Thursday, June 27, 2013

Game 78 Wrap-Up: TEX 2 NYY 0

(Courtesy of the AP)

The Yankees and Rangers wrapped up their mid-week series this afternoon, and the Yankees didn't come into the game looking like they were in a good position to win.  They rolled out a lineup that featured no less than 6 severely below-average hitters (Ichiro, Nix, Wells, Adams, Gonzalez, Romine) on a day where they had Phil Hughes and his Harvey Dent act on the hill.  While he stopped short of saying Hughes is pitching for his spot in the rotation, Joe did call this start an "important" one for Phil and it was.  With Michael Pineda getting closer to returning every day and Ivan Nova still hanging around on the active roster, the heat is starting to get turned up on Phil.

Game Notes:

- Hughes had a pair of 1-2-3 innings to start the game, then it was back to business as usual.  He gave up a run in the 3rd on a sac fly after giving up a 2-strike walk and 2-strike hit, and another in the 5th when Jurickson Profar hit a hanging changeup for a leadoff HR to make it 2-0.

- The offense was predictably impotent through 5 innings against Derek Holland.  They managed just 2 hits, 1 of which was erased in the bottom of 1st on a Robinson Cano GIDP, and wasted a Jayson Nix leadoff walk in the 4th.

- To Hughes' credit, he did retire the next 9 batters in a row after the Profar homer.  He started locating his fastball better to get ahead in the count and got 4 swinging strikeouts.

- It didn't matter.  The offense was weak.  So, so, soooooo weak.  Holland continued to blank them through 7 innings, and needed just 72 pitches to do it.  Sinker, slider; slider, sinker.  Didn't matter the order, the lineup couldn't do anything with him.

- The domination continued through the 8th and 9th, when Holland retired the final 6 in order.  Just a pathetic display by a pathetic lineup today.  Only 1 Yankee hitter reached second base all day.

First Impression Of Zoilo

(The fans seem to like him.  Courtesy of Getty Images)

It was a nationally televised game on ESPN last night, which gave me my first look at the newest rookie call up in 2013, Zoilo Almonte.  Almonte's made quite the splash in his first few Major League games, contributing with his bat and glove and relegating Vernon Wells to the situational bench role he deserves.  I did this exercise last month with David Adams and Austin Romine, and my optimistic predictions for both of them haven't exactly come true since.  But with the Yankees still struggling for offense, still trying to piece together a competent and competitive lineup every day, and still looking for some cheap young talent to fill the roster next season, it makes sense to evaluate Zoilo as a solution to all 3 of those needs.  While it wasn't a banner night for him last night (0-3, 2 K, 1 BB), there was still some good stuff that I saw in his game.

Nova Still On The Roster

It got overshadowed by STFUgate 2013 yesterday, but if you're a close follower of the 25-man roster you may have noticed that the move to send Ivan Nova back down and call up a position player that was supposed to happen on Monday never did.  Nova is still on the active roster as part of a 13-man pitching staff and the Yankees have played the first 2 games of this current series with a 3-man bench.

There has been no formal announcement from anybody in the organization about what they intend to do with Nova, but in talking to reporters on Tuesday Joe left open the option of Nova making another spot start sometime in the near future.  The Yanks are in the early part of a "20 in 20" stretch leading up to the All Star Break.  Maybe they want to use Nova to spell Andy and get him some extra rest.  They've scaled back his between-start workload and their goal is obviously to keep his back from becoming a bigger problem.

Hopefully we get some kind of clear picture on just what the plan is for Nova soon because playing for a long period of time with just the 3-man bench is not the best strategy in the world.

Game 77 Wrap-Up: TEX 8 NYY 5

(Have a day, Jayson.  Have a day.  Courtesy of Getty Images)

After a noteworthy pitching matchup in the series opener featuring the 2 best Japanese pitchers on the planet, there was another interesting matchup last night when grizzled veteran Andy Pettitte went up against rookie Justin Grimm.  Pettitte has been "meh" since coming off the DL, leaving some to question his health, and a good start against a good offensive team would have gone a long way in helping to ease some of the concerns about him.  Another Yankee victory would have secured a winning homestand and hopefully gone at least a little way in quieting all of the negative A-Rod/Cash/Teix talk that dominated Yankeeland yesterday.

Game Notes:

- Lyle Overbay got off to a nice start as the official everyday first baseman again, cranking a solo HR to right-center in the bottom of the 2nd to give the Yanks a 1-0 lead.  He got a hanging slider and put a beautiful swing on it.  More of this please.

- Andy danced around a near disaster in the 1st after putting 2 on with no outs.  He wasn't so lucky in the 3rd when some horrific Jayson Nix defense and a few poorly-located pitches up in the zone led to 4 Texas runs.

- Nice rebound for Andy after the ugly 3rd.  He found his slider, started hitting the corners of the zone that he was missing earlier, and retired 8 hitters in a row into the 6th while keeping the Rangers off the board.

- The top of the order came up to start the bottom of the 6th and set things up perfectly with a leadoff infield single by Brett Gardner and a follow-up double by Ichiro to drive Grimm from the game.  Robinson Cano and Travis Hafner spoiled the lefty-on-lefty matchup with RBI singles to bring the Yanks back within 1.

- Joe went to Joba Chamberlain in the 7th and on just 5 pitches Joba managed to undo the good work the offense did the previous half-inning.  1-out single and a 2-run homer by Nelson Cruz on a hanging curve and it was a 3-run game again.

- Ichiro breathed life back into the Yankees' chances with a 2-out, 2-run homer to right off lefty Robbie Ross in the bottom of the 7th, but that breath was quickly choke off by a Gardner error that led to 2 more Texas runs in the 9th.