Monday, April 16, 2012

Game 9 Wrap-Up: NYY 11 LAA 5 (With Bonus Thoughts & Afterthoughts)

(Ahoy, Captain.  Courtesy of The AP)

One of the few times I can stomach ESPN is when they have the Yankees on Sunday Night Baseball.  Last night was one of those nights, so everybody gets a bonus batch of my brand of analysis.  You're welcome.

Game Notes:

- Jerome Williams experienced the same fate as Phil Hughes the day before, failing to consistently throw his fastball for strikes and leaving the ball up in the zone, and as a result he wasn't around long.  The Yankees punished him for 5 ER on 5 H and 3 BB in just 2.2 IP.

- Ivan Nova pitched very similar to how he did in his first start last night, flashing a mid-90s fastball that he generally commanded to both sides of the plate and a killer curve that he got plenty of swings and misses on.  He did miss spots here and there and give up some hits, but once again there was never the sense that he was in real danger in his 6 innings of work.

- After the Yankee offense knocked Williams out in the 3rd, the big hit was Jeter's 3-run HR to right in the 4th inning to make it an 8-1 game.  Classic Jeter power swing, and one that's been MIA for the last few seasons.

- In the late innings, with the Angels threatening to climb back into it, the Yankees shut the door with D-Rob and Logan in the 8th-9th innings and a monster 2-R HR from Raul Ibanez for some insurance.  Game, set, match, start spreadin' the news.

F*ck Yeahs:

- Derek Jeter: 2-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.  Dude's still got it.

- Robinson Cano: 2-3, 2B, 3 R, 2 BB, 1 SB.  On the day honoring the man he was named after, Cano started to look better at the plate.

- Raul Ibanez: 2-4, HR, 1 R, 3 RBI.  Miss with a pitch in this stadium and he's going to make you pay.

Oh Nos:

- Rafael Soriano: Entered the game in the 7th with a 4-run lead and failed to get through the inning after allowing a run on 2 hits and 2 walks.

Next Up:

The Yankees will be back on the WWL tonight for Monday Night Baseball when they welcome their old whipping boys the Twins, and former Yankee DL member Carl Pavano, back to the Bronx.

Thoughts & Afterthoughts:

- I didn't know whether it was a good or bad thing that Orel Hershiser referenced the same 1-HR/3-RBI stats that I did when discussing the 3-5 spots in the Yankee lineup in the pregame.  I usually like Orel, so I'm going to say it was a good thing.

- One of Nova's signatures last season was being tough with RISP and he lived up to that reputation last night in the top of the 1st, making it out unscathed after giving up a triple to Howie Kendrick.

- The guys in the ESPN production truck must have been falling all over themselves to get Tim Tebow on camera once they realized he was there.  Tebow got more air time than the actual game in the 2nd inning.

- Speaking of d-bags who play other sports, what the hell was up with Dwyane Wade's side piece to his left last night?  I hope to Tebow that was his sister or a close family member, because on the groupie scale that chick was a -2.

- First time really seeing Teix's new lefty approach and I was impressed with it.  His stance is not nearly as open as it was last year, and his right leg is closer to his body.  Should generate a lot better hip rotation and help him keep his hands back.

- Nova was really dealing when he K'd the side in the top of the 3rd.  His fastball was popping between 93-96 again and he was using it brilliantly to get ahead in the count and set up the curveball for his out pitch.  And he struck out Kendrick, Pujols, and Hunter there, so no slouches.

- Classic Derek Jeter on his double down the RF line in the 3rd inning; just pulled his hands in and muscled the ball down the line.  That was a way better outcome than bunting.

- I think something happened to the feed during Cano's AB in the bottom of the 3rd.  Either that or I blacked out for a minute because I could have sworn I saw him take 4 straight pitches for balls and draw a walk.

- Speaking of Cano, the new SportsCenter commercial with him doing the handshakes with everybody is hilarious.  About time they rolled out a good SC ad.

- Teix's swing on his RBI double to right in the 3rd was the byproduct of that changed stance.  He kept his hands back and had great hip and body rotation through the swing, which was very quiet and controlled.  Last year he would have lunged at that and probably popped it up to 2nd base.

- The only better swing than that might have been Jeter's in the bottom of the 4th on his 3-run homer.  Pulled his hands in again on a fastball inside and used great hip and body rotation to power the ball out into the right field power alley.  Jeter definitely looks like he's gotten his lower half back into his swing more and the results so far have been great.

- Nova labored a bit in the 4th and 5th innings after having to wait for a while in the dugout while his team hit.  It definitely affected his fastball command and he started going to the slider more to get strikes.  That's one part of his game that he still needs to work on- staying loose and maintaining his command during long innings.

- He didn't do much at the plate last night, but The Horse made a nice diving play to his left to get Nova out of the 6th inning.  The legs still look good right now.

- I didn't hear or read anything about his finger nail still affecting him, but Soriano sucked last night in the 7th.  He had no fastball command and everything was up in the zone and flat.  He thre 21 pitches, so wait and see if Joe rolls him out there again tonight to get right.

- Big run in the bottom of the 7th after the Angels got within 3.  Nice aggressive baserunning by Cano after ANOTHER walk to steal 2nd, and a nice piece of hitting by Swish to take the ball back up the box and give the Yankees some insurance.

- Ibanez's HR right after that was one of the biggest no-doubters I've seen in the new Stadium.  He DESTROYED that ball.  If his swing stays right for all or most of the year, he's going to do damage in this park.  Thank you, Dr. Long.

- A bit of a rough night in center field for C-Grand.  He took a couple of shaky routes on balls hit deep to right-center earlier in the game and then got a terrible read on a bloop off the bat of Maicer Izturis in the 8th that dinked in for a single.

- Boone Logan had the slider working last night.  When he's commanding that pitch and dropping it off the table, that's what makes him dangerous against righties and lefties.

- All in all, it was another solid outing for Nova.  His fastball is showing great life this year and for the most part he worked it well to both sides of the plate.  His curveball was also on as his out pitch and he got some swings and misses with the slider when he had to go to it.  He still misses up with the curve from time to time and teams are going to hit that, same with the fastball.  So his command can be tightened up a little bit. But I can't get too upset about the high hit totals because it shows Nova is attack hitters and throwing strikes, and he's always shown the ability to work out of trouble.  I'll take that over Hughes nibbling and missing 25 hours a day, 8 days a week.

- I hate to admit this, but I don't hate Terry Francona as an analyst quite as much as I thought I would.  I was anticipating nothing but Fraud Sawx stories after that one spring game I watched, but he really does watch the game and try to offer good insights based off what he's seeing.  He plays off of Orel and Shulman well too.  Light years better than Miller and Morgan.

- Good all-around win to win the series last night.  Nova continued to pitch well, the offense did exactly what I thought it could do against Williams, and the bullpen came in to preserve the win.  Hopefully a sign of things to come against the Twins.

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