"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Stiff Upper Lip

One trip through the Blue Jays’ order and Hiroki Kuroda did not look long for this April Night. The first eleven batters racked up six hits, all bullets. Kuroda rolled a double play and stranded some runners, or else Toronto’s two homers would have accounted for more than the three runs they got. The Jays could be forgiven if they thought they were going to romp.

But Kuroda worked through his early-bird specials and began serving up the good stuff by striking out Jose Bautista to end the second. That began a string of 13 of 14 Jays who wouldn’t reach base – the only runner safe on Lyle Overbay’s error in the 4th. It was a resilient performance and the Yankees didn’t waste it.

Robinson Cano again tested the breadth of his back and found it stout enough to carry the team to victory with a three-run shot in the third. Francisco Cervelli and Vernon Wells bookended Cano with solo blasts and the scoring held at 5-3 for a satisfying Yankee win.

Cano’s homer came on a 3-1 “fastball” from Mark Buehrle. Buehrle seemed to hit his spot on the inside corner, but he had two problems – he threw it 86 MPH and he threw it to Robinson Cano. Cano’s so quick on the inside pitch that he can get the barrel to a much faster pitch in the same location. Say what you will about his hitting approach, he doesn’t often get jammed.

Flip to the ninth inning and consider what Mariano Rivera, pitching as well at 43 years old, I’m pretty confident, as any pitcher in Major League history, did to Colby Rasmus with pitches is the same vicinity. Obviously, the cutting action of Rivera’s pitch separates it from Buehrle’s, but even more telling than the pitch action and velocity is the swing path.

As Rasmus whiffed at two of Rivera’s insidious cutters and scragged a bat on a true devil, I drifted off imagining a match-up between Cano and Mo. I think Mariano would be able to use Robbie’s aggressiveness and get him to chase high pitches. But I bet Cano would fair better against the inside/outside cutter gambit than almost any other left-handed batter.

I snapped out of it just in time to witness a true “Mo-Classic” (I woke up realizing that this should be a “Mo-fecta”) – three up, three down; strike out swinging, broken bat, strike out looking. I wonder how many times he’s done that in his career?


Photo by Kathy Willens via AP/ESPN

Categories:  1: Featured  Game Recap  Jon DeRosa  Yankees

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1 RIYank   ~  Apr 26, 2013 5:59 am

Good, "tested the breadth of his back." It was a back breadth test. Say that three times fast.
Also, Mo-fecta, yes -- I told someone it was a Classic, too, actually.

2 bp1   ~  Apr 26, 2013 7:21 am

Ok - someone's gotta say it. When Overbay was signed, he came with the tag "can't hit much anymore but great defensively". I didn't see last night's play, but I've seen enough games where he hasn't looked all that great at first. Am I wrong and just happening to catch the bad spots, or is his glove not what the reputation would lead us to believe? He's booted several so far this year it seems.

3 OldYanksFan   ~  Apr 26, 2013 7:26 am

OK.... it's been 21 games.... 13% of the Season.
With the current 'on field' rooster (NO injured guys playing),
how do you evaluate 'this' team?

... This is a:
less then .500 team
around a .500 team
85-86 Wins
More then 86 Wins.

4 Jon DeRosa   ~  Apr 26, 2013 7:39 am

[3] If they get to keep the current roster intact with no injuries to main players, I think they are better than .500 because of the pitching. Robertson and Rivera are among the best end-game options in baseball and CC, Pettitte and Kuroda give the Yanks great chance to win each time they pitch. If the rotation gets dented or Cano goes down, that changes things.

And of course Wells, Cervelli and Hafner won't hit this well for long, so I'm not counting on that going forward.

5 bp1   ~  Apr 26, 2013 7:47 am

[3] I am starting to think this is a legit renaissance from Vernon Wells. He was a very good player, lost his way and become a poster child for bad contracts, and it feels like he had a real "come to Jesus" moment in the off season. I can see him being a solid contributor for the rest of the season - which surprises me to be honest. I thought he was a wasted signing.

Youk - I think we're seeing exactly what he is. An oft-injured player who still works a count and has flashes of goodness, but isn't "great". And he's Youk. Yuck.

As I said above, Overbay seems to have left his glove with his prior team. Can't wait for Tex to come back and play first base.

Outfield - Gardy is hitting about how I expected (not very well) but Ichiro is a surprise.

We're getting more from Cervelli than anyone expected, for sure. That for sure is sample size - look for a correction back to norm sometime.

So - yeah - I dunno. It looks like this team will be able to hold things together as the regulars start to come back, and the rotation looks good. I didn't think they were as bad as people thought they were (rarely are - the press loves to predict doom for the Yankees), but they're not a 100 win team. I think low 90's is very reasonable. It will be a dog fight for the AL East this year.

6 Capital Yank   ~  Apr 26, 2013 8:52 am

[2] I dunno, the play after Overbay booted the ball at first, he snagged a would-be double to end the inning. On the whole, I think he's a first baseman with pretty decent defensive skills who's showing his age.

7 RIYank   ~  Apr 26, 2013 9:13 am

[3] I guess I'd say more than 86, but not a lot more. I don't think they make the playoffs without contributions from Teixeira and/or Granderson and something from Jeter.

8 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Apr 26, 2013 9:17 am

God, it kills me to have missed this game, and to be missing Mo and Andy.

Thanks, Jon, you have me salivating with this wrap-up.

9 Chris   ~  Apr 26, 2013 9:41 am

I thought all along that the pitching would keep us at least at 500. But I think the big story is Wells. Is he back? Small sample? If he's for real and we can keep four solid outfielders rotating through the lineup, including DH after Black Hole Francisco gets released, we could keep some serious mo down the stretch...

And then Pineda decides he has something to prove...

10 Crazy88s   ~  Apr 26, 2013 2:33 pm

Great write up Jon. I am a die hard Yankees fan living in DC and don't get to see a lot of games, so I look forward to reading the Banter and all the comments. I think the replacements have done a great job so far and are keeping us in striking distance until the regulars get back. Go Yankees!

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