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What A Drag
2008-04-13 20:52
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

The Yankees dropped their second straight series last night, losing the rubber game in Boston by a score of 8-5. The game took a ridiculous three hours and 55 minutes to play and saw 336 pitches thrown. The majority of those pitches, 193 to be exact, came out of the hands of Red Sox hurlers, including 116 in five innings from Daisuke Matsuzaka, who walked six and allowed four runs in his five frames. Unfortunately, the Yankees were only able to scratch out one more run against the underside of the Boston bullpen (on Jason Giambi's second solo homer off Mike Timlin of the series). That wasn't enough to overcome the hole dug by Phil Hughes and Ross Ohlendorf.

Hughes, who had looked so sharp in his first start of the year, was even less effective, and less efficient, than he had been in Kansas City. It took Hughes 39 pitches to get out of the first inning. He started things off with a seven-pitch walk to Jacoby Ellsbury. On the 0-1 pitch to Dustin Pedroia, the Yankees pitched out. For the third time on the road trip, the Yankees correctly identified when an opposing baserunner was stealing, but for the third time they failed to get the runner as Jose Molina's throw sailed into center field and Ellsbury went to third. Hughes rallied to strike out Pedroia, who was completely bewildered by a wicked curve up and in (Pedroia flinched twice as the pitch dropped into the strike zone), but that K took another seven pitches. Hughes then walked J.D. Drew on an ironically efficient four tosses before Manny Ramirez ended another seven-pitch at-bat with an RBI single that sent Drew to third. In that at-bat, Hughes got ahead 0-1 and 1-2 with his fastball, then threw a pair of heaters up and in, had yet another low and inside fouled off, then finally came with a curve, which Ramirez served to center. Kevin Youkilis was disposed of with just two pitches, but his sac fly placed Drew. Hughes then got ahead of Sean Casey 0-2 only to even the count and give up a 375-foot ground-rule double to right that pushed Ramirez to third. Hughes then again got ahead 0-2 on Jason Varitek, but with Casey on second, Hughes and Molina developed some communication issues. The second strike of that at-bat caught Molina off guard and was dropped at the plate. After a fastball that just missed the outside corner and a pair of fouls, Hughes crossed up Molina again, throwing a curve when Molina was expecting a fastball. Molina popped out of his crouch to catch what he though was a high fastball only to have the ball dive and get by him allowing Ramirez to score. After Molina's third trip to the mound of the at-bat, Hughes got Varitek looking on a fierce curve on the outside corner to end the inning, but the Red Sox were already up 3-0 and Hughes was half-way in the bag.

Hughes appeared to settle down in the second, surviving a bunt single and stolen base by Coco Crisp (both calls that could have gone either way) by getting a groundout, a pop-up, and a strikeout (Pedroia again, this time swinging at a fastball just below the knees and slamming his bat down in frustration). Hughes needed just 11 pitches to get through those four batters, but it all went wrong again in the third.

Drew led off with another walk, this one on five pitches (though ball four looked like strike two). Manny Ramirez followed by working the count full and lining a fastball off Alex Rodriguez's glove for another single. Youkilis and Casey then followed by singling hard on fastballs down and in to plate Drew and Ramirez, driving the score to 5-1 and Hughes from the game.

All totalled, Hughes threw 65 pitches in two-plus innings and just 54 percent of those offerings were strikes. Hughes struck out three men, but allowed nine others to reach and five to score on his watch. Ohlendorf then allowed both of the baserunners he inherited from Hughes to score, pushing Hughes' tally to seven runs (one unearned due to the passed ball). From what I saw, Hughes only threw three pitches that weren't fastballs or curveballs, all of which were taken for balls. The lack of an effective third pitch as well as a general lack of command seemed to be the problem. Hughes had a huge break on his curve, and he wasn't wild, but he wasn't hitting his spots, often just missing the strike zone or having a strike called a ball because Molina had to reach for it. Unable to put the ball where he wanted it, he was getting deep into counts and getting hit.

I'd shrug it off if it was just one start, but it's been two straight now (aggregate line: 5 IP, 12 H, 10 R (9 ER), 7 BB, 5 K). Only 2 of those twelve hits went for extra bases (both doubles) and Hughes is getting his strikeouts, but giving up 19 baserunners in 5 innings almost exactly how Mike Mussina got himself yanked from the rotation last August. Suddenly Hughes's next start becomes pivotal. If he struggles again, the Yankees may have a decision to make.

