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The Best Laid Plans . . .
2008-05-27 19:07
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

The Yankees and Orioles combined to hit nine home runs through the first five innings of last night's game. By the time the smoke cleared, both starting pitchers were gone (though the Yankees' Ian Kennedy left due to a strained latissimus dorsi muscle after a scoreless inning) and the game was tied at 8-8. Seven relievers then combined to push the game past a one-hour rain delay and into the 11th inning with the score unchanged.

Facing Matt Albers in the Oriole hurler's second inning of work, Johnny Damon led off the top of the 11th with a walk. Derek Jeter followed Damon and reached base when Baltimore third baesman Melvin Mora picked up a bunt that might have run foul. When Mora threw that ball to first base only to discover that Brian Roberts wasn't covering the bag, Jeter and Damon moved up to second and third. Baltimore manager Dave Trembley then had Albers walk Bobby Abreu to set up the force at every base despite the fact that it would bring Alex Rodriguez to the plate with the bases loaded and no outs. The gamble paid off as Rodriguez took a ball, then hit a screaming one-hopper at the drawn-in Roberts. Roberts dropped to a knee and snagged the ball as it skipped over his head, then started a 4-2-5 double-play that erased Damon at home and Jeter by an eyelash at third base. Still, with men on first and second, Hideki Matsui delivered a two-out RBI single right through Albers' legs to give the Yankees a 9-8 lead heading into the bottom of the 11th.

To that point, Joe Girardi had done what I've long admonished Yankee managers to do, that is use Mariano Rivera in the ninth inning of a tied game on the road. The first part of the plan worked perfectly. Rivera pitched two scoreless innings, extending the game to the point at which the Yankees were able to take a lead in the top of the 11th. Unfortunately, because of Kennedy's injury, by that point Giardi had also used both Edwar Ramirez and Kyle Farnsworth for 1 1/3 scoreless innings each and Ross Ohlendorf for 2 1/3 innings of long relief, leaving just LaTroy Hawkins and Jose Veras in his bullpen.

Both Hawkins and Veras had pitched and pitched poorly the night before with nearly identical pitch totals. Girardi chose Hawkins, who had thrown 12 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings prior to Monday, over Veras, who had allowed four runs over his last 4 1/3 innings, all four runs being scored by the Orioles on home runs by Aubrey Huff and Luke Scott, who were the third and fourth hitters due up in the bottom of the 11th. It was the right choice, but Girardi got the wrong result.

Hawkins gave up a leadoff single to Melvin Mora, then, after a fly out, a game-tying double into the left field gap by Huff. The relay home from defensive replacement Melky Cabrera to Jeter to catcher Jose Molina was just a bit late and offline and allowed Huff to advance to third. Girardi then intentionally walked Scott and Kevin Millar, who had two of those nine early-game homers, to set up the force at every base in the hope of an inning-ending double play, or at the very least a force out at home. Instead, Alex Cintron, who had pinch-run earlier in the game, hit the first pitch he saw from Hawkins to deep right field. It might have been the second out, but it was deep enough to plate Huff with the winning run even if it was. Bobby Abreu chased it briefly but ultimately let it fall as the Orioles began to celebrate their 10-9 win.

It was an ugly, sloppy game that saw the teams combine to make five errors, and the Yankees blow a pair of four-run leads (one by Kennedy, one by Ohlendorf), but Joe Girardi gave his team its best chance to walk away the victors. The best laid plans of mice and men go oft awry and leave us not but grief and pain for promised joy.

As for Ian Kennedy, he might have solved the Yankees' rotation crunch by landing on the DL with that lat strain. He'll also allow the Yankees to bring up a reliever today to stock the overtaxed bullpen. Joba Chamberlain's scheduled outing tonight should also help give the pen some needed rest. The Yankees won't be able to speculate about Joba's ability to take Kenendy's next start until they see the former's performance tonight, however.

For all of you cursing LaTroy Hawkins' name last night, but who missed his post-game interview, Hawkins was at least as hard on himself as you were on him. Sounding like he was trying to keep from screaming or crying, Hawkins appeared to have the weight of the entire 11-inning game on his shoulders and had this to say for himself:

LH: After the long hard game that the boys played, and the rain delay, and every time we gave up the lead they came back and took it back, it was just . . . not good.

Kim Jones: The pitch to Huff, was it just too good a pitch for him?

LH: Heh. It was a bad pitch on my part. Just not getting the ball down. Ball up, you're going to get hit. Just bad pitches . . . terrible pitches.

KJ: You seem . . . are you pretty upset with yourself right now?

