Streaks, slumps, and stability in the Yankee armada


Alex Rodriguez steps to the plate. Queue Katy Perry’s ‘Hot and Cold’. 
With the bad joke out of the way, the point is this; A-Rod is streaky. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, because these streaks paint a clear picture; When he hits, the Yankees win. I mean, it’s not rocket science, considering he’s one of the top three hitters in baseball, it’s just worth mentioning again. And so with his fifth home run in nine games, the Yankees take their eighth out of nine. And no need telling you that the one game lost (yesterday) was the only of the nine Alex went hitless. 
As if to emphasize how streaky our boy here is, even with this recent success, he still hits .235 (as of yesterday), giving you an idea how cold he was prior to June 24th. 
So, it’s easy to get excited over the past week the Yankees have posted, but remember, to make it last, performances will need to be sustained. And that leads us to our next topic…
Slumps (and trades!)

Swisher has really been having a hard time, which is heat breaking considering the show he treated us to in April (you know, carrying the team). But anyone who expected that to be sustained (to any real degree) had to have been kidding themselves. And that’s why you can’t help but contemplate the Hinske deal Cashman and the Yanks pulled off with Pittsburgh this week.
All we can really do is sit and be thankful for that depth of our outfield. With Hideki having trouble fielding, we still have Melky (who has been stellar for us), Gardner, and now Hinske to fill in the Swisher spot. So while he gets straightened out, it’s worth appreciating our options. 
(Another great segway!) And speaking off appreciating;
So I don’t want to jinx it, but in my last post that spoke of Burnett, I noted that this might be the start of something big. Burnett could be the Yankees summer blockbuster. He has put on a series of 100-million dollar performances in a row, and it’s just glorious. Today, it was especially fantastic considering he didn’t falter like our guy CC did yesterday (he has to have a bad day once in a while.)
Anyway, cheers to AJ, Rodriguez, and the Yankees. I’ll post again when the series is over. 
Extra Note: Cano is also streaking, and poor Frankie Hustle isn’t hitting as well as he should if he wants to edge out our old friend Molina. 

Wang makes progress, Mo makes history, Yankees make it five in a row


Wang making progress with each start…

A couple of noteworthy things about Wang’s start yesterday. First of all, without attempting to manage the team, I believe he could have lasted another inning (he was taken out in the sixth, with a man on first and one out, only 85 pitches under his belt), making it six, and thus his longest start/appearance of the year. Secondly, he gave up the least runs he has all season (in a start), limiting the incapacitated Mets offense to a two run effort. He induced the most ground balls he has all season (a signature aspect of his game when he was winning 19 a season) with 13. Finally, he simply gave up the least hits he has of any start this year, even more reassuring considering it was his lengthiest appearance. 
Mo makes history…
A quick congratulations to Mariano Rivera, who, as his career dwindles, has cemented himself as the greatest closer to ever play the game. It was even sweeter last night because he dominated the batters with his trademark cutter, which just mowed down a very quiet Mets lineup. 
Yankees make it five in a row…

Finally onto the important part of the post. I couldn’t be more reassured by the wins that the Yankees are now posting. I believe that they are in fact better-looking performances by the entire Bomber squad than the walk-off hysteria they perpetuated in May. 
The first mark of this quality is in the pitching; Since June 24th (5 games), the Yankee pitching has let up an outstanding 10 earned runs, 30 hits, and only 3 home runs. In other words, in the past five games, they’ve posted a collective 2.00 ERA. Now you can’t ignore the starting pitching, but it’s also due to a significant contribution for the middle relief. It’s extraordinary to see how the middle relief of the Yankees have pulled together since early into he season. Amongst the now essential Aceves, Bruney, and Hughes, is Dave Robertson, who was a no name as late as May, putting up a 2.70 ERA. He’s part of the continued trend of successful Yankee youth.
Now the pitching is basically the same as it was around eight days ago, when the Yankees were seriously slumping. The obvious is difference is that; the Yankees are no longer slumping. To make it clear the jump they’ve made (starting with those last two games in Atlanta), they were hitting .212 from June 17th to June 23rd. From June 24th to yesterday, the Yankees average has jumped to .283 (with an interesting 8 more runners LOB as a team. Probably because of the increased runners on base in the first place).
So with all the numbers aside, you have to consider the following; The Yankees have heated up against the Braves and Mets, two weak-hitting teams. The Yankees regained confidence will find a buffer in the harder-hitting AL teams it faces as we head into July 
And with that, I thank the baseball gods that interleague play is over,
and bid you Good Night. 

