Source: FanGraphs

I was out visiting family for Mother’s Day, and it looks like I picked a good game to miss. Mark Teixeira‘s two-out, two-strike, game-tying solo homer off Francisco Rodriguez in the ninth inning was wasted as former Yankee Mark Reynolds and the Brewers walked off with a 6-5 win a half-inning later. Like Saturday, this was a winnable game that will go for a loss.

David Phelps managed to put eleven men on base in five innings plus two batters of work, including the leadoff man in five of the six innings he started. It’s a miracle he didn’t give up more than four runs. His balk and some (more) shaky defense came back to bite the Yankees in the middle innings, after they jumped all over Matt Garza for three runs in the first inning. I’m sure this one had the look of a laugher early on.

My least favorite thing about David Robertson being the closer is that he never pitches. He’s pitched twice in the last nine days, and Joe Girardi preferred to use Adam Warren for 40+ pitches and Shawn Kelley‘s balky back (he warmed up) before Robertson on Sunday. Matt Thornton against a righty predictably went wrong — didn’t Girardi see the pinch-hitter coming? — and Dellin Betances finally found a jam he couldn’t escape. The Yankees had 15 base-runners in nine innings, but apparently that wasn’t enough.

For the box score and video highlights, go to MLB.com. FanGraphs has some other stats and ESPN has the updated standings. The Yankees now head home for what amounts to a seven-game homestand — two of the seven are in Flushing, so they aren’t traveling — starting Monday night against the Mets. Hiroki Kuroda and Bartolo Colon, two of the three oldest starters in baseball this season (R.A. Dickey is the other), will be the pitching matchup. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch the Subway Series live.

Categories : Game Stories
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Bunch of notes to pass along:

  • C Gary Sanchez had a closed door meeting with Double-A Trenton manager Tony Franklin, coach Orlando Mercado, and catching coordinator Julio Mosquero following today’s game, according to Nick Peruffo. They just wanted to iron out some bad catching habits, apparently. “It’s not that he’s doing wrong, it’s just some things that Julio saw in the last couple of days that he wanted to talk to him about, and be a little more emphatic about,” said Franklin. “There is more that goes in to coaching besides going out and tossing them balls all the time.”
  • RHP Chase Whitley was scratched from today’s Triple-A Scranton start for an unknown reason, according to Donnie Collins. Seems like it has something to do with CC Sabathia‘s injury than anything else. If Al Aceves moves into the rotation, Whitley might replace him as the long man.
  • OF Tyler Austin (groin) was activated off the Double-A Trenton DL yesterday. SS Carmen Angelini was placed on the DL with an unknown injury, according to Peruffo. Matt Kardos says RHP Brett Gerritse has joined the Thunder as well.
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow and RHP Stefan Lopez were promoted from Low-A Charleston to High-A Tampa, the River Dogs announced. LHP Rony Bautista has joined Charleston.

Triple-A Scranton (2-1 win over Durham in eleven innings, walk-off style)

  • RF Ramon Flores: 1-5, 1 R, 1 K
  • 3B Scott Sizemore: 1-5, 2 K
  • SS Dean Anna: 0-4, 1 BB, 2 K — hasn’t hit much here yet
  • LF Zoilo Almonte: 2-5, 1 RBI — walk-off single
  • DH Zelous Wheeler: 1-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K, 1 HBP
  • 1B Kyle Roller: 1-4, 1 K
  • LHP Eric Ruth: 5 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 8/4 GB/FB — 56 of 92 pitches were strikes (61%) … called up from Tampa to make the spot start in place of Whitley
  • RHP Mark Montgomery: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 2/1 GB/FB – 14 of 28 pitches were strikes
  • RHP Branden Pinder: 2 IP, zeroes, 2/3 GB/FB — 12 of 22 pitches were strikes (55%)

Read More→

Categories : Down on the Farm
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Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there. You’re all pretty great in my book. Here’s your open thread for the night. The Cardinals and Pirates are the ESPN Sunday Night Game (Miller vs. Morton), plus there’s NBA and NHL playoff action on, including the Rangers. Talk about those games, your mother, or anything else right here. Enjoy the evening.

