"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Pitching In

The 2010 versions of Javier Vazquez and the Baltimore Orioles: on their own, neither suggests a well-pitched game, but in combination they produced exactly that Tuesday night. Vazquez and the O’s highly-regarded rookie left-hander Brian Matusz opened this week’s three-game set in the Bronx by not allowing a hit in the first two innings, not allowing a run in the first four, and taking a 1-1 tie into the seventh.

Both runs scored on solo homers. Curtis Granderson led off the fifth by homering to right on a full count. Corey Patterson answered that shot with two outs and a 1-2 count in the top of the sixth. Both pitches were fastballs up and out to lefties who reached out and pulled them over the fence. Granderson’s went into the box seats in the right-field gap. Patterson’s was hooked into the second deck close to the foul pole.

The game was ultimately decided in the seventh inning. Vazquez got into trouble in the top of the frame when Nick Markakis singled and Luke Scott doubled to put men on second and third with one out. It was the first time in the game that Vazquez allowed multiple baserunners in an inning and the first time other than Patterson’s homer than an Oriole had gotten past second base against him.

With first base open, Joe Girardi had Vazquez walk switch-hitter Matt Wieters and go after righties Adam Jones and Julio Lugo. Vazquez rose to the challenge, striking out Jones on four pitches then getting Lugo to ground out on one.

The bottom of the seventh saw Derek Jeter single and Nick Swisher draw a four pitch walk to put men on first and second with one out. A Juan Miranda groundout move them up to second and third presenting Orioles manager Dave Trembley with the option of walking Alex Rodriguez to have his young lefty face Robinson Cano with two outs and the bases loaded.

Trembley opted to bring in a righty, deposed starter David Hernandez, to face Rodriguez, a tribute to the MVP-quality season Cano is having. Rodriguez hit the first pitch hard to third base, but right at Miguel Tejada who, ignored Jeter at third in an effort to get the out at first. Tejada’s throw was in time, but it was short, hitting the wet grass in front of first base and skipping under the glove of first baseman Ty Wigginton, who has spent most of the season playing second base. Rodriguez was safe, as was Jeter, who scored the go-ahead run, and Swisher came around to score as well as the ball trickled up the firstbase line past Rodriguez, who walked casually back to the bag.

The play was ruled an error on Tejada (both runs unearned, no RBI), but the only scoring that counted was the 3-1 tally, which the Yankees promptly nailed down via a perfect eight-pitch inning from Joba Chamberlain and a scoreless ninth from Mariano Rivera.

One can certainly give some credit to the quality of his competition, but Javier Vaquez has now been sharp and effective in three of his last four starts, tallying this line against the Tigers, Mets, and Orioles: 20 IP, 10 H, 3 R, 1 HR, 5 BB, 20 K. Even with his one stinker against the Twins factored back in, he’s posted a 2.81 ERA  and 1.01 WHIP over his last four starts.

In those three strong starts he first pitched on long rest, then faced a National League lineup, also on long rest, then faced the worst offense in the American League after a poor start on regular rest, so there’s still more proving to do, but you can’t deny that Vazquez has looked sharper of late. On Tuesday night, Vazquez had his fastball up to 91 and was hitting his spots. Save for the Patterson home run, he had the fastball velocity and command the absence of which seemed to be his big problem early in the year. He’ll get a bit more of a test against the homer-happy Blue Jays on Sunday, but one thing the Yankees needed to happen in this soft part of their schedule was for Javy Vazquez to rebuild his confidence and get back on the horse. He’s doing that.

With Vazquez and Chamberlain both looking sharp, and Granderson hitting his first homer since the season-opening series against the Red Sox, and doing so off a lefty to boot, the only negative to Tuesday night’s game was that Mark Teixeira had to leave the game in the fourth inning after fouling a pitch off his left foot in his first at-bat. Fortunately, x-rays were negative and he could be back in the lineup as soon as Wednesday.

