"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

The Pen Also Rises

For all the interest in how A.J. Burnett was going to handle his return to Fenway or how the Yankees were going to handle Jon Lester, the starting pitchers ultimately proved to be irrelevent in Tuesday night’s game as both lasted just five innings and left a 4-4 tie in their wake. Burnett struck out five Red Sox against just one walk, but also gave up seven hits including a two-run homer and an RBI double, both by Victor Martinez. Those runs added to the one manufactured by Jacoby Ellsbury and a Jorge Posada throwing error in the first.

Lester looked dominant at times, but was lucky to escape the second with only one run scoring. After Nick Swisher doubled in Robinson Cano, Lester walked Marcus Thames (who drew the start in left field against the left-handed Lester), but struck out Curtis Granderson, who was batting ninth against the lefty, on a weak check swing and got Derek Jeter to ground out to end the threat. Granderson and Jeter got their revenge in the fifth when they started the inning with singles off Lester, who then drilled Nick Johnson in the ribs to load the bases. Granderson scored on a Mark Teixeira fielder’s choice that erased Johnson. Jeter scored on an Alex Rodriguez double to left, and Teixeira scored on a sac fly by Robinson Cano. That gave the Yankees their first lead of the game, but Martinez’s double in the bottom of the fifth tied it up and handed the game to the bullpens.

The Yankees immediatly mounted a threat against Manny Delcarmen when Nick Swisher led off with a double and moved to third on a Brett Gardner pinch-hit groundout. Granderson followed by creaming a ball to the right side but almost directly at Kevin Youkilis, who caught the sinking liner to hold Swisher. Jeter then grounded out to end the threat. Alfredo Aceves answered that goose egg as well as one from Daniel Bard in the seventh, passing the tie on to Hideki Okajima in the top of the eighth.

Okajima is legitimately one of the better set-up men in the league, but he has struggled against the Yankees in his brief major league career. In 23 1/3 career innings against the Bombers prior to last night, Okajima had allowed 14 runs (not counting inherited runners who have scored), good for a 5.40 ERA. Curiously, though he’s blown saves against the Yankees, he’d never taken a loss against them prior to last night, a night when he didn’t actually pitch all that poorly.

Okajima started the eighth by getting ahead of Jorge Posada 0-1 and 1-2, but Posada battled back and yanked a ground rule double into the seats behind the Pesky Pole in right. Nick Swisher followed by fouling off a bunt attempt and taking strike two only to hunker down and engage Okajima in an 11-pitch battle that the Red Sox lefty ultimate won via a groundout to short that kept Posada at second with two outs. Okajima then got ahead of Brett Gardner 0-2, but Gardner, too, battled back to 2-2 before fighting off a single into shallow left field beyond Marco Scutaro’s outstretched glove. Because he wasn’t sure if Scutaro had a play, Posada held yet again. Okajima then threw a first-pitch strike to Jeter and got him to ground to shortstop, but Scutaro pulled his throw and Youkilis was unable to come up with it, loading the bases and giving the Yankees another chance. With that Okajima imploded, walking Nick Johnson, who never took his bat off his shoulder, on five pitches to walk in the go-ahead run. Scott Atchison, who spent the last two years pitching in Japan, then came on and got Mark Teixeira to fly out to deep right to end the threat.

Joe Girardi played matchups in the bottom of the eighth. David Robertson was brought in to face righty-swinging Kevin Youkilis, but gave up a single that put the tying run on base. Girardi then brought in Damaso Marte to face David Ortiz, who was still looking for his first hit of the season, but after throwing ball one, Marte threw a limp-wristed changeup to first base to check Youkilis. If you’ve ever tried to play catch with a four-year-old you know exactly how Mark Teixeira felt as Marte’s weak throw dove, bounced, and ultimately skipped by him allowing Youkilis to get to second base. Marte recovered to get Ortiz to fly out just shallow enough in center to hold Youkilis (Curtis Granderson has shown a half-way decent arm; I’m guessing Youkilis would have move up had Johnny Damon or Bernie Williams caught Ortiz’s fly). Girardi then called on Joba Chamberlain to pitch to the right-handed hitting Adrian Beltre.

