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Hot Under the Collar

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I have to admit that for much of this weekend’s series in Toronto, I wasn’t at all convinced that the series was even happening.  Sure, Michael Kay never crosses the border, but with Bob Lorenz in the booth, I was starting to imagine Capricorn One conspiracy theories.  Were these games scripted by YES?  Was I just watching a collage of highlight footage spackled together to look like an actual game?  Did Bud Selig know what was going on?  And the biggest question of all — if they really were scripting the action, why couldn’t they have at least written in a few hits for Mark Teixeira?

Ah, but I kid.  Now to the game.  For much of Sunday afternoon, the hitters were mere bystanders as Brandon Morrow and Javier Vazquez took turns making them look foolish.  There was no scoring on either side for the first five innings, and the Blue Jays didn’t get their first base hit until Vernon Wells ended the drama (dramatically) with a no-doubt two-run home run to left, putting the Jays up 2-0.

As good as Vazquez was in the early going, Morrow was even better.  He gave up only four hits and a walk, and at no point during the first seven innings did it ever look like the Yankees had a shot, mainly because of an unhittable fastball that was clocking between 95 and 97 all day long.  I hate to bring this up, but Brandon Morrow is what Joba Chamberlain was supposed to be when he grew up.  Projected as top of the rotation starters, both pitchers arrived in the majors in 2007 (Morrow was in Seattle back then) and brought their high octane stuff to the bullpen.  Morrow had an extra year of experience, but he wasn’t nearly as effective as Joba.  Since arriving in Toronto this year Morrow has worked exclusively as a starter, and if what we saw today is any indication, he’s in the right spot.

In the eighth inning, though, he was in the wrong spot.  Even though he had thrown 104 pitches through those dominant seven innings, Morrow came out to start the eighth and plunked lead-off hitter Francisco Cervelli.  Toronto manager Cito Gaston immediately replaced Morrow with Scott Downs, who then drilled Brett Gardner to put the tying runners on base with nobody out and the top of the order due up.  As you might expect, this is when things got interesting.

With Derek Jeter facing a 1-1 count, Downs through a pitch which may or may not have tailed off the outside edge of the plate.  Home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman called the pitch a strike, but Jeter disagreed as vigorously as he ever will.  The field mikes at Rogers Centre were fairly sensitive all game long, so you could easily hear his disgust: “That was not a strike!”  After pursuing the issue a while and repeating his opinion about the pitch, Jeter shook his head, stepped back into the box, and lined a double down the right field line, cutting the deficit in half.

Nick Swisher came up next and quickly found himself down in the count, 1-2.  Desperately needing a strikeout, new pitcher Jason Frasor went for the kill on the next pitch, bouncing a splitter that Swisher couldn’t resist.  Swisher started his swing, and replays clearly showed that the checked it, but Dreckman punched him out, ruling that he had swung at the pitch.  (Somewhere in Cincinnati, Paul O’Neill put his shoe through the television screen.)  For his part, Swisher was incredulous, immediately pointing down at third base to ask for an appeal that would never come.  Joe Girardi had seen enough — enough of Dreckman, enough of the Blue Jays, maybe even enough of Canada — so he came out with the clear intention of getting kicked out.  He even left his hat behind in the dugout, something I don’t remember ever seeing.  What followed was the fastest ejection in history.  Girardi pushed Swisher out of the way, asked Dreckman, “Are you shitting me?” and that was that.  Showers.

So with one out and the tying and go-ahead runs on second and third and Alex Rodríguez in the on-deck circle, Cito Gaston, of course, decided to walk Mark Teixeira and his .211 batting average.  (And by the way, isn’t it time to start thinking about dropping Teixeira in the order?  I wouldn’t mind seeing Canó in the three hole with Teixeira hitting sixth.  But I digress…)  Gardner brought home the tying run on a wild pitch, and A-Rod struck out, failing for the first time in that situation, bringing Robinson Canó up with two on and two out and the score tied.  Canó took one pitch then lined the next into left, scoring two for a 4-2 lead.

