(The home run canter. Courtesy of Reuters)
If you would have asked me before the season, I would have said that "Andy Pettitte vs. Will Smith" had to be among the most unlikely possible pitching matchups for the 2012 season. And yet, those were the 2 guys on the mound last night for their respective clubs as the Yankees and Royals played the final game of this series. Joe bumped Mark Teixeira up to the #3 spot against the lefty Smith, a move I'm not sure Teix has earned with the way he's been hitting lately. But that's why he's the manager and I'm the lowly blogger.
- The Yankees getting out to early leads is not something that has happened with regularity recently, but that's just what they did against Agent J in the bottom of the 1st. In a move he probably learned from Ivan Nova, Smith threw a belt-high slider over the heart of the plate that Curtis Granderson absolutely crushed into the right field seats to put the Yanks on the board.
- After walking Teix 2 batters later, Smith had to face The Horse, and he went about it all wrong. A-Rod might not have the same kick that he did in his prime, but he's still not the type of hitter to whom you can throw 6 consecutive fastballs and get away with it. The 6th was lined into the left field seats for a 3-0 lead.
- You would think Smith had learned his lesson the first time, but there he was firing fastball after fastball again when A-Rod came up in the 3rd. He fell behind 3-0, threw a fastball for strike 1, and then threw another one 3-1 that Rodriguez hit for his second 2-run HR of the game. 5-0 Yankees.
- Oh yeah, Andy Pettitte was pitching too. He worked quickly and efficiently through the first 2 innings, but had to battle at times from then on. He needed a great double play started by Teix to bail him out of the 3rd, and allowed a run each in the 4th and 5th on solo HR.
- The Yankee offense answered right back in the bottom of the 5th, plating 3 more runs after getting into another bases loaded, no outs situation. It wasn't the most glamorous means to an end, more about patience and bad pitching than good hitting, but runs are runs.
- One thing Andy was last night was efficient, and that allowed him to pitch deep into the game again. He threw a ton of strikes and he had really good stuff as he worked through 7 innings of 2-run ball, finally giving way to David Phelps to finish things off after walking Alex Gordon to start the 8th.
- No more runs for the offense after the 5th, even though they loaded the bases again in the 7th, but they didn't need any more.
- It was an all-around good night for the lineup, but they aren't totally out of the woods yet. The RISP Fail issues are still present and the team only went 1-6 in that situation last night.
- Alex Rodriguez: 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, 1 K, 4 LOB. A wiser pitcher wouldn't have fed A-Rod fastballs all night, but it's good to know that he still knows what to do with them.
- Granderson: 2-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 LOB. Curtis' numbers have dipped a bit. Good to see him put up a line like this.
- Derek Jeter: 3-5, 1 2B, 1 R. Haven't seen a 3-hit night from The Captain in a bit. Lotta good contact off his bat last night.
- Pettitte: 7 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, W. I've been impressed by how sharp Andy's stuff has been these last 2 starts. He was throwing everything last night- fastballs, cutters, curves, sliders, changeups- and he was throwing them all well. The Royals helped a little by hacking, but Andy's stuff was very good last night and it showed in the 17 combined strikeouts and groundouts. Second time in a row through the rotation that he's had the best outing.
- Russell Martin: 0-4, 1 K, 7 LOB. Maybe Chris Stewart should start playing more.
The Yankee offense is built on 2 things, patience and power, and they displayed plenty of both for the first time in a while last night. The thought going in was that Will Smith could be a pitcher the Yankees could wake up against and they certainly seemed to do so. That's 2 in a row, which is not a winning streak in my book, but it's a start. Off day today so they can travel out to the West Coast. Weekend series in Oakland starts tomorrow.