Per the scouting report I linked to regarding Sunday’s game, Beltre is a first-ball, fast-ball hitter, and Chamberlain and Posada started him off with a curve that dropped into the zone for strike one. Chamberlain then just missed low and inside with a 95 mile-per-hour heater and came back with another curveball that Beltre fouled off for strike two. Chamberlain came back with the fastball, but put it low and away, well outside Beltre’s weak hack for strike three. That pitch hit 96 on the YES gun. Chamberlain stuck with the fastball against J.D. Drew, burrying one low for ball one, then beating Drew in the zone on a 95 mph pitch down the middle that Drew fouled off well down the left-field line.  After a 96 mph heater well outside seemed to get away from him, Chamberlain whipped out the slider, breaking off a good one, an 87 mile-per-hour pitch that dove as soon as it reached the plate. Drew, protecting against the fastball, was unable to check his swing in time, giving Yankee fans flashbacks of how foolish hitters looked against Chamberlian in 2007. A second, identical slider struck out Drew swinging and stranded Youkilis, handing the game to Mariano Rivera, but not before Robinson Cano crushed a Scott Atchison pitch into the right field seats to inflate the Yankee lead by a run.

Rivera gave up a one-out double to left to old nemesis Marco Scutaro, but against the other three batters he faced he threw just seven pitches, all strikes, resulting in one strikeout and two fly outs. With that, the 2010 Yankees recorded their first win, beating the Red Sox 6-4 to set-up a rubber game in the series finale Wednesday night. What do you think the chances are that one’s decided by the bullpens as well?

There were two great AP photographs from tonight’s game. The first was Charles Krupa’s shot of Nick Johnson getting hit in the ribs:

The other is this outstanding Elise Amendola snap of Derek Jeter fouling off a ball in the sixth:

Categories:  Cliff Corcoran  Game Recap

Share: Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via email %PRINT_TEXT


1 Eddie Lee Whitson KO   ~  Apr 7, 2010 2:39 am

Nice to be back at .500 :-). Read a note that when Mo entered the game it set a record for most seasons together by 3 teammates (Mo, Jeter, Posada) at 16 years. No team in any major american sport (MLB,NFL,NHL,NBA) has EVER had 3 teammates together for 16 seasons. That's pretty cool.

2 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Apr 7, 2010 2:51 am

[1] Yeah, I heard that, too. That's the benefit of being able to afford to keep your homegrown stars. If only Pettitte hadn't had those three years in Houston, it'd be four teammates.

3 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Apr 7, 2010 3:18 am

Great photos there. I too am praying that Joba2007 has returned!

Baseball is back..Game Two but Astros's Hunter Pence is in fine mid-season cliche form: "This is not the way we should be playing. We just have to start scoring runs and start hitting. Hitting is contagious and once the first guy hits, we all will."

Ahhh...baseball post-game quotes.....can I get a "I just need to stay focused and concentrate on my game, not worry about what the other guy is doing, if I just stay within myself and play like I can play then good things are going to happen"..?? AMEN!

4 Jon DeRosa   ~  Apr 7, 2010 7:15 am

Great recap Cliff. I am not coming down one way or another on Joba's role, but he was super-fun to watch last night. That was great pitching AND great stuff. (obviously he's had "fun games to watch" as a starter as well)

5 OldYanksFan   ~  Apr 7, 2010 7:43 am

Via Steve at WW:

"Once Rivera makes his first appearance of the 2010 season, he will join Jeter and Posada as the first trio of teammates in MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL history to have played together in 16 consecutive seasons."


6 OldYanksFan   ~  Apr 7, 2010 8:17 am

[5] P.S. One of the greatest things about being a Yankees fan.

7 Sliced Bread   ~  Apr 7, 2010 8:23 am

[2] Having the wherewithal to retain such talent is half of it, and the other half, the longevity of the players, is more remarkable to me. How many teams have sent forth 3 or 4 players that would last 16 years in the game, let alone on the same team? Bernie also had a long and prosperous career. The Gene Michael Yankees yielded an impressive crop of players.

8 Alex Belth   ~  Apr 7, 2010 8:32 am

My favorite part was living vicariously through Robbie Cano's sweet homer in the ninth. I've batted lefty in stick ball and in whiffle ball and I've approximated that feeling in both of those activities, turning on a low pitch and creaming it. Man, even on a scrubby level it feels great. I can only imagine what it must feel like to drive a baseball 350 feet. DAG!

9 Sliced Bread   ~  Apr 7, 2010 8:34 am

[7] it should also be noted, Posada was hardly part of the '95 Yankees, this is more like his 15th season, not 16th. Still a remarkable feat.

