Archive for May 12th, 2010

The Yankees look to avoid the sweep behind Phil Hughes and another make shift lineup. In seven starts to date, Hughes has given up two runs or fewer in six. With the way the offense has been scuffling, he may need to be that good once again.

Facing the Yankees in the nightcap will be Jeremy Bonderman, who hasn’t recorded a win since his first start of the season. The Yankees shouldn’t be too heartened by Bonderman’s struggles, however, because game one starter Rick Porcello had a 7.50 ERA before throwing seven shutout innings.

Further tempering the mood for a big offensive night is another compromised lineup being used by Joe Girardi. Instead of DHing Jorge Posada, the Yankees manager has instead opted to give him the night off. Derek Jeter will occupy the DH slot, which means Ramiro Pena will once again be penciled into the nine hole. Pena, who stranded six runners in the first game, will be joined at the bottom of the lineup by Marcus Thames and Francisco Cervelli. The decision to start Thames is particularly curious because Bonderman is a right handed pitcher. In other words, the Yankees defense will be exposed in LF without the benefit of Thames’ platoon advantage.

With the specter of Justin Verlander looming on Thursday afternoon, the Yankees face their first “big game” of the season. Riding a long losing streak into a difficult stretch of games is not the best way to go, especially now that the Tuesday rainout has all but ensured that Sergio Mitre will get another start.

vs. Jeremy Bonderman PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Derek Jeter DH 37 0.242 0.306 0.515 3 7
Brett Gardner CF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Mark Teixeira 1B 13 0.000 0.077 0.000 0 0
Alex Rodriguez 3B 29 0.308 0.379 0.577 2 5
Robinson Cano 2B 24 0.227 0.292 0.227 0 0
Nick Swisher RF 8 0.167 0.375 0.667 1 2
Marcus Thames LF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Francisco Cervelli C 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Ramiro Pena SS 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Total 111 0.222 0.297 0.414 6 14
vs. Phil Hughes PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Austin Jackson CF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Johnny Damon DH 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Magglio Ordonez RF 8 0.125 0.125 0.125 0 2
Miguel Cabrera 1B 7 0.500 0.571 0.500 0 0
Brennan Boesch LF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Alex Avila C 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Don Kelly 3B 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Ramon Santiago SS 1 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Scott Sizemore 2B 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Total 16 0.267 0.250 0.267 0 2
Yankees vs. Tigers
Season: 2010 Season: 2009 Season: 2008 All-Time
DET: 2-0 NYY: 5-1 DET: 4-2 NYY: 1035-921

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Albeit in a losing effort, Javier Vazquez’ return to the rotation was a success. Unlike his past failed efforts, Vazquez established his fastball in the early going and then kept coming back to it. In total, he threw 59% fastballs (57 of his 97 pitches), which was a significant step up from the 50% rate he had exhibited over his previous starts. His velocity was still lacking, but Vazquez did seem more confident in the pitch, and perhaps that is why he was able to exhibit better command.

Jose Valverde and the Tigers marched past the Yankees for the second straight game (Photo: AP).

Vazquez’ only hiccup occurred in the sixth inning, when leadoff hits by Austin Jackson and Johnny Damon preceded an RBI ground out by Magglio Ordonez and a run scoring single by Miguel Cabrera. Each of the hits in the inning was yielded on an off speed pitch (curve or change), while all three outs resulted from contact made on a fastball. It will probably take more than one start, but the Yankee brain trust needs to drive this point home. Still, by giving up only two runs in eight innings, Vazquez exceeded any reasonable expectations. If he can maintain a similar approach, there is no reason why he can’t be a productive member of the rotation.

With one problem seemingly on the way toward being solved, the Yankees offense has cropped up as a concern. Whether by accident or design, batter after batter in the lineup swung early and often in the count, which allowed Rick Porcello to pitch seven innings. In his previous six starts, Porcello has pitched through the fifth inning only once, but against the Yankees he looked on top of his game.

