"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice
Tag: Series Wrap

They say that the road ain’t no place to start a family . . .

The Yankees are only team in the majors not to have played a home game this season and enter their home opener this afternoon coming off the longest season-opening road trip in team history. Here are some quick impressions from that just-complete trip:

Record: 5-4
Record in Series: 2-1
Runs scored per game: 5.67 (7th best in MLB)
Runs allowed per game: 5.22 (8th worst in MLB)
Runs allowed per game minus Monday’s blowout: 4.00

AL East Standings:

TOR -
BAL .5
NYY 1.5
TBR 2.5
BOS 3.5

  • The Yankees were without Alex Rodriguez. Mark Teixeira missed three games due to a wrist injury. Hideki Matsui and Cody Ransom went a combined 6-for-49 (.122) with five walks. Yet the Yankees scored four or more runs in every game and averaged 5 2/3 runs per game on the trip.
  • A great deal of the credit for that goes to Nick Swisher, who drove in or scored 18 of the Yankees’ 51 runs (35 percent) on the trip.
  • The trip ended with the news that Xavier Nady will likely miss most or all of the season with a tear in his right elbow, but Nady was hitting a very Nady-like .286/.310/.429 and will be replaced in right field by Swisher. That’s an upgrade. Swisher will surely cool off, but he should have been the starting right fielder over Nady anyway. Where the Yankees will miss Nady is on the bench, as Matsui and Johnny Damon will need days off. Nady might be a very ordinary hitter, he’s still more productive than Melky Cabrera.
  • In the comeback department, Matsui and Chien-Ming Wang have been awful, but Robinson Cano has been terrific, hitting .382/.447/.618 with four unintentional walks, and Jorge Posada has looked good both at the plate, driving in nine runs (second on the team to Swisher’s 11) with five of his seven hits going for extra bases, and behind the plate.
  • Despite the solid offensive attack, the Yankees come home just a game over .500 at 5-4. Three of those losses were directly attributable to poor staring pitching performances (by CC Sabathia on Opening Day and by Chien-Ming Wang in both of his starts).
  • Sabathia was not only better, but dominant in his second start. A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte both pitched well twice, and Joba Chamberlain turned in a solid outing in his only start thus far. That leaves only Wang as an issue in the rotation. Dave Eiland is on the case and working hard to get Wang back on track.
  • Since the duds by Sabathia and Wang to open the season, the Yankees have gone 5-2. After dropping the opening series in Baltimore, they won their next two series, most significantly taking two of three from the Rays at the Trop.
  • In their five wins, the Yankees have allowed just nine runs, or 1.8 per victory.

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Impressions from the Opening Series

The Yankees lost the first two games of the season because their starting pitchers weren’t sharp. CC Sabathia and Chien-Ming Wang combined for this line in those two games: 8 IP, 17 H, 13 R, 1 HR, 8 BB, 0 K, 3.13 WHIP, 14.63 ERA. End of story. Neither was suffering from anything worse than poor mechanics (Wang) or a simple lack of feel (Sabathia). I’m not concerned about either, and Sabathia will be back on the bump tomorrow.

The bullpen coughed up four insurance runs after the Yankee offense pulled within a run in the opener, but in the last two games, the bullpen contributed eight hitless, scoreless innings. Included among those were perfect frames from Phil Coke and Brian Bruney, who had given up the four runs on Monday. Every man in the pen pitched in the series. The only one who remains a concern moving forward is Damaso Marte, who faced two batters on Monday. He gave up a two-RBI double to the lefty (both runs being charged to Bruney) before getting the righty to ground out.

Robinson Cano, 2008 ToppsAlso encouraging is that the offense scored 21 runs in the first three games, showing resiliency by rallying back to within a run of the O’s in the first two games, then dropping 11 runs on Baltimore in the finale. Perhaps the best news to come out of the opening series is that the hitting star of the series was Robinson Cano, who went 6-for-11 with a double, a home run, and three walks. Last April, it took Cano eight games to get six hits, 12 games to get two extra-base hits, and 19 games to draw three walks; this year each took him just three games.

The other hitting star of the series was Nick Swisher, who only started in yesterday’s finale, but delivered a pinch-hit double in the opener and a pinch-hit walk in the second game. Yesterday, he went 3-for-5 with a double and a tie-breaking home run, collecting a career-high five RBIs. Xavier Nady had two doubles and a walk himself, but Swisher has already given Joe Girardi reason to reconsider how he deploys his two right fielders.

Other positives: Jorge Posada picked up a double, a 425-foot home run, and a walk in eight trips. He also threw out a stealing Brian Roberts by so much that Roberts turned around and headed back to first base (where he was tagged out). Derek Jeter went 5-for-13 with a homer, a walk, and a steal. Ramiro Peña singled in his first (and still only) major league at-bat yesterday. After starting the season 0-for-8 with a walk, Mark Teixeira went 3-for-6 with a double and a game-tying homer to finish the series; the double came in his only right-handed at-bat. Johnny Damon went 3-for-11  with a triple, two walks, and a steal. Even Jose Molina reached base twice in four trips.

The bad: While Hideki Matsui homered in the opener, that was the only time he reached base in ten at-bats. In his pinch-hit appearance yesterday (his only at-bat of the series), Melky Cabrera missed badly on three straight Matt Albers breaking balls.

Less noticeable was the fact that the Yankees won the war on the bases. The Bronx Burners went 4-for-4 in their own steal attempts and threw out (or picked off) four of the seven attempting Oriole base stealers.

Finally, the defensive upgrades at first base and center field, as well as in right field when Nick Swisher was out there yesterday, where instantly noticeable, and Cano’s fielding seems to have rebounded along with his bat.

Of course, it was just three games . . .

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