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Not Dead Yet
2008-08-12 23:18
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Mike Mussina pitched well enough to earn his 16th win of the season last night, leaving the game after seven strong innings and 104 pitches with a 5-3 lead. The Yankees got to Twins starter Nick Blackburn early when Johnny Damon homered on the second pitch of the game, and though the lead changed hands four times in the early innings, the Yanks began to pull away as Mussina settled down to end his night with three scoreless frames.

An insurance run in the top of the eighth made it 6-3 Yanks, but three batters into the bottom of the inning, Damaso Marte had put runners on the corners, forcing Joe Girardi to go straight to his closer in a game the Yankees really needed to win. Delmon Young fouled off Mariano Rivera's first two pitches, but when the third drifted over the plate, Young smacked it off the opposite-field foul pole for a game-tying home run.

Rivera got the next two outs, then spent the top of the ninth steaming in the dugout, cursing to himself, throwing his gum, staring at the ceiling, and constantly shifting in his seat, unable to keep his blood from boiling.

After the Yankees failed to do anything with a one-out Derek Jeter single in the top of the ninth, Rivera returned to the mound and pitched around a bad call on a two-out infield single by Nick Punto to push the game into extra innings.

Joe Nathan set the Yanks down in order in the top tenth, but Jose Veras returned serve in the bottom of the inning, at which point the discrepancy between Mike Mussina's and Nick Blackburn's performances earlier in the game came back into play. Entering the 11th inning, Joe Girardi had used just three relievers--Marte, Rivera, and Veras, the last of whom came back out and pitched another 1-2-3 inning in the 11th--while Ron Gardenhire had just two left, Matt Guerrier and Brian Bass. Guerrier pitched around a two-out infield single by Johnny Damon in the 11th, but wasn't so fortunate in the 12th.

Alex Rodriguez was 0 for 5 entering the twelfth inning. His previous at-bat came with two outs in the top of the ninth. Derek Jeter had singled earlier in the inning, but the Captain fouled a ball of his left instep earlier in the game and his mobility was limited. After Bobby Abreu made the second out, Girardi sent Melky Cabrera in to run for Jeter so that the Yankees would be able to take the lead on a double. Instead, Rodriguez swung at the first pitch he saw and hit into an inning-ending fielder's choice.

Untitled Facing Guerrier in the 12th, Rodriguez took the first pitch for a ball, then crushed the next one over the 408 sign in dead center to give the Yankees their fourth and final lead of the game. Ivan Rodriguez followed with a double, and Xavier Nady, who drove in four of the Yankees' nine runs on the night, topped things off with another homer into the vampire seats off Guerrier.

With Rivera having blown his first save of the year, Edwar Ramirez earned his first save of the season with a 1-2-3 bottom of the twelfth to nail down the much-needed 9-5 Yankee win.

Alex Rodriguez got the key hit, but Nady, Mussina, and the combination of Veras and Ramirez, who pitched three perfect innings, deserve at least as much credit. Now the Yankees have a chance to pull out a series win against Kevin Slowey this afternoon to salvage a 4-6 record on the road trip.

Comments
2008-08-13 03:56:46
1.   JL25and3
Once again, the third baseman hits a home run with no runners in scoring position. He's just not clutch.
2008-08-13 04:01:36
2.   williamnyy23
It's nice that the Yankees found away to finally win a game, but it wasn't exactly an awe inspiring game. Let's see if the Yankees can win today and then sweep KC at home. If they do that, then maybe you can start to whittle a case for them making run.
2008-08-13 04:23:44
3.   OldYanksFan
Hey Alex - Glad to see that you are now a member in good standing of the Bronx Banter Masochists (BBM), and I don't know if we could have won that game without you (ya know, getting ARod to hit that HR and all).

I didn't see the misplay JD made in the first, but it seems like Moose could have easily given up only 1 ER. I read an article at Hardball Times early in the year (can't find it now), discussing how much defense effects a pitchers ERA, and thusly why ERA is not really an accurate comparison between pitchers.

With Jeter, Matsui and Sheff (and now Bobby) in the OF, Giambi, sometimes ARod and even Posada, the Yankees defense has been clubfooted for a numbers of years now. Like last night, and MANY games we have all watched together, Yankee pitchers have been saddled with many BERs (barely earned runs) crated by questionable defense, and Moose got 2 yesterday.

How might we calc this? If we added the Yankees team FRAA (which would be negative) to the team's ERs, and then recalced the team's ERA, what might be the difference? 0.25 runs? 0.50 runs? I bet it would be significant.

Funny, but I'm pretty sure ERA+ does NOT do this. If it wants to 'equalize' pitching stats, don't you think this (or some other more valid method) should be considered?

2008-08-13 05:54:37
4.   ms october
while there were certainly areas they could have done better in - it was nice to see that they came back several times during the game and then again after the twins tied it up. i wouldn't be surprised if the team feels a bit shell-shocked on the few occasions that mo gives it up - so it is nice that they came back from that.

i really hope this doesn't keep moose from 20.

2008-08-13 05:57:47
5.   JL25and3
3 I'm not a big believer in individual defensive statistics, for a lot of reasons. Team defensive statistics are another thing altogether. The Yankees are 25th out of 30 in team defensive effeciency this year.

"Ironically," the team directly ahead of them is that paragon of fundamentals, the Minnesota Twins.

2008-08-13 06:25:24
6.   ChrisS
5 Individual defensive metrics, IMO, are useful in context over a decent time period. Outliers happen, and with an imprecise system, those outliers may give the impression that the metric is worthless.

Of course, it doesn't take a spreadsheet to tell me that Abreu isn't much of an outfielder anymore or that Damon's arm is weak.

Nice win last night, sucks that it had to come after a Rivera blown save.

2008-08-13 06:41:12
7.   JL25and3
6 The problems I have don't have much to do with outliers. But that's a discussion for the offseason.
2008-08-13 06:59:57
8.   Shaun P
3 In a completely unadjusted context, you could just look at RA, instead of ERA. In fact, I seem to recall a BP article earlier this year (that I don't have time to search for now) that showed that, over his career, Moose is quite excellent when you consider RA instead of ERA.
2008-08-13 07:26:44
9.   monkeypants
3 5 Team defensive metrics would work fine for what OYF is looking for. ERA+ is a decent metric, since it accounts for the offensive environment of the league and stadium (even though OYF does not like park factor), but it doesn't account for team defense (except indirectly, through park factor, which takes into account runs scored).

8 His carer is quite excellent using ERA as well. Does his career look better using RA? That would be interesting to pursue.

2008-08-13 07:32:37
10.   monkeypants
3 While on the topic of the inaccuracy of ERA...You cite misplays/non-plays that inflate a pitchers ERA. We should also remember how scoring errors often deflates a pitcher's ERA. An extreme hypothetical: pitcher X walks the bases loaded with two out, then short stop DJ makes a fielding error, then pitcher X gives up a series of hits including a three run HR to cap the inning. The result: 6 "unearned" runs.
2008-08-13 07:33:49
11.   ChrisS
What did I like best about Hughes's rehab start last night?

"I wanted to mix in more changeups. I threw some in counts that I normally wouldn't throw them in. But we decided to go with it because I wanted to get a few more in."

Apparently he got the same message that IPK was given. And he still had a fine night using AAA for exactly what he should be using it for: refining his ML pitches and not just striking out AAA hitters.

2008-08-13 07:54:43
12.   tommyl
11 Hughes has shown a willingness to work and adapt much more so than IPK has to this point. He really is very mature for his age. He hasn't made one jackass comment or publically gotten down on himself. I'm impressed. If he can stay healthy I still think he has a tremendous future. His track record and stuff are just too good not to succeed. It just may take some time.
2008-08-13 09:02:38
13.   cult of basebaal
12 perhaps it is because the yankees got ahold of him before he spent 4 years at USC ... USC baseball players seem to have problems saying the right thing in delicate situations ...

;)

2008-08-13 09:28:11
14.   YankeeInMichigan
13 Not sure what you are referring to. Did Tom Seaver have a PR problem?

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