Sunday, May 13, 2018

Happy Mother's Day!

The pitcher for Oakland (Triggs) is a finesse pitcher with a lot of movement on his pitches.  The Yankees got off to an early lead as he fell behind 2-0 to Sanchez and then came in with an 89 MPH fastball that Sanchez turned on for a dinger.  The next batter was Hicks and the exact same scenario happened.  With German mixing in his 3 good pitches and mowing down Oakland for the first 3 innings (9 up and 9 down), the game looked positive.  The Yankees got two more on in the 3rd inning but couldn’t score as Hicks got out.

The 4th inning saw a different pitcher as German could not control his pitches.  Not sure what happened in between innings, but German kept throwing his change in the dirt and lost his command of the strike zone.  After a single and a walk, German threw a changeup down the middle of the plate and all of a sudden we were losing 3-2.  9 pitches later German had walked 2 more batters and with one out he got a groundout that moved both runners up.   It is hard to discuss pitch selection when your pitcher can’t locate what you want as a fastball inside may be the perfect call, but if the pitcher has it leak out over the plate, that may be a worse call then just asking for a breaking ball.  That being said, Mark Canha had just swung at a curve in the dirt and I thought the same pitch should have been called for.  Instead, they threw a fastball and Canha ripped it for a huge 2 out single knocking in 2 runs and we were down 5-2.  The inning ended as we threw out the runner going to 2nd.
The Yankees were mowed down and then German continued struggling allowing 2 more singles and got out of the inning allowing one run. 6-2.

Soapbox comment:  People throw around the word momentum too frequently in sports and while there are times where momentum can “keep going,” it can just as easily be changed.  Regardless, The Yankees had early “momentum” and then Oakland had “momentum” and then in the bottom of the 6th, the Yankees mounted their own excellent inning scoring 4 runs (including Didi’s first hit after going 0-30 – yeah, 0-30 is terrible).  Now the Yankees have “momentum!”  The point is that you have momentum until you don’t…and while the word is not wrong, I think it is used far too frequently as the reason why an outcome happened rather than as the word used to describe what happened.
For example, saying, The Yankees kept the momentum going getting the bases loaded in the 6th inning, but momentum ended when Hicks grounded out with 2 outs, on a 3-2 count and the runners going.  J

Stepping down from the soapbox!

Hicks grounding out was a big opportunity lost, but 1/3 of the game was still left.

With the score tied at 6, Holder pitched a perfect 6th and I was surprised he was taken out, but I would have had a quick hook on him because he is Jonathan Holder and I don’t have great confidence in him.  Chad Green struck out all 3 batters in the 7th and threw only 12 pitches in doing so.  I clearly expected him to pitch to start the 8th but no, Boone took him out and brought in Betances.  Betances looked razor sharp as well and threw only 11 pitches to retire Oakland in order.  While the Yankees didn’t score, we are now in a tie game entering the 9th.  Betances has to start the 9th right?  Nope, Chapman was in.  I have a big problem with this.  In a tie game, you can’t assume the game will only go 9 innings and what happened to the comments made that we are trying to extend guys out to be able to throw multiple innings?  In a tie game and your pitcher looked sharp and didn’t throw a lot of pitches you have to try and get through a few more batters.  Even if they pitch to one or two batters in the next inning and you can get 3 innings out of (in this case) Green and Betances instead of 2.  This was a very bad decision in my book. 

It looked even worse when Chapman was throwing 96 MPH (5 or 6 MPH under what he threw the other night.  Making it worse was that he couldn’t find the strike zone and even his slider had no bite.  After walking the first two batters I was really concerned because weak stuff and no control equals trouble.  We had a mound visit because I think there was concern Chapman might be hurt but they left him in and with the bunt on Chapman bounced a ball moving both runners up with nobody out.  Oakland then removed the bunt and brought in a pinch hitter and Chapman walked him.  After the walk, the Yankees visited the mound again as they were looking at a possible blister on his throwing hand.  The Yankees left him in the game.  With not much left in the bullpen as Robertson was awful the night before, I could understand leaving him, but I would have taken him out because I didn’t want the blister to get worse (marathon not a sprint).  Plus, he was pretty ineffective (bases loaded and nobody out), but Chapman wanted to stay in and with the score tied the options in the pen weren’t exciting (because we got the minimum out of 3 relievers in a tie game – which shows you how bad not extending them was.  After the next pitch was bounced and Sanchez gloved it (fortunately it found his glove, but it was a huge play), it looked like we were going to allow some runs.  Chapman was able to get a few more MPH’s on his fastball and struck out Canha for the 1st out.  What followed was a huge play where Chapman got Lucroy to hit a fly ball to slightly shallow LF.  Gardner got momentum behind his throw him and got rid of it reasonably fast and made an accurate throw but had a little less velocity than normal; the play was very close as Sanchez did everything he could, but the ump called the runner safe as the swipe tag appeared to miss the runner.  In review, Sanchez barely touched the runner and we got the call overturned for a huge DP to get out of a bases loaded nobody out jam in the 9th inning.

Two things on this.  1) Sanchez started in the baseline and then, because he didn’t have the ball, came out just slightly (as he is supposed to) and caught and swiped very quickly and just caught (up to) the runner on the back of his jersey.  Yet another exciting play for an exciting team!  The second comment is that this is one of those times where you have to give credit to the manager.  If runs scored there, everyone would have abused him for staying with an injured player who clearly didn’t have his stuff.  But Boone stuck with him and Chapman stepped up as did Gardner and Sanchez.  Of course, if Boone would have managed the bullpen better in the 6-8th innings the issue might not have happened.

Sometimes, the wrong moves work and sometimes the right moves don’t; you just have to make a lot more correct ones to give the team its best chance to win now and in the future.

We were all set for the walk-off win in the 9th, but Sanchez Hicks and Walker went down 1,2,3
Now we had to use AJ Cole to pitch (which makes you realize the poor job of getting only one inning out of each pitcher.)  Cole was picked up from the Nationals after they cut him as he got off to a horrific start allowing 15 runs in 10 innings pitched and has not done anything in the majors at 26.  Here we were hoping he could give us something and he walked the first two batters and this had the makings of a bad ending.  But instead of continuing his terrible pitching, he was able to strike out the next two batters and get a pop out to give us a chance.  We didn’t score in the 10th and Cole pitched a scoreless 11th to keep our chances alive.  After Didi flew out Stanton walked and after a groundout FC by Sanchez Hicks walked Sanchez to 2nd base with 2 outs.  Walker then hit a soft line drive to LC that scored Sanchez for yet another exciting win!

Some other notes:
Sonny Gray pitched poorly Friday night and what was interesting is that Dustin Fowler was in the A’s lineup and they were traded for each other.  Gray has been a pretty solid pitcher and while he is off to a Bad start (5.15 ERA), he will turn it around.  His stuff wasn’t bad, his control has been as he is walking too many people and not locating his strikes well.   He has 24 walks in 38 innings; that is simply not acceptable and about double the amount he should have.

Our record is good and while the starting pitching overall has been good, the bullpen and hitting hasn’t been all that good.  Our hitting has been timely and it seems like someone different is the hero on wins, we have more underperforming than over performing.

Neil Walker and Gardner have been getting it going in May.  Walker, in his 35 plate appearances, has a line of: .346/.514/462 (OPS-.976).    Gardner has a .404 OBP in May and a .765 OPS mostly because he hasn’t hit with power.  In fact, as these guys get going, their HR production would really help.  Taking their averages over the past 4 years based on their AB’s this year, they should have 7 HR’s at this point and combined they have ONE!

Aaron Hicks has been slumping and his OPS is just above his career number at .712. 

Andjuar has been struggling as well as he has not had an extra base hit in his last 13 games and only has 1 walk and 2 RBI’s in those 13 games.  His overall OPS is at .747.  Both he and Torres are going to have to adjust to the pitchers who have made adjustments.

Oakland had score 9 runs in their previous 5 games and in our 2 games have scored 16 runs.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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