Fan Confidence Poll: August 9th, 2010

Record Last Week: 3-3 (28 RS, 27 RA)
Season Record: 69-41 (591 RS, 452 RA, 69-41 Pythag. record), 2.5 games up
Schedule This Week: vs. Red Sox (one game, Mon.), @ Rangers (two games, Tues. and Weds.), @ Royals (four games, Thurs. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

{democracy:108}

Moseley mows the Sox down as Yanks win 7-2

Even though CC Sabathia gave the Yankees everything they could have asked for and then some in Saturday’s game, the team is still working its way out of the funk that saw them dip into second place for the first time in nearly two months. Scheduled starter A.J. Burnett was a late scratch due to some back spasm, forcing Dustin Moseley into action on short notice. It’s safe to say it didn’t bother him in the least.

Sad David is sad. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Biggest Hit: Tex Marks The Spot

The Yanks jumped out to an early two-zip lead in this one thanks to some of that vaunted Red Sox run prevention, but Bill Hall kept Boston close with a solo homer in the 5th. Roger Clemens used to say that the biggest inning for a pitcher was the inning after his team scored, because it was his job to keep the opposition down and get his offense back on the field as quickly as possible. Three nondescript outs followed Hall’s homer, so the Yanks came back to plate against the Josh Beckett, still nursing that 2-1 run. Just as ESPN came back from commercial, my phone dinged but I didn’t check the message immediately.

Wasting no time, Mark Teixeira jumped all over a 2-1 fastball out over the plate and hit an ab-SO-lute firecracker (World Cup’d) into the rightfield bleachers to restore the two run lead. In the grand scheme of things it was just another run, but at the time it was huge. Getting that extra insurance run is always appreciated.

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Honorable Mention: The Cap’n Splits The Outfielders

The Yanks didn’t stop after Tex’s homer in the 5th, with the next two batters reaching base on a walk and hit by pitch. A double, walk, strikeout, and a comical throwing error later, Derek Jeter came to the plate with the bases juiced and two outs in the frame. The lead had already been extended to four, but the Cap’n had a chance for the kill shot. And as he so often does, he came through. A two run double into the right-centerfield gap broke things open, giving the Yanks a six run lead. It wasn’t the biggest WPA swing of the game, but it just felt like the biggest hit. It was the one that put the game out of reach.

After the big five run 5th inning, I finally got around to checking the message on my phone. It was from a good buddy of mine who unfortunately happens to be a Red Sox fan. Channeling his inner Clemens, he wrote: “If Beckett shuts them down this inning, then the Sox win.” So much for that.

Biggest Out: The Rook Grounds Out

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

For the first three innings, Dustin Moseley cruised right along and faced just one over the minimum. With the Yanks still nursing that 2-0 lead, Moseley again recorded two quick outs in the 4th, but then he lost the plate a little. Victor Martinez singled back up through the box, and both J.D. Drew and Adrian Beltre followed by taking ball four. The bases were loaded for the rookie Ryan Kalish, who took Javy Vazquez deep for his first career homer two days ago and was 9-for-21 on the season coming into this game.

The sinkerballing Moseley started him off with … a curveball, which dipped out of the zone for ball one. The overly anxious rook didn’t wait for a fastball he could drive, instead swinging at the second pitch he saw, a changeup fading down and in on him. Kalish hit the top of the ball, grounding it harmlessly to first for the inning ending force out. Certain doom was avoided.

Honorable Mention: Boone Beats Papi

With the Yanks comfortably ahead by six, Moseley started to fade a bit in the 7th inning, giving the ball over the Joba Chamberlain with one out and men on first and third. Joba allowed a run on an infield single before walking Marco Scutaro to load the up and put the tying run on deck. Joe Girardi then summoned Boone Logan to face David Ortiz with three ducks on the pond, and even though he fell behind in the count 3-1, Logan eventually won the seven pitch battle by getting the noted Yankee killer to ground out harmlessly to Robbie Cano at second. Certain doom was avoided yet again.

The Other Stuff

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Big ups to Moseley, seriously. Pressed into action when Burnett’s back acted up, the guy took the ball into the 7th inning and limited the Sox to just two runs. He recorded 16 of his 19 outs either on the ground or via strike three, and didn’t even run up that high of a pitch count. Just 87 pitches (52 strikes) on the evening. Simply a fantastic job.

Alex Rodriguez stole his third base of the season, giving him 300 in his career. He become the third member of the 600 homer, 300 steal club, joining Barry Bonds and Willie Mays. He was lifted in the 9th inning with what’s being called stiffness, but who knows what body part we’re talking about here. Hopefully it’s not the hip.

