"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Foot Faults

I knew sooner or later I would have to write about a Mariano loss. When Mariano comes into a game, I turn on the recorder, I turn off the TV and I wait 30 minutes. Then, I check the score, and if he has blown it, I lose it. I don’t lose it out loud anymore, and I don’t act out. But my hands are shaking with anger as I pound the remote control buttons to delete the recording and stew around for hours because I’m too upset to sleep. The days following are tough, and I’d rather do anything than talk about and read about baseball, but you know you can’t avoid it in this day and age. There’s an angry buzz on the subway the next day. Plus the barely contained glee from the Yankee haters. A Mo loss is like a straightjacket for me. The only thing that brings me back is reminding myself (over and over) that he’s already moved past it in time for the next game.

Before Mariano got involved, the Yanks could not get their feet straight tonight and it cost them another very winnable game. Four times awkward footwork turned plays against them and it’s possible all four plays had an impact on runs crossing the plate. Bad AJ showed up briefly to groove four or five fastballs in the sixth and the Rangers bullpen wriggled out of some jams that the Yanks bullpen couldn’t and lost a really tough game 4-3 in ten innings.

The first foot fault, and probably least hurtful, happened when Josh Hamilton skied to center for the first out of the bottom of the fourth. Michael Young liked his chances to take second on Gardner, but I thought Gardner had it lined up perfectly to prevent the extra base. Either he didn’t know Young was tagging or he doesn’t have a lot of confidence in his arm, because he took a loping crow hop before firing the ball in. Young was safe easily. I thought an aggressive throw would have either kept Young at first or nailed him at second. He may have scored anyway on the two out double that followed, but at least the Yanks would have had a slim chance to hold him or make a play at the plate if he was starting from first.

The second was Swisher’s two-step around home plate. Molina made an incredible pick-n-tag, the execution of which slid his knees into perfect blocking position. Swisher was caught completely off-guard that Molina made the catch and was suddenly blocking the plate. A collision at the plate requires some mental preparation, to go with the proper head-of-steam to make sure the catcher is taking the hit and not the runner. Meaning you just can’t decide to hit the catcher at the last second if the positioning changes. I don’t think Swisher had either going for him as he helplessly flopped for the dish.

Something like this happened to me as a runner. At first I thought, what else could I have done? But the more I thought about it, I realized I wasn’t prepared for the collision, so I ended up tiptoeing around the catcher as he sprawled for the ball. If I had gone in full bore from the start, I would have plowed into him as he was attempting the catch and I would have been safe. Same with Swisher. I don’t want him getting hurt, but he could have scored if he went for the knockdown from the git-go.

The most painful was the botched double play in the sixth. After entering the game as a pinch hitter, Cano made a nifty grab of Vlad’s grounder up the middle but he couldn’t lead Jeter properly as he floated toward second to start the double play. Maybe Jeter should have held back a little more to give Cano more space, maybe it just wasn’t possible to make a smooth transition given their places on the field. But Jeter was faced with a very difficult maneuver to get one out, let alone two. He did an admirable job of forcing Hamilton, but with Josh barreling down to make the degree of difficulty even tougher, Jeter leaped and flung the ball over Berkman’s head. Any throw in the zip code of first base would have gotten Vlad. Then AJ commenced grooving heaters. He barely got away with one to Cruz for the second out, but David Murphy took him deep with that extra out.

In the ninth, Jeter placed his hit-n-run chopper in the wrong spot, causing Cano to pull up short and enabling a very improbable double play. A double play that stung even more when Swisher promptly singled.

The Yanks kept fighting in this one, with Arod tying the game in the eighth with a dead-center homer, but their failure to bring runners home from third with less than two out bit them for the second straight game. Berkman struck out in the fourth and Cervelli popped out in the eighth. If Posada was not available to pinch hit, I thought they should have squeezed with Cervelli. If they didn’t go to the squeeze there, I really can’t imagine when they would.

I was really hoping they would win one for Cliff’s last game thread. And Cliff Lee tomorrow. So, yeah, this one is a kick in the gut.

Categories:  Bronx Banter  Game Recap  Jon DeRosa

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1 Mattpat11   ~  Aug 11, 2010 12:05 am

Have we been given any reason for why Cano didn't start the game?

2 Jon DeRosa   ~  Aug 11, 2010 12:12 am

i heard something about a cold. i also saw the CJ wilson is death to lefties. maybe it was an unhappy coincidence.

3 Mattpat11   ~  Aug 11, 2010 12:15 am

He was well enough to play five innings. There was no reason to sit him and send that lineup out there.

