Angsty Joba

Let me start with the bad news.

AngstyJoba.jpg


This sums up this afternoon’s game quite nicely, I think.
Throughout this season, Joba Chamberlain has displayed a Burnett-like tendency to either be lights-out dominant or really, really awful.  There were many (myself included) who thought during Spring Training that Chamberlain, and not Phil Hughes, was the wisest choice for fifth starter and would be wasted in the eighth inning role.  So far, while sometimes we have seen flashes of the raw stuff and command that would constitute a top-flight starter or reliever, we have seen maddening inconsistency and a tendency towards total meltdown.
Today, unfortunately, we were faced with very, very Bad!Joba.
CC Sabathia was unspectacular against the Cleveland Indians, but the bats of Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano have been on fire and we went to the 7th inning holding a 10-5 lead.  David Robertson recorded an out, hit a batter, gave up a double, and was removed with stiffness in his lower back; Sergio Mitre, inexplicably used for only one batter, issued a walk; Damaso Marte retired the one lefty he faced, and then Joba came in with a 10-6 score, two runners on, and two men out.
Joba, while sporting a fastball that touched 97 mph, not only allowed the two inherited runners to score, but gave up four more of his own before recording the final out with the Yankees down 12-10.  The final score was 13-11, as the Yankees lost a crusher.
As to more bad news, early in the game Alex Rodriguez lined a double off the skull of Indians starter David Huff.  It was scary, but Huff apparently never lost consciousness and gave the crowd a thumbs-up as he was taken off the field on a stretcher.
Beyond all that, however, there is Good News.

  • After losing an embarrassing series to the Mets, the Yankees took two of three from Minnesota, winning two one-run games on strong pitching performances from AJ Burnett and Andy Pettitte (who sports a 2.62 ERA in addition to a 6-1 record).  Mariano Rivera recovered from a few hiccups, saving two tight games (1-0 and 3-2) in the span of a few hours.
  • Phil Hughes also recovered from two consecutive sub-par starts to strike out eight Indians over seven innings in the opener of this series, running his record to 6-1 with a 2.70 ERA. (Yankees won 8-2.)
  • Curtis Granderson is back.
  • Robinson Cano is a beast of a ballplayer.  He hit a grand slam yesterday, drove in three runs today, and now has a .359/.403/.604 triple slash with a team-leading 10 home runs and 37 RBI.
  • Nick Swisher’s getting married to actress girlfriend Joanna Garcia.  Doesn’t have much to do with baseball, per se, but it still makes me happy.
MrsSwishes.jpg
Too frickin’ cute, right?  Congrats to Swishalicious!
Anyway, the Yankees, still holding onto second place in the East, look to continue righting their ship and take their second series in a row.
Record: 29-20.
Next up: Justin Masterson (Cleveland) vs. AJ Burnett, Sunday, May 30, 1:05 PM.
Till next time,
Ana
Now Playing: Tightrope – Janelle Monae
Advertisements

When You’re Bad, You’re Bad

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” … cliched as it is, this phrase, in chronological terms, described the Yankees’ 2010 rather well so far.  For the first thirty games, we were golden.  Then everything went wrong at once, and … well, it was (is) the worst of times in Yankeeland, at least in the comparative sense of 2010.  So bad.

AngstyJoba.jpg
Angsty Joba’s right.

We just lost a series to the Mets, y’all.  The Mets.  The Empire State Building is going to be all lit up in Mets’ blue and orange this Monday.  …Now that’s just cruel.
The Yankees are 5-10 in their last 15 games, and we are specifically not firing on all cylinders.  Our starters, once golden, now can’t pitch, with the exception of Javier Vazquez (who woulda thunk it?); we can’t hit unless it’s the ninth inning and the game is already too far gone.
Slumps happen.  Of course they do.  It’s no reason to give up on the season, and no fan in their right mind would count us out yet.  It’s just frustrating to watch.  What was 21-8 turned into 26-18 so quickly.  And just as quickly we can turn back into the winning machine we once were (hey, Curtis Granderson‘s due off the DL anytime now)… for now we just wait it out, right?  Of course right.
Record: 26-18.
Next Up: A win.  Maybe.  Please?  AJ Burnett goes against Scott Baker (Minnesota), Tuesday, May 25, 8:10 PM.
Till next time,
Ana
Now Playing:  The Long and Winding Road – The Beatles

The State of the Yankees

Well hello there.