Errors fail to stop the Yankees from taking series

Yankees emerge from the Atlanta haze victorious

The question is as follows; Did Joe Girardi know what he was doing when he had himself thrown out of the game Wednesday? Of course he knew he was going to get thrown out, but whether or not he was aware that he was jolting the Yankee line up into a respectable fashion of hitting is questionable. 

I give him the benefit of the doubt. If you don’t buy the Girardi thing at all, then you may be convinced that it was because the Yankees faced Derek Lowe, a pitcher they are familiar with (in contrast to the young National league arms that have been tormenting New York). Since then, the Yankees have scored 18 runs in the past 12 innings, looking once again like one of the highest scoring teams in the MLB. 
But in a sense all of the reasons are irrelevant. What matters, in a “dispatches on the road to 27” kind of way, is that Boston lost last night, putting the Yankees one game closer to their throne at the top of the AL East. And with CC Sabathia starting tonight (Yankee caption on their website reads; “Left bicep tendinitis? Please”), I’d say that the Yankees have a great shot on starting another streak here by making it three in a row.
Meanwhile, as Teixeira’s glove remains hot, his bat has gone particularly cold. He’s hit a very disappointing .233 in the past 10 games, and has not gotten any better as the Yankee’s offense has picked up in the last two games. For the Bombers to maintain a high production of wins as we head into July, Mark will need to pick it up. Because, as we observed in May, when he is on, so are the Yanks. 
John Sterling/Suzyn Waldman Quote of the Day:
John Sterling: It’s not like the Yankees can’t score anymore
Suzyn Waldman: You’re right, John, that is not a rule. 
Link of the Day: Nady having setbacks
Extra Note: While I was gripping my hair in frustration at the time, the foundations of my faith in Brett Gardner are not shaken by his two blown fly-balls yesterday. 

Signs of Life

Nothing but good signs as the Yankees take their first win in the past four games…

So after a depressing run against the Nationals and Marlins (and a lost first game to Atlanta), putting up only a couple of meager wins, the Yankees have delivered a very good looking W;
Whether or not it is by any means momentum-changing will be told in time as the Yankees finish out the series against the Braves. But before declaring any big-time turning point in our season, let’s count the blessings received today down in Georgia;
The story is in a 6 inning, 2 ER performance posted by Joba Chamberlain. To be exact, the story is not tonight’s specific performance, but rather how it contributes to Joba’s June. He has, as of tonight, in his past five starts, let up no more than 3 ER and gone no shorter than six innings. You take consistency where you can get it I suppose, even if it is not from a pricey offseason acquisition (ahem, Burnett,). 
The other good sign is the show put on by the New York offense. To give an idea to any inattentive fan out there as to how bad the Yankees have been hitting, they score more runs tonight than they’ve scored in the past 3 games. and easily more than half the hits. And so when they bursted out (at least temporarily) of the stupor they’ve been in, there were some special moments. Gardner walked – and then got “picked off” (he was blatantly safe). But no need to worry, as Frankie “Hustle” Cervelli exacted pinstriped revenge, launching one into the left field seats. With that hit, the Yankees ended a no hit bid, and launched their tear. Other highlights include A-Rod’s 2 RBI single, Damon’s multihit night, and Mariano Rivera’s line drive that nearly fell in for a hit. 
So that’s it for tonight; leaving some starved fans in high spirits, the Yankees look to close out the series against Atlanta tomorrow, facing Derek Lowe, and old foe (yes, it rhymes). 
Suyzn Waldman/John Sterling Quote of the Day: 
Suzyn: Mets beat St. Louis 1-0
John Sterling: 11-0
Link of the DayThe Dynasty Video
Extra Note: Jeter is hitting hot – basically the best in the lineup as of late. And his SBs don’t hurt either. 