The Yankees did, however, have a few scoring chances, but each time Ramiro Pena was retired to turn back the threats. In total, Pena stranded six runners, including a bases loaded situation in the second inning, echoing Monday’s game when Randy Winn, the ninth batter in that game, left seven men on base. The only other real scoring threat occurred in the third inning when Brennan Boesch made a leaping catch at the wall on Alex Rodriguez’ opposite field drive to right.

After Porcello left the game, the Yankees were only able to muster one walk against Ryan Perry and Jose Valverde, and thus were once again forced to bear witness to the theatrical gyrations of the Tigers closer.

Over the last two games, the Yankees offense has started to crack under the weight of recent injuries. Nick Johnson and Curtis Granderson are not due back anytime soon, so unless reinforcements are on the way, the rest of the lineup will have to pick up the slack. In particular, the Yankees need Derek Jeter to revert to his more selective self and resume getting on base at a more normal rate. Without Jeter setting the table, the Yankees offense seems sure to stagnate. Hopefully the Captain can turns things around in the nightcap as the Yankees seek to avoid a sweep.

  • By losing the first two games to Detroit, the Yankees failed to win a series for only the second time in 11 tries.
  • The Yankees were shutout for the first time all season. It was also the first time the Yankees failed to score a run since September 4, 2009 against the Blue Jays and Roy Halladay.
  • The last time the Yankees were shutout by the Tigers was in a 16-0 loss on August 27, 2007. In total, the Tigers have now pitched 54 shutouts against the Yankees.

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After much ado, Javier Vazquez makes his long anticipated return to the Yankees rotation. And, to honor the occasion, the Yankees and Tigers have decided to play two games.

In the first game of a split doubleheader, Vazquez will face off against Tigers’ righty Rick Porcello, who has been struggling in his own right. Porcello has yielded at least five runs in each of his last four outings and pitched through the fifth inning only once. He’s the Tigers’ problem, however. The Yankees have had their hands full trying to diagnosis the reason for Vazquez diminished stuff and declining performance. During his hiatus from the rotation, Vazquez worked on mechanics with pitching coach Dave Eiland, so you can be sure the Yankees will be watching each pitch closely. One early indicator of how much progress has been made should be how hard and how often Vazquez throws his fastball. If he can establish that pitch early, Vazquez could allay the concerns that have surrounded his every start.

Some early runs might also go a long way toward helping Vazquez settle back into the flow. To bolster the Yankees’ dwindling bench, the team recalled Greg Golson, who takes the roster spot of Alfredo Aceves (15-day DL). Golson’s arrival will allow the Yankees to interchange Winn and Thames during a game without sacrificing defense in the late innings. Regardless, with the lack of depth apparent, the Yankees will need the big boys in the middle of the lineup to make up the difference.

vs. Rick Porcello PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Derek Jeter SS 3 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Brett Gardner CF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Mark Teixeira 1B 2 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Alex Rodriguez DH 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Robinson Cano 2B 2 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Jorge Posada C 2 1.000 1.000 1.000 0 0
Nick Swisher RF 2 0.500 0.500 2.000 1 3
Randy Winn LF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Ramiro Pena 3B 2 0.500 0.500 0.500 0 0
Total 13 0.250 0.308 0.500 1 3
vs. Javier Vazquez PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Austin Jackson CF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Johnny Damon LF 23 0.333 0.391 0.810 2 5
Magglio Ordonez DH 36 0.194 0.194 0.222 0 5
Miguel Cabrera 1B 29 0.391 0.483 0.783 3 8
Brennan Boesch RF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Brandon Inge 3B 33 0.226 0.273 0.419 0 2
Ramon Santiago 2B 8 0.286 0.375 0.286 0 0
Gerald Laird C 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Adam Everett SS 14 0.391 0.483 0.783 0 0
Total 143 0.282 0.329 0.455 5 22
Yankees vs. Tigers
Season: 2010 Season: 2009 Season: 2008 All-Time
DET: 1-0 NYY: 5-1 DET: 4-2 NYY: 1035-920

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