Problems plague Yanks in the early goings

You all feel the sting of this sweep, right? They were three winnable games against the Red Sox — which are weightier not because of some rivalry (whose sole existence is to sell papers), but because they’re our main competitors this season. We all know that the losses that hurt the most are the ones you could have/should have won. So I sit here on a Monday morning, thinking long and hard about how to recap this series without throwing my laptop across the room. The last thing I want to type right now is “four straight home runs” (though I just did), so I think I’m going to hold off on that for the moment.

Instead, let’s look at what went wrong. I think by listing those, we can breathe a sigh of relief and realize that we’re close to putting it all together — much closer than we were at this point in 2005, at least.

  • Starting pitching. After Pettitte’s solid start, we watched Jeff Karstens give up seven runs in 4 1/3 innings, and Chase Wright give up four runs in four innings. Our offense is good, but it can’t go making up for lousy starts every game. They scored 17 runs off Boston’s three starters this weekend; that should be enough for at least two victories.

    Why we should worry: Next weekend doesn’t look much better: Wright, Igawa, Wang.

    What, me worry?: We’ll have our top three back in due time. Igawa shown improvement in every start, and has pitched against progressively tougher opponents (Baltimore – Oakland – Cleveland). Phil Hughes and/or Roger Clemens could end up helping by mid-season. Karstens shouldn’t be as bad as he was on Saturday. Chase Wright has one game left in pinstripes (though he shouldn’t even have that).

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Red Sox 7, Yanks 6

Player WPA pLI Pitcher WPA pLI
Giambi .183 1.53 Bean .119 1.46
Minky .180 1.30 Pettitte .091 1.60
Posada .106 3.52 Henn .035 0.75
Jeter .080 1.20 Vizcaino .027 0.47
Cano .061 1.35 Wright -.263 1.01
Abreu -.030 1.00 Proctor -.503 2.50
Alex -.055 1.51
Nieves -.093 0.82
Phelps -.124 4.32
Damon -.145 1.43
Cabrera -.170 2.29

Red Sox barely beat weakened Yankee club

Very short note on this series tonight. I’m mad at the Baseball Gods, and I need to sleep.

But in the “Good News” Category, I think the Yanks — and their fans — have much to (painfully) smile at after what could have been a disheartening three-game sweep.

Basically, it comes down to pitching. The Yanks lost one game because Mariano had a meltdown. They lost the other two because Jeff Karstens and Chase Wright pitched. Clearly, that won’t be happening for much longer.

But meanwhile, the Red Sox lined up their rotation to throw Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka, and the outcomes, despite two ridiculous standing ovations by fans that I thought knew better, were less than spectacular. The Red Sox threesome of supposed aces combined for 20.2 innings. They gave up 25 hits and 15 earned runs. That’s an ERA of about 6.50.

The Yankees were playing this series without Jorge Posada for much of the weekend, without Hedeki Matsui for much of the weekend and without Johnny Damon for much of Saturday. I’m not a betting man, but if I were, I would say that the outcomes of at least two of these games are different with a full lineup and Major League starters.

Take heart, Yankee fans. When the Red Sox come into our house next weekend, we’ll have Kei Igawa and Chien-Ming Wang going on Saturday and Sunday, somebody who probably isn’t Chase Wright on Friday night, and a lineup featuring Hideki Matsui as well as Posada and Damon.

With Mussina not far behind, things could look a lot worse after an infuriating three-game sweep. And aren’t you, dear readers, proud of me? I didn’t once mention Joe Torre’s utter inability to handle in-game bullpen decisions or base-running strategies, two things that clearly came back to haunt the Yanks tonight.

Expert analysis from Joe Morgan

“The problem I see with Wright is that he’s falling into a pattern. He’s not throwing his fastball unless he’s ahead in the count, or behind in the count.”

Yeah, so thanks for clearing that up Joe. At least he’s half right, I think.

Down on the Farm

Are you as psyched as me to see how the greatest lineup he’s ever faced treats Dice-K tonight?

Update: The Yanks have promoted RHP Eric Hacker to High-A Tampa from Low-A Charleston (surprising to me since Hacker missed 2006 with arm troubles). This is purely speculation on my part, but I think we may be seeing a certain 6′-9″ manchild take the hill for the River Dogs this week…

Triple-A Scranton (4-3 loss to Ottawa)
Kevin Reese: 1 for 3, 1 BB
Alberto Gonzalez: 0 for 4, 1 RBI, 1 K
Bronson Sardinha: 0 for 3, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 SB - geez, couldn’t even put the ball in play???
Shelley Duncan:  1 for 3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 BB
Andrew Beattie: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI
Ben Kozlowski: 2.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 1 Balk – got the start because Friday’s doubleheader threw the regular rotation out of whack…
Ron Villone: 3.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 6-3 GB/FB – has pitched on 4 of the last 5 days, I guess Torre’s managing this team too…
TJ Beam: 2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 B, 1 K – his stock is pretty low right now…

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