Wednesday, August 15, 2012

David Phelps' Big Chance

(Same expression in every picture of him.  And I like that.  Courtesy of Getty Images)

I've written about David Phelps a pretty fair amount this season.  I can't help it, I think he's an underrated pitcher and I'm fascinated by the way his season has gone down.  Phelps' 2012 campaign has been a continued series of fortunate opportunities created by unexpected circumstances affecting the rest of the pitching staff.  He got a 25-man roster spot out of Spring Training because of Michael Pineda's shoulder injury; he got a lot of early chances to show what he could do thanks to some horrific early outings by Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes; he got the chance to start because of Freddy Garcia's unfathomably bad start to the season and the Yankees not being able to wait for Andy Pettitte any longer; he's slowly worked his way up the leverage ladder out of the bullpen as other middle relievers have regressed.  Now he's got another chance to shine in a starting role because CC landed back on the DL.  It's been at the expense of others' misfortune, but Phelps himself has had some pretty good situational luck this year.

X-Rays On A-Rod & A-Pett Are A-OK

Via my girl Meredith Marakovits:

"X-ray showed fracture is healing ... Expects to long toss this week ... After that running would be next step b4 mound"

And from the lovely and talented Mike Axisa:

"An x-ray performed during a routine check-up showed that the broken bone in Alex Rodriguez‘s hand is healing well. ... A-Rod will shed the brace he’s been wearing and continue his rehab."

It's good to hear that both guys are healing well from their respective breaks, especially after Andy's little setback scare.  Pettitte was scheduled to start a long toss program this week and hopefully start to get some running in to test the ankle out, and The Horse has reportedly been taking some one-handed swings off a tee to stay fresh, but I'm still keeping my expectations tempered for now.  Both guys are pegged for a mid-September return at the earliest, and at their age they can't exactly just be thrown back into the fire.  They're both moving forward, but they both still have a long way to go.

Game 116 Wrap-Up: NYY 3-0

(Definitely earned that hug.  Courtesy of Getty Images)

There's almost no sense in recapping this game because the one and only story from it was how awesome Hiroki Kuroda was last night.  There's normal awesome, like he's been in his 2 or 3 best starts before this one, and then there's what he did last night.  Just absolute domination and total command of the game from start to finish.  He gave up 2 measly hits on the night against a stacked Rangers lineup, neither of which was hit hard at all, and just beat them to death with his slider.  Kuroda racked up 17 GB outs last night out of the 22 that were in play, 22 of the 27 total either on the ground or via the K, and only 5 balls in play left the infield.  Hiroki Kuroda was the absolute man last night, and all the Yankee lineup had to do to help him was have one inning where they scored a few runs.

Game Notes:

- Kuroda recorded his 2 walks on the night in the first 3 innings.  After the second one to Mitch Moreland, he retired the next 10 in order to keep a no-hitter intact through 6.

- Rangers' starter Matt Harrison showed that he wasn't an All Star for nothing and matched Kuroda's 0s through 6.  The only good chance the Yankees got against him was a bases loaded, 2 outs chance in the 3rd that ended with Curtis Granderson flying out.

- Kuroda lost the no-hitter in the 7th on an infield hit by Elvis Andrus that Jayson Nix actually made a nice play on.  From there, Kuroda calmly sat down the next 3 hitters, erased the next hit he gave up in the 8th with his second DP of the night, and killed any hope Texas had left.

- The Yankees only needed to score once and that was all they did in the 7th.  Alexi Ogando relieved Harrison with 1 out and lost an 8-pitch battle with Nick Swisher that ended up a Swish HR to right to make it 2-0.  Just for fun, Teix came up next and hit a solo shot of his own for the insurance.

- I wouldn't have blamed Joe if went with Rafael Soriano for the 9th.  In fact, that's what I wanted him to do.  No sense in playing games against a lineup that can turn a couple of mistakes into a tie game in a 5-pitch span.  But he trusted Kuroda and Hiroki didn't let him down, finishing the Rangers off in order in the 9th for the CG.

- By any measure, statistical, situational, opponential (not a word), or otherwise, that was the best Yankee pitching performance of the 2012 season.