Sergio Mitre took the ball to the hill for an emergency start against the Tigers tonight. That’s not a good initial ingredient for a victory, but his opposite number was also a fill-in named (checking his name…) Brad Thomas. So there was some reason to hope. The Tigers cracked Mitre for four runs, but the Yankees merely dented Thomas for two. And after some radar-gun frying relief pitching, the clearing smoke revealed a 5-4 victory for Detroit.
Both starting pitchers were bad, but Jim Leyland tossed his pea-shooter aside earlier than Joe Girardi. The bridge to the endgame flame throwers featured only an annoying run charged to Boone Logan’s suspiciously modest account (Is he hiding runs in an off-shore ERA?).
Zumaya, Chamberlain and Valverde took turns trying to short circuit the radar gun – Zumaya winning bragging rights by going over 100 mph several times. However, he almost lost the game, as the Yanks did manage to get to him for two runs in his third inning of work. Jeter had a particularly brutal game at the plate, but almost delivered the game-changing hit with the tying and go-ahead runs on with two outs in the eighth. I never thought it was going to fall, but at least he worked the count and hit it hard. The game ended on six straight K’s and only one of the victims even managed a foul ball.
Last year the Yankees had their fair share of emergency starts. After Wang spontaneously combusted, the fifth spot in the rotation became a regularly scheduled emergency start, if such a thing can exist. The Yanks got 23 starts from the combination of Hughes, Mitre, Aceves and Gaudin. And they went 16-7 in those games.
I thought that was a sneaky awesome stat from last year – that the team stepped up when the starting pitcher figured to be a problem. Of course it was probably just a distribution fluke, but they scored 149 runs in those 23 games and allowed 110. And the fact they won several of those games while the Red Sox lost a lot of the Penny, Smoltz, etc games, went a long way towards deciding the division.
Hopefully Vazquez solidifies the fifth spot and the rest of the guys stay healthy, but if a slew of emergency starters are needed again this year, the Yanks would do well to bring their sticks to the park on those particular nights. Speaking of last year…
Where is the drama this year? It’s May 10th and the only late inning victory on the Yanks ledger was on April 7th when Granderson touched up Papelbon. If this team ever picks up the same kind of 2009 knack for late, comeback victories, look out.
Final thought: For those of you who got to watch winning pitcher Eddie Bonine baffle Jeter, Swisher and Teixeira in the fifth, does anybody else think that maybe Joe Girardi’s binder might be missing a page? Or at least a notation? Something like, “Eddie Bonine throws a knuckle ball.” Might have been valuable information for them to have at that juncture. They were all shaking their heads, asking the catcher, the second baseman, the umpire, “Was that a knuckle ball?” Yes it was, fellas. Pass it on, maybe the next guy won’t look so foolish.