Categories : Open Thread
Comments (84)
(Mike McGinnis/Getty)

(Mike McGinnis/Getty)

The Yankees have guaranteed themselves of at least a split of this six-game road trip through Anaheim and Milwaukee, so today’s game is the difference between a 4-2 trip and a 3-3 trip. A 4-2 trip just looks better. Grab a win for mom today and head home to New York for a week. Sounds like a Mother’s Day plan to me. Here is the Brewers lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. SS Derek Jeter
  3. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. 3B Kelly Johnson
  6. 2B Yangervis Solarte
  7. RF Ichiro Suzuki
  8. C John Ryan Murphy
  9. RHP David Phelps

It’s warm and overcast in Milwaukee, and there’s rain in the forecast this afternoon, so the Miller Park roof will probably be closed for the game. At least part of it. First pitch is scheduled for a little after 2pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally, depending on where you live. Enjoy the game and Happy Mother’s Day.

Categories : Game Stories
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CC Sabathia injured

(Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)

The Yankees will be without CC Sabathia for at least the next two weeks. After last night’s game he had an MRI on his right knee, which revealed fluid build-up. He will have it drained, which will keep him out of action and necessitate the DL trip.

The good news: the MRI showed no tear, so Sabathia should need only the minimum stay on the DL.

For right now the Yankees have recalled RHP Matt Daley. Joe Girardi says that Al Aceves is the leading candidate to take Sabathia’s start Thursday against the Mets. That’s not set in stone, though. Just before the Sabathia news broke, we learned that RHP Chase Whitley had been scratched from his start at AAA Scranton. Donnie Collins of the Times-Tribune speculates that Whitley could be up to replace Aceves as the long man, with Preston Claiborne headed back to AAA. It could just as well be Daley headed back to AAA tomorrow if that’s when they decide to make the move. Whitley is not on the 40-man roster, which causes further complications.

While Sabathia has struggled at times this season, he has shown some definite signs of life, particularly as he continues to strike out hitters. His problems seem to center on consistency. Perhaps he can right the ship upon return at the end of May.

Categories : Injuries
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Facing Mariano RiveraWe had a full year to gush over Mariano Rivera‘s greatness. It didn’t seem like long enough. And it still feels wrong that he’s not closing the door this year.

During that year we saw fans show their appreciation. Teams honored Mo with ceremony after ceremony, paying tribute with gifts as though he were an ancient king. Most pervasively, we saw the media stumble over themselves to gush about Mo.

His peers talked about his greatness, but it felt as though we didn’t hear enough of their stories. What did it feel like to stand there in the batter’s box against Rivera?

We get answers in the recently published book, Facing Mariano Rivera, edited by David Fischer. It contains stories of nearly 100 opponents who faced Rivera. (It also contains contributions from guys like Paul O’Neill, Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, and other teammates who never faced him, plus a number of pitchers and managers.) If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to stand in the box and know what pitch is coming, and still not be able to hit it, this book will help get you there.

There is, to be sure, plenty of fluff praise for Rivera, the standard praise of his composure and class. But nearly every player says one thing that really stands out, that helps you more fully understand the opponents’ mindsets when they faced Rivera – with the game close enough for him to be in there, but still seemingly out of reach.

Here are two of my favorite excerpts:

Tim Salmon

Salmon debuted in 1992, when I was 10, thus at the very peak of my baseball card collecting phase. We all chased after his rookie card, and I’m fairly certain that we all had at least one. It really is no surprise that baseball cards lost all value when internet commerce was even in its infancy.

In his fourth season, Salmon accomplished something that at the time was insignificant. He recorded the first hit off of Mariano Rivera. He in fact recorded two that day, including a double. In his third at-bat he walked, which ended Mariano’s day. That was in 1995, when Rivera was still a starter.

In 13 at-bats after that, including postseason, Salmon went 0 for 13.

A lot of closers grunt and snort and spit, they scowl at you, and throw the ball under your chin, trying to intimidate you, which makes you want to bear down and beat them all the more. Mariano was never like that on the mound. He was pleasant; his demeanor was disarming, it was life facing an old friend. I think that works to his advantage. Hitters don’t have that extra motivation you might have against guys you despite who are flaunting their stuff and pointing to the sky and talking trash.

Edgar Martinez

Edgar Martinez

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Mo faced 1,013 different hitters during his career. Who was the toughest of them all? When asked last spring, Mo didn’t hesitate when he answered.

The toughest – and thank God he retired – (former Mariners DH) Edgar Martinez. Oh my God. I think every pitcher will say that, because this man was tough. Great man, though – respected the game, did what he had to do for his team. That’s what you appreciate about players, when a player come and do what is right for the game of baseball, for his team and teammates.

Martinez must have traumatized Mo when the latter was a rookie in 1995. In 7 PA he went 6 for 7 with two homers, a double, and a walk. Even when Mo was Mo in 1996, Martinez went 2 for 2 with two doubles. After that Martinez went 3 for 10 with three walks, two intentional. He was on an 0 for 6 slide against Rivera before he singled on August 14, 2004, the last time the two faced each other.

Just how badly did Mo want to beat Martines?

I think what makes him great is his command and his location; knowing where to throw the pitch. A good example is when I faced him in the 2000 American League Championship Series. I made the last out of the game. He got me out with a sinker inside. I never remember him throwing me a sinker before. that was the first tim I ever saw a sinker from him. He knew when to change his plan, when to go with something completely new, something different that you’re not expecting.

If you’re missing Mariano, and I sure am, this book is a nice little reminder of the greatness we witnessed night in and night out for so many seasons. You can flip around and read stories at random. I’ve been trying to find as many current players as possible, reading their stories when the Yankees face them this year.

Hardcover price: $17.71 – Click here to buy it on Amazon
Kindle version: $11.99 – Click here to buy it and start reading right now

There is something of a graphical element, since the book contains breakdowns of every hitter’s at-bats against Mo, so the hardcover might be better. But if you’re using Kindle on a tablet, it should render just fine.

Categories : Reviews
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Source: FanGraphs

The three-game winning streak is over. The Yankees were, once again, burned by poor defense, as a Brendan Ryan error and a Carlos Beltran misplay contributed to four Brewers runs and the 5-4 loss on Saturday night. Even the best infield defender on the team is botching plays these days. The Yankees give their opponents too many extra outs. It’s awful.

I only saw about ten minutes of the game, and in those ten minutes Dr. Dellin Betances struck out both men he faced to escape a bases loaded situation in the sixth inning. He threw seven pitches, four of which drew swings. All four swings missed. Betances overwhelmed Scooter Gennett and Carlos Gomez. It was awesome. Joe Girardi‘s been using him in a fireman role for a few weeks now and this was his biggest situation of the year, to date.

Other than that, CC Sabathia gave up three monster home runs, two of which came after Ryan’s two-out error. I see his 23.3% HR/FB rate and think there’s no way it can continue — that would be the all-time single-season record by a mile — but then I see homers clanking off the windows of restaurants and wonder why I should expect it to regress. Sabathia pitched well outside of the homeruns, which really means very little in the grand scheme of things. Every mistake is getting crushed and the big inning is unavoidable.

The Brewers took the lead after Beltran failed to reel in a very catchable fly ball to right, a ball that went for a double instead of an out. Beltran seems to be playing the game in slow motion right now, and I don’t mean in a Robbie Cano “he makes everything look so effortless way” either. The Yankees got a triple from Brett Gardner and solo homer from Mark Teixeira earlier in the game, and pinch-hitter Alfonso Soriano knotted it up with a jam shot through the shift. Very winnable game that will go down as a loss.

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs has some other stats, and ESPN has the updated standings. The Yankees and Brewers will play the rubber game of this three-game series on Sunday afternoon, when David Phelps makes his second start of the season against old foe Matt Garza. That is the final game of this six-game, two time-zone road trip.

Minor League Update: I don’t have time for a full update tonight, but here are the box scores: Triple-A Scranton, Double-A Trenton, High-A Tampa, and Low-A Charleston. Greg Bird homered and drew two walks, so he’s right back to where he left off last season. Peter O’Brien went deep too.

Categories : Game Stories
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(Darren Hauck/Getty)

(Darren Hauck/Getty)

Before he wore pinstripes, CC Sabathia helped the Brewers to their first postseason berth in a quarter-century. Milwaukee acquired him from the Indians at the 2008 trade deadline and rode his left arm to October, starting him on three days’ rest in each of his final four starts of the regular season, then again for his first postseason start. Here’s that stretch of games:

Date Opp Rslt IP H R ER BB SO HR HBP ERA Pit
Sep 16 @ CHC L,4-5 7.0 9 4 4 0 5 1 0 2.88 99
Sep 20 @ CIN L,3-4 5.2 7 4 1 1 3 0 1 2.85 105
Sep 24 PIT W,4-2 7.0 4 1 1 2 11 0 0 2.80 108
Sep 28 CHC W,3-1 9.0 4 1 0 1 7 0 0 2.70 122
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/10/2014.

That four starts, 28.2 innings, and 434 pitches in a 12-day stretch. That September 28th game was a must win against the Cubs, which clinched the club’s spot in the playoffs.

