What A Relief…Or, I Am Joba Hear Me Roar!
April 6, 2010 by williamnyy23
- Defense was the early theme as the Yankees allowed Jacoby Ellsbury to reach base on a fairly routine pop up. It looked like Marcus Thames should have made the play, which plays to his reputation. Thames is a solid righty bat against lefties, but he doesn’t do that well enough to justify defense like he put forth tonight.
- Jorge Posada’s defense was questionable again today. He was charged with a throwing error in the first when his attempt to nab Ellsbury bounced into center field. In the next inning, he bounced another throw to second base on Adrian Beltre’s stolen base. It looked like a decent throw would have nabbed Beltre.
- Even though he gave up 4 runs in only 5 innings, AJ Burnett pitched decently. The first run was really the result of poor defense, so his outing wasn’t far from a “quality start”. More importantly, it looked like he and Posada worked relatively well together. There was only one mound conference at a key moment (against Ortiz in the 5th), and it seemed like AJ worked more quickly than normal. The only nitpick is it seemed like Posada was late to rely on AJ’s breaking pitch, but dedicated himself to it with the go ahead run on second base in the fifth.
- AJ Burnett’s much heralded change-up was a no show in this game. By most accounts, he only threw one all game (to JD Drew in the 2nd innning).
- The stabilizing factor in this game was Alfredo Aceves. With the two teams playing see saw, Aceves’ aggressive strike throwing gave the Yankees the time they needed to reclaim the lead. Hopefully, Girardi continues to use Aceves in the role of long relief specialist in high leverage situations.
- Even though it worked out, I think Girardi erred with his bullpen usage in the 8th inning. Aceves had been rolling along, so he should have at least been left in to face Kevin Youkilis. By going to David Robertson to start the inning, Girardi was forced to burn an effective reliever without recording an out. He also then placed the game in the hands of a reliever (Marte) who struggled with health and command in the spring. It worked out, but the Yankees may not be so fortunate next time around.
- Which leads us to Joba. He wasn’t quite vintage 2007 Joba, but he was pretty close. He effectively used his slider to set up a mid-90s fastball in striking out Beltre, and then did the reverse to put Drew away. Many may not like the Joba roar that came after the final strike out, but he can moonwalk off the mound if he keeps pitching like that. In the meantime, I think the performance will go along way toward improving both Joba’s confidence as well as Girardi’s faith in him. After the game, Jorge Posada made his feeling about the great Joba debate loud and clear. “I just love him in the bullpen,” Posada stated. A few more outings like tonight and I might be forced to agree with him.
- Joba used a mid-90s fastball and sharp slider to slam the door in the 8th.
- The biggest offense-related question heading into the game was how would Curtis Granderson handle the lefty Lester. The results were mixed, but on the whole, I think it was a positive step forward. The strikeout in the second inning with the bases loaded was brutal, but Granderson followed that AB up with a sharp single in the 5th as well as a deep fly ball off Hideki Okajima in the 8th.
- Nick Swisher had an excellent night at the plate, but he inexplicably attempted a bunt in the 8th. Other than putting him in an early hole, the attempt didn’t really impact the AB, but regardless, Girardi needs to address the play. With Gardner and Granderson on deck and a lefty in the game, the Yankees needed Swisher to swing the bat.