I’m finally done with finals and freshman year, and I’m at home and have enough time to re-devote myself to blogging.
The Yankees are 25-13.  Not bad at all, considering that Jorge Posada and Nick Swisher are currently missing time due to minor injuries, Andy Pettitte missed a start with a sore elbow, and Nick Johnson, Curtis Granderson, Alfredo Aceves, and Chan Ho Park have all hit the disabled list.  Javier Vazquez is currently pitching to an ERA around 8.00, and that’s after an outstanding start in Detroit last week and a brief, effective relief appearance against Boston today.  But we still win, even though sometimes we run a lineup out featuring Randy Winn, Marcus Thames, and Ramiro Pena intimidating no one in the bottom third.
But we get picked up by people like Brett Gardner and his .323 batting average, on-base percentage near .400, and 17 stolen bases; Francisco Cervelli and his unsustainable .400 batting average; Pettitte, refusing to show his age at 5-0 and 1.89; and Phil Hughes, who, despite a mediocre-to-poor showing today against the Red Sox, is still rocking out to the tune of a 5-0 record and a 2.25 ERA.
HughesSet.jpg
Today was the first game the Yankees played against the Red Sox in Yankee Stadium this season.  …Boy, was it a weird one.
The Yankees staked Hughes to a 5-run lead in the first inning, beating up on Daisuke Matsuzaka.  By the 5th, they were leading 6-2.  Hughes wasn’t “Hughesian,” per se — that is, he wasn’t god-like — but he was pitching perfectly respectably until J.D. Drew took him deep with two outs in the 5th for three runs, cutting the score to 6-5.  
By the 8th, it was 7-6 Yankees, and Chan Ho Park, fresh off the disabled list, was in the game (it was a day off for Joba).  The hope, of course, was for him to get the ball to Mariano Rivera — fresh off his first runs-allowed and blown save of the year, but still a God among men and the only person I want to see in the ninth inning — but it was not to be.  Kevin Youkilis and Victor Martinez took Park deep back-to-back before he could record an out in the 8h, and the Yankees were in a 9-7 hole with 6 outs to go and Damaso Marte in the game.  The bottom of the order plus a slumping Derek Jeter went quietly against Daniel Bard, and, despite effective relief by Marte and Javier Vazquez, the Yankees were still down two runs in the ninth, facing Jonathan Papelbon.
Brett Gardner doubled.  And then it was Alex Rodriguez.
A-Bomb.jpg
And, after a Cervelli hit-by-pitch, it was Marcus Thames.


Thames.jpg
Papelbon got owned to the tune of four runs in 2/3 of an inning, the Yankees walked off with an 11-9 win, and it was Pie Day once again in the Bronx.
AJsPies.jpg
It was the Yankees first walk-off this season, and it was an instant classic.  Papelbon is probably the pitcher I most appreciate beating up on.  I simply don’t like him.  I think he’s a punk.  Therefore, I enjoyed tonight very, very, very much.  The Red Sox are floundering at slightly under .500 (19-20) and are a full 8.5 games back of the Rays in the AL East.  Good times, man, good times.
Record: 25-13.
Next Up:  The Yankees finish a short two game set against the Sox, looking to win their 11th of 13 series on the season. Josh Beckett (Boston) vs. CC Sabathia, Tuesday, May 18, 7:05 PM.
Till next time,
Ana
Now Playing: Nothin’ on You – B.o.B feat. Bruno Mars

The One Where Pettitte Goes All “Benjamin Button” On Us Again

Faced by impending finals, I’ve sort of fallen off the face of the blogosphere the last week or so.  The Yankees, however, don’t need me to keep on winning. Andy Pettitte finished off a sweep of the Texas Rangers with an 8-inning, 2-run effort and a 5-2 win.

Out in Oakland, Javier Vazquez was solid in the opener, notching his first win of the year; on the second day, Phil Hughes was nothing short of Phenomenal.
Huuughes2.png
(Shamelessly pirated from River Ave. Blues; I liked it too much not to use it)
He pitched a no-hitter into the eighth inning and struck out 10.  He finished with a 7.1 IP, 1H, 1ER, 2BB, 10K line and got the win in a 3-1 Yankees victory.  I love pitching and young home-grown talent.  Therefore, I really, really love Phil Hughes.
With the winning streak at 6 and with a chance to sweep, CC Sabathia took the mound; but alas, he couldn’t quite match the Hughesian standard that had been set and the Yankees fell 4-2.  Even in a loss, however, CC was pretty beastly, pitching an 8-inning complete game allowing only 3 earned runs. 
In Anaheim last night, AJ Burnett struggled early, but recovered to pitch solidly into the seventh while the Yankees offense, led by a Nick Swisher home run, maintained a 4-4 tie.  In the 8th, however, Joba Chamberlain couldn’t get it done, serving up a 2-run home run to the Angels’ Kendry Morales as the Yankees lost 6-4, dropping 2 games in a row for the first time all season.

