Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
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2007-06-21 05:45
by Emma Span
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Normally, two losses in a row to a solid team like the Rockies (!) wouldn’t be anything to get too worked up over, but I think Yankee fans are still suffering from a certain amount of post-traumatic stress dating back to the first two months of this season - like a onetime gunshot victim, ducking every time a nearby truck backfires. Well, or possibly the team just stinks again and is doomed… but humor me here.

Andy Pettitte was great until suddenly he wasn’t, and the Yanks went down 6-1, leaving them six games back in the wild card and 10 in the AL East. This was one of those games where it’s hard to tell if the opposing starter, in this case Jeff Francis, was really that good, or if the Yankee offense was just that bad, but I’m leaning towards the former. Apparently so is Joe Torre: “You don’t want to take anything away from Jeff Francis,” he said after the game – though actually I do; can we start with his slider? – “…but we’re not swinging the bats like we’re capable of.”

Let me recap the Yankee scoring for you: they got a run in the 6th on consecutive doubles from Melky and Jeter, and… that’s it. Hey, that was easy! Hello silver lining.

Pettitte started out very impressively, economical and effective, but he led off the sixth inning by walking the pitcher, which is almost always the baseball equivalent of a climactic horror movie scene. Ball one… No! Andy! Don’t go into that house! Ball two... He’s got a chainsaw! Don’t open the door don’topenthedoordon’t-- Ball three… oh my god he’s right behind you look behind you EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK! The psycho killer was played by Matt Holliday, who hit an absolutely humongous two-run shot to the last rows of the left-field bleachers. Pettitte escaped the inning without further damage, but the wheels came off in the seventh, and the Rockies scored four more runs, which was plenty.


Francis, meanwhile, went seven innings, giving up five hits and striking out nine; the game was finished by LaTroy Hawkins and Jeremy Affeldt, better known to me as That Dude Kyle Farnsworth Once Tackled, Carried Ten Feet, And Hurled To The Ground (no, not that guy, the other one). I really wish Farns would have tried that again last night, just for the hell of it -- sure he’d be suspended, but it would be wildly entertaining.

 

Of course, another wildly entertaining thing the Yankees might consider is scoring more than one run per game...

Comments
2007-06-21 06:04:52
1.   Sliced Bread
Speaking of Psycho, remember this scene from "Stripes"?:

Psycho: The name's Jeffrey William Francis, but everybody calls me Psycho. Any of you Yankees call me Francis, and I'll kill you.

Bobby Abreu: (mock scared) Ooooooh.

Psycho: You just made the list, buddy. Also, I don't like no one touching my stuff. So just keep your meathooks off my pitches. If I catch any of you guys touching my curveball, I'll kill you. And I don't like nobody touching my fastball either. Any of you Yankees touch me, and I'll kill you.

Sergeant Torre: Lighten up, Francis. (sigh)

2007-06-21 06:16:56
2.   rbj
Um, did anyone mention to tell the Yankees that they are playing in Coors Field, you know, the place where there are so many hits and runs that they've got to keep the baseballs in humidors just to give the pitchers a chance? Maybe the Yankees got confused and think they're playing the Dodgers out in LA.

That's the only explanation I have for this lineup to only score 2 runs in 18 innings in Coors Field.

2007-06-21 06:26:56
3.   bp1
1 By the looks of Bobby's strikeout in the 1st, I think he really was scared. Dude made A-Rod look pretty silly, too. Chalk it up to the URP syndrome, I guess. Let's hope the less unknown Lopez gets pounded this afternoon.
2007-06-21 06:45:42
4.   Mattpat11
This is the night Andy Phillips learns the curve. I can feel it in my bones.
2007-06-21 06:56:19
5.   Max
What's been alarming the last two nights isn't the losses...or the lack of runs...but the complete candor of our pitchers...or is it old age that leads them to make head scratching statements like the following?

Andy: "I threw a changeup to Holliday that cut and really after that I quit pitching, to tell you the truth," Pettitte said. "I quit throwing my changeup, my sinker cut a couple of times and I didn't throw my sinker.

Moose (on the homer to Torrealba): "With my National League inexperience I didn't think about who was on deck. I probably would have pitched a little differently had I thought about it."

So our guys now stop thinking and stop pitching? I love them both, and I know these were taken out of context to some degree, but still...wow. I just hope it's the other guy that "stops pitching" tonight.

