I thought the lefty Braves pitcher, Minor, had very good movement on his pitches. Obviously he hadn’t pitched that well before this game, but he has some ability, specifically with the ability to throw a change that had a screwball movement and then throwing a breaking ball that was at the same speed that went the opposite way, which means the batter must pick up the spin or release to know which way it is going. His fastball is around 91 so it isn’t overpowering, but if he can spot that he could be effective. The Yanks were off balance against him but I think this game was won because Atlanta refused to allow the guy to stay in the game after 100 pitches. He was cruising and after getting one out he allowed a cheap grounder single to Jeter. I would have at least let him stay in against Granderson as the score was 4-0 and Grandy is still better against righties and the Yanks had done nothing so far. An extra 4-5 pitches so finishing around 105 would not have been a big deal.
Thankfully the Atlanta coaching staff made a call to the pen…a single and walk later ARod was up with the bases loaded and a 3-2 count. ARod then lined a pitch just over the wall to tie the game and Lou Gehrig for the most grand slams in major league history!!! A single and walk later and Swish gave us a two run lead on a very poorly placed pitch right in Swish’s wheelhouse. ARod has had some very good AB's, even if he hasn't won all of them
A few other notes:
· I am still not happy with the lack of velocity on CC’s fastball, I don’t think he hit 94 all game and he was usually 92. His change is such a big part of his game, but because the batters are not geared up for the 94-95 heat, the change is not as effective. CC keeps grinding and keeps us close, but I am concerned because he simply won’t be as dominant without the velocity coming back. BTW, he failed to cover 1st again, but this time it didn’t cost us
· Rapada came on in the 8th inning to get a lefty and struck him and did his job. With Simmons (hitting from the right side) I would have taken him out, but Girardi stuck with him with a lefty on deck…and he walked the righty. Then after Atlanta pinch hit a righty Girardi had the same decision except the tying run is not at the plate and Girardi let Rapada face the righty with a lefty on deck. It is a risky move, but with a lefty on deck at least there is some logic. Rapada got Ross and then the lefty to get through the 8th. I bring this up for a few reasons. 1) I think Rapada should be used almost daily to get the one lefty or a 2 lefties in 3 batter situation. This was actually his 4 straight game and I wouldn't have let him face so many righties. 2) He is better when used frequently but for short bursts. I think we see that as he hasn’t been good when he doesn’t pitch for long periods of time…However, when he gets consistent short bursts he is really effective against lefties. 3) I think it underscores the reason why it is critical to have at least two lefties in the pen; it gives the manager so much more flexibility on making moves and simultaneously, makes it harder for the opposing manager because he still has to worry about another lefty coming in. 4) Finally, it also shows why it is best to setup your lineup without so many hitter from the same side in a row…for the same reasons listed in part 3.
· Martin pinch hit for Stewart in the 8th inning and while I was glad Girardi was not giving up on the 4-0 game and also confused as to why Girardi would make Martin get fully loose again and then go catch? The idea to have Stewart catch is to give Martin a break and as I have said numerous times, I would like our guys to get a full day of rest without warming up unless an emergency situation arises. In my view, down 4-0 leading off an inning is not an emergency and Martin should have gotten a full day of rest.
· I was glad Soriano got out there and got the save; his stuff was still not really good again with the exception of the breaking pitch to Freeman, but his location was very good and location is the most important/effective part of his game.
· Three weeks ago this team had a .500 record and was tied for last place in the division...now WE ARE IN FIRST PLACE!