Tonight’s good news, even more so than the win, at least for me, is that Sheffield has said he will change position to accomodate Abreu. I was worried about that becoming a serious team chemistry problem, but now that the Master Sheff doesn’t mind playing third base, first base, left field, center field or DH, we’ll rest assured that once he’s off the DL that big bat of his will be in the lineup. I love the acquisition of Abreu, but Bobby doesn’t compare to the intimidation factor of Sheffield. We really need both of them.
Wright was as usual. Too many pitches (103) crammed into 5 innings, 5 hits and 1 run. But as long as he’s allowing 1, 2 or 3 runs, the Yanks have a chance to win and you can’t complain. Luckily Villone, Proctor and Farnsworth have been untouchable. But pretty soon, when the innings begin to stack up, I don’t know if we can expect the bullpen to pitch 4 innings every time Wright starts. Right now we’re getting by, but it might not be so easy in two months.
Wright’s pivotal moment was in the fourth inning when, with 2 outs and runners at the corners and a full count on McDonald, he induced a ground out. That kept Toronto’s lead at one run and set up the Yankees’ big inning. If McDonald reached base, I bet Torre would’ve called to the bullpen because Wright’s pitch count was in the high 80s to low 90s.
Our 4 runs in the bottom half were created by A-Rod, Abreu and Bernie. With Jeter and Giambi already on base, A-Rod doubled in the tieing run and then Abreu walked to reset the table for Bernie who doubled home all three base runners for a 4-1 lead. Then in the seventh inning A-Rod knocked in another run which pushed the score to 5-1 and saved Mo for another day. That run proved very important because if the score remained 4-1, Mo would’ve pitched the ninth and I’m all for saving Mo’s arm a little bit here and there even though I know he has no problem pitching on back to back to back nights.
Chien-Ming Wang needs to pitch a good game tomorrow. 7 or 8 innings would be paradise. Everytime after Wright pitches I feel thirsty and the best quencher for that kind of thirst is an old fashioned complete game. Wang went the distance last time out, so maybe that means he only lasts 6 innings this time. I don’t know, but like always I see a sweep on the horizon and if the bullpen gets some more rest then that could become a reality. One thing I’ve learned from this season is the wonders that a rested bullpen can do. Now I know why the White Sox were so good last year.
Also good news, Utley got #33. I wouldn’t mind seeing a 50 gamer in my lifetime. Got a ways to go though. Keep up the chase.
So we’re down a run in the top of the ninth and Texas calls in their closer, Akinori Otsuka. The first pitch he throws is lined up the middle by Jeter and then Giambi taters one into the seats. Just like that, BOOM, ball game’s over and thaaaaaaaaaaa Yankeeees WIN! Because we all know who’s pitching the ninth. That’s right, the guy with the fourth most career saves. Mo comes in and the sweep is accomplished. Of course, every win is important, but losing today wouldn’t have been that big a deal. We would’ve won the series and Boston and Chicago lost so we’d lose no ground. But like I said, at this time of year every win is crucial so gaining a game in the standings is helpful. Unfortunatly, it’s just one game and doesn’t mean anything if we don’t build on it. So great game Yankees, but keep it up.
All 8 runs proved necessary to nail down this win, but I want to bring attention to one of those runs. To lead off the 8th inning an A-Bomb landed beyond the walls in dead center field. The guy that supposedly stinks so bad that we need to trade him sparked a 4 run rally and the first run scoring frame for the Yanks since the first. Giambi’s long ball only would’ve tied the game without A-Rod’s solo shot, so you can’t knock him down for only hitting when it doesn’t matter. Also, Happy 31st Birthday A-Rod!
But let’s not forget the miracle that was Shawn Chacon. Inheriting a bases loaded, zero out situation in the 8th inning and keeping the one run deficit intact. Chacon induced a swinging K and a double play, beautifully done to set the stage for Giambi’s game winner. Plus, he bailed out Proctor who’s probably been overworked the past few days.
I liked seeing Fasano in the lineup already. That must be a good feeling. Get traded that morning and your new manager immediatly needs you in the game. Also must’ve been an exciting victory to be apart of with his new team. He’s kinda tubby, looks like slow motion when he labors out to the pitching mound, but I see more enthusiasm from him than I saw from Stinnett. Fasano looks jazzed to be playing and might be the slowest base runner in the major leagues, but he undoubtably has a lively spring in his step. However, they’re both second string catchers so I don’t see much of an improvement. I mean, this isn’t the final piece of the puzzle that wins us the AL East. Fasano hit .243 in 50 games for the Phillies and Stinnett hit .228 in 34 games for us.
I bet we keep this streak alive with our top 3 pitchers slated to face the D’Rays (that’s such a bizarre animal to name a team after). And lucky for us we won’t see Kazmir because of shoulder soreness. Although the kid they’re starting on Friday looks decent.
How about them Twins? Pretty remarkable what they’ve done this year. I heard something like they’ve only lost 8 of their last 42 games. At one point they were like 23 and 2 in their last 25 games. I don’t know if they can fend off Chicago once the reigning Champs get rolling again. Last year I believe both Baltimore and Washington entered the All-Star break with division leads and then lost them before the end of July. I doubt that will plague the White Sox. That means the Yankees need to aim for first place in their own division, because Chicago is down but they aren’t out.
And you know, I was just thinking, wouldn’t it be awesome to win a Game 7 of the World Series on an outfielder throwing out a runner trying for the tieing run at home plate? Winning like that might be cooler than winning on a walk off home run. I’m putting in the call: Game 7, Yankee Stadium, top of the ninth and one out, score 6-5 in the Yankees’ favor, Jose Reyes at third base and there’s a fly ball hit to left field and Melky guns him down at the plate. Boy, that would be dramatic.
Bummer. Things didn’t go as planned today. I can’t blame Jaret Wright for the loss. Every pitcher has a bad game. He’s actually strung together a number of very respectable starts in the past few weeks. I’d even venture to say he had a streak of solid outings that we couldn’t complain about. I remember the game when we roughed up Beckett and he’s a pretty good pitcher. So, as awful and unhelpful as 5 runs in less than 3 innings is, it isn’t entirely his fault and I don’t expect it to become a motif in Jaret’s game. By the way, Chacon didn’t inspire confidence either and I assume Joe won’t use him unless we’ve got a 10 run cushion.
The good news from this loss is that Villone was fantastic yet again, which gave Farnsworth, Proctor and Mo a well deserved day of rest. And also, A-Rod, you magnificent dude, future home run king and Hall of Famer. Congrats, man! You’ve reached the big 2-0-0-0 and 4-5-0. We now have 4 players in the 2,000 hit club (Williams, Jeter, A-Rod and Sheffield). That’s pretty amazing, right? I don’t know of any other team who can currently boast that.
Tonight, however, the Yankees offense was tediously low key and unexcited. A number of missed opportunities and a lack of opportunities at the plate created the loss. Except for A-Rod’s home run, our bats were disabled, owned, wire-tapped and sent to prison by Burnett. Tonight A.J. enjoyed an impressive performance and was formidable in the eyes of the Red Sox and Yankees.
I think that one of the keys to recent failures is Giambi’s power outage this month. He’s hitting .183 in the month of July and only has 4 home runs and 14 RBI compared to his June numbers of 11 HRs and 23 RBIs. A-Rod (believe it or not) is having a much better July than Mr. Giambino. His total of 5 home runs ain’t special, neither are his 16 RBI, but he is hitting .323 and has a slugging % of .600, which is drastically higher than Giambi’s SLG of .383. At the beginning of May Giambi had an OBP as high as .545. Now it’s shrunk to .405. Another curious July statistic is their batting average with runners in scoring position. If I read the stats correctly (I suggest you check for yourself, because I’m very surprised by these numbers), in the month of July A-Rod is hitting .368 with RISP. Giambi’s hitting .227. BIG DIFFERENCE. Maybe the boos should be reserved for the actual slugger who isn’t slugging. If the offense is to recover from its slumber, Giambi must be the catalyst.
I don’t suggest booing Giambi though. I don’t approve booing any player. FYI.
Anyway, it’s crucial the Yankees split the series. Wang will be the author of a perfect game tomorrow and whoever starts after him (Ponson?), will essentially do the same thing.
The Mariano Rivera Career Saves Counter: 398
Not much to say about tonight except that Wright and our bullpen were awesome. One curious item I discovered in the boxscore was the number of strikes and balls in Wright’s pitch total. I’d assume that striking out 10 and walking no one in 6 innings would result in a noticeable disparity between the ball and strike totals. But out of Wright’s 91 total pitches, only 56 were strikes. That figure struck me as very low considering he recorded 10 Ks and 0 BBs. Through 6 frames he scattered 35 balls, which, for simplicity’s sake, averages out to roughly 6 balls an inning. And throwing only 6 balls each inning seems like a very good ratio. So I guess my initial bewilderment was misled and I’ve just never studied that stat before. And like usual Mariano was very economical, needing only 12 pitches to record 3 outs. I think I might start keeping track of the number of pitches certain closers need to finish an inning, because it seems to me that a few closers (Wagner and Isringhausen for example) need more than 20 pitches on a regular basis to record 3 outs. And I think guys like Mariano who don’t stack up high pitch counts are better closers. But that’s just a thought.
While I’m on the subject, you guys know I love closers and I like keeping tabs on what they’re doing all over the game, so tonight I’ll blog about an idea I’ve pondered before. I’m not out to prove anything here and I have no idea what any of this even means, but I think the relation between save opportunities and innings pitched is very revealing of a closer’s ability. In the following chart I listed every major league closer I could think of and their save opportunity vs. their innings pitched stats. I’d tend to believe that closers with more SVOs would naturally have more IPs, but as the numbers show, that isn’t the case. Keep in mind these stats were current as of yesterday and have changed by now.