LH: Yeah because, you know, the guys, they played they butt off tonight, and I came in and just let it go just . . . just like that. Just like that. You know? I usually don't get too upset, but, you know, a game like this you wanna come in and, after we scored, and shut them down from scoring, and I didn't do that. . . . Just bad. I just didn't do the job, just plain and simple. I mean, I'm embarassed 'cause, you know, the guys, they played they butt off, they played they butt off and to go out there and give up the lead like that . . . say if I made good pitches, but I didn't make no good pitches, I made all terrible pitches. . . . When I make good pitches and get beat it's fine, but when I make terrible pitches I'm pretty upset at myself. I can make better pitches than that and I should make better pitches than the ones I was making.

Comments
2008-05-28 03:54:23
1.   RIYank
Screamin' LaTroy Hawkins.

Well, there are plenty of shoulders to share that loss, anyway.

2008-05-28 04:11:39
2.   williamnyy23
I was very disappointed to not see an interview with Jeter after the game. If it was any other player in this city, the media would have flocked to him after a game like that (failed bunt, picked off in a crucial situation, poor baserunning leading to a 4-2-5 double play [something I've never seen before] and then throwing to the wrong base and allowing the winning run to reach third with one out]).

I wonder if Jeter skipped out early, or if the NY media are giving him the Torre treatment? Watching Hawkins beat himself up made me think that Jeter should have insisted he be the one to stand in front of the cameras and take the heat.

2008-05-28 04:44:49
3.   rbj
Blame enough all around. Glad I went to bed at 10:30 and didn't stick around to see the end of the game.
2008-05-28 05:08:19
4.   JoeInRI
At least this team is raking somewhat consistently . . . finally. Any ideas who's gonna be brought up? Britton?
2008-05-28 05:11:16
5.   OldYanksFan
per PeteAbe: "It's amazing that Kennedy and Phil Hughes are both on the DL 52 games into the season. They are a combined 0-7 with a 7.99 ERA. The Yankees are 3-12 in the games they have pitched this season, 22-15 in their other games."

I never expected Phil and IPK to be saviors, but simply to be league average. I don't think anyone expected anything close to what has transpired. It's like throwing snakeeyes twice in a row.

I was, and still am, behind the Santana non-trade... but Cashman is going to get beat up pretty badly over this turn of events.

In a tiny bit of good news, somehow Seattle escaped an 8th inning 1st and 2nd, no outs, with Manny up and won the game. TB also lost. Small consolation.

2008-05-28 05:27:03
6.   Raf
5 Cashman has thrown snakeeyes quite a few times, since 2004. A lot of his moves have made sense, they just didn't work out for whatever reason.
2008-05-28 05:32:03
7.   Mattpat11
5 Its not going to be long before someone in the mainstream press begins to see how awful Cashman is at evaluating pitching. He has a REAL bad case of LookWhatHappenedLastYear-itis.

I think he made the right move with the non trade, but the talking heads are going to lump it in with Cashman's growing list of pitching blunders.

2008-05-28 05:36:11
8.   Rob Middletown CT
I turned off the game after the end of the top of the ninth (after they failed to bring Damon home after a leadoff double), figuring it was a loss. I'm glad I didn't stay up to watch. Ugh.

Ohlendorf, once again, leaves me distinctly unimpressed.

2008-05-28 05:41:41
9.   Mattpat11
8 Anyone with so-so numbers in the minors worries me a little
2008-05-28 05:53:51
10.   RIYank
4 I had the same feeling: painful loss, but the signs weren't bad. (Maybe the RI weather this morning is determining our mood, Joe?) Right, so, we can't rely on Kennedy or Hawkins; no big surprise there. Soon (knock on wood) we won't have to.

One thing that took the edge of my optimism, though, was that we didn't exactly crush the Oriole bullpen.

2008-05-28 06:20:53
11.   Shaun P
I feel bad for Hawkins, but he is not getting the job done lately. I'd like to see Britton come back up and get some chances.
2008-05-28 06:21:45
12.   Mattpat11
10 We're about three weeks beyond moral victories
2008-05-28 06:22:58
13.   Simone
Poor Hawkins. He isn't too blame. Kennedy and Ohlendorf were the main culprits. Eight runs were more than enough to win that game.

I love all the tolerance for the manager's decisions when the Yankees lose these days. Got to be a first on this blog.

2008-05-28 06:24:28
14.   JoeInRI
10 Right now, I'm taking whatever plusses I can. And, yeah, all this sunshine's going make me downright giddy!!!

Hey, the Sox lost to the M's last night, not to mention Dice-K.

