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Bad Day
2007-04-15 20:54
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Sunday didn't start or end well for the Yankees, though they did have a seven-inning oasis in the middle of it all.

The day started with the announcement that both Mike Mussina and Carl Pavano had been placed on the disabled list, leaving the starting rotation in shambles behind Andy Pettitte. Pettitte then took the mound and four of the first five A's he faced reach base, the first on Derek Jeter's sixth error of the year. With just one out in the bottom of the first, the A's had a 2-0 lead and two men on. The Yankee bullpen, which had marched each of it's seven members out to the mound the night before, began to collectively weep.

Pettitte then rallied to strike out Bobby Crosby and get Todd Walker to ground out to short. From there things started to look up. Pettitte settled down, pitching around a pair of singles in the second, stranding a two-out triple by Eric Chavez in the third, and setting down 13 of the next 14 men he faced after Chavez. Oakland starter Rich Harden was even better, but the injury-prone righty left the game due to shoulder stiffness in the seventh, opening the door for a three-run Yankee rally. The Yanks added another run in the eighth, handing a 4-2 lead to Mariano Rivera in the ninth, Mo's first save opportunity of the season.

Mo got Chavez to ground out on an 0-1 pitch, then, after failing to get a called strike three call on Bobby Crosby, got the Oakland shortstop to fly out to right for the second out of the inning. Mo's next pitch bore down and in on Todd Walker, but Walker was able to flare it out to left for a two-out single. Walker then moved to second on defensive indifference as Jason Kendall swung through a high fastball to run his count to 1-1.

It all seemed innocent enough, but then Rivera's location deserted him. The 1-1 pitch to Kendall was supposed to be low, but instead was up and inside for a ball. The 2-1 pitch was also supposed to be low, but floated up high for ball three. The same thing happened on the next pitch, but Rivera got a generous high-strike call to run the count full, much to the consternation of the Oakland bench. Rivera's next pitch also missed a couple feet high of Jorge Posada's target, but Jason Kendall fouled it off. Mo seemed to find his slot on his next to pitches, both down in the zone, but Kendall spoiled both by fouling them off. On the fourth 3-2 offering, Posada again called for a pitch down and in, but once again Rivera's delivery floated up high for a ball, putting the tying run on base and bringing Marco Scutaro to the plate as the winning run.

Scutaro had faced Rivera just twice before, walking once and striking out once. On this occasion, Rivera's first pitch to Scutaro is a low called strike. The next runs inside and Scutaro fouls it off to the third-base side, breaking his bat in the process. That puts the count at 0-2. Once again, Jorge Posada calls for a pitch down in the zone. Rivera kicks and delivers but the pitch that leaves his hand is a meatball right down the middle. It's as if he set it on a tee, and Scutaro doesn't miss it. What he does do is almost jump out of his shoes and thus swings a hair early, sending the ball soaring down the left field foul line. Rivera spins and leans back, willing the ball to go foul. Instead it clangs off the foul pole, giving the A's a 5-4 victory.

Equally furious and dejected, Rivera collapses at the waste and picks up a handful of dirt, then spins and storms off the mound tossing the dirt into the infield grass. After the game Mo, always a master of the obvious, said he couldn't put the ball where he wanted to. Unfortunately, Scutaro, who now has seven game-ending RBIs to go with his career 83 OPS+, could.

The loss put the Yankees a game under .500 for the season and left them to contemplate the loss of Mussina and Pavano rather than revel in the job well done by Pettitte. The Yankees called up Chris Britton prior to yesterday's game to add a fresh arm to the bullpen. Double-A lefty Chase Wright will take Pavano's start on Tuesday after dominating in his first two starts with Trenton (which also happen to be the only two regular-season starts above A-ball he's ever made). Wright was chosen over Tyler Clippard and Steven Jackson, two triple-A hurlers would be on sufficient rest on Tuesday, in part because he's on the 40-man roster. I'll have more on Wright in my preview of Tuesday's game. Mussina's spot, meanwhile, will likely be taken by Jeff Karstens, who is scheduled to make a rehab start today for Tampa. Assuming all goes well, he'll start Saturday's game. Chien-Ming Wang is still on schedule to join the rotation on April 24, and Mussina will be eligible to come off the DL on April 27 for the opener of that weekend's series against Boston. The Yankees don't expect Mussina to miss more than the minimum. As for Pavano, well . . .

