Archive for June 6th, 2010

The Yankees were two innings away from being swept to the precipice of fourth place when the offense finally started to hit…or, rather, get hit. Trailing 2-0 in the top of the 8th, starter Brandon Morrow started the inning by hitting Francisco Cervelli in the shoulder. Then, reliever Scott Downs followed up by plunking Brett Gardner on the forearm to give the Yankees their most formidable rally of the game.

Joe Girardi makes a few points to home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman, whose erratic strike zone drew the ire of both teams.

With the tying runs on base, Derek Jeter worked Downs to what seemed like a 2-1 count, but home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman, whose strike zone was erratic all game, called the third pitch a strike despite it being well off the outside corner. Ironically, the poor call turned the game in the Yankees favor because the next pitch was in a similar location, but instead of taking it, Jeter slashed it down the right field line for a double. The clutch hit scored Cervelli and sent Gardner to third, but things got a little anxious after Swisher was called out by Dreckman on a check swing that replays clearly revealed was held. The frustration of Dreckman’s mounting bad calls led Girardi out of the dugout for an argument that culminated in his ejection.

Meanwhile, Cito Gaston had a tough decision to make, and like many managers before him, opted to walk the struggling Mark Teixeira to face Alex Rodriguez with the bases loaded (Arod had been 5-5 with 18 RBIs in that scenario). Before the Frasor/Arod confrontation could be decided, however, a wild pitch that squirted about 15 feet from Jose Molina allowed Gardner to slide home with the tying run. Perhaps distracted by not having the bases loaded, Arod then took a called third strike down the middle, setting the Yankees up for another wasted opportunity.  Gaston first had another  decision to make, and inexplicably decided to let the right handed Jason Frasor face Robinson Cano, who promptly slashed a single to left that scored both Jeter and Teixeira.

The reason the punchless Yankees were able to hang around in the game was because Javier Vazquez was brilliant once again. After watching the Jays do most of their damage in the series off of the fastball, Vazquez attacked the Toronto hitters with an over abundance of off speed pitches. Nearly 60% of pitches thrown by Vazquez were of the off speed variety, including a combined 45% that were either a change or curve. Ironically, the pattern used by Vazquez was the same one that many believe caused his early season struggles, but against the aggressive, fast ball hunting Jays, it was a recipe for success.

For the first 5 2/3 innings, Vazquez racked up eight strikeouts with out giving up a hit. After walking Adam Lind, however, Vazquez hung a slider to Vernon Wells, who promptly hit deep into the left field seats to give the Jays a 2-0 lead. At the time, it seemed as if one mistake would Vazquez a hard luck loser because the Yankees didn’t seem to have a chance against Morrow, who used a fastball that averaged 96mph to dominate the Yankee batters.

After two games of facing change-up masters in Cecil and Romero, Morrow’s heat had to seem like lightning. After Gardner’s one out triple in the third, Morrow retired the next 13 batters, a string that was broken when Cano singled with two outs in the seventh. Despite handling the Yankees with such ease, however, the Yankees’ less than thunderous rally in the 8th set him up on the hard luck end of the game. (more…)

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The Stadium slugfest may have been held in the Bronx last night, but during the afternoon in Toronto, the Yankees and Blue Jays compiled more punch outs than Mike Tyson did in his entire career.

After perhaps their most abysmal offensive performance of the year, epitomized by Mark Teixeira’s record tying five strikeout performance, the Yankees will look to rebound against Jays’ struggling starter Brandon Morrow, who enters the game with an ERA of 6.00, although he did pitch very well in his last outing against the Rays. To his credit, Joe Girardi has not decided to panic and has posted nearly the same lineup that struck out and astounding 16 times in yesterday’s 14-inning game. Undoubtedly, all eyes will be on Mark Teixeira as he seeks to wash away the sour taste of yesterday’s horrendous performance.

In Javier Vazquez, the Yankees are also sending their own 6-ERA pitcher to the mound. Vazquez has pitched well in three of last four starts, however, so the Yankees need to hope he can continue that trend. On the one hand, the power laden Jays seem like bad matchup for Vazquez, who has already surrendered 10 homeruns and has always been prone to the long ball. Then again, Vazquez has a vast arsenal of pitches, including a plus changeup and curve, two pitches that most of the Jays’ batters have proven unable to hit. Ironically, if Vazquez reverts to the formula that caused his early season struggles (too much off speed and not throwing enough fastballs for strikes), he could wind up pitching a very good game.

Coming after two tough losses to the Rays, the Blue Jays needed to make a statement and they did. Another win would only make it that much more emphatic.

While the Jays came into the series limping a little, it is the Yankees who now find themselves badly in need of a victory. Aside from the Twins, whom they seem to beat just by showing up, the Yankees have had only one victory (against the Tigers on May 14) against an over-.500 team since April 21. Even though the June schedule provides a host of low quality teams, the Yankees will eventually need to start playing better against better teams if they hope to vie for playoff spot. In the meantime, they now find themselves closer to fourth place than first.

vs. Brandon Morrow PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Derek Jeter SS 10 0.125 0.300 0.250 0 2
Nick Swisher RF 4 0.333 0.500 0.333 0 0
Mark Teixeira 1B 7 0.200 0.429 0.200 0 1
Alex Rodriguez 3B 11 0.222 0.364 0.556 1 2
Robinson Cano 2B 9 0.286 0.444 0.286 0 0
Jorge Posada DH 5 0.667 0.800 0.667 0 0
Curtis Granderson CF 2 0.500 0.500 0.500 0 0
Francisco Cervelli C 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Brett Gardner LF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Total 48 0.270 0.438 0.378 1 5
vs. Javier Vazquez PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Fred Lewis LF 3 0.333 0.333 0.333 0 0
Aaron Hill 2B 12 0.091 0.167 0.182 0 1
Adam Lind DH 3 0.333 0.333 0.333 0 0
Vernon Wells CF 35 0.171 0.171 0.371 1 1
Jose Bautista 3B 5 0.600 0.600 1.800 2 2
Alex Gonzalez SS 41 0.342 0.390 0.553 1 4
Lyle Overbay 1B 23 0.300 0.348 0.450 0 4
Jeremy Reed RF 5 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Jose Molina C 8 0.143 0.250 0.286 0 0
Total 135 0.252 0.289 0.457 4 12
Yankees vs. Blue Jays
Season: 2010 Season: 2009 Season: 2008 All-Time
TOR: 2-0 NYY: 12-6 TIED: 9-9 NYY: 259-203

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