Playoff atmosphere in the Bronx because every game is important!
Neither starting pitcher was particularly good even though both got off to a decent start. It was more about poor hitting than good pitching. CC did spot his pitches a little better at the beginning…and he will need to because his stuff is average. I thought Girardi played the entire bullpen correct, including pulling CC early. He is a not an ace and needs to be treated like any average pitcher. Flaherty mentioned the AB where the #7 hitter, Valencia, hit a 2 run HR as a microcosm of Sabbathia’s year because he allowed a lead changing HR to the #7 hitter. But I look at that differently. Valencia this year has swung the bat well (in 60 AB’s against lefties he has an OPS of .998) and seems to be a guy who jumps on the 1st pitch a lot. CC shook off Romine a few times and then served up a flat high flat changeup that was crushed. That same pitch would work well if he were throwing 95 and the batter needed to be ready for the heater but it was like a batting practice pitch at 87 MPH. CC need to be a crafty lefty who can heat it up once in awhile, but right now he is mediocre.
The Yankee offense responded by taking advantage of some straight pitches from Gonzalez as Soriano and Suzuki gave us 4 runs on 2 HR’s to take the lead that we never relinquished.
Suzuki’s was a first pitch fastball right down the middle and was a good example of the bad pitching that was going on. It is also the reason Girardi was correct to pull CC when he did because bad pitching will get hit. I also was very happy that Girardi did not bring in Joba for one righty in the 7th inning with 2 outs and nobody on. You never know how the game will go and you can’t waste a guy for one batter. Let Robertson pitch to that guy and let him pitch the 8th. The main reasons are that Robertson was up already as well as the forward thinking of what happens if Joba let the first guy on??? Girardi would have pulled him anyway, so you don’t bring him in, you let Robertson get the job done. I also thought it was a good move to remove Kelley even though he got the first batter and that was because he was not hitting his spots.
I enjoyed the piece on Reynolds going to our hitting coach and saying he wanted to get rid of his toe tap and the discussion about getting his foot down. That makes a ton of sense with a guy who has very good bat speed and coverage of the plate. He will swing and miss a lot but this will give him more time and the possible loss of weight transfer is worth it for a guy with so much swing power. The results have been great so far and this would be a huge plus for us.
On the negative side of Reynolds, I had some issues with his base running. He was on 1st with one out and ion a single you do try to get to 3rd, but he hesitated slightly making sure the ball was not caught on a line and then got thrown out at 3rd (ball was hit to RC closer to C). While the announcers said the ball was in front of him to make the decision, it would have been nice if the 3rd base coach would have recognized the situation and put up his hands stopping the runner! Call me crazy but I think that is a 3rd base coaches job…to use the judgment that you should be seeing every day and not allow a player who doesn’t have to make that call that often. I could go on all day, but the 3rd base coach is also more away of exactly the arm strength and positioning of the fielder as well as a better feel for where the ball is because he is not in the process of running full speed.
The other poor base running play was after Reynolds collected his 3rd hit, he was on 2nd with nobody out. Ichiro moved him to 3rd with 1 out and Romine was up with the infield in. Romine hit a medium one hopper to the SS and Reynolds took off to home and was out by a mile standing up. The “contact play” should be reserved for guys with great speed who get a good jump at 3rd. Reynolds should have stayed at 3rd base and hoped to score with 2 outs.
Granderson tried to bunt twice with the heavy shift on. The first one he didn’t bunt hard enough and the pitcher made a good play. The 2nd one seemed to be almost a safety squeeze play that Soriano missed the call on, but with 2 outs that was obviously not what was going on…Granderson was just bunting for a hit. Granderson, once again didn’t bunt hit hard enough, but it was good enough where there was no play on him. Unfortunately, Soriano was not ready for it and when he noticed ARod was ready for it and went to 3rd, Soriano tried unsuccessfully to score and was easily out. The announcers blamed Soriano, but I disagree with them as I think it was ARod’s fault for forcing Soriano with 2 outs ARod could have stayed at 2nd and we would have had bases loaded. Could have Soriano read it and raced home? Perhaps but I think he kind of sensed that if he tried he would have been out anyway and probably would have given the O’s their only chance for an out at home. If Granderson had pushed the bunt beyond the pitcher I think Soriano would have gone home. Soriano has been lazy on the bases, but I believe he did the right ting by holding up and ARod should have stayed at 2nd.
That being said, I am thrilled to see Granderson trying to take advantage of the shift…he just needs to bunt harder.
Romine was slow to pop up after some failed blocking attempts and one in particular caught him. Catchers need to block the ball correctly but if they don’t, they should be busting to get to the ball and assume the runner is going…Romine hesitated and it cost him one time and maybe twice. The good thing was he made the adjustment blocking balls and turned his shoulder toward home plate later in the game. Romine is also swinging the bat well in July and August (57 AB’s) with an OPS of about .865. He should be catching most games and Girardi knows it.
One odd thing was Jeter was up with 1st and 3rd and nobody out with Gardner on first. It was a 3-2 count and Gardner did not go on the pitch (and the pitcher was a righty with an ordinary move). Something is wrong with Gardner running this year. Here is a guy who in less AB’s stole 47 bases and was caught 9 times followed 49 bases getting caught 13 times and this year he has only 22 SB’s and has been caught 8 times. He should steal 20 straight bases to be about where he was before. BTW, he is hitting pretty close to his career numbers so it is not as if he is not getting on base.
The Genius Maker looked pretty good, but not the pin point control, but he had movement on his pitches and that was key.
Need to take the other 2 games against Baltimore and we could be back in business. A split isn’t terrible but we need to make up ground.