In other injury news, Jorge Posada is eligible to return from the disabled list and says he’s ready. Now if only Girardi will make him the every-day DH and leave Cervelli behind the plate . . .

Categories:  Cliff Corcoran  Game Recap

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1 a.O   ~  Jun 2, 2010 12:47 am

Nice wrap. Good signs from Javy. Definitely would be nice to see Brains get most of the work behind the plate and have Jorge spend most of his time at DH.

2 jjmerlock   ~  Jun 2, 2010 1:26 am

Quoting William:

"[34] I am suggesting that the three game difference in question is not very meaningful because the method leaves open a significant margin of error. Most notably, it doesn’t seem as if you’ve removed each team’s own record from their opponent’s record, which wipes out the three game difference off the bat."


Here's what I'm suggesting: don't talk about math if you don't know anything about math.

The first tip off is your bizarre reference to the concept of "margin of error." I have no idea what you are trying to say here. Margin of error is used when you are translating a sample to represent a whole population. It has nothing to do with statistics that are arrived at by straightforward calculations.

Now, looking at your assertion that the difference in the standings somehow could translate into something that wipes out the differential... well, how to put it? You are very, very wide of the mark.

I only ran the Yankees' opposition prior to tonight's games, extracting Yankee impact on opposing team home and road records and the Rays' opposition prior to tonight's games, extracting Ray(?) impact on opposing team home and road records. Because this **** takes time. These numbers have been double checked, please keep in mind, using two sets of excel calculations for each result to make sure the math is accurate.

I'll run the Red Sox on another day, possibly tomorrow.

Yankees' Opponents' Combined Winning Percentage (minus NYY impact): .538

Rays' Opponents' Combined Winning Percentage (minus TB impact): .469

Yep. Wiped the differential right out. Or not.

I have more to say about the hinky logic in those posts, but I have a splitting headache, so this is all for now.

I was soooooo ready to come on here to celebrate a Rays' loss, throwing in some extra smugness about "see, this is what happens when the schedule begins to even out," but the Man upstairs knows that I am prideful and vindictive, and these are two qualities of mine He does *not* approve of. So it's basically my fault that the Rays pulled that game out. Or Kevin Gregg, for sucking and being fat (iirc).

Still don't love how the team looks, although Granderson has been as useful as I had hoped he would be, and Jorge is probably back tomorrow. Javi was very good, but on Gameday, it had him pushing 90 and 91 when he put something into it, and I'm not sure he doesn't need a few more mph to beat better teams. Do enjoy beating the Orioles whenever possible, though - not only has Angelos put together a team that is spectacularly awful, but it's his damn fault that from a DC apartment I can't watch the Yanks play his lousy team. I'm not in your market, jackass.

3 jjmerlock   ~  Jun 2, 2010 1:30 am

Oh, RIYank, you got another laugh out of me with your "five two letter words in a row" thing. It's like I can scratch myself and spit, all at the same time. I'm sure you're overwhelmed by these useful talents.

4 williamnyy23   ~  Jun 2, 2010 7:36 am

[2] Before you lecture me on math, please try writing coherently first.

As for your math, I am sorry, but I have no confidence in the accuracy of your numbers. ESPN has their strength of schedule at .513 for the Yankees and .484 for the Rays. My weighted calculation (which I found to be very easy and quick to do), has the Yankees at .531. Have you weighted each game? Double checking a spreadsheet doesn't eliminate a poor method.

What’s more, when you remove the Rays from the Yankees schedule, it drops to .518. If you are going to argue that the Rays record is inflated by an easy schedule, it makes no sense to then give the Yankees credit for an inflated strength of schedule (and similarly, if the Yankees' record is deflated by a harder schedule, the Rays SoS would then actually be more difficult than it currently appears now). I’d imagine you can see all of the flaws in the “calculations” you are “trying” to do. Then again...

