Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Nice n' Easy
2006-04-19 20:53
by Cliff Corcoran

As ugly as the Yankees' 10-5 loss was on Tuesday night, their 3-1 victory yesterday afternoon was just as pretty. Mike Mussina turned in his best start in what has proven to be a surprisingly strong start to the 2006 season, needing just 101 pitches to make it through 7 1/3 innings, allowing one run on seven hits and no walks while striking out seven. As we've heard him say several times this spring, he was in complete command of all of his pitches, pounding the strike zone (75 of his 101 pitches were strikes) and breezing through the Blue Jay order. Moose's ex-teammate Ted Lilly, meanwhile, split the difference between his first two starts, striking out five and holding the Yankees to just two runs through five innings, but walking five and needing 100 pitches (just 57 strikes) to do it.

It was a tense, tightly pitched game through four innings before the Yankees broke through in the top of the fifth when Alex Rodriguez came to bat with one out and hit the first pitch he saw out of the park to give his team a 1-0 lead. After Jason Giambi—who DHed and saw nothing but lefty pitching all day, going 0 for 3 with a K and five men left on base—flew out, Hideki Matsui and Jorge Posada came through with back-to-back two-out singles to put runners on first and second for Robinson Cano. After falling behind 0-2, Cano smacked a single of his own into left field. Larry Bowa held Matsui at third, but Posada ran right through second base and got trapped in a rundown. Matsui scampered home while Posada tried to dance out of his pickle, but the baserunning gaffe ended the developing Yankee rally.

The Jays got their lone run in the sixth when consecutive one-out singles by Russ Adams, Frank Catalanotto and Vernon Wells fell just beyond the reach of the Yankee outfielders. It was the only inning in which Mussina would allow more than a single baserunner. In his first and only jam of the day, with one run in and men on first and second, Mussina struckout Troy Glaus on three pitches on the lower outside corner and got Lyle Overbay to ground to first base on one more toss to end the inning.

In the next half-inning, a Posada single cashed in a lead-off walk by Rodriguez to restore the Yankees' two-run lead and end the day's scoring. Mussina yielded to Kyle Farnsworth after a one-out single by Catalanotto in the eighth, and Farnsworth and Mariano Rivera combined to set down the last five Blue Jays in order. It was the first Yankee win of the season in which the offense scored fewer than nine runs, and it evened their record at 7-7.

That's it. Nice n' easy.

2006-04-19 21:06:56
1.   Tom Carroll
Moose rules
2006-04-19 21:52:08
2.   brockdc
Some of Moose's breaking pitches (perhaps his knuckle-curve?) were flat-out filthy. He is fun to watch when he's on.
2006-04-20 04:41:03
3.   bp1
Just what the doctor ordered - a vintage win without resorting to gorilla ball. Nice. Apparently all those off season eulogies written about Moose were a bit premature. He seems to have it this year. Fingers and toes crossed that he stays healthy. What a way to wash Tuesday's bad taste out of our mouths.


2006-04-20 04:48:48
4.   mikeplugh
Moose hasn't started a season like this in a while and it gives a bit of hope for a strong run in front of us.

If Randy Johnson can get a couple more good starts strung together, Mussina can keep pitching like this, and at least one more guy steps up to deliver consistently, we can all breathe a lot easier.

I love to watch Mussina pitch when he's on. He's like a surgeon. Throw. Think. Throw again. Think more. Throw. Batter sits.

My kind of pitching. Check out Canyon of Heroes for a little piece on the Moose Man.

2006-04-20 04:49:55
5.   mikeplugh
By the way....anyone know what they're feeding Alex Rios up there in Canada this year? We gotta get some of that for Bernie.
2006-04-20 04:53:37
6.   Sliced Bread
Great to see Farnswacker and Mo execute the blueprint so efficiently.

Great to see Moose still has the "masterpiece" (Torre's description) in his brush. The way he was changing speeds, the batters looked like they were standing in a kayak.

A little later in the season, Mussina probably has the stamina to go the distance. Bravo, dealer, bravo!

Good news there's nothing physically wrong with Johnson. Just a funk apparently.

Welcome home, Yanks! Just win the next three series, that's all we ask of you.

2006-04-20 05:11:55
7.   Sliced Bread
4 Nice job on the Moose props, Mr. Canyon.

Anybody know the Yankees batting average/RBI in support of Mussina?

It seems like he seldom gets more than 3 runs of support. Being the #2 starter, you figure he's usually matched up against another frontline starter, which could explain his poor run support.

2006-04-20 05:47:34
8.   Rob Gee
And let's not forget Mr. Phillips took a small step forward with 1 H, 1 B, and only 2 K's.

Hopefully that means a start against at least Bruce Chen this weekend.

2006-04-20 06:33:10
9.   kylepetterson
Last year, Chacon was pitching behind Moose and said something to the effect of it's nice throwing after Mussina because they have similar styles and he's able to learn a lot off of how the opposing teams bat him.
2006-04-20 06:34:32
10.   mikeplugh
It seems to me that Mussina has been plagued throughout his career by poor run support. I don't haver the numbers or anything, but I recall one of the reasons he was keen to leave hitter friendly Camden Yards was the lack of home team hitting behind him.

His time in pinstrips has been a bit the same, by my less than accurate intuitive powers. It feels like he gets fair at best hitting by his teammates in many of his starts.

This year let's hope the bats come alive for him.

2006-04-20 06:48:37
11.   wsporter
MikeP, 11 The party line in Balto/DC for years on Musina was that he never won '20' because of a lack of run support. Boswell would go through an exercise on an annual basis of showing that if Moose had received the same run support as Robin Roberts or Christy Mathews or Tom Underwood he would have won 35 games a year for 10 straight years or something very much like that anyway. I think he left however because little Petey Angelos. Esq. wouldn't anti up. There was an apparent angst ridden decision made by Musina because he didn't want to leave a team that was in close proximity to his home in Montoursville PA. That being said I think it was the mone$ that took him away from Charm City and I'm glad it did. He's been good for us. Maybe no Cy Young but at least within a level or two.
2006-04-20 07:18:09
12.   Cliff Corcoran
You also have to remember that the O's were going down in flames when he became a free agent and have been one of the worst franchises in baseball ever since. That had to be a factor.

As for no Cy Young, he should have won in '01 instead of Rocket and had a solid argument in '03 too.

2006-04-20 07:21:23
13.   Shaun P
mp 5 - given his track record, Rios's performance to date screams 'small sample fluke!' to me. But if he's still doing it in June . . .

MFD 11 and mike 10 - I am certain that, after Moose's 1st season in pinstripes, someone in the press talked extensively about how Moose got the worst run support of all the Yanks' starters and how he would have won 20+ easily if he got the same run support as, say, Pettitte did. Wish I could remember who that was now.

From retrosheet -

Number of times Moose game up 3ER or less, and took the loss or got a no decision:

1991: 5 times
1992: 9 times
1993: 3 times
1994: 5 times
1995: 3 times
1996: 6 times

I'll try to go through the rest later.

2006-04-20 07:38:43
14.   Knuckles
Interesting tidbits on BABIP: most pitchers' BABIP fall in the .280 to .300 range over the course of a season. In the early going of course some hurlers will be well outside of the norms. Clemens was the lowest starter in baseball last year, in the .240s, Wagner came in around .220 to lead all of baseball.

The lows for the past 3 years for pitcher throwing at least 100 innings: .248, .241, .244
And the highs: .358, .348, .387
Anything outside of these ranges is generally considered to be unsustainable in most cases, so we can expect Moose and Proctor to fall off some, Wang and Chacon to get slightly better, and Mo to be his usual self.

Here's some Yankee pitchers, along with some of their primary AL East competition and the Mets, entering today's games along with a rough 3 year average in parentheses, if possible:

- Proctor .240 (.291)
- Moose .273 (.310)
- Farns .286 (.284)
- Johnson .314 (.294)
- Wang .356 (.300)
- Chacon .381 (.284)
- Rivera .385 (.273)

- Schilling .203 (.325)
- Papelbon .158 (.280)
- Beckett .250 (.304)
- Foulke .300 (.265)
- Wake .303 (.276)
- Clement .383 (.284)
- Wells .412 (.302)

- Halladay .227 (.288)
- Burnett .263 (.287)
- Chacin .255 (.304)
- Ryan .231 (.323)
- Lilly .400 (.284)

- Pedro .204 (.283)
- Glavine .370 (.294)
- Wagner .111 (.229)
- Zambrano .313 (.285)
- Trachsel .344 (.280)

2006-04-20 08:01:43
15.   Dimelo
The Yanks should go after this guy. He'll be useful in the outfield.
2006-04-20 08:02:56
16.   Dimelo
sorry, I put the wrong link....
2006-04-20 08:05:42
17.   Rob Gee
16 Cashman's best trade ever.
2006-04-20 08:07:56
18.   Dimelo
Rob - I can't believe what suckers the Reds were. That's hilarious that he's thinking about asking for a trade. He actually thinks he's valuable or could be valuable to some club. By far one of the worse signings ever by the Yanks.
2006-04-20 08:30:22
19.   Sliced Bread
16 That's ice cold funny, Dimelo.
2006-04-20 08:31:08
20.   Levy2020
"Talk among scouts is that Womack will be released when Ken Griffey Jr. comes off the disabled list April 28."

Dude! I know that Womack had a rough year last year but it was because he was in the outfield, and wasn't getting regular playing time. I think the Reds should seriously compare Womack's and Griffey's careers when decided who to waive. Their whole careers.

So, I mean, Griffey is .293/.377/.561 with a paltry 8 sac hits, 71 errors, and 67 caught stealings. . .

Womack is an ALL-STAR! .273 / .316 / .356 and leads Griffey with 53 sacrifice hits, 134 errors, and 73 caught stealings!

2006-04-20 08:56:17
21.   Cliff Corcoran
Good stuff, Knuckles 14. Sample size is tiny, but it's a nice look into why things have gone the way they have for those pitchers thus far this year. A couple of curious things pop up in the three year BABIP averages. Three of the four closers are below average (Mo .273, Foulke .265, Wagner .229!). The only other pitcher below .280 is Wakefield, who should be as knucklballers are a known exception to BABIP theory. My question is, what's behind that trend, and, conversely, what's the deal with Schilling and Ryan (.325 and .323 respectively)?
2006-04-20 09:10:57
22.   Dimelo
Good write-up on the Game of Shadows.
2006-04-20 09:18:47
23.   Rob Gee
21 Good stuff indeed Knuck-man. If you're doing things in a spreadsheet, can you post the difference scores - the difference between this year and the three year avg? A bit easier to see the trends that way.

Papelbon sticks out as a huge outlier (of course he doesn't have the three year sample size). I hope we spank him hard to wipe that stupid smile off his face.

2006-04-20 10:00:22
24.   Knuckles
This was just back of the envelope analysis I did yesterday afternoon after reading about some crazy early-season BABIPs. Nothing in a spreadsheet just yet though, that'd be something to lok at after a few more starts...

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