Comments
2007-04-15 23:06:16
1.   maineyank
Yeah, not a great day for the Yanks. But even though Mo blew one (it does happen now and again) and the starting pitching still seems to be in a shambles, I don't really feel all that worried. Boston's pitching has been lights out for the most part, but I just can't see them keeping up this same level of production all year. I think that over time the Yanks rotation will improve and the Red Sox will come back to the pack (although certainly Boston does have better starting pitching than the Yanks if both are at full health). The Yankees lineup and bullpen will in the end be decisive. Meantime waiting on the big nor' easter to hit us in downeast Maine.
2007-04-16 01:00:05
2.   celerino
I'm bleary-eyed at work today after that game. What are you going to do: Pettitte pitched well, Proctor had a good inning, A-Rod almost put it away for us in the 8th, and even Mientkiewicz broke out of his slump. No point moaning about Mo, 'cause we live or die with him anyway. It wasn't meant to be... Let's laugh this one off and get ready for the Indians.
2007-04-16 01:40:00
3.   joejoejoe
Jeter also had his sixth error.

I've been following the games through boxscores and online and haven't see much actual play. Can you see anything wrong with Jeter in the field like bad footwork or less mobility or a different arm slot when making the throw to first? Maybe (I'm speculating) he has a tweaked back or something that bothers him more moving side to side than batting.

2007-04-16 01:50:06
4.   seamus
3 what has been so striking has been that they have largely been stupid errors. mostly mental, though a couple were throws. They weren't really about range or mobility issues from what I can tell. He may have something physical that is draining his mental focus. It happens.
2007-04-16 02:45:18
5.   Jim Dean
After everthing, they were one pitch away from a winning roadtrip. Things look worse than they are.

Still, to me the two questions flying under the radar because of the pitching worries:

1) Jeter's defense: What the hell? We knew he was bad, but this?

2) Giambi as DH: Should he be the full-time 1B when Matsui returns?

2007-04-16 02:50:27
6.   RIYank
Phew, thanks, I actually feel better now. Losing close ones is always tough, but at the beginning of the season you get the predictive value tending to balance the badness. We lost close ones and won blowouts early last year, too, and that worked out pretty well.

I'm kind of looking forward to see how Mr. Wright pitches. It would be cool if we ended up with Wright and Wang up front. Though now that I think of it, Pettitte and Huge would also be cool. (Esp. compared to the wordplay our rotation was susceptible to a couple of years ago.)

2007-04-16 04:20:52
7.   C2Coke
Did someboday mentioned it that the Yanks have lost every game Jeter's errored in? Is that true?

6 Wang is dearly missed.

2 I agree with you on all the others except "even Mientkiewicz broke out of his slump"...that one requires further observation.

2007-04-16 04:28:28
8.   C2Coke
7 Not true. The Cap'n started making errors since Opening Day and the Yanks did win the Opener. Plus, the game two days ago.
2007-04-16 05:01:48
9.   williamnyy23
I don't want to be the resident alarmist, but the first 11 games of the season have given me a very funny feeling. Even when the team started 11-19 a few year's back, I always knew they'd win their 95+ games. Something just doesn't feel right (or Wright) about this season. Maybe it's the sight of Mo blowing a save on a HR (not a bloop) to Marco Scutaro, or maybe it's watching Jeter kick the ball around like he's the 2007 version of the 2006 version of Arod? Then again, it could be that 4 starting pitchers on the DL. Regardless, I am starting to get the funny feeling that this might be "THE" year. The irony is I was very optimistic on paper and still look at the team, when healthy, as being the strongest in the division. Still, there just seems to be something my subconscious is picking up. Has anyone else tuned into a similar bad vibe? Hopefully, it's just me.
2007-04-16 05:07:21
10.   williamnyy23
8 But Jeter's errors have been devastating, often leading to several runs. In the opener, his error cost the team a run, but they did come back. The next day, his error led to two runs and hastened Pettitte's exit from the game (I think it cost him 2 runs and 25+ pitches). Also, yesterday, his error was the fuel for a 2 run inning, which turned out to be the margin of loss.

