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URPsy Daisy

Matt Palmer delivers (Nick Laham/Getty Images)It often seems like the Yankees just can’t hit rookie pitchers they’ve never faced before (a phenomenon I once dubbed getting “URPed” by an Unfamiliar Rookie Pitcher). That’s more perception than reality. As recently as Tuesday night, they touched up 20-year-old Tigers rookie Rick Porcello for six runs in 3 2/3 innings. At the conclusion of their last homestand, they scored five runs in 5 1/3 innings against 21-year-old A’s prospect Brett Anderson. They also scored four runs in five innings against Orioles rookie Alfredo Simon in the last game of their season-opening series in Baltimore. Such performances tend not to stick in our memories because they conform to our expectations; we expect the Yankees to beat up on the fresh-faced kids straight out of the minors, which is exactly why it really eats us up when they don’t.

Angels starter Matt Palmer is no fresh-faced kid at 30-years-old, nor is he a highly-touted prospect like Porcello or Anderson, but he is a rookie, and one the Yankees had never faced before this afternoon’s game. He’s also one the Yankees didn’t hit.

Palmer doesn’t have great stuff, but he was able to mix up his speeds and locations enough this afternoon to keep the hot Yankee bats off balance. He snapped Robinson Cano’s 18-game hitting streak and held the Yanks to one run on three hits and two walks over 6 1/3 innings, compensating for his dearth of strikeouts (two) with a fair number of groundballs (10).

Aybar takes it in the face (Julie Jacobson/AP)The Yanks looked like they were going to get to Palmer early. Palmer’s second pitch sailed inside and hit Derek Jeter on the elbow in nearly the same exact spot that Nick Swisher was hit the night before. Jeter stayed in the game and stole second after a Johnny Damon pop out, but the steal was no less painful. Mike Napoli’s throw skipped off the back of Jeter’s batting helmet and hit Erick Aybar in the face, bloodying Aybar’s mouth, swelling his lip, and knocking him out of the game. Because the impact of the ball distracted Aybar, he didn’t jump out of the way of Jeter’s head-first slide and Jeter took Aybar’s knee in the right side of his neck. Despite being hit by the ball twice, it was the knee to the neck that seemed to cause Jeter the most discomfort, as he could be seen stretching his neck throughout the rest of the game (though he, of course, stayed in and said he’d be back out there tomorrow).

With Jeter on second with one out, Mark Teixera walked, and Hideki Matsui yanked a 2-0 pitch into right to score Jeter. Palmer was on the ropes with a man in, runners on the corner, just one out, and Cano up, but Palmer needed just three more pitches to get Cano and Melky Cabrera to ground out to end the inning without another run scoring.

CC Sabathia made that run hold up for five innings, but Palmer also kept the Yankees from adding to it, and the Angels scratched out a tally to tie the game in the sixth. Howie Kendrick led off that inning with a single and was replaced at first by Torii Hunter via a fielders choice. Hunter moved to second when Mike Napoli reached on a Derek Jeter throwing error that pulled Mark Teixeira off first base. Hunter and Napoli then pulled off a double steal, and Hunter scored on Kendry Morales’s subsequent groundout.

The seventh started with Sabathia at 99 pitches having held the Angels to that one run and four hits over the six previous frames. In retrospect, he should have called it a day there. Brandon Wood and Maicer Izturis (Aybar’s replacement at shortstop) led off the seventh with singles and were sacrificed to third and second by Chone Figgins. Sabathia then struck out Gary Matthews on four pitches, the last a 98 mile-per-hour fastball, for the second out, but Howie Kendrick, who was 5-for-6 against Sabathia entering the game, hit a bounding single up the middle past CC to plate Wood with the tie-breaking run.

With CC at 113 pitches, Joe Girardi repeated the mistake he made in Sabathia’s last home start by leaving his lefty ace in to face a veteran right-handed slugger despite a high pitch count. Then it was Matt Holliday, who singled on Sabathia’s 112th pitch to tie that game. Today, it was Torii Hunter, who doubled on Sabathia’s 119th pitch to plate both runners and break the game open.

