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Caught, Red-Necked

 

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If you look quickly at the above picture of Michael Pineda from tonight’s game, you probably won’t see any evidence of a foreign substance in play. But look again. Be sure to focus on the lips and the surrounding area. Then carefully inspect the cheek and the chin. But don’t stop there. The most damning evidence is in the most damning place. All over the right hand.

When a Major League pitcher goes to such great lengths to conceal his wrongdoing, David Cone thinks the other manager might look the other way. Relying on his experience in the big leagues, Cone noted that if a pitcher shoved his cheating in the face of the opposition, then and only then would the umpire be called in to inspect.

How then are we to react to cases such as tonight? Where the infraction was expertly crafted and deployed with such care that Sherlock Holmes himself would be unable to penetrate the subterfuge?

Tip your cap. That’s what Holmes would do. And that what the Yankees did, to their credit. So impressed with the Red Sox superior character and sportsmanship, the Yankees gave up their remaining at bats for strike outs in deference. Only the incompetence of John Lackey checked the total at 14.

The box score says the final was 5-1 to the Red Sox, but who can really measure the difference between angels and demons?

Brrrrr Stick ‘Um

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Sorry for the technical difficulties today, guys. I had a feeling that Michael Pineda would get his ass beat around Fenway tonight but I didn’t think the guy would get tossed for an illegal substance–on his neck.

Bright boy.

Yanks down 4-0 in the 4th.

Carry On.

Tanaka Time

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It started early on Tuesday night as the Yankees found themselves in Fenway Park for the first time this young season. After being greeted with more boos than cheers, Jacoby Ellsbury reintroduced himself to his old fans by lashing John Lester’s third pitch of the game high off the wall in center field. A fan in the front row was so intent on making the play that he reached three feet below the top of the Green Monster, nearly tumbling over in the process, and deflected the ball back towards left field. Ellsbury raced all the way around the bases for what might’ve been an inside-the-park homer, but the umpires rightly sent him back to third, ruling that the Sox wouldn’t have been able to hold him to a double had the fan not interfered.

Manager John Farrell argued the point, but Derek Jeter rendered that point moot, lacing a line drive into center field and scoring Ellsbury before Farrell could even sit back down. After moving to second on a wild pitch, Jeter then scored the game’s second run on a sharp single from Carlos Beltrán.

Lester wriggled off the hook without further damage and escaped a bases loaded, one out jam in the second with a double play, but he found himself in trouble again in the third. Alfonso Soriano pounded a ball of the wall in center and Cadillacked a triple into a double, Mark Teixeira floated a soft double halfway down the rightfield line, and Brian McCann shot yet another double into the left centerfield gap. Lester hadn’t yet retired a batter in the third inning, and already he was down 4-0. The Yanks seemed poised to deliver the knockout blow when they again loaded the bases with one out and Ellsbury headed to the plate, but for the second consecutive inning Lester was able to induce a ground ball double play.

Meanwhile, Masahiro Tanaka was toying with the Boston batters. He gave up a double to Dusty Pedroia in the first and a single in the third, but there was never a hint of trouble. In the bottom of the fourth, however, Tanaka appeared to pitch to the situation as he stared in at David Ortíz with one out and a four-run lead. With Ortíz sitting in a hitter’s count at 3-1, Tanaka chose to challenge him instead of risking the walk, and he threw Papi a fastball that did nothing at all. We know what Ortíz does with pitches like that; this one ended up in Williamsburg, 482 feet away. Three pitches later, Mike Napoli laced a ball that might have been hit even harder but on a lower trajectory. This one barely cleared the wall in left, and suddenly the Yankee lead was cut in half. Two batters later A.J. Pierzynski doubled for the third extra base hit of the inning, but Tanaka struck out Xander Bogaerts to end the frame. He’d have little trouble with the Sox the rest of the night.

By all rights Lester should’ve been knocked from the game much earlier, but he trudged out to the mound to start the fifth with new hope. Hadn’t he kept his team in the ball game? Wasn’t there a chance they could get another two or three runs off Tanaka? Teixeira and McCann reached with a walk and a single, immediately putting Lester’s feet to the coals once again, but once again it looked as if the Yankees would miss their opportunity when Yangervis Solarte and Ichiro both struck out. (And by the way, if you’re wondering who’s to blame for Solarte’s slide, look no further than your author; I inserted him into my fantasy lineup this week. The results have been predictable.)

The game turned on Brian Roberts’s at bat. If you look at the Yankee lineup most nights, the batting averages are impressive with almost every player close to or above .300 — every player except for Roberts, whose average hasn’t been north of .200 since the first week of the season. But Roberts came through. Sort of. He roped a line drive that was a bit to the left of Napoli at first base, but Napoli wasn’t able to make the play. The ball glanced off his glove for an error, dropping Roberts’s batting average lower still, but allowing Teixeira to score an important run. Ellsbury followed that with an another ball off the monster, this one a double to score McCann and Roberts, and Jeter drove in Ellsbury with another single up the middle, this one hit #3333. The Yankees led 8-2, and the game was essentially over.

