"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Throwaway Game

At first glance, Thursday night’s Yankee lineup — Jeter, Granderson, Teixeira, A-Rod, Canó, Swisher, Gardner, Cervelli, Curtis — gave the impression that Joe Girardi wasn’t treating the game with the utmost seriousness. It was questionable to go with a lineup that was essentially six-deep, since the Rays beat the Tigers earlier in the day for their sixth consecutive victory, and Dustin Moseley was getting the start.

The proof, or so I thought, came in innings 2-6, when the Yankees continually had base runners advance to scoring position, only to have poor situational hitting lead to nine men stranded. Not coincidentally, their success in putting runners on base aligned with Indians starter Mitch Talbot leaving the game due to a back strain. But the Yankees couldn’t capitalize; they were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position until Derek Jeter’s two-out single in the sixth plated Brett Gardner to break a 1-1 tie.

In the seventh, Robinson Canó’s solo home run began a two-out rally and a string of nine straight Yankees reaching base. The Yankees broke the game open during that stretch, scoring six more runs as Francisco Cervelli, Curtis Granderson and A-Rod all had singles and Jeter had drew a bases-loaded walk to score a run. The Yankees stranded two more runners that inning, but at least they finally took advantage of an overtaxed Indians bullpen.

Two more two-out runs were scored in the eighth to pad the lead to 11-1. And again, multiple runners were stranded, thanks to A-Rod’s inning-ending strikeout with the bases loaded.

A-Rod’s strikeout was the last piece of drama to the evening. Six more plate appearances, no home runs. Stuck on 599 for more than a week now. He got on base twice and drove in three runs, though, so while at times it appears that he’s pressing, he’s still managing to contribute.

The real story, though, was Moseley. Girardi had said before the game that he’d be happy to get six innings out of Moseley, and that’s exactly what he got. After a rocky first inning that saw him throw 31 pitches, Moseley settled down and cruised through the next five, striking out four batters, walking only two, and retiring eight via the groundball. If the Yankees do not trade for a starting pitcher between now and next Tuesday, Moseley likely earned himself another start.

The rout improved the Yankees’ record in July to 18-6, tied for the best in MLB with the Rays. The only way the Yankees leave St. Petersburg without being in first place is if they get swept. The only team to sweep the Yankees this season? The Rays, May 19-20 at Yankee Stadium.

Should be a fun weekend. Let’s see if Girardi crafts a lineup card like Thursday’s at any point against Tampa.

NOTES AND NUMBERS
* Ten of the Yankees’ 11 runs were scored with two outs.

* After the 0-for-10 start with runners in scoring position, the Yankees went 7-for their next 11.

* Have you seen anyone get more at-bats with the bases loaded than A-Rod? Three more tonight, one last night; I checked his season splits during the game and was shocked to find that he only had 14 ABs with the bases loaded prior to Thursday.

* Both Mark Teixeira and Brett Gardner walked three times. Gardner reached base in all four of his plate appearances to raise his on-base percentage to .397. Conversely, Jeter, who has batted leadoff for most of the year, has an OBP of .338. At what point will Girardi even consider placing Gardner in the leadoff spot, considering the 59-point OBP differential?

* The two pitching staffs combined to issue 17 walks and throw 386 pitches. The strike percentage: 57 percent. The Indians’ staff WHIP for the game was 2.67.

* WTF: Andy Marte pitched the ninth inning for Cleveland and was able to retire the Yankees in order. On the other side of the ninth, Chan Ho Park, in his second inning of work, gave Girardi and pitching coach Dave Eiland major agita by allowing three runs on two hits, three walks and two wild pitches. Only when Swisher caught Luis Valbuena’s fly ball on the warning track was anyone able to breathe a sigh of relief.

29 comments

1 Mattpat11   ~  Jul 29, 2010 11:34 pm

I'd say we're likely to see that lineup at least twice this weekend unless they trade for a DH.

2 monkeypants   ~  Jul 29, 2010 11:40 pm

1) "DH", or what the Yankees call "a luxury", according to reports that I've read!

3 Mattpat11   ~  Jul 29, 2010 11:43 pm

[2] That explains the Nick Johnson signing

4 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Jul 30, 2010 2:27 am

How do you say a lineup with Gardner batting 7th is "essentially six-deep," then argue that Gardner should be leading off?