The upside to the game was that despite being down 7-1 after three, the Yankees got the tying run to the plate several times and on base once while Ohlendorf, LaTroy Hawkins, and Kyle Farnsworth ate up the remainder of the game while allowing just one run of their own. Also, Alberto Gonzalez went 1 for 2 with a single and a walk and made a nice over-the-shoulder catch in shallow left in the third, and Jose Molina went 2 for 4 with yet another double. The Yankees five runs were their third-best total of the season.

The immediate downside is that Molina strained a hamstring, forcing an odd late-game maneuver in which Joe Girardi pinch-ran for Molina with Wilson Betemit following the catcher's eight-inning single while simultaneously pinch-hitting Melky Cabrera (who got the day off with Jorge Posada--1 for 4--again DHing) for Gonzalez. Melky singled, but the Yankees didn't score, and Posada had to catch the ninth, pushing Farnsworth into the lineup (though his spot never came around and Morgan Ensberg was still around to pinch-hit). Posada clearly had instructions not to throw during his inning behind the plate as both Crisp and Pedroia stole off him uncontested, with Crisp scoring to set the final score.

Per Pete Abe, with Posada still unable to catch because of his shoulder and Molina unable to play because of his hammy, the Yanks will have to call up Chad Moeller. It remains to be seen if Molina's bad enough to require a DL stay. The good news is that Derek Jeter is expected to return to the lineup tonight, which could mean the Yankees could farm out Gonzalez to make room for Moeller and have Molina take Jeter's place as the unusable player with a short-term injury on the bench. Did I really just call that good news?

Comments
2008-04-13 22:42:31
1.   monkeypants
0 "The good news is that Derek Jeter is expected to return to the lineup tonight, which could mean the Yankees could farm out Gonzalez to make room for Moeller and have Molina take Jeter's place as the unusable player with a short-term injury on the bench."

Brilliantly phrased!

2008-04-13 23:24:36
2.   Yu-Hsing Chen
Jebus Christ, we're at the same place we were last year after 12 game, on the brigther side, we faced no team that was over .500 (eventrually) during that span last year. while i'm pretty sure that the Red Sox/ Jays / Rays / Royals should easily combine for a much better record than Oakland/ D-rays / KC / O's did last year.
2008-04-14 01:37:32
3.   nemecizer
Not the best of starts by the Yanks, but I learned last year (and learn every year in some way or another) that the season is really, really long and it's way too early to panic.

I think Hughes will be fine. His velocity was back up and his curveball had some snap to it. Nomaas.org reminds us he's the youngest pitcher in MLB. I think yanking him to AAA after one more bad start might do more damage to his self confidence than leaving him at MLB for another bad game or two would do to the team.

Still, it sucks to drop 2 out of 3 to the Sox.

2008-04-14 04:35:01
4.   Sliced Bread
Thanks, Cliff.
Growing pains, all sorts a pains. Yeah, Phil will be phine, but for now I tough lovingly think of him as Hil Phuse... as in lit.
Here's to putting that Boston brutality behind us, and fast.
Suddenly, Kennedy's the stopper, yes?
2008-04-14 04:51:15
5.   Sliced Bread
NY Daily News: Joba Leaves Team After Dad Collapses:

http://tinyurl.com/52lfyk

2008-04-14 05:02:27
6.   rbj
5 Ouch. I hope Harlan recovers.

And A-Rod's going to miss a day or two when his wife gives birth, probably this week.

What was frustrating was the Yankees general inability to capitalize on all the walks that Dice-BB was giving out. I'm not worried about Phil, he's still very young, this is just growing pains.

I hate the Sunday night games that go to midnight, they make Monday morning just that much worse.