2007-06-21 07:10:27
6.   seamus
5 i'd rather their honesty than empty platitudes. All they did was admit to doing things that pitchers do all the time but never admit to.
2007-06-21 07:48:53
7.   rmd0311
Well., I'm leaving for three weeks this weekend. Here's to hoping I come back to a race, and not a bigger hole.

Clemens will right ship tonight.

2007-06-21 08:11:25
8.   standuptriple
I'm ready to throw down the gaunlet. If they don't win the next 4 games there is no way they make the playoffs. The Giants are just plain horrible and if they don't sweep there then I will officially lower my expectations for this years team.
2007-06-21 08:12:54
9.   Dan M
Maybe this has been brought up in the game threads, but has anyone else noticed that A-Rod has been atrocious against lefties this year?
2007-06-21 08:17:12
10.   pistolpete
Would the Yankees be allowed to play with oxygen tanks on their backs tonight, perchance?

Posada runs like he's wearing one anyway, come to think of it.

2007-06-21 08:22:32
11.   Max
6 Agreed, but the timing of the mental breakdowns makes the confessions a bit discomforting. The team is still scuffling around the .500 mark, so the multimillion dollar pitcher on the multimillion dollar payroll team confessing he had a brain fart and lost his composure against some average hitters just doesn't inspire confidence.

I know it's part of the ups and downs of the game, and the athletes are very human (like Pedro saying "the Yankees are my daddy"), but I prefer the honesty when we've got our act a little more together.

With that said, some of the other things Andy said did frame his remarks in better context. It was Moose that annoyed me more, but Moose has a way of doing that with everyone.

2007-06-21 08:23:38
12.   weeping for brunnhilde
Wow, Mike didn't think about who was on deck?

That's the most inexplicable thing I've ever heard in my life. How does a veteran, quite successful major league pitcher fail to consider who's on deck?

That's mystifying to me.

2007-06-21 08:26:08
13.   Bob B
10 games out and 1 over .500 I think that anyone believing there will be a race with the Redsox is dreaming. I just hope we can right this enough to get the wild card. Since almost every team after 2001 has won as the wild card it might not be a bad thing,
2007-06-21 08:27:03
14.   51cq24
who cares what they said? it was obvious that pettitte had lost it after the home run. he should have been taken out. why did torre leave him in? because he thinks the criticism about the bullpen management is just about taking starters out too early, not about general inability to know when to take them out? because he loves phillips so much that he couldn't possibly take him out (that was in the 7th)? another example of really bad managing, another reason why he should have been fired long ago.
2007-06-21 08:31:06
15.   weeping for brunnhilde
13 What's baseball for, if not to be the focus of dreams?

Frankly, I think we can win the division, though I don't think it's likely. But I still feel good about the starting pitching and if the bats can show consistency, we've got a shot.

Boston could get injured along the way plus we've still got six games with them, so we will be able to at least have a prayer, say by taking 5 out of 6 of those games if need be.

Not likely, but not beyond the realm of dreams either.

14 The pitching had nothing to do with anything last night. The bats lost the game.

2007-06-21 08:36:01
16.   51cq24
15 the bats lost the game by not scoring 7 runs? the yankees had a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 6th with 2 outs, and were down just 2-1 going into the 7th. you can't expect a pitcher to shut out the opposition, but you also can't keep a pitcher in a game when it's obvious he has nothing left. just because the yankees ended up scoring no more runs doesn't mean that it wasn't still a very bad decision.
2007-06-21 08:44:02
17.   monkeypants
I have to admit, I am really starting to lose faith--and it's not just the last two games. I know it is popular wisdom to say that there is a lot of season left to play, but historically teams just don't make up 9 or 10 games (or even 6 or 7 foir the WC) all that often. They have played 69 games, leaving only 93 to make up two pretty serious deficits.

For fun, I looked at the 1978 season. On this same day in 1978 the Yankees were 8 behind Boston (game 66); after game 69 in 1978 they were 8.5 back. But their record was much better (38-28 after June 21 and 40-29 after game number 69)--this year's vintage is scuffling around .500.

I'm really getting the feeling that this is not a very talented team that got off to a slow start, or even a very talented team that got off to a slower start than the red-hot competition (à la 1978), but basically a .500 team that has gotten off to a .500 start.

