Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Series Wrap - @ Orioles 4/9-4/11

The three day long nightmare ended, as the Yankees won the first game of the series against the Orioles. Coming into Monday Baltimore was 3-0, after sweeping the Minnesota Twins in their opening series. Every position player to enter the game for the Yankees reached base (Swisher and ARod were hitless, but both reached base thanks to drawing walks), led by The Captain. Derek Jeter was 4-4, with a double, a run scored, and an RBI. On the run prevention side of things Ivan Nova threw 7 innings, giving up 10 hits, 2 runs (both earned), and a home run, while striking out 7 with 0 walks. David Robertson and Mariano Rivera each threw scoreless innings to finish off the Orioles.

I want to take a moment to talk about Eduardo Nunez. In the bottom of the 3rd inning Nunez was playing in on Nolan Reimold. With Robert Andino on 2nd base after a lead-off double, I guess Girardi thought a bunt may be on, so he had Eduardo move about 5 feet in front of the base line from 2nd to 3rd. Reimold ended up hitting the ball fairly well to Nunez's left, so that Eduardo couldn't get into a good fielding position, allowing the ball to come out of his glove. Eduardo tried to complete the play, but thanks to Reimold being fairly swift-footed, the throw was too late. After that play Twitter blew up with NunEz comments, basically pointing out another error by Eduardo. Nevermind that it was scored a hit, but it wasn't an easy play seeing as how Nunez was playing up like he was. Chances are that if the batter/runner had average speed Nunez would have thrown him out anyway. There will be plenty of chances to point out Eduardo's fielding woes, but that wasn't one of them.

Anyway, it was good to finally get a win in the standings. But what happened next?

Game 2 started off nicely, as Jeter took the 5th pitch of the game out of the park, giving the Yankees a quick 1-0 lead. That was followed by a double by Nick Swisher, as things looked like a high scoring game was coming. Unfortunately that was not the case, as the offense stalled after that. Wei Yin Chen is in his first season in MLB, having moved from Nippon Professional Baseball (Japanese pro league) for this season, and in typical first-time-the-Yanks-see-a-guy fashion he retired the next 10 batters (5 by strikeout). While all of that was going on Freddy Garcia was throwing the ball everywhere but over the plate. Sweaty Freddy put up a line of 4.2IP, 4H, 4R (3 earned), 3BB, 3K, 1HR, along with 5... that's right... 5 wild pitches (2 of which led directly to runs). Thankfully David Phelps came into the game and shut down the Orioles. In fact, Phelps, Robertson, Logan, Wade, and Rapada threw 6.1 innings, giving up only 2 hits, 0 runs, 2 walks, and struck out 10. On top of seeing the bullpen do an excellent job, the Yankees were able to score 3 runs in the 6th inning to even things up, and without the use of the long ball. The game stayed at 4-4 until the top of the 12th when, with runners on the corners and two outs (ARod and Teixeira failed to drive in Cano after a lead-off double), Raul Ibanez earned his pinstripes (well, they were away and wearing the gray uniforms, but stay with me) by hitting a ground-rule double. That was the game winning RBI after Mo was Mo in the bottom of the inning, locking down the Yankees second straight win, and second win of the season.

I already posted about Nick Swisher being thrown out at home, so I'm going to just move on. The question now is... are we going to have another "moment" in Game 3?

Nope. Although some people were questioning Girardi pinch-running Eduardo Nunez for Alex Rodriguez in the 8th, it wasn't a big deal to them at all. The game started off hot again for the offense, as Derek Jeter doubled, followed by Curtis Granderson's first homer of the season. Jake Arrieta retired the next 11 Yankee batters. The Orioles took the lead in the bottom of the 5th, thanks to a two-run double by Mark Reynolds, but the Yankees answered that run in a couple innings later, when Granderson singled home Russell Martin. After ARod opened the top of the 8th with a single, Nunez came in to pinch run. Nunez then stole 2B, but a throwing error by Wieters allowed him to advance to 3B with only 1 out. Unfortunately that was followed by a strikeout by Swisher, an intentional walk to Ibanez, and a strike out by Martin. The bullpen came through again in this one, throwing 3 innings of 1 hit ball, before Nick Swisher came through with a 2-run bomb to put the Yankees ahead by 2. Mariano Rivera came into his third straight game, and besides a single by Ronny Paulino, and saved another one.

Although it wasn't easy, and the bullpen was spent by the end of the series, the Yankees were able to bounce-back from being swept in their opening series against the Rays to sweep the Orioles, heading home for the 2012 Home Opener with a .500 record. Let's just pretend the season is only 156 games long, and not drop a single series this year.

Series Awards

Jake Taylor Award*
Derek Jeter - 7/14, 4 R, 3 RBI, 1 HR

Gentry Award*
Alex Rodriguez - 1/13, 1 BB, 5 K, 9 LOB

Rick Vaughn Award*
Ivan Nova - Game 1: 7IP, 10H, 2ER, 7K, 0BB, 1 HR

Kelner Award*
Freddy Garcia - Game 2: 4.2IP, 4H, 3ER, 3BB, 3K, 1HR, 5WP

Next Series
vs. Angels 4/13-4/15
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 :)