Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Heads Up, Cody!!

This highlowlight is a pretty accurate visual representation of the kind of baseball the Yankees have been playing during this 2-week stretch of poor play.  Even the simple around-the-horn toss after an out becomes an adventure when Cody Eppley has his head down and Eric Chavez isn't paying attention and doesn't realize Eppley isn't paying attention.  The Yankees haven't been doing the little things lately and they managed to fuck up a little thing in spectacular fashion here.

The classic "oh shit" moment where you realize that whoever you were throwing something to isn't looking AFTER you've already thrown that something.

The follow up "oh shit" moment after whoever you were throwing the something to doesn't look up in time and gets plunked by that something.

Yankee baseball, ladies and gentlemen!  Heroes remembered.  Legends born.

(Screen caps courtesy of Deadspin)

Nova Has Fallen Off The Cliff

(Right now he really is Ivan The Terrible)

If you want to say it was the outing before, I'm not going to argue with you, but for my money last night's start was the culmination of Ivan Nova's season-long descent into shittiness.  It's a topic that hasn't gotten as much coverage as it rightfully should if you look at his numbers, mainly because there have always been bigger injury-related stories dominating the headlines or the team still managed to win the games in which he was pitching, but after July's problems and August's implosion it's making its rightful way to the front pages.

What made last night the culmination in my eyes was the fact that, for once, it wasn't a barrage of extra base hits off and over the wall that did Nova in.  Oh no, it was an endless string of well-struck singles through, over, and around the infield right into the waiting outfield gaps.  8 out of 11 batters that came to the plate in the 5th and 6th innings got base hits, 5 on fastballs, 2 on sliders, 1 on a hanging curve.  It's been easy to say that it was just the extra bases that were causing the problems and the results, and that a little BABIP luck would help even things out.  But last night killed that excuse and put the period on the end of the "Ivan Nova just hasn't been good at all this season" sentence.

Some Glimmers Of Light In The Injury-Filled Prospect Darkness

(Don't sleep on this guy.  Courtesy of Mike Ashmore)

This has not been a good season for the Yankee farm system.  EJ Fagan made that perfectly clear yesterday in his evaluation of the Manny Banuelos shutdown story, which was much more level-headed than mine.  By my count, the Yankees have seen 4 of their top 5, 5 of their top 8, and 7 of their top 12 prospects miss time with injuries this season, and have had another handful of their top 20 have fantastically bad years (see: Betances, Dellin or Bichette, Jr., Dante).  I guess the one good thing about all of this is that at least Jesus Montero hasn't gone over to Seattle and started becoming the next Miguel Cabrera, right?  But fear not, Yankee fans, because all hope is not lost.  The injured will return to full health at some point, and further down the prospect food chain there have been some strong performances in the Yankee system this year.  The names aren't as sexy as the ones filling up the disabled lists, but their results do provide a bit of comfort in the face of all the injury/regression devastation.

Game 108 Wrap-Up: DET 7 NYY 2

(Not a look of confidence.  Courtesy of The AP)

The great New York Yankee Mid-Summer Lineup Shuffle continued last night as they kicked off a series in Detroit against the Tigers.  Eric Chavez was back in at third base, Russell Martin was back at catcher after a day off, Raul Ibanez got the start in left field, and Ichiro Suzuki got a day at DH.  The top of the order remained the same as it had the last couple days, and they needed to produce something if the Yankees were going to beat Justin Verlander, a pitcher against whom they've had some success recently.  With the struggling Ivan Nova on the mound, the lineup was probably going to have to score a few more runs than usual off of Verlander to have a chance.

Game Notes:

- Nova looked pretty good getting Miguel Cabrera to ground into a DP to end the bottom of the 1st, but he threw a garbage changeup to Prince Fielder to start off the 2nd and from firsthand experience out in Milwaukee I can tell you that's a bad idea.  Fielder smoked it for a solo HR and a 1-0 Detroit lead.

- Nova moved quickly and efficiently through the Detroit lineup after the Fielder HR, at least until it came back around to Cabrera in the 4th.  He hit a solo HR to make it 2-0 Tigers and Nova responded by plunking Fielder before ending the inning with another DP ball.

- There wasn't much doing against Verlander through 4 innings, but Eric Chavez had his number.  He doubled to right to lead off the 3rd and got stranded to end the inning, and doubled to left to start the top of the 5th.

- Chavez's teammates picked him up the second time around, with a little help from a Verlander error.  Jeter singled him home to put the Yanks on the board, and Robinson Cano followed up with an RBI single of his own to tie the game at 2.

- Naturally, Nova imploded and gave the lead back with 5 straight singles in the bottom of the 5th.  He hung fastballs, hung breaking balls, and when it was all said and done it was 5-2 Tigers.

- A bushel full of hits and a couple more runs later, it was curtains for Nova in the 6th and officially another horrible start for him.  Joba relieved and got through the 7th, and actually looked good doing it (95-97 on the fastball, sharp slider), but that was an afterthought with a 5-run deficit.

- Verlander worked through the 8th, Jose Valverde handled the 9th, and that was all she wrote.  The Yankees didn't score an earned run in the game.