Beltrán crushed a homer to right in the eighth, and the Red Sox slapped together a rally for a run against reliever Dellin Betances in the ninth, but all that did was give us our final score, Yankees 9, Red Sox 2. The real story of the game was Masahiro Tanaka. After faltering in that fourth inning, Tanaka shifted into another gear. With a fastball that touched 95 a few times and once 96, a biting curve that floated in the low- to mid-80s, and that devastating power splitter, Tanaka looked absolutely nothing like a #3 starter. He coasted through the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings, then came back to start the eighth even though he had a seven-run lead and had already thrown 98 pitches. (Again, this is something aces do, not number three starters.)

He ended his night with a strikeout of Grady Sizemore and walked to the dugout after cruising through 7.1 innings, allowing two runs and seven hits, striking out seven, and not walking a batter. In four starts, his numbers look like this: 29.1 IP/22 H/8 R/35 K/2 BB/0.82 WHIP/2.15 ERA. It will be interesting to see what happens once the league gets a second look at him, but right now things are looking pretty good. This might be a fun summer.

[Photo Credit: Elise Amendola/AP Photo]

Them Again

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So soon?

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Derek Jeter SS
Carlos Beltran DH
Alfonso Soriano LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Yangervis Solarte 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Brian Roberts 2B

Masahiro Tanaka gets the start; Ellsbury returns to Fenway.

Never mind that nasty starting pitcher for Boston:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

[Painting by Franz Kline]

Sunday Gravy

tumblr_n43pl4SVd71qbhl2oo1_1280 With two men out in the top of the 12th inning, Dean Anna checked his swing at a 3-2 breaking ball that tailed away from him and into the dirt. Checked it enough to draw a bases loaded walk, just like Wade Boggs did back in the ’96 Serious. It pushed the Yanks ahead 2-1. Carlos Beltran and Alfonso Soriano followed with base hits and the Yanks escaped Tampa happy to get a series split.

The bullpen had a good day; five relievers (Phelps, Thornton, Warren, Kelley, Claiborne) combined for seven shutout innings, complementing five solid from starting pitcher Vidal Nuno.

Final Score: Yanks 5, Rays 1.

One more thought. Jeter singled to right in the 11th inning to extending a hitting streak to ten. It’s his 15th hit of the season and the 3,33oth of his career. If he’s lucky Jeter has a little more than 100 hits left but it’s getting to the point where I’ve started to savor each one of them. Pretty soon he’s going to be down to double digits of hits left in his career.

Got to remember  to appreciate and relish all of them.

[Picture by Bags]

Oh, Snap

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…Crackle or pop. An MRI revealed that Ivan Nova has a partial torn UCL. Smells like Tommy John Surgery to me.

What a drag, man.

In the meantime, Mark Teixeira is back in the lineup (Scott Sizemore we hardly knew ye).

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Derek Jeter SS
Carlos Beltran RF
Alfonso Soriano DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Yangervis Solarte 3B
Brett Gardner LF
Brian Roberts 2B
John Ryan Murphy C

Never mind the bad news or the last two games:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

What The Ouch

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The Rays put another beatin’ on the Yanks, this one to the tune of 16-1 (they even roughed-up Dean Anna). For digestion purposes I say we’re best to just move along except there is something concerning we have to mention

[Picture by Bags]

 

Ya Never Nova

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The Yanks face Chris Archer tonight. The “Now You See Me, Now You Don’t” Ivan Nova goes for the Yanks.

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Brett Gardner LF
Carlos Beltran DH
Brian McCann C
Alfonso Soriano RF
Yangervis Solarte 3B
Kelly Johnson 1B
Brian Roberts 2B
Dean Anna SS

Never mind last night’s meltdown:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

[Picture Via: Sketchy]

 

Well, Sir, We Were Going to the Bingo Parlor at the YMCA…

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…when all of a sudden, the bullpen fell apart. Yeah, the Yanks had a nice 4-0 lead, beating Erik Bedard around pretty good. The game, like the one the night before, moved along at a tension-free, brisk pace for the Yanks until Hiroki Kuroda began to labor. He left the game with runners on base and the Yanks ahead by a run and even though they’d add another–to make it 5-3–things fell apart after that, and the Rays, who haven’t been scoring much, broke out.

When the dust cleared it was 11-5.

The lasting memory of this game was that of Cesar Cabral in the 8th. The kid couldn’t control his pitches, almost hit a couple of guys and then hit three. Joe West tossed him, not for intent I’d like to think, but to put the kid out of his misery. The Yanks DFA’d the poor bastard after the game, and you’d like to think he won’t have a worse night in his professional career.

 

Friday Night Fun

Kids

Our man Hiroki’s on the hill tonight; Beltran’s got the night off.

Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Alfonso Soriano DH
Brian McCann C
Yangervis Solarte 2B
Kelly Johnson 1B
Scott Sizemore 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF

Never mind letting up:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

[Photo Credit: Teresa Zabala/The New York Times]

Ah, If They Could All Be Like This

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Early lead, good fielding–covering up some of the cruddy fielding–more hitting, decent pitching, and some more runs. Oh yeah, and a triple play. Started by Solarte and finished by Scott Sizemore, playing first base for the first time since, well, ever. Even a scary moment, where Carlos Beltran tumbled over the fence in foul ground down the right field line, turned out to be more of a scare than anything serious.

