 or so times a season, but it is incredibly difficult to put together an interesting recap of a blowout like last night. Yeah, they hit a lot. Yeah, Pettitte pitched like we remember him. But there was little that sparked any emotion, save for Alex’s first-inning home run.
At least Melky was able to avoid looking foolish at the plate yesterday. He went 3 for 4, and didn’t seem to be flailing at pitches like he was in the season’s first week. I noticed this especially in his at bat in the ninth (which coincidentally followed a nice play on a liner to left to end the 8th). He laid off a first-pitch off-speed offering, which he might not have just a few days ago. He still has plenty to work on, but at least he’s got some semblance of a swing working for him.
A couple of notes:
- I’ve been hearing a lot lately about all the times that Minky has saved errors this season. While it’s great that he’s playing solid D at first, I sincerely doubt that he’s saved more than two errors over what Giambi could have done. That’s because Giambi’s more glaring shortcoming isn’t his ability to scoop errant throws, it’s his complete lack of range (followed closely by his inability to throw the ball). But, as long as the Yanks are hitting like this, I’ll take him at first basel.
- Ben had mentioned something about the weather in his previous post, which got me thinking. Writers and bloggers all around the league are complaining about the weather in some form or another. The thing is, though, that most are blaming it for their poor hitting, while Yanks fans blame it for their poor pitching. Maybe we should lay off the weather argument?
- The biggest WPA shift for the Yanks today: Alex’s home run, of course (.174). The most detrimental to the Twins: Mike Cuddyer grounding into a double play in the fourth, with the game still close at 3-0 (-.126).
Mike Mussina gets his chance tonight against Ramon Ortiz. The Yanks just gotta take advantage of this crappy pitching.
Short post from me tonight on the game. We’ll have the WPA graph in the morning. Good work all around tonight. Alex Rodriguez is in the Zone with a big, fat capital Z. It’s something special when a player of his caliber enters this other-wordly hitting zone. I would think that no one will pitch to him soon.
Nice to see Andy Pettitte step up tonight. His success tonight and the Yanks’ overall play leads me to believe that the bad, cold weather had something to do with the Yanks’ lethargic opening week. Baseball is a warm weather sport. No team should play in 35-degree weather or the snow. Just as Indian fans.
Finally, a quick note about one of my favorite relievers. I’ve always loved Scott Proctor’s Stuff. His mid- to upper-90s fastball and complimentary breaking pitches made me a believer, and last year, he delivered on the goods. He also appeared in over half of the Yankees’ games and threw a career-high 102.1 innings.
But tonight, he threw 11 of his 17 pitches out the strike zone. He was pulled after 0.2 innings of work in what was then a seven-run game. On the short season, he has just 4.1 innings under his belt â€” small sample size, I know â€” but has given up four hits and three earned runs. His K:BB ratio, nearly 3:1 last year, is actually 1:2 this year. I just hope he wasn’t ran into the ground last year.