5 Chyll Will   ~  Jul 30, 2010 2:27 am

Will, that title scared me for a minute...

6 Mattpat11   ~  Jul 30, 2010 3:36 am

[4] Maybe Jeter was the third bad player.

7 seamus   ~  Jul 30, 2010 5:01 am

[2] we lead the majors in run scoring. A full time DH is a luxury, not a need.

8 monkeypants   ~  Jul 30, 2010 7:13 am

[4] a scuffling Jeter batting leadoff and Granderson, who has been overall a disappointment this season, batting second, makes the lineup look a lot less deep.

[7] there is no luxury in professional sports. If there is a chance to improve, at reasonable cost of course, then y ou should. So what if they lead the league in scoring. Maybe with another bat they lead by more, and their run differential improves by that much more, and they win more games with a lineup that much more impervious to slumps or getting shutdown by a hot pitcher.

I reject out of hand the entire philosophy this or that position, especially one of the starting positions, is a luxury so a team simply not bother to improve in that area.

9 monkeypants   ~  Jul 30, 2010 7:19 am

[7] I can grudgingly accept that the eighth inning (TM), or primary setup man, or whatever you want to call it, is now an "important" position in the game of baseball. So it makes sense the team would seek to improve here, and indeed there have been plenty of rumors that the Yanks are looking for a reliever.

But there have also been plenty of reports that the team is looking for a backup infielder. Now I am the first one to say 'yes' to finding someone who can hit better than PeƱa. But I also find it strange, almost ludicrous, that an AL team would view back up IF as a priority but a DH a luxury.

Strange times!

10 Sliced Bread   ~  Jul 30, 2010 8:50 am

I have no problem with Girardi's lineups. He knows better than any of us who needs rest, who needs a boost in confidence, whose nose will get bent out of shape due to a demotion in lineup position, etc. Things don't always work out as he plans, or as we want them to -- but I don't see how anyone can question the "seriousness" of his lineups.

Gardner, at this point, certainly seems like a better bet to lead off, but how many innings do we expect the lead off guy to lead off? Not enough to demote the captain in my opinion. In addition to that, Jeter had a very good, and productive game last night. Bear with him, folks. There's plenty of life and greatness left in that player.

11 Sliced Bread   ~  Jul 30, 2010 8:55 am

[9] the "additional bat is a luxury" position strikes me as trade market b.s. Wouldn't it make sense for the Yanks to verbally downplay their need for another hitter, while searching for offensive help?
If Posada's back-of-the-knee problem is as serious as we might fear, you can be sure the Yanks are looking to add another productive hitter.
I suspect Cashman's having a very hard time finding reasonable trading partners.

12 monkeypants   ~  Jul 30, 2010 9:00 am

11) i think you're right. And he does seem to be having a hard time finding trading partners, doesn't he? If the rumors and reports circulating are even remotely accurate, teams are settling for a lot less than what the Yankees are dangling. Actually, this doesn't bother me so...despite my complaining I am rather fond of hanging onto prospects rather than trading them.

13 Sliced Bread   ~  Jul 30, 2010 9:03 am

[12] me too. Makes sense for the Yanks to keep the kids, and play the kids, as well.

14 Shaun P.   ~  Jul 30, 2010 9:09 am

[11] Ding ding ding! Give this man a kewpie doll . . . errr . . . Yankees foam beer cooler!

And, to be honest, there really isn't a good-hitting and good-fielding all-around backup middle infielder down in SWB (Russo is no SS and I'm not sure Nunez is for real, yet), so trading for a backup MI is perhaps a good thing.

But DH . . . if Montero keeps hitting the way he has been (0.319/0.392/0.567 since June 1, 0.379/0.486/0.672 since July 1), the Yanks may have no need to trade for a DH.

15 rbj   ~  Jul 30, 2010 9:13 am

Just remember, Yankees still have the best record in baseball, and are two games ahead of the second best record.

But man, what a brutal ten run lead, bottom of the ninth with two outs that was.

16 Sliced Bread   ~  Jul 30, 2010 9:27 am

[14] nice! a foam beer cooler!
Perhaps we could discuss trading Chan Ho Park for the kewpie doll?

