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Killing 'Em Softly
2008-04-28 21:46
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

After five innings last night, the Yankees were trailing 2-0 and being no-hit by Aaron Laffey. They then exploded with the following rally:

Melky Cabrera broke up the no-no with an infield single on a Baltimore chop that hopped over third baseman Casey Blake's head to shortstop Jhonny Peralta. Derek Jeter followed with a squibber down the third base line that took a sharp left turn on Blake allowing Jeter to reach with another infield single. Bobby Abreu then singled to shallow left field to load the bases with no outs. Down 1-2 in the count, Alex Rodriguez was hit in the left thigh to plate the first Yankee run. Next, Jason Giambi and Hideki Matsui both hit slow bouncing balls to first base, exchanging two outs for two runs. That inexplicably drove Laffey from the game at 78 pitches. Facing reliever Jensen Lewis, Morgan Ensberg hit a weak chop that nearly rolled to a stop even with the mound. Lewis got to the ball first, but was forced to eat it as Ensberg reached with another infield single, this one plating the fourth Yankee run.

Joked Ensberg after the game, "We've tried hitting the ball hard. Robby Cano knows it, too. Jason [Giambi has] hit the ball real hard, but that doesn't work. We need to start using the entire bat. We need to start dribbling balls and rolling balls over, which is exactly what we did."

The Yankees added a fifth run in the eighth off Lewis when Johnny Damon pinch-hit for the aching Rodriguez (more on that below), walked, and was plated by a well-struck double by Hideki Matsui. Not that they needed it. Jonathan Albaladejo, Kyle Farnsworth, Joba Chamberlain, and Mariano Rivera each tossed a scoreless inning to wrap up the win for starter Mike Mussina. Kyle, Joba, and Mo combined for three perfect frames, striking out one man each. Farnsworth, who threw eight of his 12 pitches for strikes, effectively worked a new cutter into his usual fastball/slider mix. Albaladejo had runners on the corners with two outs via a walk and a single, but struck out David Dellucci to escape his inning. Mussina was sharp again, though less efficient. He didn't allow an extra base hit in his five innings, but the two runs he allowed both came in the bottom of the fifth, which started with four straight singles. Moose did well to escape that inning with just two runs allowed, but Girardi was right to lift him once the Yankees got the lead in the top of the next frame.

As for Rodriguez, his right quad is the one that's been bothering him and the pitch from Laffey hit him in the left thigh, but coming out of the box on a groundball to second in the first inning, he aggravated the right thigh. Rodriguez slowed up after just four strides on that groundout and appeared to be limping when he scored in the sixth, prompting Giardi to pinch-hit for him in his next at-bat. After the game, Rodriguez said he was probably only running at 50 percent when he scored and that he probably came back too quickly from the initial injury. Rodriguez plans to shut himself down for a few days. Said Rodriguez after the game, "There's no way I could play tomorrow. . . . I had a quad injury like this in my senior year in high school and it lingered on for a couple months, so it's important to get it right. . . . I think Jeter took the right approach where he took a litte bit more time, and that's probably what I need, too. . . . Joe [Girardi] said [I'll sit] one day, and we'll take it from there, but if I had to guess, I would probably guess probably more than one day. . . . When I get back out there I want to be closer to 100 percent than I am now."

As for Jorge Posada, who was absent from the Yankee dugout for the first time since September 1, 1996, there was no word last night on his diagnosis/prognosis, though I'm hopeful that we'll hear something prior to tonight's opener against the Tigers.

Comments
2008-04-29 03:50:47
1.   OldYanksFan
We used 5 pitchers in a 3 run Win. I don't think our BP can hold us to this kind of use. Moose was still pitching decently, and I would have brought him out for the 6th, with Alby warming just in case.

I am no pitching coach, but it seems to me that 2 - 1 inning stints is more stressful then 1 - 2 inning stint.