Only then did Girardi go to the bullpen, though the reason for his hesitation quickly became apparent. Mike Napoli singled on Jonathan Alabaldejo’s first pitch to push the Angels’ lead to 5-1. A Morales homer off Jose Veras in the eighth made it 6-1, and a Juan Rivera single plated two David Robertson walks in the ninth to make it 8-1. The never-say-die Yanks picked up three runs in the ninth on a two-run Jorge Posada homer and a three-base Gary Matthews error (Matthews lost a ball in the sun and was also hit in the face, though less painfully than Aybar). Those runs came against a rookie pitcher, Fernando Rodriguez making his major league debut, that didn’t seem to stymie the Yankees at all, but all they did was change the Angels margin of victory. Final score 8-4.

Don’t be sad. Two out of three ain’t bad, and tomorrow the Yankees will try to make it three out of four.

Categories:  Cliff Corcoran  Game Recap

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1 Mattpat11   ~  May 2, 2009 11:15 pm

I'm sure its more perception that reality, but it seems that the Yankees struggle more with guys like Palmer, 30 year old career minor leaguers, than they do against a rookie with any kind of potential.

2 Cliff Corcoran   ~  May 2, 2009 11:37 pm

Look up Alfredo Simon.

3 Joel   ~  May 2, 2009 11:37 pm

Lifetime OPS+`(HOF/All-Time Catchers)

Mike Piazza 142
Johnny Bench 126
Yogi Berra 125
Jorge Posada 124
Roy Campanella 124
Carlton Fisk 117
Thurman Munson 116
Gary Carter 115
Ivan Rodriguez 110

Jorge Posada, a Hall of Famer?

4 Rich   ~  May 2, 2009 11:59 pm

If Posada can put up a 120ish OPS+ for the next two years I think he will be in the HoF.

The Yankees need an OFer to replace Damon, whose defense is pathetic right now.

5 Cliff Corcoran   ~  May 3, 2009 12:16 am

Joel, you left out Javy Lopez and Bill Freehan at 112 and Mike Stanley at 117. I think Jorge's HOF debate will be a good one, but your list is a little misleading.

6 Joel   ~  May 3, 2009 12:56 am

Cliff, obviously I can't look up the OPS+ of every good offensive catcher who has ever played. But FWIW, Freehan had a very good career, and was an 11 time all-star. Javy Lopez had 244 HR's in his pocket and was very much in Jorge Posada territory when he fell off a cliff at age 34. And to call Mike Stanley a "catcher," well...

My general point is that quietly, Jorge Posada has become a legitimate HoF contender as well as one of the great backstops in Yankee history.

7 Cliff Corcoran   ~  May 3, 2009 1:04 am

Your point is quite valid and one I've thought about a lot. His Hall of Fame case will likely fall just short, but the Yankees have a great tradition of catchers (Dickey, Berra, Howard, Munson, Posada) and I'd say Posada could rank second on that list behind only Berra.

I also agree that Freehan is vastly underrated, as is Stanley, regardless of his defense (Lopez wasn't much behind the plate either). I got those guys from Posada's comps on B-Ref, by the way.

8 Diane Firstman   ~  May 3, 2009 7:07 am

"Cliff, obviously I can’t look up the OPS+ of every good offensive catcher who has ever played."
Here ya go ...


And here's the list of HOFers only


Diane - statgrrl

9 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  May 3, 2009 7:44 am

[8] If I weren't hitched, I'd propose a Vegas Elvis wedding right now..immediate stat provision wins big points in the Dating Game!

10 Joel   ~  May 3, 2009 8:58 am

Thanks, Diane. Jorge is in some very special company.

11 The Hawk   ~  May 3, 2009 9:16 am

I'm gonna give a thumbs down to OPS+ as an measure of HOF worthiness.

12 ms october   ~  May 3, 2009 9:21 am

yeah i think jorge should get serious consideration for the hof. his numbers are impressive. as has been pointed out before, his counting stats have been hurt becuase of the "late start." it will also be interesting to see how the writers parse his rings, as he was not the ft catcher for the first few championships.

really hope bruney is able to come back and pitch well and help re-slot the pen. it is bad enough to have the pen give up so many runs, but when it starts overly impacting the manger's decision to leave the starter in as with sabathia yesterday and pettite friday - the problem becomes even more exaggerated.
we also still haven't really gotten dominant cc yet - hopefully soon.