Joba Chamberlain came in to start the eighth inning, and even though the box score says he gave up two hits and a run, that’s a bit deceptive.  José Molina led off with a double off Curtis Granderson’s glove, a drive that Gardner would’ve caught easily, and Fred Lewis’s RBI single was just a high-hopper that bounded through the middle of the infield.  Joba recovered nicely enough to get Aaron Hill to ground into a double play, and his day was done.  I’m doing my best to think positively about him.

There was a little drama as Mariano Rivera came in mistakenly (and was sent back) after that double play even though acting manager Tony Peña had asked for Damaso Marte, but he came back again in the ninth and used only five pitches to close out the 4-3 Yankee win.  Oh, and in case you’re wondering about A-Rod, who was lifted for Ramiro Peña in ninth, he’s okay.

Next stop: Baltimore.

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1 Boatzilla   ~  Jun 7, 2010 5:03 am

Nice report Hank. Lorenz throws me off, too. He sounds too objective. But I do like his voice and his cadence. Speaking of Yankee announcers. I am sure some of you caught this little soap box derby, link below. More ammo for the "Kay Is A Blowhard" camp. Check it out, and try to keep from cracking up



2 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Jun 7, 2010 6:34 am

WOW! Michael Kay with a vicious smackdown of Phil Mushnick!! I find both of them to be annoying, which makes this even more amusing.

3 OldYanksFan   ~  Jun 7, 2010 7:43 am

"José Molina led off with a double off Curtis Granderson’s glove, a drive that Gardner would’ve caught easily..."

I spoke in the Spring that Gardy should be in CF (for Defense reasons, not to put Gardy's 'weak' bat in a more a appropriate defensive position). I'm surprised the Yankees didn't, and we're guessing the Yanks flet better moving Gardner back and forth from LF to CF, and leave Curtis in CF only.

I'm very concerned about our Offense. Maybe the pitchers we've seen recently are 'that good', but it's hard for me to buy that.

Steve, and WasWatching posted the following:
Since May 9th, the Yankees are 8-2 when playing the O’s, Tribe and Twinkies and 5-12 when playing everyone else. Yes, five and twelve.
During that stretch:
So, whose to blame? Well, let’s look at some Yankees pitchers, first, during this span:

CC Sabathia:: 5.81 ERA in 33 IP
A.J. Burnett:: 5.65 ERA in 36.6 IP
Chamberlain:: 7.94 ERA in 11.3 IP
Chan Ho Park: 7.45 ERA in 9.6 IP
Thames: .205/.360/.308 in 39 AB
Cervelli: .208/.302/.278 in 72 AB
Teixeira: .222/.311/.343 in 108 AB

Teix in the 3 hole is killing us.

4 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Jun 7, 2010 8:41 am

To be fair, even after yesterday, Morrow has a 5.48 ERA and a 4.9 BB/9. He's absolutely in the right place, but the Jays are being patient with his struggles, as the Yankees should (have) be(en) with Joba's. I still hold out hope that, with Hughes establishing himself as a front-of-the-rotation starter already, the Yankees will feel secure enough to put Joba back in the rotation next year and let him struggle, but I don't have much confidence in that happening.

5 Yankee Mama   ~  Jun 7, 2010 8:48 am

[1],[2] Well, well well. talk about thin-skinned. The only thing I can say is that it makes for good radio. What a pair of douches. Kay and Mushnick can have each other.

As for the Toronto games, I just couldn't get into them for some reason. Neither could the Yankees from what I've seen. I mean the TV was on, the game on, but I was about as disengaged as a rabid fan could be.

Interesting point about Joba and how he's ended up. I think his limitations stem from his mental make-up. His ability is there, but his consistency is not. Does he put it all together? It remains to be seen. I just wish he made batters looks stupid more often than not. He pitched his way out of the rotation. I hope he doesn't pitch his way out of the Yankee bullpen. That would be dumb, which maybe his is a little.

As for Teix, oy effin vey! Did you get a look at his eyes during his at-bats? Yikes! He's not going to make contact with that approach.

6 ms october   ~  Jun 7, 2010 9:00 am

great to see javy getting on track - obviously you can't have a sieve in one of your rotation spots, but i am also just happy for him.

yesterday's game was just weird - javy's first hit a hr; the weird as all hell strike zone; jeter arguing; the marte/rivera sequence - i am sure there was more.

