Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Horse Ties The Iron Horse

It's one thing to hit a grand slam.  It's another to hit a grand slam that ties you with one of the greatest Yankee and baseball legends of all time for the most career grand slams.  And it's quite another to hit that record-tying grand slam in the 8th inning of a road game where your team was down 4-0 and have it be the catalyst for a seemingly improbable comeback win.

Too bad this didn't happen at home.  Woulda been cool to see A-Rod give a little speech after the game.

"Tonight (-night...).  I consider myself (-self...).  The luckiest centaur (-taur...).  On the face of the earth (earth...)."

Good Starting Pitching Is Good. Great Starting Pitching Is Better

Do you see that?  Do you?  That's straight up DOMINANCE with a capital "dominance."  In the month of June, the Yankee rotation has posted the following line:

7-1 Record, 1.77 ERA, 2.58 FIP, 2.02 BB/9, 8.96 K/9

And that's with the ace of the staff not pitching his best.  If you're looking for the number 1 reason why the Yankees risen back to the top of the AL East, look no further than that spreadsheet.  They had their ups and downs early, but this crew looks like they're starting to settle in.  They aren't going to be this good for the rest of the season, but if they can pitch consistently well enough, that should be more than enough to win this division.  And if the offense ever catches up, watch out.

Bunch of stone cold killers right here.

(See no evil, smell no evil, speak no evil?  Courtesy of US Presswire)

The Return Of Derek Jeter's GB Demons

As awesome as Derek Jeter's scorching hot start to the season was, deep down we all knew it was going to come to an end eventually.  There were just too many factors playing against him for his low-1.000s OPS and low-.400s wOBA pace to hold up over the long haul, and eventually the law of averages was going to cause his tremendous BABIP luck to turn.  The numbers started to turn in May, when Jeter's OPS dropped to .692 and his wOBA to .314, and that downward trend has continued into the first third of June, where he's currently hitting .200/.289/.275 (.265 wOBA). The big shift in contact rates so far this month is a a red flag, bigger than the drop in batting line, and now the hope is that the production pendulum doesn't swing too far in the other direction and back towards the powerless GB machine that Jeter was a little more than a season ago.

Game 60 Wrap-Up: NYY 3 ATL 0

(Swishalicious at the wall.  Courtesy of The AP)

After dispatching of the Mets in relatively easy fashion, the Yankees moved south to take on their NY little brother's NL East brethren in Atlanta.  The Braves, and their fans, are used to getting their asses handed to them by the Yankees, and Ivan Nova and company were looking to keep that trend, as well as their winning streak, going.  They'd be without the DH for the first time this year, but with the way the rotation has been going lately, that wouldn't be a problem.

Game Notes:

- The offense wasted no time in getting to Atlanta starter Randall Delgado.  With 2 outs in the top of the 1st, Alex Rodriguez doubled and was driven in by a Robinson Cano single.  A hit with RISP AND with 2 outs?!  People watching on TV must have thought they were dreaming.

- Whether it was nerves or just general lack of pitching talent, Delgado was not sharp early, and the patented Yankee patience beat him to the tune of 5 hits and 3 walks in the first 3 innings.

- The Bombers tacked a run on in the 2nd when Raul Ibanez led off the inning with his 10th HR of the year, and another in the 3rd when Delgado threw a wild pitch with the bases loaded.  He had real trouble navigating through the heart of the Yankee order, and at 3-0 it looked like the rout was on.

- Nova was effective if not spectacular in the early innings last night.  He allowed just 4 hits through 4 innings, 2 of them on the infield, and 0 runs, but he wasn't generating a lot of groundballs, and it took some solid D behind him to keep the Braves off the board (see Nick Swisher's leaping catch at the wall in the 4th).

- That rout I mentioned before?  Never materialized.  The RISP Fail came back in a big way and kept the game closer than it should have been.  The Yanks put 2 on in the 5th, 2 on in the 6th, and loaded the bases in the 7th only to come up empty every time.  Back-to-back inning-ending DPs in the 6th and 7th killed those rallies.

- The final 3 innings for Nova were much better than the first 4, as he got 7 of his last 9 outs either on the ground or via the K and didn't allow a runner past first base.  The lead baserunner got on in 5 of the 7 innings he pitched, but Nova worked around trouble every time.

- With Rafael Soriano unavailable, it was bullpen by committee last night, and the team of Cody Eppley, Clay Rapada, Cory Wade, and Boone Logan worked 2 scoreless frames with 3 strikeouts to close out the win for Nova.