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Archive for June 20th, 2010

For much of the season, the Yankees have been waiting for Mark Teixeira to carry the load. With two homeruns in the weekend Subway Series, that wait may finally be over.

After a dominant performance against the Mets, all signs are pointing to a big summer for CC Sabathia.

One day after hitting a game tying home run off Mike Pelfrey, Teixeira struck the big blow in the Subway Series finale by belting a grand slam off Johan Santana. Teixeira’s home run, which just made it over the wall in right, represented the only runs of the game in what otherwise was a strong pitching matchup that lived up to the advance billing.

In the fateful third inning, Santana found himself in a bases loaded, no out predicament thanks to a bloop single by Brett Gardner, infield hit by Derek Jeter and perfectly placed bunt single by Nick Swisher. After giving up the grand slam to Teixeira, Santana kept the Yankees off the board for his final four innings, but the damage had already been done.

One run would have been enough for CC Sabathia, who needed only 100 pitches to get through eight shutout innings. In addition to locating his fastball, Sabathia also exhibited outstanding command of his changeup and slider. For most of May and June, Sabathia has struggled to control his entire arsenal, but on this afternoon, the big lefty had everything working. If not for a rain delay before the bottom half of the eighth inning, Sabathia probably would have notched a complete game shutout. Sabathia has traditionally been a better pitcher once the calendar turns to summer, so his performance against the Mets has to have the Yankees feeling good about their ace going forward.

The Mets, on the other hand, may be scratching their heads a little about Santana. For the third straight start, Santana yielded four runs, but even more concerning is his velocity continues to remain a notch below his norm. Santana has still pitched relatively well, but there are some questions about his ability to regain his pre-injury dominance.

Meanwhile, the Yankees biggest concern remains Alex Rodriquez, who saw only eight pitches while going 0-4. Since returning to the lineup, Arod has gone 2-18 with one run batted in.  In addition to struggling with the bat, Arod also exhibited minimal range on a couple of groundballs and was eventually replaced by Ramiro Pena in the ninth inning. It’s one thing to have a healthy Arod in the lineup, but if he is compromised by his hip and/or groin, having him in the middle of the lineup actually serves as a detriment. It could be that Arod has been slow to get re-acclimated, but if an injury still lingers, the Yankees might be better off placing him on the DL. Regardless, Brian Cashman needs to be proactively scouring the majors for a right handed bat, preferably one who can play third, just in case Arod is eventually forced to miss an extended period of time.

Even with the usual injury related concerns, the Yankees still find themselves in sole possession of first place for the first time since April 21. For much of the season, guys like Cano, Swisher, Hughes and Pettitte have carried the load, but as the season heads toward the dog days, the Yankees will need Teixeira and Sabathia to do a lot more heavy lifting. If today’s game is a harbinger of things to come, the Yankees can look forward to two pairs of very broad shoulders.

CC Sabathia’s Pitch Breakdown

  Avg. Speed Max Speed Count Strikes Percentage
Changeup 87.1 88.2 13 11 84.6%
Curve 80.1 81.4 2 2 100.0%
Four Seam Fastball 93.32 96.4 68 43 63.2%
Slider 80.6 83 13 8 61.5%
Sinker 93 93.5 4 2 50.0%

 

Inning Pitches Strikes Percentage
1 13 8 61.5%
2 16 10 62.5%
3 12 6 50.0%
4 10 8 80.0%
5 15 9 60.0%
6 10 8 80.0%
7 16 9 56.3%
8 8 8 100.0%

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The Yankees need a win to save face in the annual Subway Series, while the Mets seek a victory to not only win bragging rights, but also further validate their June resurgence. To accomplish each respective goal, both teams send their aces to the mound in a rematch of an earlier CitiField showdown.

Last time out, Johan Santana got the better of his matchup against CC Sabathia, snapping a short two game losing streak to the Bronx Bombers in the process. Ironically, however, Santana has not been among the Mets better pitchers over their recent winning streak. In his last two starts, Santana has yielded four runs in each game, which although far from awful is still well below his career standard.

In a similar vein, C.C. Sabathia has perhaps been the Yankees’ weakest starter since the beginning of May. Despite being 7-3, Sabathia is sporting an ERA of 4.00 and has not had a dominant start since facing the Red Sox on May 18. Having said that, Sabathia has seemed to turn a corner, so this afternoon’s game could be the perfect opportunity for a breakout.

Derek Jeter returns to the Yankees lineup after missing yesterday’s game with a bruised heel, while Alex Rodriguez moves back to third base, opening up the DH slot for Jorge Posada. All three players have struggled over the past week, both with performance and nagging injuries, but the Yankees will need contributions from them because the lineup’s lack of depth has started to be exposed.  For the Mets, Jerry Manuel is once again going with his A-lineup, which features three right handed hitters (Reyes, Wright and Francoeur) who have been among the National League’s hottest hitters in June.  With two dominant lefties on the mound, the game could come down to whose right handed power can break through with a big hit or two.

As fun as the Subway Series can be, the Yankees’ reality lies in a what is shaping up to be an epic pennant race among the game’s three best teams. While it would definitely be nice to split the series with the Mets, the Yankees need to keep winning games just to keep possession of a playoff spot. Although a Subway Series victory would have more cachet for the Mets, their reality is not much different. Along with the Braves and Phillies, the Mets also have a heated three-team race in their future (and maybe more if the Marlins and Nationals can hang around). So, although each team will go their separate ways after the conclusion of their cross town showdown, they are likely headed down very similar paths that could very well reconvene in October.

vs. Johan Santana PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Derek Jeter SS 32 0.433 0.469 0.667 1 5
Nick Swisher RF 20 0.176 0.300 0.176 0 1
Mark Teixeira 1B 30 0.233 0.233 0.367 1 3
Alex Rodriguez 3B 31 0.192 0.323 0.423 2 2
Robinson Cano 2B 20 0.400 0.400 0.450 0 1
Jorge Posada DH 17 0.133 0.176 0.267 0 3
Curtis Granderson CF 14 0.000 0.077 0.000 0 0
Francisco Cervelli C 5 0.600 0.600 0.600 0 2
Brett Gardner LF 4 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Total 173 0.258 0.306 0.384 4 17
             
vs. CC Sabathia PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Jose Reyes SS 3 0.667 0.667 0.667 0 0
Angel Pagan CF 3 0.333 0.333 0.333 0 0
David Wright 3B 6 0.167 0.167 0.333 0 1
Ike Davis 1B 3 0.667 0.667 0.667 0 0
Jason Bay LF 12 0.273 0.333 0.818 2 3
Rod Barajas C 24 0.409 0.435 0.955 3 5
Fernando Tatis DH 6 0.250 0.500 0.250 0 0
Jeff Francoeur RF 10 0.222 0.300 0.222 0 1
Ruben Tejada 2B 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Total 67 0.344 0.388 0.656 5 10

 

Yankees vs. Mets    
Season: 2010 Season: 2009 Season: 2008 All-Time
NYM: 3-2 NYY: 5-1 NYM: 4-2 NYY: 44-33

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