Thursday, April 26, 2012

Series Wrap: @ Rangers 4/23 - 4/25

Game One

Yankee starters were really going to be tested in this series, as the Rangers offense had the 2nd highest wOBA (.371), and had hit the 2nd most HRs (26), in MLB. Luckily the Yankees had the highest wOBA (.376), and the most HR (27), in MLB to cover up for their starters' woes.

The Yankee "ace", and I put that in quotes as a 5.59 ERA doesn't exactly scream "ace", didn't start this one off very well, as he gave up back-to-back singles to Kinsler and Andrus. But things were looking up right after that as Hamilton hit into a double play, and Michael Young hit a weak ground ball back to the mound. Actually, until Hamilton hit his 8th HR of the year in the bottom of the 6th inning, CC was cruising. The Rangers could only muster a couple of hits between the 2nd and 5th innings. Even in the 6th, after Hamilton's bomb, Sabathia got the next two batters to ground out. I thought Sabathia's day was over with after a rough 7th inning, and Robertson would come in to fullfil the prophesy set forth by the almight binder. But just like Girardi often tricks logic, he tricked me, and CC got through the inning without a problem. Finally, as per usual, Mariano Rivera barely broke a sweat in earning his 4th save of the season.

The Yankee bats wasted little time in getting things going, as Curtis Grandeson hit a 2-run RBI single to score Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano. By the way, Derek led off with a base hit for the 10th tiem this season. Yeah, that's 1-0, TEN times. The way CC was doing between the 2nd and 4th innings I thought that would be enough, but apparently the Yankees themselves had other ideas. Nick Swisher hit a sacrifice fly to score Chris Stewart, and then ARod recorded his first hit off of a left-handed pitcher this year... a three run bomb to left-center field. That would have been enough for the win, but Derek Jeter wasn't satisfied quite yet, as he knocked home Chris Stewart for yet another run. The Captain ended up going 4/5 in the game, with 2 runs and an RBI, raising his batting average to .411. Robinson Cano was the only other Yankee to record 2 or more hits.

Game Two

Yu Darvish's MLB debut didn't go that well, as he gave up 5 ER in 5.2 innings of work. He looked better in his next two starts, giving up only 2 ER in 12 innings, but *channeling the spirt of Edward Rooney* he's walked 9 guys. I'm a big fan of K/BB ratio, and going into last night Yu's ratio was at 1.08 (14/13).

On the other side of this battle of former NPB aces, Hiroki Kuroda struggled in two of his first three starts in pinstripes. In his Yankee debut Hiro gave up 4 ER in 5.2 innings, and 11 days later the Twins roughed him up with 6 ER in only 4.1 innings. There was a great start in between, as the Angels couldn't plate any runs in Kuroda's 8 innings. So what would he do this time?

Ian Kinsler led-off the game for the Rangers in the bottom of the 1st inning. Martin called for a slider low and outside, but Kuroda threw it low and inside, and Ian hit it into the Yankee bullpen in left-center. Not the way Yankee fans wanted to see things start. But seeing as how Derek Jeter has led of 10 games with hits for the Bombers, we can't be too upset that Kinsler did this to us. Thankfully Hiroki didn't let that rattle him, as he went on to throw a pretty good game, allowing the Rangers to manufacture only one more run in a total of 6.2 innings. The bullpen gave the team 1.1 perfect innings, which would normally be more than enough, but Yu Darvish turned in a gem. Darvish scattered 7 hits in 8.1 inning, striking out 10 Yankee hitters. Yu has struggled with walks, as he had 13 walks against 14 strikeouts going into this one, but Yankee hitters... who are usually good at drawing walks (they've walked 70 times this season, tied for 3rd in MLB)... could only manage to draw two of them.

Like I said, the defense only allowing 2 runs to the opposition would normally have been more than enough to win, but a look at the box score tells you this game was not "normal" at all. Jeter (now hitting .416 on the season) and Cano were the only Yankee hitters to have more than two hits (two each), while Swisher, Chavez, and Martin had one a piece. Granderson, ARod, Teixeira, and Ibanez were a combined 0 for 15, leaving 12 men on base. The batting with RISP made a comeback, as the team went 1 for 7 in that department. What's a bit maddening is that the Rangers were only 1 for 2 with RISP.

I'd write more about this game, but it's left me as frustrated as a horny Tyrannosaurus Rex with no mate.

Game Three

Phil Hughes fooled me Wednesday night. Not for long, but he did fool me.

Phil was looking good in the first 2.1 innings. He had only given up a HR to Adrian Beltre at that point, to go with four ground outs, a strikeout to Elvis Andrus, and a line-out to Ian Kinsler. Before being taken out in the 3rd inning he was hitting 94 on the gun, and was being efficient as he had only thrown 25 pitches going into the 3rd inning. But then he gave up a single, a double, a run-scoring ground out, hit Hamilton with a pitch, another single, and another double. His line ended up being 2.2 innings, 5 hits, and 4 runs (all earned). Clay Rapada got out of the inning, and then David Phelps came in. And David did not play the part of Goliath in this one, as he went on to give up 3 runs, 5 hits, and walking 3, and gave up 2 round-trippers, in 2.1 innings.  The rest of the bullpen did a good job of holding Texas, but the damage was too much.

Derek Jeter started the Yankee offense with his 11th lead-off hit, but the other Yankee hitters didn't take it from there. Granderson and Rodriguez struck out after that lead-off single, then Cano grounded out to end things. They didn't get another hit until the 3rd inning when ... SURPRISE... Jeter hit another single to CF. Back-to-back singles by Granderson and Teixeira started the 4th , and both men ended up scoring on an Ibanez double and a sac fly by Chavez. But even a home run later by Raul wasn't enough to win this one. The team went back to their #RISPFAIL ways and only hit 1-7 in that situation, leaving 5 men in scoring position.

Series Awards

Jake Taylor Award*
Derek Jeter - 8/13, 2 R, 1 RBI, 2 2B

Gentry Award*
Alex Rodrigez - 1/10, 7 LOB

Rick Vaughn Award*
CC Sabathia - Game 1: 8 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 8 K

Kelner Award*
Phil Hughes - Game 3: 2.2 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 2 K

Next Series
vs. Tigers 4/27 - 4/29
Click here to talk about the series at the Daily Sports Pages Yankees forum.


*The awards are named after one of the best baseball movies of all time... Major League.

Jake Taylor Award - Awarded to the most valuable position player. Named after the hard-nose veteran catcher that, despite making the league minimum, was the heart and soul of the 1989 American League East winning Cleveland Indians.

Gentry Award - Awarded to the least valuable position player. Named after the very first man cut from the 1989 Cleveland Indians, #47 Gentry. A man so insignificant he wasn't even given a first name.

Rick Vaughn - Awarded to the best pitcher in the series. This one is, of course, named after the "Wild Thing". The man that made Clu Haywood look silly in the division deciding game.

Kelner Award - Awarded to the worst pitcher in the series. Named after the Opening Day starter for the '89 Indians. Not a good game for Mr. Kelner, as Indians' announcer Harry Doyle famously quipped "thank God" after Kelner left the game. And yet another bad player without a first name.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)