10 Sliced Bread   ~  Apr 7, 2010 8:45 am

[8] I'm a lefty batting, righty throwing 2nd baseman at heart (and was one through high school) - so Cano has a very special place in my heart. His home runs are only the cherry on top for me. I love seeing him drive the ball into the left center gap. Those are usually his sweetest swings, and those hits bring me back to my best days as a player. I was a line-drive hitter, with gap power, and some speed. But to your point, yeah, being able to drive a baseball 350 feet or more has to be one of the finest feelings a person can experience. Doing it as a Yankee in Fenway Park, there's yer cherry on top.

11 williamnyy23   ~  Apr 7, 2010 9:45 am

[8] Cano sure did enjoy it. On my own level, I've experienced the feeling of absolutely hitting the ball at the perfect point in its trajectory, and nothing beats it.

[9] He did make the post season roster, so that's pretty significant.

12 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Apr 7, 2010 10:08 am

[10] So much like Mattingly in his ability to hit the ball with authority, real authority, to all fields.

13 RagingTartabull   ~  Apr 7, 2010 10:40 am

[9,11] yeah he made the roster after playing all of 1 regular season game and was used solely as a pinch runner. Strange that he was given a spot over, say, Jeter. But whatever, I really consider '97 to be his true rookie year.

14 seamus   ~  Apr 7, 2010 10:42 am

I'm happy to see Cano off to a good start so far. I really want him to succeed. Only 160 games to go and so many men to possibly leave on base though...

15 The Mick536   ~  Apr 7, 2010 10:46 am

Here is what I liked about the game: Brett Gardner's hitting where they ain't; Teix beating the throw; Jete's two catches; A-Rod's 2B off the monster; Joba being Joba; and Robinson Cano.

Here is what I didn't like: AJ "cream-pie," his tats and his tude; the errors; and a pick-off attempt on someone who doesn't run.

The recap hit home. Great to be back.

16 Yankee Mama   ~  Apr 7, 2010 10:58 am

I know it's only game 2 and there isn't too much we can judge as yet. That said, I simply love Cano in the 5 spot. His whole demeanor seems more mature. If he stays on course, he's going to make quite a career for himself. It's such a pleasure to be witnessing his development.

17 a.O   ~  Apr 7, 2010 11:20 am

Great to see Cano becoming the monster we all know he can be, and great to see Joba doing what he so obviously does best. But, I must say, Ace may be the most important pitcher on this club. Or at least the most underrated.

18 Yankee Mama   ~  Apr 7, 2010 11:23 am

[17] I totally agree with all your points. Joba brings excitement to the game and Ace is 'the man." He might prove to be one of the most valuable people on the team.

19 Just Fair   ~  Apr 7, 2010 11:32 am

I love Cano and all his faults. I'll never understand when anyone brings up trading him. He can be a monster. I don't think he's reached his ceiling nor do I think he cannot improve his batting eye.

20 The Hawk   ~  Apr 7, 2010 11:50 am

Whoa, there. Two games, guys. One of which Joba was not impressive in. As for Cano he's got a long way to go before he rids himself of cherry-picker status.

21 williamnyy23   ~  Apr 7, 2010 11:57 am

[17] Couldn't agree more about Ace. The best thing is his stuff isn't dominant, so there is no danger of pigeon-holing him into some predefined slot.

22 williamnyy23   ~  Apr 7, 2010 11:59 am

[20] I didn't realize he was burdened by cherry-picker status (not even sure what it means). I do think we need to hold off on annointing Cano as one of the best players in the game. It's just as likely that he will return to only being one of the best 2B in the game (sarcasm intended).

23 a.O   ~  Apr 7, 2010 12:25 pm

[20] Agreed. But, as Girardi said, he is still getting into reliever role after training all Spring for the starter role. And he never hit 96 or 97 as a starter, did he?

24 williamnyy23   ~  Apr 7, 2010 12:31 pm

[23] He did...up until the injury following the Boston game in mid-2008.

25 a.O   ~  Apr 7, 2010 12:36 pm

[24] I realized after I typed [23] that I did not mean "ever." But more like "never regularly all last year."

26 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Apr 7, 2010 12:50 pm

That Derek shot is fabulous.

27 The Hawk   ~  Apr 7, 2010 1:32 pm

[22] Shoot, you must not read my posts then! I designated Cano a cherry-picker last year.

[23] Hell I originally thought Joba was an "if it aint broke" proposition. Hopefully he will get back to where he started. That would be phenomenal.

feed Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via email
"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver