"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

And Now, A Losing Streak

Mariano Rivera entered a tie game in the ninth and fell behind the first four batters he faced. Alberto Callaspo started 2-0 and ended up with jam-shot liner into shallow right. Erick Aybar bunted a 1-0 pitch and Rivera made a beautiful spin and throw to nail Callaspo at second. Howie Kendrick started 1-0, but then fell behind as Aybar swiped second. Kendrick grounded out. Rivera was almost out of trouble, but he fell behind 2-0 to Bobby Abreu and evenutally sat a 3-1 pitch towards the middle of the plate. Abreu smacked it over the right field fence for a two-run homer.

If you look at Gameday, almost every one of Mariano’s pitches nipped the corner of the zone. But the ump wasn’t giving him the edges. Close calls, could be balls, but lately Mariano has been enjoying the “legend zone” and gets a lot of strikes even off the corners. It was the difference tonight as he finally threw a very hittable pitch and Abreu got all of it.

The Yanks went into the ninth against rookie Jordan Walden, a real flamethrower. I got a chance to see him live in Dodger Stadium where his stuff was overpowering even viewed from the upper deck. But he was all over the park. It was much the same story tonight. I don’t know if could have thrown enough strikes to get three outs on his own before walking in two runs. But Brett Gardner gave him an out swinging at ball four in the opposite batters’ box. At least he had two strikes when he swung. Curtis Granderson swung at two borderline balls while ahead in the count. Even if they were strikes, they were 98, low and away. What did expect to do with that pitch? His weak grounder was almost a double play.

Granderson wasn’t done giving outs away though. With Teixeira up representing the winning run, Granderson was caught stealing by the old fake-to-third move. He was trying to get into scoring position. But with Teixeira batting lefty, what are the chances of a single? It’s short-porch city or die trying. It was the third time Walden employed the fake-to-third move in the at-bat – I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. Terrible end to a terrible night as the Angels won 6-4.

And look at that, Walden got just about every close call according to Gameday and a few that were really bad. With Teixeira sitting 1-1, Walden fired well outside and the ump saw it a strike. That put Teixeira down to his last strike and possibly triggered Granderson’s try for second. Mariano threw two clear balls in the inning and got the squeeze. Walden threw several pitches Nuke LaLoosh would be ashamed of and was given the black and beyond.

Before the flood in the ninth, A.J. Burnett had a start seemingly designed to enrage Yankee fans everywhere. I believe we can handle him getting ripped early. I believe we can handle him getting nicked here and there in what adds up to a bad start. But what we can’t handle is five innings of control, confidence and precision followed by a sixth of complete pus. Asking A.J. Burnett to intentionally walk someone in the midst of an inning like that is like asking a broken stock trader standing on the window ledge if he can repay the $10 you gave him for lunch yesterday.

A.J.’s collapse, Abreu’s homer and the silly ending buried the sweet Yankee rally in the seventh. Dan Haren had been cruising through the game and was two outs deep in the seventh when the Yankees put together three runs, the last two coming courtesy of a Derek Jeter single off reliever Fernando Rodney.

Haren’s line looks much the same as Burnett’s tonight, but that didn’t stop me from feeling my usual pang of regret every time I see him pitch. Of all the top pitchers the Yanks have been linked to lately, I thought his reported price tag was the most reasonable. I would have been thrilled to make that deal at the time, and knowing now that the Yankee organization had decided Joba was a middle-reliever by the end of 2009, it hurts even more.

The Yankees were in first place days ago, and I’m already back to checking the Wild Card standings. Thanks to tonight’s victory, the Angels are now only six games behind. If the Yanks can bounce back and take the series, or even just a game, it won’t be so bad. But if they get swept, I’m going to write some poorly reasoned shit on Thursday.


Categories:  1: Featured  Game Recap  Jon DeRosa  Yankees

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1 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Aug 10, 2011 1:41 am

That intentional walk was infuriating..I didn't see Barry Bonds ups there. And, if AJ can't get Jeff Mathis out at that cruical point in th game..sigh..

2 yankintexas   ~  Aug 10, 2011 1:53 am

What's more infuriating is that they would rather send Nova to the minors instead of removing Burnett from the rotation. I wouldn't trust Burnett with a 10 run lead against anybody. Hughes isn't that far behind.

3 yankintexas   ~  Aug 10, 2011 1:56 am

As for Mo, I do hope that when he feels he done that he retires because knowing Girardi, who has no backbone, he would keep him as the closer until he's 80.

4 Boatzilla   ~  Aug 10, 2011 2:08 am

[3] He ain't done, but we do have another all-star closer in the pen. We should be able to weather a Mo slump.

5 Boatzilla   ~  Aug 10, 2011 6:22 am

Listening to Granderson's explanation, I'm finding it hard to fault his choice. The result was horrible, but he took a well calculated risk. And I am surprised everyone is piling the hate on him. He's correct in saying that if a pitcher tries the same fake move twice, the odds are he will not try it a 3rd time. Can't argue with that logic. He also said, the odds are that Texiera would not hit a homer. That is also correct.

6 The Hawk   ~  Aug 10, 2011 8:33 am

"But if they get swept, I’m going to write some poorly reasoned shit on Thursday."


7 jorgie juiced one   ~  Aug 10, 2011 8:52 am

Jon, your writing about the strike zone adds to last night's frustration. While at the game, even though it's obviously more difficult to tell from the stands, I had a sense for most of the night that the home plate umpire was failing at his task. The fact that his incompetence extended to Mariano only makes it worse. While I realize determining balls-strikes is extremely difficult (and might be beyond human capacity - studies show that on "close" pitches umpire's judgment is no better than "random" (50/50). Somehow, it's even worse in 'pressure' situations), consistent incompetence with respect to balls-strikes should disqualify a person from being MLB ump. It is by far the most important function an umpire has.

Speaking of incompetence, there were a couple of decisions Girardi made earlier in the game that got lost with the end result. First, bottom 3rd, 1-0 Yankees, Nunez on 2nd (walk, sb), no outs, 2-0 count on Gardner, Girardi ordes him to bunt. In ordering his hitter, with a .360 obp to make an out in that spot, Girardi displays an lack of understanding regarding outs, counts, baserunners, etc. In this regard, he is like most mlb managers, who when they "manage," only impede their team's ability to score.

There is a particular way in which Girardi even outdoes his colleagues - his obsession with the intentional walk. Mr Ok Jazz Tokyo (1) is right on about last night's. Again, it's an inability to understand the value of baserunners. Girardi took an ordinary situation - man on 2nd (via walk by the way), 2 outs, and turned it into a "jam." Once the intentional BB (to Izturis!) was issued, it felt like a high pressure situation. It's possible there's not another mgr who would have issued that BB last night.

One last note: Mathis gave the Yankees a really hard time during 09 ALCS, hitting a number of doubles.

8 rbj   ~  Aug 10, 2011 8:52 am

Mo's the best. And he knows it. But what's even better is that he doesn't want us mortals to feel bad, so occasionally he'll have a bad streak just to make us feel better that even the best have not so good stretches.


9 Jon DeRosa   ~  Aug 10, 2011 9:10 am

[7] Mariano's pitches were close. I wanted them to be strikes, but I've seen them called balls before. It seems to me that he's been getting the Maddux/Glavine zone this year, so now I'm expecting them to be strikes.

Walden was just throwing it anywhere and getting the close ones. If the ump had just been tight for both or generous to both, that's what we'd want.

if he called tight for both and the yanks still probably lose - the only difference would have been it was 2-1 on Teix instead of 1-2.

10 Jon DeRosa   ~  Aug 10, 2011 9:20 am

[5] Teix has 35 extra base hits (22 hr, 13 dbl) and 33 singles and 43 walks as a lefty this year.

Odds are he was getting out or a walk, in which case it would not matter where granderson was standing.

But assuming Teix got a hit, it's been about 50/50 whether it's a single or extra bases. curtis can score from first on a homer and a lot of doubles.

i'd much rather he stayed put and let teix swing for the game winning homerun.

11 RagingTartabull   ~  Aug 10, 2011 10:05 am

Granderson made about a dumb a play as you can make in that situation, but that being said for a full calendar year now he's been the best/most consistent player on the team so he's allowed a mulligan in my eyes. Hell, Babe Ruth once ended a WORLD SERIES on the basepaths and people got over it.

Mo...eh, he's been great (duh) all year. The Annual Mo Bad Week in August is a New York summer tradition on par with racing at Saratoga and riding the Cyclone.

AJ. Well shit, what can you say at this point about AJ? He's not "cover your eyes bad" but just enough on the wrong side of mediocrity to make you sick. Personally I say you just keep throwing him out there as long as you are in good playoff position and see if he works it out by October. Then once its time for the playoff rotation all bets are off.

12 Will Weiss   ~  Aug 10, 2011 10:22 am

[0] Jon ... if you read the book, Scorecasting, several chapters are devoted to Pitch F/X data and how home plate umpiring is behind home field advantage. Mariano's pitches last night are evidence of what you stated. I'd go one even further to say that Sunday night in the 10th inning, the 0-1 pitch Phil Hughes threw to David Ortiz was right down the middle of the plate, thigh-high, but because it crossed up Russell Martin, the umpire called it a ball. Next pitch was out of the strike zone, and the pitch after that was sent into the right-field seats on one hop. That one call changed the entire at-bat. Same thing with Mo last night.

The last four Yankees games, the home plate umpiring has been atrocious, with Yankees pitchers getting squeezed.

Another note ... Mo in a tie game, for his career, has an ERA of nearly a run and half higher than he does in save situations. That might have been a good time to use Soriano.

13 jorgie juiced one   ~  Aug 10, 2011 10:22 am

Jon [9], you're right about consistency. Another important pitch for Walden I think might have been the 2-1 pitch on which Nunez stole. Instead of 3-1, it was 2-2 on Gardner. But it's possible that, not seeing replay, I might have missed something. My point, in general, which I know you realize, is that the primary action in baseball has to do with balls and strikes. Thus, consistent failure in that regard on the umpire's part is significant. And I do think there are umpires who've demonstrated an inability to handle this most basic aspect of their jobs. Whether that's the case with last night's ump, I don't know.

Re Mariano, I hate to quibble, but I don't think he's getting favorable treatment from the umps. In general, I think gameday demonstrates that. For example, the overt complaining on Friday night by the Red Sox was unjustified. The 3rd strike to Saltalamachia (sp?) was easily a strike, and the one to Reddick was simply a perfectly executed pitch.

14 Sliced Bread   ~  Aug 10, 2011 10:54 am

this one is on AJ, and Joe for not getting him the hell out of there before the game was tied.
Sickening performance by Burnett.
Mo and the bats can't overcome his wack pitching every time.

15 Crazy8Rick   ~  Aug 10, 2011 1:45 pm

Why is everybody piling in on Grandy? A part of being aggressive on the base paths is trying to out guess the pitcher. Sometimes you get the bear, and sometimes the bear gets you. For most of this year Granderson has guessed right. It only reasonable that every once in awhile he will guess wrong. I say Granderson needs to stick with his instincts and speed and keep trying to steal extra bases.

As for Mo'RagingTarTabull (11) hit it right on the head! 'The Annual Mo Bad Week in August is a New York summer tradition' Let's not get our panty hose tied up in a knot. Even Mo can have a couple of bad days at the office. He's fine, he's great, and always will be.

16 Jon DeRosa   ~  Aug 10, 2011 2:14 pm

[15] He should steal those bases when it's good risk/reward situation. With a lefty power hitter up in yankee stadium batting against a singles stealng shift, I don't think that was a good time to steal, especially after the pitcher had paid him so much attn earlier in the at bat.

Also, Granderson is 22/32 on the bases this year, not a very good %.

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