2008-04-14 05:32:29
7.   3rd gen yankee fan
5 UGH! I was all ready to laugh about yesterday until this. What a fucked up day!
2008-04-14 05:46:43
8.   Adrian
0 I had a dream last night that the Yankees had tied it up and won in 15 with a HR off of Papelbon. Ah, Mondays.
2008-04-14 06:13:05
9.   tommyl
Long season, I'm keep telling myself that. Still I'm in a foul mood this morning. If they are going to lose, could they do it in something less than 4 hours? That game was mind numbing.
2008-04-14 06:17:53
10.   OldYanksFan
"According to sources, Harlan Chamberlain collapsed at his home in Lincoln, Neb. He was listed in critical condition at St. Elizabeth Regional Medical Center in Lincoln, a nursing supervisor there told the Daily News on Sunday night."

Brutal. This poor dude has a massive struggle his whole life and just when there is some money coming in and Joba is becoming famous, he takes a turn for the worse. How very, very sad.

I guess we can say that it was very fortunate that Joba made the team last year.

2008-04-14 06:21:37
11.   OldYanksFan
Theoretically, Joba got the news in the 8th inning last night. Also, we know that Molina was taken out for injury, not strategy. So I guess JG didn't screw up like we thought.

This is one reason why I am not too critical of players and managers. There is usually so much we fans don't know about.

2008-04-14 06:31:07
12.   horace-clarke-era
11 Word. Among other things, we (the fans) tend to manage game-by-game and ignore long season issues and player needs. Confidence, finding it, propping it up is a big part of managing a 25 man squad and the season is WAY to long for, say, deciding on April 13 that you can't use someone like Farnsworth down 2 runs. In other words, Girardi may have passed on Joba because of Harlan, but he may have used Farns because of a long season.

But on that same take, I think he HAD to bunt a struggling Damon against a southpaw instead of setting him and the team up for failure there, and he had to walk Manny to refuse the Sox a chance at that added triumph.

2008-04-14 06:35:04
13.   monkeypants
11 He only partly screwed up. Mr. Ensberg still rode the pine while three straight lefties (including slumping Damon and Cano) were left to face the opposing LOOGY. And i don't buy that he needed to save a bat in case the pitcher's spot came up--they had to score then, when they had the chance.

As for Joba, the version I read on the Daily News says that he did not receive the news until he called his sister back after the game (she had contacted Yankee officials durin the eight inning). If so, then he was available to pitch in the 8th inning. I strongly suspect, though will never be able to prove it, that Girardi would not have used him unless they had the lead.

2008-04-14 06:53:20
14.   Dimelo
Lose last night, win tonight!!!!
2008-04-14 06:54:56
15.   pistolpete
6 I've actually sworn off watching Yanks/Sox games played at Fenway - sometimes the ones at the Stadium too if they're not playing well at the time. My weekend was relatively stress-free, but only for about 5-6 minutes of aggravation when I check the scores at night.

Hopefully Mr. Chamberlain pulls through!

2008-04-14 07:37:51
16.   OldYanksFan
13 I would agree to some extent, but had JD been bunting (as Hoss points out), I'm not sure if you need to PH for Cano or Bobby. You have a young pitcher on the mound and a not-to-swift 1Bman. It seems a drag bunt by JD might have been tried, which would have moved the runners over and had a chance for a BH.

Both Cano and ARod really stank up the joint. I do think ARod is pressing... not so much because of the contract, but because the team offense has been so poor. Truth is he could have won a number of our loses but that is an unfair expectation for one man. We send 8 other guys to the plate. Nonetheless, I think ARod feels pressure, and we all know it's not good when he is 'thinking' with a bat in his hands.

Of 30 teams, only 7 (5 NL, 2 AL) have a team OPS above .750, and MLB in general is about 25 OPS pts below average, with the AL being 35 OPS pts below average.

There's no 'excuses' but anyone who has even played ball in the cold KNOWS it effects your ABs. You can see that ARod, Jason and Cano are slow with the bat and behind pitches. I don't believe it's age or deteriorization and that warm weather will make a big difference.

And when will Girardi have the courage, if needed, to move JD down in the order... and can Melky be a decent alternative at leadoff.

2008-04-14 07:47:36
17.   monkeypants
16 Agreed. I would not have PH for Bobby, and they couldn't really PH for Cano since Gonzalez was pulled and Jeter is, well, not on the DL. So really it comes down to JD's at bat. I would have PH for him, since Cabrera was already in the game for Gonzalez. But I would not have been averse to bunting him. Whatever the case, JD is killing the team right now in the lead off spot, getting the most PAs on the team.
2008-04-14 07:52:12
18.   Schteeve
That Aardsma feller is like Farnsworth 2.0.
2008-04-14 07:54:39
19.   Schteeve
17 Monkey, I agree, but I think the list of Yankee hitters NOT presently killing the team goes something like this:

Abreu.
Molina.
Matsui.
Melky.

I realize A-Rod probably belongs on that list in a macro sense, but I am pissed at him for first pitch swinging against Diesooky Matsoozacky (I'm using the Joe Morgan pronunciation) in the first last night.

2008-04-14 08:03:46
20.   horace-clarke-era
13 Great stats:

"Of 30 teams, only 7 (5 NL, 2 AL) have a team OPS above .750, and MLB in general is about 25 OPS pts below average, with the AL being 35 OPS pts below average."

April doesn't matter? Right.

"There's no 'excuses' but anyone who has even played ball in the cold KNOWS it effects your ABs. You can see that ARod, Jason and Cano are slow with the bat and behind pitches. I don't believe it's age or deteriorization and that warm weather will make a big difference."

Habit-forming and even worrisome, but I agree, again. The 'slow' aspect was especially notable last night. Joe 'The Not-Yet-Fired Sage' Morgan was going on about not picking up Dicey's delivery, but I am much more inclined to believe it was slight lag in twitch-fire muscles not warm enough.

I don't see Alex pressing. I do see Cano doing it, big time. Damon is walking and running, an on-base near .300 while hitting under .200. He starts warming up just a bit and he's back at .350+ obp and rising. I still would have bunted him.

2008-04-14 08:05:45
21.   ms october
either giambi (the albatross) or damon has to start doing something here fairly soon or they are just roster clogging (since we are going with a joe morgan theme)

my thing with arod - and i think it is magnified in the playoffs - is not the whole clutch/choking bs thing - it is what he chooses to swing at in "big abs" - sometimes he swings at utter crap and too often at pitches he can't do anything with - as a contrast manny does not do that nearly as much

2008-04-14 08:11:16
22.   Andre
I was at the game last night. It was probably the most miserable game to be at in person. The first 3 innings were painfully long and it was freakin' cold.

One thing I thought was a little cool was that Girardi would come out at the beginning of an inning to catch while the pitcher warmed up, until Molina got his gear on. I don't think you see that too often on other teams. Didn't seem to help anyone though.

I was also encouraged by our bullpen (after that bad first inning by Ollie). You just knew the sux were going to score as soon as Farnswacker came in, but everyone else was pretty good.

2008-04-14 08:14:58
23.   tommyl
21 I dunno, A-Rod wasn't hitting well, but I didn't see any evidence of pressing. His first two ABs he did the roll over grounder to third thing. After that, you could see him clearly trying to go more up the middle, opposite way, he was just getting a bit under the ball. To me, I take out of it that he's a bit off, but trying to make adjustments, which is a good thing. His April last year spoiled us, those numbers were out of a video game. He'll be fine.

Giambi on the other hand looks woeful unless Mike Timlin is pitching. Its not as if his glove carries his bat. I'd give him a bit more time, especially once the weather starts warming up, but at some point you have to start thinking that he's just cooked. This is not like Abreu last year, where he was slumping but had a recent track record of performing much better. Giambi has been so so to crappy the last few years, even when not injured. It might be time to realize its not 2001 anymore.

2008-04-14 08:15:14
24.   rbj
What with all the concern about our offense, at least we're not the Tigers.
2008-04-14 08:21:49
25.   ms october
22 for the most part the bullpen has been the pleasant surprise of the year.
what are people's thoughts on a long man now?

23 yeah, everyone keeps saying the bats will warm up - and i have no doubt that most will - especially arod - his april last year was ridiculous and that shouldn't be the standard - i just wish he would be a little more selective - it seems to me that when his strike outs and pop-outs are a bit up - he is not waiting for his pitch - maybe it will help with matsui protecting him rather than giambi - and to have some baserunners on as well

2008-04-14 08:27:28
26.   monkeypants
23 Moreover, with Abreu last year, he had just had an abdominal muscle strain in late spring, so it is not surprising it took him a while to get it back together. Giambi, well, it may be that bell has also tolled for him.