15 I want to share Weeping's hope, but I can't. How will the bats show more consitency? Where will the offense come from? A-Rod and Posada have been crazy good, and Jeter is even playing above his career totals. But Giambi is gone with injuries; Damon likewise looks cooked. Who on the roster will improve dramatically? maybe Matsui looks to be playing about to his career numbers. Maybe Abreu and maybe Cano (if last year was not a fluke) pick it up some more. And even if they do improve, there is a good chance that the three studs will regress at least some.

In the past, when the team got off to a bad start, I was still convinced they were better than the teams in front of them. But this year I am not so sure. If they want to make a move in the standings, I think that they have to look outside the roster for improvement (most likely a stud bat for DH or 1B or CF).

2007-06-21 08:50:21
18.   Max
14 I'm no fan of Torre's bullpen management, but I don't necessarily have an issue with his assessment that Pettite still had the stuff to get through another inning with a 2-1 lead. It isn't Torre's fault that Andy (by his own admission) stopped throwing the types of pitches that could get batters out, and just kept floating cutters in the zone. He didn't necessarily lose it physically, but mentally. (in other words, he pulled a Moose)

But perhaps Joe should have had a quicker hook once runners got on base.

I agree with weeping that the bats were a significant part of yeterday's loss. As I said in yesterday's game thread, the difference between a one run deficit and two run deficit feels gargantuan when the bats are this bad. Yes, the Rockies ended up scoring a bunch more, but psychologically the game was lost with the 3rd run. Shouldn't be that way with this offense.

2007-06-21 08:51:21
19.   weeping for brunnhilde
16 I understand. It was a bad decision, that's not what I'm saying. I'm saying that seeing as the bats at that point had scored 2 runs in 15 innings, you can't expect to win.

When I say the bats lost the game, what I mean isn't that they should have scored 7 runs, but that they should have scored more than 1 run after six, maybe 3 or 5?

Had they come out and taken charge of the game, I think the pitching (Andy) would have had a much stronger chance of winning by relieving some of the pressure off of the staff, be it Andy or the pen.

Just a hunch.

2007-06-21 08:55:47
20.   weeping for brunnhilde
18 I think that's my point, Max; had the bats given Andy something to work with, he might not have lost it mentally.

I've never pitched, but I'd imagine it's taxing to have so little run support. Yeah, Andy collapsed and Joe allowed the collapse to happen, but Max says it well, the game was lost with the third run.

I know I felt deflated when that run scored.

2007-06-21 08:59:13
21.   Max
17 I've got to run to get my daughter (last day of school here), but could you look at 2004 Boston, 2005 Yanks and Indians, and 2006 Twins? I'm working strictly off of memory, but it seems to me all those teams hovered just a few games above .500 near the All-Star Break, and all of them made quite a surge to get 90+ wins.

That's four teams in the last 3 years. I would think we could pull it off this year based on recent history...but I haven't looked at the numbers closely.

2007-06-21 08:59:42
22.   51cq24
21 but it was a matchup of 2 very good pitchers. yeah it would be nice if the yankees had scored more, but it goes both ways. when they see the score go from 2-1 to 6-1, it gets pretty hard to have the patience required to scored 5 runs in 2 innings.

18 i agree that the manager can only do so much, and he didn't make pettitte stop trying, if he did stop trying. but he is the manager, and isn't he paid millions to see when the pitcher stops trying and when he needs to be taken out?

2007-06-21 09:01:10
23.   weeping for brunnhilde
I'm trying to figure out what it is with this team.

During the Mets series and elsewhere, the team excelled not at having the big inning, but in tacking on runs. One here, two there, so that you just felt if the pitcher kept them in the game, there was no way they'd lose.

I didn't get to watch yesterday's game that closely, but they struck out a whole bunch of times, didn't they?

And previously, as against the Mets, they managed a bunch of seeing-eye hits and even the odd squibber or swinging bunt, which helped the offense stay alive and be pesky.

I don't know, has anyone noticed a correlation between strike outs and run production these last couple of weeks?

If they're going to start striking out a lot, they're going to have a tough time winning.