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Meanwhile, Derek Jeter picked up career hits number 2,874 and 2,875 tonight, moving him past Babe Ruth for sole possession of 39th place all time. Mel Ott is one hit away for 38th place, Frankie Frisch five away for 37th, and Zack Wheat nine away for 36th.

Lance Berkman, also known as the worst baseball player in the history of the universe, picked up three hits in his first three at-bats, including a pair of doubles that either directly or indirectly led to three runs. It’s almost as if it’s foolish to judge a player based on 24 plate appearances.

I personally didn’t hear it, but apparently Orel Hershiser said during the late innings of the broadcast that the Yankees were on pace for 94 wins this year. At the moment they have a .627 winning percentage, putting them on pace for 102 wins. It literally took me less than 20 seconds to figure that out.

With Tampa Bay getting completely shut down by Brandon Morrow this afternoon, the Yankees are now two-and-a-half games up in the AL East.

WPA Graph & Box Score

Comeback? You so crazy Bill Hall. MLB.com has your box score, FanGraphs your nerd score.

Up Next

The final game of this four game wrap-around set will be played tomorrow afternoon, before the Yanks head down to Texas to take on the first place Rangers in a quick two game series. Phil Hughes matches up with Jon Lester. That should be fun.

Montero pounds the Red Sox in SWB win

Five Staten Island Yankees were named to the NY-Penn League All Star Team: Mikey O’Brien, Preston Claiborne, Chase Whitley, Jose Mojica, and Eduardo Sosa. The linked article incorrect says outfielder Felix Sanchez plays for SI when he in fact is a member of the Lowell Spinners.

Meanwhile, Lance Pendleton has been promoted to Triple-A Scranton, and he’s hella excited. Francisco Arcia is out for the season with a broken finger after taking a foul ball off the digit the other day, though I would be surprised if Gary Sanchez was promoted to take his place. Not saying it’s impossible, but I would be shocked.

Triple-A Scranton (12-3 win over Pawtucket)
Kevin Russo, 2B & Jorge Vazquez, 1B: both 2 for 5 – Russo doubled, drew a walk & scored
Colin Curtis, RF: 3 for 5, 3 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K – second homer in his last three games after hitting just one in his first 60 games
Brandon Laird, 3B: 1 for 6, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K – one for his last 14 (.071)
Juan Miranda, DH: 2 for 5, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K
Jesus Montero, C: 3 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI – ten for his last 26 (.385) with four doubles and a homer
Eduardo Nunez, SS: 0 for 5 – just four for his last 37 (.108)
Chad Huffman, LF: 1 for 4, 3 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K
Greg Golson, CF: 3 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI – eight for his last 17 (.471) with two doubles, a triple & three homers
Jason Hirsh: 8 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 9 K, 4-8 GB/FB – 76 of 113 pitches were strikes (67.3%) … he’s allowed 17 homers in 115.1 IP this year (1.33 HR/9)
Romulo Sanchez: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 0-1 GB/FB – just 11 of his 25 pitches were strikes (44%)

[Read more…]

Game 110: A-Rod’s back

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

CC Sabathia put a nice stop to the Yankees’ mini-slump yesterday, dominating the Red Sox for eight innings and handing the ball off to Mariano Rivera himself. A.J. Burnett was supposed to start tonight’s game, but back spasms but him on the shelf and Dustin Moseley will instead give it a go. He’ll be on regular rest because of Thursday’s off day, ditto Phil Hughes when he starts tomorrow.

As for who is playing, the big name is Alex Rodriguez. He came through batting practice feeling good following yesterday’s incident involving a line drive, Lance Berkman, and Joe Buck being annoying, so he’s back in the lineup batting cleanup and playing third base. With all due to respect to the fantastic job Ramiro Pena did yesterday, it’s great to have Alex back.

Hopefully Moseley has some of that “didn’t know he was starting until an hour before first pitch” magic that we so often hear about. I’ll settle for lots of ground balls, six innings, and no more than four runs. Here’s the rest of the crew…

Jeter, SS
Swisher, RF
Teixeira, 1B
A-Rod, 3B
Cano, 2B
Posada, C
Berkman, DH
Granderson, CF
Gardner, LF

And on the bump, it’s Mr. Moseley.

Tonight’s game starts a little after 8pm ET and can be seen everywhere as part of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. The last time the Yankees played on ESPN on a Sunday Night, things turned out pretty well. Let’s hope for more of the same. Enjoy y’all.

Burnett pushed to Tuesday with back spasms; A-Rod may return

Update (5:13 p.m.): The Yankees have regained their third baseman while losing their starting pitcher. A.J. Burnett will not make his long awaited start against Josh Beckett tonight as he has been scratched with back spasms. Dustin Moseley with start in his stead tonight, and Phil Hughes will go tomorrow. Burnett, who felt the spasms yesterday, is scheduled to pitch Tuesday against the Rangers as long as his back holds up.

In other injury news, Alex Rodriguez is currently penciled into the lineup tonight as the clean-up hitter and third baseman. A-Rod missed yesterday’s game after taking a line drive to the shin during batting practice. He walked off the field under his own power but with a slight limp, and his x-rays were negative. While A-Rod is right now set to play, Girardi told reporters that the final lineup will be a game-time decision. “I can’t tell you that will be our lineup at 8 o clock,” he said.

Lining up Beckett and Burnett

(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Tonight marks A.J. Burnett‘s 15th career start against the Red Sox and his seventh as a Yankee. Part of the reason the Yankees signed Burnett to a five-year, $82 million contract after the 2008 season was his track record against the AL East, particularly against Boston. He pitched 56.1 innings in eight starts against Boston as a Blue Jay, striking out 53 and allowing just 16 earned runs. With the Yankees he has pitched 29.2 innings, allowing 31 runs. He’s really had just one good start against them, which was the 7.2 innings of shutout ball he pitched in the infamous 15-inning affair last season. Tonight he gets a shot to add another quality one, as he’ll face Josh Beckett.

Of Burnett’s 14 starts against the Red Sox, four have come against his former Marlins teammate Josh Beckett. The first time they met Burnett was in a Blue Jays jersey, and it was both pitchers’ first month in their first seasons with a new team. Beckett, homer-happy as he was that season, allowed three Blue Jays to take him deep, resulting in five earned runs in 7.1 innings. Yet he left the game with the lead, to be blown by Mike Timlin and eventually surrendered completely by Keith Foulke. Burnett lasted just four innings on his end, allowing three runs and striking out five.

The two did not meet at all during the rest of Burnett’s three-year stint in Toronto. They both took the mound in April, 2009, facing off for the first time as Yankee and Red Sock. If you’ll bear the pain necessary to recall the memory, both starters pitched horribly. Burnett looked like he was cruising until he ill-advisedly threw Jason Varitek a first-pitch fastball, which Varitek deposited in right field for a grand slam. All told Burnett lasted five innings, allowing eight runs. Beckett, too, lasted just five innings, matching Burnett’s eight runs. The Sox won the battle of the bullpens.

Their next meeting, that June, was a much more lopsided affair. Beckett tossed six shutout innings, striking out eight Yankees. Burnett completely melted down, allowing five runs, three earned, in 2.2 innings. It took him 84 pitches to record those eight outs, thanks mostly to his five walks. That was part of a particularly frustrating stretch of schedule. After a slow start the Yanks had actually taken first place, but that loss evened their record with the Sox. This was, as you’ll again painfully remember, part of the 0-8 stretch the Yanks had against the Sox.

A little more than two months later they met again, and Beckett again brought his best. The Yanks managed just four hits and two walks through seven innings, striking out seven times. Burnett, though, was a bit better, allowing just one hit, a leadoff infield single to Jacoby Ellsbury, through 7.2 innings. He walked six, but a few of them seemed to be strategic. Both pitchers handed it over to the bullpen, and in the 15th Alex Rodriguez ended it with a two-run home run off of Junichi Tazawa.

Burnett has faced the Red Sox twice this year, both times pitching pretty poorly. He lasted just five innings in the second game of the year, allowing four runs, three earned. A month later he again started in Boston, this time allowing nine runs, eight earned, in 4.1 innings. I wish I could say that was his worst start of the year, but that’s just not the case. In both of those outings he faced off against Jon Lester. Tonight it’s a return match with Beckett.

It seems like it always comes down to these two, Burnett and Beckett, even though this is just the fourth time they’ve faced each other as Yankee and Red Sock. Surely there has to be a happy medium between the August and April starts from last year. No one wants to see both starters surrender eight runs, and no one wants to sit through a 15-inning affair, especially an ESPN one that includes extended commercial breaks and an hour-late 8 p.m. start. But knowing Burnett in general and Beckett against the Yanks, we have no clue what to expect.

Afternoon links: Brackman, Ortiz, Prospects

Just a couple of links to get you jump-started this Sunday afternoon.

  • Frank Piliere has a full scouting report on Andrew Brackman. The velocity seems to be there, and Piliere thinks that it’s the command of his curveball that will make the difference for Brackman.
  • David Ortiz complains about the strike zone. Players who twice strike out looking tend to do that.
  • Joel Sherman muses on three youngsters who could help out next season: Eduardo Nunez, Brandon Laird, and Jesus Montero. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Nunez up in September. If they can muster a 40-man spot you might be able to say the same for Laird, who will have to hit the 40-man after the season anyway.
  • And finally, a little bit on Pedro Martinez, who won’t pitch this year. He thinks he has “a legit chance” at the Hall of Fame, which completely undersells his case. He’s a first balloter, no questions asked.