20 Good point about Damon's (relatively) high OBP. However, you are more confident in his ability to bounce back than I am. It took him until July last season to really start hitting. And even if he gets his OBP up to a relatively healthy .350 (not that great for a lead off hitter), if he only SLG . 350, can they afford to carry that kind of bat in LF, even if he is Tris Speaker out there (which he isn't)?

2008-04-14 08:33:18
27.   monkeypants
19 You forget to mention AG, who has actually swung the bat OK. Oh yeah, Duncan (who was farmed out so that Jeter could ride the pine) and Ensberg (who has been banished) have not hurt either. Maybe a spot start for Ensberg is in order. I am under no illusions that he is the solution, but surely he can't be worse right now than Giambi-not-hitting-against-Timlin.
2008-04-14 08:45:16
28.   OldYanksFan
"either giambi (the albatross) or damon has to start doing something here fairly soon"
------------------------------------------
Jason has hit 2 HRs in the last 3 games, one being a game winner. While he has been disappointing so far, can we at least say that he has "start doing something here fairly soon"?
2008-04-14 08:56:45
29.   Schteeve
28 I agree. I know we're dealing with a Timlin sized sample, but Giambi doesn't look bad at the plate. He crushed a ball to dead center right at Coco last night before his home run. I'm not terribly mad at Jason.

And while I know it's the trendy thing to do to bash Giambi, Cano has been absolutley atrocious, and given that he's 12 years younger than Jason, I expect better from him.

2008-04-14 09:04:04
30.   ms october
28 29 if those two games are indicative that he is starting to get more comfortable then sure - but if we want to look at the 2 other most recent games he played in he was 0-4. it's not that it is trendy to bash giambi - it's that there might be better options than him right now in ensberg and shelley.
with cano there is no else really to turn to and his trajectory for getting it going is more likely than giambi's.
2008-04-14 09:14:03
31.   tommyl
28 29 Please note that I suggested giving Giambi some more time, and in warmer weather. I'm just saying, if at the end of April he's still hitting .067 or something, you have to start thinking about other options. When Abreu was tanking last year, his average was still in the low .200s. Yes, Jason hit a few balls well at people last night and the day before, but he's also hit a lot of balls right into the shift, or weak grounders. If he was batting .200 then you can claim its all bad luck, but .107? That's some lousy swinging too.
2008-04-14 09:36:54
32.   Bob B
I find nothing to take positive from the 6-7 start. This board has too many optimists. To me, it looks like this will be a season long struggle to get above .500. Hughes was miserable, again. The offense looked old because it is old. Until we can dump Giambi, Damon, and Matsui we're old. Everone must be getting tired of me complaining about not getting Santana but I really don't think we can compete with the big guns in Boston with Hughes and Kennedy. Maybe in two years.........Hopefully I'm wrong. Realistically, I'm probably not.
Hope Harlan recovers. It sucks to be young and lose your dad.
2008-04-14 09:43:04
33.   williamnyy23
11 I think all immediate criticism comes with an applied caveat about unknown issues such as injuries. It doesn't apply, however, to things like "Manager X bunted because he knows that Player Y gets anxious on nights when chicken is the clubhouse dinner".
2008-04-14 09:46:12
34.   williamnyy23
32 I agree that too many people are looking at a 6-7 start with rose colored glasses. Had the Yankees hit to their potential, their record could (and probably should) be 9-4 or so. These two weeks have been a missed opportunity.

Having said that, there are positives to take. Abreu and Matsui have started nicely...the bullpen looks like it is relatively deep...Wang and Andy seem on track to anchor the staff, etc.

As for the Boston comp, you think the Yankees rookies of Hughes and Kennedy can't hang with the Red Sox youngsters of Buccholz and Lester? That's an inconsistent argument.

Best wishes to Joba's dad. I can't wait to see his fist pump the next time Joba's K's a batter.

2008-04-14 09:51:28
35.   monkeypants
33 Moreover, with respect to the Joba situation, one of the two cases OYF was alluding to in 11 , he didn't hear about his father until after the game. So criticism of the manager for not using him last night remains valid, unless new info arises.

AP Report: "Joba Chamberlain's sister called the Yankees during the eighth inning of New York's 8-5 loss at Boston on Sunday night. The newspaper said the reliever spoke with his sister after the game and broke into tears, and manager Joe Girardi tried to console him."