Pitching excels behind weak hitting, creating a miserable week for the Bronx.

drop two straight series

is very rare that anyone thinks or says the words ‘Thank God it’s
Monday’ but I can only imagine that is what is being muttered by
every single managerial character in the Yankee organization this
morning. One can almost hear the sigh of relief being exhaled across
Yankeedom as the team gets the hell out of Florida, leaving that
stadium and a dismal week behind them. 

hard to take a streak like this, interrupted by the occasional win,
after such a thrilling May. So as we buckle down for Atlanta on
Wednesday, it’s worth contemplating what went wrong. 

bright side of things is that it definitely was not pitching;

fact, study these numbers: 

May 15th to June 13th, the Yankees pitching staff averaged around 30
given up every seven games. That’s not a poor performance in
the least: Definitely not one that warrants a series lost to the
god-forsaken Nationals. So it must have gotten worse going
into the series against the Nationals…

the contrary, since June 13th to today (seven games of play), the
Yankees pitching staff has given up only 18 runs

question stands: How is it that with the best pitching our staff has
given since May 15th, we performed the worst. This is not exactly a
Sherlock Holmes-caliber mystery;

New York Yankees are not hitting. 

May 1st, through today, the Yankee batting average has dropped close
to 40 points

following is the Yankee hitting stats for the month of May, with a
game average at the bottom: 

May 1, 2009 to May 31, 2009 28 17-11 1103 980 155 276 60 5 47 152 94 3 170 11 11 7 9 22 17 6 .282 .349 .497 .846 197
Average 1.0 39.4 35.0 5.5 9.9 2.1 0.2 1.7 5.4 3.4 0.1 6.1 0.4 0.4 0.2 0.3 0.8 0.6 0.2 7.0

following is the Yankee hitting stats so far for the month of June,
with a game average at the bottom: 

Jun 1, 2009 to Jun 21, 2009 19 9-10 716 620 95 153 33 1 25 89 86 3 99 5 3 2 6 17 15 1 .247 .342 .424 .766 127
Average 1.0 37.7 32.6 5.0 8.1 1.7 0.1 1.3 4.7 4.5 0.2 5.2 0.3 0.2 0.1 0.3 0.9 0.8 0.1 6.7

stats (mind you, thats what they are, just stats) mean to me the
following: In May, with Gardner on third, we may have won the game
last night. In fact, we also may have come back to take the game
against the Nationals, where Cano grounded into a DP to end it. That
walk-off/comeback spark has deserted us, along with that serious
chunk of the team BA. 

most importantly , remember this: When Teixeira and A-Rod do decide
to awaken from their respective slumps, take a deeeeep yawn, stretch
their arms, and lumber over to the metaphorical plate,
hopefully sometime around the All-star break, we will
look nothing like the .242 we have right now in the month of June. So
stay strong, Yankee fans, 4.0 games is nothing. 

with that, I’ll leave you until tomorrow, when I’ll give
thoughts/predictions on the upcoming series.

of the Day:
immediate word on Sabathia’s injury

How about Brett Gardner? 

Wang’s best start of the year, the offense’s worst

(taken from NY Daily News

Wang’s best start of the year

It’s not saying much, considering his past starts (not worth posting the numbers), but it was a serious step. The stats were mediocre; 5 innings, 3 ER. But this is one of the cases where stats don’t quite tell you everything about the pitching performance; 
First of all, everyone who watched/listened to the game are aware of the blown call at first by the ump, top of the 5th. Willie Harris was clearly out at first base on a ground ball. He was called safe, and ended up scoring. The worst part about this entire incident, obviously, is that the Nationals one by this one run. 
Secondly, a good sign from Wang was that 10 of the 15 outs he delivered were ground balls. Four of the six hits Wang gave up were soft grounders that found the gap That was his signature from his 19-win seasons, the sinker/fastball induced groundball. Let’s hope that it bodes well for the rest of Wang’s season. 
The offense’s worst start of the year

