Monday, April 28, 2014

Off-Day Comes At The Right Time Again

The early April schedule wasn't especially kind to the Yankees from a scheduling standpoint, but since that first 13-game stretch they've actually had one of the more favorable deals in MLB with scheduled off-days on each of the last 3 Mondays.  The timing of those off-days has been a huge benefit in each of the last 2 weeks, as they gave the Yanks an extra day to deal with the losses of Francisco Cervelli and Ivan Nova and extra time off for some older players who needed it to rest some sprains and strains.  They have a few more bumps and bruises after this weekend series and once again the off-day comes up at the absolute perfect time.

- Brett Gardner was held out of last night's game after getting hit by a pitch on the foot on Saturday.  He could have been used in a pinch last night, but this extra day off should have him ready for tomorrow.

- Ditto Yangervis Solarte, who Joe scratched with a sore shoulder before last night's game.  It doesn't sound too serious and right now Solarte is expected to be ready to go tomorrow as well.

- He isn't hurt, but Derek Jeter went without a day off all weekend despite a Friday night/Saturday afternoon schedule in the first 2 games.  He had the quad issue a few weeks back that the day off on the 14th really helped.  A day off his feet today should do his body good.

- Also not injured, but D-Rob has pitched in 3 of the last 4 days and threw 24+ pitches on Saturday and Sunday.  If the Yanks were playing tonight, he probably wouldn't be available.

New York's next scheduled off-day is Thursday, May 8th, when they'll travel from LA to Milwaukee.  The day off today should be enough to prepare them for the next 9-game stretch.

Mixed Results From Teix In His First Week Back

(Originally published at IIATMS/TYA)

The defining image of last night's game was not Masahiro Tanaka walking off the mound after 1 of his 11 strikeouts.  As well as he battled to keep his team in the game against Garrett Richards, the most memorable moment last night was Mark Teixeira turning on a 94 MPH Richards fastball that was belt high and on the inner half of the plate, hitting it high and deep into right field, and pausing for a second to watch it land in the second deck.  I'm talking that "no doubt about it" split second of pimpage that Teix does when he really knows he got one.  I'm talking about this:

(Courtesy of ESPN/

Carlos Beltran, Professional Hitter

When you've been around for as long as Carlos Beltran has (15 full seasons plus partials in 1998 and this season), you're going to learn a lot about what it takes to be a successful hitter.  With a .365 career wOBA and values of .355, .359, and .362 in the last 3 seasons as he's moved into his late 30s, it's fair to say Beltran has picked up his fair share of important lessons and personal tips.  He spoke to David Laurila of FanGraphs for a post that went up on Friday about some of those tips and his general hitting strategy.  It was a very interesting look inside the mind of one of the best all-around hitters of the last 20 years.

For me, the highlight of the post was Beltran talking about knowing the feeling in his legs from pitch to pitch and knowing if he has them under him for his swing based on whether or not he feels like the wind is blowing him off-balance.  That's some next-level veteran stuff right there.  I also liked Beltran's self-described approach of always going up there looking for the 1 pitch he wants and being willing to wait for it.  The guy has seen everything at this point in his career and he knows the value of going up to the plate with a plan and sticking with that plan.  Based on his early .538 SLG and team-leading 5 homers, I'd say that plan is working out well.  The average and OBP will come up in time.  When it does, Beltran could really put up some big numbers hitting in YS3.

Game 25 Wrap-Up: NYY 3 LAA 2

(Courtesy of the AP)

You've read this intro from me enough already.  Masahiro Tanaka's pitching, it's a big game, it's a test for him, blah, blah blah.  I just wanted to see him come out and own again like he has in every start he's made.  And for the first time this season, I had the chance to sit and actually watch him pitch.

Game Notes:

- He had to battle early.  His command on the corners wasn't there, especially with his fastball, he walked 3 in the first 3 innings, and he hung a few sliders.  He also struck out 5 and kept the Angels off the scoreboard.

- Garrett Richards burned through the Yankee lineup with his array of fastballs the first time through the order, with only a Kelly Johnson single through the shift against him.  He was definitely the better of the 2 pitchers early.

- Richards started to lose his fastball command a bit in the bottom of the 5th and the Yankees used that to scratch a run of their own across on a walk, a Brian Roberts double down the left field line, and an Ichiro RBI groundout.

- The Angels scratched a run across on a fielder's choice after loading the bases in the 4th, but Tanaka held it at that and then worked a quick 5th.  He looked like he was settling in.  Then he left a fastball up to David Freese to start the 6th and the Angels went back out front 2-1.

- Mark Teixeira was one of the few hitters who looked good against Richards, and he never looked better than when he demolished a hanger for a solo HR to tie the game back up at 2 in the 7th.  Very encouraging sign.

- Tanaka gave way to Adam Warren in the 7th and Warren got 5 big outs to set himself up as the winner to be when a pair of walks, a passed ball, and a wild pitch allowed Ellsbury to come around and score the go-ahead run.

- For the 4th time in 4 tries, D-Rob was cash money in the 9th.  The Yanks came back to steal the series after losing by 12 on Friday night.