Today, then, the Yankees turned back to Pettitte to try and stop their first losing streak of the year.  The 37-year-old once again turned back the clock and was nothing short of masterful.

AndrewEPettitte.png

Pettitte pitched 8 full innings, giving up one run on six hits, walking none and striking out eight, while using only 114 pitches.  Through four starts, he is now 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA.  It’s unreal.  Of course, it’s a small sample size and it won’t last the whole year, but it’s just fantastic to watch while it lasts.
The offense came to play today, as well.  Robinson Cano turned in a 4-for-5 day, driving in one run and scoring three, upping his average to .369 and justifying Joe Girardi’s faith in his ability to produce when hitting fifth.  Gritty, Gutty Brett Gardner (whose speed and general fun-ness to watch are making me like him more every day), hitting second today while Nick Johnson took a day off, had another huge game, going 3-for-5 with two singles, a triple, two runs scored, and his league-leading 9th stolen base.  Swisher and Francisco Cervelli (!!) both contributed two RBI as the Yankees rolled 7-1.
You win with pitching, and thus far the Yankees have pitching to spare.  My favorite thing about how the team looks so far is that the starters are, first of all, dominating, and, secondly, dominating deep into games.  The best way to maximize the effectiveness of a bullpen is to not have to use it that much, and thanks to Sabathia and Pettitte, and sometimes Hughes and Burnett, the middle-relief questions seem to be non-starters (pun fully intended).

 
Record: 12-5.
Next Up:  The Yankees attempt to win their sixth series in a row.  Vazquez vs. Scott Kazmir (Anaheim), Sunday, April 25, 3:35 PM.
Till next time,
Ana
Now Playing: Jaded – Aerosmith

CJ Burnathia

If the last two games are any indication, the Yankees may have two scary-good pitchers on their hands this season in the forms of CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett.

AcesWild.jpg
In his second start of the season, Sabathia came within four outs of a no-hitter.  By all accounts yesterday, his stuff was even better.  The first game of a three-game set against the Texas Rangers was shortened to six innings due to rain, but Sabathia allowed just three hits over those six innings while striking out nine on only 73 pitches.  The 73 pitches are all the more impressive when you stop to think that, even if CC got all his strikeouts on three straight pitches, the three strikes to constitute each of his nine strikeouts accounted for more than a third of his total pitch count.  His dominance was accentuated by the fact that he issued no walks in the game.
The offense was mostly produced by Derek Jeter and Marcus Thames (!!), who each had two hits and an RBI.  Curtis Granderson also drove in a run, and Francisco Cervelli continues to make a case for himself as a bona-fide major league starting catcher, collecting a hit while calling another fantastic game, ultimately a 5-1 weather-shortened victory.
SwingAndAFrankie.jpg
Today, it was more of the same in terms of dominant pitching and run-scoring ability.  AJ Burnett was, for the first time this season, not Decent AJ or Better Than Average AJ … he was Excellent AJ.  7 scoreless innings, 7 strikeouts, 2 walks — a great ratio for a pitcher known for his lack of control — it was everything you could wish for out of Burnett.
The Rangers’ Scott Feldman, on the other hand, lasted only 2 and a third while surrendering 7 hits and 4 runs.  Granderson and Alex Rodriguez both had two-hit days (with Alex picking up his first home run of the season), and Jeter and Brett Gardner got three hits apiece.   Jeter hit his third home run of the year, and Gardner used his superspeed to beat out three infield grounders, scoring 2 of the Yankees 7 runs and driving in one.
GGBG.jpg
Mark Teixeira finally decided to join the party today, picking up a hit and driving in a run, bringing his average to an even … .100.  Eh, the bat will happen eventually.   
Alfredo Aceves struggled in a third of an inning, surrendering three runs on a Nelson Cruz homer, but it was hardly enough to tarnish a 7-3 victory.
Record: 8-3.  The Yankees are off to their best start since 2003 and have won their first four series for the first time since 1926.
Next Up: The Yanks go for the sweep.  Rich Harden (Texas) vs. Andy Pettitte (he of the 0.75 ERA), Sunday, April 18, 1:05 PM.
Till next time,
Ana
Now Playing:  Signed, Sealed, Delivered – Stevie Wonder

Hughesday

I always seem to miss Javier Vazquez‘s starts.  I hear yesterday’s wasn’t much in terms of the special, either, but it wasn’t bad, not nearly as bad as last time, and not worthy of the boo-birds. The Yankees lost 5-3, despite a valiant attempt at a comeback in the late innings.