13 OldYanksFan   ~  May 3, 2009 10:12 am

Catcher is a primary defensive position, especially considering non-offensive skill like throwing runners out, blocking the plate, handling of pitchers and calling a game.. There's no question that Jorge's bat is HOF worthy but how do you qualify the other aspects of the position? Looking at the whole deal, is/was Jorge's career better then I-Rods? His OPS+ is MUCH higher but....

These days, defense in general, does not get as much attention as offense. It's less 'obvious' and we don't have reliable stats. Just as a for-instance, look at JD. You would think that a corner OF position might be the easiest defensive position to qualify. But bloggers rate JD from below average to well above (in LF).

Further, I think everyone here see's that Molina is FAR superior as a 'Catcher' (bat excluded) and handles pitchers and calls a game much better the Jorge.

But I agree that if his OPS+ is still above 120 after 2011, he will certainly get consideration.

14 Joel   ~  May 3, 2009 11:29 am

[13] I-Rod is a first ballot HOFer because of his defensive skils. I'm not even comparing Jorge to I-Rod.

[12] I'm not sure if we're ever going to see "dominant" CC in the AL. I'm just hoping for a very good CC to emerge. Paying him crazy money does not put him in the same class as Johan Santana.

15 Cliff Corcoran   ~  May 3, 2009 11:46 am

I’m not sure if we’re ever going to see “dominant” CC in the AL.

His 2007 AL Cy Young award wasn't enough to convince you?

16 Joel   ~  May 3, 2009 12:13 pm

Outside of that year in the AL, very good but certainly not dominant. With 1700 IP behind him and all the money in the world, I think we're looking at a 15 win innings eater with about a 4 ERA and a 110 ERA+.

He ain't opting out of anything.

17 PJ   ~  May 3, 2009 4:11 pm

[7] "...the Yankees have a great tradition of catchers (Dickey, Berra, Howard, Munson, Posada) and I’d say Posada could rank second on that list behind only Berra."

LOL @ Jorge Posada > Bill Dickey

Don't get me wrongly here. I like Jorge Posada, quite well actually! I just don't like the "father bit" with respect to Joe Torre, but I digress and will belay that tiresome argument...

However, Po couldn't carry Dickey's old socks, offensively and defensively! Neither could he "catch" with Dickey's old equipment!

You're simply going to have to do better than that 'round here Cliff, if you are to maintain any baseball related credibility with respect to ranking all time Yankees.

In fact, if you have the access, talk to Yogi about that and soon, while he's still both alive and coherent. I would predict that he will tell you personally, if it weren't for Bill Dickey, Berra would have been just another Posada, a better than average hitter, who the organization stuck at the catcher position because he could hit major league pitching. He will also add that he falls woefully short of equaling the talent that was Bill Dickey playing Catcher, at least until after Dickey worked with Berra for years on refining his defensive prowess.

I mean, if we are going to start enshrining two tool players (hitting for Average and Power), I'd begin with Edgar Martinez looooong before I'd even consider Po for a viable argument (see also Piazza).

Before Posada is finished, he will have twice the PB's as Dickey and Berra, in not as many games, and with vastly improved equipment. In 1931, Dickey caught in 125 games, without a single PB, with a mitt, which could be best described as “ill suited” for such a statistic! The last time I checked, Hall of Fame Catchers could actually play their positions. They weren't pigeonholed into catching, because they could switch-hit against major league pitching.

Jorge Posada is to Bill Dickey, what Bernie Williams is to Joe DiMaggio... not even close (see also Mattingly to Gehrig). In fact, Dickey was so great as a Catcher, he never played a single major league inning anywhere else on the diamond. Additionally, Po struck out more times in the two seasons with his highest totals (294 K's during 2000 and 2002 in 1222 PA's), than Dickey did in his whole career (289 in 7060 PA's)! That in and of itself stands alone in the “astounding department.”

OPS+ indeed...

18 Joel   ~  May 3, 2009 7:06 pm

[17] Piazza and Edgar will make the Hall. Piazza probably on the first ballot. Jorge is on the border.

19 PJ   ~  May 3, 2009 7:25 pm

[18] "Jorge is on the border."

Bill Dickey was not...

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