Sunday, April 29, 2012

Monthly Minor League Report: The Upper Levels

(I think he just walked another guy.  Courtesy of Jim McGregor/

Yesterday we covered A-ball.  Today we focus on what the top 2 levels of the Yankee farm system have been up to this month.  There was a lot of hype surrounding the Triple-A rotation and a few of the players in Trenton, but so far the results have been disappointing for the biggest names at the top, almost completely across the board.

Game 20 Wrap-Up: DET 7 NYY 5

(The face of failure.  Courtesy of The AP)

I dropped the line about the Yankees facing a pitcher they'd never seen before in the previous game recap half-jokingly.  After watching how Drew Smyly handled the Yankee lineup yesterday, I should have been more serious.  He was very, very good in 6+ innings of work, and Freddy?  Well, Freddy was very, very not good.  Again.

Game Notes:

- In the plainest terms, it was same shit, different day from Freddy.  He was up in the zone early and it cost him when he hung a splitter for a 3-run homer off the bat of Andy Dirks in the top of the 1st.  Joe gets a piece of blame pie for intentionally walking an additional run on base with 2 outs.

- As they've been apt to do recently, the Yankee offense responded immediately in the bottom of the 1st.  Nick Swisher got a slider up in the zone from Smyly and parked it into the left field bleachers for his 5th HR of the season.

- Freddy followed up a sloppy 1st with an equally sloppy 2nd that saw him give up 3 consecutive hits for 3 more runs with 2 outs.  The final blow was a 2-run single by Miguel Cabrera that made it 6-1 and Joe was making the pitching change walk way too early again.  It was the third time this year that Freddy failed to make it past the 5th inning, and the second consecutive time he failed to make it out of the 2nd.

- After the Swish HR, Smyly was dominant.  He retired 17 of the next 19 batters he faced through the bottom of the 6th, the only Yankee baserunners coming on a pair of walks.  He threw his fastball for strikes early and used both his cutter and his slider as effective out pitches.  A-Rod got a single off Smyly to lead off the 7th, the first Yankee hit since Swish's HR, and that was it for Smyly.

- Luckily for him, Teix stupidly swung early in the count against Phil Coke and grounded into a double play.  The play was extra lucky considering Curtis cranked a home run in the next at-bat.  This was a great chance to get back into the game for the Yankees, but ended up just a solitary run and a 6-2 deficit.

- Give yet another call to the bullpen for an outstanding performance.  They combined for 7.1 IP of 1-run ball, the 1 run via a HR from Miguel Cabrera, something that no pitcher can be chided for.  Both Clay Rapada and Cody Eppley were effective in multiple-inning performances, as was David Phelps.

- The offense finally started to wake up in the 9th, getting 3 runs off of Jose Valverde to make the game seem closer than it really was.  Swish hit his 2nd HR of the day, and Eric Chavez came to the plate as the tying run, but it was too little too late and the Tigers held on for the win.