Even though William is unhappy with our start, there were many reasons we could have done worse. Out of 25 guys, only 5 are performing well (Wang, Andy, Joba, Mo and Matsui). That's 8 of our starting 9 positions underperforing. Add 18 away games, crappy weather and numerous minor injuries, and an absolute automatic out in the lineup (Cano), I think being 14-13 is as much as we should expect.

Unfortunately, injuries to BB, Posada and ARod have not been fully felt. I don't believe Jeter is 100% either. Jetes is not hitting that well that we can't put AG at SS for a few games, or at least every other game, for a while.

I know Po was feeling better, but why not have another MRI before putting him back at C and releasing Moeller? Now with Girardi playing Jetes and ARod, I think we are playing with fire.

2008-04-29 04:19:38
2.   williamnyy23
1 I guess I just don't understand the "all things considered" logic. Sure, the Yankees could have a worse record, but that discounts the fact that they could and should have a batter one. The fact that only 5 players have consistently played well (I'd add Melky to that list) isn't a mitigating factor. It's a direct reason why the early season has been a disappointment.

The bottom line is for the Yankees to be successful, they have to rake on offense. After 26 games, there are some serious warning signs. Posada is injured and Arod looks like he is on the even year program. If those two positions drop off significantly, I don't see how they make it up, especially if Cano is going to struggle until the summer. What's more, the Yankees have not only struggled, but they have completely abandoned their patient approach. If that continues, the offense will not come close to last year's level.

I am not suggesting that anyone give up on the season, but simply dismissing the red flags wont make them go away.

2008-04-29 04:49:11
3.   idahoyankee
Our Yanks just split with the Inians on the road - after being down 2 games to none - that was awsome - lets all quite looking for reasons for them to fail and appreciate what they are getting done - i'm seeing alot of team chemistry that has been lacking for the past 3 yrs. Giradi for coach of the Year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
2008-04-29 05:19:40
4.   monkeypants
2 The lack of patience by some is disturbing. Jeter seems particularly hacktastic, which is a bad combination with his apparently singles-only approach.
2008-04-29 05:22:26
5.   monkeypants
Meanwhile Hughes starts tonight. What are the odds of a snow storm or tornado?
2008-04-29 05:23:29
6.   horace-clarke-era
I'm just about out of time to say 'it is only April' but I'm with OYF. My savvy brother said if we were at .500 end of the killer road trip he'd be content if not happy, and I agreed - and still do. 18 of 20 games on the road in April is TOUGH. Teams that play .500 on the road usually make the playoffs or at least contend for them.

Are there worries - of course, including injury issues. But - as sometimes happens in this strange, wonderful game - slow starts are being balanced by fast ones (Melky covers for Cano?) and I fully expect regression to the mean to happen leaving us with a seriously above-average batting attack.

I found the bullpen yesterday wonderful. A season highlight. I'm celebrating that kind of efficiency today, not stressing about it. And winning the last two, as Idaho notes, to gain a split on the road after being no-hit for 5 ... this is GOOD, guys. Jorge is key, hoping it is only 4 weeks or something, and - dammit - sitting Alex long enough to let the man heal. As others have noted, Yankees seem to have a bad habit of trivializing injuries.

Um, yay Farns? (Shh.)

2008-04-29 05:24:12
7.   horace-clarke-era
5 Kennedy and Hughes?
Pray for a Deluge!
2008-04-29 05:25:36
8.   horace-clarke-era
Note: the above post is offered in a benign spirit of (attempted) poetic wit and is not to be construed or interpreted as an insult or libel of the above-mentioned IPK and PKH, both fine young men and prospects.
2008-04-29 05:31:03
9.   Rob Middletown CT
Ouch. No ARod or Posada against a lefty. Ensberg & Duncan need to step up, then.
2008-04-29 05:48:56
10.   monkeypants
6 You may be vindicated for your "give JD a chance" mantra earlier in the season, but I may (sadly) be vindicated for my "just put these guys on the DL in the first place" tune.
2008-04-29 06:13:25
11.   Start Spreading the News
The lack of patience is certainly seen the #pitches/PA:

2008 CLE 3.91
2008 CHA 3.86
2008 OAK 3.86
2008 TOR 3.85
2008 BOS 3.83
2008 TEX 3.82
2008 BAL 3.81
2008 DET 3.80
2008 NYA 3.78
2008 SEA 3.76
2008 KCA 3.73
2008 TBA 3.70
2008 MIN 3.69
2008 ANA 3.61

2007 BOS 3.95
2007 CLE 3.94
2007 OAK 3.91
2007 NYA 3.89
2007 TEX 3.88
2007 CHA 3.86
2007 TOR 3.84
2007 TBA 3.81
2007 MIN 3.73
2007 DET 3.73
2007 BAL 3.72
2007 ANA 3.66
2007 KCA 3.66
2007 SEA 3.63

2008-04-29 06:35:26
12.   Cliff Corcoran
1 Wait Damon's underperforming at .275/.380/.495?
Melky's underperforming at .289/.358/.494 with five homers?
Farnsworth is underperforming at 3.65 with 12 Ks in 12 1/3 innings?
Heck even Moose, can you really expect much more than the .500 record and 4.73 ERA he's put up thus far? Take out just one bad start against Boston and his ERA is 3.68.

I'd take those sorts of performances over a full year from those four guys.

2008-04-29 06:48:09
13.   Shaun P
5 Low?

Take heart!

Hughes vs RHB: .643 OPS
Hughes vs LHB: 1.071 OPS

Number of Tiger regulars who are LHB: 2 (Jacque Jones (hitting .197/.292/.295) and Granderson)

Number of Tiger regulars who are SHB: 1 (Carlos Guillen)

If Hughes can limit any damage from Guillen and Granderson, he ought to do quite well tonight.

2008-04-29 07:37:46
14.   monkeypants
13 I think my post was misunderstood. I have not lost heart nor a I hoping for bad weather. Rather, I am noting Hughes' peculiar tendency to pitch this season only when Mother Nature does not cooperate.
2008-04-29 07:37:48
15.   Sarasota
3 ....."Giradi for coach of the Year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"............I don't think we're watching the same games.
2008-04-29 07:57:54
16.   williamnyy23
15 Not to mention the wrong sport. "Coach"?
2008-04-29 08:20:02
17.   tommyl
14 I hear ya, I keep waiting for dragons or something to land in the outfield during one of his starts. Weather tonight should be fine, if a bit cold.
2008-04-29 08:21:27
18.   dianagramr
OK .... so is anyone else wondering if Mindy McCready injected Roger with steroids? :-)
2008-04-29 08:25:34
19.   tommyl
18 No, I have ceased caring even a little bit. I feel bad for everyone involved and his family. At this point it looks like he cheated, which is a shame.
2008-04-29 08:25:56
20.   horace-clarke-era
16 Maybe 3 was meant as a brilliantly subtle bit of sarcasm, suggesting he be demoted? Though we differ on the bullpen play last night (saying this after it worked is easy, I know, and the season is long and the bullpen can get tired) but it was cold and Moose is at BEST six innings there and it made sense to go 1+1+1+1 as a strategy. To my mind anyhow.

As a contrast ... in Seattle they left King Felix up for the 8th after he's gone 7 shutout, and 4 earned runs emerged because the blow-up was walk, double, men on 2nd and third, no one out, no one warming. It can happen very fast when a starter is nearing the end.

Olney on ESPN reports Posada has no significant damage and it looks like a 'normal' DL stint might emerge ... absolutely best-case news, if true.

2008-04-29 08:32:16
21.   Schteeve
The Yanks underperformed their log5 projections by about 1.4 wins, according to SG at RLYW. Given the fact that they've had numerous injuries to key offensive weapons, and borderline abysmal starts by Hughes and Kennedy, I'm actually shocked that we're only and game and a half behind our projection.

