(You're still the best to me, Dave. Courtesy of The AP)
David Phelps. Jeff Niemann, One night only. Mano y mano. Sure it was the undercard to the big "Sabathia vs. Price" battle tonight, but there was still plenty of intrigue surrounding this matchup. Phelps was pitching to hopefully keep his name in consideration for a spot in the rotation, and the Yankees were looking to get back within striking distance of the division lead against a pitcher who'd been successful against them in the past.
- Things didn't look good for Phelps in the top of the 1st, when he gave up a leadoff double to Yankee killer in the making Ben Zobrist and walked Carlos Pena on 4 pitches to start the game. He didn't look sharp and loaded the bases before wriggling off the hook without allowing a run on 28 pitches.
- After that, it was like he flipped an internal switch because Phelps was a completely different pitcher. He retired the 2nd-4th innings in order on just 42 pitches, spotting his fastball down to both sides of the plate and working from ahead in the count almost the entire time.
- The Yankee double play combo of Derek & Bob were responsible for the first Yankee run of the game in the bottom of the 1st. Jeter led off with a first-pitch single and came around to score on a 2-out double by Cano, which had the added bonus of being hit the opposite way in an attempt to attack the outside of the plate, something Cano has not done well thus far.
- The only problem with Cano's run-scoring hit was that it was the only one the Yankees could muster. Niemann was very good after the 1st, allowing just 5 baserunners and no runs over the next 6 innings with 4 strikeouts.
- Of course, a bad offensive night for the Yankees merits a mention of their continued struggles to hit with RISP. They were 0-8 as a team last night, with 8 men left on base.
- Phelps hit the wall in the 5th and ended his outing just as he started it, by having no command and loading the bases on a double and 2 walks, and it was up to the Yankee bullpen from there. Boone Logan, Cory Wade, and Rafael Soriano combined for 3.1 IP of scoreless ball, and despite the offense continuing to be shut down, the Yankees still led 1-0 going into the 9th.
- Just when I go and start tooting his horn for him, D-Rob had to go and blow the save in his 2nd consecutive post-Mo opportunity. It was a bit of a freak occurrence, as the first 2 hitters of the inning got singles swinging on the first pitch and advanced on a poor throwing decision by Swish, but that fastball to Matt Joyce was poorly placed, and I'm sure that won't stop everybody from freaking out today.
- The bottom line is that Robertson had been LONG overdue for an outing like last night's, and it sucks that it had to happen when it did.
- Robinson Cano: 2-4, 2B, RBI. I feel like he's starting to come around. That was a very Cano-ish swing on the RBI double.
- Nick Swisher: 2-4, 1 K. Had 2 hits and a great 11-pitch AB against Niemann in the 6th. Doesn't appear to have missed a beat at the plate after the injury.
- Curtis Granderson: 0-4, 2 K. Come on, guy. That's not how you're supposed to lead me into my next story for today...
D-Rob: 0.2 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, BS, L. I'm not even worried about the BS. How often do 2 consecutive guys swing at the first pitch and get hits. It was just a double-whammy to have to go from the Rangers losing to D-Rob loading the bases, getting 2 outs, and then giving up a 3-R HR to effectively lose the game for the Yanks.
- Mark Teixeira: 0-4, 1 K, 4 LOB. Couldn't put the ball in play after A-Rod stole third with 1 outi n the 6th, and grounded into a double play with runners on first and second to end the 8th.
Series finale is tonight and it's the aces throwing down. CC has been on a roll lately, but Price is coming off an 8-inning, 1-run, 12-K performance his last time out, and he has only allowed 3 ER total in 23.1 IP over his last 3 starts. Everything points to runs being at a premium tonight, but the Yankees have hit Price well before. As is recent tradition, the Yankees will be looking to CC to provide lots of length to rest a tired bullpen.