Sabathia was a monster during his half-season with the Brewers (1.65 ERA, 2.44 FIP, seven complete games, 17 starts) and he’s beloved in Milwaukee because of it. Robinson Cano was booed mercilessly when he returned to New York, but that won’t be the case tonight. Sabathia is going to get a huge ovation for something that happened six years ago, and that’s pretty neat. Here is the Brewers lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. 3B Yangervis Solarte
  7. 2B Brian Roberts
  8. SS Brendan Ryan
  9. LHP CC Sabathia

It is cool and a little cloudy tonight, so I bet the Miller Park roof will be open again. Last night was actually the first time it was open for a game this season. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Shawn Kelley Update: Joe Girardi said Kelley (back) needs another day to rest, but expects him to be available for tomorrow’s series finale.

Categories : Game Threads
Comments (261)
  • Yankees no longer shifting behind Hiroki Kuroda
    By

    I did not notice this during Tuesday’s game, but, according to Danny Knobler, the Yankees have stopped shifting their infielders behind Hiroki Kuroda. He simply isn’t comfortable with it. The Rays don’t shift behind David Price for the same reason. Knobler says New York’s other pitchers will groan whenever a base hit goes through the vacated hole created by the shift, but that’s normal. It’s human nature.

    The Yankees went into Friday’s game with a .310 BABIP as a team, higher than the .298 AL average. That’s not really surprising, the defense has been a mess, particularly on the infield and in right field. They’re even botching plays on balls they get to. Kuroda has a .311 BABIP, so there’s no difference between how many balls are being converted to outs behind him compared to the rest of the staff. We don’t know how long they haven’t been shifting behind him though. It sounds like they were doing it earlier in the season and recently stopped. Either way, the pitcher has to be comfortable. That’s the most important thing.
    · (9) ·

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

As a team, the Yankees have one of the lowest strikeout rates in baseball. They came out of last night’s game with a 19.6% strikeout rate, below the 20.5% league average and the tenth lowest rate in the game. Guys like Derek Jeter, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Brian Roberts, and Yangervis Solarte have had little trouble putting the ball in play, and that’s five-ninths of the starting lineup right there.

And then there’s Brett Gardner. He has a career 18.2% strikeout rate and last season it was 20.9%, both of which are more or less league average when you consider baseball’s perpetually increasing strikeout rate. (MLB has set a new record high for strikeout rate in each of the last seven seasons.) This season as been different though. Gardner has a 24.4% strikeout rate, by far the highest of his career. His 6.1% swing-and-miss rate is also a career-high (but still below the 9.3% league average). He’s been piling up the whiffs in 2014.

Gardner isn’t oblivious to the strikeout issues he’s had these last few weeks and he’s working to correct them. He cites a mechanical flaw and says he isn’t planning any kind of major overhaul to his game. That would be a little silly at this point. From George King:

“I have been striking out too much,’’ said Gardner, who didn’t whiff Wednesday night against the Angels in Anaheim after fanning seven times in the previous four games. “My mechanics have been a little off, rushing the swing and swinging with my head moving. I have been swinging and missing more than I would like.’’

“I have to do a better job, but I don’t want to change my game. I have to be aggressive so when I get a pitch to hit, I put the ball in play and use my speed,’’ said Gardner, whose 31 Ks were tied for 22nd among AL hitters Thursday. “I felt better [Wednesday].’’

Even if you’ve never playing anything higher than Little League, you know that too much head movement during your swing is a recipe for swinging and missing. If you can’t see the ball properly, you’re not going to hit it. Gardner isn’t chasing more bad pitches or anything like that — 23.0% swing rate on pitches out of the zone, down from 23.6% last year — he’s just coming up empty when he does swing. The swing-and-miss punishment fits the head movement crime.

Gardner struck out 12 times in his first 40 plate appearances of the season (30%) and more recently he had a stretch with 11 strikeouts in 27 plate appearances (40.7%), which is just way too high, especially for a non-power hitter. He has gotten better as the season has progressed …

Brett Gardner strikeout rate

… but it’s clear there is still some work to be done. It’s not like Gardner isn’t hitting at all — both his AVG (.283) and OBP (.352) are better than last season (.273 and .344), he’s just hitting for zero power (.053 ISO) — he’s just struggling to put the ball in play. It’s actually kinda amazing he’s remained as productive as he has despite the high strikeout rate.

The most important thing is that Gardner isn’t chasing more pitches out of the zone. That would be a real big concern. Since his plate discipline seems to be fine and he’s identified a mechanical issue with his head, I think it’s only a matter of time before he snaps out of his swing-and-miss funk. It’s frustrating, I know it is, but as long as Gardner is getting on base, stealing bases (7-for-7 this year), and playing high-end defense, he remains a productive player for the Yankees and worthy of an everyday lineup spot.

Categories : Offense
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