4 Chyll Will   ~  Aug 11, 2010 12:22 am

Posada had an owwie on his shoulder, according to J-Ionesco via Ma Waldman...

5 Raf   ~  Aug 11, 2010 12:54 am

[4] If that's the case, then the decision not to have Cervelli squeeze with Grandy on 3rd makes even less sense

6 Mattpat11   ~  Aug 11, 2010 1:05 am

[5] We don't do plays

7 OldYanksFan   ~  Aug 11, 2010 7:51 am

from Lohud:
• Girardi was prepared to use Rivera for two innings, “if the first inning was easy.”
• Francisco Cervelli is hitting .317 with runners in scoring position after going 1-for-3 tonight.

8 monkeypants   ~  Aug 11, 2010 8:34 am

7) Interesting regarding Cervelli. So, then, if my quick back of the envelope calculations are correct, he has been quite atrocious in non-RISP situations: .228 BA (and ..275 OBP).

Given his seeming propensity for the big hit ( the best .250 hitter you'll find!), maybe he should be used primarily as a PH.

9 monkeypants   ~  Aug 11, 2010 8:36 am

5) I wonder what would have happened if Grandy had not advanced to second on the WP after going in as a PR. Would he have continued in the tradition of the Pinch Stand There, or did he have the green light (and more importantly, would he have run)?

10 Raf   ~  Aug 11, 2010 9:02 am

[9] IIRC, he had the green light. Listening to the radio, I think Sterling wondered why Granderson didn't have more stolen bases (perhaps because he hasn't been on base enough?). I don't know the tone of the banter, but I was annoyed that Cervelli didn't squeeze Granderson home. Then again Genius Joe may have figured that everyone was expecting a squeeze so he had Cervelli swing away?

11 williamnyy23   ~  Aug 11, 2010 9:13 am

[4] I saw the Girardi comment and he stuttered through two other excuses (looked like he was first going to say he trusts Cervelli, then started talking about Posada struggling and not having a good track record against Francisco before latching onto the soreness in his shoulder). In other words, he simply wasn’t prepared or foolishly thought Cervelli was “hot” because he had one ground ball single up the middle earlier in the game.

[7] The Hawk is vindicated! Also, Cervelli’s RISP average is the result of a freakish first two months in which he seemed to sneak a groundball through the infield every time he had men on base. He is reverting to the mean in an ugly way.

I realize that for most, having the best record in baseball obscures all of Girardi’s shortcomings as a manager, but I’d like to think Cashman is well aware of how poorly he managed all season. Then again, maybe not? I really hope Girardi is doing something extraordinary in that clubhouse, because otherwise it’s a shame that the Yankees have trusted their $200mn team to such a poor game strategist.

12 monkeypants   ~  Aug 11, 2010 9:20 am

10) or his binder had the same RISP info that OYF posted in 7)...

Seriously, though, it is easy to second guess managerial moves, and even easier to second guess moves NOT made. I imagine that a squeeze bunt is not all that easy, and made more difficult if everyone expects it. I'm not sure that the Yankees would be much better off in the stands if they incorporated the play more frequently...at all...into the gameplan. We don't if it would have worked last night or, if it had worked, the team would have won.

All this being said, it IS irritating to me that the team seems not to "do plays" as MattPat puts it. The team does have a few guys who can flat out run, and now several who either can't hit or are slumping badly. And yes, there ARE times when it pays off to play for one run. If the squeeze play was not employed in the exact scenario that came up last night...and of course it was not...then I can't imagine when it will be used this season. So instead, we will get far too many futile ABs from Cervelli and Peña and Gardner and so on, all while Gardner or Peña or Grandy etc stand at 3B.

Very frustrating sometimes.

13 monkeypants   ~  Aug 11, 2010 9:24 am

11) if posada really is banged up...and if Girardi is committed to "the Rotation," then it may be time to call up a third catcher. i can't believe I just wrote that.

Now, ideally, the third catcher would come at the expense of, say, Gaudin, and the team would do something really whacky like carry only eleven pitchers. And the Chess Master would have to be willing to employ his three catchers more or less regularly, i.e. pinch hit.

14 williamnyy23   ~  Aug 11, 2010 9:35 am

[13] I am at the point where I almost don't care what they do with the roster. Either some of the slumping hitters will turn it on and the Yankees will overwhelm everyone, or they are going to lose a lot of close games to better teams because Girardi is such a bad manager. I'd almost rather miss the playoffs entirely if it meant finally hiring a manager who knows how to run a game. Of course, there are no guarantees that the Yankees will replace Girardi with anyone better.

15 ms october   ~  Aug 11, 2010 9:42 am

[13] are you ok mp, 3 catchers? i assume you are only floating this wacky idea so as to advance your goal of 11 pitchers.

they've still got a few weeks until rosters expand.
with montero's bat heating up, there has been some desire around yankeeland to see him called up but that would require some roster maneuvering.

lineup wise if kearns can hit lhp more in line with his career splits as opposed to his reverse splits of this year, having him in the mix is going to be very useful given granderson's obvious struggles against lhp and gardner's somewhat struggles (and probably wearing down a bit).
but frankie with 212 abs with po with 260 abs is just a huge problem.

16 Raf   ~  Aug 11, 2010 9:49 am

[12] If Cervelli can't lay down a bunt, then he's worth less on offense than I originally thought. If he has no intention of bunting, at least show it. Maybe he could've gotten away with a butcher boy play, I don't know. I don't expect the team to rely on the bunt so much as a weapon, but it helps every so often, especially with noodlebats like Cervelli and Pena.

[13] I agree that if Posada is unable to go, that the Yanks may need a 3rd catcher. I think Chad Moeller would get the call. I would rather Mitre go than Gaudin, but since Mitre's one of Girardi's guys, he isn't going anywhere. Gaudin's probably gone when Pettitte returns anyway.

17 Jon DeRosa   ~  Aug 11, 2010 9:54 am

[16] Cervelli has 7 sac bunts this year, so I think he can handle the bat. The Rangers drew the infield way in, taking away the productive groundout. That meant he had to get a hit or hit a fly ball to deliver the run. Yes the squeeze is risky. But the odds of him getting a hit or hitting a deep enough flyball I think were riskier in that spot.

18 Mattpat11   ~  Aug 11, 2010 10:00 am

[10] Everyone always has "the green light." Everyone always stands around anyway, not even considering moving until there are two strikes. Something does not add up. Either the Yankees are not being honest when they say "everyone has the green light," the players are too afraid to get caught, or they can't read the pitchers. I said this about Gardner specifically the other day, and he takes it to the extreme, but its a team wide issue. And whatever the core issue is, I truly believe that someone has told these players that even if they do run, they should wait until there are two strikes, which I absolutely don't understand at all

[16] That's always sort of been my point too. For a manager who is seemingly so hellbent on *tricking* the other manager (and granted, that seemed to be a higher priority in 2008 than the subsequent two years) he should realize that there is now a book on Girardi (He won't put on a play). He should realize that if he mixed it up every now and then he might *actually* trick someone with a butcher boy or something.

19 Jon DeRosa   ~  Aug 11, 2010 10:07 am

[18] But there were 2 plays considered in the 9th. First Jeter squared to bunt and let a buntable fastball go for a strike. Then they hit and ran. Maybe the bunt was Jeter's idea, but the hit and run surely had to come from somewhere.

20 The Hawk   ~  Aug 11, 2010 10:10 am

[0] I'll just say like I said last night, if Mo's gonna take a loss, at least he didn't get whacked around. Just Unlucky for the most part. So there's no need to feel so bad.

21 The Hawk   ~  Aug 11, 2010 10:12 am

I'm beginning to have to see the humor in having one of the fastest guys in the league unwilling to run. Last year you could chalk it up to inexperience but at this point I'm afraid it's a done deal.

22 monkeypants   ~  Aug 11, 2010 10:43 am

15) Mostly I am just venting, but my whacky idea derives from two related observations/thoughts. First, not having Posada play 40% is very very bad for this team. Now, we have all debated here back and forth how much rest 40 y.o. catcher needs, the goal of saving him for the playoffs, the desire to get him as many ABs as possible, the relative worth(lessness) of Cervelli, etc. What I am seeing is a team committed to playing Cervelli far too much, either because Posada really can't play more than 60% of time or because the team is simply unwilling to play him. This specific situation calls out for a third catcher...a roster situation that I normally loathe, but one that I see as preferable to Cervelli soaking up so many ABs and there being no opportunity to PH for him.

Second, yes, is my more general complaint that carrying 12 pitchers is silly, especially given how successful the Yankees starts have been at going deep into games (despite recent hiccups, they are still right near the top of league at 6.2 INN/start), and specifically because once again the 12th pitcher rots at the end of the pen waiting for a blowout to get some work (but only if other better pitchers don't also need work). Gaudin has pitched only twice in August, only FOUR times in all of July. Do they really need a twelfth pitcher if that is what they get out of him?

You raise the very good point that rosters expand in only a few weeks. Perhaps the Yankees could try a radical strategy: try to get through the next three weeks with eleven pitcher, with the Scranton shuttle as the back up should they need an extra arm for a couple of days.

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