As for your love of semantics, by margin of error, I clearly meant flaws in your approach that have lead to misleading conclusions. If it makes you feel better, I’ll amend that reference to: the errors in your method place your conclusion on the margin of being meaningful.

I am really flattered that you’ve gone through all this effort to impress me, but I think you may have to try a little harder.

5 bp1   ~  Jun 2, 2010 7:45 am

From LoHud (and via our own eyes):

"Derek Jeter is batting .500 (19 of 38) over his last nine games after going 2 for 3 with a walk. …"

So maybe he has something left in the tank after all (reference to the discussion a week or so ago about an article questioning if Jeter should be put out to pasture). Yeah, I know. Small sample size, yadda yadda yadda. I maintain it is too early to be planning Jeter's retirement party, and I'm glad to see him coming out of his funk. The need to constantly check his pulse is maddening.

Good win last night.

6 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Jun 2, 2010 7:54 am

[2], [4] Cleary you guys are picking up a discussion from another thread and it's getting ugly and personal. Flame off, people. Take it outside.

7 jjmerlock   ~  Jun 2, 2010 8:51 am

[6] I understand what you are saying and and understand the reason for it, but I am introducing an important and telling statistical methodology and I would like to defend it from misleading and inaccurate attacks on said methodology. It's being attacked as unsound by someone who is so intent on being right that he won't pause to even understand what I am doing - and most people around here who don't have an axe to grind have readily understood the method I am employing and the meaning of the results.

It's frustrating to be unable to respond to a post that posits things like the wild notion that I'm not weighting results, when weighting results is at the very heart of my method. There are similar problems with every other contentious point, but I won't delve into them, as per your post.

8 Sliced Bread   ~  Jun 2, 2010 8:53 am

here's how Posada was raking before he got hurt:
.326/.406/.618 OPS 1.024
Cano's played exactly twice as many games as Jorge producing this similar line:
.366/.406/.615 OPS 1.021

another set of mirror, mirror stats:
AJ & CC after 11 starts:
both have pitched 71.1 innings
Burnett 69 hits, CC 65
Burnett 32 runs, CC 35
Burnett 24 walks, CC 23
Burnett 53 strikeouts, CC 54

9 Alex Belth   ~  Jun 2, 2010 9:01 am

7) I appreciate your frustration but sometimes you just have to say, "Fug it, Dude, let's go bowling." Not worth getting crazy over.

10 RIYank   ~  Jun 2, 2010 9:11 am

Just a couple of smallish points about strength of schedule.

1. I can think of two methods of tallying Opponents' Records. Suppose you are calculating the strengths today, and you want to figure out what to put in for the White Sox, whom the Yankees played on May 1st. You could take Chicago's record today, or you could take their record on May 1st. Each method builds in an assumption, and either one is reasonable. (The main problem with the second method is that it makes the April opponents' records nearly meaningless -- for this reason I assume jjm. used the first method.)

2. I believe 'margin of error' is meaningful in this context, although it is not exactly the statistic William had in mind. Short version: even when the 'sample' is the whole, it still makes sense to ask how much of the data might be noise. (I don't like the specific 'margin of error' statistic, myself, but useful here would be a True Bayesian Estimate.)

Or, bowling. But don't bring the Pomeranian.

11 Dimelo   ~  Jun 2, 2010 9:11 am

[9] I don't know, have you ever seen people arguing over the circumference/diameter of a bowling ball? Yeah, neither have I, but I'm afraid that might be what they tackle next.

12 OldYanksFan   ~  Jun 2, 2010 9:14 am

You can calculate 'strength of schedule' different ways and I don't think there are any methids that are absolutely accurate... or telling. Good teams have bad spells and visa versa. However, just looking at the Yankee's schedule (before the Cleveland series), it seemed obvious that the Yankees were seeing more strong teams then weak teams.

But again, it's not easy. Are the Angels a strong team or a weak one? We may not know for a while, and of course injuries (at any one moment) play into it.