2007-06-21 09:03:56
24.   51cq24
and i think we're overreacting just a bit. this team did just win 12 of 15 games or whatever. if they were getting in good shape 2 days ago, 2 losses can't have put them in that bad shape. it's definitely frustrating, but let's see if they can turn it around again. if it's going to be winning streaks and losing streaks all year, then it's not gonna be good. but 2 games is just 2 games, and it's still june. they're 6 games out of the wildcard, 5 in the loss column. plenty of time to make that up, as long as this isn't a new trend. did anyone expect them to keep winning every 9 of 10?
2007-06-21 09:06:06
25.   monkeypants
23 I understand your point on Ks, but it's also tough to build an offense on seeing-eye basehits and squibbers. On one level, you are probably right--more Ks probably has correlated to fewer runs. But I also suspect that a goodly number of those seeing-eye bouncers and squibs have just found their way into opposing gloves.
2007-06-21 09:17:04
26.   weeping for brunnhilde
25 Sure, of course most of them do, but it's the ones that don't that count.

You can't will yourself to get a hit, but you can try to make contact and put the best swing on the ball you can and hope for the best. Last night it was Ks, the previous night it seemed to be lazy flyballs.

I hope it's just a testament to really good pitching rather than to the bats actually being out of whack.

Not to single out Arod, but he seems to be entering one of his slumps. I hope that's not the case, but if he is, that could have repercussions on Abreu and perhaps the rest of the lineup.

Keep your eye on him.

Jorgie, too. He's been fooled a couple of times on breaking pitches these last couple of games, the way he was against Duque. If those two guys (and Abreu too) start having problems with breaking stuff again, we're in deep trouble.

2007-06-21 09:17:57
27.   monkeypants
24 Right, but also consider that the big winning spree only seemed like it took a lot of games off the deficit. On May 29 they were 21-29 and 14.5 in back of Boston, so they've carved about five games off of the deficit in three weeks. Except if you go back one week to May 22, they were 20-24 and 10.5 games back. So, in a month, they've managed to make up one game in the division.

the story is similar for the WC. On May 29 they were 8 games in the loss column behind Detroit (so they've gained three games since then). But on May 22 they were 3 games back in the loss column, so they have actually lost two games on Detroit in the last month.

No one expects them to win 9 out of 10, but this little mini-slump (losing 3 out of 5) reveals just how precarious their situation is after the horrible start. Five games in the WC doesn't seem like much, but the team probably needs to play very good baseball for more than just a couple of weeks to make up even that deficit.

2007-06-21 09:32:26
28.   JL25and3
0Of course, another wildly entertaining thing the Yankees might consider is scoring more than one run per game...

As Rex Kramer said: "No... that's just what they'll be expecting us to do!"

2007-06-21 09:39:03
29.   51cq24
27 i agree. but whether they've made up ground or not, they've played very well over the last couple weeks, and if they keep that up they'll be fine. 2 losses here is not the end. we just have to hope it isnt the start of a more-than-mini-slump.
2007-06-21 09:41:08
30.   Count Zero
0 "...he led off the sixth inning by walking the pitcher, which is almost always the baseball equivalent of a climactic horror movie scene."

When he threw ball four, I released a string of curses, turned off the TV and went to bed. At that point, I knew how it was going to end....

2007-06-21 09:47:03
31.   standuptriple
I just get frustrated in their lack of intensity (IMO) once they cross the Mississippi (barring Texas, of course).
2007-06-21 09:52:19
32.   Raf
20 Why would it be taxing? A pitcher can only control the game when he has the ball in his hand. Whether the team scores 1 or 10 runs, the objective is still the same; to get the opposing hitters out.
2007-06-21 10:04:28
33.   weeping for brunnhilde
29 Agreed, wholeheartedly. That's the big question: can this team keep its losing streaks to two games and then go out and rattle off 5 or 6 in a row. If it can do that, which remains to be seen, we'll be all right, by which I mean "competitive."

32 It's not the objective, Raf, it's the execution. Leiter's constantly talking about how the rest of the team effects the pitcher, who is after all a human being.

Good plays sharpen him up, bad ones can demoralize him.

The better pitchers, obviously, are least susceptible to such emotional turns but to pretend that emotion's not part of the game belies what I think we all know from our own experience playing sports and from what every athlete will tell you: emotion and controlling emotion is at the heart of athletic performance.

It's also taxing mentally in that the less margin for error any one player has, the more pressure he's likely to feel.

Pressure can get to people, and apparently got to Andy last night; something made him drift away from his game plan.

Call it pressure, frustration, loss of focus, whatever, but that's the game between the ears.

2007-06-21 10:06:19
34.   weeping for brunnhilde
32 Oh, and do you remember that stretch in the postseason a few years back? Moose kept churning out these amazing games and yet the team simply refused to score for him.

