Wednesday, August 28, 2013

2013: Year Of The HBP

(Courtesy of the AP)

(Originally published at IIATMS/TYA)

I'm sure the immediate reaction in Yankeeland to watching Robinson Cano take a fastball off the hand and leave the game in the 1st inning last night was not a fun one.  It was a near identical flashback to the J.A. Happ pitch that broke Curtis Granderson's forearm in ST, and I for one was almost a little relieved that I wasn't there to watch it happen live as it would have more than likely led to me making some kind of mean comment about Happ getting hit with another line drive.  Chalk it up as another one of the rare times when I'm glad I live in Wisconsin.

Wednesday Afternoon Food For Thought

Already in the 2013 Yankee season, we've seen:

- Francisco Cervelli play second base and Robinson Cano play shortstop in the same game

- Vernon Wells play every infield position except short and get 1 start at first base

- Lyle Overbay play 4 games in the outfield for the first time in his Major League career

And after last night's injury scare to Cano, we can add "Mark Reynolds play second base" to that list.  He played the final inning at second last night as an injury replacement for the injury replacement, and naturally he turned the game-ending double play.  If you had any of those things picked as a prop bet before the season started,  you're a smarter person than I.

The Curtis Granderson Dilemma

(Courtesy of Getty Images)

There have been a lot of hitting headlines lately since the Yankees finally got their lineup upgraded to a competitive level.  Alfonso Soriano has hit 11 HR since being traded back to New York, Alex Rodriguez is a topic of discussion nearly every night and mainly because of his bat (.371 wOBA since coming off the DL), and Robbie Cano continues to shift the debate on what his contract should or should not be nightly with exploits at the dish.  Flying somewhat under the radar in that media storm is Curtis Granderson, whose been quietly productive and incredibly versatile since coming off the DL for the second time this season.

After last night's game, C-Grand is hitting .291/.412/.456 (.381 wOBA) in 97 August PA.  In 24 games back, Curtis has 23 hits, 17 walks, 3 home runs, 12 R scored, and 6 stolen bases.  He's started games in all 3 outfield positions and as the DH, has entered as a pinch hitter, and has hit 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th in the batting order.  He said all the right things before the season about doing whatever it took to help the team win when his center field spot no longer became his, and he's more than backed that up on the field since getting back.  In theory he should be doing everything to strengthen his value as one of the top free agent position players available after this season.  In actuality, it might not be that simple.

Andy Making A Late Season Charge

(Courtesy of Getty Images)

For the better part of this summer, Andy Pettitte has been more problem than solution.  The majority of his starts in June and July after coming off the DL were of the "5-6 IP, 4ish ER allowed" variety, and paired with the struggles of Hughes and CC helped hasten the team's fall in the playoff race.  His 7-run disaster against the White Sox earlier this month may have been the low point of the season, but after last night's excellent start it's looking like it also could have been the turnaround point for him.

Game 132 Wrap-Up: NYY 7 TOR 1

(Courtesy of Getty Images)

Last night's game was probably the first must-win game of the season for the Yankees.  3 losses in the last 4 games, offense sputtering again, and nothing of significance gained in the Wild Card race in the last week.  They couldn't afford to lock up a series loss to the lowly Blue Jays after sweeping them in the prior series if they wanted to be taken seriously as a Wild Card contender and they had a guy on the mound in Andy Pettitte who's pitched in more big games for this team over the years than anybody in decades.  He's no longer the big game Andy of old, at least his recent performance didn't suggest he was, but last night he put a lot of his old tricks on display in holding Toronto down to fuel a comfortably quasi-blowout.

Game Notes:

- Before we get to Andy, how about those 1st inning fireworks??  The Yankees started off with a Brett Gardner double and Derek Jeter RBI single to take a lightning quick 1-0 lead, then J.A. Happ hit Robinson Cano in the next at-bat.  Cano had to leave the game, and things were tense for a few innings waiting on the diagnosis, but there were no breaks and he's day-to-day with a contusion.

- With 2 on and nobody out after the Cano delay, Alfonso Soriano stepped in and demolished a 3-run home run to left field to make it 4-0.  In the first 4 batters of the game Andy had a 4-run cushion.

- That cushion was more than enough for Pettitte last night.  He retired 10 of the first 11 batters he faced and he had good life on both his 4-seamer and cutter.

- He put 2 runners on in the 4th and 5th innings, but worked around trouble with a couple of big strikeouts.  A pair of inning-ending GB double plays in the 6th and 7th and it was vintage Andy all over the place.

- The offense didn't need more runs, but that didn't stop them for tacking them on with too many home runs.  Soriano hit another to lead off the 3rd, Mark Reynolds yoked one to left to start the 6th, and Alex Rodriguez smoked on to center in the 7th.

- Pettitte left after 7 scoreless and Adam Warren handled the final 2 innings.  6 baserunners and 1 run, still rough going for the kid.