I am back at it after a break! More important, the Yanks are doing what they need to; playing well in midst of a lot of injuries and taking two games with authority form the Rangers.
Michael Kay a few times talked about how GREAT the Texas lineup is. Not to take anything away from them as they are one of the best lineups, but “great?” Just based on the Yankees having the best record in baseball (with all these injuries) tells you how there aren’t any great teams, let alone offense. The league has more parity than I can remember. Hamilton is a great player with tremendous bat speed (his swing is crazy, but he has Cano’s penchant of swinging at balls). Outside of Hamilton they have pretty good players and no real weak links, but great? Not so sure. Especially with Napoli and his career .859 out of the catcher’s position not in the lineup. This was the same large advantage the Yankees had with Posada in the lineup.
Regardless, they are a very tough lineup and Kuroda was outstanding last night. The movement on his pitches was great and early in the game you could see the Rangers hitters not picking up the spin on balls as they were waving at breaking balls just like they were fastballs. His fastball was running and it had good velocity. He pitched the best game I can remember a Yankee pitcher in a long time (I am not sure what was better over the past few years?) Against this very good J lineup, he only allowed 2 walks and 2 singles in pitching a complete game. Both walks were on a 3-2 count, one single was an infield grounder that was stopped by Nix, but with Andres running he just couldn’t throw him out and the other single was on a 3-2 pitch. Everything was contested by Kuroda. He pitched a brilliant game that has his ERA at 3.06 now.
The Yanks were getting shut down until their manager made a very odd move. With his starting pitcher, Harrison, at about 100 pitches Jeter was leading off in the 7th inning. As you know Jeter has been great against lefties and poor against righties. Washington let Harrison start the inning (which would make sense, but either you start him and leave him in there for at least two batters (Tex hit a double off of him earlier and if Jeter and Swisher got on I could see a move). But, why let him face Jeter only when he had shut us out with only one extra base hit all game? The move to make was either take him out before Jeter or leave him in for at least two guys. Fortunately for us, he let Jeter get a single and then brought in the flame thrower Ogando with his 99 MPH fastball and a WHIP below 1. Swisher fell behind taking a pea for a strike before fouling off the next pitch. He then took two fastballs for balls before fouling off two more. Swisher shortened his swing and was sitting fastball. He then was able to lay off a slider that for ball 3. I get the feeling if that was a meatball strike Swisher would have been going back to the dugout because he was sitting fastball, but maybe he was just locked in. Regardless the next pitch was a high fastball that Swisher was all over and the Yanks were on the board with a 2 run shot. Tex followed that up with a frozen rope home run into the RF porch and that was all Kuroda needed.
The Yanks now have two new players on their roster with Lowe and McGehee. Lowe was getting bludgeoned before coming too the Yanks and pitching a great 4 innings in relief in the first game of this series. I am not sure if they made an adjustment to his mechanics, but hopefully they noticed something as the movement he had will be effective! McGehee had a really good 2/3 of a year in 09 (.859 OPS) and a pretty good year in 10 (.801 OPS) before struggling with an OPS of .626 in 2011 and .694 the first half of this year. He appears to be a guy who has a swing that drives the ball to right field well. This year he is hitting lefties well (.872), but struggling against righties at .605. However, that may be an aberration as the 3 years before he was pretty equal. Again, I hope the Yanks saw a mechanical flaw that can be adjusted, but as long as he hits lefties this is what is needed while ARod is out; so far the results have been good in his 21 AB’s. Chavez has been much more than we could have hoped. I have not seen enough of McGehee’s defense to make a comment.
Back to Chavez, while he gets the advantage of platooning, he has done that great for us and has been huge with ARod’s issues. He has an OPS of .890 overall and .966 against righties (in his 20 AB’s against lefties he has been horrible – I know he got it done the other day).
Suzuki has been used correctly and has been slightly better for us than with Seattle .701 - .645, but with the small sample size it doesn’t mean much. Overall, we are getting a pretty weak hitter who plays good defense and provides some speed. We need it so it is good, but it is not a strength. His one walk in 70 AB’s is the reason why I have said he was overrated as a hitter in the past. Again, I liked getting him because I felt Gardner was very valuable for us as a team and while Ichiro is a poor man’s Gardner, I was hopeful playing for something would spark him…so far the spark hasn’t been too much (even if helpful).