2008-05-28 06:26:15
15.   JoeInRI
12 It's a marathon not a . . . . umm, you know.
2008-05-28 06:44:17
16.   Mattpat11
15 Its getting late early
2008-05-28 06:52:33
17.   horace-clarke-era
Hell, I'm with my man william again. DJ was mentally sloppy three times, and that's astonishing to me. Physical errors (bad throws) are actually always easier to take than mental ones, for me. But two bad baserunning plays (did he think Roberts CAUGHT Alex's stinger?) and a wrong-base throw all hurt a LOT.

I also agree that although Hawkins messed up, and saying 'sorry' doesn't mean he didn't, there's gaffes enough to go around, here. I'm not a Girardi fan yet, but this one isn't on him, from where I sit.

Hmm, promising kid starters breaking down young ... where have we seen this scenario? The Cubbies? Say it ain't so, Cash.

2008-05-28 06:53:09
18.   williamnyy23
5 I don't think the failure of IPK and the injury to Hughes completely invalidate the decision to not trade for Santana, especially if part of the long-term plan is to go after Sabathia. While I have lost all patience with IPK (if he was on another team, I would not consider him a significant prospect), I still think Hughes could be a pretty good starter. If Hughes and Sabathia are in the rotation next season and doing well, it will have been worth it to not trade for Santana.

10 I guess it depends on how you read the signs. The bullpen, which was once a strength, now seems like a real weakness. Joba has to be a productive starter asap to mitigate against the negative effects of his removal from the pen. The Yankees do not have the luxury of taking their time.

The problem with trying to look in the bright side is the Yankees haven't played well for any stretch against a team other than the Mariners. Usually, I don't think you can exclude games to make a point, but the Mariners are so bad, I think it's a valid practice in this case. The Yankees are 8 games under .500 against the rest of their schedule...that's very alarming with 1/3 of the season completed.

11 The refusal to give Britton a chance on this team is mystifying.

2008-05-28 06:59:39
19.   williamnyy23
17 The problem with Jeter's blunder in the 11th was that the play was in front of him. I can see breaking back to the bag when the fielders are in back of you, but everything developed in front of him. Besides, even if Roberts does catch the ball, neither he nor Bynum were anywhere near the bag.

OK fine, Jeter made a mental error on the bases. I think that's only part of his culpability for that play. I know many will get upset over the suggestion, but I suspect that Jeter may not have hustled to third base after misreading the play, which, if true, is worse than a mental mistake. After watching the replay several times, Jeter does break back, but is moving back toward third base shortly after Roberts' pick. You don't see Jeter until the end of the play, but what you do see is Roberts lob the ball home slowly and Arod absolutely bust it to 1B. My question is if Arod could prevent a play from being made on him, how could Jeter not make it to the third?

2008-05-28 07:02:33
20.   Mattpat11
11 Maybe the Yankees just don't like fatties.
2008-05-28 07:10:05
21.   RIYank
The bullpen doesn't look so bad to me. Sure, we have some stiffs there, but so does every team. Edwar and Mo, with the prospect of Bruney returning and some decent short contributions from Ohlendorf, that should be enough if we get solid starts.
The Mariners are bad, but the Sox just lost to them, so a sweep still counts in my book. The Yankees have had some serous problems, and I'm not trying to sweep them under the rug. But, Giambi is hitting, Damon is hitting, the tide seems to me to be turning.
2008-05-28 07:11:01
22.   Felix Heredia
They butts?
2008-05-28 07:11:35
23.   ms october
18 agree that the bullpen is starting to be exposed.
while in many ways i agree that joba needs to be a productive starter asap - i don't think it is a fair expectation.
i'm okay with this being a transition year.

i fortunately missed this game - but by all accounts jeter could have been in alex's photos the other day in the park - i am hoping that this performance will sanp him out of his funk - i don't want to accuse him of something that is not so, so if i am off, i take it back, but to my eye he is kind of taking things for granted

2008-05-28 07:13:32
24.   Cliff Corcoran
19 I agree with criticizing Jeter for a misread on that play, but I think you take it a bit far on the hustle thing. Watching it live, I initially doubted the call at third because the play was close (on replay, Jeter was clearly out by a few inches). Rodriguez was off with the bat because he had only one thing to do and that was bust it to first. Because Jeter misread the ball and broke back to second, he lost crucial time to get to third. That's it and that's all.
2008-05-28 07:16:21
25.   Mattpat11
21 I'm really not on the Bruney train yet. I still remember BB.
2008-05-28 07:23:33
26.   ms october
25 plus he is out until august at least (since he didn't have the foot surger)

i don't think you can make bullpen plans that include him or albaladejo

2008-05-28 07:23:47
27.   mehmattski
When they signed LaTroy Hawkins, I flipped out around here. "But it's only for one year!" some of you said. "It's not for that much money," others said. "He used to be really good!" still others said.

