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Archive for May 22nd, 2010

The second game of the Subway Series features a match-up of each team’s best young starter. The more heralded Phil Hughes has finally begun to show the promise that led him to be considered one of the best prospects in the game, while the more established Mike Pelfrey has bounced back from a disappointing 2009 season to more resemble the pitcher who proved doubters wrong in 2008.

Both pitchers come into the game with five victories, but Hughes has been the more impressive of the two, posting an ERA three-quarters lower despite pitching in the American League East. Still, the Mets have to be excited about Pelfrey’s re-emergence. Like Hughes, Pelfrey’s improvement as a starter has stemmed from increased confidence in and command of the four seamer.

The key for Hughes will be using the aggressiveness of the Mets hitters along with the spacious Citi Field outfield to his advantage. Expect a heavy dose of fastballs early and then the gradual introduction of his cutter and curve. In his last start against Boston, Hughes gave up a pair of homers on the cutter, so he’ll have to work extra hard to make sure he gets the pitch in on the hands of the few left handed hitters that the Mets have.

Pelfrey’s biggest challenge will be making sure he keeps his pitch count down by attacking the front and back of the Yankees lineup. The Mets desperately need innings from Pelfrey, so even five runs of shutout ball probably won’t be much help.

The only change to the Mets lineup is the addition of Luis Castillo in the two hole, while the Yankees only adjustment is Randy Winn in left field. With both teams struggling to drive in runners from scoring position over the last few games (and over a longer period for the Mets), the first team to capitalize on a rally could gain a decided edge, especially if both pitchers are on top of their game.

While the Yankees simply need to keep winning because, well, they’re the Yankees, the Mets are teetering on the edge of having their season blow up. Jerry Manuel’s job could very well depend on the talented arms of Pelfrey and Johan Santana tomorrow, so there could be a sense of added urgency. Whether that inspires the struggling Mets, or only tightens the noose around their neck remains to be seen.

vs. Mike Pelfrey PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Derek Jeter SS 4 0.333 0.333 0.667 0 0
Brett Gardner CF 3 0.667 0.667 0.667 0 0
Mark Teixeira 1B 13 0.308 0.308 0.385 0 2
Alex Rodriguez 3B 6 0.500 0.667 0.500 0 1
Robinson Cano 2B 6 0.167 0.167 0.333 0 1
Nick Swisher RF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Francisco Cervelli C 3 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Randy Winn LF 10 0.100 0.100 0.200 0 1
Phil Hughes P 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
  45 0.262 0.289 0.357 0 5
             
vs. Phil Hughes PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Jose Reyes SS 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Luis Castillo 2B 1 0.000 1.000 0.000 0 0
Jason Bay LF 6 0.167 0.167 0.167 0 0
Ike Davis 1B 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
David Wright 3B 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Angel Pagan CF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Rod Barajas C 2 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Jeff Francoeur RF 1 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Mike Pelfrey P 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Total 10 0.111 0.200 0.111 0 0

 

Yankees vs. Mets    
Season: 2010 Season: 2009 Season: 2008 All-Time
TIED: 1-0 NYY: 5-1 NYM: 4-4 NYY: 43-30

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For most of the early season, the Yankees had been winning every game except the ones started by Javier Vazquez. Now, Vazquez has recorded the last two Yankee wins. As John Sterling would say (over and over again), you just can’t predict baseball.

Jose Reyes watches Alex Cora's errant toss fly over his head into center field. The seventh inning error helped the Yankees score their only two runs of the game (Photo: AP).

The story of the game for the Yankees was the precision pitching of Vazquez. With the exception of his strange refusal to throw strikes to Alex Cora, whom he walked twice, Vazquez cut through the Mets lineup like a knife through butter. Over one stretch of retiring eight consecutive batters from the first inning until the end of the third, Vazquez only needed to throw 23 pitches. The combination of throwing first pitch strikes and having the aggressive Mets hitters swing early in the count allowed Vazquez to coast through 4 1/3 innings before surrendering his first hit on a blooper into shallow center by Angel Pagan. In total, Vazquez only needed 70 pitches, 46 of which were strikes, to get through six innings.

The reason Vazquez was only able to last six innings in the game was because the Yankees had fallen beneath their injury quota and someone needed to pick up the slack. While bunting in the top of the seventh, Vazquez pinched his finger against the bat and wound up having to leave the game. Before falling victim to that misfortune, the Yankees benefitted from a bit of good luck earlier in the inning when a throwing error by second baseman Cora set the stage for a two run double by Kevin Russo, who was making his first major league start. Russo eventually advanced to third on Vazquez fateful bunt, but was stranded when Derek Jeter grounded out weakly to short and Mark Teixeira flew out to center following a Brett Gardner walk

The Yankees needed a little bit of help from the Mets defense because they were unable to cash in on several scoring opportunities throughout the course of the game. In both the third and fourth innings, the Yankees put runners on second and third with one out, but each time Mets’ starter Hisanori Takahashi responded with a strikeout (Jeter and Swisher being the respective victims) before closing the door on the inning. Aside from those two jams, Takahashi was almost as effective as Vazquez. The more disciplined Yankee lineup forced Takahasi to throw 100 pitches (73 strikes) in his six innings, but the Mets’ lefty, who was making his first major league start, left the game unscathed when he was lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the sixth.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Yankee bullpen was forced into duty because of the injury to Vazquez. Girardi did his usual mixing and matching with David Robertson and Damaso Marte before eventually settling on Joba Chamberlain to pitch out of a first and second jam with only one out. The reason the Mets were able to advance their first runner to second base was because Francisco Cervelli returned Cora’s favor by committing a throwing error of his own on a dribbler in front of the plate by Ike Davis.  Despite pitching behind in the count, Chamberlain pitched out of trouble by freezing David Wright on a 3-2 fastball and then getting Angel Pagan to swing at a 3-2 slider in the dirt. (more…)

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