[3] tex in general is killing the yanks (offensively, thank goodness for his glove probably why people were much less forgiving of giambi's slumps). certainly it is magnified in the 3 hole.
frankie b being a full time catcher doesn't help things either.
the rest of the lineup is basically doing well or rounding into shape.

7 Chyll Will   ~  Jun 7, 2010 9:03 am

[4] Particularly not if Girardi's managing for an extension. Which I would be loathe to consider right now with the way he's stuck with a faulty lineup like Torre did with his "trusted" relievers. What happened to "tough but fair"?

[1],[2] I listened to him pop off about Mushnick all week on his radio show; there's a saying about that kind of thing: Don't let your mouth write a check your ass can't cash... Being from the Bronx, you'd think he'd know that...

8 Chyll Will   ~  Jun 7, 2010 10:20 am

(cricket, cricket...)

9 Sliced Bread   ~  Jun 7, 2010 10:20 am

Patience, peeps. Before you hitch Tex to the back of the Score Truck, and drag him down the Major Deegan (or move him down the order) read this excellent analysis at Pinstripe Alley:


bottomline: Tex's line drive percentage is up a tick from last season, so the hits will come. He's having trouble seeing the fastball, but he'll get the most opportunities to work things out batting 3rd. He still has 2/3rds of the season to get right, and some of us still think he will.

Flush away his 5k game the other day (please), and you'll see he hasn't been striking out too much lately.

10 rbj   ~  Jun 7, 2010 10:24 am

Lorenz is ok but he just seems a bit passionless. Kay (gosh I'm defending him?) at least has some emotion going for him, even if he's an idiot.

11 williamnyy23   ~  Jun 7, 2010 10:24 am

One thing to remember about Joba is that last year his fast ball only averaged 92.5mh. Also, unlike Morrow, he is really only a two pitch pitcher.

I am not a big Kay fan, but I couldn't agree more abou this take on Mushnick. Unlike guys like Best or Sandomir who actually cover the media business, Mushnick is no more than a chronic complainer. What's more, he is a hypocrite. For years, he railed against "scamdicaper hotlines", yet had no problem drawing a paycheck from the post, which ran adds for those same services beneath his columns!

[6] It really is amazing the Yankees have held up with Tex being so bad right in the middle of the lineup.

12 The Mick536   ~  Jun 7, 2010 10:31 am

A little love for Robbie please on his shovel pass that began the dp which got Joba out of trouble.

I, too, think Brett would have made the catch.

[9] Are you calling the last ball he hit a liner? And, while I have a great deal of respect for you comments on baseball and a wide variety of other topics, I am having some trouble following your suggestion that I should disregard a 5K game in evaluating Tex's recent propensity to strike out, problem he has ameliorated only slightly. Yesterday's Times also has an article on him with some comments by Long which say that his problem is slowing up his swing on changeups.

I say move him down to seventh.

Finally, Alex be hurt. I don't believe this tightened groin. And I don't believe Tiger Woods didn't get his teeth knocked out or suffer game affecting injuries in the car crash. I also don't believe BP will clean up the Gulf.

13 williamnyy23   ~  Jun 7, 2010 10:57 am

[9] About two weeks I did a study on Tex' splits broken down by where he hits the ball from each side of the plate and it seemed to suggest Tex may be pressing because of the shift employed against him. The line drives with Tex really aren't the issue. It's the low percentage of flyballs that are carrying over the fence.

14 Sliced Bread   ~  Jun 7, 2010 4:10 pm

[12] move him to 7th: I hear ya, Mick, and II wouldn't complain if they did (which they won't at this point), but I'm not sure it would help him. I'm not in favor of moving proven sluggers like him and ARod around the order when they're slumping. I think it's best to keep them where they usually are (and get the most at-bats) , and ride it out. Tex might benefit more from an off-day like today than he would being moved down the order.

[13] that's an interesting take, pressing due to the shift, but he's had success against the shift in the past. But you're right, home runs are the issue - but don't you agree those will come after he finally locks in?

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