I don't want to bring up the whole Arod/Jeter debate, but if Arod had started the way Jeter has, the reception on Tuesday would be a resounding chorus of boos.

2007-04-16 05:26:45
11.   rbj
IIRC, this usually happens to Mo early in the season, he'll blow a game because he can't find the strike zone -- his pitches are up; his arm needs a bit more work in order to get "tired" so he's not over throwing.

Still, damn. That was a W.

2007-04-16 05:41:07
12.   williamnyy23
11 The Yankees always have a series like this in Oakland. What this game most reminded me of was a 6-5 loss to Minnesota last year. In that game, the Yankees faced a dominant starter (Santanna instead of Harden), got behind early (4-0 instead of 2-0), rallied with three runs in the seventh to take the lead, only to have Rivera blow the save with two outs.

The Harden/Santanna connection was what put that game into my head, so that's why I had a gnawing feeling when Mo came into the game. What makes my feeling and the outcome more eerie is something that I just discoverd in looking up the game(and which obviously didn't occur to me at the time): last year's game in Minnesota also took place on April 15 and dropped the Yankees to 5-6!

Scary.

2007-04-16 05:52:48
13.   yankz
10 Funny how you "don't want to bring it up," but then do anyway. Yes, Jeter's defense has sucked. But because the errors have mostly been plays he usually makes (i.e. not dependent on his range), they'll eventually stop.
2007-04-16 05:53:38
14.   FingersCrossed
10 So Jeter needs more fielding practice/meditation/jam session with Bernie... whatever. But what he doesn't need is the boos from fans.
I know you're just making a point saying that Arod got the short end of the stick regarding fan tolerance. And I'm not defending Jeter, as I was QUITE furious by his errors during game like you might have been, too. But we're not dumping this guy by any stretch of the word, so we're just gonna work with what we've got. And hopefully, he'll straighten it up.
2007-04-16 05:53:48
15.   williamnyy23
13 Just like you don't want to look at an accident...or don't want to eat that fifth slice of pizza. There are things that you don't want to do, but somehow can't stop yourself!
2007-04-16 05:55:45
16.   williamnyy23
14 My point was strictly about how unfair fans were to Arod last year. Based on what he has done in the past, Jeter could make an error every game (and Rivera could blow every save), and I wouldn't boo him, not to mention advocate dumping him!
2007-04-16 05:59:09
17.   Sliced Bread
The Chase Wright call up is very intriguing.

He's not even the most popular Chase on the Trenton Thunder:

http://www.trentonthunder.com/HTML/Display_HTML.asp?Page=2

Even a talented southpaw will seldom get more love than a four paw.

2007-04-16 06:12:21
18.   FingersCrossed
16 And my point was, such is the state we're in, we just gotta make the most of it. If it came across like I was implying you advocated anything, then it was purely unintentional.
2007-04-16 07:08:09
19.   RIYank
Jeter's "E"s do remind me of A-Rod's last year. And for just that reason, I'm not particularly worried. Chalk it up to "One of those things", I say.

Rotation woes aside, I'm pretty optimistic this year. The results haven't been very good, but the signs are all good. Robbie's gonna hit the daylights out of the ball this year, and Melky should fill his fourth OF role well. 1B is still a sore point, but Phelps is looking pretty good so far.

I just realized, though, that Alex B. got an ugly send-off. No doubt he'll manaage to forget, and have a great time in the Bahamas.

2007-04-16 07:47:11
20.   Just fair
Fortunately before the game I bet a dollar that Mo would give up a 2 out, 3 run homer on an 0-2 pitch to Marco Scutaro, the 9 batter no less. With those odds I now have enough money to buy the universe. I now need to pay someone to get this awful taste out of my mouth. I am still shaking my head. Bleh.
2007-04-16 07:49:33
21.   Count Zero
Yesterday's game was just one of those things, painful as it was to watch.

I was trying to watch the last inning while starting dinner in the kitchen. When Scutaro came up, I turned to my wife (who doesn't know a thing about baseball) and said, "Oh no! Not this guy. He's like a plague on the Yankees in these kinds of situations. Terrible hitter but he always seems to deliver in a situation like this."

Never in my mind did I think he would homer -- I was thinking two-run double to tie it. Nonetheless, I was unsurprised when he did. Did I hear them say that was his first career three-run HR?

Wright looked good when I saw him in ST. Watch him pitch lights out and vault over Hughes to the majors. Wouldn't that be interesting? ^_^

2007-04-16 07:51:45
22.   vockins
19 Robbie better hit the daylights out of the ball, since he's swinging at everything. The Abreu-as-mentor thing isn't really working out the way I hoped it would.
2007-04-16 07:53:39
23.   ny2ca2dc
22 Robinson did have two walks in the second game... I know, I know, i wuz just sayin...
2007-04-16 08:01:00
24.   dianagramr
Jeter is just making sure the writers don't get confused this year when handing out the AL MVP and Gold Glove winners.
2007-04-16 08:01:22
25.   Bob B
9 You're not the only one worrying. This years team is thin at pitching with both older and unproven talent. The offense is somewhat past it's Prime. I know it's only 11 games into the season but we've only played Tampa, Baltimore, Oakland and Twins and have a losing record. NOne of those teams are expected to make the playoffs. I get the feeling we won't either.
2007-04-16 08:03:48
26.   standuptriple
Ugh. Rough weekend, especially when you're in attendance for both Yankee losses in OAK. Don't worry I won't be there to put my apparent pox on them in SF. Maybe Anaheim though. All in all, great baseball to watch though in spite of the outcomes. Just once I'd like to see the Yanks look like they're at 100% when they come out West.
2007-04-16 08:13:29
27.   pistolpete
Starting pitching and defense aside (although all conventional logic tells me those are the two main ingredients that win championships), I still like this team better than last year so far.

Aside from Farnsworth, there's no one coming out of that bullpen I worry about too much - Viz is automatic, Henn is solid and Proctor looked awesome yesterday - I'm also amazed how much different the makeup of this offense is when A-Rod is hot. He's been very Ortiz-like since the start of the season, and you know things are different when you actually WANT him to come up with the game on the line.

Bottom line - it's early, and I think any issues we have right now will resolve themselves. We all know the defense really isn't this bad, and we have a wealth of young arms ready to go should someone go down.

2007-04-16 08:15:17
28.   OldYanksFan
A two run lead. 2 outs. Our best pitcher on the mound. And a loss.
And the horror of it triggered a memory.
Warning: True story, but long story from senile Yankees fans (what do you kids know anyway!)
Wednesday, July 8, 1970 at Memorial Stadium
After 5 of some of the worst years in Yankee history, 1970 showed hope.
We had a new, young ROY catcher... a solid Roy White, young Bobby Murcer was back from service duty, a new high average batter in Danny Cater, a big, young kid named Ellis who could spit a baseball 400', and maybe a little life left in Curt Blefary. It looked like a real team.

Meanwhile, the Orioles were coming off the wrong side of the 1969 Miracle. They were an absolutely dominant team that had everything. Excellent pitching, pure defence, and Boog and the Robinson boys to swing the bats. They were our nemisis. They were the team we had to beat. (They would go on to eventually win 108 games that year)
After 8 1/2 innings of a see-saw battle, the Yanks entered the bottom of the 9th at 8-6, 2 runs ahead

On the mound was Lindy McDaniel, our best pitcher
In the blink of an eye, 4 men reach base, and I was looking at an 8-7 game, bases loaded, no out.
NO F*CKIN OUTS!
What looked like an impossible loss had turned into an impossible win.

I had to watch, but had little hope.
How many ways are there to lose a game with the bases loaded and no outs, against the best team in baseball?
Too many to contemplate.
I can barely watch.
McDaniel winds and pitches:
Swinging strike ONE.
Again McDaniel winds and pitches:
Swinging strike TWO.
...Comeon comeon comeon...
Rizutto crys: "Strike THREE. Three swings, 3 misses. One out. Holy Cow!"
There is hope. It is possible. But I'm still afraid to watch.

Next batter.
McDaniel winds and pitches:
Swinging strike ONE.
Again McDaniel winds and pitches:
Swinging strike TWO.
...Comeon comeon comeon...
Rizutto crys: "Holy Cow... STRIKE THREE. Frank, that's 6 swings and 6 misses. They haven't even fouled one off. They haven't touched McDaniel. Holy Cow!'
Rizutto is excited. He can smell it.
I'm praying to the baseball Gods. Please.. please.. please..........
Two out.
6 consecutive swings and 6 misses, without so much as a foul tip

Next batter.
McDaniel winds and pitches:
Swinging strike ONE.
Again McDaniel winds and pitches:
Swinging strike TWO.
...Comeon comeon comeon...
8 consecutive pitches, 8 consecutive swings, 8 consecutive misses, without so much as a foul tip
They can't touch McDaniel.
...Comeon comeon comeon... this is IT!

McDaniel winds and pitches:
Ground ball, softly hit, right side, Cater dives... PAST HIS GLOVE... Clarke lunges PAST HIS GLOVE... Blefary in... the ball.. the throw to the plate...
SAFE! SAFE! SAFE!
Orioles Win: 9-8

I am in DISBELIEF!
I am CRUSHED!
HOW COULD THAT HAPPEN!
*What the f*ck am I going to do with myself?*
I love baseball. I love the Yankees. But how can something you love hurt you so much?
(or couse, at that time, I hadn't been married yet)

P.S. I remember the '8 Strikes well'. I had to look up the game. I THINK thats the one.
But except for the timeframe, the 8 swings and misses, the one run loss in the 9th, the other specifics may be wrong.

But I'll never forget that feeling of pure disbelief.
I remember it like it happened yesterday.
Moral of the Story:
When it's 2 strikes and 2 outs: WASTE A DAMN PITCH!

2007-04-16 08:16:23
29.   FingersCrossed
If it wasn't for Minky Auto-Out batting right after Cano, I doubt that the A's would've issued that IBB giving Cano a shocking 2-BBs-in-a-game record. :D
However, I'm generally pleased with his ABs this season. He's still learning. And the big hits will come.
I just find it strange why Abreu's been so impatient at the plate lately.
2007-04-16 08:41:32
30.   mehmattski
Why does Chase Wright starting tomorrow remind me of Sean Henn, circa 2005? Oh yeah, left-handed pitcher who hadn't been above AA making a start at Yankee Stadium.

http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/2005/B05040TBA2005.htm

Dejavualloveragain.

2007-04-16 08:44:04
31.   monkeypants
I am not too worried. If Boston continues to shut people out every game while scoring eight runs, then the Yanks will never catch them anyway. But assuming the Sox come down to earth a bit, we are looking at a tough race all year--which everyone predicted.

As for the Yankees themselves (that is, my thoughts on the team itself, and not relative to the rest of the division), they are what they are. Good offense, brutal defense, thin starting pitching. Again, we all knew that.

My biggest fear, though, is that Cashman failed to make the team Torre proof. So, we are going o have to suffer through his early season 'managing,' especially if the team continues to scuffle. What will we see? How about constantly shuffling Minky and Phelps (Cashman, please just cut Minky now), with the Auto-Out earning starts based on veteranness and vague evidence of hotness (yesterday's hit earnes three more starts). Or, to 'shake things up,' Cairo starts at first. Mo will get buried on the bench in close games, then brought in during blowouts to get work, then blow a save, possibly because he has not gotten enough work. Pitching injuries mean that minor leaguers are called up--whom Torre will also bury on the bench, preferring to pulvrize Bruney or Proctor. And God forbid an injury to one of the everyday players--then it's all Cairo, all the time.

2007-04-16 09:30:06
32.   Zack
30 Yeah, I am really not happy they are bringing up Wright for exactly that reason. With options in AAA, the simple fact that he is on the 40 man roster is rediculous when Colter Bean and Jeff Kennard are taking up space that will never be used. Add that to the fact that Wright doesn't throw hard, hasn't pitched more than 2 games above A, and it bugs me. Why risk destroying the kids confidence and arm (a la Henn)?

AS for making the team Torre proof, well, I am beggining to think thats just impossible. Getting rid of Minky would help, but there would always be something else. Torre just isn't that great of an in game manager and his frustrating tendancies will always be there. He's simply going to cost us a few games every year. Its when he seems to actively be holding the team back that we should worry, and who knows if that has happened yet?

2007-04-16 09:38:10
33.   C2Coke
30 I remember as well. And looking at Henn this year. That is definitely a good sign.

28 That's a cool story. Last night wasn't nearly as bad. And I am assuming your wife don't read the Banter?

2007-04-16 09:41:25
34.   C2Coke
Who is Colter Bean? Did someone accidentally mentioned his name?
2007-04-16 11:26:03
35.   OldYanksFan
33 Er... you mean my Ex-wife?
2007-04-16 11:32:51
36.   OldYanksFan
"Mussina tried to throw off the mound Sunday morning but stopped after only seven pitches. Pavano didn't throw his scheduled bullpen."

I thought the DL thing was just to make room for another pitcher or 2. But it looks to me like both Moose and Pavs are not healing as fast as hoped for? Are the DL dates retroactive from last week, or are they both gone for AT LEAST 14 days? Anybody know?

Get well soon Wang (please....)

Also: Jetes has been terrible on D, but last night, on his error there was a play at third (which he usually makes)... and I'm guessing he took his eye off the ball to look at the runner? I'm assuming the error was due to anticipating a play at 3rd?

2007-04-16 11:40:47
37.   FingersCrossed
28 Man, that must have been devastating!
Your story reminded me of my experience last June -- Wang vs Zimmerman. Memorable for a wacky reason along with the obvious one.
The game started around 1 am here in Taiwan, so I had to zip it up and resist the urge to all the YAYYYY!s and OHHHH!s while watching.
1-8 innings, everything was going perfect.
Top of the 9th, I went, "Ohmigod Wang's batting. Could it be? His first CG win?" The bullpen was beat, Mo wasn't available. So maybe yes!
The anticipation and the stupid commercials were driving me insane so I threw myself over the bed and flailed my limbs wildly about just to release some of the energy. (All of these executed in silence, of course.)
Bottom of 9th, 1 out, runner on base. Palms sweaty, pulses racing, eyes glued to the screen. And then, the damned walkoff homer.
After a good 3 seconds of mental shutdown, suddenly there came this huge barrage of loud swearing from everywhere around the neighborhood. Oh, great. And here I thought I was being a polite citizen for the whole time! So, naturally, I followed suit, and slammed the bathroom door hard which nobody seemed to mind at 4 am in the morning.
2007-04-16 12:17:28
38.   OldYanksFan
37 We must be Masochists, yes?
2007-04-16 12:28:07
39.   Schteeve
Watching Mo lose like that, is like being a little kid and watching your dad get beat up. It just isn't supposed to happen.
2007-04-16 13:16:42
40.   FingersCrossed
38Nah, I wouldn't say we are. 'Cause this team has given us more comfort than hurt for us to be true masochists, no? :)
2007-04-17 10:14:38
41.   TheWord
36Supposedly Mussina would have been cleared to throw by this weekend, but they needed the roster spot and figured the extra 4 days would be beneficial. There is no reason to think he will not be back on April 27th as planned.

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