This wasn’t the offense’s statistically worst start of the year, but considering the pitcher they faced, it seemed to be. 
I don’t have much to say on this one. I don’t see the point in speculating about the never-seen-before-pitcher-syndrome, because it appears that that’s what everyone else is talking about, and you can find much more in-depth analysis with them. All that I can say is that the failed rally in the ninth was a real heartbreaker. It’s funny how nearly all of our walk-off wins come via a combination of Johnny Damon and the young guys on the team. So when Damon launched the line-drive homer out of the park in the bottom of the ninth, and Gardner proceeded to steal second and third, it was looking like one of the walk-offs from earlier this season. 
The part that got me was that A-Rod took the walk. You can’t complain about a walk – A-Rod albeit a low average, has a .379 OBP. But it just struck me that he could’ve managed to get a deep enough fly ball to score Gardner if he was looking for the right pitch. Anyway, that’s an insignificant complaint. Cano had an excellent AB to follow, fouling off 96, 97 mph pitches. But just tough luck with the grounder. 
You can’t walk-off all of them.
Extra Note(s): 0-3 w/ RISP

Bruney gets apologetic, Jose Veras gets DFA’d, CC gets win

Bruney gets apologetic

Brian Bruney did two things over this weekend: He pulled himself out of the minors, with a shutout outing in Scranton, and he embarrassed himself, pulling himself out of a feud with Francisco Rodriguez. 
What did he say again? “He’s got a tired act,” Alright, harmless.
But I side with K-Rod here despite my blatant Yankee bias because I refuse to be a hypocrite. A hypocrite in the sense that if I agreed with what Bruney said about K-Rod’s celebrations, I’d have to explain this:

(taken from  )

So it was kind of a lose-lose situation for Bruney; Either he not say anything and look like the lesser man after that altercation, or he apologize and look like a fool. I’d say he made the right move and apologized, bowing down to the mighty will of the great, theatrically-flawed Rodriguez.
“Obviously, I probably shouldn’t have said what I said,” Bruney admitted, “I made that mistake and I’m moving on,”

Ok, fantastic. All I really cared about was how he returned to the Yankees. And he did so just fine. One third inning, no runs. Thank you Bruney, and now please, stop talking. 

Jose Veras gets DFA’d

In a way the most important thing (Yankee-related) that happened today. Veras, had been struggling all season (as of today, a 5.96 ERA, 25 innings and 17 ER), and with Bruney coming up, there were several options. There were a good amount of DFA possibilities; Berroa, Tomko, Veras. There was also the thought of Robertson being sent down. 

I held my fingers crossed for Robertson of course, because I have that blind belief in the occasional young guy. I think he has serious potential and should get as much time as possible with jeopardizing wins (until he’s not longer categorized as a win jeopardizer). 

I figured that Berroa would be the best option because Pena has easily been outperforming him as the backup infielder, and the guy just didn’t seem to fit. It would be a loss if he was picked up off the waiver list, but it seems worth it. Veras looked like he was turning it around…

But it was Veras. Luckily, our bullpen, with Bruney back, is starting to look considerably above average, the exact opposite of early this season (take a walk down memory lane, why don’t you). 

CC Gets the Win

Before I bid you good night, CC looked stellar today, approaching what he looked like near-break last year. He is our ace now, and with him off our minds, we can focus on worrying on Wang (congratulate him if you see him, he has a new baby boy) and Burnett and Pettitte and Hughes and Joba and…

(introducing this new section)
John Sterling/Suzyn Waldman Quote of the Day: (near word for word) “Swung on and HIT IN THE AIR TO DEEP LEFT CENTER FIELD, AND THAT BALL IS….Caught! Wait, no! It’s off the wall!” 

Yankee Play of the Day:  Melky’s great grab