Baez 9/16 SVO, 42 1/3 IP
Cordero 13/15 SVO, 40 1/3 IP
Lidge 21/24 SVO, 40 IP
Wagner 17/21 SVO, 39 2/3 IP
Weathers 9/15 SVO, 38 IP
Turnbow 23/29 SVO, 37 2/3 IP
Dempster 13/18 SVO, 36 2/3 IP
Gordon 21/23 SVO, 36 1/3 IP
Isringhausen 25/31 SVO, 36 IP
Fuentes 16/19 SVO, 34 1/3 IP
M. Gonzalez 12/12 SVO, 33 2/3 IP
Hoffman 22/23 SVO, 33 IP
Borowski 15/17 SVO, 32 IP
Valverde 14/17 SVO, 30 2/3 IP
Benitez 9/13 SVO, 21 1/3 IP
Rivera 18/20 SVO, 45 IP
Papelbon 25/27 SVO, 42 2/3 IP
B.J. Ryan 23/24 SVO, 41 2/3 IP
Putz 15/17 SVO, 40 1/3 IP
Burgos 14/22 SVO, 39 2/3 IP
Jenks 26/27 SVO, 38 2/3 IP
Street 19/25 SVO, 37 2/3 IP
Otsuka 16/18 SVO, 36 IP
F. Rodriguez 19/21 SVO, 35 IP
Nathan 15/16 SVO, 35 IP
Ray 20/21 SVO, 34 IP
Jones 22/25 SVO, 33 IP
Wickman 13/16 SVO, 26 IP
I think the most interesting comparison is between Rivera and Isringhausen. Izzy has had 11 more save opportunities than Mo, but has logged 9 fewer innings pitched. Or check out Jones who is tied for 2nd in most SVOs in the AL, but is next to last in IPs. I think that a closer like Rivera who pitches on a more consistent basis and still records the saves is the all-around better pitcher. Some of these closers only enter a game in a save situation and some can only pitch effectively for one inning. The number of saves a closer has collected is a misleading stat too, because closing out a game isn’t too difficult. Think about it: you come on with a three run lead to record 3 outs once or twice or at most three times a week. Due to the ups and downs of the schedule, you might not pitch for 6 or 7 games. So you’re well rested when all you need to do is pitch one inning. Now, hear me out, I don’t at all believe that a closer’s job is a piece of cake. I admire and appreciate the rare mental and pitching talent it takes to handle those pressure situations. Nevertheless, I think that 30 or 40 saves for one season should be expected of every closer. Pitching like that every year though is where they drop like flies. Sustaining that success is what I use to evaluate a closer. So while Papelbon has been spectacular this year, he isn’t in my mind a great closer until he repeats this season about ten times. And splitting time between the closer’s role and a long or short term relief role makes that pitcher more valuable to a team. So while Izzy and Jenks lead the majors with 26 saves each after tonight, they’re pitching far fewer innings than some closers by being limited to only specific situations.
Maybe I’ll continue that train of thought another time. I think there’s more to learn from that discussion, but ’tis enough for one night.
Toronto has lost 5 of their last 6. They’re now 6 games back from first place and 3 behind us. That’s good news for the time being, but the Blue Jays are a team the AL still needs to worry about. Regardless of their next two games and Boston’s outcomes against Chicago, the Yanks really need to sweep Tampa Bay. Starting the second half only one or two games back would be ideal. Or if Boston some how sweeps Chicago, it wouldn’t help to lose anymore ground. It’s gonna be tough against Kazmir though. If we could only knock in one run against Seo who has a 5+ ERA, how are we not going to be no-hit by this phenom? He blanked Boston in a complete game last time out so maybe the baseball gods plan on letting the Yanks tear him up tomorrow.
Rivera earned his 19th save of the season. Isringhausen closed out game #26 on the year. Hoffman got save 23 (459th career). Mike Gonzalez now posts a perfect 13/13.
One departing note: I found this an interesting article about official scorers.
Actually, one last question, did anyone know Joey Gathright was traded to Kansas City? It happened recently I think and I missed it.
Rangers 6 – Yankees 2
Jaret had a strong outing. 3 runs in 6 innings isn’t bad. The problem came when Erickson and Villone combined for 7 walks. If Jaret pitches like this again we have three solid starters in Mussina, Chien-Ming and Jaret. Randy will straighten up soon and Chacon is decent. Our pitching is actually looking hopeful.
Damon drove in both our runs. On a low and away pitch from Cordero he poked a single over Michael Young’s head.
Other than that, Padilla and Showalter’s favorite relievers held us to two runs. I was surprised that Otsuka came into the ninth in a non save situation. Mahay warmed in the bullpen but I guess Showalter wanted this game badly.
A-Rod needs to start producing if we’re going to win without Sheffield and Matsui. I say Giambi is due to put up big numbers this weekend.