The trick will be the answer to the following questions:
-Will guys get healthy and stay healthy?
-Will Cano play closer to his projections moving forward?
-Will Giambi's recent uptick continue?
-Will Jeter add at least a little bit of SLG to his game?
-Will Mussina continue his usefulness?
-Will Farnsworth?
-Will Hughes and Kennedy start pitching meaningfully better?

2008-04-29 08:34:16
22.   OldYanksFan
12 JD was a dog until 4 games ago. Melky has been a stud. Farns, I guess, has been better then expected, althought 3.65 out of the BP is decent, but not great. Moose has basically been good Moose (old Moose) and I'm very pleased.

So I missed a few, but still the majority of the team is not where I expect them to be by years end.

11 I agree and it's disturbing, but almost like IPK's control, it's an aberation, and something that will get back to their norm as the year progresses.

Sometimes these are not red flags, but just guys doing shitty for the early season. You can never account for injuries, but it seems to me we can (and will) only play better as the season progresses.

And Giambi's bat has been a tad bit slow, turning HRs to right into deep flys to right-center. I'm better that gets better too.

2008-04-29 08:34:17
23.   Zack
Well, I had hoped that with the new "regime" and Britton being called up things would change, but it would still seem that he is relegated to "last guy coming off the bench AFTER we use a few infielders to pitch" status..
2008-04-29 09:04:20
24.   williamnyy23
23 I am completely befuddled by Britton. My recollection from his time in Baltimore was that he was one of the few competent pitchers they had on the staff. Since then, he has done nothing put pitch well at every level. Why does this organization have such an aversion to giving him a legitimate spot? You'd think Cashman would be pushing for him to be used; if he winds up doing well, the Wright deal becomes a feather in his cap. Yet, for some reason, Mr. Britton rides the pine.
2008-04-29 09:10:23
25.   OldYanksFan
"Jorge Posada's shoulder injury does not appear to be season-threatening. That's the early word on the New York Yankees catcher following an exam by Dr. James Andrews on Monday."

This is from ESPN.com news services.
Could they actually know something that is NOT posted on any Yankees sites?

2008-04-29 09:12:00
26.   OldYanksFan
24 Possibly the Yanks know something we don't? He doesn't appear to be trade bait. Tis mystifying.
2008-04-29 09:13:07
27.   williamnyy23
26 What could they possibly know? And, if they do know something, why do they sporadically promote him, only to never use him?
2008-04-29 10:11:46
28.   Schteeve
27 What they know, dude, is that hundreds of years ago a child was born to a woman impregnated by Satan himself. That child was blessed with a plus fastball, and cursed to never grow old. The prophets foretold that if that child were ever to take the Yankee Stadium mound in any sort of a regular fashion, Armageddon would rain down upon the earth. The rivers would rise, and the winged demons would snatch the children from their cribs. There would be much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments and the blood of the unholy would turn the oceans red. That kid's name? Chris Britton. So maybe that's what they know. Huh?
2008-04-29 10:12:10
29.   Zack
24 27 Seriously. The guy throws strikes, gets people out, and has shown the ability to do it in the majors. With Torre, I figured he just wasn't "one of the guys," ok fine. But now he's there, rotting on the bench again.

Maybe since Joe is such a fitness freak he secretly hates Britton? Despite him losing weight in the offseason?

But the guy deserves a shot. Its not like they aren't trying other guys out. He's there, worst case is that he gives up a few runs and they exchange him for someone else. But now that he hasn't pitched in a bunch of days he probably won't be as sharp. It boggles the mind...

2008-04-29 11:55:04
30.   Chyll Will
28 ,29 Orrrrr... maybe because he's, er, Brittish? Either that or he's really the Dan Quayle of pitchers, which would answer 27 's question >;)

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