Jobu reviews the good, the bad and the ugly of the Yankees visit to Kansas City.
The Yankees came into this series on a serious slump. The offense had scored just three runs in the last three games (against the Orioles of all people), somehow managing to win one of those contests. They headed to Kansas City to face a Royals team with one of the worst records in baseball, and an 0-10 record at home coming into the series. We saw some good this series, a little bad, and one huge “ugly,” but overall, things were left off in a positive light.
Game 1: Royals 4, Yankees 3
The big story in this game came before it even started, when the great Mariano Rivera slipped, or landed awkwardly, while shagging fly balls in center field and tore both the meniscus and ACL in his right knee. We covered that on Friday afternoon, once all the news on the injury was official. It was a very sombering event, but one that you would have hoped would motivate the Yankees to get a big win in game one. Didn’t work.
Hometown Hero? Almost
Game one featured Missouri native David Phelps making his first major league start. The rookie, who had impressed his coaches and teammates with his long relief work in the early goings of the season, took the place of the steaming pile of dog crap that was Freddy García (not the man, just the pitcher). While Phelps did not get a quality start, or pitch deep into the game, he did show a lot for his first major league start. I’m sure pitching in front of his home town crowd was pretty nerve-wracking, so let’s blame it on the jitters. Phelps’ final line was four innings, allowing two runs on six hits, while walking none and striking out five. The only thing that tarnished the outing was the fact that he needed 85 pitches to get through those four innings, but at least he only gave up two runs.
No Rivera: Day One
The bullpen, which has sort of been struggling a bit lately (that’s what happens when you have to pitch so many innings so early in the season), pitched six innings and only allowed two runs. While this would be a great start for any pitcher, those two runs eventually were what beat the Yankees. The runs came off of Clay Rapada and rookie D.J. Mitchell in the bottom of the fifth, but none scored for the rest of the game off of Mitchell, Boone Logan and Rafael Soriano in the last three innings. Not bad.
By offensive, I don’t mean one that powerfully puts up a lot of run. I mean personally offensive. I was, and continue to be, offended by the Yankees offense the last couple of weeks. After only scoring three runs in three games against the Orioles, the Yankees managed three runs in this game alone, but they could have had more. The first Yankees run came in the third inning on an RBI double by Mark Teixeira (I gotta get this TV fixed!). The Yankees then had first and third with one out in both the top of the sixth and the top of the seventh innings, and only managed sac flys in those situations (one by Tex, one by Núñez).
The top of the ninth started very promisingly. Jeter led off with a single (his fourth hit of the game) and Granderson walked, which set up first and second with nobody out for Teixeira. I thought I was about to witness one of those typical Yankees ninth inning rallies to win the game, but Tex hit into a double play, which brought up A-Rod with Jeter on third and two out. After getting behind 0-2 (the second strike was a terrible call), A-Rod put together a great at bat to get the count full, but hit a weak grounder to third. Mike Moustakas made a great bare-handed catch and throw to nip A-Rod by a step, and the game was over. Terrible showing.
Notable Offense: RBI – Teixeira 2 (14), Núñez (4), 4 hits for Jeter, 3 hits for Jones, 2 hits for Martin
Game 2: Yankees 6, Royals 2
I guess the game one loss could have been blamed on the Yankees possibly being distracted by the loss of Rivera. Perhaps in game two, they were motivated by the declaration that Mo would be back in 2013. “Write it down in big letters.” said Mo. The Yankees wrote down a big W after this game, and it was much needed.
Sabathia Is the Man
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. CC keeps on proving why he is the ace of this staff, and why they re-signed him to an extension this off-season. He was the man again on Friday night, pitching eight innings and allowing two runs on seven hits, while striking out five Royals. It was the third straight outing that CC made it through the eighth inning, so at least he’s doing his part to rest the bullpen. CC got the win, which pushed his record to 4-0 on the season. Thank you CC. You’re a beacon of hope in an otherwise murky and foggy sea of crappy pitching.