Here's 1 stat. Currently:
Rays::: +1 Home games
RSox:: +7 Home games
Yanks:: -4 Home games

All teams are better at Home, but I believe this stat is more pronounced for the Red Sox. So compared to the Sox, the Yankees have 11 more Home games yet to play.... so I think this is a sizeable advantage for the Yanks.

I think where the Yankees also have an advantage is that their offense is more capable of overcoming a poor pitching performance and still winning a game.

Stats are fun to play with, and may make you lean a bit in one direction or another, but there are too many variables and random events over the course of the season draw any strong conclusions.

One non=statistical advantage I think we have is we usually get stronger in the 2nd half and I believe are better suited to handle a dogfight the last month of the season.

To me, bottom line is Teix and ARod. Even if Cano, Po and Swish cool down (which they probably will), if our #3 and #4 hitter both post a .900+OPS from here on, we will take the division.

13 51cq24   ~  Jun 2, 2010 9:24 am

math can only result in arguments

14 jjmerlock   ~  Jun 2, 2010 9:54 am

I'd *really* like to respond to all this, but will hold off for the moment. There are a lot of thoughtful responses there, which makes me hope that you can understand my postponing any response on this end.

[13] is hilarious.

[10] I understand exactly what you are saying and think that is a potential relevance of some sort of MoE - and a very interesting one that I always have in mind - but I don't think that particular point was being driven at, and I've already said too much. I'm very interested in the idea of "what is noise," though; I think it may be evident that with the right motivation, I'm extremely interested in statistical theories, in general.

There's much more I'd like to get into as to the "why" I've presented such statistics and the "when," as to what point in the season such things might have slightly more relevance, but again, I think I had better hold off, for now.

[9] You have a unique and impressive ability to understand, embrace, and execute that wisdom. I don't know how you've achieved it, and have frequently cast a green eye in your direction over that exact subject. Somehow that sounds unintentionally filthy.

15 williamnyy23   ~  Jun 2, 2010 10:10 am

[6] I am not picking up any discussion...just responding to the same taunts that keep being repeated. I ignored the one from the game thread yesterday, but figured I should respond lest it be repeated atop each new thread.

[7] I am sorry I can't agree with you. I think your new statistic is flawed. I can also assure that I have no axe to grind because until last week I hadn't noticed one of your posts. You haven’t addressed any of my rebuttals, but instead responded with snarky personal attacks, so perhaps you are the one wielding an axe? Either way, it doesn't bother me.

[12] Absolutely. In my original comment, to which much offense was taken, I stated as much, even stressing it was my opinion and conceding that opinion could be wrong.

16 jjmerlock   ~  Jun 2, 2010 10:13 am

Oh, [12], btw, the number of home games thing is the funny short cut to all the statistical work I've done (which is now spreadsheeted, which I think is good, because it actually becomes sort of actually useful later in the season, when you can look at not only what's been done, but also rationally assess who has what left (if you can follow that poor, tortured sentence) - and I referenced that funny short cut at the beginning of all this. I'm also inclined to agree with most of the non-statistical thoughts you have. But am inclined to postpone discussion on the question of the value of statistics that you've posed... which you might guess I might like to kick back and forth more than a bit at the right time. For another day.

17 jjmerlock   ~  Jun 2, 2010 10:15 am

[15] Until further notice, consider me bowling.

Of course, until further notice, you can consider Jorge still on the DL.

18 seamus   ~  Jun 2, 2010 10:35 am

all i can say is that we should all speak with hyperbole and passion!

19 Crazy8Rick   ~  Jun 2, 2010 3:40 pm

jjmerlock & williamyy23: You both have some good points, but lord have mercy guys....get a room!

Let's talk about the Yankees gettin' healthy and kickin' but and only 2 games behind the Rays! Yeah baby, that's what I'm talking about.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver