From Doom to Joy in one swing

    Saturday, September 18, 2010, 12:25 AM [General]

    Watching the top of the ninth inning last night, one thing stood out from the body language displayed by Alex Rodriguez.

    The Yankees entered the inning trailing 3-1 and three outs away from a dreary loss to the Orioles.  Get those three outs and people start wondering what the deal is, what’s wrong with this team and will they collapse.

    Seeing Jorge Posada get a single on an 11-pitch at-bat you start thinking it might be possible. The permutations of who is coming up start entering your mind and the fact that you need a few more of those start creeping in.

    Then Derek Jeter looks at a called strike three and you deflate a little. Curtis Granderson picks you up slightly by dropping a single into left field. After all, who wouldn’t feel good having the go-ahead run up in Mark Teixeira followed by Alex Rodriguez?

    Teixeira created that moment for Rodriguez by fouling out to third base and up comes A-Rod.

    Rodriguez always has an intense look in his face when he strides to the plate but in that situation, he had a different look.

    That look was this: "There’s no way we’re losing this game" and maybe there are a few expletives thrown in the middle of that phrase.

    You start worrying when he gets down 1-2 but when a close ball two goes in your favor, you feel good.

    Maybe you’re not expecting a three-run home run good, but you're definitely confident that the line will continue moving and that somehow the game will have a bottom of the ninth.  

    Rodriguez flashed a little grin after ball two as the Orioles anticipated a win and then let the bat do the smiling by depositing the fastball well over the left wall.

    It was similar to what he showed in the postseason and maybe it was the little kick-start to get the Yankees out of this recent malaise that has put them on the wrong end of late-inning dramatics.

    To steal a line from another manager, it was "Gangster". It was what you envisioned Don Mattingly doing all the time when you hung that "Hitman" poster over your bed as a child. It was everything you envisioned when your team needed rescuing from surefire doom and gloom.

    Having a player capable of producing those moments, the pendulum swings from doom to elation in a matter of seconds.

    And when Mariano Rivera closes it out, you do your own little shake.

    It does not matter whether you are in the living room, the stands, at the bar, in the car, on the train or anywhere else. This was a huge deal and the ending was the perfect one.

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    Examining Cashman's bullpen reinforcements

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010, 2:05 AM [General]

    Watching Kerry Wood blow a fastball past B.J. Upton for an eighth-inning strikeout led me to wonder, is his regular-season performance the best of any Yankee reliever acquired by Brian Cashman in the middle of the year?

    The qualifier of regular season is used for two reasons. One is that Wood has not appeared in the postseason as a Yankee and secondly other relievers have been sub-standard in the regular-season and lights out in the playoffs (Damaso Marte).

    Here are Wood’s numbers since his acquisition from the Indians and below are the other relievers obtained by Cashman during the year.

    In 19 games, Wood is 2-0 with a 0.43 ERA. In 20 2/3 innings, Wood has allowed one run and 11 hits, one home run, walked 11 and struck out 23. He also not allowed a run in his last appearances and pitched more than one inning five times.

    Damaso Marte – The Yankees acquired him as part of the Xavier Nady trade on July 25, 2008. In 25 appearances, Marte was 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA. He pitched 18 1/3 innings, allowed 14 hits and 11 runs. He also walked 10, struck out 24 while pitching multiple innings four times and posting an 8.44 ERA in those situations. Of course what he did during the 2009 postseason as a situational lefty forgave his shoddy 2008 showing.

    Brian Bruney – The Yankees signed him as a free agent on July 1, 2006 after he had a 7.47 ERA in 2005 with the Diamondbacks.  Bruney made his Yankee debut in mop-up duty on August 17, 2006. By the end of the year, his outings began in the sixth or later 14 times. The reason was a 0.87 ERA in 19 appearances which spanned 20 2/3 innings. In that time, Bruney allowed two earned runs and 14 hits with 25 strikeouts and 15 walks. That brief sample put Bruney in 58 games but in 2007, his ERA inflated to over four and that was followed by two injury-plagued seasons.

    Alan Embree – Embree was on the mound for Boston when the last out of the 2004 ALCS was made. Less than a year later, he was a Yankee. The reason was a 7.62 ERA but when he became a Yankee, he was not much better. In 24 appearances that spanned 14 1/3 innings, Embree allowed 12 earned runs and 20 hits, giving up runs in five of his first nine appearances.

    Tanyon Sturtze – Sturtze was acquired from the Dodgers on May 15, 2004 and was two years removed from making 33 starts. Sturtze began a three-year tenure with the Yankees by pitching to a 5.47 ERA. That spanned 28 appearances and 77 1/3 innings as Sturtze gave up 47 earned runs and 75 hits. During that time, Sturtze went unscored upon in seven of his last eight outings. The one time he was scored upon in Sept. 2004, he gave up seven runs while getting two outs.

    Dan Miceli – Before the Yankees acquired Wood, Miceli was the last reliever acquired from Cleveland during the year. Though he had a 1.20 ERA in 13 appearances, the Indians sent him to the Yankees on June 25, 2003. By July 29, he was headed to Houston after seven relief appearances.

    Armando Benitez – How good could you have been if you get traded less than a month later? Benitez pitched so-so in nine Yankee appearances. In 9 1/3 innings, he allowed two earned runs and eight hits. He struck out 10 but was done in by seven walks and when the Yankees and Mariners engaged in some unusual waiver tricks, Benitez was out and Jeff Nelson returned.

    Jesse Orosco – Six days after getting Benitez, the man who recorded the final out of the 1986 World Series was a Yankee but was not a very good one. In 15 appearances that spanned 4 1/3 innings, he allowed five runs and four hits. He did record four holds and was used as situational guy in late innings but was a Twin by Labor Day.

    Gabe White – The Yankees acquired White a week after getting Orosco. White made 12 appearances and gave up six runs and eight hits in 12 1/3 innings. His debut came in mop-up work against the White Sox and pitched decently in the late innings of close games except for his final four outings when he allowed three runs in 4 2/3 innings. A year later, he had an ERA over eight and was an ex-Yankee.

    Jeff Nelson – Nelson was part of the bridge to Mariano Rivera and when the Yankees did not sign him following 2000, they were second-guessed. They tried to rectify it by re-acquiring him and had mixed results in a 4.58 ERA in 24 appearances. During 17 2/3 innings, he gave up nine runs and 17 hits while being used exclusively in the seventh inning or later.

    Felix Heredia – Heredia was the third lefty in the Class of 2003 and sixth reliever acquired. He was obtained from Cincinnati in late August and pitched to a 1.20 ERA in 12 appearances (2 ER, 13 hits, and 15 innings). A year later, he gave up 27 earned runs and 44 hits in 38 2/3 innings.

    Jay Witasick – Witasick was acquired June 23, 2001 from the Padres for D’Angelo Jimenez. Although he was 3-0 in 32 appearances, Witasick had a 4.69 ERA, allowing 21 earned runs and 47 hits in 40 1/3 innings. Though he pitched 10 scoreless appearances down the stretch, Witasick was charged with eight earned runs in World Series – all in Game Six when he faced 14 hitters and gave up 10 hits in 1 1/3 innings.

    Mark Wohlers – Four and a half years after giving up a World Series home run to Jim Leyrtiz, the former Atlanta closer was a Yankee. In 31 appearances, he pitched 35 2/3 innings and allowed 18 earned runs and 33 hits in 35 2/3 innings. He was done in by consecutive outings where he allowed four runs. Before those, he has allowed just one earned run in six appearances and those two games moved him to the mop-up role.

    Allen Watson – Watson began 1999 as a Met but became a Yankee on July 3. In 21 appearances, Watson allowed eight earned runs and 30 hits in 34 1/3 innings. He struck out 30 and walked 10. He pitched in three postseason games but a 10.28 ERA the following year ended his career.






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    Now that's a losing streak

    Tuesday, September 14, 2010, 12:19 AM [General]

    In the 1989 movie "Major League", fictional Indians manager Lou Brown said that winning “three in a row” can be defined as a winning streak.  He was telling that to his no-name group of players assembled with the purpose of finishing last and moving the team.

    For the Yankees, that inverse of that comment is true.

    In the last 16 months, the Yankees have avoided losing more than three straight until last night’s thriller of a game which was decided when Reid Brignac hit an 11th-inning home run off Sergio Mitre.

    The last instance of more than three straight losses was May 2-7 when the Yankees lost the final five games until Alex Rodriguez returned from his hip injury. They gave up 33 runs in home losses to the Angels, Red Sox and Tampa Bay.

    The next three-game losing streak was June 9-11 at Boston. The Yankees were fortunate to avoid a fourth straight defeat when Luis Castillo dropped a pop-up turning an 8-7 loss into a 9-8 victory.

    Next was a listless three games in Florida and Atlanta but on June 24, the Yankees busted out with an 8-4 win. Not only did the Yankees halt the losing but that win began an eight-game winning streak and a 14-2 run until another three-game losing streak before the break in Anaheim.

    Again, the Yankees dodged four in a row and did it in a big way. They won nine of 10 at home and the next three-game skid was in Chicago where they stopped it by Melky Cabrera hitting for the cycle. That win began a run of 40 wins in 54 games that helped the Yankees win the AL East and the next three-game skid, the games meant little but the Yankees still snapped it with a season-ending 10-2 victory at Tampa.

    This year, the Yankees have faced a fourth straight loss six times and until last night they had successfully avoided four straight 10 times in the last 16 months.

    In their previous playoff years, the Yankees have not been so fortunate to escape without losing more than three straight and the fact that they went 16 months shows how rare of a feat it actually is.

    Three years ago, the Yankees made the playoffs despite a seven-game losing streak in April. That skid brought them to 8-13 and they went a respectable 13-9 before losing five straight.

    That late-May skid dropped the Yankees to 21-29 and they did not lose more than three straight until June 23-27 at Baltimore after going 15-6 between skids.  The Yankees did not lose more than three straight again and finished the year with a flourish by going 59-29.

    In 2006, the Yankees lost four in a row during the opening week. The next instance was not until June 8-11 and in between skids, the Yankees went 34-19 even with some tough injuries to Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield. They did not have another lengthy skid as they won 62 of their final 101 games.

    During 2005, the Yankees had four losing streaks of more than three games in the first two months as they struggled with .500. The final skid was from June 22-25 when the Yankees fell to 37-37. They were at .500 one other time and starting with a 5-4 win over the Mets, the Yankees went 58-30 the rest of the way.

    In 2004, the Yankees had a forgettable four-game losing streak as they were swept at home by the Red Sox April 23-25. The loss in Chicago and the three to Boston dropped the Yankees to 8-11 and there was not other skids more than three games as the Yankees went 101-61, going 93-50 after that sweep. 

    The game immediately following that sweep was a 10-8 win over Oakland and it began a 42-15 run that culminating in a three-game sweep over Boston that saw Derek Jeter's classic dive into the stands.

    In 2003, the Yankees did not experience more than three consecutive losses until losing five straight May 22-26 against Toronto and Boston. It was part of a stretch of 14 losses in 20 games which dropped the record to 29-22. The Yankees went 7-6 for the next two weeks but following a no-hitter by the Astros on June 11, they went 65-33 the rest of the way.

    In 2002, the four-game skid came April 13 with a 7-6 loss at Boston. The Yankees went 11-9 over the next three and a half weeks but then embarked on a 13-1 run and then did not lose more than three straight again in a 103-win season.

    In 2001, the Yankees were bidding to be four-time champions and won 95 games. They also dropped four in a row early with losses in Boston and Toronto that put the record at 8-7 on April 18. The Yankees went 14-8 before losing four straight with three coming in extra innings from May 13-17.

    They went 12-6 before losing three straight at home to the Braves. They responded with a 22-9 record but then lost four straight while allowing 38 runs. That was met by an 11-2 run that preceded a pair of three-game skids within a week of each other. After getting swept in Oakland August 10-12, the Yankees responded with 20 wins in their next 28 and sealed the AL East Sept 25 in the first home game following the Sept. 11 attacks.

    In 2000, the Yankees were an 87-win team but it was similar to the 2006 Cardinals, who won the World Series despite only 83 wins.  The Yankees were 84-59 on Sept. 13 and won the division despite finishing with three more wins the rest of the year. During that span, the Yankees had a six-game skid and then ended with a seven-game slide. That year also featured a five and four-game skid as well as a 48-26 run that preceded the final slide.

    In 1999, a year after winning 114 games, the Yankees began 7-1, lost four in a row and then won 14 of the next 19 before encountering five straight home losses. Following the fifth loss, the Yankees went 65-39 before the next four-game slump also at home. After that one, they won nine of 10 and finished with 98 victories.

    Even the greatest years have little bumps and in 1998 that happened. Of course when it did occur in late-August, the Yankees were well over .500 and the mini-slump was followed by splitting the next 24 games before ending the year with seven consecutive wins.

    In 1997, the Yankees were wild card winners and won 96 games. They lost five straight in mid-April to fall to 5-10. Following that, the Yankees were 20-7 before scoring eight runs in five straight losses. They did not lose more than three straight until late-August when they were swept in Philadelphia and lost the first three to Baltimore before finishing up 17-5.

    In the first championship year since 1978, the Yankees did not more than three straight until August 25-29 when a five-game slump cut their lead from six to four games. The Yankees ran towards their first AL East title since 1980 by going 18-8 in the next 26 games.

    In the first of 13 straight playoff teams, the 1995 version hardly looked like a postseason team early. They had a four-game losing streak in mid-May and a five-game skid a week later and another five-game slump immediately after, which if not for Mariano Rivera’s first win on May 28 would have been an 11-game skid.

    The skids were hardly done as the Yankees followed a 16-4 run with four straight defeats in early August. Later that month, the Yankees dropped eight straight and seemed out of the race with a 53-58 record. They finished the year on a 26-7 tear.

    This time of year is definitely not a good time to lose more than three in row and previous teams have withstood these types of skid. It takes talent and luck to avoid more than three straight losses in 16 months and since previous playoff teams have survived there's little reason to believe the Yankees will not withstand it despite the panic from some on twitter.

    That being said, it would be nice for the Yankees to get a win tonight.

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    Trips to Texas seem to have their tricky moments

    Monday, September 13, 2010, 1:15 AM [General]

    Regardless of how good a season has gone for the Yankees, it seems like Texas has been a difficult place to play and a place where excruciating losses occur frequently. The Yankees have won 102 of 172 games played in Arlington and there have been a bunch of noteworthy moments both good and bad there.

    At first, the Yankees enjoyed success as from 1972 through 1977, they won 24 of 35 games but then the tide turned a little there in 1978 and going through 1984, the Yankees split 38 games.

    Starting in 1985, the Yankees almost never won in Texas.

    The first painful loss in that period was July 26, 1985. Only five games out heading into that series, the Yankees built an 8-4 lead with six outs to play. Only those outs never came as Ron Guidry loaded the bases before Dave Righetti faltered in a big way, throwing two wild pitches and allowing five runs in the 9-8 loss.

    Though the Yankees came back and split the six games in 1986, the following year was a rough time. 

    The highlight was July 18, 1987 when Don Mattingly homered in his eighth straight game, tying the mark set by Dale Long, but those trips also included the events of April 29, 1987 when the Yankees turned a 7-2 lead into an 8-7 loss.  That night, the Yankees scored four in the seventh but Dave Righetti gave up a two-run single in the seventh, three more runs in the eighth before ceding to Cecilio Guante, who gave up the game-winning hit to Geno Petralli.

    If that was not bad enough consider what happened 24 hours after Mattingly homered again.

    Not only did Mattingly not hit a home run, but Steve Trout took the mound for the first time in pinstripes and contributed five runs and nine hits in five innings of a 20-3 disaster. Ruben Sierra drove in five and the night ended with Rick Cerone balking in a run.

    In the years between 1985 and 1988 as the Yankee win total declined slightly each year, so did their performance in Texas. In 24 games, the Yankees lost 15 times and that included the first weekend of May 1988 when manager Billy Martin was injured in a bar fight following a game where he kicked dirt at umpire Tim Welke It spelled the eventual end of Billy V, which concluded the following month.

    From 1989 through 1992, the Yankees were mostly a disaster on the field and their performance in Texas mirrored it as they lost 19 out of 24.

    One of those performances was a four-game sweep July 20-23, 1989 where the Yankees failed to gain any ground on their 7 1/2 game deficit to the Orioles. Nolan Ryan and Kevin Brown shut the Yankees down in the first two games.

    In Game Three, the Yankees scored once off Mike Jeffcoat while going 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position. The following night was even worse as the Yankees blew a 4-0 lead by allowing four runs in the ninth. Chuck Cary needed one out to finish off a one-hitter but it never came as he allowed Scott Fletcher's RBI double, which was followed by Righetti allowing Julio Franco’s single and Sierra's home run. An inning later, Rafael Palmeiro scored when Jesse Barfield's throw to third went into the seats.

    A year later, Palmeiro beat the Yankees with a two-run home run off Mark Leiter in the 11th  inning of an 8-7 loss that saw a blown 7-3 lead when Pete Incaviglia homered off Righetti in the ninth.

    A week after sweeping a three-game series from Texas at the Stadium in June 1991, the Yankees failed again.

    On June 16, they needed 15 innings to fail. In a game that took nearly 4 1/2 hours to complete, the Yankees tied it at 3-3 on a Kevin Maas ninth-inning home run off Ryan. Two innings later they left the bases loaded when Matt Nokes grounded out off Kenny Rogers and in the 15th they lost when Mario Diaz doubled off Lee Gutterman.

    Things improved a little in Buck Showalter's first season and the Yankees took a winning record into their first trip on June 1. They split the first two but blew a 3-0 lead and lost in the 13th when Shawn Hillegas made a throwing error trying to pick off John Cangelosi.

    Although 1993 was their first winning season since 1988, the struggles in Texas continued as the Yankees dropped five of six. The most damaging losses in terms of the pennant race were Sept 6-8.

    In Game One, Scott Kamieniecki fell behind 6-0 and the Yankees ran out of outs as a two-run home run by Mike Gallego made it 8-5 and that was where it stayed. In Game Two, the Yankees were unable to hold a 3-0 lead and, after tying it at 4-4 on a Paul O'Neill home run, an error by Paul Assenmacher prolonged the inning and Gary Redus singled in the go-ahead run. In the finale, the Yankees lost to Brown but stranded 10 and were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

    The series only dropped the Yankees one-half game behind Toronto, which was swept by Oakland but it started a 5-12 stretch that knocked them out of contention.

    In 1994, the Rangers opened their new stadium and the Yankees were the best in the AL, so there was not really anything painful about two one-run losses that followed a 17-7 win on June 6. That win was the only one of a nine-game stretch that probably did not get noticed that much due to the Knicks and Rangers reaching the finals.

    In 1995, the Yankees still struggled and entered their only trip 29-33 and seven games behind the Red Sox. After being outscored 15-2, the Yankees rebounded with a 7-3 win where the pitchers of record were McDowells (Jack and Roger). They headed into the break with a frustrating 5-4, 12-inning loss in a game started by Mariano Rivera. Rivera was in line for a 4-3 victory but Bob Wickman gave up a leadoff home run to Mickey Tettleton in the eighth and the Rangers won it in the 12th on Tettleton's single off Steve Howe.

    Joe Torre's first week did not go smoothly and that is because a trip to Texas was included. After losing the opener 4-2, the Yankees were outscored 11-3 in a doubleheader where they left 20 and were 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position. The Yankees returned at the end of July and were outscored 24-4 before taking a 6-5 victory in Cecil Fielder's pinstripe debut.

    After splitting six games in 1997, the 114-win Yankees scored 49 runs in winning four of five. They swept a two-game series in early May, including a 15-13 win on May 6 where Derek Jeter went 4-for-5 with five RBI. That game was also noteworthy for the Yankees almost blowing a 9-0 lead and David Wells lasting just 2 1/3 innings. When the Yankees returned to take two of three in August, Wells fired a six-hitter.

    From 1998-2007, the Yankees were 33-12 in Texas but there still were a few notable games such as May 22, 2004 when the Yankees blew a 3-1 lead and saw errors by Tom Gordon and Alex Rodriguez lead to runs in the eighth before eventually falling on Rod Barajas' solo home run with one out in the ninth.

    A notable win also occurred there on August 23, 1999 when the Yankees had 23 hits in a 21-3 win as Tino Martinez drove in four while Scott Brosius drove in six to support Pettitte's first win at that ballpark. At the time, that was the most Yankee hits since 1984.

    Perhaps the biggest achievement occurred during 2006 when the Yankees swept the six games. The following year also saw a sweep that included Phil Hughes' first win when he pitched 6 1/3 no-hit innings before injuring his hamstring. The no-hitter was broken up in the eighth by Hank Blalock and the Yankees then swept a doubleheader.

    In 2008, the Yankees split their four-game series there but it occurred during a stretch of 13 losses in 19 games that dropped them from three games to nine games out of first place. The opener saw Joba Chamberlain leave in the fifth with an injured shoulder and the Yankees lose when Damaso Marte allowed a game-winning grand slam to Marlon Byrd.

    Last year the Yankees took two of three, outscoring the Rangers 20-3 in the victories and this year they suffered three walk-off losses, where Rivera was on the mound for two of them.

    The next time the Yankees visit Texas could be in the divisonal series. Past history has the Yankees winning three of four postseason games in Texas but this time could be different, especially if Cliff Lee is on like he was Sunday.



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    Yankee-Oriole sweep leftovers

    Thursday, September 9, 2010, 4:08 PM [General]

    A lot has been made about the Orioles trying to sweep the Yankees at Yankee Stadium for the first time since June 1986.  So that led me to wonder how close they have been since yesterday they were two outs away before Nick Swisher homered.

    Since that sweep, the Yankees are 122-68 at home against the Orioles. The Orioles have attempted to sweep a series of three or more with managers Earl Weaver, Cal Ripken Sr., Frank Robinson, Johnny Oates, Phil Regan, Davey Johnson, Ray Miller, Mike Hargrove, Sam Perlozzo, Lee Mazzilli, Dave Tremblay and Buck Showalter.

    After that sweep, the Orioles lost 13 of their next 16 through 1988. In 1989, the Orioles had a surprising run while the Yankees struggled through a 74-win season and lost five of the seven meetings.

    They opened the 1989 season in the Bronx with a 16-3 victory but were denied a two-game sweep when Dave LaPoint combined with Dave Righetti on a four-hitter and Dave Schmidt allowed three solo home runs.

    An earlier rainout created a five-game series which was the first one at home for manager Bucky Dent.  The Orioles held a 1-0 heading into the sixth but Kevin Hickey and Mark Williamson gave up four runs in the eighth.  The Orioles then won the next four by outscoring the Yankees, 26-13, concluded their season series at Yankee Stadium by getting a complete game from Bob Milacki and left the Bronx with a 1 ½ game lead over the Blue Jays.

    Both teams struggled through 1990 and 1991 and the Yankees won eight of 13 meetings with nothing of note occurring.

    In 1992, the Orioles opened their new ballpark and were good again but not good enough in the Bronx, sandwiching a 9-2 victory around two losses in late-April. When they returned in late-July, the Yankees had fallen from the AL East race and the Orioles took the first two games but never overcame a 6-0 deficit and were denied the sweep with a 6-3 loss.

    For a while in 1993, the Blue Jays, Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles and Tigers were in the hunt for the AL East.  
    When the Orioles made their maiden trip to Yankee Stadium that year on May 24, they were 17-25.  They took three of four and the only thing standing in their way of a sweep was a 1-0 loss which was settled on a Pat Kelly fifth-inning solo shot off Jamie Moyer.  That day Moyer gave up 10 hits in 6 2/3 innings while Bob Wickman gave up three in eight innings.  

    The Orioles returned in August 63-52 and 2 ½ games behind the Blue Jays.  They were swept in the three-game series that featured an outstanding double play, Domingo Jean walking to Yankee Stadium and a Don Mattingly home run just clearing the right field wall.

    During the 1994 strike year and the first year of divisional realignment, the Orioles made their first trip in May and lost the first two before taking the finale in 10 innings on Jack Voigt’s two-run double off Xavier Hernandez.  In their final three games of the season, a game-winning single by Randy Velarde in the 11th off Mark Eichorn was the only thing standing in their way of the sweep.  The Orioles blew a 4-0 lead and then closed out the season with an 8-1 victory by handing Jimmy Key his fourth loss.

    In 1995, a season reduced to 144 games, the Orioles stayed below .500 most of the year and lost four of six visits.  In the four losses, the Yankees outscored the Orioles, 26-6.

    The next year was a season of peaks and valleys in the AL East race for the Orioles. They appeared buried after the July massacre in Baltimore dropped the deficit to 10 games.  After splitting a late-June series, the Orioles returned for a three-game set just 2 ½ games back but lost the first game on Ruben Rivera’s 10th inning single off Alan Mills and avoided the sweep with a 10-9 win.

    In 1997, the Orioles led the AL East for virtually the entire year and it was their last winning season. In the Bronx, they swept a two-game series that put them at 33-15 and eight ahead of the Yankees. They returned for a September showdown and won the first three but the Yankees got to Mike Mussina and avoided a sweep with a 10-3 victory behind home runs from Paul O’Neill, Jorge Posada, Tim Raines and Bernie Williams.

    In 1998, the Yankees won 114 games and six were against the Orioles at home. The most notable game was May 19 when Bernie Williams hit a three-run home run off Armando Benitez. Benitez then hit Tino Martinez and triggered a massive brawl that featured Darryl Strawberry getting Benitez. When the Orioles left the Bronx following three one-run losses in early July, they were 26 ½ games out.

    In 1999, the Orioles lost four of the seven trips. They won two blowouts to salvage a four-game split on July 4th weekend and would have had the sweep but went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position in the opener and then blew a 5-3 lead and lost when Arthur Rhodes gave up a ninth-inning three-run home run to Scott Brosius the following day.

    By 2000, the Orioles had begun the process of trading most of their veteran players but in early-May, they hovered around .500 and on the day the Yankees honored Bob Sheppard, they avoided a sweep by scoring three off Mariano Rivera for a 7-6 win.  Had the Orioles lost that game they would have had a 13-game losing streak.  They returned for July 4 and took the opener against a struggling David Cone but then gave up 25 runs in the other games.

    Starting in 2001, the Orioles had an extra series at Yankee Stadium to generate more divisional games. That year, they lost six of eight but the most memorable game was Cal Ripken’s final visit, which took place Sept. 30 and called due to rain with the teams tied at 1-1 after 15 innings.  During the five-hour contest, Ripken went 0-for-7.

    The following year, the Orioles started off with a 5-4 victory on April 16 when David Segui hit a tying home run off Ramiro Mendoza but were shut down by Orlando Hernandez and David Wells the next nights.  In early June, they won a pair of 4-3 games but allowed an eight-run sixth in the middle game that was highlighted by Jason Giambi’s three-run home run and Robin Ventura’s two-run blast.  The Orioles returned on the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks and were swept in a four-game series.

    For some strange reason, the Orioles did make their first 2003 trip to the Bronx until July 23 when they split a two-game series.  In late-August, they won the first two and spoiled Ron Guidry Day by getting a six-hitter from Rodrigo Lopez in a 7-2 victory.  For that act, the Yankees outscored the Orioles 12-2 for the split. A 91-loss season ended with losing three of four games as Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens and Wells tuned up for postseason.

    In 2004, the Orioles had Mazzilli and a 24-23 record for their first visit but that trip featured two-one run losses, including a game where Jose Contreras did not get out of the first inning and allowed five runs.  

    When they returned right around the deadline, they were eight games under .500 but Sidney Ponson pitched a four-hitter in the opener, beating Contreras who was traded two days later.  The Yankees won the series by getting wins from Javier Vazquez and Kevin Brown.  

    On Labor Day weekend, the Orioles were close as they won the first two with the opener featuring Brown’s infamous slamming incident.  In the finale, Rafael Palmeiro hit a three-run home run in the first but the Orioles never added on and lost it when Jorge Julio walked Posada.

    Things started better for the Orioles in 2005 as they stayed in first place for part of the summer.  Only an 8-5 loss on April 9 denied them a sweep as Brian Roberts went 5-for-10 with five RBI in the two wins.  

    When they returned on July 4, the Orioles were 2 ½ behind the Red Sox but took six hours, 50 minutes to give up 25 runs and 31 hits. In September they were gone from the race, Palmeiro was gone, a new manager was in place and the Yankees completed the four-game sweep with three one-run victories.

    In 2006, Kris Benson won his return to New York but the Yankees got even with 13 runs in the next two games. The Orioles split the final six games in the Bronx and two of the wins were notable for various reasons.  

    They were 12-2 winners on August 16 when Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter colliding on a pop-up that dropped between them. Rodriguez described it as a “goofy play” but it further added speculation about the frostiness of their relationship.  A month later, the Daniel Cabrera was two outs away from a no-hitter but it was broken up by Robinson Cano.

    In 2007, the Orioles opened by taking two of three on the first weekend of a 93-loss season.  They were six outs from a 7-3 victory but Danys Baez gave up a three-run home run to Giambi in the eighth and Chris Ray gave up a grand slam to Rodriguez in the ninth and the Yankees walked away with a 10-7 victory.  

    The same scenario but not a home run burned the Orioles when they returned in August.  They lost the opener when Derek Jeter hit an RBI ground out off Chad Bradford in a game they scored off Rivera.  After a 12-0 win, the Orioles scored three in the 10th off Rivera as Aubrey Huff hit a two-run home run.  That game also saw the Orioles blow a 3-0 lead when Shelley Duncan hit a three-run shot off Jamie Walker in the ninth.  

    In the final year of Yankee Stadium, they opened with a 12-2 victory but scored once the next two games of a May series.  After winning the opener, the Orioles were 25-20 and stayed around .500 for most of the summer.  

    Two wins at Yankee Stadium in late-July helped but they still could not finish as Bobby Abreu hit two home runs in a 13-3 victory on the same day Ivan Rodriguez was acquired from Detroit. When they returned Sept. 19, it was all about remembering Yankee Stadium and the Orioles did their part by losing two one-run games before closing the Stadium with a 7-3 loss in which Rocky Cherry threw the final pitch for Baltimore there, Brian Roberts made the final out and Adam Jones had the final Oriole hit.

    Last year, the Orioles lost their first six games and when they returned Sept. 11, Jeter was chasing Lou Gehrig’s Yankee hit record.  He broke it with a single off Chris Tillman but the Orioles took the first two games.  With a chance at sweeping, three relievers allowed eight runs in the eighth and the Orioles were left waiting for the sweep.

    The same thing unfolded this year and a 6-3 loss in early June was Dave Tremblay’s final game.  Buck Showalter replaced Juan Samuel in August and the Orioles won two well-played games but then could not add on to Matt Wieters’ two-run home run and lost.

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Concussion symptons for Posada (updated)

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010, 5:29 PM [General]

    Trailing by a run to the Orioles in the bottom of the seventh seemed like a logical situation to use Jorge Posada as a pinch hitter for Francisco Cervelli.

    There was one problem and it was a significant problem - Posada was across the Harlem River seeing a neurologist to find out if he has a concussion or what the symptoms are.

    The good news is that Posada does not have a concussion.  Tests taken at New York Presbyterian Hospital were negative and Posada was cleared to play, leaving him day-to-day as opposed to out of for a significant period.

    The Yankees eventually beat Baltimore on Nick Swisher's third career game-ending home run and their third such victory was tempered by the scary news of a concussion.

    Catching involves numerous risks and one is getting foul tips off the mask. Last night that is what happened to Posada, who after the game, told manager Joe Girardi that he was feeling a little foggy.  He had difficulties sleeping and had tests here before heading to a neurologist at some point during the game.

    "Of course (you’re concerned)," Girardi said.  "Any time you start talking about concussions and we’ve seen a lot of these last a long time with players."

    Two prominent players who recently have experienced concussions are Minnesota first baseman Justin Morneau and Met left fielder Jason Bay. 

    Morneau suffered a concussion July 7 sliding into second base and two months later is still not close to returning. Bay was concussed July 23 when he made a running catch against the left field wall at Dodger Stadium and recently was placed on the 60-day DL.

    As for Posada, until they hear the test results, Yankees are not sure how long he will be out. It could be today or tommorow but it does not sound like they will have their starting catcher this weekend in Texas.

    "We have to wait and see," Alex Rodriguez said. "Obviously we don't want to lose anyone and Jorge's a crucial part of this team. So we have to hope for the best right now."

    The Yankees had the best on the field with a game-winning home run and then had the best possible news in terms of a serious injury to one of their leaders.  That would have required a comeback even more difficult than scoring two in the bottom of the ninth inning.

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Items of Interest - Orioles-Yankees

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010, 12:17 PM [General]

    Today is September 8 and a year ago Phil Hughes allowed a home run to Tampa Bay’s Jason Bartlett in the eighth inning of an eventual 3-2 win.

    That brings us to a year later and the frequently discussed innings limit for Hughes has come into play again. It will result in him starting next Wednesday in Tampa Bay instead of Sunday in Texas.

    Manager Joe Girardi told Hughes the news, then revealed it to reporters and said Hughes might get pitch an inning in relief during the Texas series.

    Hughes is not the emotional type so it was hardly surprising when he accepted being skipped for the second time this year. The last time was after he beat the Mets on June 19 and he did not pitch again June 29.

    After beating the Mets, Hughes had a 3.17 ERA and was 10-1.  Since that point, Hughes is 5-6 with a 5.40 ERA in 10 starts.

    The first time seemed to disturb Hughes’ good groove but this time he thinks it might help him get the rhythm back and possibly work on some of those secondary pitches.

    "If anything, I’ll be able to throw back into a rhythm," Hughes said."I’ve been out of rhythm.  If anything it will give me more time to work and get in a groove."

    Since Hughes’ next start is Wednesday, the logical assumption is that his final three starts will be Sept. 21 vs. Tampa Bay, Sept. 26 vs. Boston and Oct. 2 at Boston.

    Of course that is not taking into account Andy Pettitte’s return from a groin injury. Pettitte will make a rehab start for Trenton Thursday in Game Two of the Eastern League playoffs against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats and he will be facing Zach Stewart, a prospect Toronto acquired from the Reds for Scott Rolen.

    None of that is important to Girardi, who believes that Pettitte might require another rehab start. What Girardi is looking for is him to feel really good while throwing his 65 pitches at complete intensity

    One player who will not be making any upcoming rehab appearances is reliever Alfredo Aceves.  Aceves has not pitched since May 8 in Boston and his impressive 14-1 lifetime record remain on hold due to the bulging disk in his lower back that has made surgery a possibility.

    Another player who has had a lengthy stay on the DL is Damaso Marte, who has not pitched in a game since July 7 at Oakland and is on the 60-day DL with an inflamed left shoulder.

    Marte has been inactive for the most part in terms of throwing, though he did attempt to throw on the last road trip. When he lifted his arm, he felt the pain and had to stop.

    Marte is hopeful of returning for the playoffs and trying to duplicate his unsung performance from last year but he said he feels about 40 percent.

    As for the game, the Yankees have successfully avoided a four-game losing streak this year.  They were successful in that three other times this year (May 21 at Mets, June 19 vs. Mets and August 4 vs. Toronto).

    The Orioles are attempting for their first three-game sweep in the Bronx since June 6-8, 1986.  

    That weekend their winning pitchers were Scott McGregor, Mike Boddicker and Ken Dixon. The sweep was completed with an 18-9 victory as Lee Lacy hit home runs off Ed Whitson, Bob Shirley and Doug Drabek in a game that took 4:16 and at the time was the longest nine-game in AL history.

    0 (0 Ratings)

    O's swing early and score often off Sabathia

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010, 1:05 AM [General]

    Earlier we made note of the men who had reached 20 victories this early.  It was researched and written with the belief that CC Sabathia would get it.

    Various signs seemed to the point to that event occurring.  Things such as Sabathia owning a 13-1 record over the Orioles, an undefeated streak of 21 games at Yankee Stadium that equaled Whitey Ford’s record and just his overall dominance.

    With the history against the Orioles, that proved irrelevant because none of those previous teams were managed by Buck Showalter.  There is no doubt Showalter is delighted that his team has a chance to sweep.

    Besides sweeping the team that Showalter managed 15 years ago, the Orioles have continued playing well and are a team that can be viewed.

    The last time the Yankees faced the Orioles was a three-game series at Camden Yards in mid-June.  At the time, they had just fired manager Dave Tremblay, replacing him with Juan Samuel and I deemed them unwatchable.

    So other than look-ins on television and radio, I did not watch or follow extensively.  It had nothing to do with the Yankees but more to the fact that Orioles were a complete embarrassment.

    Now they are not and are 21-13 under Showalter, whom I believe might have helped matters across town with the Mets, but that’s another story for another time.  He still wears the jacket in the dugout like he did when helping to restore the Yankees to winning baseball.

    "You've heard a million times, 'You've got to do something a little early and get him deeper into some pitch counts,'" Showalter said. "This guy is a lot more of a pitcher than people give him credit for. He's athletic. We made him get to the repertoire a little earlier."

    With that in mind, the Orioles did.

    Brian Roberts saw two fastballs and lined a base hit.  Felix Pie fouled off two of the three sliders he saw before drawing a walk on the fastball.  Nick Markakis saw one fastball and lined a single.

    With the bases loaded, Sabathia went to his curveball and on the second curve, Ty Wigginton singled in Roberts.  Seeing that the curve seemed hittable, Sabathia went back to the fastball and fell behind before Adam Jones lined a 2-0 fastball to left.

    "Just try to get them to chase a little bit more," Sabathia said. "Throw some off-speed pitches early in the count. I pitch off my fastball, and I just wasn’t able to get off-speed pitches over for strikes early in the count."

    It is a game plan you often hear from the Yankees when an ace pitcher shuts them down.  I distinctly recall hearing it when Cliff Lee shut them down in his final start for the Mariners.

    The difference was the Orioles executed it either because their previous approaches failed, guys are playing to impress or a combination of the two.

    "They're playing well," Derek Jeter said. "I don't know because I never switched managers in the middle of a season, but I'm pretty sure there are a lot of guys over there trying to make an impression."


    The Orioles are not the only team to make a managerial change this year.  They appear to be the most successful at it so far.


    The Royals replaced Trey Hillman with Ned Yost in May and are 45-58.  The Mariners replaced Don Wakamatsu with Daren Brown last month and are 13-14.  The Diamondbacks replaced A.J. Hinch with Kirk Gibson in June and are 25-35.

    That is hardly a concern for the Yankees, who have not had a four-game losing streak all year and have a staff consisting of Sabathia's steady performances (last night being the exception), the inconsistent A.J. Burnett, fastball-reliant Phil Hughes, youngster Ivan Nova and inconsistent Javier Vazquez.

    We saw the warning signs last week when four of the eight starts during an eight-game winning streak did not go past the fifth. When the ace struggles like he did at times, those become even more magnified than they previously were.














    0 (0 Ratings)

    Items of Interest - Orioles-Yankees

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010, 5:27 PM [General]

    If you have a ticket for tonight’s game, you might witness CC Sabathia become the fourth Yankee to win 20 games this early since 1961.  It is hard to believe Sabathia has yet to reach 20 and even manager Joe Girardi is stunned.

    "A little bit (surprised),” Girardi said. "There’s a lot of things that have to go right to have to win 20 games.  You just can’t be a dominant pitcher.  When you’re a guy like CC, most of the time you’re going to be matched up against the ace and you’re going to lose some games, 2-1, 3-2 and 1-0."

    For the record, Sabathia pitched in a 2-1 win at Dodger Stadium June 25 and has pitched in 16 games decided by three runs or less.

    In terms of CY Young voting, Sabathia would have Girardi’s vote as the manager said the biggest statistical category in ERA and innings pitched.  Sabathia currently has a 3.02 ERA and pitched 202 2/3 innings.  The last two AL winners Zack Greinke and Cliff Lee won the award with earned run averages of 2.16 and 2.54 respectively.

    Sabathia won it in 2007 as an Indian by posting a 3.21 ERA. Roger Clemens was the last Yankee to win it in 2001 and he finished with a 3.51 ERA.

    If Sabathia reaches 20 tonight, the lefty joins Whitey Ford (1961), Catfish Hunter (1975) and Ron Guidry (1978) as Yankees who have done it this early.

    And here’s what happened in the starts for that distinguished panel.

    Ford reached 20 on August 10 during a Thursday afternoon game against the expansion Angels.  In front of 15,575 fans, Ford pitched seven innings and allowed one run and eight hits while striking out three.  Ford allowed the run on an RBI single by Bill Moran in the second while the Yankees backed him by getting solo home runs from Bobby Richardson, Yogi Berra and Moose Skowron.

    Hunter reached 20 victories on this date in 1975 with a 2-0 victory over the Orioles at Memorial Stadium.  Hunter went the distance against Jim Palmer beating the Orioles on a six-hitter while retiring YES Network announcer Ken Singleton three times. 

    Three years later during his breakout season, Guidry hit 20 in the first day of a Labor Day doubleheader on September 4 when he five-hit the Detroit Tigers and the Yankees were 9-1 winners.  Guidry allowed a tying single to Rusty Staub in the sixth but the Yankees scored eight in the seventh.  That win was part of a seven-game winning streak and in a season when he also began with 13 consecutive wins.

    While you might see Sabathia, you will not see Alex Rodriguez in the starting lineup but there is nothing to be concerned about. 

    The Yankees are just giving him a night off and assuming he plays Wednesday or gets a DH day, he will have either two out of three days off or two and a half out of three before the Yankees head to Texas

    The primary reason for that is Rodriguez had three weeks off and did not do a rehab assignment so the Yankees would like to avoid possible fatigue.  In terms of how Rodriguez is running, Girardi said he has not seen anything that indicates a problem.

    If Rodriguez was in charge, he'd play 20 days in a row and he begged Girardi but then acknowledged he cannot be reckless with his return.

    Today is September 7 and keeping with the Buck Showalter theme, this is what happened the three times the date occurred when he was Yankee manager.

    In 1995, the Yankees were beginning their 21-6 September but had this night off going into a three-game series with the Red Sox.  At that point, the Red Sox held a 15 ½ game and the Royals led the Yankees by 1 ½ games.  The Yankees were also coming off a series with the Mariners that drew 55,651 people – not for one game but the whole series.

    Two years earlier, the Yankees again failed to get first place for their own.  While the Blue Jays gave up five runs in the 11th to Oakland, the Yankees could not hold a three-run lead in a 5-4 loss to Texas that featured Bernie Williams and Paul Assenmacher making costly defensive mistakes.

    At least the Yankees were close in 1993 because in the previous year, they were in a different kind of race – spots fourth through seven in the AL East.  The Yankees improved to 65-73 and one-half game ahead of Boston and Detroit on Bernie Williams’ bases-clearing triple in the 13th off Orioles’ reliever Alan Mills.


    0 (0 Ratings)

    Consolation not enough for Burnett

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010, 1:14 AM [General]

    Many times a pitcher who loses a game will say his stuff was good and that he made good pitches.  Many pitchers have made those comments after producing a line that is worse than four runs and seven hits in seven innings.

    That is the line produced by A.J. Burnett against the Orioles that dropped him to 10-13. While there's no doubt the stuff was better and his most use of the curveball made it that way, it was not enough for the Yankees to win.

    "I thought it's a good step forward," manager Joe Girardi said. "I thought his stuff was very good today. He didn't really have his changeup, but his curveball and fastball were very good. He got into some situations that he wiggled his way out of."

    While Girardi expressed an optimistic tone about Burnett's performance, the right-hander felt differently. 

    Eventually he conceded that the stuff was good but the way things unfolded bothered him immensely.

    What bothered Burnett was the fact that right after the Yankees scored, he gave it back.  Any pitcher hates doing that, but listening to Burnett lament it shows you that he truly cares and his thoughts are not hollow clichés that fans hear so often.

    "I was 0-for-2 on shutdown innings," Burnett said. "It was a good start and I appreciate the statement, but we should have been in a tighter game, I think. It still goes back to shutdowns. A shutdown inning and it's a different ballgame."

    Eventually Burnett will see the positive progress from this start and last Wednesday's win against Oakland.  What the Yankees hope that not only will he see the developments but repeat most of what he did mechanically the rest of the way and through the postseason.

     It was not the first time failure deeply bothered Burnett.

    Yesterday's game did not adversely impact the Yankees and they remained 2 1/2 games ahead of Tampa Bay, but the tone and emotion expressed sounded similar to what he expressed after losing Game Five of the World Series when he said the following:

    "It’s the worst feeling in the world. I had a chance to do something special tonight and I failed. I let 25 guys in here down. I let a city down."

    If you are a fan and you hear your players act accountable, personally I think it makes you want to see them succeed even more.  If you watched Burnett in the last week, you hope that either this is the middle ground between his two extremes or it is the start of a run such as the 7-2 record in June and July of last year.

    Regardless of what unfolds, you know you'll get honesty and accountability from Burnett.

    It should be noted that this happens with other Yankee pitchers when they do not win. I'm sure pitchers on other teams feel the same frustration as Burnett but in years of getting quotes from both locker rooms as a wire service writer there have been a few times when that tone has not always been expressed by the losing pitcher.


    0 (0 Ratings)

    Items of Interest - Orioles-Yankees

    Monday, September 6, 2010, 12:18 PM [General]

    There is not much going on but the good news is that Andy Pettitte threw his bullpen session.  He threw 20 pitches at low intensity and said there was no pain. 

    The next step for Pettitte is a rehab start against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, the Eastern League affiliate of the Blue Jays.  For Trenton, Pettitte is expected to throw 60 pitches against the team that was second in home runs and first in on-base percentage and that will take place Thursday to give the lefty five days off.

    Though the outing is more a way to gauge how Pettitte feels, he might also want to know who he is facing.

    Nick Swisher is back in the lineup after missing three games with a knee injury.  Swisher had an MRI and was definitely relieved when the test just revealed inflammation and no structural damage.  The biggest problem was running and if that is fine, Swisher wanted to get in there.

    "If we can deal with the pain, we can deal with playing," Swisher said.

    Swisher also does not like day games though his .270 average, four home runs and 19 RBI in the daytime are not awful.

    Since Marcus Thames is playing left and Brett Gardner is in center, Curtis Granderson gets the day off against the third straight lefty to face the Yankees. Granderson’s much documented problems off southpaws have improved (.375 since August 12) but he is 1-for-6 off Brian Matusz and while Swisher is 0-for-9, Thames stays in due to his 4-for-9 performance.

    A.J. Burnett is on the mound and his 11 lifetime wins against the Orioles are his second-most against anyone.  So obviously, he is repeating the mechanics, remaining on time and throwing the ball where he wants to most of the time against Baltimore.

    Colin Curtis also is here. 

    When he was last here, he hit a memorable home run in the eighth inning against the Angels.  Since returning the minors July 31, Curtis batted .298 with five home runs and 15 RBI in 31 games and over his last 10 games was batting .333.

    Today is September 6 and Buck Showalter is in town with the Orioles but 15 years ago he was in the home dugout presiding over the early stages of a playoff drive for the Yankees. 

    That night he was facing the Mariners and he watched his team overcome a 3-0 deficit with a 4-3 victory that saw Paul O’Neill hit the tie-breaking single off ex-Yankee and 1990 win leader Lee Gutterman.  That hit and Jack McDowell's six-hitter on three days rest put the Yankees at 61-61 and just 1 ½ games out of the wild card.

    Two years before that on Labor Day, Showalter’s Yankees were in Arlington Stadium and were handed an 8-5 loss to the Texas Rangers. 

    Scott Kamieniecki started but allowed six runs and eight hits in three innings of an 8-5 defeat. The Yankees chipped away at a 7-0 deficit and were within three when Mike Gallego hit a three-run home run off Craig Lefferts in the ninth.  The loss that night dropped the Yankees to 78-61 and one-half game behind Toronto and would have been the first atop the division after being tied 17 previous days.

    The previous year was not better standings-wise for Showalter’s Yankees as they stood 64-73 and tied for fourth place with the Tigers, 15 games behind the Blue Jays.  The result for the Yankees and Kamieniecki against Texas was much better though as the right-hander pitched eight innings of three-hit ball in a 7-0 victory.



    0 (0 Ratings)

    Is Phil Hughes getting too fastball reliant?

    Sunday, September 5, 2010, 8:24 PM [General]

    At Yankee Stadium, any time a pitcher is ahead of an opposing hitter on a 0-2 count, portions of the crowd rise and clap their hands in unison.

    It is as if the hand-clapping is imploring the pitcher to not screw around and just finish the hitter.  It is something that is easier said than done as evidenced by Phil Hughes giving up two home runs on those counts to Vernon Wells and Aaron Hill.

    Through his first four months as a full-time starting pitcher, Hughes had 54 at-bats on 0-2 and 30 times they ended with strikeouts while only seven times resulted in hits.

    Today, he had seven occasions of 0-2 and it did not go so well. 

    Even before the Wells’ home run, there was a sign.  That was immediately before against Jose Bautista.  He got a foul and a swinging strike on two fastballs but missed outside on the third pitch.  The fourth pitch was a curveball in the dirt, which was intended to get Bautista to chase.  The next two were a high fastball for ball three and a belt-high fastball for a foul ball, which preceded a cutter that tailed away for strike three.

    What those seven pitches may have done was give Wells a good opportunity to see what Hughes had today.  He might not have needed it since he was 7-for-22 lifetime off Hughes before today and hit a home run a 0-2 count Aug. 25 in Toronto.

    So after fouling off two fastballs located in about the same spot, Wells crushed a fastball over the center field wall.

    What is interesting about that outing is the first inning unfolded in nearly identical fashion as today. Bautista fell behind 0-2 before getting four more pitches and popping out to second on the curveball.  Wells also fell behind 0-2 and then tripled to center on the seventh pitch.

    The next time Hughes faced those two hitters the next time, Bautista was ahead 2-0 and walked on a full count sixth pitch.  Wells then saw two high fastballs and crushed the third for a two-run home run.

    Not finishing 0-2 and a lengthy at-bat also burned Hughes in the third. 

    He needed eight pitches to get Travis Snider on a swinging strike three and then was ahead of Hill 0-2 on fastballs over the plate.  The third pitch was a cutter except it did not do what the description says it should do and was sent over the left field fence.

    "I was rushing," Hughes said. "I was trying to slide step and my arm just didn’t catch up, and it spun over the plate,"

    While that was the problem yesterday, being too reliant on the fastball and not necessarily using secondary pitches enough has hurt Hughes at times, especially against Toronto.

    "That’s kind of been the Achilles heel for me a little bit this year," he said. "I do like to throw my fastball, and I feel like I have a good fastball, (but) sometimes guys get geared up for it too much when you’re constantly the same speed. Even my cutter isn’t that much of a speed differential.

    "Getting my curveball going to where it needs to be and incorporating my changeup is a big part of my game. I’m certainly not going to throw those pitches an outrageous amount, but just getting them to where they’re consistent and I can go to them when I need to, that would be a big step for me."

    In April when he made three starts and was 2-0, allowing four runs and six hits in 18 innings, here’s how it broke down:

    Four-Seam Fastballs 53 percent

    Cut Fastball – 28 percent

    Curveball 14 percent

    Two-Seam Fastball – 3 percent

    Changeup – 2 percent

    In May, when he made six starts and was 4-1, allowing 13 runs and 35 hits in 38 2/3 innings, here’s how it broke down.

    Four-Seam Fastballs – 51 percent

    Cut Fastball – 26 percent

    Curveball – 12 percent

    Two-Seam Fastball – 10 percent

    Changeup – 2 percent

    In June, when he made five starts and was 4-1, allowing 18 runs and 37 hits, here’s how it broke down.

    Four-Seam Fastball – 63 percent

    Curveball – 15 percent

    Cut Fastball – 15 percent

    Two-Seam Fastball – 5 percent

    Changeup – 1 percent

    In July, when he made five starts and was 2-2, allowing 18 runs and 31 hits in 29 1/3 innings, here’s how it broke down.

    Four-Seam Fastball – 54 percent

    Curveball – 20 percent

    Cut Fastball – 19 percent

    Two-Seam Fastball – 4 percent

    Changeup – 3 percent

    In August, when he made six starts and was 4-2, allowing 15 runs and 33 hits in 32 innings, here’s how it broke down.

    Four-Seam Fastball – 65 percent

    Curveball – 18 percent

    Cut Fastball – 11 percent

    Two-Seam Fastball – 4 percent

    Changeup – 2 percent

    And here’s how it broke down in four starts against Toronto:

    July 4 – six innings, five runs, six hits, three home runs – 66 of 101 pitches for strikes

    Four-Seam Fastball – 61 percent

    Curveball – 20 percent

    Cut Fastball – 18 percent

    Two-Seam Fastball – 1 percent

    August 4 – 5 1/3 innings, one run, four hits – 60 of 99 pitches for strikes

    Four-Seam Fastball – 64 percent

    Curveball – 17 percent

    Cut Fastball – 16 percent

    Changeup – 3 percent

    August 25 – 3 2/3 innings, five runs, six hits, five walks – 66 of 102 pitches for strikes

    Four-Seam Fastball – 67 percent

    Curveball - 25 percent

    Cut Fastball – 7 percent

    Changeup – 2 percent

    September 5 – 6 innings, six runs, seven hits

    Four-Seam Fastball – 63 percent

    Curveball – 21 percent

    Cut Fastball – six percent

    Two-Seam Fastball – six percent

    Changeup – four percent

    At the present time, assuming nobody gets skipped due to two days off, Hughes will next face the Blue Jays on September 27.  It will be interesting to see what the pitch breakdowns are that night.



    3.7 (1 Ratings)

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