Archive for May 5th, 2010

So, this is how the other half lives. With both Mariano Rivera and Joba Chamberlain unavailable in the bullpen, the Yankees were forced to sweat out what otherwise would have been a rather comfortable win. Once again, Joe Girardi’s curious handling of the bullpen put the game in jeopardy, but he eventually came to his senses and summoned Alfredo Aceves to close out the victory.

Orioles' outfielder Lou Montanez is unable to haul in Mark Teixeira's two-run double in the fourth. The two runs helped provide the Yankees' margin victory.

The Yankees needed several innings from their bullpen because Andy Pettitte was only able to go five innings. Pettitte’s early departure resulted from minor stiffness in his left tricep, which according to Girardi was first experienced during his last start against Chicago. Pettitte became the latest Yankees to head for an MRI, which has cast several clouds over the team’s otherwise sunny 19-8 start.

With the exception of a slight hiccup in the fourth inning, when he walked Nolan Reimold to force in a run, Pettitte appeared to be in fine form. His velocity appeared normal and he was able to throw his curve for strikes when needed.  As he has done all season, Pettitte plowed through the opposition with efficiency, which allowed the Yankees to build a 6-1 lead before his departure.

Solo homeruns by Nick Johnson and Nick Swisher in the first and second innings, respectively, gave the Yankees an early 2-0 lead and also forced Orioles starter David Hernandez out of the strike zone. Hernandez spent the rest of his outing pitching into trouble, and eventually wound up surrendering six runs.

Pitching was not the main culprit for the Orioles. Lou Montanez, a last minute replacement in CF for Adam Jones, was unable to make two plays that helped the Yankees to build their lead. In particular, Montanez tentatively pursued Mark Teixeira’s fourth inning fly ball to deep right center, turning an inning ending catch into a two-run double. The Orioles infield defense, which essentially featured four players out of position, kicked the ball around, just as they had all series. Ty Wigginton’s and Garrett Atkins’ limited range as well as Miguel Tejada’s inability to play a bunt directly contributed to two of the Yankees runs.

Despite playing poorly, the Orioles chipped away at the deficit with three homeruns late in the game. Sergio Mitre, who was solid in his stint of 2 1/3 innings, gave up the first blast to Wigginton in the eighth, and then David Robertson was victimized for the other two when Matt Wieters and Nolan Reimold went back-to-back in the ninth. With the lead narrowed to 7-5, Girardi next called on Boone Logan, but he was only able to record one out while walking the tying runs on base. Finally, Girardi turned to the steady hand of Aceves, who retired the dangerous Wigginton on a fly ball to right.

  • Andy Pettitte is now 27-6 lifetime against the Orioles. Only Whitey Ford (30) has won more games against the Orioles since their move to Baltimore in 1954.
  • Alfredo Aceves, who was born in Mexico, celebrated Cinco de Mayo with his second career save. Aceves’ other save was earned on July 5, 2009 against Toronto.
  • With three hits, Nick Johnson’s batting average surged 37 points to .171.
  • After starting the season on fire, Robinson Cano has now been held hitless in three of his last five games.

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Andy Pettitte takes the mound as the Yankees look to sweep the Orioles and wrap up their six game home stand on a winning note. Pettitte is coming off his weakest outing of the year, but that only speaks to the brilliance of the previous four. Pettitte’s hot start has left him with a career low ERA of 2.12 after five starts and the chance to start the year at 4-0 for the first time.

The Orioles’ hopes of grabbing a game rest on the right arm of David Hernandez, who has yet to earn a victory this season. Although he hasn’t had a particularly bad start, Hernandez has been plagues by high pitch counts, a problem that is likely to be exacerbated by facing the Yankees.

Once again, the Yankee lineup is without Jorge Posada, who expects to make his return on Friday in Boston. Randy Winn gets the nod in LF versus the righty, solidifying what appears to be straight platoon with Marcus Thames. With the addition of Golson to the roster, however, Girardi does now have the flexibility to pinch hit for either Winn or Thames in the right spot.

vs. David Hernandez PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Derek Jeter SS 6 0.000 0.500 0.000 0 0
Nick Johnson DH 3 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Mark Teixeira 1B 6 0.250 0.500 0.250 0 0
Alex Rodriguez 3B 6 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Robinson Cano 2B 6 0.400 0.500 1.000 1 2
Nick Swisher RF 3 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Brett Gardner CF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Francisco Cervelli C 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Randy Winn LF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Total 30 0.125 0.300 0.250 1 2
vs. Andy Pettitte PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Adam Jones CF 15 0.333 0.333 0.467 0 0
Ty Wiggington 2B 23 0.095 0.130 0.190 0 1
Nick Markakis RF 33 0.344 0.364 0.594 2 4
Miguel Tejada 3B 28 0.200 0.286 0.440 2 4
Garrett Atkins 1B 9 0.222 0.222 0.333 0 0
Matt Weiters DH 8 0.143 0.250 0.143 0 0
Nolan Reimold LF 9 0.000 0.111 0.000 0 0
Craig Tatum C 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Julio Lugo SS 30 0.240 0.310 0.320 0 1
Total 155 0.225 0.271 0.373 4 10
  • Alex Rodriguez next home run will tie Frank Robinson for seventh on the all-time list.
  • When he takes the field in the first inning, Derek Jeter will be playing in his 2,164th game as a Yankee, tying him with Lou Gehrig for second place on the all-time franchise list.
  • Andy Pettitte’s career record against the Orioles is 26-6 with a 3.60 ERA.  Along with Sabathia and Burnett, the Yankees’ starters in this series have combined record of 48-9 against Baltimore.
  • The Yankees have won 24 of their last 30 games against the Orioles

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In his ill-conceived, two-plus year Yankee career, Kyle Farnsworth was the ultimate enigma. The 6’4”, 240lb right hander would enter the game with a 99mph fastball and menacing glare, but ultimately get beat by pitching around the strike zone and then hanging a slider. Even more frustrating, he proved to be a fragile creature, seldom able to make an appearance on consecutive days.

Would you fight this man? (Photo: ESPN The Magazine)

In spite of his inconsistent and underwhelming performance, there was one thing that endeared Farnsworth to Yankee fans: his toughness. Even though he rarely exhibited it on the field, Krazy Kyle had developed a reputation as an enforcer….just ask Paul Wilson and Jeremy Affeldt. So, even though he wasn’t the guy you wanted on the mound with the tying run on base, he was the guy you wanted in the bullpen when the benches cleared.

Well, it turns out that impression is shared by Farnsworth’s baseball peers. In an upcoming article for ESPN The Magazine, Farnsworth was identified as “the last guy you’d want to run into during a bench-clearing brawl”. Farnsworth finished ahead of the likes of Carlos Zambrano, Prince Fielder, Elijah Dukes and Miguel Olivo.

The article goes on to recount all of Farnsworth’s on-field exploits as well as his martial arts background, but what really stands out is the impression that his toughness isn’t the product of anger, but loyalty. When Farnsworth was traded from the Yankees during the 2008 season, he broke down and cried. His reaction completely took me by surprise. It seemed rather odd that one with such a reputation for toughness could also be so sensitive. Now, however, it makes perfect sense.

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