And so, the pitcher who'd given up more than 9 H/9IP and less than 4 K/9IP in the last three seasons turns out to be a terrible pitcher. How about that?

I didn't get to see the game last night due to the whole blackout thing, but watching on Gameday was a truly frustrating experience. How do you intentionally walk two men and then expect a wild pitcher to suddenly be able to return to pinpoint pitching?

2008-05-28 07:48:39
28.   DarrenF
13 In general? Or in regards to yesterday's game?

Only gripe with yesterday's managing is Betemit at first.

Using Rivera for two innings in a tie game on the road was pretty good. Girardi probably consulted NoMaas.

It's tough to watch Joba's schedule proceed without regard for the actual game. Good reason to believe Yankees win that one if Joba was available.

2008-05-28 07:56:30
29.   RIYank
13 28 Actually, people were screaming bloody murder at Girardi's decisions. Leaving Ohlendorf in: horrible mistake! (Post hoc, of course.) Taking Edwar out: horrible mistake (again after the fact).

Yeah, probably we would have won if Joba had been available even for three outs. But then again, probably we would have won if he'd been the starter. There has to be a transition.

2008-05-28 08:04:37
30.   Raf
7 For the most part, a number of his moves made sense; Weaver & Vazquez appeared to be coming into their own. Don't think anyone though Johnson & Contreras would be as bad as they were (good year/bad year). I don't think anyone thought Brown & Mussina would be as hurt/ineffective as they have been.

Don't know what he saw in Wright & Pavano.

2008-05-28 08:15:59
31.   Raf
27 That had more to do with the way the inning unfolded. The bases had to be loaded once Huff advanced to 3b.
2008-05-28 08:25:18
32.   Schteeve
A team is not finished when it is defeated, a team is finished when it quits.

Gotta shake this one off and win the next one.

2008-05-28 09:03:33
33.   mehmattski
31 Well, we can argue about whether it's ever really completely necessary to intentionally walk two hitters. But anyway, my point was that it's unfair to assume that a typically wild pitcher can handle throwing eight-straight BP fastballs (during the IBBs) and then be expected to have pin-point control with the bases loaded.

In reality, if Hawkins was having trouble keeping the ball down, as he said, then it made more sense to simply "pitch around" both Scott and Millar and hope they hit ground balls into a drawn-in infield.

2008-05-28 09:15:33
34.   DarrenF
29 It's an odd concept to schedule a reliever. But starters are scheduled ... and all pitchers are subject to various constraints every game ... it's just going to be rough for a while losing one-run games while Joba pitches in 8-0 victories with the express purpose of stretching out his arm.
2008-05-28 09:20:54
35.   RIYank
34 It is.
But after today (maybe), we'll see: it's possible that Joba will be ready for a (shortish) start after this!
2008-05-28 09:35:14
36.   tommyl
35 What he said. The hand wringing over Joba can stop after tonight hopefully. We'll surely be calling up at least one more reliever to replace IPK. If it were me, I'd also send Ohlendorf down to AAA and call up some combination of Patterson, Cox, Britton and Strickland. Robertson's BB/9 are a bit high so far and he just hit AAA so I'd let him be. I'd be a bit hesistant on Cox since he also just got to AAA but he's been lights out. If you are desperate for a long man you can look to Karstens or Giese.
2008-05-28 09:36:31
37.   Shaun P
33 I'm with you. We saw this happen constantly with Vizcaino last year. Torre would call for an IBB and Viz would take a couple of hitters to get his (usually shaky) control back.

Even ignoring that, I thought Girardi was a numbers' guy. How could he ignore that the run expectancy with a runner on 3rd and one out is 0.99837, but the run expectancy with the bases loaded and one out is 1.58806? I like the idea of being able to get a force at any base, but I think that has to be balanced against Hawkins' shaky control (what if walked in the winning run?) and his poor strikeout rate. In retrospect, perhaps Girardi should have pulled Hawkins for Veras, and hoped for a K?

Here's where having a strikeout pitcher, which Hawkins is not, would really help. The run expectancy for a runner on 3rd and two outs plummets is just 0.31595.

I know I'm second guessing; I'm just trying to work through my frustration.

