Saturday, May 3, 2014

Game 29 Wrap-Up: NYY 9 TB 3

It's been a frustrating 3-game losing streak for the Yanks.  Their offense hasn't been able to get anything done, against big name familiar foes or no name first-timers, the rotation has been uneven, and the baby shit soft back end of the bullpen has been a killer when it's been called on.  The Yankees added a fresh arm to that back end in Al Aceves before the start of today's game, but I think they were hoping he wouldn't be needed to support Masahiro Tanaka.  Tanaka has been the ace through 5 starts and his team needed a big ace-like performance from him today.

Game Notes:

- He wasn't looking very ace-like early.  He gave up a solo homer to Desmond Jennings in the top of the 1st, a second run on a trio of singles in the 2nd, and a third on a Wil Myers solo shot to lead off the 4th.

- The Yankee lineup didn't do much to help Tanaka against Tampa starter Jake Odorizzi the first time through.  He retired the first 9 in order with 3 strikeouts and it was shaping up to be another long day.

- Something funny happened after the Myers HR though.  Tanaka got it together and shut Tampa down while Odorizzi fell apart and let the Yankees take over.  It started with a Mark Teixeira 2-run shot in the bottom of the 4th to make it 3-2, his 4th HR in 5 games.

- It continued in the 5th with an Ichiro double, a Solarte walk, and an RBI ground-rule double by Jacoby Ellsbury.  That knocked Odorizzi out of the game and the re-energized Yanks beat up on the bullpen to the tune of 6 more runs in the next 3 innings.

- Once his team got on the board, it was like Tanaka had new life.  He gave up a single single in his final 3 innings, with 3 strikeouts and 5 groundouts.  His sinker and splitter came back to him and he rode them to strong finish.

- Equally strong finish by the bullpen.  Dellin Betances worked a scoreless 8th with 2 more strikeouts and Preston Claiborne a perfect mop-up 9th.

The All-Or-Nothing Bullpen

After last night's 14-inning affair, the Yankee bullpen has a 4.11 ERA in 28 games.  In 92.0 total relief innings pitched, they've given up 42 earned runs.  By that measure, they fall in the lower half of MLB bullpens.  When you look at how those runs have been given up and by whom, however, the performance of the 'pen starts to look better.

In 13.2 combined IP, the group of Bruce Billings, Vidal Nuno, Chris Leroux, Matt Daley, Cesar Cabral, and Dean Anna have allowed 25 of the 42 ER.  By comparison, the group of David Robertson, Shawn Kelley, Adam Warren, Matt Thornton, and Dellin Betances have combined to give up 11 ER in 59.2 IP.  The core of the Yankee bullpen has been very, very good from day 1.  It's the back end that's been the weak link, something that shouldn't come as a shock considering David Phelps and Nuno have moved into the rotation.  That dynamic played out in textbook fashion last night, when the core group of relievers gave up 1 ER in 8 innings of work and Leroux gave up 5 in 1.

In short, the Yankees have a good enough bullpen to compete and succeed in the AL East.  They just need some help shoring up those last few spots so they don't get exposed in extra-inning games.

Game 28 Wrap-Up: TB 10 NYY 5

(Courtesy of the AP)

The last time the Yankees faced David Price, they knocked him around his home ballpark pretty bad.  They couldn't repeat that feat against him at The Stadium last night, and couldn't come through on roughly a million other good scoring opportunities in extra innings to steal a win.

Game Notes:

- Tampa gained a quick 1-0 lead in the 2nd on a James Loney base hit, but lost it just as quickly in the bottom half when Brian McCann hit his 4th HR of the season.  It was a 2-run shot and put the Yanks on top.

- Vidal Nuno limited damage through 3.  When the lineup turned back over in the 4th, he wasn't so lucky.  He gave up 2 runs on 2 hits and 2 walks in the 4th, a solo HR in the 5th, and his day was done after 4.2 innings.

- Price held the Yankees at bay through 7.  It wasn't until he left that they made their move, or rather moves, in the form of solo shots by Teix and Alfonso Soriano in the bottom of the 8th to tie the game back up.

- The Rays regained the lead in the top of the 9th with a pair of singles off D-Rob, but the Yanks came right back with a 2-out ribbie single by Jacoby Ellsbury to re-tie it 5 and send the game into extras.

- This is where things got really painful.  The Yanks left 2 on in the 11th, 2 on in the 12th, and the bases loaded in the 13th.  They had the leadoff runner in the 12th and 13th and could never push a run across to end it.

- It came back to bite them in the 14th after they had used all their good relievers.  Shawn Kelley and Adam Warren each pitched 2 scoreless, but Chris Leroux was next up and he imploded.  Gave up 5 in the top of the 14th and that was that.