Monday, June 18, 2012

A Little Love For Sour Puss

By now it should be crystal clear to everybody that I am not, nor have I ever been a Rafael Soriano fan.  He hasn't pitched that great overall since joining the Yankees last season, at least not as well as his monstrosity of a contract would suggest he should be.  Because of that contract, and the fact that nobody in their right mind would give him that much on the open market, he's basically guaranteed to be back on the team as a big financial burden next year.  And he's just really not a very likable guy, definitely not the easiest to root for.

But I'll be damned if old Sour Puss hasn't stepped up the plate and done a bang-up job filling in as the team's closer since Mo and D-Rob went down.  Since becoming the "official" closer on May 10th, here's Soriano's line:

15 App., 13.1 IP, 13 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 12 K

Game 65 Wrap-Up: NYY 4 WAS 1

(Winnah!  Courtesy of The AP)

I scoffed when Ivan Nova said he wanted to get away from his new strategy that had made him a big strikeout pitcher and also a big XBH pitcher this season.  I thought he just needed to tighten up the command of his stuff in the zone and he could be a dominant pitcher.  Well what the hell do I know?  Since then, Nova has looked more like the version of himself he was in the second half of last season and he's been silly good in the process.  Yesterday, he put together another great start and got the Yankees their 2nd straight road sweep and 9th straight win in the process.

Game Notes:

- As they've done a lot during this recent hot streak, the offense got off to a fast start and got Nova an early lead.  Derek Jeter led off the game with a single, Curtis Granderson followed with a double, and the Yanks were in business with no outs in the 1st.  They only managed to score 1 run on a Mark Teixeira sac fly, but a 1st-inning lead is still a great thing to have.

- Nova made one mistake in the bottom of the 2nd, a fastball up to Adam LaRoche that he hit for a HR, but otherwise he was on his game early.  He got into trouble in the 3rd with runners on the corners and 1 out, but induced an inning-ending DP ball from Danny Espinosa to end the threat.

- The lineup put pressure on Edwin Jackson, but couldn't convert on their opportunities through 4 innings.  It wasn't until non-home run hitter Curtis Granderson led off the 5th with a HR that they regained the lead.

- As they did with Gonzalez and Zimmerman, the lineup worked Jackson out after 6, and once he left they struck.  Robinson Cano hit a 1-out HR off of reliever Tom Gorzelanny in the 7th, and Mark Teixeira doubled and came around to score on a passed ball to make it 4-1.

- Those 4 runs would be all Nova needed.  He was efficient, he got ahead in the count, and he did a good job of locating the ball down in the zone to get those GBs he loves.  He had the curveball working and really tried to use that as his out pitch, and was brilliant through 7.2 innings before giving way to Boone Logan in the 8th.

- RISP Fail will continue to be a talking point for the offense, and justifiably so after the team went 0-12 yesterday in that situation, but when you get the kind of outing they got from Nova, that masks a lot of problems.

- Sour Puss picked up his 4th straight save since the BS against the Mets last Sunday, and 2nd in as many days, in a clean 9th.