Today, however, the man of the hour was Phil Hughes.  This is the first time the fifth starter’s spot has come up since the season began, so this was Hughes’ return to the rotation — he did not disappoint.  He went 5+ strong innings, striking out six and allowing just three hits.  He gave up two runs, one of which scored after his departure on a wild pitch and ground ball sequence by David Robertson (who actually redeemed himself nicely from his last outing, striking out three and not allowing a hit over an inning and a third).  Hughes did walk 5 … a high figure … but four of those walks came on 3-2 counts, and, according to MLB Gameday, the home-plate umpire straight up blew several calls which should have been strikes on those hitters.  All things considered, building off this start would give the Yankees an amazing weapon out of the fifth spot.
Huuuuughes.jpg
Speaking of the fifth spot — how about Robinson Cano?  He’s done nothing so far this year except come through out of the #5 hole in the batting order.  He jacked two home runs today and drove in three, bringing his season totals through nine games to 4 home runs and 9 RBI (he’s also hitting .395).  
Derek Jeter added another home run and two RBI on the day.  And, who can hit two triples in one games (one off a lefty, no less)?  The Grandy Man can, folks.  The Grandy Man can.
TheGrandyMan.jpg
You got it.
In other news, today was Jackie Robinson day in Major League Baseball.  So, naturally, every player on every team wore #42.  While honoring Robinson is worthwhile and important, this one looked kind of ridiculous.
ManyMos.jpg
Especially when Mariano Rivera came in in the ninth for a quick one-out save to seal the 6-2 win.
EnterNight.jpg
Oh well.  I guess if everyone’s wearing #42, they should all be Godlike in talent and reliability, right?  Of course right.
Record: 6-3.  Three series in a row now from three of the best teams in the league.  If this is any indication of our true talent level, the Yankees are beastly.  I like that.
Next Up:  CJ Wilson (Texas) vs. CC Sabathia.  Last time out, Sabathia almost pitched a no-hitter.  Let’s see if he can finish it up this time, shall we?  Friday, April 16, at 7:05 PM.
Till next time,
Ana
Now Playing: Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell

Another Opening

So today Matsui came back.

WelcomeBackDeki.jpg
I hear he got the second-loudest ovation of the day, behind only Mariano Rivera.  Well deserved, as he left New York a World Series MVP.
Speaking of the World Series, the rings were presented today.
AlexLikesWinning.jpg
Bernie Williams threw out the first pitch, which I hear got to the plate on a bounce … reminiscent of his last few years in centerfield, eh?  Whatever, I still love and miss Bernie and it’s great to see him back, even as an old-timer.
WeekendAtBernies.png
Down to business … facing the Yankees’ former nemeses, the Angels, Andy Pettitte was again masterful.  He struck out six over six shutout innings, allowing only five hits, for his first win of the season (his stellar start against Boston last week yielded a no-decision; his ERA through his first two starts is 0.75).
On the offensive side, Nick Johnson homered in the first inning, and Derek Jeter homered in the third. 
OpeningDayJeter.jpg
Johnson, Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, and Curtis Granderson all drove in runs, and Robinson Cano continued his hot hitting, going 2-for-5 with a run scored.
The Yankees ran into trouble in the ninth up 7-1, when David Robertson loaded the bases on three (relatively cheap) singles, got a strikeout, and then gave up a grand slam to Bobby Abreu — however, all that ultimately meant was that Mariano came in and retired Torii Hunter and Hideki Matsui on seven pitches, sealing the 7-5 Home Opener victory.
Record: 5-2. And what’s this about the Yankees being slow starters?  Against three of the league’s best teams, no less.
Next Up:  Javier Vazquez aims for redemption once again.  Joel Piniero (Anaheim) vs. Vazquez, Wednesday, April 14, at 1:05 PM.
Till next time,
Ana
Now Playing: 1999 – Prince