David Robertson: Day 1
I know Joe Girardi has said that he will split the ninth inning duties between Soriano and Robertson, but get the eff out of here with that, and eff that ess (these are trademarked Jobu sayings, don’t steal them). Despite the fact that it wasn’t a save opportunity, Girardi put Robertson in to pitch the ninth. I liked this move, because it was a good way to kind of test the waters for Robertson and the Yankees, as they begin life without Rivera for the rest of the season. Robertson was ok… I guess. I mean he did need fifteen pitches to strike out the side in order… Mo could have done it in twelve. All kidding aside, I loved what I saw from the man who should be our new closer.
Wake up Bats
I really can’t stress how incredible Derek Jeter has been so far this season. He had two more hits in this game, actually lowering his average to .404. Jeter had a hand in a lot of the offense in this game. He led off the top of the first with a single and eventually scored on a two-run bomb off the bat of Teixeira. The Yankees bats fell asleep for the next five innings off of Bruce Chen, but finally broke through in the top of the seventh, thanks to a huge two-out rally.
Canó led off the frame with a single before Andruw Jones lined out and Jayson Nix popped out. Just when it looked like a promising rally would be snuffed out again, Eduardo Núñez hit a triple into the corner. the two-out hit scored Canó to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead, but they weren’t done. Chris Stewart came up and hit a soft liner into left field to score Núñez, which brought The Captain up with a man on and two out. Chen hung a breaking ball on a 2-2 pitch and Jeter crushed it over the left-center field fence for a two-run home run. The Yankees used some two-out magic to put up four runs in the inning and, with CC dealing, put the game away.
Notable Offense: HR – Teixeira (4), Jeter (5), RBI – Teixeira 2 (16), Núñez (5), Stewart (4), Jeter 2 (15), SB – Núñez (4), 2 hits for Jeter, 2 hits for Teixeira
Game 3: Royals 5, Yankees 1
After righting the ship in game two, things looked good for the Yankees coming into game three. They had the surging Hiroki Kuroda on the mound facing Felipe Paulino, who was making his return off the DL. Unfortunately, the bats went back to bed for this game, so it didn’t matter that the pitching wasn’t all that great.
I was at a family part for this whole game. While I was bouncy castle wrestling with two of my cousins (no the bouncy castle wasn’t rented for us to play in, but the little kids were all sleeping and we had been drinking… not going to let a bouncy castle sit there un-bouncing), the Yankees were playing terribly and losing. Kuroda had a lot to do with this. Kuroda needed 91 pitches to get through just 4.2 innings (channeling his inner Phil Hughes), and he really struggled against the middle of Kansas City’s lineup. While things could have been a lot worse, I at least credit Kuroda for minimizing the damage and allowing only three runs (two earned) on six hits while walking three and striking out only two. Not what you’re looking for from your second starter, but not the worst thing I’ve ever seen either.
No Mo: Day 3
The Yankees missed Mariano Rivera in last night’s game, but not because someone blew a save. They were never even close to a save opportunity in this one. Since everyone moves up an inning, the Yankees had to use Cody Eppley and Logan to get through the fifth and sixth innings. Normally, they might turn to Cory Wade in that situation, but now they can’t. That being said, Eppley and Logan allowed this game to get out of hand, although the two runs they gave up were both credited to Eppley. Freddy García, the new long man, finished this game off with two scoreless innings. He has now thrown four scoreless innings since moving to the bullpen. Maybe he’ll be helpful there after all.
After a great performance on Friday night, the Yankees offense went back into their slumber. They didn’t score any runs against Paulino, as the righty held them to just four hits in his six innings of work. The only run the Yankees managed was on a solo home run by Russell Martin. It was a bomb, and I like that Martin’s showing signs of getting his stuff together at the plate (five hits in two games), but you can’t win too many games if your team only puts up one run. Pathetic.
Notable Offense: HR – Martin (3), RBI – Martin (7), 3 hits for Martin, 2 hits for Granderson
Game 4: Yankees 10, Royals 4
After the debacle that was game three, I wasn’t sure what to expect in game four. The Yankees were sending Phil Hughes to the mound (as Andy Pettitte took the mound for Scranton just a few hundred miles away), so I wasn’t too excited. I also wasn’t really expecting a win, just hoping that they could somehow sneak out of Kansas City with a series split. I got a lot more than I expected, and I was glad to watch it take place.
Ok, Phil… Ok Baby
It’s no secret that Hughes is walking a tight rope every time he takes the mound nowadays. If he doesn’t pitch well, he will be replaced. Pettitte’s return is looming, so Phil needed to really show the Yankees something in this game. He did. Things started out a little shakily for Phil, as he allowed an RBI double to Billy Butler in the bottom of the first, but he got out of that inning without any more trouble. He also stranded a two-out triple by Irving Falu in the bottom of the second inning. After a 123 third, he stranded a double by Moustakas in the fourth, and allowed an RBI single to Alex Gordon in the fifth. He then worked a 123 sixth, finishing with 103 pitches.
The final line for hughes was six innings, 103 pitches, while allowing only two runs on five hits, a walk and six Ks. A great outing… Oh wait, no… For some reason, Girardi let Hughes go out for the seventh! That’s twice in a week where Girardi lets a pitcher pitch well over 100 pitches instead of taking him out in after the sixth. He seriously should get tested for narcolepsy. Hughes got the first two outs in the seventh before Humberto Quintero homered to left-center. It was still a great outing for Phil (6.2 innings, 3 runs, 7 hits, 1 BB, 7 Ks), but it was a shame that he had to end it on a home run, when he could have easily left the game after the sixth. Thanks, Joe.
Now That’s What I’m Talking About!
The Yankees offense did what we’ve been waiting over a month for them to do in game four. Of the ten runs, seven were driven in by Álex Rodríguez and Robinson Canó, the third and fourth hitters in the order. I don’t think they’ve had that yet this season. In fact, Canó doubled his RBI total for the season with one swing of the bat in the top of the third. After Raúl Ibañez tied the game at one with an RBI single in the top of the second (Ibañez now has 13 RBI with his 18 hits this season), the Yankees started the top of the third with a leadoff single by Dewayne Wise. Jeter then laid down a perfect bunt single (his second hit of the game) and Granderson singled in Wise. After A-Rod was hit in the elbow pad to load the bases, Canó stepped up to the plate.
Coming into the game, Robby had one home run and four RBI for the entire season. After a 2-1 changeup from Luke Hochevar caught a little too much of the plate, he had doubled both categories. The Grand Slam was the eighth of Canó’s career, and it gave the Yankees a 6-1 lead. It was a lead they would not relinquish, but that doesn’t mean they were done scoring. After Teixeira followed Canó’s home run with a deep fly out, Nick Swisher picked on a high fastball and hit it over the right field fence, making it 7-1.
The Royals pulled it to 7-3, and that’s when A-Rod decided to do his thing. Wise and Jeter led off the top of the seventh with back-to-back walks. After Granderson struck out swinging, A-Rod got a 1-1 changeup from Tommy Hottovy and crushed it 416 feet over the right-centerfield fence. The three-run home run made it 10-3, and marked the end of the Yankees offense for the evening. It was a huge offensive day. It was good to get Swisher back in the lineup after a week-long layoff, and it was great to see the seven RBI from Canó and A-Rod.
Notable Offense: HR – Canó (2), Swisher (7), Rodríguez (5), RBI – Ibañez (13), Granderson (18), Canó 4 (8), Swisher (24), Rodríguez 3 (14), SB – Wise (1), 2 hits for Jeter, Granderson, Rodríguez, Canó and Ibañez
This was certainly not the best series the Yankees have had all season. They went into Kansas City to face the one of the worst teams in baseball… a team that was winless at home. They didn’t do what they should have done, which was to sweep the crap out of them without mercy. They struggled to escape KC with two wins, and they lost their Hall of Fame closer in the process. It wasn’t pretty.
There are some positives to take away from this series though. For one, they seemed to put it all together in game four, when they needed a win to even things up. The offense clicked on all cylinders and Hughes didn’t suck. These are all great signs, and I hope the Yankees can build on that for the sake of the rest of the season. The starting rotation needs to be a little more consistent (especially Kuroda), and so does the supposedly great offense the Yankees are said to possess. Let’s see if they can keep it going against Tampa Bay at the stadium starting on Tuesday.
Featured image courtesy of: Orlin Wagner/AP
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