The frustration eventually got to Moose and he quipped "Well, I can't go out there and hit for the guys, I can only do so much."

Evidently he was able to suck it up and pitch well, but clearly it was an issue.

2007-06-21 10:18:19
35.   RZG
18 Torre should have had a quicker hook? Usually people complain about his quick hook.
2007-06-21 10:19:43
36.   RZG
9 Arod's OPS against LHP is .814 - not as good as he's done against RHP this year but I wouldn't label it as attrocious.
2007-06-21 10:22:26
37.   Start Spreading the News
FWIW, looking at the stats for the last 7 days, the only Yankees hitting in terms of OPS are Arod, Jeter. Maybe Matsui who is batting .292 but he has an OPS of 695

Anyone else concerned that Josh Phelps was let go to be replaced by Andy Phillips but Chris Basak is still riding the pine...

WTF? Josh Phelps can play first and even catch if needed. Why does Basak need to be on the roster if he never does anything except pinch run in a blowout game?

2007-06-21 10:22:40
38.   Start Spreading the News
FWIW, looking at the stats for the last 7 days, the only Yankees hitting in terms of OPS are Arod, Jeter. Maybe Matsui who is batting .292 but he has an OPS of 695

Anyone else concerned that Josh Phelps was let go to be replaced by Andy Phillips but Chris Basak is still riding the pine...

WTF? Josh Phelps can play first and even catch if needed. Why does Basak need to be on the roster if he never does anything except pinch run in a blowout game?

2007-06-21 10:39:47
39.   jedi
looks like Girardi turned down the O's job according to ESPN. ESPN suggests the RedSox-Yankees factor and the Angelos problem as a factor in finding something better.

http://tinyurl.com/2a2wq2

2007-06-21 11:46:14
40.   cult of basebaal
Manager Joe Torre indicated that Johnny Damon will start in center field Thursday, but added that "if he has a physical problem we will have to go get him."

Damon said Tuesday that his "rib is shot" and the team has reportedly discussed placing him on the disabled list if things don't improve. "We have to look into this and will take the next couple of days to investigate," Torre said.

so wait, damon's obviously hurting so bad that he can't be productive or play the field effectively and the way to deal with the situation is to throw him out there? i mean, is there even a non-zero chance he can be effective at this point? shit, he can't even DH without pain, WTF is the organization waiting for? Jesus Hot Buttered Christ on the Cob this is fucking stupid ...

i wonder what the A's would take in return for Milton Bradley

2007-06-21 11:50:55
41.   standuptriple
Obviously this is all an elaborate scheme to prevent Kevin Thompson from playing in the big leagues.
2007-06-21 11:55:13
42.   Yankee Fan In Boston
41 can things still be a-rod's fault?
2007-06-21 12:08:32
43.   51cq24
35 it's really not about either keeping starters in longer or taking them out earlier, it's about doing it at the right time, whenever that is. obviously it's not as easy as it seems the next day, but sometimes it's really clear that a pitcher has lost it. sometimes it's just as clear that he hasn't lost it but has had some bad luck (say, when darrel rasner gives up 2 bloop hits to start the 4th inning of a 1-1 game). torre seems incapable of distinguishing.
2007-06-21 12:10:19
44.   dlewanda
40 Did you notice that the A's DFA'ed Milton today? Do the Yankees have a shot to sign him? Is there some priority order in who can block whom (like when the Yanks got stuck with Canseco to keep him from going to Boston)?

41 I agree that it is obvious KT must have spilled Joe's green tea or hit his car in the lot or something...

2007-06-21 12:11:46
45.   Yankee Fan In Boston
43"torre seems incapable of distinguishing. "

guidry should have some kind of input, too. nothing against the gator or anything... but... pointing situations like that out is kind of his job.

2007-06-21 12:14:01
46.   51cq24
44 noticed, and don't really see where he'd fit in here.

45 i agree. hard to know what guidry does, but it doesn't seem like enough. still, the buck stops at torre.

2007-06-21 12:19:25
47.   Yankee Fan In Boston
46 indeed, torre is in charge. i've just been wondering if guidry takes an active role in these decisions, or if he's a yes man.
2007-06-21 12:26:15
48.   cult of basebaal
46 ummm, i think i'd put him in either CF or DH, he's better than what we've currently got ...

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