News 1010 report: "Joba didn't get the news until after Sunday night's game against the Red Sox in Boston, the News reported. He apparently broke down in tears in the Yankee clubhouse when he got the phone call from his sister."

2008-04-14 10:10:16
36.   dianagramr
35

Wait ... so WHO in the Yankees org. knew about Joba's dad in the 8th inning? If it filtered down to Girardi, I would cut him a lot of slack for not putting Joba in there.

2008-04-14 11:26:34
37.   horace-clarke-era
26 You know, .350 ops is not so bad, dude. In fact (just checked) it is his career average! Ichiro is .378 (bad start this year though) and Carl Crawford is .330 (ditto start) as comparisons (Crawford is about .350, over his last two good seasons). Derek, btw, for those inclined to quickly forget, is .388. (Thurman Munson was .346)

It is a mistake (with respect) to treat last year's spring for Damon as meaning much more than a guy who had NEVER been on the DL (remarkable, really) trying to tough it out and not backing off (or being backed off). He was hurt for first 3 months, then hit very well ending at .270.

2008-04-14 13:02:44
38.   Raf
32 I find nothing to take positive from the 6-7 start.

How 'bout that they're a game and a half out of first?

2008-04-14 13:56:23
39.   monkeypants
36 Hmmm...So Girardi mayhave known, but he didn't tell Joba, and he decided not to use him anyway even though he didn't know because, er. he would learn about it later? Maybe, but I don't buy it.

37 Ah yes, a player who wouldn't go on the DL hamstringing the team. This sounds familiar. Anyway, it does not matter why he was stinkorific last season--the fact is that he was for three months. And he is not getting any younger. For all we know he has another set of nagging little injuries, not uncommon for those of us on the wrong side of thirty. That only speaks to my point.

There is a good bit of difference between .388 and .350 OBP. That managers use lead-off men with less than stellar OBP (like J. Pierre) says more about managing orthodoxy than anything else.

Last season batters hitting in the #1 slot averaged a .345 OBP, so Damon would be slightly better than average. As I said, not that great. Of course, last season the average #1 hitter also slugged .415 (better than Damon).

I'm not sure what Munson has to do with anything. But if you are saying that Damon, the Yankees leadoff hitter, is expected to get on base more than a good hitting catcher who played in a pitchers era, a pitchers park, and an era that did not emphasize OBP, well you got me there!

2008-04-14 15:24:27
40.   horace-clarke-era
39 Monkey, you made me laugh, but ... the point is that if what you need to do is GUESS at injuries, as opposed to the widely reported minor injuries last year (and reported health this year) I'd say I got you THERE.

.350 is perfectly decent at the top and if he's running at a high rate of success (really, man, cut him some slack! 27 out of 30 sbs? That's fabulous. You don't want to factor that in his BAD year?)

And yes, .388 is better than .350 ... I thought about arguing but decided to pass since I was the one who mentioned Ichiro! Your point being? We sign Ichiro? He's too old, Monkey. No. He's a flat-out HoF superstar is what he is.

I absolutely agree that plugging in speed at top just for speed when the guy can't get on is stupid -- but we aren't talking about that are we? Not at .350. And his slugging the three years before the last injured one was well above the norm. He was higher for us in '06 than any year since KC in 2000. And consider the second half, please. isn't that more indicative than 13 games in April?

Can we wait a week or three before giving him his gold watch? 2 walks, 2 sbs last night, last I checked. He may be fork-ready, but 35 isn't old any more. Just ask Four More Years Jorge who will be 37 in August.

If he's hurt we'll learn. If he's not why assume he's done? I don't get it.

38 Bravo.

2008-04-14 15:58:29
41.   monkeypants
40 "...but 35 isn't old any more. Just ask Four More Years Jorge who will be 37 in August."

And who, apparently, is not allowed to throw the ball. Perhaps not the best example to make your case. : )

This is a spirited discussion, no doubt. OK, we'll wait a few weeks. My prediction is that Damon is cooked--of curse, he won't be this bad all season, and his SB will help. But at best he will be a light hitting LF, and I don't expect the best. But I could be wrong. We'll see in a few (more) weeks.

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