2008-05-28 09:42:52
38.   Rob Middletown CT
27 It was a decent deal. Like the Ensberg deal (also a good idea), it hasn't worked out. That happens. Part of why it was decent is that they can cut him w/o really caring about the remainder of the contract.

There isn't exactly an abundance of good relief pitching available on the market. The internal guys... hey, I'm up for trying those guys, but they could very well come up and struggle like IPK has at first, even if they are good pitchers.

2008-05-28 09:54:50
39.   mehmattski
38 You don't think that Britton, Albaladejo, or even Dan Giese would be able to do better than:

24 IP, 25 H, 18 ER, 11 BB, 15 K

At least Ohlendorf has struck out about one per inning... If Hawkins really was a "try and catch lightning in a bottle" kind of signing, then they would have no problem letting an obviously struggling pitcher go. But if they're going to continue to run him out there, that's a problem.

His only use to this team right now is to make Kyle Farnsworth desirable by comparison. Which is tough to do!

2008-05-28 10:03:59
40.   Rob Middletown CT
38 I thought Abla blew out his elbow. Britton - yes, and I really don't understand what the organization has against him. I dunno about Giese, honestly.

I am not arguing that Hawkins hasn't been putrid. He has. I was simply saying it was an ok idea that didn't work. And I agree it's about time he gets cut.

2008-05-28 10:08:24
41.   Rob Middletown CT
Speaking of Giese, from Pending Pinstripes:

"Dan Giese got the start, and had his first rough outing as a Yankee. In 4 1/3 innings, Giese gave up 7 runs on 5 hits and 3 walks, with 6 strikeouts. "

As they say, it's his first rough outing, and it doesn't invalidate his prior work. It is, however, an outing in AAA. Could he out-perform Hawkins? Maybe. Probably, even. But not certainly - and not necessarily right away.

2008-05-28 10:10:51
42.   RIYank
37 Shaun, run expectancy is not the relevant stat for that situation. The game was tied in the bottom of the eleventh! All that matters is the chance of scoring one run.

What you want is Win Expectancy. With one out and a man on third, tied in a walk-off situation, the WE for the batting team is 83.1%. With the bases loaded, it's 83.4%. These are equal for all intents and purposes. (My gut feeling is with you, for what it's worth: the added pressure of having to throw strikes is worse than the problem of no force at home.)

2008-05-28 10:11:56
43.   horace-clarke-era
thanks william, made me feel better! Half right then half wrong again! I'm entirely with Cliff, DJ erred mentally on the bases in the 11th (you are right, the play was in front of him, no NEED to even start back to 2nd with no one there) but he did not fail to hustle once he got going, and I cannot imagine a big leaguer not hustling in THAT situation (bases loaded, extra innings). Indeed, I don't think I've ever seen it, and I've seen Manny's whole career!

The bullpen was always going to start being exposed a bit or a lot when Joba exited. Fact of life, anyone who didn't see that coming wasn't paying attention. We joked about it, and lamented: Farns for the 8th? Edwar? No one was happy. No one will be.

2008-05-28 10:19:14
44.   Bunting
"His only use to this team right now is to make Kyle Farnsworth desirable by comparison. Which is tough to do!"

Farnsie has been decent this year. It's the sight of "The Fall Of" LaTroy Hawkins that makes me turn the game off these days; he's right, he's not getting his pitches down.

The issue with that is that he hasn't been getting them down since he was with the Cubs. The pitching coach needs to work with the guy, because he's throwing strikes...but that's the problem.

2008-05-28 10:40:38
45.   williamnyy23
24 43 I don't think anyone can really be definitive on whether he busted it or not because there hasn't been any footage. I think it is entirely possible that Jeter may have assumed there wouldn't be a throw to 3B (I have never seen a 4-2-5 DP, so I'd imagine Jeter hasn't either). Considering Jeter's speed, I just don't see how he could have been thrown out if he was busting it immediately after the misread.

In my original post, I did definitively tout the possibility that he didn't hustle. Similarly, I don't think anyone can definitively refute it. I'd imagine the guys on the bench saw what really happened, and I guess what they think is all that matters.

2008-05-28 10:42:50
46.   williamnyy23
45 Second paragraph should read "In my original post, I did not definitively tout the possibility that he didn't hustle. Similarly, I don't think anyone can definitively refute it.
2008-05-28 11:25:33
47.   Raf
So maybe if Albaladejo & Bruney hadn't gotten hurt, Hawkins would've been long gone?

Still doesn't explain why we haven't seen more of Britton.

2008-05-28 11:44:02
48.   Simone
29 I stand corrected.

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