17 Shaun P.   ~  Jul 30, 2010 9:28 am

[15] Park is terrible this year when he pitches more than 1 inning at a time, no? I want to say someone studied this . . . but I don't remember who or where.

I will be a lot happier if Chan Ho Park disappears from the Yankees before the playoffs begin.

18 Sliced Bread   ~  Jul 30, 2010 9:28 am

[16] I'm always seeking opportunites to upgrade, you see

19 monkeypants   ~  Jul 30, 2010 9:35 am

13) Speaking of letting the kids play, i get a rare treat tonight: a second consecutive evening of Yankees baseball on the local TeeVee. That means i get to see Phabulous Phil pitch, I think, for the first time this season.

20 Sliced Bread   ~  Jul 30, 2010 9:42 am

[19] Even if he's off his game Hughes is very impressive. I love watching his games. He's like Moose and Cone in that you can sense the wheels turning in his head. He's a thinking pitcher with great stuff, and great poise. No question he's the most fun, and interesting righty Yankee pitcher to watch this side of his royal Mo-ness.

21 seamus   ~  Jul 30, 2010 10:32 am

[9] did Cashman say that we needed an upgrade at Backup infielder? I don't recall that statement.

[8] "If there is a chance to improve, at reasonable cost of course, then y ou should." Well yes, of course. But that doesn't make it a need. Yes, improving at any position makes you better. But that doesn't mean you "need" to. You can try to build the perfect team every year, but one recognizes that within your budget there are needs and there are luxuries. I don't see how the Yankees "need" a full time DH in order to win the world series.

22 seamus   ~  Jul 30, 2010 10:40 am

Other than that, the fact that Gardner is 5th in the AL in OBP is pretty awesome.

23 monkeypants   ~  Jul 30, 2010 10:51 am

[21] I see what you're saying, but by that definition nearly every addition for nearly every contending team is a luxury rather tan a need. The White Sox, say, could win the WS series with the team that they have. That said, I wouldn't see a replacement for Juan Pierre as the starting LF as a "luxury."Similarly, I don't see having a legitimate player at a starting position as a "luxury." I guess it comes down to how we choose to define the term.

In any case, I think [11] is correct---the luxury talk is just GM BS, like "Bubba Crosby will be our starting center fielder".

24 monkeypants   ~  Jul 30, 2010 10:51 am

[22] Awesome indeed!

25 Mattpat11   ~  Jul 30, 2010 10:52 am

[21] I think in the playoffs and World Series, making sure you put a fringe bench player in *every single game* against what is theoretically the best pitching in the league is just not sound strategy. The team being good enough to overcome it against Joe Smith in July doesn't mean they can against Cliff Lee in October.

26 rbj   ~  Jul 30, 2010 10:54 am

[17] I think so. Though Park did get 2 quick outs in the ninth, then lost it.

The problem is that middle relief is always going to be a crap shoot. If you can be good consistently year after year, you'll either be a starter or a closer. The trick is to figure out at this stage who's having a good year, and can you get him on your team, and what the cost is going to be.

27 monkeypants   ~  Jul 30, 2010 11:04 am

[17][26] It's not direct evidence, but according to baseball-reference.com, looking at opponents' batting by pitch count:

Pitches 1-25: 27 G, 127 PA, 4 HR, 7 BB, 24 K, 3.43 K/BB, .263/.310 /.432/.742
Pitches 26-50: 11 G, 29 PA, 3 HR, 5 BB, 5 K, 1.00 K/BB, .375/.483/.750/1.233

So yeah, he seems to get really bad the more pitches he throws, which would correspond with poor performance i a second inning of work.

28 monkeypants   ~  Jul 30, 2010 11:10 am

[27, et al]

Interstingly---and coincidentally??---Park's pitch totals from last night:

Through the 8th inning: 16 pitches
Through 2 outs, 9th inning: 26 pitches
Through the 9th inning: 52 pitches

So, he *seems* to have lost it right around 25 pitches (after the second out on pitch 26, he walked a batter n four pitches, threw a WP, etc, etc.).

29 Will Weiss   ~  Jul 30, 2010 4:38 pm

[4] Good catch, Cliff. Chalk it up to the game going too long and me not doing a good enough job proofreading. I'd have said the same thing to someone else had they written that. Not my best moment. Apparently it was a throwaway game for me, too.

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