Yanks survive late innings, finish road trip 6-3

Sunday afternoon’s game against the Angels was not an easy one. The Halos seemed to have a runner on base at all times, and in the late innings they often did. The Yankees used some evil homeruns and ugly but effective relief work to win the weekend series and finish the nine game west swing.


Two Times The Tex, Two Times The Fun

Curtis Granderson has been the Yankees’ best player pretty much all season, but you know what? Mark Teixeira has been pretty damn awesome himself. He went 3-for-4 with two homers in this game, pushing his season line to .258/.365/.549. His 18 homers are one more than Granderson and two behind Jose Bautista for the Major League lead.

The first homer, a solo shot in the third to give the Yankees a two-run lead, was an absolute bomb off a hanging changeup, which is essentially a batting practice fastball. The second homer was a two-run shot in the fifth that turned a 2-2 game into a 4-2 game, another absolute bomb deep into the right field seats. Tex didn’t hit his 18th homerun last season until July 17th, the team’s 90th game. He hit four long balls on the road trip, and has nine homers in his last 16 games overall. That’s pretty nuts. Tex is a streaky dude, and right now he’s locked in.

Swish’s Back

When the road trip started, Nick Swisher‘s season line was sitting at an unsightly .204/.321/.289. He managed to boost that all the way up to .215/.342/.348 during the nine games in Seattle and California, capping the trip off with a solo homer off the right field pole to give the Yankees a big insurance run. Overall, Swish went 8-for-29 (.276) with nine walks (.436), three homers (.655), and just five strikeouts during the trip. That’s the Nick Swisher we all know and love, and I’m glad to see him back. It just adds another level of depth to the lineup.

By The Skin Of Their Teeth


The Yankees’ bullpen has been very strong this year, despite getting next to nothing from high priced imports Rafael Soriano and Pedro Feliciano. David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain have done most of the heavy lifted ahead of Mariano Rivera, who’s been his usual brilliant self. Sunday’s game wasn’t so easy though, those three had to combine for 11 outs following a solid but unspectacular effort from Bartolo Colon.

Robertson replaced Colon with one out and a man on second in the sixth, then walked two batters after a fielder’s choice before escaping the inning by striking out Maicer Izturis. He coaxed a ground out from Erick Aybar to start the seventh, then Joba came in only to allow an infield single to Bobby Abreu. He got out of the inning with a strikeout of Howie Kendrick, then pitched around a one out walk in the eight. Rivera nailed down the save despite two singles, escaping the jam thanks to a Torii Hunter ground out.

It was definitely one of those games that does a number on your blood pressure, but all three guys got out of their jams by making big pitches when they had to. It’s cliche, but that’s what happened. Izturis whiffed on a 2-2 curveball in the dirt, Kendrick hacked at a 2-2 curve off the plate, Bourjos grounded int a double play on a 3-2 slider, and Hunter did the same on a 0-1 fastball. All told, the late-game trio of relievers combined to allow six baserunners over the last three-plus innings, but none of them came across to score. Good stuff.


Colon was dominant in the first two innings, but the Halos adjusted their approach and started to swing away at fastballs early in the count with great success. They scored three runs on six hits and two walks off the Yankees’ starter over the next 3.1 innings, and he needed a great barehand play by Robinson Cano to get out of the third inning. It was just the second time in nine starts that Colon failed to complete six innings, but that kind of stuff happens form time to time.

Jorge Posada had perhaps the ugliest 2-for-4 in the history of baseball. He grounded into a double play in the second inning and got thrown out foolishly trying to stretch a double into a triple in the fourth, so he still managed to account for four outs despite the two hits. Seriously, I don’t know how much longer this charade can go on, but it’s pretty obvious that Jorge is dunzo.

Curtis Granderson appears to be slumping, but he reached base twice in the game (single and walk) and has reached in four of his last eight plate appearances. That’ll do. Cano had a hit, Derek Jeter had a hit, and Brett Gardner had a pair of hits, including an RBI double in the second to kick off the scoring. He also got thrown out trying to steal second later in the game, continuing a troublesome trend.

A 6-3 road trip is pretty much the best case scenario, especially considering the high-end starting pitching they faced. In fact, they had multiple run leads against Michael Pineda and Felix Hernandez only to lose the game. I’ll take it, this is as good as west coast road trips get. At 33-24, the Yankees have tied the fading Indians for the best winning percentage in the AL (.579), and their +71 run differential is 20 runs better than anyone else. Their lead in the division sits at two games in the loss column.

WPA Graph & Box Score

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the other stuff.

Up Next

Time for the Yankees to come home. They’ll take Monday off then head to the ballpark on Tuesday to take on the Red Sox. Freddy Garcia will kick the series off against Jon Lester.

Heredia’s big day pushes Tampa to win

Carlos Silva was scratched from today’s start with shoulder stiffness, though Triple-A Scranton manager Dave Miley said he’s just being “pushed back.” Good news for Ivan Nova, I supposed. Austin Romine, meanwhile, has a sore back and neck following a collision at the plate the other day, and he might have a concussion. He’s already seen the team doctor, though there’s no timetable for his return to the lineup.

Triple-A Scranton (3-2 win over Toledo)
Greg Golson, CF: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 K
Ramiro Pena, SS: 2 for 4, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI – 12 for his last 31 (.387) with three doubles and two homers
Jesus Montero, C: 0 for 4, 1 K
Jorge Vazquez, 1B: 1 for 4, 1 K
Brandon Laird, 3B: 2 for 3, 1 RBI – 13 for his last 28 (.464) with four doubles and a homer
Jordan Parraz, DH, Kevin Russo, 2B & Dan Brewer, RF: all 0 for 3 – Parraz struck out
Austin Krum, LF: 1 for 3, 1 SB – threw a runner out at second
Buddy Carlyle, RHP: 4 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 3-1 GB/FB – 35 of 51 pitches were strikes (68.6%) … solid job in the spot start for Silva
Ryan Pope, RHP: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1-3 GB/FB – 13 of 18 pitches were strikes (72.2%)
George Kontos, RHP: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1-2 GB/FB – 15 of 25 pitches were strikes
Kevin Whelan, RHP: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K – 12 pitches, ten strikes … he’s been every bit as good as Jon Albaladejo was closing games last year, which is pretty crazy

[Read more…]

Open Thread: Success

(Photo Credit: Flickr user razvan.orendovici via Creative Commons license)

Given the starting pitching they faced, it’s impossible to consider this 6-3 west coast trip anything but a smashing success. It certainly wasn’t easy this afternoon, but all that matters is that it went into the win column. Beautiful. The Yankees get a much deserved day off now, and we’re just 24 hours from the draft. Yippee.

Anyway, here is tonight’s open thread. The ESPN Sunday Night Game is in CitiField for the Mets and Braves (Dickey vs. Hudson), and you’ve also got Game Three of the NBA Finals (8pm ET, ABC). You all know what to do by now, so have at it.

Game 57: End of the road (trip)

(Photo Credit: Flickr user Keith Allison via Creative Commons license)

Ten days later, the west coast road trip is over. Or at least will be once this game ends. The Yankees are guaranteed a winning trip after last night’s game, but boy does 6-3 look a whole lot better than 5-4. Here’s the starting nine…

Derek Jeter, SS
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nick Swisher, RF
Jorge Posada, DH
Brett Gardner, LF
Frankie Cervelli, C

Bartolo Colon, SP

First pitch is scheduled for 3:35pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.

Rotation News: Joe Girardi announced before the game that Freddy Garcia, A.J. Burnett, and CC Sabathia will be his starters for the upcoming series against the Red Sox. Ivan Nova was scheduled to start the third game, but they’re using Monday’s off day to flip flop him with Sabathia. Good call.

High Socks For Hope: They’re going to show a segment on David Robertson‘s visit to his home town of Tuscaloosa following the recent tornado devastation. The High Socks For Hope website is up and running, and you can donate there if you want.

2011 Draft: Keith Law’s Latest Top 100 Prospects

Tomorrow’s the big day, so Keith Law posted his updated list of the top 100 draft prospects this weekend (Insider req’d). UCLA RHP Gerrit Cole will go first overall and occupies the top spot, unsurprisingly. The 51st overall player in the rankings is Oregon LHP Tyler Anderson, a guy with four pitches known more for his pitchability than his raw stuff. The Yankees don’t want the 51st best talent in the draft though, they’re hoping a top 20 guys falls, as we all should.

Considering Capps

As it stands, the Minnesota Twins’ odds of making the postseason currently stand around 1%. If you’re an astute student of baseball, mathematics and/or statistics, you might deduce that this is not good. Despite winning three games in a row, the Twins still sit at 20-37, 13.5 games back of the division leading Indians. Their fall from grace has been surprising. Virtually everything that could go wrong has gone wrong for this team. You want the litany? I’ll give you the litany. Their best pitcher, Francisco Liriano, has been horrific all year and has shoulder soreness now; their best player, Joe Mauer, has been on the disabled list for weeks; their star first baseman, Justin Morneau, has struggled out of the gate after missing half of 2010 with a concussion; their former closer, Joe Nathan, isn’t quite right after undergoing Tommy John surgery last spring and lost his job as closer; Delmon Young is hurt; several key prospects have struggled or gotten hurt; they demoted one of their best pitchers to the bullpen after some not-so-private feuding, and he is currently injured; their new second baseman had his leg broken on a slide by Nick Swisher; Jason Kubel is hurt; Jim Thome is hurt; it’s already the first week in June, and they just won their first series.

It’s been bad. Really, at this point, they should be looking to unload some of their assets and rebuild. While some have focused on some of their starting pitchers as trade targets, it might be interesting to key in on reliever Matt Capps as a trade target.

Capps was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the seventh round  of the 2002 draft and was a starter until 2005 when the Pirates converted him to the bullpen. Once he became a reliever he moved quickly through Pittsburgh’s system, going from A ball all the way to Triple A in one season, and even earning a September callup to the Pirates that year. Capps pitched a full year out of the Pirates pen in 2006, as a 22 year old, and did quite well. Rather than go through his performance year by year since then, I’ve created a little graph listing some relevant statistics that paint a good picture of the type of pitcher he is. These numbers are current through Friday.

Instead of focusing on fluctuations year to year, it’s probably wiser to take all 369.2 innings he’s thrown as a whole. He has a decent ERA and it’s backed up by strong DIPS numbers. He strikes out around 7 batters per 9 innings, not exactly elite for a reliever, but he doesn’t hand out many free passes at all. His K/BB ratio is excellent. Despite his 2010 mark he isn’t exactly a ground ball pitcher, a trait that would play well in Minnesota but perhaps less well in New York. Capps hasn’t had the best year so far in 2011. He’s blown a few games and his strikeout rate has dipped below 6. But it’s also worth noting that it’s only been 25 innings of work, hardly a meaningful sample size, and that his strand rate is well below what would be reasonable to expect going forward.

Capps is signed this year for $7.15 million and he becomes a free agent at the end of the season. By the time he’s traded he won’t cost the acquiring team more than a few million dollars in salary. The Yankees should kick the tires on him and consider bringing him aboard if the price isn’t too steep. Capps wouldn’t necessarily need to handle high leverage spots – Robertson and Chamberlain are doing fantastically – but he’d be the perfect type of reliever to soak up some of those lower-leverage appearances in which we see Robertson so frequently. Girardi has been good about keeping his guys fresh for October, but it would be nice to give him another quality arm to use in the dog days of the summer.

CC stymies the Angels, wins fourth straight start

In his last four starts, CC Sabathia has thrown 33.2 of 36 possible innings. The Yankees have won all four of those games, unsurprisingly. It’s the first time a Yankees’ starter has completed eight or more innings in four straight starts since David Cone in 1998. Dude’s a straight up beast. The Yankees won 3-2, and here’s the important stuff…

  • Robinson Cano got the Yankees on the board with a solo homer in the fourth, fouling off six pitches as part of a ten-pitch at-bat. Best of all, Torii Hunter jumped at the fence trying to catch the ball, but he instead landed on a fan. That’s what you see above.
  • Alex Rodriguez tacked on two all-important insurance runs with a two-run bomb in the sixth, a 93 mph fastball that leaked right over the plate. No fans were hurt in the making of that one.
  • As for the rest of the offense, both Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson reached base twice (single and a walk for each), the slumping Brett Gardner had two singles, and Nick Swisher ripped an opposite field double off the wall. Everyone but Mark Teixeira and Russell Martin reached base at least once.
  • Sabathia was The Man™, allowing runs only when when his defense (coughJetercough) played a little sloppy behind him. The end result was 8.2 IP and two runs (one earned), which is as good as it gets. Mariano Rivera came in for the one pitch save, guaranteeing the Yankees a winning road trip. Good stuff.
  • Here’s the box score, and here’s the WPA graph.

Rubber game tomorrow afternoon, when former Angel Bartolo Colon and (possible future Yankee) Joel Pineiro square off at 3:35pm ET.