The Yankees Turned A Triple Play

It’s not every day you put a beatin’ on David Price. So, yeah, it was a good night.

Final Score: Yanks 10, Rays 2.  

No surprise here but man has Jacoby Ellsbury ever been good so far. In the field–he seems to take much better routes in center than Brett Gardner, never mind Curtis Granderson–on the bases and at the plate, he’s been terrific so far.

[Picture by Bags; GIF via Deadspin]

Goin’ South

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The Yanks meet the Rays. Last year, C.C. was no bueno against Tampa. Let’s hope that changes, starting tonight.

Never mind the lousy dome:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

[Picture by Bags]

It Was a Good Day

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The Wife and I spent the last week in New Mexico visiting family so we didn’t watch any Yankee baseball. I was able to post some here at the Banter, and we checked the score on our phones and on my computer, read Jon’s recaps here at the Banter, but didn’t see a single pitch.

The trip back can sometimes be a drag. No direct flight, you either stop over in Chicago or Dallas. Yesterday it was Dallas and well, the entire trip went smoothly. Right down to the cab ride home. We sailed passed the Stadium while the game was in the 5th inning and so we were able to watch the last part of it at home.

Got a little tricky for the Yankee bullpen after another solid performance from Michael Pineda but they didn’t allow a run as the Yanks completed a rare day-night shutout and won the second game, 2-0. Pat Jordan recently wrote a story for SB Nation where he said that with the game on the line he wanted Derek Jeter at shortstop. At least Jeter in his prime. And last night, with they tying run on second, the ball was hit to Jeter. He made the play and the game was over.

Speaking of Jeter, we’ve often talked about how much fun he has on the field, and how underreported that is. That was the case last night–when he looked like a high school kid–when the Cubs’ pitching coach was kicked out of the game.

Dig the GIF via Deadspin’s Sean Newell.

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Mama Said Tanaka You Out

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I should credit my friend Scott for the headline as he mentioned it as a possible name for his fantasy squad, but he ultimately rejected the handle because he’s a godforsaken Red Sox fan and couldn’t stand the idea of giving such an honor to a Yankee. So screw him.

When the Yankees signed Tanaka, we all breathed a huge sigh of relief as they had put the team before the tax and filled the hole in the rotation with the best available pitcher. But we didn’t exhale completely because we really didn’t know what we were getting. After today’s 3-0 win, my exhale is complete.

Sure he did it against a Cubs team that would make Ernie Banks say, “Let’s play none.” But we’re talking two lousy bunt hits away from a no-hitter. This is straight filth. What I have thoroughly enjoyed about his pitching is that his late innings are just as damn unhittable as his early ones. Moreso thus far.

Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury continue to hit, though there wasn’t a lot in the pot for the offense today. No matter. Tanaka was so strong, Girardi traded a free base for an out just to be damn sure he plated the third run.

When Ellsbury nicked Baker’s glove and the ball dribbled into play in the fifth, he could have advanced to first, setting up first and third for the clean up hitter with one out. Instead, he took the out and the extra run, which must have seemed like ten more to the Cubs.

It’s so damn cold, Girardi would be well within his rights to rest some regulars tonight and the probabilty of a sweep isn’t going to be as high as I’d like. Still, I can’t see these Cubs running around the bases unless it’s a mascot race or something.   

Use this as your game thread for the nightcap. I will try to get you lineups when I see them.

 

Frost on First

There’s ice on the windshield this morning. God damned ice on the windshield. Girardi’s got a bunch of old guys with tweaks and playing in 35 degree weather ain’t what the doctor ordered. Here’s the lineup, Jeter’s not in it.

Brett Gardner LF
Carlos Beltran RF
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Alfonso Soriano DH
Brian McCann C
Yangervis Solarte 2B
Kelly Johnson 1B
Dean Anna SS
Scott Sizemore 3B

Today’s the day all of Tanaka’s cold-weather preparation pays off.

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Stretch

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I’m not convinced the kid will stay healthy but if he does the future is bright for Michael Pineda.

Dig this from Tony Blengino over at Fangraphs. 

[Photo Credit: Andrew Theodorakis/N.Y. Daily News]

 

Couple Few Things

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Yankee notes. Chad Jennings has the latest.

Man, oh, man, I feel lousy for Frankie C. 

[Photo Credit: David McNew/Getty Images]

Double Drip

The Cubbies brought along their perpetual gloom when they arrived in the Bronx. The Yanks are rained out tonight and the two teams will have separate tilts tomorrow at 1 and 7 pm.   

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Rumor has it that the Cubs have all sorts of talent close to the Majors and might be good soon. But not by tomorrow, so let’s see a sweep please.

A Needed Day o Rest

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The Yanks are patching it together with their suspect infield and sooner or later moves will be made.

In the meantime, sure is nice to have a guy like Ichi around, huh?

Chad Jennings has the notes from last night’s game (and he provided this cool picture too).

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver